Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/381

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369
SPEECH FOR DEAF CHILDREN.

and into consonants by decided actions of the same organs. Compare voice thus changed to a stream of water lazily moving amid green banks, now cutting its way through rock, broken into rapids or plunged over a precipice. The smooth running is like the vowels formed by open positions molding a steady current of voice; the breaks and plunges like the consonants formed by actions producing friction or even obstructing the breath momentarily. Vowels are the life of speech; in them lies expressive voice. The consonants are the receptacles giving temporary limits to the vocalized breath. Thus the secret of agreeable voices among the deaf is instruction based on a realization that all useful exercises in vocal culture should be founded upon perfect action of the edges of the glottis. This assured, vowels and consonants combined, forming words, may be learned as rapidly as they can be memorized. The hearing child has listened months before attempting to talk, gradually gaining confidence to use his own organs, and as nearly as possible imitating the sounds about him. Very crude are his first efforts, differing widely from his speech model. Yet no one doubts his ultimate success. Let the same confidence be manifested with the deaf child in his first lessons. Care in securing correct positions for sounds brings out lines of beauty in his face, previously disfigured by unpleasant and unnecessary movements.

How is the pupil to know the meaning of the words he learns? It is necessary to explain by the natural signs he employs; consequently his first spoken and written words must be equivalents of the same objects he has designated by a gesture, of the daily actions about him, of the qualities he has appreciated by taste, touch, and smell. Single words thus become intelligible to him. He drops the sign and speaks; his vocabulary constantly enlarges. Now a new difiiculty presents itself. The grouping of words, the forming of phrase and sentence, he has no knowledge of; moreover, when grouped he does not grasp the shades of meaning thus conveyed to the hearing person. He is likely to say "Sugar like, to express his fondness for the sweet; "Horse car go" to him means "I will go in a horse car." He has no use for a, an, and the, is contemptuous of the changes in tense, and is baffled by idioms. No one can realize without experience the need of patience and ingenuity in the teacher who imparts language to the deaf child; no one can have sufficient of these qualities who does not strive to keep in mind the pupil's limited range and thus bear with his ignorance. The hearing person studying a foreign tongue has his own language to help him. Grammar can be remembered because similar or dissimilar to his own; arrangement of words, by resemblance or want of resemblance to the forms in his daily use. Nothing of the kind is present to aid the child born