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Advancing and prancing and glancing and dancing,
And so never ending, but always descending,
LESSON X. PRONUNCIATION, MODULATION, EMPHASIS. 115. PRONUNCIATION includes the consideration not only of articulation and quantity, but of accent. It tells us, for instance, not only how syllables and words ought to be articulated, but on which syllable, if the word be of two or more syllables, the ictus, or principal blow of the voice, ought to fall. Modes of pronouncing are partly the result of usage, and partly fixed by laws founded on the natural genius and tendency of the language. Those modes that are easiest of enunciation, and most satisfactory to the ear, have been generally adopted, except when there is a reason, in the derivation of a word or some other cause, for a departure from the rule that has regard to these objects.
116. The colloquial pronunciation of certain words is, in some few instances, different from that employed in devotional discourse and in poetry. In reading the Scriptures we say blessëd; in current speech we say blest. When the rhyme requires it in verse, we give to the i in wind its long sound, making the word rhyme with mind. Always consult your dictionary for the pronunciation of a doubtful word. A faulty manner of pronouncing mars the effect of the best discourse and the most sympathetic voice. For a person, on a question of pronunciation, to trust to his own judgment, unenlightened by authority and its reasons, is mere presumption.
117. The word modulation is derived from a Latin word signifying to measure off properly, to regulate ; and it may be applied to singing and dancing, as well as to speaking. It is not enough that syllables and words are enunciated correctly, and that the marks of punctuation are duly
observed. Unless the voice sympathetically adapts itself to the emotion or sentiment, and regulates its pauses accordingly, it will but imperfectly interpret what it utters.
118. The study of pronunciation, in the ancient and most comprehensive sense of that word, comprised the consideration not only of what syllables of a word ought to be accented, but of what words of a sentence ought to be emphasized. The term Em'phasis, from a Greek word, signifying to point out, or show, is now commonly used to signify the stress to be laid upon certain words in a sentence. It is divided by some writers into emphasis of force, which we lay on almost every significant word ; and emphasis of sense, which we lay on particular words, to distinguish them from the rest of the sentence.
119. The importance of emphasis to the right delivery of thoughts in speech must be obvious on the slightest reflection. “Go and ask how old Mrs. Remnant is,” said a father to his dutiful son. The latter hurried away, and soon returned with the report that Mrs. Remnant had replied, that “it was none of his business how old she was.” The poor man had intended merely to inquire into the state of her health ; but he accident ally put a wrong emphasis on the adjective old.
120. Another instance of misapprehension will illus'trate the import ance of emphasis. A stranger from the country, observing an ordinary roller-rule on a table, took it up, and, on asking what it was used for, was answered, “ It is a rule for counting-houses.” After turning it over and over, and up and down, and puzzling his brain for some time, he at last, in a paroxysm of baffled curiosity, exclaimed, “How in the name of wonder do you count houses with this ?” If his informer had rightly bestowed his emphasis, the misconception of his meaning would not have taken place.
121. Emphasis and intonation must, as Dr. Blair has remarked, be left to the good sense and feeling of the reader. Accumulations of rules on the subject are unprofitable and delusive ; and the cases wherein the rules hold good are often less numerous than the exceptions. If you thoroughly understund and feel what you have to utter, and have your attention concen'trated upon it, you will emphasize better than by attempting to conform your emphasis to any rules or marks dictated by one writer, and perhaps contradicted by another.
122. A boy at his sports is never at a loss how to make his emphasis expressive. If he have to say to a companion, “I want your bat, not your ball,” or “I'm going to skate, not to coast,” he will not fail to emphasize and inflect the italicized words aright. And why? Simply because he knows what he means, and attends to it. Let the reader study to know what his reading-lesson means, and he will spend his time more profitably than in pondering over marks and rules of disputed application. It is for the teacher, by his oʻral example, to instil a realization of this fact into the minds of the young.
123. Dr. Whately, in his Treatise on Rhetoric, pointedly condenuns the artificial system of teaching elocution by marks and rules, as worse than useless. His objections have been disputed, but never answered. They are : first, that the proposed system must necessarily be imperfect ; secondly, that, if it were perfect, it would be a circuitous path to the object in view ; and, thirdly, that, even if both these objections were removed, the object would not be eitectually obtained.
124. He who not only understands fully what he is reading, but is earnestly occupying his mind with the matter of it, will be likely to read as if he understood it, and thus to make others understand it; and, in like manner, he who not only feels it, but is exclusively absorbed with that feeling, will be likely to read as if he felt it, and communicate his impression to his hearers.
EXERCISES ON EMPHASIS. I. In their prosperity, my friends shall never hear of ine ; in their adver. sity, always.
II. There is no possibility of speaking properly the language of any passion without feeling it.
III. A book that is to be read requires one sort of style ; a man that is to speak must use another.
IV. A sentiment which, expressed diffusely, will barely be admitted to be just, expressed concisely will be admired as spirited.
V. Whatever may have been the origin of pastoral poetry, it is undoubt. edly a natural and very agreeable form of poetical composition.
VI. A stream that runs within its banks is a beautiful object; but when it rushes down with the impetuosity and noise of a torrent, it presently becomes a sublime one.
VII. A French sermon is, for the most part, a warm, animated exhortation ; an English one is a piece of cool, instructive reasoning. The French preachers address themselves chiefly to the imagination and the passions ; the English, almost solely to the understanding.
VIII. Those who complain of the shortness of life let it slide by them without wishing to seize and make the most of its golden minutes. The more we do, the more we can do ; the more busy we are, the more leisure we have.
IX. Those who, without knowing us, think ill of us, do us no wrong ; it is not ourselves whom they attack, but the phantom of their imaginations.
X. Sound logic is the sinews of eloquence. Without solid argument, oratory is empty noise, and the orator is a declaimer or a sophist.
XI. There is hardly anybody good for everything, and there is scarcely anybody who is absolutely good for nothing. A good chemist will extract some spirit or other out of every substance ; and a man of sagacity will elicit something worth knowing out of every person with whom he con. verses. XII Mon write their wrongs in marble ; He, more just,
Stooped down divine, and wrote His in the dust.
ΧΙΙ. False names are vain,—thy lines their author tell ;
Thy best concealment had been writing well.
And guilt proves fate, which was but choice before.
We pray with heart and soul.
Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can know ;
The bad must miss ; the good untaught will find.
Reason, the rudder, to direct and save. XVIII. This without those obtains a vain employ;
Those without this but urge us to destroy.
Which in the virtuous mind doth all things conquer.
It lifts the saint to heaven. XX. To err is human ; to forgive, divine. QUESTIONS. — 115. What does Pronunciation include ? 116. Does colloquial pronun ciation ever differ from that used in reading the Scriptures or poetry ? Mention examples 117. What is Modulation ? 118. Emphasis ? What is the original meaning of Emphasis ? 119. To what may the misplacing of one's emphasis lead ? 121. What is necessary in order to emphasize expressively ?
INFLECTION. 125. WITH regard to the Infections of the Voice, upon which so much has been said and written, there are in reality but two — the rising and the falling. The compound, or circumflex inflection, is merely that in which the voice both rises and falls on the same word — as in the utter. ance of the word “ What,” when it is intended to convey an expression of disdain, reproach, or extreme surprise. The analysis of vocal inflection was first promulgated by Mr. John Walker, author of the dictionary bearing his name.
126. The inflections are not denominated rising or falling from the high or low tone in which they are pronounced, but from the upward or downward slide in which they terminate, whether pronounced in a high or low key. The rising inflection was marked by Mr. Walker with the acute accent (); the falling, with the grave accent (). The inflection mark of the acute accent must not be confounded with its use in accentuation.
127. In the utterance of the interrog'ative sentence, “ Does Cæsar deserve fame' or blame'?” the word fame will have the rising or upward slide of the voice, and blame the falling or downward slide of the voice. Every pause, of whatever kind, must necessarily adopt one of these two inflections, or continue in a monotone.
128. Thus it will be seen that the rising inflection is that upward turn of the voice which we use in asking a question answerable by a simple yes or no, and the falling inflection is that downward sliding of the voice which is commonly used at the end of a sentence. Lest an inaccurate ear should be led to suppose that the different signification of the opposing words is the reason of their sounding differently, we give below, among other examples, some phrases composed of the same words, which are nevertheless pronounced with exactly the same difference of inflection as the others.
The Falling followed by the Rising.
We should say ocean', not ocean'. 179. The rising progression in a sentence connects what has been said nth wnat is to be uttered, or with what the speaker wishes to be implied or supplied by the hearer ; and this with more or less closeness, querujousness, and passion, in proportion to the extent and force of the rise.
130. The falling progression disconnects what has been said from whatever may follow ; and this with more or less completeness, exclusiveness, and passion, in proportion to the force and extent of the fall.
131. The rising inflection is thus, invariably, associated with what is incomplete in sense ; or, if apparently complete, dependent on or modified