To explain this, it is sometimes useful to consider the origins of the word. An early example of ventriloquism occurs in the Book of Job, which was written in Hebrew about 500 BC. Although they were frequently used, the words ‘to ventriloquise’ and ‘tongue-twisting’ did not appear as part of the vocabulary until the 8th century. One early dictionary identifies these words as from the 9th century and ‘tongue-twisting’ as part of the 6th-century English word ‘tongue.’ According to The Oxford English Dictionary, these early words are now used primarily as a derogatory (sarcastic) term to describe people who engage in or attempt ventriloquism.
However, this is not to say that ventriloquism was not an important part of everyday life. As it was often used to entertain, a theatrical ventriloquist could be relied upon to play a variety of roles: comic, tragic, melodramatic and even dramatic.
Ventriloquism during the late 19th and early 20th centuries was associated with various sorts of performance. It was popular with circus performers (and also in other settings such as opera houses), professional comedians, and the theatre. As early as 1911, a ventriloquist from a theatre company in London was recorded as having performed the role of King Louis XV of Belgium, playing both the King and the Queen.
What is ventriloquism?
Ventriloquism generally entails the use of a large, curved, wooden ‘masked’ wooden box. When this is opened by the performer, a wooden rod is produced which goes through the tongue, into the mouth, and through the airway. The rod then travels through the mouth and into the throat, making an audible sound like a ‘clang.’ The term ventriloquism refers to both this type of action and another: the simultaneous production of different words by inserting the tongue inside the mouth, with only one of these being uttered – in this case the first word produced is either ‘clang’ (loud speech) or ‘clap’ (quiet speech) and then the second word is produced by the tongue’s movement through the airway (through the nostrils). The terms clap and clink have been in use for some more than 2,500 years, since the first documented use of the term in 1530,
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