Thursday, February 16, 2012

Full-body rhythm: full-body pronunciation

Clipart: Clker
Clipart: Clker
A good case could be made for the position that the body rhythms which both drive and accompany speaking a language are at least as important as the vowels and consonants in achieving native-like expression, perhaps even more so. (On this blog I rarely talk about how to approach that level of accuracy.) Although rhythm is central to EHIEP methodology, that is the learner should see the grouping of words in conversation as the basic building block or point of departure in integrating change into spontaneous speech, the focus is generally on upper torso, head and arm movements that generate and control both rhythm and body movement. Of course, consciously synchronized upper body movement "moves" the rest of the body as well, especially the hips, glutes and abs. For any number of reasons, it is better to maintain attention "up there" rather than "down there"--at least in some cultures! Linked are three Youtube videos of the popular "body rhythm" art form, beginning with the one above of Keith Terry. Watch a bit of that and then a bit of this somewhat more "funky" style. ("Funky" is used in one of the protocols extensively.) And then finish up with this great "Mayumana" piece. The three taken together, from the initial hand focus, to the full body movement and clapping, to the exceedingly controlled and coordinated, almost robotic-like performance, captures the range of motion and felt sense necessary to move like a native. That level of rhythmic abandon is not required for basic intelligibility--but it certainly gives new meaning to the term "corpus" linguistics. Corporal linguists and instructors of the world, get down (with it!)

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