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syllable; a word of two, a dissyllable; a word of three, a trissyllable, and a word of four or more, is called a polysyllable.
Accent is that stress or distinctness which is given to one syllable in a word above the others; as promote, justification. Every word of more than three syllables has a primary and a secondary accent; as comprehensible. In this word, hen has the primary, and com the secondary accent, and the rest are unaccented syllables.
Very similar to the stress laid upon a long word, dividing it by primary and secondary accents, and unaccented syllables, is the stress naturally employed in reading words formed into discourse. We utter sometimes one, sometimes several words at a single impulse of the voice, just, or nearly as we do the syllables of a long word ; or, as I would say, by impulses and remissions; and it is this ever-varying change of pause, stress, quantity, and inflection, that renders them so easy to be uttered, and makes them so distinct and agreeable to the ear.
As it regards the number and the length of the divisions, the slower our utterance is, the more divisions we make, and the more rapid our utterance is, the fewer we make ; e. g., John | is a very diligent scholar. This sentence as marked into five divisions, is unnaturally slow and monotonous ; marked into four, of course, it would be less so; but, when brought into three, it is uttered with the sprightliness of ordinary conversation ; and the grouped division is pronounced like the word comprehensibility or indestructibility : thus, John | is a very diligent' scholar.
Besides the accent as already described, there are two marks called by the same name—the acute accent (), and the grave accent (): the acute, pointing towards the left, and the grave towards the right. The acute accent is used in the dictionary over that syllable in a word which is accented, or which takes the greatest force in pronouncing it; as invite, intégrity. The grave accent is not used in the English language, except in elocutionary exercises ; then, the acute accent is applied to show the rising, and the grave to show the falling slide.
Quantity is the length of time taken in pronouncing 9 syllable, whether it be long or short. The macron ( :-) is used over a word to mark a long syllable, or to show the accent in a poetic foot; as, māker, nõble ; the breve () is used to mark a short vowel or syllable ; as, bětter, brěvīty :
A wīt's ă feather, and ă chīef, ă rõd :
The hyphen (-)-the same form as the macron-is used to join compound words; as, pen-knife, ink-stand, penny-wise ; and is employed also at the end of a line, when a part of the word is carried to the next.
An apostrophe is a comma used to show the possessive case ; as, John's book: or to show an omission; as, 'tis, for it is ; he's gone, for he is gone; or, as in the lines of poetry above; "wit's,” for “wit is ;” and "man's," for man is.”
In vocal language, we perceive at every impulse of the voice, an upward or downward slide, or turn. The simplest of these movements have been called by Mr. Walker, the rising and falling inflections. They are both made distinct in asking a question having two members connected disjunctively by or: as, Will you ríde, or walk? Will you gó, or stay?-or, the rising is heard distinctly in asking a definite question, and the falling, in answering it: as, Did John go to the office ? Yes. They also appear distinct in a declarative sentence having two members ; as, He went and returned. Want of módesty is want of sense.
The other movements have been named by the same author, the rising and falling circumflexes. The rising circumflex is a union of the falling and rising slides on the same syllable (TM). The falling circumflex is a union of the rising and falling slides on the same syllable (^). Both will be made plain on the words walk and ride in the following example, if we protract the voice a little, while pronouncing them : It is my intention not to wălk, but to rîde : also on James and you, in the following : Ah, it was Jâmes that did it ! I never thought it could be you !
The circumflex is rarely used except in irony, sneer, or taunt; or to bring out more clearly the meaning of some passage where there is great brevity of language.
From the examples given, it is clear that the rising and falling inflections, or slides, as I shall call them, carry the voice out in a straight line ; e. g.,
Did he say a
Did he say boy, or e?-and, that the circumflexes carry the voice round with a sort of semicircular sweep : e. g.,
“If you said so, then I said sô.” I can think of no better example to show the rising and falling circumflexes than this, if only the comic humor be kept in view.
There are also other turns of the voice, which occupy the space between the slides and circumflexes ; and, for the want of some knowledge of which, great confusion has hitherto involved the whole system, and rendered it of but little practical use. I have named them the rising and falling curves. The rising curve is begun with some of the falling slide, and ends with the rising
( ), approximating to the rising circumflex. The falling curve begins with some of the rising, and ends with the falling slide (), approximating to the falling circumflex.
The rising curve is naturally employed on the last of several particulars, when these are connected in the beginning of a sentence by one or more copulatives : e. g., Exercise and temperance strengthen the constitution. Diligence, industry, and proper improvement of tíme, are material duties of the young. . And sometimes on the last member of a comparison, thus : I had rather ríde than walk. When more than two particulars are disjunctively connected, the rising curve is used on the one preceding the last ; and, on the last, the falling
curve : e. g., Did Jóhn, or Jámes, or Joseph get the medal ? Neither John, nor Jámes, nor Joseph got it. Did you say óne, twó, or three ? Was your number óne, two, thrée, or four ? A well-instructed pupil would recite his grammar in this manner : Present draw, imperfect dréw, perfect participle dràwn. Present gó, imperfect wént, perfect participle gòne. Present lóve, imperfect lóved, perfect participle loved. Nominative wé, possessive oúrs, objective us. Amó, amáre, amávi, amàtum.
From these examples, it is seen that, as words present successive changes of sense and form, there is something in the turn of the voice to mark them ; even to the nicest shade. All such turns of voice in conveying thought, are as invariably settled by the laws of conventional usage, as the meaning of the words. The more one word resembles another in sound, but differs from it in signification, and the more liable any word is to be taken for another not expressed ; and, in general, the more concise language is, the greater is the necessity to make these changes in the voice so as to be rendered distinctly audible. But any attempt to distinguish them by a system of annotations, unless they be perfectly clear to the mind of the student, and liable to no mistake or doubt, will tend rather to embarrass than to aid him.
Walker has given the two following examples as I have marked them, to illustrate his rules for reading sentences of similar construction in all cases : Exercise and témperance strengthen the constitution. Diligence, industry, and proper improvement of time, are material