PG-3
CUEING MULTI-SYLLABLE WORDS
AND PHRASES WITH LIAISON

The person who can cue single syllable word accurately and with good synchronization of hand movements to articulate speech faces a few new learning tasks when utterances become strings of syllables. For one thing, cueing single syllables allowed for mental rehearsing of cues for each separate syllable before it was executed. Consequently the automaticity of cues really wasn't critical. One could cue very nicely with rapid, conscious pre-planning. However, when a string of syllablesmust be cued in rapid succession, pre-planning of all the syllables becomes an impossible intellectual task. If Cued Speech is to be at all fluent in real time, automaticity must take over from the intellect; and if these cues are not habitually accurate, mistakes will be frequent.

Some cuers forge ahead -- mistakes and all -- so that their speech remains reasonably fluent. But too many of these errors will create massive closure problems for the hearing-impaired auditor. "What is he really trying to say to me?" The majority of cuers are painfully aware of their cueing errors after such goofs are committed, and they stop to correct them or start over again. This strategy may clear up some of the confusion at the syllable level for the auditor, but fluency is destroyed in the process. To paraphrase the addage "win the battle only to lose the war," our play-it-again cuer may battle the syllable only to lose the intended train of thought. There simply is no substitute for practicing phrases and sentences until one can trust cueing to be both correct and automatic.

Liaison (the carry-over of a final consonant in one syllable to the next syllable which begins with a vowel sound) is another of those phonologic rules which works in the conversational speech of most native speakers, but which doesn't seem to transfer into Cued Speech unless one conscously re-discovers and conscientiously applies the rule in practice sessions. It is the rare cuer who will not benefit from some practice in unit EF-B for better liaison.

Synchronization of cues at the phrase/sentence level may have slightly different requirements from synchronization at the syllable level. The EF-C unit suggests a novel approach to synchronization which may be helpful to those having timing problems and who despair of ever becoming really fluent cuers.

All the units in PG-3 are based upon the positive assumption that practice with specific goals and methods in mind is far more productive than random repetitions of words and phrases. The author remembers an astute observation by a great aunt who faithfully monitored (make that "hounded"!) his after-school sessions at the piano. She said, "I can always tell when you are practicing and when you are just fooling around at the piano." Her wise reminder can also apply to Cued Speech practice. "Fooling around" with Cued Speech may be a pleasant temporary diversion, but it won't get one very far along the road to proficiency. So let's get to work!


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