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an alteration of the voice as the question affords, that those who have the least desire to read well, ought never to neglect so favourable an opportunity : a question terminating with the rising inflection of voice at once breaks the chain of discourse, grown heavy by its length, rouses the auditor from the languor of attending to a continued series of argument, and excites fresh attention by the shortness, briskness, and novelty of the address : and if the greatest masters of composition have thought it necessary to throw in questions to enliven and enforce their harangues, those who have the least taste for the delivery of them find it as necessary to attend to the peculiarity of voice this figure requires when they read.
This inflection of voice, however, which distinguishes the interrogation, seems entirely confined to those questions which are formed without the interrogative pronouns or adverbs. When a question commences with one of these, it has invariably the same inflection as the declarative sentence, unless we have either not heard, or mistaken an answer just given us; for in that case, the emphasis is placed upon the interrogative word; and the voice elevated by the rising inflection on the end of the sentence. Thus, if we say simply, When do you go to college ? the word college has the falling infection, and the voice is no more elevated than if, being acquainted with the time, we should say, At that time I find you go to college : but if we have mistaken the answer that has been given us concerning the time, we say, Whén do you go to college ? we lay a considerable stress upon the word when, and suspend the voice with the rising inflection to the end of the sentence.
Again ; if we ask a question without previous conversation, or reference to any thing that has passed, if we do not use the interrogative words, we infallibly use the rising inflection, and elevate the voice on the
end of the question ; thus we meet, and say, Are you going to college ?--if we have the least eagerness for information, the voice is elevated and supended with the rising inflection on the last word; but if the person we speak to, either does not hear, or else mistakes what we say, so as to make it necessary to repeat the question, we then adopt the falling inflection on the last word, and, giving it some degree of emphasis, say, Are you going to college ? with the same inflection of voice, and in nearly the same tone, with which we should say simply, You are now going to college ; with this difference only, that in the latter case the voice falls into a lower tone, and in the for mer seems to rest in the tone of the sentence, somewhat louder, perhaps, but with exactly the same falling inflection as the latter, and entirely different from that upward turn of voice which distinguishes the first question.
Thus we find the immediate repetition of the same question requires a different inflection of voice according to its form. When we ask a question com-. mencing with an interrogative word, we use the falling inflection on the last word; as, When do you go to college ? When, from a mistake of the answer about the time, we repeat this question, we use the rising inflection of voice, and elevate it to the end ; as, Whén do you go to college ? On the contrary, when we first ask a question without the interrogative word, we use the rising inflection, and raise the voice on the last word; as, Are you going to college ? and when we repeat the question, we use the falling inflection of voice on the last word ; and though we may pronounce the last word louder than the rest, we do not use the rising inflection as in the former case but the falling ; as, I say, are you going to college?
But such is the variety of this species of sentence, that a question may be asked without either the interrogative words, or an inversion of the arrangement,
or the rising inflection of voice on the last word : for instead of saying, Do you intend to read that lóok ? with the rising inflection on the word book, we may, with the same expectation of an answer, use the same inflection on the same word and say, You intend to read that book ?--Both sentences will be equally interrogatory, though the last seems distinguished from the first, by implying less doubt of what we ask ; for when we say, You intend to read that look ? with the rising inflection on the word book, we have not so much doubt about the reading of it as when we say, Do you intend to read that book ? with the same inflection on the same word : and accordingly we find the voice more elevated at the end of the question where there is more doubt implied ; and where the doubt is small, the voice is less elevated at the end ; though, in both cases, the same kind of inflection is inviolably preserved ; for the question You intend to read that book ? with the rising inflection on the word book, is equivalent to the interrogative affirmation ; I suppose you intend to read that book ? both of which we find naturally terminate in a suspension of voice, as if an ellipsis had been made, and part of the question omitted ; for these questions end in exactly the same inflection of voice which the same words would have in the question at length--You intend to read that book, do you not ?-that is, in the suspension of voice called the rising inflection, similar to that usually marked by the comma. Not but this very phrase, You intend to read that book, pronounced with the falling inflection on the last word like a declarative sentence, might have the import of a question, if attended with such circumstances as implied a doubt in the speaker and required an answer from the hearer : though this mode of speaking would, perhaps, imply the least degree of doubt possible, yet as some degree of doubt might be implied, it must necessarily be classed with the interrogation. Having premised these observations, it may be necessary to take notice, that with respect to pronunciation, all questions may be divided into two classes ; namely, into such as are formed by the interrogative pronouns or adverbs, and into such as are formed only by an inversion of the common arrangement of the words : the first, with respect to inflection of voice, except in the cases already mentioned, may be considered as purely declarative ; and like declarative sentences they require the falling inflection at the end : and the last, with some few exceptions, require the rising inflection of voice on the last word; and it is this rising inflection at the end which distinguishes them from almost every other species of sentence. Of both these in their order.
The Question with the Interrogative Words.
Rule 1. When an interrogative sentence commences with any of the interrogative pronouns or adverbs, with respect to inflection, elevation, or de pression of voice, it is pronounced exactly like a de: clarative sentence.
How can he exalt his thoughts to any thing great and nos ble, who only believes that after a short turn on the stage of this world, he is to sink into oblivion, and to lose his consciousness for ever?
Spectator, No. 210..
As an illustration of the rule we need only alter, two or three of the words to reduce it to a declara. tive sentence ; and we shall find the inflection, elevation, and depression of voice on every part of it the same.
He cannot exalt his thoughts to any thing great or noble, because he only believes that after a short turn on the stage of this world, he is to sink into oblivion, and to lose his consciousness for ever.
Here we perceive, that the two sentences, though one is an interrogation, and the other a declaration, end both with the same inflection of voice, and that the falling inflection ; but if we convert these words into an interrogation, by leaving out the interrogative word, we shall soon perceive the difference.
Can he exalt his thoughts to any thing great or noble, who only believes that after a short turn on the stage of this world he is to sink into oblivion and to lose his consciousness for éver?
In pronouncing this sentence with propriety we find the voice slide upwards on the last words, contrary to the inflection it takes in the two former examples. If grammarians, therefore, by the elevation of voice, which they attribute to the question, mean the rising inflection, their rule with some few exceptions, is true only of questions formed without the interrogative words ; for the others, though they may have a force and loudness on the last words, if they happen to be emphatical, have no more of that distinctive inflection which is peculiar to the former kind of interrogation, than if they were no questions at all. Let us take another example : Why should not a female character be as ridiculous in a man, as a male character in one of the female sex ? Here the voice is no more elevated at the end than if I were to say, A female character is just as ridiculous in a man as a male character in one of the female sex : but if I say, Is not a fèmale character as ridiculous in a man as a male character in one of the female sex ? Here not only the emphasis, but the rising inflection, is on the last words ; essentially different from the inflec