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DIRECTIONS FOR READING.
The great object to be accomplished in reading as a rhetorical exercise is, to convey to the hearer, fully and clearly, the ideas and feelings of the writer. In order to do this, it is necessary
that the reader should himself thoroughly understand those sentiments and feelings. This is an essential point. It is true, he may pronounce the words as traced upon the page, and, if they are audibly and distinctly uttered, they will be heard, and in some degree understood, and, in this way, a general and feeble idea of the author's meaning may
be obtained. Ideas received in this manner, however, bear the same resemblance to the reality, that the dead body does to the living spirit. There is no soul in them. The author is stripped of all the grace and beauty of life, of all the expression and feeling which constitute the soul of his subject, and it may admit of a doubt, whether this fashion of reading is superior to the ancient symbolic or hieroglyphic style of communicating ideas.
At all events, it is very certain, that such readers, with every conceivable grace of manner, with the most perfect melody of voice, and with all other advantages combined, can never attain the true standard of excellence in this accomplishment. The golden rule here is, that the reader must be in earnest. The sentiments and feelings of the author whose language he is reading, must be infused. into his own breast, and then, and not till then, is he qualified to
In accordance with this view, a preliminary rule of importance is the following:
RULE.-Before attempting to read a lesson, the learner should make himself fully acquainted with the subject, as treated of in that lesson, and endeavor to make his own, the feelings and sentiments of the writer.
For this purpose, every lesson should be well studied beforehand, and no scholar should be permitted to attempt to read any thing; which he can not easily understand. When he has thus identified
himself with the author, he has the substance of all rules in his own breast. It is by going to nature that we find rules. The child or the savage orator, never mistakes in inflection, or emphasis, or modulation. The best speakers and readers are those who follow the impulse of nature as felt in their own hearts, or most closely imitate it as observed ip.others. As the first and most important step, thelig let the reader or speaker enţer deeply into the feelings and sentiments, which he is about to express in the language of another; : This direétion: is placed at the threshold of this subject, because the prevailing fault in reading is listlessness and dullness, and the principal cause of this fault, is want of interest in the subject which is or ought to be before the mind.
The directions which follow upon the subject of reading, are derived from observing the manner in which the best and most natural speakers and readers express themselves, and are presented to the learner as a standard for imitation, and by which he may judge of his deficiencies and departure from nature, and correct himself accordingly.
QUESTIONS.—What is the chief design of reading? In order to do this, what is first necessary ?' If a person reads without understanding the subject, what is the consequence? What method of communicating ideas was used in ancient times? When is a person qualified to read well? Repeat the rule. For the purpose of being able to observe this rule, what must be done? From whence are all rules derived ? Why is the direction, given in the rule, placed here?
The subject, first in order and in importance, requiring attention, is ARTICULATION. And here, it is taken for granted, that the reader is able to pronounce each word at sight, so that there may be no hesitating or repeating; that he has been taught to read with a proper degree of deliberation, so that there may be no contusion of sounds; and that he has learned to read exactly what is written, leaving out no words and introducing none. The object to be accomplished, under this head, may be expressed by the following general direction.
Give to each letter (except silent letters), to each syllable, and to each word its full, distinct, and appropriate utterance.
For the purpose of avoiding the more common errors under this head, it is necessary to observe the following rules.
RULE I.-Avoid the omission or improper sound of unaccented vowels, whether they form a syllable or part of a syllable; as,
Sep’-rate for sep-a-rate; met-ri-c'l for met-ric-al; ’pear for ap-pear; com-p'tent for com-pe-tent; pr’-cede for pre-cede; 'spe-cial for es-pe-cial; ; ev’-dent for ev-i-dent; moun-t'n for mount-ain; (pro. mount-in); mem’ry for mem-o-ry; ’pin-ion for a-pin-ion; pr’pose for pro-pose; gran'lar for gran-u-lar; par-tic'lar for par-tic-u-lar.
In the above instances the unaccented vowel is omitted; it may also be improperly sounded as in the following examples; viz., Sep-er-ate for sep-a-rate; mat-ric-ul for met-ric-al; up-pear for
appear; com-per-tent for com-pe-tent; dum-mand for de-mand; ob-sturnate for ob-sti-nate; mem-er-y for mem-o-ry; up-pin-ion for o-pin-ion; prup-pose for pro-pose; gra-ny-lar for gran-u-lar; par-tic-er-lar for par-tic-u-lar.
In correcting errors of the above kind, or of any kind, in words of more than one syllable, it is very important to avoid a fauit which is the natural consequence of an effort to articulate correctly Thus, in endeavoring to sound correctly the a in met-ric-al, the pupil is very apt to say met-ric-al', accenting the last syllable instead of the first. In correcting the sound of o, in pro-pose', he will perhaps pronounce it pro'-pose. This change of the accent, and all undue stress upon the unaccented syllable, should be carefully avoided.
RULE II.-Guard particularly against the omission, or the feeble sound of the terminating consonant.
Upon a full and correct sound of the consonants, depends very much, distinctness of utterance. The following are examples of the fault referred to in the rule; viz.,
An' or un for and; ban' for band; moun' for mound; mor-nin' for morn-ing; dess for desk; mos' for mosque ; near-es' for near-est; wep' for wept; ob-jec' for ob-ject; &c.
This omission is still more likely to take place, where several consonants come together; as,
Thrus' for thrusts; beace for beasts ; thinks' for thinkst; weps' for wept’st; harms' for harmst; wrongs' for wrongd’st; twinkles' for twinkl’d'st; black’ns' for black’n’d'st, &c.
In all cases of this kind, these sounds are omitted, in the first instance, merely because they are difficult, and require care and attention for their utterance, although, after a while, it becomes a matter of habit. The only remedy is, to devote that care and attention, which may be necessary. There is no other difficulty, unless there should be a defect in the organs of speech, which does not often happen.
RULE III. - Avoid uniting into one word, syllables which belong to different words.
This fault, when united with that last mentioned, forms perhaps the most fruitful source of error in articulation. The following lines furnish an example.
Here - res-e-zed upon th'lapper verth,
Unmel anchol emark dimfor erown. With some difficulty these lines may be deciphered to mean as follows:
Here rests his head upon the lap of earth,
And melancholy marked him for her own. Very full EXERCISES and directions for practice in ARTICULATION, may be found in the Eclectic Second and Third Readers of this series, to which it is supposed the reader has already paid some attention. In every reading lesson, this subject should receive its appropriate attention. Between the lessons in this book, also, are examples, constituting a series of exercises upon difficult combinations, and upon vowel sounds, which, it is believed, will be found of great utility, and to which the learner is directed for practice.
The teacher will recollect, that in correcting a fault, there is always danger of erring in the opposite extreme. Now, properly speaking, there is no danger of learning to articulate too distinctly, but there is danger of contracting a habit of drawling, and of pronouncing unimportant words with too much prominence. This should be carefully guarded against. It is a childish fault, but is not always confined to children.
QUESTIONS.—What subject is first in importance to the reader ? Repeat the general direction. Repeat the first rule. Give some examples in which the vowel is left out. Give some in which it is improperly sounded. In correcting these errors, what fault is it necessary to guard against? What is the second rule ? Give examples. When is the omission still more likely to take place? Give examples. What is the cause of this defect? What is the remedy ? Is there often any defect in the organs of speech? What is the third rule ? Illustrate it by an example. What kind of exercises are adapted for improvement in articulation? What error must be guarded against ?