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In the next place, to being well heard and clearly understood, distinctness of articulation contributes more than mere loudness of sound. The quantity of sound necessary to fill even a large space, is smaller than is commonly imagined; and, with distinct articulation, a person with a weak voice will make it reach farther, than the strongest voice can reach without it. To this, therefore, every reader ought to pay great attention. He must give every sound which he utters, its due proportion; and make every syllable, and even every letter in the word which he pronounces, be heard distinctly; without slurring, whispering, or suppressing, any of the proper sounds.
An accurate knowledge of the simple, elementary sounds of the language, and a facility in expressing them, are so necessary to distinctness of expression, that if the learner's attainments are, in this respect, imperfect, (and many there are in this situation,) it will be incumbent on his teacher, to carry him back to these primary articulations; and to suspend his progress, till he become perfectly master of them. It will be in vain to press him forward, with the hope of forming a good reader, if he cannot completely articulate every elementary sound of the language.
Due degree of slowness.
In order to express ourselves distinctly, moderation is requisite with regard to the speed of pronouncing. Precipitancy of speech confounds, all articulation, and all meaning. It is scarcely necessary to observe, that there may be also an extreme on the opposite side. It is obvious that a lifeless drawling manner of reading, which allows the minds of the hearers to be always outrunning the speaker, must render every such performance insipid and fatiguing. But the extreme of reading too fast is, much more common; and requires the more to be guarded against, be
cause, when it has grown into a habit, few errors are more difficult to be corrected. To pronounce with a proper degree of slowness, and with full and clear articulation, is necessary to be studied by all, who wish to become good readers; and it cannot be too much recommended to them, Such a pronunciation gives weight and dignity to the subject. It is a great assistance to the voice, by the pauses and rests which it allows the reader more easily to make; and it enables the reader to swell all his sounds, both with more force and more harmony.
Propriety of Pronunciation.
AFTER the fundamental attentions to the pitch and management of the voice, to distinct articulation, and to a proper degree of slowness of speech, what the young reader must, in the next place, study, is propriety of pronunciation; or, giving to every word which he utters, that sound which the best usage of the language appropriates to it; in opposition to broad, vulgar, or provincial pronunciation. This is requisite both for reading intelligibly, and for reading with correctness and ease. Instructions concerning this article may be best given by the living teacher. But there is one observation, which it may not be improper here to make. In the English language, every word which consists of more syllables than one, has one accented syllable. The accents rest sometimes on the vowel, sometimes on the consonant. The genius of the language requires the voice to mark that syllable by a stronger percussion, and to pass more slightly over the rest. Now, after we have learned the proper seats of these accents, it is an important rule, to give every word just the same accent in reading, as in common discourse. Many persons err in this respect. When they read to others, and with solemnity, they pronounce the syllables in a different manner from what they do at other times. They dwell upon them and protract them; they multiply accents on the same word; from a mistaken notion, that it gives gravity and importance to their subject, and adds to the energy of their delivery. Whereas this is one of the
greatest faults that can be committed in pronunciation : it makes what is called a pompous or mouthing manner; and gives an artificial, affected air to reading, which detracts greatly both from its agreeableness, and its impres
Sheridan and Walker have published dictionaries, for ascertaining the true and best pronunciation of the words of our language By attentively consulting them, particularly Walker's Pronouncing Dictionary," the young reader will be much assisted, in his endeavours to attain a correct pronunciation of the words belonging to the English language.
By Emphasis is meant a stronger and fuller sound of voice, by which we distinguish some word or words, on which we design to lay particular stress, and to show how they affect the rest of the sentence. Sometimes the emphatic words must be distinguished by a partic: lar tone of voice, as well as by a particular stress. On the right management of the emphasis depends the life of pronunciaIf no emphasis be placed on any words, not only is discourse rendered heavy and lifeless, but the meaning left often ambiguous. If the emphasis be placed wrong, we pervert and confound the meaning wholly
Emphasis may be divided into the SUPERIOR and the INFERIOR emphasis. The superior emphasis determines the meaning of a sentence, with reference to something said before, presupposed by the author as general knowledge, or removes an ambiguity, where a passage may have more senses than one. The inferior emphasis enforces, graces, and enlivens, but does not fix, the meaning of any passage. The words to which this latter emphasis is given, are, in general, such as seem the most important in the sentence, or, on other accounts, to merit this distinction. The following passage will serve to exemplify the superior emphasis.
Of man's firft difobedience, and the fruit
"Of that forbidden tree, whofe mortal tafte
.. Brought death into the world, and all our wo," &c.
Supposing that originally other beings besides men, had disobeyed the commands of the Almighty, and that the circumstance were well known to us, there would fall an emphasis upon the word man's in the first line; and hence it would read thus:
Of man's first difabedience, and the fruit," &c.
But if it were a notorious truth, that mankind had transgressed in a peculiar manner more than once, the emphasis would fall on first; and the line be read,
"Of man's first difobedience," &c.
Again, admitting death (as was really the case) to have been an unheard-of and dreadful punishment, brought upon man in consequence of his transgression; on that suppesition the third line would be read,
Brought death into the world," &c.
But if we were to suppose, that mankind knew there was such an evil as death in other regions, though the place they inhabited had been free from it till their transgression, the line would run thus:
Brought death into the world," &c.
The superior emphasis finds place in the following short sentence, which admits of four distinct meanings, each of which is ascertained by the emphasis only.
"Do you ride to town to-day?"
The following examples illustrate the nature and use of the inferior emphasis:
"Many persons mistake the love, for the practice of "virtue."
"Shall I reward his services with falsehood? Shall I "forget him who cannot forget me ?”
"If his principles are false, no apology from himself can "make them right: if founded in truth, no censure from ✰ others can make them wrong."
Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull,
"A friend exaggerates a man's virtues; an enemy, his crimes."
"The wise man is happy, when he gains his own appro"bation; the fool, when he gains that of others."
The superior emphasis, in reading as in speaking, must be determined entirely by the sense of the passage, and always made ulike; but as to the inferior emphasis, taste alone seems to have the right of fixing its situation and quantity.
Among the number of persons, who have had proper opportunities of learning to read, in the best manner it is now taught, very few could be selected, who, in a given instance, would use the inferior emphasis alike, either as to place or quantity. Some persons, indeed, use scarcely any degree of it and others do not scruple to carry it far beyond any thing to be found in common di-course; and even sometimes throw it upon words so very trifling in themselves, that it is evidently done with no other view, than to give greater variety to the modulation.* Notwithstanding this diversity of practice, there are certainly proper boundaries, within which this emphasis must be restrained, in order to make it meet the approbation of sound judgment and correct taste. It will doubtless have different degrees of exertion, according to the greater or less degrees of importance of the words upon which it operates; and there may be very properly some variety in the use of it; but its application is not arbitrary, depending on the caprice of readers.
As emphasis often falls on words in different parts of the same sentence, so it is frequently required to be continued, with a little variation, on two, and sometimes more words together. The following sentences exemplify both the parts of this position: "If you seek to make one rich, study 66 not to increase his stores, but to diminish his desires."" The "Mexican figures, or picture writing, represent things not "words: they exhibit images to the eye, not ideas to the un"derstanding."
By modulation is meant that pleafing variety of voice, which is perceived in uttering a fentence, and which, in its nature, is perfectly diftinct from emphafis and the tones of emotion and paffion. The young reader fhould be careful to render his modulation correct and eafy and for this purpofe, fhould form it upon the model of the moft judicious and accurate speakers,