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Declamatory Style




This intonational style is also called by some as "artistic, acquired or stage". As we see from these labels, the scholars suggest that this is a highly emotional and expressive intonational style, that is why it needs special training. Attitudinal, volitional and intellectual functions of intonation are of primary importance here and serve to appeal to the mind, will and feelings of the listener. Most commonly it is performed through all sorts of image-bearing devices which require rehearsing and professional skills. This intonational style can be heard on the stage, on the screen, in a TV studio or in a classroom during verse speaking and prose readings and recitations. Thus we see that it is always a written form of the language read aloud or recited.

However, it should be claimed here, that it is a very hard la bour to give a detailed description of the stage speech in this book as it is the stylization of all speech styles, especially conversational. Conversations on the stage tend to be meant quite familiar, but, addressed to the spectators, they produce an exaggerated, most striking elements especially in the fields of such prosodic parameters as loudness, rate and range and could be immediately spotted by listeners as "stage speech" characteristics.

The prosodic organization of such texts will vary greatly, depending on the type of the theatrical performance — whether it is a tragedy, drama or comedy — and, of course, on the social factors — the social and cultural background of the play characters, their relationship, extralinguistic context, and so on.

Acting is a two-way conversation, players respond very directly and promptly to the "feedback" they get from the audience; the "feedback" in their case being almost certainly communal, collective, non-verbal language. Methods of achieving, stimulating and maintaining this "conversation" with their audience must inevitably be the mainspring of the actors' "training".

To feel, to know, even to express the contents of their drama is a wasted and futile activity if it is not conveyed to other participants — the audience. Distancing, posture, gesture, facial expression and timing — all these facets of their art are as important as the delivery of words themselves.

It is a vast area for investigation and description but we would like here to restrict the field of analysis to the types of the register needed in class for would-be teachers of English. Obviously they are prose reading and verse recitations. The latter was described above under the heading "Rhythm".



So we confine ourselves to the prose reading here. We think we have to be clear that to the declamatory style reading we refer only certain literary (fiction) texts appealing to the readers. The reading of informational and scientific prose has been already described in the previous sections of the chapter. Though there are many things in common, as any reading aloud suggests, the predominance of emotional function in the artistic reading separates this kind of reading from others in a fundamental way.

The declamatory reading displays a great variety of intonation property as regards to the types of written texts. There is almost endless variety in the way writers express themselves; but no matter how pleasurable the way of writing may be, meaning always comes first. In each case style, the way something has been written, must be adapted to suit the subject matter.

It is common knowledge that prose, which describes an action or a series of actions to tell a story, is called narrative,e.g.

Though it was nearly midnight when Andrew reached Bryngow-er, he found Joe Morgan waiting for him, walking up and down with short steps between the closed surgery and the entrance to the house. (A J.Cronin. The Citadel)

The prose is descriptivewhen scenes, objects, people, or even a person's feelings are described in such a way that we can imagine them vividly. In good descriptive writing an author builds up a picture in words in much the same way as an artist paints a landscape or a portrait, e.g.

We got out at Sonning and went for a walk round the village. It is a most fairy-like little nook on the whole river. It is most like a stage village that one builds of bricks and mortar. Every house is smothered in roses and now, in early June, they were bursting forth in clouds of dainty splendour... (Jerome K. Jerome. Three Men in a Boat)

In order to appreciate a prose passage it is not enough to understand its meaning: it is necessary to grasp the author's intentions and the means he has employed to fulfil them. In a sense good narrative and descriptive prose have much in common with poetry. The writer need not always have an audience in mind. His aim is to tell a story or describe a scene as well as he can. The "devices" that occur arise from the prose itself and are, as it were, coincidental with this main purpose.

It is desirable, of course, before reading aloud to appreciate the written text. For this one should firstly read the passage carefully without worrying over the meaning of a few difficult wofds. Then, while reading it, pay close attention to the sequence of events described, or to the stages which lead to the main event. See if the writer gives reasons why the event or events described occurred. When you have read a prose passage carefully you should be in a position to pause a little bit and try to realize general meaning, a detailed meaning and be able to define the intentions of the writer and state why you have liked or disliked what you have read.

What makes a story a pleasure to read is usually the writer's way of telling it. The way scenes and people are described, the way the characters think, talk or act are quite as important as the events themselves and contribute largely to our enjoyment. When appreciating the prose it is necessary to understand how these qualities or devices help a story to develop and how they add colour to it.

One should also bear in mind that any story is a unity, though divided into passages. It is very important to understand how pieces of narratives are put together. A reader responds to a text, its linguistic clues (internal evidence), but also to situational clues (external evidence). In responding to a text a reader usually takes into account all he knows of the environment: what is going on, who is involved as well as what part language is playing.

Evidently the next step will be to delimit the text, to break it into phonopassages that may not coincide with the written passages. Then the passage should be split into phrases, the latter into intonation groups. The most necessary procedure, of course, is to underline the communicative centres in each group and think what prosodic features are preferable for expressing the meaning and the emphasis.

A writer helps his characters to come alive not only by describing the way they act but by letting us hear them speak. Thus a continuous prose is interrupted by a dialogue. Effective dialogue enables the reader to feel that he is actually witnessing what is going on.

Dialogic texts are author's reproduction of actual conversation and in reading aloud a reader should bear in mind the characters of the speakers, their social background and the atmosphere, the environment, in which the conversation takes place.

The author sometimes provides us with clues as to how the speech of the characters should be interpreted, e.g.

He came into the room to shut the windows while we were still in bed and I saw he looked ill. He was shivering, his face was white, and he walked slowly as though it ached to move.

"What's the matter, Schatz?"

Ive got a headache."

"You'd better go back to bed."

"No, I'm all right."

"You go to bed. I'll see you when I'm dressed."

But when I came downstairs he was dressed, sitting by the fire, looking a very sick and miserable boy of nine years. When I put my hand on his forehead I knew he had a fever.

"You go up to bed," I said, "you're sick."

Т mall right," he said.

When the doctor came he took the boy's temperature.

(EHemingway. A Day's Wait)

" The conversations are strikingly different in style and for

their characteristics see corresponding sections of the chapter. We must mention here, however, that most literary texts comprise descriptions, narrations and dialogues.

The experimental data of the research works on the declamatory reading (26, 43) allow us to say that its prosodic organization depends on the type of the literary text — descriptive, narrative, dialogue; on the character of the described events, schemes and objects (humorous, tragic, romantic, dreamy, imaginative and so on) and of course on the skills of the reader. But it is always clearly marked and distinguished by its expressiveness, personal involvement on the part of the author, by the emphasis, by the entire range of prosodic and paralinguistic effects and it is all felt through the skilful reading (see Table 11).

We would like to comment on the use of terminal tones in initial and non-final intonation groups. The views of phoneticians differ here. G.Pinayeva, for example, claims that the Low Rise now loses its connective function and gains the emphatic one. Subsequently the falling-rising tone becomes more and more connective (26).

Other scholars write that the most typical nuclear tone used for the connection in non-final groups is the non-final low falling or the midlevel tone. Evidently the solution lies in new experiments and the analysis of the experimental data. We will try to suggest, however, that the choice of the terminal tone in non-final intonation groups is determined by the emphasis. The expressive reading suggests the Low or Medium Fall rather than the rising tones:

As it was 'nearly ^midnight || when Andrew 'reached vBryngower... || At the V sight of him || the Vburly 'driller's face ex'pressed revlief. (AJ.Cronin. The Citadel)

Table 11

The Invariantof Phonostylisik Characteristics of the Declamatory ProseReading

 

 

 

 

 

 

Timbre concerned, personally involved, emotionally rich
Delimitation phonopassages — phrases — intonational groups
Style-marking prosodic features Loudness varied according to the size of the audience and to the emotional setting
Levels and ranges variable
Rate deliberately slow, necessitated by the purpose of the reading: trie complete understanding of the author's message by the listener; changes in the speed of utterances are determined by the syntactic structures, importance of information and the degree of emphasis
Pauses long, especially between the passages. Disjunctive pauses tend to be longer than connecting ones. Internal boundary placement is always syntactically or semantically predictable. A declamatory reading is distinctly marked by a great number of prolonged emphatic pauses — the device used by the reader to underline the emphasis
Rhythm properly organized, the isochronic recurrence of stressed and unstressed syllables
The accentuation of semantic centres Terminal tones С t common use of categoric low and high falls in final and even initial intonation groups and on semantic centres; occasional use of rising and level tones to break the monotony and in initial groups to connect segments of the phrase, to lead the listener on the later developments
Pre-nuclear patterns varied, contain patterns which have both common emphatic and non-emphatic usage; for the emphasis the following patterns are most frequently used: Low Head + High Fall High Head + Low Fall High Head + High Fall Stepping Head + High Fall
The contrast between accented and unaccented segments not great

 

Ouг final procedure will be the phonological opposition of the informational and declamatory reading.

The opposition shows that both readings differ totally in any aspect, but primarily in the voice timbre — in the declamatory reading the emotional colouring of the voice is very rich, varied according to the degree of emphasis.

On the prosodic level the markers of the declamatory style reading are:

1. Slow tempo, caused by the lento rate of utterances and
prolonged pauses, especially at the passage boundaries.

1. Stable rhythmicality.

1. The use of the falling terminal tones in initial intonation
groups, the increase of their range with the emphasis.

Now by way of conclusion we would like to say that we have made an attempt here to describe one type of the declamatory style reading, which we claim to be valuable for teachers of English.

Of course, there are as many specifications in the reading as there are authors, script-writers, actors, verse-reciters, fable readers and so on, but the lack of space in this book does not allow us to go into more detailed analysis. Language teachers should pay a great deal of attention to the expressive declamatory reading as it enables written literature to be accessible, to broaden the pupils' and students' horizons, to show them the subtleties of the author's intentions, to unlock his secrets and pave the way to something new, something different.

 





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