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1. The pauses made in reading or speaking may be classed as grammatical, rhetorical, and emphatic or emotional.

2. Grammatical pauses are those indicated by punctuation; rhetorical pauses are those required by the structure of the sentence, or by emphasis; and emphatic pauses, those expressive of deep feeling or passion.

3. These pauses may be relatively long, moderate, or short, according to the general style of expression appropriate to what is read; but without due attention to them, it is impossible properly to emphasize prose,

to express the melody of verse.

4. Concerning pauses, Prof. Russell says: “The cessation of the voice at proper intervals has the same effect, nearly, on clauses and sentences with that of articulation on syllables, or of pronunciation on words : it serves to gather up the sounds of the voice into relative portions, and aids in preserving clearness and distinction among them. But what those elementary and organic efforts do for syllables and words—the minor portions of speech-pausing does for clauses, sentences, and entire discourses.

5. “The great use of pauses is to divide thought into its constituent portions, and to leave the mind opportunity of contemplating each distinctly, so as fully to comprehend and appreciate it, and, at the same time, to perceive its relation to the whole. Appropriate pauses are of vast importance, therefore, to a correct and impressive style of delivery; and without them, indeed, speech cannot be intelligible.

6. “Pausing has, further, a distinct office to perform in regard to the effect of feeling as conveyed by utter

Awe and solemnity are expressed by long cessations of the voice; and grief, when it is deep, and at the same time suppressed, requires frequent and long pauses.


7. “The general effect, however, of correct and welltimed pauses, is what most requires attention. The manner of a good reader or speaker is distinguished, in this particular, by clearness, impressiveness, and dignity arising from the full conception of meaning, and the deliberate and distinct expression of it; while nothing is so indicative of want of attention and of self-command, and nothing is so unhappy in its effect, as haste and confusion.”

I. GRAMMATICAL PAUSES. Grammatical pauses, or the pauses indicated by punctuation, have no fixed length. They depend, to some extent, on the character of the piece to be read. When the general movement or rate is slow, the pauses are relatively long; when the movement is fast, the pauses are relatively short. The general principles that govern grammatical pauses may be stated as follows:

1. In general, a slight pause at a comma ; a longer pause at a semicolon ; and a still longer pause at a period.

2. A full pause, longer than at a period, is required at the end of a paragraph of prose, or of a stanza of poetry.

This pause is made to enable the hearer to note the subdivisions of a piece, and to afford the reader time for a slight rest.

II. RHETORICAL PAUSES. 1. Rhetorical pauses are pauses not indicated by punctuation, but which are made in reading, generally for the purpose of emphasis or expression. Attention to these pauses is absolutely essential to good reading.

2. The general tendency of pupils to read too fast is

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owing, in no small degree, to a neglect of the pauses necessary to effective utterance. Both the hearer and the reader must have time to think. These pauses, too, afford the reader time to renew the breath, and thus keep the lungs well supplied with air.

3. A continuous stream of rapid utterance soon wearies the hearer, because the speaker neither takes time to think, nor allows his hearers time to do so. The trained extemporaneous speaker talks with deliberation, and the trained reader reads in the same manner.

4. We read words by groups, not by disconnected units. The beginner laboriously calls out each word of a sentence independently, with a pause after each word, thus:

The | black | cat | caught | a | big | rat | in | the I barn."

A good reader will read this sentence in groups, as indicated by the hyphenized words, thus :

“The-black-cat | caught-a-big-rat | in-the-barn.”

5. Pupils, whose attention is directed to the manner in which they run words together in speaking and reading, with pauses between the groups, will notice that adjectives are grouped with the nouns which they modify; adverbs, with verbs or adjectives or other adverbs; prepositions, with their objects; pronouns, with the words they modify; and auxiliaries, with their principal verbs —in other words, that we speak in phrases and clauses.

6. They will notice, further, that when the subject of a verb is a noun, or when it is modified by a phrase or a clause, there is a rhetorical pause between the subject and the predicate.


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The common fault in regard to pauses,” says Prof. Russell, “is that they are made too short for clear and distinct expression.

8. “Feeble utterance and defective emphasis, along with rapid articulation, usually combine to produce this fault in young readers and speakers. For, whatever force of utterance or energy of emphasis, or whatever rate of articulation we accustom ourselves to use, our pauses are always in proportion to it.

9. “ Undue brevity in pausing has a like bad effect with too rapid articulation : it produces obscurity and confusion in speech, or imparts sentiment in a manner which is deficient and unimpressive, and prevents the proper effect both of thought and language.

10. “To be fully convinced how much of the clearness, force, and dignity of style depends on due pauses, we have only to revert for a moment to the effect of rapid reading on a passage of Milton, and observe what an utter subversion of the characteristic sublimity of the author seems to take place. This instance is no doubt, a strong and peculiar one. But a similar result, though less striking, may be traced in the hurried reading of any piece of composition characterized by force of thought or dignity of expression.

11. “When habitual rapidity of voice, and omission of pauses, are difficult to correct, the learner may be required to accompany the teacher's voice in the practice of sentences. This simultaneous reading, if sufficiently long continued, will probably prove effectual for the cure of habitual faults.

A second stage of progress may be entered on, when the learner's improvement will warrant it; and he may be permitted to read after the teacher.

12. “Pupils who possess an ear for music, may be taught to observe that there is in reading and speaking a 'time,' as distinct and perceptible, and as important, as in singing, or in performing on any instrument; and that pauses are uniformly measured with reference to this time.”


13. The careful study of a few selections for the purpose of marking pauses, emphasis, and inflection, is also an excellent exercise in parsing and analysis. This method is a slow one, but it will lead to thoughtful, careful, and expressive reading.

14. For the purpose of aiding pupils to gain a clear comprehension of this subject, general principles are applied under a number of definite rules, which are illustrated by copious examples. The value of thorough drill on these examples cannot be overestimated.

15. If any teachers object to formal rules, the following remarks of Prof. Russell are commended to their attention :

16. “Persons, even, who admit the use of rules on other subjects, contend, that, in reading and speaking, no rules are necessary ; that a correct ear is a sufficient guide, and the only safe one. If, by a 'correct ear,' be meant a vague exercise of feeling or of taste, unfounded on a principle, the guidance will prove to be that of conjecture, fancy, or whim.

But if, by a correct ear,' be meant an intuitive exercise of judgment or of taste, consciously or unconsciously recognizing a principle, then is there virtually implied a latent rule; and the instructor's express office, is, to aid his pupil in detecting, applying, and retaining that rule.

17. “Systematic rules are not arbitrary ; they are founded on observation and experience. No one who is not ignorant of their meaning and application, will object to them, merely because they are systematic, well defined, and easily understood : every reflective student of any art, prefers systematic knowledge to conjectural judgment, and seizes with avidity on a principle, because he knows that it involves those rules which are the guides of practice.”

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