Incomparably better informed
A keen eye for incongruities
Polite to the point of deference
To the last degree improbable
People with rampant prejudices
A model of chivalrous propriety
By way of digression
A splendid acquisition
Singularly attractive fashion
A kind of unconscious conspiracy
Amid engrossing demands
There is a widespread need for a more thorough cultivation of the speaking voice. It is astonishing how few persons give specific attention to this important subject. On all sides we are subjected to voices that are disagreeable and strident. It is the exception to hear a voice that is musical and well-modulated.
Most people make too much physical effort in speaking. They tighten the muscles of the throat and mouth, instead of liberating these muscles and allowing the voice to flow naturally and harmoniously. The remedy for this common fault of vocal tension is to relax all the muscles used in speech. This is easily accomplished by means of a little daily practice.
The first thing to keep in mind is that we should speak through the throat and not from it. A musical quality of voice depends chiefly upon directing the tone towards the hard palate, or the bony arch above the upper teeth. From this part of the mouth the voice acquires much of its resonance.
An excellent exercise for throat relaxation is yawning. It is not necessary to wait until a real yawn presents itself, but frequent practice in imitating a yawn may be indulged in with good results. Immediately after practicing the yawn, it is advisable to test the voice, either in speaking or in reading, to observe improvement in freedom of tone.
It is not desirable to use the voice where there is loud noise by way of opposition. Many a good voice has been ruined due to the habit of continuous talking on the street or elsewhere amid clatter and hubbub. Under such circumstances it is better to rest the voice, since in any contest of the kind the voice will almost surely be vanquished.
What we need in our daily conversation is less emphasis, and more quietness and non-resistance. We need less eagerness and more vivacity and variety. We need a settled equanimity of mind that does not deprive us of our animation, but saves us from the petty irritations of everyday life. We need, in short, more poise and self-control in our way of speaking.
It is well to remember that few things we say are of such importance as to require emphasis. The thought should be its own recommendation. But if emphasis be necessary, let it be by the intellectual means of pausing or inflection, rather than with the shoulders or the clenched fist.
A very disagreeable and common fault is nasality, or “talking through the nose.” Many persons are guilty of this who least suspect it. This habit is so easily and unconsciously acquired that everyone should be on strict guard against it. Almost equally disagreeable is the fault of throatiness, caused by holding the muscles of the throat instead of relaxing them.