The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie - HTML preview
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[Footnote 4: See chapter on "Increasing the Vocabulary."]
[Footnote 5: Money.]
Oh, there is something in that voice that reaches The innermost recesses of my spirit!
The dramatic critic of The London Times once declared that acting is nine-tenths voice work. Leaving the message aside, the same may justly be said of public speaking. A rich, correctly-used voice is the greatest physical factor of persuasiveness and power, often over-topping the effects of reason.
But a good voice, well handled, is not only an effective possession for the professional speaker, it is a mark of personal culture as well, and even a distinct commercial asset. Gladstone, himself the possessor of a deep, musical voice, has said: "Ninety men in every hundred in the crowded professions will probably never rise above mediocrity because the training of the voice is entirely neglected and considered of no importance."
These are words worth pondering.
There are three fundamental requisites for a good voice:
Signor Bonci of the Metropolitan Opera Company says that the secret of good voice is relaxation; and this is true, for relaxation is the basis of ease. The air waves that produce voice result in a different kind of tone when striking against relaxed muscles than when striking constricted muscles. Try this for yourself. Contract the muscles of your face and throat as you do in hate, and flame out "I hate you!" Now relax as you do when thinking gentle, tender thoughts, and say, "I love you." How different the voice sounds.
In practising voice exercises, and in speaking, never force your tones. Ease must be your watchword. The voice is a delicate instrument, and you must not handle it with hammer and tongs. Don't make your voice go-- let it go. Don't work. Let the yoke of speech be easy and its burden light.
Your throat should be free from strain during speech, therefore it is necessary to avoid muscular contraction.
The throat must act as a sort of chimney or funnel for the voice, hence any unnatural constriction will not only harm its tones but injure its health.
Nervousness and mental strain are common sources of mouth and throat constriction, so make the battle for poise and self-confidence for which we pleaded in the opening chapter.
But how can I relax? you ask. By simply willing to relax. Hold your arm out straight from your shoulder.
Now--withdraw all power and let it fall. Practise relaxation of the muscles of the throat by letting your neck and head fall forward. Roll the upper part of your body around, with the waist line acting as a pivot. Let your head fall and roll around as you shift the torso to different positions. Do not force your head around--simply relax your neck and let gravity pull it around as your body moves.
Again, let your head fall forward on your breast; raise your head, letting your jaw hang. Relax until your jaw feels heavy, as though it were a weight hung to your face. Remember, you must relax the jaw to obtain command of it. It must be free and flexible for the moulding of tone, and to let the tone pass out unobstructed.
The lips also must be made flexible, to aid in the moulding of clear and beautiful tones. For flexibility of lips repeat the syllables, mo-- me. In saying mo, bring the lips up to resemble the shape of the letter O. In repeating me draw them back as you do in a grin. Repeat this exercise rapidly, giving the lips as much exercise as CHAPTER XII
Try the following exercise in the same manner:
After this exercise has been mastered, the following will also be found excellent for flexibility of lips: Memorize these sounds indicated (not the expressions) so that you can repeat them rapidly.
| A as in May. | E as in Met. | U as in Use. | A " Ah. | I " Ice. | Oi " Oil. | A " At. | I " It. | Ou " Our. | O " No. |
O " No. | OO " Ooze. | A " All. | OO " Foot. | A " Ah. | E " Eat. | OO " Ooze. | E " Eat.
All the activity of breathing must be centered, not in the throat, but in the middle of the body--you must breathe from the diaphragm. Note the way you breathe when lying flat on the back, undressed in bed. You will observe that all the activity then centers around the diaphragm. This is the natural and correct method of breathing. By constant watchfulness make this your habitual manner, for it will enable you to relax more perfectly the muscles of the throat.
The next fundamental requisite for good voice is
If the muscles of the throat are constricted, the tone passage partially closed, and the mouth kept half-shut, how can you expect the tone to come out bright and clear, or even to come out at all? Sound is a series of waves, and if you make a prison of your mouth, holding the jaws and lips rigidly, it will be very difficult for the tone to squeeze through, and even when it does escape it will lack force and carrying power. Open your mouth wide, relax all the organs of speech, and let the tone flow out easily.
Start to yawn, but instead of yawning, speak while your throat is open. Make this open-feeling habitual when speaking--we say make because it is a matter of resolution and of practise, if your vocal organs are healthy.
Your tone passages may be partly closed by enlarged tonsils, adenoids, or enlarged turbinate bones of the nose. If so, a skilled physician should be consulted.
The nose is an important tone passage and should be kept open and free for perfect tones. What we call
"talking through the nose" is not talking through the nose, as you can easily demonstrate by holding your nose as you talk. If you are bothered with nasal tones caused by growths or swellings in the nasal passages, a slight, painless operation will remove the obstruction. This is quite important, aside from voice, for the general health will be much lowered if the lungs are continually starved for air.
The final fundamental requisite for good voice is
A voice that is pitched back in the throat is dark, sombre, and unattractive. The tone must be pitched forward, but do not force it forward. You will recall that our first principle was ease. Think the tone forward and out.
Believe it is going forward, and allow it to flow easily. You can tell whether you are placing your tone forward or not by inhaling a deep breath and singing ah with the mouth wide open, trying to feel the little delicate sound waves strike the bony arch of the mouth just above the front teeth. The sensation is so slight that you will probably not be able to detect it at once, but persevere in your practise, always thinking the tone forward, and you will be rewarded by feeling your voice strike the roof of your mouth. A correct forward-placing of the tone will do away with the dark, throaty tones that are so unpleasant, inefficient, and CHAPTER XII
harmful to the throat.
Close the lips, humming ng, im, or an. Think the tone forward. Do you feel it strike the lips?
Hold the palm of your hand in front of your face and say vigorously crash, dash, whirl, buzz. Can you feel the forward tones strike against your hand? Practise until you can. Remember, the only way to get your voice forward is to put it forward.
How to Develop the Carrying Power of the Voice
It is not necessary to speak loudly in order to be heard at a distance. It is necessary only to speak correctly.
Edith Wynne Matthison's voice will carry in a whisper throughout a large theater. A paper rustling on the stage of a large auditorium can be heard distinctly in the furthermost seat in the gallery. If you will only use your voice correctly, you will not have much difficulty in being heard. Of course it is always well to address your speech to your furthest auditors; if they get it, those nearer will have no trouble, but aside from this obvious suggestion, you must observe these laws of voice production: Remember to apply the principles of ease, openness and forwardness--they are the prime factors in enabling your voice to be heard at a distance.
Do not gaze at the floor as you talk. This habit not only gives the speaker an amateurish appearance but if the head is hung forward the voice will be directed towards the ground instead of floating out over the audience.
Voice is a series of air vibrations. To strengthen it two things are necessary: more air or breath, and more vibration.
Breath is the very basis of voice. As a bullet with little powder behind it will not have force and carrying power, so the voice that has little breath behind it will be weak. Not only will deep breathing--breathing from the diaphragm--give the voice a better support, but it will give it a stronger resonance by improving the general health.
Usually, ill health means a weak voice, while abundant physical vitality is shown through a strong, vibrant voice. Therefore anything that improves the general vitality is an excellent voice strengthener, provided you use the voice properly. Authorities differ on most of the rules of hygiene but on one point they all agree: vitality and longevity are increased by deep breathing. Practise this until it becomes second nature. Whenever you are speaking, take in deep breaths, but in such a manner that the inhalations will be silent.
Do not try to speak too long without renewing your breath. Nature cares for this pretty well unconsciously in conversation, and she will do the same for you in platform speaking if you do not interfere with her premonitions.
A certain very successful speaker developed voice carrying power by running across country, practising his speeches as he went. The vigorous exercise forced him to take deep breaths, and developed lung power. A hard-fought basketball or tennis game is an efficient way of practising deep breathing. When these methods are not convenient, we recommend the following:
Place your hands at your sides, on the waist line.
By trying to encompass your waist with your fingers and thumbs, force all the air out of the lungs.
Take a deep breath. Remember, all the activity is to be centered in the middle of the body; do not raise the shoulders. As the breath is taken your hands will be forced out.
Repeat the exercise, placing your hands on the small of the back and forcing them out as you inhale.
Many methods for deep breathing have been given by various authorities. Get the air into your lungs--that is the important thing.
The body acts as a sounding board for the voice just as the body of the violin acts as a sounding board for its tones. You can increase its vibrations by practise.
Place your finger on your lip and hum the musical scale, thinking and placing the voice forward on the lips.
Do you feel the lips vibrate? After a little practise they will vibrate, giving a tickling sensation.
Repeat this exercise, throwing the humming sound into the nose. Hold the upper part of the nose between the thumb and forefinger. Can you feel the nose vibrate?
Placing the palm of your hand on top of your head, repeat this humming exercise. Think the voice there as you hum in head tones. Can you feel the vibration there?
Now place the palm of your hand on the back of your head, repeating the foregoing process. Then try it on the chest. Always remember to think your tone where you desire to feel the vibrations. The mere act of thinking about any portion of your body will tend to make it vibrate.
Repeat the following, after a deep inhalation, endeavoring to feel all portions of your body vibrate at the same time. When you have attained this you will find that it is a pleasant sensation.
What ho, my jovial mates. Come on! We will frolic it like fairies, frisking in the merry moonshine.
Purity of Voice
This quality is sometimes destroyed by wasting the breath. Carefully control the breath, using only as much as is necessary for the production of tone. Utilize all that you give out. Failure to do this results in a breathy tone.
Take in breath like a prodigal; in speaking, give it out like a miser.
Never attempt to force your voice when hoarse.
Do not drink cold water when speaking. The sudden shock to the heated organs of speech will injure the voice.
Avoid pitching your voice too high--it will make it raspy. This is a common fault. When you find your voice in too high a range, lower it. Do not wait until you get to the platform to try this. Practise it in your daily conversation. Repeat the alphabet, beginning A on the lowest scale possible and going up a note on each succeeding letter, for the development of range. A wide range will give you facility in making numerous changes of pitch.
Do not form the habit of listening to your voice when speaking. You will need your brain to think of what you are saying--reserve your observation for private practise.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. What are the prime requisites for good voice?
2. Tell why each one is necessary for good voice production.
3. Give some exercises for development of these conditions.
4. Why is range of voice desirable?
5. Tell how range of voice may be cultivated.
6. How much daily practise do you consider necessary for the proper development of your voice?
7. How can resonance and carrying power be developed?
8. What are your voice faults?
9. How are you trying to correct them?
A cheerful temper joined with innocence will make beauty attractive, knowledge delightful, and wit good-natured.
--JOSEPH ADDISON, The Tattler.
Poe said that "the tone of beauty is sadness," but he was evidently thinking from cause to effect, not contrariwise, for sadness is rarely a producer of beauty--that is peculiarly the province of joy.
The exquisite beauty of a sunset is not exhilarating but tends to a sort of melancholy that is not far from delight The haunting beauty of deep, quiet music holds more than a tinge of sadness. The lovely minor cadences of bird song at twilight are almost depressing.
The reason we are affected to sadness by certain forms of placid beauty is twofold: movement is stimulating and joy-producing, while quietude leads to reflection, and reflection in turn often brings out the tone of regretful longing for that which is past; secondly, quiet beauty produces a vague aspiration for the relatively unattainable, yet does not stimulate to the tremendous effort necessary to make the dimly desired state or object ours.
We must distinguish, for these reasons, between the sadness of beauty and the joy of beauty. True, joy is a deep, inner thing and takes in much more than the idea of bounding, sanguine spirits, for it includes a certain active contentedness of heart. In this chapter, however the word will have its optimistic, exuberant connotation--we are thinking now of vivid, bright-eyed, laughing joy.
Musical, joyous tones constitute voice charm, a subtle magnetism that is delightfully contagious. Now it might seem to the desultory reader that to take the lancet and cut into this alluring voice quality would be to dissect a butterfly wing and so destroy its charm. Yet how can we induce an effect if we are not certain as to the cause?
Nasal Resonance Produces the Bell-tones of the Voice
The tone passages of the nose must be kept entirely free for the bright tones of voice--and after our warning in the preceding chapter you will not confuse what is popularly and erroneously called a "nasal" tone with the true nasal quality, which is so well illustrated by the voice work of trained French singers and speakers.
To develop nasal resonance sing the following, dwelling as long as possible on the ng sounds. Pitch the voice in the nasal cavity. Practise both in high and low registers, and develop range-- with brightness.
Sing-song. Ding-dong. Hong-kong. Long-thong.
Practise in the falsetto voice develops a bright quality in the normal speaking-voice. Try the following, and any other selections you choose, in a falsetto voice. A man's falsetto voice is extremely high and womanish, so men should not practise in falsetto after the exercise becomes tiresome.
She perfectly scorned the best of his clan, and declared the ninth of any man, a perfectly vulgar fraction.
The actress Mary Anderson asked the poet Longfellow what she could do to improve her voice. He replied,
"Read aloud daily, joyous, lyric poetry."
The joyous tones are the bright tones. Develop them by exercise. Practise your voice exercises in an attitude of joy. Under the influence of pleasure the body expands, the tone passages open, the action of heart and lungs is accelerated, and all the primary conditions for good tone are established.
More songs float out from the broken windows of the negro cabins in the South than from the palatial homes on Fifth Avenue. Henry Ward Beecher said the happiest days of his life were not when he had become an international character, but when he was an unknown minister out in Lawrenceville, Ohio, sweeping his own church, and working as a carpenter to help pay the grocer. Happiness is largely an attitude of mind, of viewing life from the right angle. The optimistic attitude can be cultivated, and it will express itself in voice charm. A telephone company recently placarded this motto in their booths: "The Voice with the Smile Wins." It does.
Reading joyous prose, or lyric poetry, will help put smile and joy of soul into your voice. The following selections are excellent for practise.
REMEMBER that when you first practise these classics you are to give sole attention to two things: a joyous attitude of heart and body, and bright tones of voice. After these ends have been attained to your satisfaction, carefully review the principles of public speaking laid down in the preceding chapters and put them into practise as you read these passages again and again. It would be better to commit each selection to memory.
SELECTIONS FOR PRACTISE
FROM MILTON'S "L'ALLEGRO"
Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee Jest, and youthful Jollity, Quips and Cranks and wanton Wiles, Nods and Becks, and wreathèd Smiles, Such as hang on Hebe's cheek, And love to live in dimple sleek,-- Sport that wrinkled Care derides, And Laughter holding both his sides.
Come, and trip it as ye go On the light fantastic toe; And in thy right hand lead with thee The mountain nymph, sweet Liberty: And, if I give thee honor due, Mirth, admit me of thy crew, To live with her, and live with thee, In unreprovèd pleasures free;
To hear the lark begin his flight, And singing, startle the dull Night From his watch-tower in the skies, Till the dappled Dawn doth rise; Then to come in spite of sorrow, And at my window bid good-morrow Through the sweetbrier, or the vine, Or the twisted eglantine; While the cock with lively din Scatters the rear of darkness thin, And to the stack, or the barn-door, Stoutly struts his dames before; Oft listening how the hounds and horn Cheerly rouse the slumbering Morn, From the side of some hoar hill, Through the high wood echoing shrill; Sometime walking, not unseen, By hedge-row elms, on hillocks green, Right against the eastern gate, Where the great Sun begins his state, Robed in flames and amber light, The clouds in thousand liveries dight, While the plowman near at hand Whistles o'er the furrowed land, And the milkmaid singing blithe, And the mower whets his scythe, And every shepherd tells his tale, Under the hawthorn in the dale.
The sea, the sea, the open sea, The blue, the fresh, the fever free; Without a mark, without a bound, It runneth the earth's wide regions round; It plays with the clouds, it mocks the skies, Or like a cradled creature lies. I'm on the sea, I'm on the sea, I am where I would ever be, With the blue above and the blue below, And silence wheresoe'er I go. If a storm should come and awake the deep, What matter? I shall ride and sleep.
I love, oh! how I love to ride On the fierce, foaming, bursting tide, Where every mad wave drowns the moon, And whistles aloft its tempest tune, And tells how goeth the world below, And why the southwest wind doth blow! I never was on the dull, tame shore But I loved the great sea more and more, And backward flew to her billowy breast, Like a bird that seeketh her mother's nest,-- And a mother she was and is to me, For I was born on the open sea.
The waves were white, and red the morn, In the noisy hour when I was born; The whale it whistled, the porpoise rolled, And the dolphins bared their backs of gold; And never was heard such an outcry wild, As welcomed to life the ocean child. I have lived, since then, in calm and strife, Full fifty summers a rover's life, With wealth to spend, and a power to range, But never have sought or sighed for change: And death, whenever he comes to me, Shall come on the wide, unbounded sea!
The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world's joy. The lonely pine upon the mountain-top waves its sombre boughs, and cries, "Thou art my sun." And the little meadow violet lifts its cup of blue, and whispers with its perfumed breath, "Thou art my sun." And the grain in a thousand fields rustles in the wind, and makes answer, "Thou art my sun." And so God sits effulgent in Heaven, not for a favored few, but for the universe of life; and there is no creature so poor or so low that he may not look up with child-like confidence and say, "My Father! Thou art mine."
--HENRY WARD BEECHER.
Bird of the wilderness, Blithesome and cumberless, Sweet be thy matin o'er moorland and lea! Emblem of happiness, Blest is thy dwelling-place: Oh, to abide in the desert with thee!
Wild is thy lay, and loud, Far in the downy cloud,-- Love gives it energy; love gave it birth. Where, on thy dewy wing Where art thou journeying? Thy lay is in heaven; thy love is on earth.
O'er fell and fountain sheen, O'er moor and mountain green, O'er the red streamer that heralds the day; Over the cloudlet dim, Over the rainbow's rim, Musical cherub, soar, singing, away!
Then, when the gloaming comes, Low in the heather blooms, Sweet will thy welcome and bed of love be!
Emblem of happiness, Blest is thy dwelling-place. Oh, to abide in the desert with thee!
In joyous conversation there is an elastic touch, a delicate stroke, upon the central ideas, generally following a pause. This elastic touch adds vivacity to the voice. If you try repeatedly, it can be sensed by feeling the tongue strike the teeth. The entire absence of elastic touch in the voice can be observed in the thick tongue of the intoxicated man. Try to talk with the tongue lying still in the bottom of the mouth, and you will obtain largely the same effect. Vivacity of utterance is gained by using the tongue to strike off the emphatic idea with a decisive, elastic touch.
Deliver the following with decisive strokes on the emphatic ideas. Deliver it in a vivacious manner, noting the elastic touch-action of the tongue. A flexible, responsive tongue is absolutely essential to good voice work.
FROM NAPOLEON'S ADDRESS TO THE DIRECTORY ON HIS RETURN FROM EGYPT
What have you done with that brilliant France which I left you? I left you at peace, and I find you at war. I left you victorious and I find you defeated. I left you the millions of Italy, and I find only spoliation and poverty.
What have you done with the hundred thousand Frenchmen, my companions in glory? They are dead!... This state of affairs cannot last long; in less than three years it would plunge us into despotism.
Practise the following selection, for the development of elastic touch; say it in a joyous spirit, using the exercise to develop voice charm in all the ways suggested in this chapter.
I come from haunts of coot and hern, I make a sudden sally, And sparkle out among the fern, To bicker down a valley.
By thirty hills I hurry down, Or slip between the ridges; By twenty thorps, a little town, And half a hundred bridges.
Till last by Philip's farm I flow To join the brimming river; For men may come and men may go, But I go on forever.
I chatter over stony ways, In little sharps and trebles, I bubble into eddying bays, I babble on the pebbles.
With many a curve my banks I fret, By many a field and fallow, And many a fairy foreland set With willow-weed and mallow.
I chatter, chatter, as I flow To join the brimming river; For men may come and men may go, But I go on forever.
I wind about, and in and out, With here a blossom sailing, And here and there a lusty trout, And here and there a grayling,
And here and there a foamy flake Upon me, as I travel, With many a silvery water-break Above the golden gravel,
And draw them all along, and flow To join the brimming river, For men may come and men may go, But I go on forever.
I steal by lawns and grassy plots, I slide by hazel covers, I move the sweet forget-me-nots That grow for happy lovers.
I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance, Among my skimming swallows; I make the netted sunbeam dance Against my sandy shallows,
I murmur under moon and stars In brambly wildernesses, I linger by my shingly bars, I loiter round my cresses;
And out again I curve and flow To join the brimming river; For men may come and men may go, But I go on forever.
The children at play on the street, glad from sheer physical vitality, display a resonance and charm in their voices quite different from the voices that float through the silent halls of the hospitals. A skilled physician CHAPTER XIII
can tell much about his patient's condition from the mere sound of the voice. Failing health, or even physical weariness, tells through the voice. It is always well to rest and be entirely refreshed before attempting to deliver a public address. As to health, neither scope nor space permits us to discuss here the laws of hygiene.
There are many excellent books on this subject. In the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius, one senator wrote to another: "To the wise, a word is sufficient."
"The apparel oft proclaims the man;" the voice always does--it is one of the greatest revealers of character.
The superficial woman, the brutish man, the reprobate, the person of culture, often discloses inner nature in the voice, for even the cleverest dissembler cannot entirely prevent its tones and qualities being affected by the slightest change of thought or emotion. In anger it becomes high, harsh, and unpleasant; in love low, soft, and melodious--the variations are as limitless as they are fascinating to observe. Visit a theatrical hotel in a large city, and listen to the buzz-saw voices of the chorus girls from some burlesque "attraction." The explanation is simple--buzz-saw lives. Emerson said: "When a man lives with God his voice shall be as sweet as the murmur of the brook or the rustle of the corn." It is impossible to think selfish thoughts and have either an attractive personality, a lovely character, or a charming voice. If you want to possess voice charm, cultivate a deep, sincere sympathy for mankind. Love will shine out through your eyes and proclaim itself in your tones. One secret of the sweetness of the canary's song may be his freedom from tainted thoughts. Your character beautifies or mars your voice. As a man thinketh in his heart so is his voice.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. Define ( a) charm; ( b) joy; ( c) beauty.
2. Make a list of all the words related to joy.
3. Write a three-minute eulogy of "The Joyful Man."
4. Deliver it without the use of notes. Have you carefully considered all the qualities that go to make up voice-charm in its delivery?
5. Tell briefly in your own words what means may be employed to develop a charming voice.
6. Discuss the effect of voice on character.
7. Discuss the effect of character on voice.
8. Analyze the voice charm of any speaker or singer you choose.
9. Analyze the defects of any given voice.
10. Make a short humorous speech imitating certain voice defects, pointing out reasons.
11. Commit the following stanza and interpret each phase of delight suggested or expressed by the poet.
An infant when it gazes on a light, A child the moment when it drains the breast, A devotee when soars the Host in sight, An Arab with a stranger for a guest, A sailor when the prize has struck in fight, A miser filling his most hoarded chest, Feel rapture; but not such true joy are reaping As they who watch o'er what they love while sleeping.
--BYRON, Don Juan.
DISTINCTNESS AND PRECISION OF UTTERANCE
In man speaks God.
--HESIOD, Words and Days.
And endless are the modes of speech, and far Extends from side to side the field of words.
In popular usage the terms "pronunciation," "enunciation," and "articulation" are synonymous, but real pronunciation includes three distinct processes, and may therefore be defined as, the utterance of a syllable or a group of syllables with regard to articulation, accentuation, and enunciation.
Distinct and precise utterance is one of the most important considerations of public speech. How preposterous it is to hear a speaker making sounds of "inarticulate earnestness" under the contented delusion that he is telling something to his audience! Telling? Telling means communicating, and how can he actually communicate without making every word distinct?
Slovenly pronunciation results from either physical deformity or habit. A surgeon or a surgeon dentist may correct a deformity, but your own will, working by self-observation and resolution in drill, will break a habit.
All depends upon whether you think it worth while.
Defective speech is so widespread that freedom from it is the exception. It is painfully common to hear public speakers mutilate the king's English. If they do not actually murder it, as Curran once said, they often knock an i out.
A Canadian clergyman, writing in the Homiletic Review, relates that in his student days "a classmate who was an Englishman supplied a country church for a Sunday. On the following Monday he conducted a missionary meeting. In the course of his address he said some farmers thought they were doing their duty toward missions when they gave their 'hodds and hends' to the work, but the Lord required more. At the close of the meeting a young woman seriously said to a friend: 'I am sure the farmers do well if they give their hogs and hens to missions. It is more than most people can afford.'"
It is insufferable effrontery for any man to appear before an audience who persists in driving the h out of happiness, home and heaven, and, to paraphrase Waldo Messaros, will not let it rest in hell. He who does not show enough self-knowledge to see in himself such glaring faults, nor enough self-mastery to correct them, has no business to instruct others. If he can do no better, he should be silent. If he will do no better, he should also be silent.
Barring incurable physical defects--and few are incurable nowadays--the whole matter is one of will. The catalogue of those who have done the impossible by faithful work is as inspiring as a roll-call of warriors.
"The less there is of you," says Nathan Sheppard, "the more need for you to make the most of what there is of you."
Articulation is the forming and joining of the elementary sounds of speech. It seems an appalling task to utter articulately the third-of-a million words that go to make up our English vocabulary, but the way to make a beginning is really simple: learn to utter correctly, and with easy change from one to the other, each of the CHAPTER XIV
forty-four elementary sounds in our language.
The reasons why articulation is so painfully slurred by a great many public speakers are four: ignorance of the elemental sounds; failure to discriminate between sounds nearly alike; a slovenly, lazy use of the vocal organs; and a torpid will. Anyone who is still master of himself will know how to handle each of these defects.
The vowel sounds are the most vexing source of errors, especially where diphthongs are found. Who has not heard such errors as are hit off in this inimitable verse by Oliver Wendell Holmes: Learning condemns beyond the reach of hope The careless lips that speak of s[)o]ap for s[=o]ap; Her edict exiles from her fair abode The clownish voice that utters r[)o]ad for r[=o]ad; Less stern to him who calls his c[=o]at, a c[)o]at And steers his b[=o]at believing it a b[)o]at. She pardoned one, our classic city's boast. Who said at Cambridge, m[)o]st instead of m[=o]st, But knit her brows and stamped her angry foot To hear a Teacher call a r[=oo]t a r[)oo]t.
The foregoing examples are all monosyllables, but bad articulation is frequently the result of joining sounds that do not belong together. For example, no one finds it difficult to say beauty, but many persist in pronouncing duty as though it were spelled either dooty or juty. It is not only from untaught speakers that we hear such slovenly articulations as colyum for column, and pritty for pretty, but even great orators occasionally offend quite as unblushingly as less noted mortals.
Nearly all such are errors of carelessness, not of pure ignorance--of carelessness because the ear never tries to hear what the lips articulate. It must be exasperating to a foreigner to find that the elemental sound ou gives him no hint for the pronunciation of bough, cough, rough, thorough, and through, and we can well forgive even a man of culture who occasionally loses his way amidst the intricacies of English articulation, but there can be no excuse for the slovenly utterance of the simple vowel sounds which form at once the life and the beauty of our language. He who is too lazy to speak distinctly should hold his tongue.
The consonant sounds occasion serious trouble only for those who do not look with care at the spelling of words about to be pronounced. Nothing but carelessness can account for saying Jacop, Babtist, sevem, alwus, or sadisfy.
"He that hath yaws to yaw, let him yaw," is the rendering which an Anglophobiac clergyman gave of the familiar scripture, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." After hearing the name of Sir Humphry Davy pronounced, a Frenchman who wished to write to the eminent Englishman thus addressed the letter: "Serum Fridavi."
Accentuation is the stressing of the proper syllables in words. This it is that is popularly called pronunciation.
For instance, we properly say that a word is mispronounced when it is accented in'-vite instead of in-vite' , though it is really an offense against only one form of pronunciation--accentuation.
It is the work of a lifetime to learn the accents of a large vocabulary and to keep pace with changing usage; but an alert ear, the study of word-origins, and the dictionary habit, will prove to be mighty helpers in a task that can never be finally completed.
Correct enunciation is the complete utterance of all the sounds of a syllable or a word. Wrong articulation gives the wrong sound to the vowel or vowels of a word or a syllable, as doo for dew; or unites two sounds CHAPTER XIV
improperly, as hully for wholly. Wrong enunciation is the incomplete utterance of a syllable or a word, the sound omitted or added being usually consonantal. To say needcessity instead of necessity is a wrong articulation; to say doin for doing is improper enunciation. The one articulates--that is, joints--two sounds that should not be joined, and thus gives the word a positively wrong sound; the other fails to touch all the sounds in the word, and in that particular way also sounds the word incorrectly.
"My tex' may be foun' in the fif' and six' verses of the secon' chapter of Titus; and the subjec' of my discourse is 'The Gover'ment of ar Homes.'"
What did this preacher do with his final consonants? This slovenly dropping of essential sounds is as offensive as the common habit of running words together so that they lose their individuality and distinctness.
Lighten dark, uppen down, doncher know, partic'lar, zamination, are all too common to need comment.
Imperfect enunciation is due to lack of attention and to lazy lips. It can be corrected by resolutely attending to the formation of syllables as they are uttered. Flexible lips will enunciate difficult combinations of sounds without slighting any of them, but such flexibility cannot be attained except by habitually uttering words with distinctness and accuracy. A daily exercise in enunciating a series of sounds will in a short time give flexibility to the lips and alertness to the mind, so that no word will be uttered without receiving its due complement of sound.
Returning to our definition, we see that when the sounds of a word are properly articulated, the right syllables accented, and full value given to each sound in its enunciation, we have correct pronunciation. Perhaps one word of caution is needed here, lest any one, anxious to bring out clearly every sound, should overdo the matter and neglect the unity and smoothness of pronunciation. Be careful not to bring syllables into so much prominence as to make words seem long and angular. The joints must be kept decently dressed.
Before delivery, do not fail to go over your manuscript and note every sound that may possibly be mispronounced. Consult the dictionary and make assurance doubly sure. If the arrangement of words is unfavorable to clear enunciation, change either words or order and do not rest until you can follow Hamlet's directions to the players.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. Practise repeating the following rapidly, paying particular attention to the consonants.
"Foolish Flavius, flushing feverishly, fiercely found fault with Flora's frivolity."
Mary's matchless mimicry makes much mischief.
Seated on shining shale she sells sea shells.
You youngsters yielded your youthful yule-tide yearnings yesterday.
2. Sound the l in each of the following words, repeated in sequence: Blue black blinkers blocked Black Blondin's eyes.
3. Do you say a bloo sky or a blue sky?
4. Compare the u sound in few and in new. Say each aloud, and decide which is correct, Noo York, New Yawk, or New York?
5. Pay careful heed to the directions of this chapter in reading the following, from Hamlet. After the interview with the ghost of his father, Hamlet tells his friends Horatio and Marcellus that he intends to act a part: Horatio. O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!
Hamlet. And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come; Here, as before, never, so help you mercy, How strange or odd so'er I bear myself,-- As I perchance hereafter shall think meet To put an antic disposition on,-- That you, at such times seeing me, never shall, With arms encumber'd thus, or this head-shake, Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase, As "Well, well, we know," or "We could, an if we would," Or "If we list to speak," or
"There be, an if there might," Or such ambiguous giving-out, to note That you know aught of me: this not to do, So grace and mercy at your most need help you, Swear.
-- Act I. Scene V.
6. Make a list of common errors of pronunciation, saying which are due to faulty articulation, wrong accentuation, and incomplete enunciation. In each case make the correction.
7. Criticise any speech you may have heard which displayed these faults.
8. Explain how the false shame of seeming to be too precise may hinder us from cultivating perfect verbal utterance.
9. Over-precision is likewise a fault. To bring out any syllable unduly is to caricature the word. Be moderate in reading the following:
THE LAST SPEECH OF MAXIMILIAN DE ROBESPIERRE
The enemies of the Republic call me tyrant! Were I such they would grovel at my feet. I should gorge them with gold, I should grant them immunity for their crimes, and they would be grateful. Were I such, the kings we have vanquished, far from denouncing Robespierre, would lend me their guilty support; there would be a covenant between them and me. Tyranny must have tools. But the enemies of tyranny,--whither does their path tend? To the tomb, and to immortality! What tyrant is my protector? To what faction do I belong?
Yourselves! What faction, since the beginning of the Revolution, has crushed and annihilated so many detected traitors? You, the people,--our principles--are that faction--a faction to which I am devoted, and against which all the scoundrelism of the day is banded!
The confirmation of the Republic has been my object; and I know that the Republic can be established only on the eternal basis of morality. Against me, and against those who hold kindred principles, the league is formed.
My life? Oh! my life I abandon without a regret! I have seen the past; and I foresee the future. What friend of this country would wish to survive the moment when he could no longer serve it,--when he could no longer defend innocence against oppression? Wherefore should I continue in an order of things, where intrigue eternally triumphs over truth; where justice is mocked; where passions the most abject, or fears the most absurd, over-ride the sacred interests of humanity? In witnessing the multitude of vices which the torrent of the Revolution has rolled in turbid communion with its civic virtues, I confess that I have sometimes feared that I should be sullied, in the eyes of posterity, by the impure neighborhood of unprincipled men, who had thrust themselves into association with the sincere friends of humanity; and I rejoice that these conspirators against my country have now, by their reckless rage, traced deep the line of demarcation between themselves and all true men.
Question history, and learn how all the defenders of liberty, in all times, have been overwhelmed by calumny.
But their traducers died also. The good and the bad disappear alike from the earth; but in very different CHAPTER XIV
conditions. O Frenchmen! O my countrymen! Let not your enemies, with their desolating doctrines, degrade your souls, and enervate your virtues! No, Chaumette, no! Death is not "an eternal sleep!" Citizens! efface from the tomb that motto, graven by sacrilegious hands, which spreads over all nature a funereal crape, takes from oppressed innocence its support, and affronts the beneficent dispensation of death! Inscribe rather thereon these words: "Death is the commencement of immortality!" I leave to the oppressors of the People a terrible testament, which I proclaim with the independence befitting one whose career is so nearly ended; it is the awful truth--"Thou shalt die!"
[Footnote 6: School and College Speaker, Mitchell.]
[Footnote 7: School and College Speaker, Mitchell.]
THE TRUTH ABOUT GESTURE
When Whitefield acted an old blind man advancing by slow steps toward the edge of the precipice, Lord Chesterfield started up and cried: "Good God, he is gone!"
--NATHAN SHEPPARD, Before an Audience.
Gesture is really a simple matter that requires observation and common sense rather than a book of rules.
Gesture is an outward expression of an inward condition. It is merely an effect--the effect of a mental or an emotional impulse struggling for expression through physical avenues.
You must not, however, begin at the wrong end: if you are troubled by your gestures, or a lack of gestures, attend to the cause, not the effect. It will not in the least help matters to tack on to your delivery a few mechanical movements. If the tree in your front yard is not growing to suit you, fertilize and water the soil and let the tree have sunshine. Obviously it will not help your tree to nail on a few branches. If your cistern is dry, wait until it rains; or bore a well. Why plunge a pump into a dry hole?
The speaker whose thoughts and emotions are welling within him like a mountain spring will not have much trouble to make gestures; it will be merely a question of properly directing them. If his enthusiasm for his subject is not such as to give him a natural impulse for dramatic action, it will avail nothing to furnish him with a long list of rules. He may tack on some movements, but they will look like the wilted branches nailed to a tree to simulate life. Gestures must be born, not built. A wooden horse may amuse the children, but it takes a live one to go somewhere.
It is not only impossible to lay down definite rules on this subject, but it would be silly to try, for everything depends on the speech, the occasion, the personality and feelings of the speaker, and the attitude of the audience. It is easy enough to forecast the result of multiplying seven by six, but it is impossible to tell any man what kind of gestures he will be impelled to use when he wishes to show his earnestness. We may tell him that many speakers close the hand, with the exception of the forefinger, and pointing that finger straight at the audience pour out their thoughts like a volley; or that others stamp one foot for emphasis; or that Mr.
Bryan often slaps his hands together for great force, holding one palm upward in an easy manner; or that Gladstone would sometimes make a rush at the clerk's table in Parliament and smite it with his hand so forcefully that D'israeli once brought down the house by grimly congratulating himself that such a barrier stood between himself and "the honorable gentleman."
All these things, and a bookful more, may we tell the speaker, but we cannot know whether he can use these gestures or not, any more than we can decide whether he could wear Mr. Bryan's clothes. The best that can be done on this subject is to offer a few practical suggestions, and let personal good taste decide as to where effective dramatic action ends and extravagant motion begins.
Any Gesture That Merely Calls Attention to Itself Is Bad