We are judged by our speech. If we clip syllables, run words together, or pronounce them incorrectly, we shall merit the criticism of being careless or even ignorant. Yet clear enunciation and correct pronunciation are sometimes difficult.
We learn most words by hearing others say them, and, if we do not hear the true values given to the different syllables, we shall find it hard to distinguish the correct from the incorrect forms. Children whose parents speak a foreign language usually have to watch their speech with especial care; Germans, for example, find difficulty in saying th and Irish people in saying oi as in oil.
The exercises in this chapter are given for the purpose of correcting such habits. The words in the exercises should be pronounced repeatedly, until the correct forms are instinctive. Train the ear to hear the difference between sounds, as in just and in jest. Don’t slide over the final consonant in such words as going and reading. Watch words containing why.
The dictionary tells us that where was originally written what, the he coming before the w; and we still pronounce it so, although we write the w before the h. The word whether is of the same kind. The dictionary tells us that it was first spelled hweder. Such words should be carefully noted and their pronunciation practiced. Then there is the habit of slurring syllables.
We may understand what is meant by the expression “Cm* on” or “Waja say?”, but most of us would prefer not to be included in the class of people who use either. Correct speech cannot be mastered without an effort. In the following exercises watch every vowel and every consonant so that you may give each one its full value.