a tool to teach enunciation. a phonetic alphabet consisting of 34 symbols which represented "the way lips, tongue and voice produce sound". alexander graham bell used this alphabet to teach deaf children how to speak.

from www.fitzgeraldstudio.com

It was designed by Alexander Melville Bell, the father of Alexander Graham Bell, of telephone fame.

It's a rather elegant design, if hard to read. It uses different parts of the symbols to indicate different features of the sound. Remember, this was before most modern phonology, so for its time it was quite advanced.

The Visible Speech was later adapted and expanded by Henry Sweet, another early phonologist.

Visible Speech, the system of expressing speech sounds by written symbols, invented by Prof. Alexander Melville Bell during the years 1849-1864. Its fundamental principle is, says its author, "that all relations of sound are symbolized by relations of form, each organ and each mode of organic action having its appropriate symbol, and all sounds of the same nature produced at different parts of the mouth (such as t and d, b and p) being represented by a single symbol turned in a direction corresponding to the organic position." Among the advantages claimed for visible speech by Professor Bell are its power of representing the exact sounds of foreign languages, and the facilities offered by it toward teaching the illiterate and blind to read, and the deaf and dumb to speak.


Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

Vis"i*ble speech". (Phon.)

A system of characters invented by Prof. Alexander Melville Bell to represent all sounds that may be uttered by the speech organs, and intended to be suggestive of the position of the organs of speech in uttering them.

 

© Webster 1913

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