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He is neither mov'd by intreaties nor interrogatories.
Here, I say, the syllable rog, if pronounced with the least degree of emphasis, is both louder and higher than either the preceding or subsequent syl. lables.
From these observations, this general conclusion may be drawn: Whatever inflection be adopted, the accented syllable is always louder than the rest ; but if the accent be pronounced with the rising inflection, the accented syllable is higher than the preceding, and lower than the succeeding syllable; and if the accent have the falling inflection, the accented syllable is pronounced higher than any other sullable, either preceding or succeeding. The only exception to this is the sentence, No. I. where the accent is on the last syllable of a word which has no emphasis, and is pronounced as forming a cadence at the conclusion of a discourse.
Sooner or later virtue must meet with a reward.
Here the last syllable, though pronounced louder than the first, is evidently pronounced a degree lower.
It may not, perhaps, be improper to take notice of a common usage of the word accent, which, though seemingly inaccurate, will be found, upon examina. tion, to be a just application of the 'word. It is the custom, not only of England, but of other parts of the world which are seats of empire, to call those modes of pronunciation used in parts distant from the capital, by the name of accents. Thus we say, a native of Ireland speaks English with the Irish, and a native of Scotland with the Scotch accent; though both these speakers pronounce every word with the accent on the very same syllable as the English, Why then do we say, they speak with a different acçent? One reason is, that speaking sounds have
never been sufficiently analysed to enable us to discover their component parts, which makes us take up with indefinite and unspecifick terms, instead of such as are precise and appropriated to their object. This has greatly obscured the notion of accent, and led Mr. Sheridan to suppose, that accent in our language is no more than a force upon a certain syl. lable of a word which distinguishes it from the rest; but that accent has no reference to inflections of voice, and for that reason the word is used by us in the singular number. * Others have imagined, that we have tivo accents, the grave and acute; but in the definition of these, they seem only to mean that the latter has a greater degree of force than the former. Thus, for want of the simple distinction of the rising and falling slide of the voice, with which every accented syllable must necessarily be pronounced, the nature of our own accent seems as obscure, and as little understood, as that of the Greeks and Romans : and it is to this obscurity we owe the suprased impropriety of calling a dialect by the name of accent; for though there are other differences in the Scotch and Irish pronunciation of English besides this, it is to the difference of accent that the chief diversity is owing: if we understand accent only as force or stress, there is, indeed, the slightest difference imaginable ; since in both these kingdoms the stress is (to the exception of very few words indeed) laid on the same syllable as in England ; and, for this reason, the laws of poetry are exactly the same in all ; but if we divide accent into grave and acute, and call the acute the stress with the rising inflection, and the grave the stress with the falling inflection, we shall then see the propriety of saying, such a one speaks with the Irish or Scotch accent; for though the Irish place the stress precisely on the same syllable as the
*Essay on the Harmony of Language. Robson, 1774
English, it is often with a different inflection ; and the same may be said of the Scotch. Thus the Scotch pronounce the far greater part of their words with the acute accent, or rising inflection, and the Irish as con. stantly make use of the grave accent, or falling inflection, while the English observe pretty nearly a due mixture of each. If we pronounce a sentence in these three different modes, it may, perhaps, suggest to the ear the truth of the foregoing observations.
If these observations are just, the Irish ought to habituate themselves to a more frequent use of the rising inflection, and the Scotch to the falling, in or. der to acquire what is not (from this view of the sub. ject) improperly called the English accent.
But, besides the two simple accents, which, from the rising or falling inflection they adopt, may be called the acute and the grave; there are two other ac. cents compounded of these, which may be called the rising and falling circumflexes. These are totally unknown to the moderns : but are so inherent in the nature of the human voice, and so demonstrable upon experiment, as to defy contradiction. See Preface to this work, in the Notes:
Introduction to the Theory of Emphasis.
EMPHASIS, in the most usual sense of the word, is that stress with which certain words are pronounced, so as to be distinguished from the rest of the sentence. Among the number of words we make use of in discourse, there will always be some which are more necessary to be understood than others : those things with which we suppose our hearers to be preacquainted, we express by such a subordination of stress as is suitable to the small importance of things already understood ; while those of which our hearers are either not fully informed, or which they might possibly misconceive, are enforced with such an increase of stress as makes it impossible for the hearer to overlook or mistake them. Thus, as in a picture, the more essential parts of a sentence are raised, as it were, from the level of speaking; and the less necessary are, by this means, sunk into a comparative obscurity.
From this general idea of emphasis, it will readily appear of how much consequence it is to readers and speakers not to be mistaken in it ; the necessity of distinguishing the emphatical words from the rest, has made writers on this subject extremely solicitous to give such rules for placing the emphasis, as may, in some measure, facilitate this difficult part of elocution : but few have gone farther than to tell us, that we must place the emphasis on that word in reading, which we should make emphatical in speaking ; and though the importance of emphasis is insisted on with the utmost force and elegance of language, no assistance is given us to determine which is the emphatick word where several appear equally emphati
cal, nor have we any rule to distinguish between those words which have a greater, and those which have a less degree of stress; the sense of the author is the sole direction we are referred to, and all is left to the taste and understanding of the reader.
One writer, indeed, the author of the Philosophical Inquiry into the Delivery of written Language, has given us a distinction of emphasis into two kinds, which has thrown great light upon this abstruse subject. This gentieman distinguishes the stress into emphasis of force, and emphasis of sense. “Emphasis of force,” he tells us, “ is that stress we lay * on almost every significant word; emphasis of sense 6 is that stress we lay one or two particular words, “ which distinguishes them from all the rest in the " sentence.” The former stress,” he observes, “is “ variable, according to the conception and taste of “ the reader, and cannot be reduced to any certain “ rule:” “ the latter,” he says, “ is determined by the " sense of the author, and is always fixed and in“ variable.” This distinction, it must be owned, is, in general, a very just one ; and a want of attending to it, has occasioned great confusion in this subject, even in our best writers. They perceived, that besides those words which were strongly emphatical, there were many others that had a stress greatly superiour to the particles and less significant words, and these they jumbled together under the general term emphasis. Thus, when the emphatical words were to be marked by being printed in a different character, we find in several of the modern productions on the art of reading, that sometimes more than half of the words are printed in Italicks, and considered as equal. ly emphatical. The wrong tendency of such a practice is sufficiently obvious, but its origin was never pointed out till the publication of the essay above mentioned. This must be allowed to have thrown considerable light on the subject; and it is by