PG-1: EF-H

Synchronization of hand positions with spoken vowels may be one of the easier motor skills to learn in Cued Speech, but it is also vulnerable to one or two very bad habits. The first of these habits is failure to use voice while practicing. "Mouthing" the vowels without any vocal onset makes it extremely difficult to cue with precise synchronization, both the onset of the vowel and the termination of the vowel in a syllable. The second bad habit involves "jumping the gun" with cue positions and generally starts very early in one's attemps to learn Cued Speech. Practitioners place the hand in the position for the vowel before actually articulating the vowel. The "Beginning Lessons" tapes warn us about these synchronization problems, but a few additional strategies may be of some help in squelching these habits before they get a firm hold.

Using no cues at all, watch yourself in the mirror while you say the prolonged vowels "Ooooo!" /ue/, "Eeeeeee!" /ee/ and "Aaaaah!" /ah/. Notice that your lips tend to assume the position of /ue/ before you actually vocalize, and your lips stay in the /ue/ configuration after you have terminated the vowel sound. If hearing-impaired persons were watching you they couldn't possibly guess when the vowel actually began and ended. That in itself wouldn't pose a serious problem if the syllable didn't also contain consonants -- and most syllables do!

Repeat the preceding exercise, but this time notice that just before vocal onset you tighten the muscles in your lower abdomen for breath support. This motokinesthetic signal can be a valuable "starting gun" for both lip movements and hand cue movements when practicing single syllables. It will not prove helpful after the first syllable in a multisyllable word or phrase, but we can deal with that later. For now, practice the following sequence with the vowels listed below:

1. Maintain a neutral body posture.
     a. Cueing hand "at ease" in your lap or at your side. 
        Hand should hang loose but not limp (inactive, but
        ready to respond quickly to a command).
     b. Lips lightly together while you breathe normally
        through your nose.
     c. Alert your body to the fact that you are going to
        say (and cue) the vowel /ue/ as in "Oops!" but 
        wait for the lower abdominal muscles to make the
        first move.
2. Coordinate speech and cue movements.
     a. Tighten lower abdominal muscles which should 
        simultaneously trigger....
     b. Lips rounded for the vowel /ue/, and....
     c. Hand moves quickly to the chin as the vowel is 
3. Sustain lip and hand position until the vowel is ended.
4. Quickly return articulators and cueing hand to neutral
        "at ease" position.
Using the sequence described above, practice with each of these vowels:

/ue/ /ur/ /ee/ /ur/ /aw/ /ee/ /aw/ /i/ /e/ /a/ /ue/ /oo/ /ah/ /i/ /oh/ /a/ /uh/

No whispering, please, and no "mouthing." Use firm, clear voice each time. The forward movement during /oh/ and /ah/ and the downward movement of /uh/ will require further careful coordination. Practice slowly at first, but build up speed as soon as you feel comfortable.

Now practice the same sequence with the diphthongs listed below. This time you will need toget your signal for the hand positon change from the movement of your lips and tongue or from hearing. Practice slowly at first; then build up to conversational speed.

/ie/ as in "tie," /oi/ as in "toy," /ow/ as in "now," /ay/ as in "day," /oi/, /ay/, /ow/, /ie/, /ow/, /ay/, /oi/

The following practice syllables contain only handshapes 5 (/m/,/f/,/t/) and 3 (/h/,/s/,/r/) so that you can concentrate on synchronization of the vowels and diphthongs:

"eat" "eight" "out" "at" "it" "us" "rah" "rye" "row" "how" "raw" "he" "her" "Foy" "soy" "Roy" "ray" "Ma" "mow" "toe" "Tut" "rut" "some" "mutt" "meet" 'mit" "moat" "tar" "far" "mart" "farce" "fast" "must" "most" "mist" "fist" "steam" "frost" "fret" "Tufts" "stuffed" "toast" "smart" "smite" "stir" "Hearst" "heats" "moist" "tryst"

Try these two-syllable words. There will be no "starting signal" from the lower abdominal muscles for the second syllable. It is thought that the intercostal muscles are too weak to be of help in synchronization. You must rely on the feedback from your hearing and from the movement of your articulators. Watching yourself in a mirror can provide additional feedback if you feel you need it at first.

"matter" "mutter" "mighty" "artist" "arrest" "system" "writer" "mister" "sister" "trustee" "tasty" "rusty" "fatty" "oyster" "traiter" "steamer" "streamer" "hamster" "musty" "hermit" "termite" "trotter" "straighter" "faster"

If some of the consonant clusters such as /str/ affected the accuracy of your vowel synchronization, omit them for now. You can come back to them in later practice sessions (see PG-2: EF-H, EF-I, and EF-J).

Spend some time on these words where vowels follow in sequence across syllables. Omit any of them where the cueing of consonants may make accurate synchronization difficult at this time.

"highest" "Lois" "Louis" "skiing" "sewing" "higher" "mayor" "gayest" "paying' "dying" "bowing" "plowing" "gnawing" "playing" "saying" "idea" "rodeo" "radio" "oleo" "aria" "area" "oreo" "orient" "laity" "pious" "piety" "truism" "myopic" "biopsy" "biennial" "hyoid" "iron" "Brian" "Diane" "voyage" "idiotic" "iota" "iodine" "liaison" "creation" "react" "Hyatt" "Iowa" "Ohio" "triangle" "cameo" "Romeo"

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