Elocution Now and Then

by Sasha Mitchell

The Oxford English dictionary defines Elocution as “The skill of clear and expressive speech, especially of distinct pronunciation and articulation”.  Note the words ‘clear’ and ‘articulation’.  We love individual accents at Resonance Voice Training, and feel strongly that you should be able to keep your accent, whilst using grammatical English and no dialect. As long as you are clear and articulate, your accent is as much part of you as your own fingerprint and should be celebrated!

However, clarity takes practice, and we are always looking out for new exercises and ways of working the articulating organs. Recently, my mother gave me a mimeographed copy of the recommended list of elocution exercises for Rank Starlets, the young actresses who were part of the J. Arthur Rank film so-called ‘Charm School”.  She had been one back in the 1950s.

All the exercises still hold up today, so we’re going to share one of them in each blog and to challenge you to learn one or two with which to impress your family and colleagues.


Examples of difficult articulation

Using “S” and “Sh”

With short, sharp, violent lights made vivid
To southward far as the sight can roam,
Only the swirl of the surges livid,
The seas that climb and the surfs that comb.
Only the crag and the cliff to nor’ward,
And the rocks receding, and reefs flung forward
And waifs wrecked seaward and wasted shoreward
On shallows sheeted with flaming foam.

Classical music buffs may recognise the lyrics from Elgar’s ‘Sea Slumber Song’.

Have fun with this. There’ll be another soon…

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