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The lisper should be told, that, in forming the sound of th, the tip of the tongue is pressed gently against the inner surface of the upper incisor teeth ; whereas, in forming that of s, it is placed, in like manner, against the gums of the upper incisor teeth. Hence, to avoid making th for s, the tongue should be drawn back a little, and its point turned upward against the gums of the
teeth. In the correction of lisping, the following exercise may be practised with advantage :
tha, sa; tha, sa; tha, sa; tha, sa; the, se; the, se ; &c. The defects of articulation, in which one element is substituted for another, are numerous; but, as the method of treatment is similar in all, it is presumed enough has been said to enable the teacher to manage them successfully.
STAMMERING is a functional derangement of the organs of speech, which renders them incapable, under certain circumstances, of promptly obeying the commands of the will.
In a majority of cases, the cause of this affection operates through the medium of the mind.
Stammering is cured by a regular course of hygienic elocution. But, as the disease exists under a variety of forms, it requires a variety of treatment. And, as the treatment is medico-elocutional, he who would apply it successfully, must unite the skill of the elocutionist with that of the physician.
Stammering or stuttering is a hesitation or interruption of speech, and is usually attended by more or less distortion of feature. This affection presents itself under a variety of forms. In some cases, the stammerer makes an effort to speak, and all his breath is expelled without producing vocality; in others, the lips are spasmodically closed :—these two forms often occur in the same case. Sometimes the stammerer, while speaking or reading, loses all power over the vocal organs, and remains some moments with his
mouth open, before he can recover sufficient energy to proceed. In many cases, the stammerer repeats the word immediately preceding the one he is attempting to pronounce; or he repeats, in a rapid manner, the first element, or the first syllable, of the difficult word.
“ The predisposing causes are nervous irritability and delicacy of constitution. The most usual exciting causes are diffidence, embarrassment, a fear of not being successful when about to make an effort to speak, an attempt to speak faster than the vocal organs can assume the proper positions for utterance. Two or more of these causes often occur in the same case. Sometimes the habit of stammering is acquired by imitation.
The proximate cause of stammering is a spasmodic action of the muscles of speech.
“ The probability of a cure depends upon the following circumstances : if the stammerer has a cheerful disposition, is distinguished for energy of mind and decision of character, can appreciate the variations of pitch in speech and song, or, in other words, has an ear for music and a taste for elocution, the prognosis is favourable. But if he is of a nervous temperament, subject to melancholy, irresolute of purpose, incapable of imitation in speaking and singing, the prognosis is unfavourable.” *
In the treatment of stammering, the pupil should be impressed with the importance, nay, necessity, of giving exclusive attention to the subject; and he should not be allowed to converse with any one till he can speak without stammering. These rules cannot be too strongly enforced. I am fully persuaded of this from my own experience. Several stammerers, who have placed themselves under my care, taking but two or three lessons a week, and attending to their usual avocations, have left me disappointed; while those who have given undivided attention to the subject, have been entirely relieved. True, many are more or less benefitted even by occasionally taking a lesson ; but it is very difficult, by an irregular course, to effect a radical cure. The habit of stammering should be arrested at once; for, while it is continued, how is it possible that the habit of speaking correctly can be established ?
* Dr. Comstock.
Great pains should be taken to inspire the stammerer with confidence. He should be convinced that his success depends mainly upon his own exertions : that he must pursue the various exercises assigned him with indefatigable zeal, with untiring industry! that he has the same organs of speech as other people, and nothing is necessary to enable him to use them as well, but a conviction in his ability to do so. To think that one can do, gives almost the ability to accomplish—but to think that one cannot do, virtually takes away the ability to do, even where it is ample.
The teacher should study the disposition of his pupil : he should persuade him to banish from his mind all melancholy thoughts-in short, he should do everything in his power to render his pupil cheerful and happy.
Various athletic exercises should be resorted to daily, to invigorate all the muscles of voluntary motion, and diminish nervous irritability. In some cases it may be necessary to have recourse to tonics, antispasmodics, bathing in salt water, frictions over the whole surface of the body, &c., &c. Electricity may be used with advantage as a tonic, and also as a means of interrupting the spasm of the vocal organs.
Pitch is the degree of the elevation of sounds.
If the finger be slid up and down the string of a violin with continued pressure, while the bow is drawn across it, a mewing sound will be produced. This sound will end at a higher or lower pitch than that at which it began, according to the direction of the movement of the finger. The sound produced is named in the science of speech a Concrete, or continuous sound, inasmuch as the change of pitch is without break, or takes place during a single impulse of sound. This sound, as it differs in pitch at its two extremities, must of course be made up of distinct impulses differing in pitch, but, as each is too short in its duration to be discerned by the ear, they may be said to be concreted together into one unbroken movement, which is properly enough named a slide. This slide, when
heard, is perceived to rise and fall in pitch only as a whole, and is therefore called a concrete sound. Such a slide, rising or falling in pitch, is invariably made whenever a syllable is spoken ; or, in other words, is inseparable from the act of speech.
If, while the bow is drawn across it, the string be pressed on the board, say at every se nd of time, at certain points or places, rising one above another, determined by a previous known rule of mathematical calculation, the sounds of the common scale will be produced. The sounds thus produced may be called Discrete sounds.
The sounds of a piano forte, for instance, consist of Discrete sounds. A succession of syllables, consisting of separate impulses, are a succession of Discrete sounds, commencing at the same or different points of pitch from each other; while the slides heard in the utterance of each syllable, consist of Concrete sounds. Discrete and Concrete sound is therefore heard in all discourse, and both ara inseparable from it.
The speaking voice, in good elocution, seldom rises higher than a fifth above the lowest note of its compass. The majority of people pitch their voices too high, not only when they read and speak in public, but also in their colloquial intercourse. We not unfrequently meet with individuals who always speak in the highest key of the natural voice, and we occasionally meet with some who even speak in the falsetto. A high pitch, in speech, is unpleasant to a cultivated ear; and, though it may answer in the business transactions of life, it is totally inadequate to the correct expression of sentiments of respect, veneration, dignity, and sublimity.
WRITERS on Elocution have given numerous rules for the regulation of inflections; but most of these rules are better calculated to make bad readers than good ones. Those founded on the construction of sentences might, perhaps, do credit to a mechanic, but they certainly do none to an elocutionist.
The subject is of such a nature, that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to give rules for the regulation of all the inflections of the voice, in reading and speaking; and, as any rule on this part of elocution must necessarily be limited in its application, I have thought proper to dispense with them altogether. When the student shall have acquired a knowledge of the principles of elocution, he will have no occasion for rules.
The reader should bear in mind that a falling inflection gives more importance to a word than a rising inflection. Hence it should never be employed merely for the sake of variety ; but for emphases and cadences. Neither should a rising inflection be used for the sake of mere harmony, where a falling inflection would better express the meaning of the author.
The sense should, in all cases, determine the direction of inflections. Hence the absurdity of “harmonic inflection", as employed by Walker and his disciples--an inflection which, for the sake of harmony, takes a direction contrary to that required by the sense! If a sentence is pronounced so as to bring out the sense in the most forcible manner, all the inflections must necessarily be " harmonic; or, more properly speaking, melodic. Every modification of the voice, which is not compatible with the sentiment, weakens the force of the elocution by drawing off the attention of the hearer from the sense to the sound.
The melody of speech is founded on sense ; that of song, generally, on sound. Words containing opposite sentiments may be sung to the same air, with effects equally good, if the force and time be properly varied. hus, if the two songs,
“ March to the Battle Field,” and “ Oft in the Stilly Night,” be sung to the same air—the former with great force, and in quick time—the latter with diminished force, and in slow time, there will be as much difference of expression between them, as there is between that of joy and