« AnteriorContinuar »
work, by which the more important movements of the voice are accurately and intelligibly represented. For specific rules I refer the teacher to my larger work, the “ Elements of Reading and Oratory."
Part third, the appropriate sequel of part second, contains a series of exercises on paragraphs : the sentences not detached and classed as in part second, but appearing in the connections and relations of ordinary discourse. All the knowledge of sentential structure hitherto obtained is here to be applied The course to be pursued I have indicated in the partial specimens of rhetorical parsing appended to the first two sections. Before reading, or after having read a sentence, the pupil should be told to name and define the sentence: to say whether it is declarative, interrogative, or exclamatory ; and whether simple or compound; and if compound, whether close, compact, or loose : if close, whether it has a series of members at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end : if compact, the same, and also whether it is a compact of the first, second, or third form ; stating the correlative words : if loose, whether it is perfect or imperfect; continually defining, and, in short, giving in each case, and at every successive step, all the information communicated in the first and second part. To facilitate this process, the sentences in each piece have been carefully numbered in the margin ; and occasionally, where the sentence presented unusual difficulties, I have subjoined to the end of the section a word or two of explanation.
The selections for this part of the work, which does not differ materially from the common reading-book, have been made with distinct reference to fulness of sentential illustration, and to variety both of style and of subject matter : particulars in which most reading-books are extremely deficient; some of them containing only a few, comparatively speaking, of the numerous sentences existing in the language, and these few with but slight and accidental differences of expansion; and others, excluding wholly several species of reading with which it's as important that the pupil should become familiar, as it is that he should become familiar with any : species frequently occurring in books and in the less durable issues of the periodical press, and hence justly claiming a place in an elementary course of instruction.
Before closing this preface I may be permitted to point out, for the grave consideration of those who are engaged like myself in the laborious, but honorable vocation of teaching, soine of the results to which, if I mistake not, the use of this book, and a diligent application of the method it proposes to substitute for the prevailing one, will necessarily lead; nor for the consideration of such only; but of all who acknowledge any degree of interest in having the young acquire the largest amount of information in the shortest time and at the least possible expense.
1. It will impart a kind of knowledge which can be acquired in no other way, and which indeed no one has hitherto attempted to teach : a knowledge of sentential structure; of the anatomy, the bones, nerves, and muscles of the language; of the various forms of expression which thought assumes in obtaining utterance in conversation or books.
2. It lays a foundation in the nature of things, in the very structure of language, for a correct, intelligent, and graceful delivery, in reading and speaking. In my “ Elements of Reading and Oratory" I have been at great pains to show this; and to that work I refer the teacher for additional information: being confident that he cannot peruse, and thoroughly digest what I have there advanced, without being convinced that the structure of sentences determines their delivery, with such modifications only as emphasis, the laws of which are few and simple, may produce.
3. It will prepare the pupil for the study of grammar. There are few rs, I presume, who have not felt the want of an intermediate stage of instruction between that study and reading : of something to bridge the chasm between the two, and render the transition from the one to the other less abrupt and difficult. To pass at once, with a mere capacity to put the words of a sentence together and make sense out of them, to the study of grammar, is equivalent to a leap from arithmetic numeration to the abstractions of algebra. Perceiving this, not a few teachers of eminence have recommended the study of the Latin language, as a preparation for that of English grammar; and in the present state of things, the recommendation is, in my opinion, a judicious one. I distinctly remember, that I myself obtained more knowledge of the principles of English grammar from a few weeks' study of the Latin, than I obtained during a year of previous application to the English alone. But the study of Latin is not pursued in our common schools; and if it were, an immense majority of the youth taught in them have neither the means, time, nor incination to pursue it. If possible, therefore, a substitute should be provided. In the following work have attempted this, and it cannot be read, I think, more than once, certainly not more than twice through, if read with any degree of care, without fixing in the mind of the pupil some very important grammatical ideas; and this while yet ignorant, perhaps, of what the word “ grammatical” means.
In the first place, he will learn the name and properties of he different parts of speech, together with the places they occupy and the connections they form, in a sentence.
In the second place, he will acquire a better, more comprehensive knowledge of some parts of speech, than he could from the grammar itself; at least from any grammar which I have seen.
I refer par
ticularly to the relative pronoun, the adverb, the conjunction, and the interjection. He will not only learn the names of these, and to re cognise them when they appear, but the connections they form, their Special import in every connection, ard the relations and various modifications of thought they serve to express.
In the third place, having a knowledge, such as this work only can impart, of every variety of sentential structure, the pupil is prepared, whenever a fragmentary sentence appears, to say without hesitation whether it is fragmentary or not, and to supply what is necessary to complete the construction ; and hence to declare the particular relation and government of the words expressed. To parse the following fragment would puzzle, if I mistake not, even a mature gram. marian :
To die—to sleep! To sleep! perchance, to dream. Is to die to be treated as an infinitive or a noun? What governs Lo sleep in each of the two instances of its occurrence ? What governs to dream? To these questions it is difficult, without a knowledge of sentential structure, to return an answer: with it we readily supply the suppressed portions of the sentence, and the parsing necessarily follows thus: To die is to sleep; but if to die is to sleep, then perchance, it is [also) to dream.
4. But the great advantage to be derived from the use of my method respects composition. As it secures a knowledge of the parts of speech, of the construction of sentences, that is to say, of every form of sentence employed in the expression of human thought, so it necessarily secures a knowledge of all those materials which the pupil is to employ in writing. He will know what words are, grammatically considered, and what their relations: he will know the nature of the sentence he writes, and how it should be constructed : how it may be enlarged, diminished, or varied, without changing its structure : how the same thought may be expressed with a different structure, and what that structure is : how different structures may be combined in the same sentence, and how separated : how successive sentences should be connected, and what kind of connection, or what succession of the varieties of structure is most agreeable to the ear: in short, with such a knowledge of structure as this work will impart, if intelligently and diligently used, the pupil, in entering on the work of composition, will enjoy the advantages of an artisan, who, before beginning the processes of his trade, is already versed in the nature and uses of its tools.
5. A general adoption of the method of instruction proposed in this work will effect, I am confident in view of an experience extended through several years, a great saving both of time and money.
The prevailing method is one of long-continued and vague repetition, wholly unconnected with principles : a series of listless rehearsals, which convey to the mind of the pupil not one artistic idea. There is scarcely room for surprise, therefore, that he should be learning to read during the whole period between his fifth and his fifteenth year, with no certainty of being a good reader after all : still less that the expense of instruction and of books should be regarded by his parent as a serious inroad on his pecuniary means. The method which I propose to substitute for this is a scientific method. It deals with principles as well as facts. It is progressive. Each principle successively laid down, prepares the way for other principles which are to follow; and these principles collectively taken exhaust the subject. Every sentence in the language is described ; and every sentence has its own delivery. The structure learned therefore, the delivery is learned; and once learned by one, two, or at most three reviews, it is learned forever. Henceforward as soon as a sentence falls under the observation of the pupil, he knows how it should be read ; and while he can read it, he can give a solid reason for its being read in that particular manner.
Now a method like this, it will be admitted, must greatly abridge the time usually occupied in learning to read ; and by so much as the time is abridged, the cost of an education will be reduced, and parents relieved from a burden of expense which many of them can ill bear, or enabled, at the samc expense, to give their children an opportunity of pursuing other branches of useful study from which they are now quite shut out.” I may add, that the adoption of this method will supersede the present wasteful practice of frequently changing or renewing books ; by which parents are taxed without reason and against reason, some fifteen or twenty dollars or more for every child they educate : making an aggregate of loss to the state annually, of many thousands of dollars. A scientific method of in struction removes the usual motives for changing books; and by fa cilitating the process of learning to read, and thus abridging the period of study, it renders a renewal of the same books, where ordinary care is taken for their preservation, unnecessary.
With this brief exposition of the contents, and of what much observation and experience have taught me to believe are the bearings of the following work, I submit it to the judgment of a candid public: cherishing the hope that it may be deemed a real accession to the means of instruction employed in our common schools and acadcmies.
Hamilton College, Junc 1st, 1846,
READING is the process of conveying ideas, from a manuscript or book, to our own minds or the minds of others.
It is either silent or vocal: generally silent when we convey ideas to our own minds; always vocal when we convey them to the minds of others.
Reading as a vocal process only, is the subject of this work.
The medium of conveying ideas in manuscripts or books, is a conventional system of signs, and in reading, a corresponding system of articulations, called language.
Language consists of letters, syllables, words, sentences and paragraphs, or discourse.
For the sake of convenience, I separate these into three general divisions or parts.
Part First contains a description of letters, syllables, and words.
Part Second contains a classification and description of sentences.
Part Third contains a series of paragraphs in sections for exercise.