View previous topic | View next topic


Page 1 of 2
Goto page 1, 2  Next

Molly Cule
152565.  Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:21 am Reply with quote

Elocution plus electricity (plus a lot of time, effort and genius) led to the invention of the telephone.

Alexander Graham Bell’s father was a professor of elocution. He made up a technique to help deaf people to understand speech called ‘Visible Speech’; a set of symbols that can represent any sounds the human mouth can utter. The symbols show a speaker where to place his tongue and how to shape his mouth to make sounds to speak. Father and son both taught these symbols to deaf people in different places in the world. The technique could be used to speak English in any accent as well as to speak other languages, to say anything you wished to say.
(Source) (this is great, its AGB writing about his fathers system of Visible Speech and letters from teachers who have begun to use the system).

Alexander Bell the younger age 20 was teaching Visible Speech in London. He then lectured and taught it at Boston University from 1872 and trained teachers of the deaf.

Whilst teaching he pursued his love of science and invention; he tried out all sorts of kit to transmit the spoken word. He made ‘The Ear Phonautograph’ that would help the deaf ‘see’ speech, it was made up of the bones of a real human ear, mounted on a wooden frame. When someone spoke into the ear the bones vibrated and a brush hanging from the bones traced the shape of the sound waves on a piece of smoked class underneath. This helped him see how speech is translated into waves. He then set about trying to turn them into electrical oscillations. In the beginning he and his assistant Watson made machines that turned words into strange noises that meant nothing.

Whilst all of this was going on he continued to teach deaf students, one of them was a girl called Mabel Hubbard. Her father became interested in what Bell was up to and covered many of his research expenses. AGB and Mabel ended up falling in love and marrying. AGB was instrumental in the creation of the National Geographic Society, founded by Mabel’s father; Bell suggested Geography could best be taught by pictures and thought that an understanding of life all over the globe should be possible for all even if travel was limited to the privileged few.

Molly Cule
152567.  Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:22 am Reply with quote

Does everyone know this already? If not then I will carry on!

152581.  Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:31 am Reply with quote

I knew the stuff about his wife but none of the rest. Is it true that AGB was the first to come up with the idea of using radiation (specifically radium) to treat cancer?

152592.  Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:36 am Reply with quote

Just to log it here from the other forum, AGB was the first person to come up with the idea of an iron lung*, after his newborn son had died of respiratory problems.

*or with the idea which would eventually lead to the development of the iron lung anyway.

Here it is:

As great a man as he was, he wasn't a great artist was he?

Molly Cule
152602.  Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:49 am Reply with quote

er... no! what is going on in that picture? One small fact about AGB is that Graham was not his christened middle name. He added it to his name when he was 11 after Alexander Graham, a former student of his father's in Newfoundland who visited the family and impressed young AGB.

Last edited by Molly Cule on Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:38 am; edited 1 time in total

Molly Cule
152616.  Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:12 am Reply with quote

Churchill was often recommended elocution lessons as a child to cure his lisp but didn’t have them. When he entered Parliament he was advised to have lessons again. He did consult a few doctors and really tried to help himself by doing exercises and practicing, speaking. To teach himself to say ‘sh’ instead of ‘s’ he would repeat ‘The Spanish ships I cannot see for they are sheltered’

As he grew older and became recognized for his lisp he was happy he had never had elocution lessons and made sure his speech impediment was preserved; he had dentures specially made to make sure his lisp stayed put. The gold base was specially shaped so the teeth did not quite fit onto the upper jaw. His dentures worked in the opposite way to normal dentures, they relied on the clasps on the back teeth to stay in place whilst the gold palate and the front teeth were kept free from the soft tissues. This meant saliva could flow between the palate and plate. All this dentistry made sure he kept his voice for which he was so well know. According to this website – the Royal College of Surgeons of England- Churchill sometimes got bored at the dentist and would flick his dentures so spit flew out towards the wall.

He used to wash his mouth out with Brandy instead of mouthwash.

Molly Cule
152636.  Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:44 am Reply with quote

AGB also came up with the invention that would lead to ultrasound.

Molly Cule
152638.  Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:46 am Reply with quote

ABG taught Helen Keller when she was six years old. She said “I did not dream that that interview would be the door through which I should pass from darkness into light.” They remained in touch for over 30 years. As well as teaching her he set up a trust fund for her education and she would often come to stay with him and his wife in their home.

152640.  Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:52 am Reply with quote

After the attempted assassination of James Garfield, ABG was invited to attempt to find the bullet which was embedded somewhere in the president's person. For this, he used a metal detector, however sadly it didn't work due to the fact that Garfield was lay on a bed with metal springs. The contraption just went off incessently.

I believe that Garfield was eventually done-in by his medical team, whose prodding and poking to find the bullet led to huge sores which became infected. The bullet, it turned out, was lodged benignly by his spine.

Last edited by eggshaped on Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:53 am; edited 1 time in total

Molly Cule
152641.  Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:53 am Reply with quote

"Bell is believed to be the first to suggest the use of a radioactive substance in vivo to treat deep-seated cancerous masses. In a letter to his physician, published in Science in July 1903, he described an apparatus to seal a small radium source inside a glass tube."

This letter is online on at, who is it who subscribes to Nature, is it Jmitch?

152642.  Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:55 am Reply with quote

I think he was going to subscribe. I found my source, it was the ITN Book of Firsts. Not quite as authentic I guess.

152653.  Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:27 am Reply with quote

AGB co-designed the craft which held the world water speed record in 1919. His co-creater, Frederick Baldwin piloted the hydrofoil which travelled at just under 71 mph.


153733.  Mon Mar 05, 2007 7:59 am Reply with quote

Link to Vitali's Polish tongue-twister / execution.

Molly Cule
157698.  Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:33 pm Reply with quote

What has the way I speak got to do with The Great Plague?

After the plague happened a phenomenon called the Great Vowel Shift took place. The upshot of this was that the long vowels of English shifted upwards, so where once we lived in a ‘hoose’ we English now live in a a 'house'; we milked a 'coo', now known as a 'cow'; we had a 'gode' day rather than a 'good' one; we had 'feef' fingers on each hand and now we have 'five'; we wore 'boats' on our 'fate' whereas now we wear 'boots' on our 'feet'.

One reason for this shift is that after the plague broke out there was a mass migration of people to the safe haven of South East England, this brought people with many different accents together, people began to modify their speech to allow for a standard pronunciation of vowel sounds. Also there was a great deal of social mobility as many people in the upper classes were affected so working class people shifted upwards in society and began to changed their accents.

Molly Cule
157700.  Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:36 pm Reply with quote

Which American president made terrible speeches that don’t make a lot of sense?

F - Bush?

Warren Gabriel Harding, President in the 1920’s was notorious for his verbal gaffes. When Harding died ee cummings said ‘The only man, woman or child who wrote a simple declarative sentence with seven grammatical errors is dead.’
He insisted on making his own speeches in which he said things like "I would like the government to do all it can to mitigate, then, in understanding, in mutuality of interest, in concern for the common good, our tasks will be solved."
Harding's most famous "mistake" was his use of the word "normalcy" when the more correct word to use at the time would have been "normality." Harding decided he liked the sound of the word and made "Return to Normalcy" a recurring theme.
Critic H.L. Mencken said of Harding, "He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash."


Page 1 of 2
Goto page 1, 2  Next

All times are GMT - 5 Hours

Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group