ELIMINATING HALTING OR CHOPPY PHRASING
Generally people who use choppy phrasing or halting sppech while cueing do
this not because they lack any speech skills but because they are not quite
sure how to cue the next word. Their cueing skills are not as automatic as
their speech skills. It would be comforting to think that more experience in
cueing eliminates this problem, but that isn't always the case. I'll
explain. Many adults who are reasonably fluent in conversational speech
become much less fluent when they attempt to read something aloud from a
printed text. The act of reading while speaking causes them to become
halting and choppy (i.e., pauses and hesitations occur in the wrong places).
This is because reading-while-speaking is a much more complex skill -- one
which the individual hasn't mastered. Ironically, most of us read aloud at
about the fourth grade level because that's where the monitoring of such
skills in school stops! Further development of oral reading skills beyond
the fourth grade is the responsibility of te individual child.
By the same token, when one learns to cue, the emphasis is upon cueing
syllables and then words with accuracy and good synchronization. You may
recall that there was some practice in the final taped lesson for cueing
phrases, short sentences, and liaison -- but not enough specific practice
for some individuals. Consequently, those individuals let their word
attack skills govern how they cue-and-say phrases and sentences. They
actually build habits which work against normal oral phrasing for meaning.
Pauses enter their Cued Speech for reasons other than phrase meanings or
syntactical (sentence structure) rules. The end result is halting and choppy
Phrasing for Meaning
Although we leave spaces between written words to aid the eye, we do not
ordinarily leave "time" spaces between words in oral phrases or sentences to
aid the ear. The ear relies on other information such as stress, pitch and
juncture. We only leave spaces between spoken words to clear up any oral
ambiguities. Notice that in the following spoken phrases there are no oral
Any pauses in the above units would have interfered with meaning. However,
in the following examples there are oral ambiguities, and pauses are
definitely necessary to convey appropriate meaning:
- "Bob Jones" (that's his whole name -- no breaks!)
- "A Tale of Two Cities" (a book title -- all one unit)
- "in the park" (a prepositional phrase)
- "a little white house" (noun phrase)
- "sitting on a fence" (participial phrase)
- "Birds fly." (simple sentence)
- "Sam hit his first home run in the game on Saturday at Fenway Park."
(simple sentence: subject+verb+object+modifiers)
And this sentence without appropriate oral pauses would be totally
- "A man going to sea his wife requests the prayers of the church."
- "Mother did bad things ever happen to you?"
- "If you are naughty boys won't play with you."
"That that is is that that is not is not is not that it it is." (If you
can't figure it out, click here.)
Sometimes the syntax of a phrase or sentence requires an oral pause. Usually
there is a written comma, colon, semi-colon, or period. Here are some basic
rules for use of the comma:
1. When listing a series of items.
Example: "I saw monkeys, tigers, elephants and snakes
at the zoo." (Use oral pauses between items
where there is a comma.)
2. To highlight a non-restrictive clause.
Example of a restrictive clause: "My brother who lives
in Iowa is visiting us." (no pauses)
Example of a non-restrictive clause: "My brother Bob,
who lives in Iowa, is visiting us." (Pauses
are necessary because we already know which
brother; the information about his living in
Iowa is non-restrictive.)
3. To show apposition.
Example: "My brother, an electrical engineer, is
visiting us from Iowa."(pauses because "engineer" and
"brother" are one and the
Though far from exhaustive, the above examples should be sufficient to
indicate when oral pauses are legitimate. The problem amoung cuers is the
use of oral pauses where the are not appropriate.
The above rules are ones you have been using all your life if American
English is your first language. They were spelled out only because they
don't seem to function efficiently when we are cueing at the same time. We
speak in thought groups of words without pauses; we should
cue-and-speak the same way.It goes without saying that when we converse we
don't have the visual punctuation on a printed page to guide us. We must
rely on the "punctuation" in our mental movel of how we speak.
- Don't pause between the subject and verb of a sentence. "The baby is
crying." "Birds fly" "She is my sister." "I feel fine."
- Don't pause between verbs and their objects. "Bobby hit Sally." "I saw a
robin." "Give me that book." "I'll tell you a story."
- Don't pause between prepositions and their objects. "under the table"
"on the roof" "over the rainbow" "at 10 o'clock"
- Don't pause between modifiers (adjectives and adverbs) unless they are
an independent series of describing words. "a little brown bug" "a very good
book" "this very badly dented fender" (Do pause when you could insert
the word "and" between adjectives or adverbs in a series: "a happy,[and]
relaxed, [and]serene individual")
The following practice items were designed to refresh that mental model and
to eliminate choppy or halting phrasepatterns while cueing. Use liaison (-)
"Ready in-a minute"
"I'll be ready in-a minute."
"I said-I'll be ready in-a minute!" (no pauses, please!)
"Will you be home-after school?"
"What-time will you be home-after school?"
"Daddy will be here-in-another hour."
"In my bedroom."
"On the dresser in my bedroom."
"My purse-on the dresser in my bedroom."
"Please get me my purse-on the dresser in my bedroom."
"Of your bureau"
"Of the bottom drawer of your bureau."
"On the right hand side-of the bottom drawer of your bureau."
"Your socks-are-on the right hand side-of the bottom drawer of your bureau."
"And play for-awhile"
"Come-over and play for-awhile."
"Bobby wants you to come-over and play for-awhile."
"All-of your potatoes"
"Until you've-eaten-all-of your potatoes"
"No dessert-until you've-eaten-all-of your potatoes!"
"I did yesterday"
"Than-I did yesterday"
"I love you even more today than-I did yesterday!"
"Play outside for-an-hour"
"Why don't you play outside for-an-hour?"
"That that is, is. That that is not, is not. Is not that it? It is!"
Virtually every phrase and sentence for practice in this manual can be used
to help eliminate the habit of choppy or halting speech while cueing. If you
find that an entire sentence is too much to handle, break down the phrases
-- and then rebuild them -- as we did in the above practice