Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

only thing they seem to agree in is, that the acute accent always raises the syllable on which it is placed higher than any other in the word * This is certainly true, in English pronunciation, if we pronounce the word singly, and terminate it as if no other were to follow; but if we pronounce it in a sentence, where it is the last accented word but one, or where it is at the end of a question beginning with a verb when we suspend the voice in expectation of an answer, we then find the latter syllables of the word, though unaccented, are pronounced higher than the accented syllable in the former part of the word. -See No. 7.

21. But what are we to think of their saying, that every monosyllable is either acuted or circumflexed? + If the acute accent signifies an elevation of voice, this, with respect to words

tra diapente seu tres tonos et semitonium, acuatur.” In singing, the sound has a larger compass than in reading or common speaking, insomuch that, in common discourse, whatever is higher than the diapente is held to be extremely

[ocr errors]

* Thus Priscian. “In unaquaque parte orationis arsis et thesis sunt velut in " hac parte natura : ut quando dico natu, elevatur vox et est.arsis in tu:

quando vero ra deprimitur vox et est thesis.Any one would conclude from this description of the rising and falling of the voice upon this word, that it could only be pronounced one way, and that there was no difference in the comparative height of the vowel u in the two following sentences :

Lucretius wrote a book De Rerum Natura.
Lucretius wrote a book De Natura Rerum.

Whereas it is evident that the word natura is susceptible of two different pronunciations : in the first sentence the syllable tu is louder and higher than the last ; and in the second it is louder and lower than the last : and this confounding of loud with high, and soft with low, seems to be the great stumbling-block, both of ancients and moderns.-See No.7, 8, &c.

+ Ea vero quæ sunt syllabæ unius erunt acuta aut flexa; ac sit aliqua vox sine acuta.- Quinct. lib. i. c. 5.

of one syllable, must mean elevated above some other word either preceding or succeeding, since elevation is a mere comparative word; but this is not once mentioned by them: if it has any meaning, therefore, it must imply that the acute accent is the monosyllable, pronounced with, what I should call, the rising in flexion or upward slide ; and then we can comprehend how a monosyllable may have the acute accent without reference to any other word: as when we begin a syllable low, and slide it higher, or begin it high, and slide it lower, it may be said to be acute or grave of itself; that is, when it is pronounced alone, and independent of other words. Unless we adopt this definition of the acute and grave, it will be impossible to conceive what the old grammarians mean when they speak of a monosyllable having the grave or the acute accent. Thus Diomedes says on some words changing their accent—"Si, post,

adverbium cum gravi pronunciatur accentu, erit præpositio; si acuto erit adverbium, ut longo post tempore veni."

22. It was a canon in the prosody of the Greeks and Romans, that words of more than one syllable must have either an acute or a circumflex accent; and that the other syllables, with. out an accent, were to be accounted grave: but if this be so, what are we to think of those numerous monosyllables, and the final syllables of those dissyllables that we see marked with the grave accent, as Μεν, προ, συν, Θεός, 'Ανήρ, κ. τ. λ. ?

Why, these words,” says Mr. Forster, “whatever Dr. Gally may conceive, had certainly their elevation on the last sylla

ble:” and this opinion of Mr. Forster's is supported by some of the most respectable authorities *.

66

65

[ocr errors]

* The seeming impossibility of reconciling accent and quantity made Herman Vanderhardt, the author of a small treatise, entitled, “ Arcanum Accentuum Græcorum," consider the marks of Greek accentuation as referring not to syllabic, but oratorial accent. But, as Mr. Forster observes, “ if this supposition were true, we should not meet with the same word constantly accented in the

same

23. With respect to the power of the accent in both the Greek and Latin languages, nothing can be better established by the ancient grammarians than that the acute accent did not lengthen the syllable it fell upon; and that short syllables, remaining short, had often the acute accent. This opinion has been irrefutably maintained by Mr. Forster *, and the author of

66

same manner as we see it at present. A word's oratorial accent will vary ac

cording to the general sentiment of the passage wherein it occurs : but its syl“ labic accent will be invariably the same, independent of its connexion with other “ words in the same sentence, except in the case of enclitics and a few others.“. Essuy on Accent and Quantity, page 25.

* But when Mr. Forster endeavours to explain how this is to be done, he has recourse to music.

Notwithstanding the reluctance of Vossius, Henninius, and thousands after " them, to admit the acute as compatible with a short time, if I could have them

near me with a flute in my hand, or rather with an organ before us, I would

engage to convince them of the consistency of these two. I would take any two “ keys next to each other, one of which would consequently give a sound lower " than the other : suppose the words derde before us, or ägougar ; both which "! words Vossius would circumflex on the penultimate, instead of giving an acute to " the first, according to our present marks: I would, conformably to these marks “ just touch the higher key for the initial d, and take my finger off immediately ; " and then touch the lower key, on which I would dwell longer than I did on the higher, and that would give me a grave with a long time for the syllable ki; " the same lower key I would just touch again, and instantly leave it, which or would give me a grave with a short time for de : aele. Now if this can be “ done on a wind-instrument within the narrow compass of two notes, it may be “ done by the organs of human speech, which are of the nature of a wind-instru.

ment, in ordinary pronunciation. For the sounds of our voice in common

speech differ from those of such musical instruments, not in quality, but in “ arithmetical discrete quantity or number only, as hath been observed before, and " is confirmed by the decisive judgement of that nice and discerning critic Di“ onysius of Halicarnassus. Here then is, to demonstration, an acute tone con• sistent with a short time, and a grave tone with a long one." P. 342, 343.

To

[ocr errors]

Observations on the Greek and Latin Prosodies; though as strenuously denied by Dr. Gally *, Isaac Vossius, and Henninius; and these last seem to have been persuaded of the inse. parable concomitancy of the acute accent and long quantity, from the impossibility they supposed there was of separating them in any language. But if we niake our ears and not our eyes judges of quantity, can any thing be more palpable than the short quantity of the accented syllables of próselyte, ánodyne, tribune, and inmate; and the long quantity of the final syllables of these words? And when we pronounce the Greek and Latin words, opárna, fallo, õppw, ambo, nothing can be more evident than the long quantity of the final vowel,

To this I may add the observation made by the author of the Essay on the Harmony of Language. Strange it seems that the author of this passage should maintain

an opinion so contrary to truth, so repugnant to his own purpose, so belied by daily and hourly experience, as that the union of the acute tone, with a short quantity, seldom occurs in English pronunciation, and is hardly practicable by

an English voice.” And still more strange, I may add, is it, that these two authors should not see that the experiment, which is called a demonstration, has nothing to do with the point in question. It regards tones that rise or fall by perceptible intervals, and not such as rise or fall by slides or imperceptible ones. Let it once be allowed that the Greeks and Romans sung their language, instead of speaking it, and then the acute or grave accent, with long or short quantity, are easily conceived; but it is not about musical, but speaking tones that we inquire : and though the authority of Dionysius of Halicarnassus is cited for the nature of the speaking voice as distinct, in degree only and not in kind, from singing, I boldly assert that this is not matter of authority, but of experiment, and that singing and speaking are as distinct as motion and rest. It is true some motion may be so slow as not to be perceived ; but then it is to be considered as rest : as a curve may approach so near to a right line as not to be distinguishable from it; but in these cases, where the senses and not the understanding are addressed, things are 40 be estimated for just what the senses value them at.-De non apparentibus, et de non existentibus, eadem est ratio.

* If the acute accent or stress, as Dr. Gally calls it, made the short syllable long, what becomes of metre of verse ? How will lie scan Arma “ virumque cang ?

though without the accent, and the short quantity of the initial and accented syllable.

24. As to the long quantity arising from the succession of two consonants, which the ancients are uniform in asserting, if it did not mean that the preceding vowel was to lengthen its sound, as we should do by pronouncing the a in scatter as we do in skater, (one who skates,) I have no conception of what it meant *; for if it meant that only the time of the syllable was prolonged, the vowel retaining the same sound, I must confess as utter an inability of comprehending this source of quantity in the Greek and Latin as in English. Banish, banner, and banter, have to our ears the first syllable equally short: the same may be observed of senate, seminary, sentence, and sentiment; and if, as an ingenious critic + has asserted, the ancients pronounced both the consonants in callidus, fallo, &c. that is finishing one 1 by separating the tongue from the palate before the other is begun, such a pronunciation must necessarily augment the number of syllables, nearly as if written calelidus, falelo, &c, and is therefore contrary to all the rules of ancient prosody ; nor would this pronunciation to our ears give the least length to the preceding vowel, any more than the succeeding mute does in sentence and sentiment.

* If the double consonants naturally made a syllable long, I should be glad to know how there could be exceptions to this rule? How could Ammonius say, that the second syllable of merayua was long, when the word was used in one particular sense, and short in another ? And how could Cicero

say,

that the first letter of inclytus was short, and the first of insanus and infelix long, if iwo succeeding consonants naturally lengthened the syllable? Dr. Forster, indeed, attempts to reconcile this contradiction, by observing that Cicero does not say the first syllable of inclytus is short, but the first letter; but it may be demanded, what is it that makes the syllable long or short, but the length or shortness of the vowel? If the double consonants necessarily retard the sound of the vowel, the second syllable of xárayua, and the first of insłyrus, could not possibly be pronounced short; and particularly the latter word could not be so pronounced, as it has the accent on the first lable. See sect. 16, in the note.

+ Essay upon the Harmony of Language, page 228. 233. ROBSON, 1774.

« ZurückWeiter »