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 _wh_. The dictionary tells us that _where_ was originally written _hwar_, the _h_ 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 "C'm' 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.
=Exercise 10--Diacritical Marks=
Although an _a_ is always written _a_, it is not always given the same quality or length of sound. When we discover a new word, it is important that we know exactly the quality to give each of the vowels in it. For this purpose _diacritical marks_ have been invented. They are
illustrated in the following list from Webster's _International Dictionary_.