The Faults of Speech: A Self-Corrector and Teachers' Manual

by Alexander Melville Bell

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An excerpt from the beginning of the first chapter: ELEMENTARY SOUNDS.

THE processes of speech are mechanical, but they are intimately associated with mental operations. Sometimes the mechanical processes are mismanaged, and sometimes the intellectual associations are-imperfect. In the latter case, expression is tardy or inexact; in the former, utterance is interrupted or vitiated. The two kinds of defect may be combined, or either may exist separately. Stammering, stuttering, etc. are, for the most part, mechanical defects; drawling, hemming, and—uh — uh—hesitation are, in great measure, faults of the intellect. The observations in this work will have reference to failures in the mechanical execution of speech. The fact that "everybody speaks," and yet not one person in a thousand knows how he speaks; and that children talk the language of their nurses — be it English, French, German, Italian, Indian, Patois, or whatever else —proves that language is normally acquired by imitation. A child imitates with more or less accuracy the general effect of the sounds it hears; but, in doing so, makes many substitutions of easier for more difficult actions of the organs of speech. The lips and the forepart of the tongue are the first of the articulating organs to be brought into use; and "turn," "tat" and "tate" in most cases satisfy the child's apprehension of the words "come," "cat" and "cake." The action of the back of the tongue is often not acquired for years. Infantile defects arc unwisely encouraged by parents, who—with the requisite knowledge—might enable their children to pronounce correctly as soon as they begin to prattle at all. There can be no doubt that the most serious blemishes and impediments arise from parental neglect—or rather ignorance—in this respect. When a child says "turn" for "come," and "tin" for "king," the correct articulation will be induced almost at the first trial by the simple expedient of holding down the forepart of the tongue with the finger. The effort to imitate the general effect will then force the back of the tongue into action; and in a few days at most, the child will, without any assistance, form k, g and ng where before it could only utter t, d and n.

The "shut" consonants (p, t, k, b, d,g) are the most easily acquired, and children consequently pronounce p instead of the more difficult f, and t instead of th. A few minutes devoted to amusing exercise will conquer this difficulty. Thus: tell the child to bite his lower lip, and blow, and he will form a tolerable f at once; or to bite his tongue, and blow, and a passable th will be the result.

The sounds of s and sh are often for a long time confounded; also those of s and th. The sound of s will be obtained from th by drawing back—or, if assistance is needed, by pushing back—the tip of the tongue till it is free from the teeth. The teeth require to be very close for s, but there will be room to insert the edge of a paper-cutter to play the tongue into position. The sound of sh will be obtained from s by drawing—or pushing—back the body of the tongue till it is free from the gum. The sibilation of sh is formed between the middle of the tongue and the palate, modified by a degree of elevation of the point of the tongue also: that of s is formed between the point of the tongue and the upper gum, modified by a degree of convexity of the middle of the tongue: and that of th is formed between the tip of the tongue and the upper teeth, with the edges of the tongue flattened against the side teeth to obstruct the breath at all points but the tip....




















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Alexander Melville Bell.The NOOK Book (eBook) of the The I Adulted!: Stickers for Grown-Ups a poem by Alexander Melville Bell at Barnes & Noble.Alexander Melville Bell (1 March 1819 7 August 1905) was a teacher and researcher of physiological phonetics and was the author of Three+Minutes+From+Retirement%3A+My+Song+Catalog+Is+My+IRA+%28I+Record+Alot%29 works on orthoepy and .