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3. And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay; then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth; and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him and slew him at the passages of the Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.—Judges xii. 5, 6. 4. Nature has proved that the great silent Samuel shall not be silent too long.—CARLYLE.

5. Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation.- LINCOLN.

6. From the dark portals of the Star Chamber, and in the stern text of the Acts of Uniformity, the pilgrims received a commission more important than any that ever bore the royal seal. EVERETT.

7. In this—God's—world, with its wild, whirling eddies and mad foam oceans, where men and nations perish as if without law, dost thou think there is therefore no justice?- CARLYLE.

For further practice, read any of the selections in Chapter XIII, giving special attention to clear enunciation.


Pronunciation relates to correctness in speech, Enunciation to distinctness. The speaker's aim should be to utter his words in such a manner as to be readily understood, and not in such a manner as to excite remark. Especially should he remember that distinct enunciation is the basis of all intelligible speech, and that to attain this, the enunciation of ordinary conversation must be exaggerated.

Definition of Terms.



Key is the predominating tone or pitch of the voice, in speaking. In music, as we know, key refers to the place of the voice upon the musical scale. It depends upon the rapidity with which the vocal cords vibrate. The higher the pharynx is raised and the tauter the cords are drawn, the greater the rapidity of vibration and the higher the key. Key is not to be confused with loudness. A sound may be subdued in a high key or loud in a low key.

By Compass, we mean the range a voice has, — the range between its highest and lowest limits.

The Middle or Average Key. - Now, just as there is a range within which one can sing, so there is a range within which one can speak, most easily and effectively, and for the longest time. This average range will determine the dominant note or key. One of the first questions the young speaker must ask himself is, Do I speak in that key most conducive to ease, effectiveness, and sustained effort? Bear in mind that an habitual key is not necessarily a natural key. Many people have accustomed themselves to speak in either the highest or lowest note of their keyrange, rather than in the medium range. One who speaks in a high, thin, squeaky tone, represents the one extreme, while one who speaks as from the bottom of a well, represents the other extreme. Either extreme is a fault.

In his

treatise on Orators and Oratory, Cicero writes: "There is in every voice a certain middle key, but in each particular voice that key is peculiar. For the voice to ascend gradually from this key is advantageous and pleasing; since to bawl at the beginning is boorish, and gradation is salutary in strengthening the voice. This variety and this gradual progression of the voice throughout all the notes will preserve its power, and add agreeableness to delivery."

Ease, variety, and strength depend on using the middle or average pitch of the voice; we then have a common point above and below which the voice is allowed to play. The importance of this free and easy play of the voice in speaking cannot be overestimated. Inflection, emphasis, climax, and many other elements of expression, depend upon it. Now, this middle pitch will vary with the individual. Physiological conditions will determine that the key of one voice shall be tenor and of another bass. On the musical scale the bass voice will vary from say about G (bass staff) to D, and the tenor from about middle C to G. The point is, are you utilizing to the best advantage the key-range that nature has given you? What key are you habitually using in speaking? If you have a sense of key in music, — advantageous though not indispensable to the speaker, — test your key with the piano, speaking a sentence in a monotone. Suppose you find that you habitually speak in about the highest pitch of your key-range, — probably the more common fault. You must get your voice down, else you can have no strength, no "body" to the speaking tone, and no sustained power. How acquire the lower key? Lower it. Find the desired note on a musical instrument and speak to it. Relax the throat muscles and roll the voice out from the chest. Think of it as coming, if you please, from the diaphragm. Watch yourself in conversation, and do not allow your voice to rise into a high, constrained pitch.

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On the other hand, if you speak down "in the shoes SO that the tone is habitually swallowed, learn to raise the key, project the tone, and get it out. This acquisition of your best individual average key may involve the formation of a new habit and a new voice. A good teacher can soon tell you your needs, but you must do the rest. A study of vocal anatomy or of rules will not aid so much as an appreciation of what you need to do, and systematic practice. “Even where Nature confers the blessing of a voice of adequate strength, she seldom adds the desirable flexibility or modulation. So, whether it be a stronger voice or a more manageable one that the speaker needs, his only method of acquiring it is that of willing it into his possession. . . . If your voice has a tendency to go up, you are to do with it just as you should do with your elbow if it has a tendency to go up at the table - put it down and keep it down by an exercise of the will. Will it down and put it down, and keep it down until it stays down without a conscious exercise of the will."1

Adaptation of the Voice to the Room.-Every room has a key of its own; that is, has powers of augmenting some sounds, and confusing others,-dependent upon the size of the room, and its acoustic properties generally. This key, or "overtone," the experienced speaker will learn to detect, and to adapt his key to the particular auditorium in which he is speaking. Especially should the speaker, when speaking to a large audience, avoid the common fault of a high, constrained pitch that soon becomes painful to both the speaker and the hearers. The natural key should be used. Colonel Higginson lays down as one of the cardinal rules of speaking: "Always speak in a natural key and in a conversational manner. But how to reach that easy tone is the 1 Sheppard: Before an Audience.

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serious question. . The best way, of course, is to be natural without effort, if one only could. There is one very simple method, and one which I have seldom known to fail. Suppose the occasion to be a public dinner. You have somebody at your side to whom you have been talking. To him your manner was undoubtedly natural; and if you can only carry along into your public speech that conversational flavor of your private talk, the battle is gained. How, then, to achieve that result? In this easy way: Express to your neighbor conversationally the thought, whatever it is, with which you mean to begin your public speech. Then, when you rise to speak, say merely what will be perfectly true, 'I was just saying to the gentleman who sits beside me, that' - and then repeat your remark over again. You thus make the last words of your private talk the first words of your public address, and the conversational manner [key] is secured. This suggestion originated, I believe, with a man of inexhaustible fertility in public speech, Rev. E. E. Hale. I have often availed myself of it, and have often been thanked for suggesting it to others."1 It should be noted that the natural or conversational key here referred to, is wholly compatible with a non-conversational enunciation, which was treated of in Chapter III (p. 30).

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High Key not necessary for Increased Force. Again, there is a natural tendency to use a high key of voice as an accompaniment of force. To resist this tendency-as old, it might seem, as oratory itself—the ancients stationed a musical performer near the speaker (the instrument used by the Romans being called a tonorium), who from time to time reminded him of his normal pitch. The speaker of to-day must learn to remind himself. The young speaker is apt to "key up" as he

1 Higginson: Hints on Writing and Speech-making.

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