The great object to be accomplished in reading, as a rhetorical exercise, is to convey to the hearer, fully and clearly, the ideas and feelings of the writer.
In order to do this, it is necessary that a selection should be carefully studied by the pupil before he attempts to read it. In accordance with this view, a preliminary rule of importance is the following:
RULE 1. — Before attempting to read a lesson, the learner should make himself fully acquainted with the subject as treated of in that lesson, and endeavor to make the thought and feeling and sentiments of the writer his own.
REMARK. — When he has thus identified himself with the author, he has the substance of all rules in his own mind. It is by going to nature that we find rules. The child or the savage orator never mistakes in inflection or emphasis or modulation. The best speakers and readers are those who follow the impulse of nature, or most closely imitate it as observed in others.
Articulation is the utterance of the elementary sounds of a language, and of their combinations.
An Elementary Sound is a simple, distinct sound made by the organs of speech.
The Elementary Sounds of the English language are divided into Vocals, Subvocals, and Aspirates.
Vocals are sounds which consist of pure tone only. A diphthong is a union of two vocals, commencing with one and ending with the other.
DIRECTION. — Put the lips, teeth, tongue, and palate in their proper position; pronounce the word in the chart forcibly, and with the falling inflection, several times in succession; then drop the subvocal or aspirate sounds which precede or follow the vocal, and repeat the vocals alone.
Table of Vocals
REMARK 1. — In this table, the short sounds, except u, are nearly or quite the same in quality as certain of the long sounds. The difference consists chiefly in quantity.
REMARK 2. — The vocals are often represented by other letters or combinations of letters than those used in the table; for instance, a is represented by ai in hail, ea in steak, etc.
REMARK 3. — As a general rule, the long vocals and the diphthongs should be articulated with a full, clear utterance; but the short vocals have a sharp, distinct, and almost explosive utterance.
Subvocals are those sounds in which the vocalized breath is more or less obstructed.
Aspirates consist of breath only, modified by the vocal organs.
Words ending with subvocal sounds should be selected for practice on the subvocals; words beginning or ending with aspirate sounds may be used for practice on the aspirates. Pronounce these words forcibly and distinctly several times in succession; then drop the other sounds, and repeat the subvocals and aspirates alone. Let the class repeat the words and elements at first in concert, then separately.
REMARK. — These sixteen sounds make eight pairs of cognates. In articulating the aspirates, the vocal organs are put in the position required in the articulation of the corresponding subvocals; but the breath is expelled with some force without the utterance of any vocal sound. The pupil should first verify this by experiment, and then practice on these cognates.
Substitutes are characters used to represent sounds ordinarily represented by other characters.
DIRECTION. — Give to each sound, to each syllable, and to each word its full, distinct, and appropriate utterance.
For the purpose of avoiding the more common errors under this head, observe the following rules:
RULE II. — Avoid the omission of unaccented vowels.
RULE III. — Avoid sounding incorrectly the unaccented vowels.
REMARK I. — In correcting errors of this kind in words of more than one syllable, it is very important to avoid a fault which is the natural consequence of an effort to articulate correctly. Thus, in endeavoring to sound correctly the a in met-ric-al’, the pupil is very apt to say met-ric-al’, accenting the last syllable instead of the first.
REMARK 2. — The teacher should bear it in mind that in correcting a fault there is always danger of erring in the opposite extreme. Properly speaking, there is no danger of learning to articulate too distinctly, but there is danger of making the obscure sounds too prominent, and of reading in a slow, measured, and unnatural manner.
RULE IV. — Utter distinctly the terminating subvocals and aspirates.
REMARK 1. — This omission is still more likely to occur when several consonants come together.
REMARK 2. — In all cases of this kind these sounds are omitted, in the first instance, merely because they are difficult, and require care and attention for their utterance, although after a while it becomes a habit. The only remedy is to devote that care and attention which may be necessary. There is no other difficulty, unless there should be a defect in the organs of speech, which is not often the case.
RULE V. — A void blending syllables which belong to different words.
This exercise and similar ones will afford valuable aid in training the organs to a distinct articulation.
Every vice fights against nature.
Folly is never pleased with itself.
Pride, not nature, craves much.
The little tattler tittered at the tempest.
Titus takes the petulant outcasts.
The covetous partner is destitute of fortune.
No one of you knows where the shoe pinches.
What can not be cured must be endured.
You can not catch old birds with chaff.
Never sport with the opinions of others.
The lightnings flashed, the thunders roared.
His hand in mine was fondly clasped.
They cultivated shrubs and plants.
He selected his texts with great care.
His lips grow restless, and his smile is curled half into scorn.
Wisdom’s ways are ways of pleasantness.
O breeze, that waftst me on my way!
Thou boast’st of what should be thy shame.
Life’s fitful fever over, he rests well.
Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons?
From star to star the living lightnings flash.
And glittering crowns of prostrate seraphim.
That morning, thou that slumber’d’st not before.
Habitual evils change not on a sudden.
Thou waft’d’st the rickety skiffs over the cliffs.
Thou reef’d’st the haggled, shipwrecked sails.
The honest shepherd’s catarrh.
The heiress in her dishabille is humorous.
The brave chevalier behaves like a conservative.
The luscious notion of champagne and precious sugar.