« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
Here the implied antithesis (not an involuntary service) is excluded.
“ These two emphatic inflections are seldom simple slides, but are generally circumflexed; at least are always liable to be so: that is to say, a little of the opposite slide is usually heard before they are carried upward or downward.”-SMART.
These peculiar turns of the voice abound in conversation ; scarcely a sentence in animated speaking passes without them. And they constitute a material distinction between the common manner of reading and that more significant mode which conveys the meaning with encreased clearness and force. For example:
A living dog is better than a dead lion. In the usual way of pronouncing this sentence, the inflections would be thus arranged :
A living dog is better than a déad lìon.
But this method, though very satisfactory. to the ear, would fall very short of conveying the full signification, which is somewhat to this effect: ‘Such is the value of life, that so . inferior an animal as a dog, if living, is better than even the noblest of animals, even a lion, if he be dead. An approximation to this
meaning would be conveyed by giving the strong emphasis to the words dog and lion :
A living dòg is better than a déad liòn.
And the object will be still better attained, if a little of the circumflex be rendered audible on those words.
In some cases of implied antithesis or contradistinction, particularly in expressions which, from frequent repetition are apt to be pronounced without being accompanied by any precise ideas, it is sometimes difficult to decide which of the two inflections is the proper one to be selected. To remove such difficulties, first ascertain what meaning is supposed to be intended; then supply, as concisely as possible, the words which would convey that meaning ; and, in general, the required inflection will immediately become evident. For example: it may at first sight appear doubtful whether the petition in the Lord's Prayer,
Give us this day our daily bread,
ought to be terminated with the suspensive or conclusive slide. As it is a supplicatory sentence, it should, according to the general rule, end with the suspensive, unless something beyond the plain signification is thought to be
implied. Let it be supposed that the following meaning is intended to be conveyed :
We ask not for daily luxuries or superflúities ; give us this day our daily bread ;—that only in food and raiment which is necessary for our daily support.
To convey such a meaning, the negative sentence would terminate with the suspensive slide on the word “superfluities ;' and the positive sentence would terminate with the conclusive slide on the word “bread. The same slide therefore will be the proper one, when the elliptical sentence is omitted: the only difference will be, that the inflection will require to be given with greater force.
Inendeavouring to ascertain what the terminating inflection ofa sentenceought to be, it is sometimes necessary to have regard to its situation in the paragraph; the several branches of which require to be concluded with such inflections as will give harmonious unity to the
harmonious unity to the whole. It must however be remembered that the sense must be the chief object. For example: the three principal members of one distinct portion of the Lord's Prayer, (i. e. from “Give, us,” &c. to “Deliver us from evil”) may be connected most harmoniously with each other, and be made to appear as branches of one paragraph, by terminating the first and
second (at “bread, and at against us,') with the conjunctive slide. This mode of reading is adopted by the author of the Theory of Elocution, p. 85. But sense is to be preferred to sound; and therefore, as the full meaning of those two members can be best conveyed by ending them with the conclusive slide, this mode of termination ought to be adopted *. See notes on the Lord's Prayer.
* It may be useful to suggest a caution against a peculiar jerk of the voice, somewhat resembling the rising circumflex, which is adopted by many readers and public speakers at the end of almost every sentence. They use it most especially when they wish to conclude with force and animation, though they have not any intention of conveying an idea, that antithesis is either expressed or implied. This peculiarity is very prevalent among the higher classes of society. Suppose, for example, that the following sentence were to be delivered in a parliamentary debate :
“ In short, I have no hesitation in saying, that the national prosperity is closely connected with the present measure."
To communicate some degree of energy to the passage, many of the speakers would pronounce the last word with a peculiar upward jerk, and a solemn declamatory tone—" with the prèsent mèasu"re.” This is still more strikingly observ. able in the mode of terminating classical quotations: thus, to give due weight and dignity to the maxim,
“ Parsimonia est magnum vectigal,”. the orator thinks it necessary not only to pronounce the last word with due attention to quantity, (of which Mr. Burke, it
“There is one thing more which it is necessary to observe on the subject of emphasis. It has
seems, was ignorant) but he must superadd the favourite ter. minational jerk:
“ Parsimonia est magnum vectigal.” If the concluding word should chance to be a monosyllable, upon that must be the whole turn : e. g.
“Parturiunt montes ; nascetur ridiculus mus.” In pronouncing this line, the peculiar twist of the voice would be as distinctly perceived on the final word, as in the conclusion of the dignified version by the Johnsonian parodist:
“ Parturient mountains produce muscipular abòrtions.”
This prevalent terminational twang has not escaped the notice of the modern Momus; and he does not fail to give imitations of it, when he would amuse his audience by specimens of forensic or senatorial eloquence.
This peculiar mode of delivering the terminations of sentences in reading or public speaking, may be traced to some of our public schools. How it is there produced, it is not easy to explain. It is obvious that by repeating the Greek and Latin poets by heart, and by paying great attention to the rhythm, a kind of chant is naturally acquired. Why its cadence should always be accompanied with the upward jerk, is not equally obvious. This chant extends itself through all the school-lessons, and is as observable in repeating the grammar rules, as in the recitation of the most elevated passages from poets or orators. On such occasions the attention of the instructors is generally confined to the accuracy of the repetition and to the correct observance of the quantities, whilst the propriety of the inflections commonly passes unregarded. Thus the practice is continued