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elocution [ 2 August 2009 23:17 BST]
pftaylor
elocution [ 2 September 2009 12:11 BST] (current)
pftaylor
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 The original article, by Rita Ranson, Université du Havre, is entitled The original article, by Rita Ranson, Université du Havre, is entitled
 **«ELOCUTION WALKER» OU LA RÉUSSITE D’UN CATHOLIQUE dans l’Angleterre des lumières** **«ELOCUTION WALKER» OU LA RÉUSSITE D’UN CATHOLIQUE dans l’Angleterre des lumières**
-and can be found on www.cercles.com/​n4/​ranson.pdf,​ with all the footnotes.+and can be found on www.cercles.com/​n4/​ranson.pdf,​ with all the footnotes.  The translation is mine, together with any errors. ​ Please feel free to point them out.
  
  
-==‘Elocution Walker’, or the success of a Catholic in the England of the Enlightenment.==+=== ‘Elocution Walker’, or the success of a Catholic in the England of the Enlightenment. ​===
  
 John Walker is without doubt one of the greatest English intellectuals of the 18th century. ​ His name is linked with the study of language and in particular the pronunciation of the English Language. ​ His works are known by and enjoy a reputation for quality among the all too small a number of specialists in the history of rhetoric and of phonology; very little information is available about his life, which is even more paradoxical when one realises how popular he was in his life-time. ​ For the educated gentleman of the 18th century the name of John Walker was, in the realm of the study of pronunciation,​ as prestigious as that of Dr. Johnson in lexicography or of David Garrick, actor of genius, both contemporaries and friends of Walker. John Walker is without doubt one of the greatest English intellectuals of the 18th century. ​ His name is linked with the study of language and in particular the pronunciation of the English Language. ​ His works are known by and enjoy a reputation for quality among the all too small a number of specialists in the history of rhetoric and of phonology; very little information is available about his life, which is even more paradoxical when one realises how popular he was in his life-time. ​ For the educated gentleman of the 18th century the name of John Walker was, in the realm of the study of pronunciation,​ as prestigious as that of Dr. Johnson in lexicography or of David Garrick, actor of genius, both contemporaries and friends of Walker.
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 In order to know this individual thinker better, one must first investigate his personality a little more precisely: what were the circumstances that led Walker to become the author of numerous works on oral English? ​ It also seems important to place him in context by considering his relations with his rivals in this field: how did he arrange his assets in relation to the others? ​ Finally we must question in particular why, in spite of the influence of Walker on the English language of the 18th and 19th centuries, his work remains largely unexplored, in fact little used at all in the study of the history of language for that period. In order to know this individual thinker better, one must first investigate his personality a little more precisely: what were the circumstances that led Walker to become the author of numerous works on oral English? ​ It also seems important to place him in context by considering his relations with his rivals in this field: how did he arrange his assets in relation to the others? ​ Finally we must question in particular why, in spite of the influence of Walker on the English language of the 18th and 19th centuries, his work remains largely unexplored, in fact little used at all in the study of the history of language for that period.
  
-== Walker, second-rate actor, ‘papist’,​ but respected master of elocution ==+=== Walker, second-rate actor, ‘papist’,​ but respected master of elocution ​===
  
 John Walker was born at Colney Hatch on 18th March 1732.  He attended the Highgate Free Grammar School, but for financial reasons had to interrupt his studies and become apprentice to an apothecary. ​ However he continued to teach himself, studying amongst other subjects Greek and Latin. ​ Around the age of seventeen—existing sources do not allow for any greater precision—he took the decision to become an actor. ​ Initially he joined a provincial touring troupe, such as that of Ward, but decided eventually to return to London, where in 1754 he was engaged at Drury Lane by David Garrick. ​ He remained an actor from 1754 to 1769, and exercised his talents successively at Drury Lane, the Crow Street Theatre in Dublin, Covent Garden and again at Crow Street. ​ In 1758 he married Sybilla Minors, an actress. ​ He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1765.  On ceasing in 1769 to be an actor, Walker decided to exercise his talents as a teacher of elocution, initially at a school in Kensington Gravel Pits, then among the young people destined for a career in parliament, at the bar or in the church. ​ Between 1774 and 1805 he produced no less than thirteen works on the language, all of which have survived. ​ Walker died in London, at Tottenham Court Road, on 1st August 1807.  The epitaph on his tombstone reads [Cansick 145]:​\\ ​ John Walker was born at Colney Hatch on 18th March 1732.  He attended the Highgate Free Grammar School, but for financial reasons had to interrupt his studies and become apprentice to an apothecary. ​ However he continued to teach himself, studying amongst other subjects Greek and Latin. ​ Around the age of seventeen—existing sources do not allow for any greater precision—he took the decision to become an actor. ​ Initially he joined a provincial touring troupe, such as that of Ward, but decided eventually to return to London, where in 1754 he was engaged at Drury Lane by David Garrick. ​ He remained an actor from 1754 to 1769, and exercised his talents successively at Drury Lane, the Crow Street Theatre in Dublin, Covent Garden and again at Crow Street. ​ In 1758 he married Sybilla Minors, an actress. ​ He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1765.  On ceasing in 1769 to be an actor, Walker decided to exercise his talents as a teacher of elocution, initially at a school in Kensington Gravel Pits, then among the young people destined for a career in parliament, at the bar or in the church. ​ Between 1774 and 1805 he produced no less than thirteen works on the language, all of which have survived. ​ Walker died in London, at Tottenham Court Road, on 1st August 1807.  The epitaph on his tombstone reads [Cansick 145]:​\\ ​
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 argue a want of knowledge of the harmonies, cadences, and properties of our  argue a want of knowledge of the harmonies, cadences, and properties of our 
 language. ​ Against this gentleman and others, we are going, my Lord, upon a language. ​ Against this gentleman and others, we are going, my Lord, upon a
-poor, ungrounded prejudice of the refuses ​of the mob of London, to commit an act +poor, ungrounded prejudice of the refuse ​of the mob of London, to commit an act 
 of gross injustice; and for what?  For crimes moral or political? ​ no, my Lord, but of gross injustice; and for what?  For crimes moral or political? ​ no, my Lord, but
 because we differ in the meaning affixed to a single word, pronouncing it  because we differ in the meaning affixed to a single word, pronouncing it 
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 Kelly in Thepsis shared that opinion [Lamb 25].  It can therefore appear at first sight somewhat amazing that Walker decided to become a teacher of elocution. ​ Walker had, in fact, followed in the footsteps of certain of his contemporaries who had themselves studied elocution and pronunciation,​ and had been called ‘orthoepists’. ​ The two other great figures of this period were Sheridan and Kenrick. ​ The first was an actor and theatre director, the second an author. ​ It was therefore natural and in consequence logical for lovers of works dedicated to spoken English of the 18th century, that their authors should in one way or another be linked to the theatre. ​ We now look at those qualities that distinguished Walker from the other orthoepists. Kelly in Thepsis shared that opinion [Lamb 25].  It can therefore appear at first sight somewhat amazing that Walker decided to become a teacher of elocution. ​ Walker had, in fact, followed in the footsteps of certain of his contemporaries who had themselves studied elocution and pronunciation,​ and had been called ‘orthoepists’. ​ The two other great figures of this period were Sheridan and Kenrick. ​ The first was an actor and theatre director, the second an author. ​ It was therefore natural and in consequence logical for lovers of works dedicated to spoken English of the 18th century, that their authors should in one way or another be linked to the theatre. ​ We now look at those qualities that distinguished Walker from the other orthoepists.
  
-== Walker: intellectual of his time or orthoepist of genius? ==+=== Walker: intellectual of his time or orthoepist of genius? ​===
  
 In her work concerning one of the least known orthoepists of Great Britain, Thomas Spence, Beal challenged her reader by demanding whether Spence, Sheridan, Kenrick, Burn, Johnston and Walker were phoneticians worthy of trust [Beal 48].  For historical reasons, the word ‘phonetician’ not having existed in the 18th century, it is better to ask if Walker was a good orthoepist. ​ It is possible to accept Beal’s answer and assert that Walker was actually a reliable orthoepist [Beal 48-56]; bearing Beal’s criteria in mind we note that he effectively had the favour of the public, he was invited to take part in conferences at Oxford, Edinburgh and Dublin, and that he had the merit of having proposed in his dictionary a clear description of the pronunciation of English based on the work of his predecessors and the rules for justifying that pronunciation. ​ It is pointless to say that Beal does not go far enough in her analysis; her purpose is the study of Spence, not Walker. ​ Nevertheless it is natural to ask whether Walker was not, after all, just an opportunist. ​ Had he not already amassed a considerable fortune courtesy of his earlier publications?​ [Aickin 84]. In her work concerning one of the least known orthoepists of Great Britain, Thomas Spence, Beal challenged her reader by demanding whether Spence, Sheridan, Kenrick, Burn, Johnston and Walker were phoneticians worthy of trust [Beal 48].  For historical reasons, the word ‘phonetician’ not having existed in the 18th century, it is better to ask if Walker was a good orthoepist. ​ It is possible to accept Beal’s answer and assert that Walker was actually a reliable orthoepist [Beal 48-56]; bearing Beal’s criteria in mind we note that he effectively had the favour of the public, he was invited to take part in conferences at Oxford, Edinburgh and Dublin, and that he had the merit of having proposed in his dictionary a clear description of the pronunciation of English based on the work of his predecessors and the rules for justifying that pronunciation. ​ It is pointless to say that Beal does not go far enough in her analysis; her purpose is the study of Spence, not Walker. ​ Nevertheless it is natural to ask whether Walker was not, after all, just an opportunist. ​ Had he not already amassed a considerable fortune courtesy of his earlier publications?​ [Aickin 84].
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 The genius of Walker lies therefore in his two courses: to supply the informed public with points of reference in the form of rules (like the celebrated Principles of English Pronunciation placed at the start of his dictionary) or a visual and actual representation (which was paradoxical for his contemporaries who accepted Johnson’s definition when he stressed ‘the fugitive quality of language’ in the case of spoken English). ​ These techniques allowed the readers of his works to make progress, step by step, in their mastery of matters of language. ​ But what ultimately is the fate of Walker’s work? The genius of Walker lies therefore in his two courses: to supply the informed public with points of reference in the form of rules (like the celebrated Principles of English Pronunciation placed at the start of his dictionary) or a visual and actual representation (which was paradoxical for his contemporaries who accepted Johnson’s definition when he stressed ‘the fugitive quality of language’ in the case of spoken English). ​ These techniques allowed the readers of his works to make progress, step by step, in their mastery of matters of language. ​ But what ultimately is the fate of Walker’s work?
  
-== Walker: celebrated intellectual of the 18th century but forgotten in the 21st century? ==+=== Walker: celebrated intellectual of the 18th century but forgotten in the 21st century? ​===
  
 Walker seems today to be almost completely ignored, except by specialists in the history of phonology or linguistics. ​ It is true that since the beginning of the 1970s there has been renewed interest in studying the development of the English language (particularly during the 18th and 19th centuries); but when one compares the number of these studies with those devoted to earlier periods, they are extremely rare and are not a priority among researchers. ​ Charles Jones thinks this may be explained by a certain reticence towards the 18th and 19th centuries, being too close to the 20th [Jones 279].  Is it about being prudent to avoid too much retrospective criticism, or must we see it as indicating a lack of interest on the part of researchers? ​ Whatever the reason, studies devoted to the history of linguistic ideas during the 18th century and to those contemporaries of Walker in the field too often leave readers and researchers wanting more.  Most of the time study of the development of English pronunciation during this period is slap-dash, as in such classics as the 4th edition of Baugh and Cable, or the book by Freeborn. ​ This is certainly not to say that figures like Johnson or Lowth have been forgotten. ​ But it is much more difficult to find anything written about the orthoepists of the 18th century. ​ In those studies which are a little more focussed, such as those on Standard English for example, there can be some references to Walker; this is the case in Wardaugh, Collins and Mees and even in Mugglestone. ​ The situation is even more alarming in works aimed at the general public. ​ In one such, in reference to a dictionary published in 1791 we read [Crystal 77]: ‘In 1774, the year before Jane Austen was born, John Walker published his Pronouncing Dictionary of English.’ Walker seems today to be almost completely ignored, except by specialists in the history of phonology or linguistics. ​ It is true that since the beginning of the 1970s there has been renewed interest in studying the development of the English language (particularly during the 18th and 19th centuries); but when one compares the number of these studies with those devoted to earlier periods, they are extremely rare and are not a priority among researchers. ​ Charles Jones thinks this may be explained by a certain reticence towards the 18th and 19th centuries, being too close to the 20th [Jones 279].  Is it about being prudent to avoid too much retrospective criticism, or must we see it as indicating a lack of interest on the part of researchers? ​ Whatever the reason, studies devoted to the history of linguistic ideas during the 18th century and to those contemporaries of Walker in the field too often leave readers and researchers wanting more.  Most of the time study of the development of English pronunciation during this period is slap-dash, as in such classics as the 4th edition of Baugh and Cable, or the book by Freeborn. ​ This is certainly not to say that figures like Johnson or Lowth have been forgotten. ​ But it is much more difficult to find anything written about the orthoepists of the 18th century. ​ In those studies which are a little more focussed, such as those on Standard English for example, there can be some references to Walker; this is the case in Wardaugh, Collins and Mees and even in Mugglestone. ​ The situation is even more alarming in works aimed at the general public. ​ In one such, in reference to a dictionary published in 1791 we read [Crystal 77]: ‘In 1774, the year before Jane Austen was born, John Walker published his Pronouncing Dictionary of English.’
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