Jul
09

How to Sound Feminine One Step at a Time ~ Step 7 July: Articulation – no more mumble jumble.

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“Words spoken with malfunction are like brain teasers, thrown unintentionally at an audience who must decipher them later; not the true meaning of what you said, but the mumble jumble that came out. However, words that flow straight out of the mouth like a fresh spring originating from a hilltop will make many stop and take notice. Such is the bewitching power of words that if spoken with clarity and much conviction penetrate deep into the conscience and affect us in the most extra ordinary of ways.” (source: www.speedupcareer.com)

July, the 7th month, the 7th step, and…
…the seven-strategy solution to mumble jumble speech.

What’s more feminine to you—looking elegant and lovely or having mellifluous words flowing sweetly from your soul?

The essence of your feminine soul may be expressed in your manner, your voice and your words.

This month we will explore the element of articulation and you’ll be encouraged to make use of these seven strategies.

Strategy One:  Feel the air flowing through on every single sound.

You are already aware of that your voice is an aerodynamic system (see Step 2 Breathing, that the airstream drives the oscillation of the vocal folds.  This concept, and being mindful of sensing the flow of air across your tongue, through your teeth and between your lips creates a power set of codes (like software codes) that anchors both the respiratory mechanics and articulation techniques.

Strategy Two: Talk as if you’re speaking to a hearing-impaired person – move your mouth more.

Imagine that you want someone to read your lips as you speak. This simple strategy encourages you to engage and connect with the consonants in each word you speak.

Strategy Three:  Talk so your listener can hear each initial consonant sound.

Have you ever considered how speech sounds can be categorized?  Linguists have a fantastic system, but for most of you, simple will be better.  Consider a simple binary categorization of stretched consonants–that take longer (in time) when spoken, versus quick consonants–which are produced quickly.

  • Stretched consonants: f; v; th; s; z; r; l; w; m; n; ng; h; sh
  • Quick consonants:  p/b; t/d; k/g; ch; j

As you speak, notice the initial consonant sounds; feel the difference between the stretched consonants and the quick consonants.

Strategy Four:  Speak so your listener can hear each ending consonant sound.

Word boundaries are an essential element in any language.  As an adult, have you tried learning a foreign language?  I’m in the early stages of trying to pick up a little French (for a trip we have coming up).  I can hear individual words, but when strung together in a phrase or sentence I lose the word boundaries and it all sounds “Greek to me.”

This strategy (similar to the one above) is asking you to just focus on the ending consonants when you speak.  Be aware of word boundaries and enunciate the ending consonants more clearly than usual.

Strategy Five:  Speak so you can feel the tip of your tongue as you talk.

There are consonants that are only produced with the tip of your tongue.  Can you guess which ones they are? By focusing your attention on these tongue-tip consonants you are likely to produce them more clearly.

Strategy Six:  Speak so you can feel your lips move when you talk.

There are also consonants that are only produced with the lips.  Again, can you guess which ones? Bilabial consonants (the few of them that there are) are very frequently occurring sounds (English).  Notice how often your lips come completely together when you say words that contain bilabial consonants.

Strategy Seven: As you speak, feel the flow of one sound to the next.  Speak each consonant clearly, not forcibly.

Flowing, blending and gliding through a phrase are wonderful things to hear.  As you become aware (metacognitive) of speaking each consonant more clearly, it will probably cause you speak in a more halting or staccato manner.  It’s maybe like patting your head and rubbing your belly–hard to do both at first with smooth, fluid movement.

BONUS:  For You Wonderful Word Women

Aren’t words wonderful?  What are some of your favorite words?  Are they favorites because of their meanings?  Their sounds?  The flowing way they glide through your mouth?

Here’s my list of (a few) marvelous mellifluous words.  I like them because they feel delicious to say.

  • Hoi palloi
  • Parable
  • Cacophony
  • Palindrome
  • Panache
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Chicory
  • Serpentine
  • Marmalade
  • Bougainvillea
  • Amaranthine
  • Mellifluous
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Sorbet
  • Velvet

Homework: practice the seven-strategy solution with these (or your own) words.  Practice is necessary for you to acquire the motor memory of speaking clearly so you can apply it to your everyday speech.


Step 7:  Articulation

For the month of July, your goal is to play with these seven strategies. Spent some time each day working with this word list (or your own). I’d LOVE to know how you’re doing with Step 7. I’dxs love to hear some of your marvelous mellifluous words.  Stay in touch over the month.

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Kathe

Denver, Colorado

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