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If we compietely relax the jaw, lips, and tongue, opening the mouth just wide enough to let out the sound, and then vocalize in the most indifferent manner possible, we produce something between a grunt and the sound of u in hurt. The sound is indefiniteinarticulate. Very likely the earliest attempts at speech were little better than a series of such vague sounds, more or less modified by different positions of the jaw and tongue. As the race progressed in language-making these sounds became more clearly defined and further separated from one another; more delicate variations were introduced, the sounds were combined in various ways, until, at last, man possessed articulate language.
Articulation has been defined the correct and elegant delivery of the elementary sounds in syllables and words."
These are classified as vowels and consonants.
The VOWELS are the foundation-sounds of the language. They are formed by various positions of the tongue and lips, which modify but do not obstruct the
flow of sound. Ah (ä in fäther), ā, ē, 7, 70 are examples.
The CONSONANTS are formed by positions of the tongue, teeth, or lips, which, for the time, interfere with the vowel-sound. For example, if you press the tip of the tongue against the upper teeth, as if to pronounce t or d, you will find it impossible to give a vowel-sound, ä, for instance. If, now, you allow the tongue to fall quickly back into its natural position just as you are about to say ä, you will get the combination tä or dä. It is this "recoil” of the tongue, as we call it, that makes the consonant distinct.
We begin our studies in articulation with the vowels. The tone as it comes from the larynx is molded into the various vowel-sounds by the different positions of the tongue and lips. The jaw always remains relaxed, although in some vowels it is not so wide open as in others.
We have already practised some of the vowel-sounds; we shall now, however, take them up in regular order, beginning with ē, as in ēēl.
1. Z is made with the forward part of the tongue near the roof of the mouth. The tongue is higher and the jaws are nearer together in forming this vowel than in any
other. For this reason it is one of the most difficult sounds to give properly, that is, with good tone, since the tendency in most of us is to cramp the throat whenever the tongue is active. Ah is one of the easiest of vowel-sounds, and you will find it useful to
make first the sound ä or 7 and in the same breath change to ē, keeping the quality of voice the same and not allowing the back of the tongue to rise. In this vowel, as we have said, the jaw cannot open so widely as in the more open sounds. Let it take its natural position, without cramping it.
What is said here with regard to the throat, back of tongue and jaw, refers to other vowels as well, and is to be understood without further repetition.
2. If the middle of the tongue be very slightly depressed while pronouncing ē, the sound becomes that of short I, as in žll. This sound is hard to sustain at first, as it tends to go back to long ē. Practise until this tendency is overcome.
Everyone who would speak or recite with good effect must have not merely mental capacity, but command over the body and the voice, the instruments through which he expresses himself.
Awkwardness, a weak or disagreeable voice, or indistinct articulation may spoil the effect of the most brilliant composition ; while a graceful and clear delivery will often make a very commonplace subject interesting
Faults in delivery are caused either by wrong conditions of the joints and muscles that are used in gesture and speech, thereby preventing the proper action of the parts, or by lack of control over the muscles, so that we use the wrong set or do not use the right set properly.
It is evident that if we wish to gain control of the body we must first get rid of wrong actions and conditions ; in other words, before we begin to strengthen the parts, we must render them flexible and pliable. It is of no use to practise opening the hand, for instance, so long as the muscles which shut the hand refuse to relax and allow the other set to act freely; we shall only be straining the delicate tendons and rendering the action more awkward than before. Therefore we must first learn to relax; afterward we shall study to get control of the parts.
Hands and Fingers. Lift the forearm a little in front of the body, with the hand and fingers hanging down in a lifeless man
Hold the arm in this position until the hand has become perfectly passsive and you can feel that its own weight is drawing it downward. This means that the muscles that hold the hand and fingers in position have completely relaxed. See FIG. 4. that the fingers hang as loosely as the fringe on a shawl.
When you have attained this state of perfect pliability, which may require many days or even weeks of persevering practice, shake the hand gently by moving the arm up and down, then sideways, and finally in a circle. Be very careful that the hand and fingers remain passive and are simply shaken about by the arm.
Practise this exercise in various positions, i.e., palm up, palm down, and with the hand held edgewise, until you have gained the ability to put the hand in a passive state whenever and wherever you wish.
Wrists. Practise the same movements with the arms stretched
FIG. 5. out at the sides and in front, with one arm at a time at first, then with both together. Be careful to hold the arm straight, without relaxing at the elbow, and to move the arm from the shoulder,