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Definition of Terms. - Good pronunciation is that manner of uttering words which is held to be correct, as based on the practice of the best speakers. Enunciation, also called Articulation, relates to distinctness in the utterance of syllables or words. These terms are often used interchangeably, but Pronunciation refers especially to giving the proper accent and syllabication, and to correctly sounding the vowels; Enunciation and Articulation refer especially to the distinct utterance of consonants and syllables. Pronunciation refers to correctness in speech, Enunciation to distinctness.


Importance of Correct Pronunciation. To pronounce correctly the words in our language-uniformly to give in every word we utter the proper vowel sounds and the proper accentuation - is a consummation as desirable as it is rare. One seldom attains perfection in the pronunciation of words in the English language, and many educated people fall far short of an approximation to correctness. Glaring faults of pronunciation, however, grate upon the ear, just as misspelled words disturb the eye. While absolute correctness is rarely found, one can, by attention and practice, attain a fair approximation to good usage.

Faults of Pronunciation.

As a general principle, we may say that any method of utterance which calls attention to

the speaker's pronunciation or enunciation rather than to the thought his language is intended to convey, is a fault. The two extremes of faulty pronunciation are the careless and provincial on the one hand, and the unusual and precise on the other. He who pronounces for as fur, since as sence, window as winder, now as naow, catch as ketch, from as frum, and so on, represents the provincial class that usually has the further faults of slovenly articulation and bad grammar. On the other hand, we have the over-precise, affectedly cultured class that pronounce neither as nither, pretty as pretty, nature as natyoor, laugh as lawf, and so on. But while a strained and unusual pronunciation is a common fault, carelessness is a far more common one.

Tests of Good Pronunciation. The test of good pronunciation is the common practice of the best speakers. True, the "best speakers" are not easily determined; but supplemented with a study of the dictionary, the best usage can be discovered and acquired. It should be remembered that pronunciation is, after all, a matter not of right, but of custom. It is a somewhat varying thing, changing from age to age, and even from decade to decade. No absolute standard of pronunciation can be laid down; it is simply a matter of having uniformity for the sake of convenience. We have in America no one locality that can assume to set the standard. The main reliance as to the most generally approved usage is a good dictionary; and yet, as Professor Lounsbury states, "Not a single one of our pronouncing dictionaries is a final authority." Though not an infallible guide, an up-to-date dictionary is, however, reliable enough for all practical purposes. The main point is, our pronunciation should not reveal an ignorance of the standard pronunciation of common words. For example, on page 28 is a brief list of words suggested by the mistakes of students in pronouncing them.

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The list might of course be extended almost indefinitely. For the most part, the words given belong in an ordinary Vocabulary. Test yourself on this list. You will find that some of the words may be correctly pronounced in more than

one way; and in such cases the preferred dictionary pronunciation should always be tested by the common practice of good speakers.


Importance of Distinct Enunciation. - Objectively considered, we may say that effective speaking must be (1) heard, (2) understood, and (3) believed. It is evident that speech is futile when it cannot be heard, although the speaker may have a clear understanding of, and most earnest belief in, his message. "Is not this, then," says George William Curtis, "the beginning of oratory, to make yourself heard and to make your hearer wish to hear?"

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Enunciation has largely to do with the first of these tests of effective speaking, that of being heard. The best speakers not only may be heard, but they enunciate so clearly that there is the best economy of the hearer's attention. It is a lamentable fact that many experienced speakers, who have something to say really worth hearing, are only half intelligible because of their faulty enunciation. The trouble is a lack not of loudness, but of distinctness. Mere loudness, in fact, in many auditoriums, will only accentuate a poor enunciation; and the mistake is frequently made of speaking loudly rather than clearly. If a speaker cannot be heard, the cause will be found not so much in weakness of voice as in weakness of articulation. Charlotte Cushman and Edwin Booth, it is said, could whisper so that every word uttered would be heard in the most distant part of a large auditorium. How was this possible? By a vigorous and clear-cut articulation. True, other things contribute to clearness of utterance,- force, modulating the voice to the audience room, and sending it out to the audience; but experience shows that young speakers need more drill on articulation than perhaps on any other one thing. It is the basis of all intelligible speaking.

The Need of an Exaggerated Enunciation in Public Speech. We all recognize the importance of distinct enunciation in conversation, but students usually fail to realize the need of an exaggerated articulation in public speaking. That is, a mode of utterance partially indistinct in conversation becomes wholly indistinct when the auditor is farther removed from the speaker; one who can be heard in conversation with an effort becomes unintelligible when addressing an audience. We must, therefore, draw the distinction between. a conversational manner and conversational articulation. In Chapter I, public speaking was characterized as "enlarged and heightened conversation." These adjectives are especially applicable to the enunciation required for public speaking. The syllables and words must be more clearly separated and sounded than in conversation, and the voice sent out to the audience. You cannot speak to an audience of any size with the same enunciation that you would use in speaking to a friend at your side. If you do, you will not be understood.

Faults in Enunciation and their Correction. - Excepting cases of stuttering, or of real impediment in speech, such as may need the employment of a surgeon, any one, by systematic practice, can attain a distinct enunciation. If you lisp, giving the th sound for s, you must learn to get control of the tip of the tongue, and keep it from contact with the upper teeth, in giving the s sound. If your tongue is too large for your mouth, enlarge the mouth cavity and keep the tongue out of the way when not in use. If your lower jaw protrudes, or if you have a sort of chronic lockjaw, if you habitually bite your words off, or have "flannel in the mouth," or whistle your s's, - when you find any special trouble in enunciating clearly, -practise correcting it, and keep at it until you have overcome the fault.

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