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30. Inflection, Emphasis, &c.
Inflections are tones of speech produced either by an upward or a downward slide of the voice. In the question, “ Will you go' or stay'?” there is an upward slide of the voice at go and a downward slide at stay. These are called, one the Rising, the other the Falling Inflection. The former may be marked by the acute accent (), the latter by the grave accent ().
Besides these, there is the compound inflection, or circumflex, in which the two inflections are united in utterance; a falling or assertive tone being followed by a rising or querulous one, or the reverse taking place; as in uttering, with an ironical expression, such a passage as the following: “ Brave man – to strike a woman! courageous chief !” To indicate the Circumflex, this mark (^) may be used when the falling inflection follows the risiny; and this (v) to denote the reverse.
Direct questions, which can be answered by yes or no, generally take the rising inflection; as “Can he read'?” The answers to such questions generally take the falling inflection; as, “He can.”
But questions of a positive character, where we anticipate or take for granted the answer, receive the falling inflection; as in “Is n't she beautiful"?” “Is n't this a lovely day'?"
Indirect questions, and those which cannot be answered by yes or no, generally take the falling inflection, as “Where is he going ?" The reason is, that, the main fact of the sentence being undoubted and taken for granted, there is an implied reference to this which dictates a fall in the tone.
The pause of suspension in incomplete sentences usually takes the rising inflection, while the termination of a sentence making complete sense requires the falling.
The rising inflection is thus associated with what is incomplete in sense, or dependent; with what is relative, doubtful, purely interrogative, or supplicatory; while the falling inflection is associated with what is complete or independent in sense, or intended to be received as such; with whatever is positive, dogmatic, or imperious.
$ 31. Continuative Tone. The continuative tone, by some writers called “The Slur," is formed by avoiding any marked inflection. It is used for the unemphatic pronunciation of the minor words of a sentence; of those passages which have little relation to the primary sense, or those with which the hearer may be supposed to be pre-acquainted.
A parenthesis, as it is a sentence within a sentence, inust be generally uttered in this continuative tone; that is, it must be kept as clear as possible from the principal sentence, by a lower tone of voice, by accents approaching a level, and generally by a quicker rate of utterance. The power of lowering the voice, and commencing a sentence or clause of a sentence in a different pitch from what preceded, is a qualification indispensable to a good reader, and the parenthesis affords the best opportunity for acquiring it, because the rule is constant.
Let the learner imagine, in pronouncing the principal sentence, he is to
make himself heard at a distance; — reaching the parenthesis, let him utter it as to some one immediately at hand; and, at its conclusion, again address himself as to a distant auditor. The power of changing the key being thus acquired, it may be employed with propriety and effect, not only at the parenthesis, but wherever there is a manifest transition of thought in passing from clause to clause, or sentence to sentence, and frequently in passing from the suspensive member of long sentences to the conclusive.
$ 32. Monotone. The monotone is an emphatic prolongation of the continuative tone. This, though generally to be avoided, is sometimes appropriate and effective, especially in sublime or solemn passages, like the following from Job: “In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, fear came upon me and trembling, which made all my bones to shake.”
$ 33. Emphasis. By emphasis is meant that stronger and fuller sound of voice, by which, in reading or speaking, we distinguish the accented syllable, or some word, on which we design to lay particular stress, in order to show how it affects the rest of the sentence. On the right management of the emphasis depend largely the life and spirit of every discourse.
If no emphasis be placed on any word, not only is discourse rendered heavy and lifeless, but the meaning left often ambiguous. If the emphasis be placed wrong, we pervert and confound the meaning wholly. In the following question, -“Did Brutus kill Cæsar in the Senate ?”- we give a different significance to the inquiry, according as we lay the emphasis on Brutus, kill, Cæsar, or Senate.
The only true guide to the proper use of emphasis must then obviously be the good sense of the reader, added to a thorough comprehension of the passage to be read. In earnest conversation even children and illiterate persons emphasize their words aright. Therefore study to make the words and thoughts of the writer your own, if you would bestow your emphasis in a way to bring out all his meaning.
$ 34. Modulation. Modulation is the regulation of the voice as to its pitch, pauses, quality, &c. The degrees of modulative pitch may, for practical purposes, be estimated at three : the Low, the Middle, and the High.
A change of modulation is always necessary to distinguish interrogations from answers; to introduce quotations; to denote the commencement of a new subject; to express feeling, and changes of sentiment; to distinguish what is subordinate or parenthetic from what is essential or emphatic.
The degree in which the modulation is changed, and often even the direction of the change, - whether to a higher or lower key, — must depend on the reader's judgment, taste, and temperament.
A good practical rule for the speaker is to begin in a level tone, from which he may easily rise. Some abrupt forms of speech, however, require