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them by himself alone—he must read aloud to himself alone, till he conquers the difficulties which he has to encounter. A person may be taught how to make each separate sound in the language, and make it perfectly at the tiine; but, if he does it but once in a great while, and thinks nothing about it in the intervals, he can never make it familiar to him, and he will always be liable to embarrassment in his trials before company. Practice as truly makes perfect in reading as in all other things.
After all, perhaps the greatest difficulty in the way of a good enunciation, is the want of a desire to excel in this particular. So far as my knowledge reaches, there is a great indifference on this subject among most young persons. If they can only name the words with rapidity, it seems to be all at which they aim: too many do not aim even at this. How the component parts of a word are expressed gives them little concern. But this ought not to be so. To read well is an accomplishment of the highest order, and stands among the first of desirable attainments. Every person, whatever may be his station in society, has occasion to read in the hearing of others, and to read well. It is, moreover, an accomplishment as elegant and dignifying as it is useful. Yet, strange to tell, fewer persons excel in reading than in any other branch of learning. In a select company of young gentlemen and ladies, if a book is presented, and some one requested to read, the task is declined by one after another as beyond his or her ability to perform; or, if one at last consents, how often is it the result of his own happy ignorance of himself, rather than a consciousness of his real attainments!
The first excellence to be obtained in reading is, to read intelligibly, that is, so as to be clearly heard and understood so far as words are concerned ; the second is, to read with propriety, so that the entire sense of what is written may be expressed, not only by the words themselves, but by the tones and manner of the voice in giving them utterance. What I have hitherto said has related to the former of these divisions. A knowledge of the elementary sounds in our language, and the true position of the organs of speech in uttering them, seems to be of the highest importance in gaining an ability to speak clearly and distinctly. My other remarks and observations have thus far tended to that object. After considering a faulty utterance of a single letter, I shall proceed to treat of such subjects as relate to propriety.
The letter to which I have just alluded is s. Its recurrence in our language is very frequent, and it is so pronounced by some readers and speakers as to keep up almost a continuous
hiss. This with some is mere affectation, (an ill-conceived one indeed :) with others it is the result of inattention to the sounds of their own voices. The effect is very unpleasant on an audience of any refinement in the relish of sounds, and is a blemish which every one should avoid. Most persons give this letter a greater degree of hissing than is either pleasant or necessary. The fault is generally noticed by foreigners, and would be oftener observed by ourselves were it not so familiar to us. The cause of this fault arises from keeping the tongue too long in the position for making the sound, and thus protracting the hiss till it becomes disagreeable. Instead of this the tongue should be removed from the requisite position as soon as is consistent with making the sound audible, and the letters should be pronounced as gently as possible. By taking this course, the unpleasant hissing may be nearly or quite avoided, Too much moisture around the tongue at the time of uttering this sound contributes also to the fault in question, and merits, therefore, a suitable attention. The letter z is liable to a similar fault, but in a much less degree. It does not, however, require a separate consideration.
VARIOUS MODULATIONS OF THE VOICE.
INFLECTIONS DESCRIBED.-CHARACTERS USED.-EXAMPLES.
In the pronunciation of each syllable in speaking, the voice either rises or falls during its utterance; that is, the voice is higher or lower at the close of the syllable than it was at the commencement of it. Let
any one make the experiment on the pronoun I, and he will find that the least protraction of that sound will necessarily carry the voice either upward or downward. Let him try each of the simple vowel sounds, and he will find the same to be true. Nor will the result be different if 19 adds or prefixes a consonant. Although the voice thus rises and falls on every syllable and word, it does not, however, rise or fall in the amount of a whole note or tone on the same syllable. The voice may rise or fall a whole note, or more, as it passes from word to word, and even from syllable to syllable in the same word; but, whatever note it strikes, it will end somewhat higher or lower than the note which it first touched.
When a person sings, the case is quite different. Then, whatever note the voice touches, its elevation is the same both at the beginning and the end of the sound. The voice leaps from note to note with the full interval of a tone or semitone between; whereas, in speaking, the intervals between these tones or semitones are partially, at least, filled. Hence it is, that, in speaking, there is such a continuity of sound from the beginning to the end of a sentence, or till the voice is interrupted by a cadence. Hence, too, is the danger of contracting the habit of a drawling pronunciation on the one hand, or of an abrupt and jerking one on the other. From this view of the subject, also, we learn the true difference between the speaking and singing voice, and the occasion there is for a distinction in the rules to be given for their management.
These risings and fallings of the voice on the same syllable, are denominated inflections or slides. The rising of the voice is called the rising slide or inflection ; the falling of the voice, the falling slide or inflection. Sometimes it happens that the voice both falls and rises on the same syllable : in this case, the fall and rise is called a circumflex. But this fall and rise is not usually thus denominated, unless the rise be at least equal to the previous fall. It is very important to observe, further, that, so opposed is the voice, or rather the ear that governs it, to remaining stationary at any single point of elevation or depression, it seldom rises on a syllable without again falling on the same, even where there is no circumflex, and seldom falls without again rising in some degree, but without having the last inflection equal to the first, or so strongly marked. This latter turn or variation of the voice, may with propriety be called a secondary inflection, and, for the sake of distinction, the first-mentioned inflections might be termed primary. On the right management of this secondary inflection much of skilful reading depends. It serves greatly to prevent abruptness, makes the transition from note to note easy and gentle, and happily modifies the general utterance.
The rising inflection is usually marked thus ('), the falling thus ('), and the circumflex thus (^), or thus (). I shall adopt the former. The secondary inflections may be thus marked (^1 ), the first for the secondary slide on the rising, and the latter for the secondary slide on the falling inflection.
When the inflection is strongly marked, it is then called intensive. Thus we speak of an intensive upward or rising inflection, and of an intensive downward or falling inflection. All the inflections vary greatly in degree. Sometimes they are so faintly made as to be scarcely heard, and as to require considerable attention and skill to distinguish them; yet, by attentive observation, they will be discerned even on the shoriest syllables, and in a rapid utterance. Those which are more strongly marked should be first pointed out to the learner, and practised upon. He will gradually learn to distinguish those which are fainter.
In the following examples I have marked only those words or syllables on which the inflections are more evident to the ear; yet even in those which are marked, all are by no means equally intensive, and especially so with regard to the circumflex. The words which are marked should be read with a stress proportionate to what the sense requires.
When the inflection is intensive in any degree, it is used on
loose syllables in a word which are either long, or accented; when not intensive, it may be used either on these, or such as are short or unaccented.
EXAMPLES FOR ILLUSTRATING THE PRIMARY INFLECTIONS.
Saul and Jonathan were lovely in their lives', and in their deaths they were not divided.
Ceasè, ye pilgrims', cease' to mourn,
better'? Brutus. If you did, I care not. Cas. When Cæsar' liv'd' he durst not thus * have mov'd me. Bru. Peacè, peacè, you durst not sô have tempted him. Cas. Whât? durst not tempt him' ? Bru. For your you
durst not. Cas. Do not presume too much upon my love ; I may dô what I shall be
Hence'! I know thee not. Jaffer. Not know me, Pierre !
Hamlet. He was a man', take him for all in all',
Horatio. My lord', I think I saw him' yèsternight'.
And it came to pass at noon' that Elijah mòcked them', and said, “Cry aloud", for he is a gôd : either he is tâlking, or he is pursûing, or he is in a joûrney, or peradventure he is sleeping, and must be awâked.