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Here the slide which begins on rog, continues to rise on the three following syllables; but, in the question, Will you go today? the same slide terminates with the syllable on which it begins.
In the falling slide, thus;
Emphasis is governed by the laws of sentiment, being inseparably associated with thought and emotion. It is the most important principle, by which elocution is related to the operations of mind. Hence when it stands opposed to the claims of custom or of harmony, these always give way to its supremacy.
Now I presume that every one, who is at all accustomed to accurate observation on this subject, must be sensible how very little this grand principle is regarded in forming our earliest habits of elocution; and therefore how hopeless are all efforts to correct what is wrong in these habits, without a just knowledge of emphasis.
What then is emphasis? It is a distinctive utterance of words, which are especially significant, with such a degree and kind of stress, as conveys their meaning in the best
According to this definition, I would include the whole subject under emphatic stress and emphatic inflection.
Sect. 1.-Emphatic Stress. This consists chiefly in the loudness of the note, but includes also the time in which important words are uttered. A good reader or speaker, when he utters a word on
Let a rep
which the meaning of a sentence is suspended, spontaneously dwells on that word, according to the intensity of its meaning. The significance and weight which he thus attaches to words that are important, is a very different thing from the abrupt and jerking emphasis, which is often witnessed in a bad delivery.
It is generally true that a subordinate rank belongs to particles, and to all those words which merely express some circumstance of a thought. And when a word of this sort is raised above its relative importance, by an undue stress in pronunciation, we perceive a violence done to other words of more significance. Thus; Show pity, Lord, O Lord, forgive,
ing rebel live. But to show that emphasis attaches itself not to the part of speech, but to the meaning of a word, let one of these little words become important in sense, and then it demands a correspondent stress of voice; as:
“ Then said the high priest, are these things so ?” Again;
“ Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus.” This sentence, with a moderate stress on Ephesus, implies that the Apostle meant to stop there; just as a common phrase, “the ship is going to Holland by Liverpool,”-implies that she will touch at the latter place.
But an emphatic stress on by expresses the true sense, namely that he did not mean to stop there, thus; “ Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus."
In the case that follows too, we see how the meaning of a sentence often depends on the manner in which we utter one short word. of the servants of the high priest, (being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off,) saith, did not I see thee in the garden with him?” Now if we utter this, as most readers do, with a stress on kinsman, and a short pause after it, we make the sentence affirm that the man whose ear Peter cut off was kinsman to the high priest, which was not the fact. But a stress upon his, makes this servant, kinsman to another man, who received the wound.
These illustrations show that the principle of emphatic stress is perfectly simple; and that it falls on a particular word, not chiefly because that word belongs to one or another class in grammar, but because, in the present case, it is important in sense. To designate the words that are thus important, by the action of the voice in emphasis, is just what the etymological import of this term implies, namely, to show, to point out, to make manifest.
But farther to elucidate a subject, that has been treated with much obscurity, emphatic stress may be distinguished into that which is absolute, and that which is antithetic or relative
Absolute emphatic stress. Walker, and others who have been implicitly guided by his authority, without examination, lay down the broad position, that emphasis always implies antithesis ; and that it can never he proper to give emphatic stress to a word, unless it stands opposed to something in sense.
The theory which supposes this, is too narrow to correspond with the philosophy of elocution. Emphasis is the soul of delivery, because it is the most discriminating mark of emotion. Contrast is among the sources of emotion: and the kind of contrast really intended by Walker and others, namely, that of affirmation and negation, it is peculiarly the province of emphasis to designate. But this is not the whole of its province. There are other sources, besides antithetic relation, from which the mind receives strong and vivid impressions, which it is the office of vocal language to express. Thus exclamation, apostrophe, and bold figures in general, denoting high emotion, demand a correspondent force in pronunciation; and that too in many cases where the emphatic force laid on a word is absolute, because the thought expressed by that word is forcible of itself, without any
aid from contrast. Thus;
Antithetic or relative stress.
The principle on which the stress depends in this case, will be evident from a few examples.
Study, not so much to show knowledge as to acquire it.
It is not so difficult to talk well, as to live well. When the antithetic terms in a sentence are both expressed, the mind instantly perceives the opposition between them, and the voice as readily marks the proper distinction. But when only one of these terms is expressed, the other is
to be made out by reflection; and in proportion to the ease - or difficulty with which this antithetic relation is perceived
by the mind, the emphatic sense is more or less vivid. On this principle, when a word expresses one part of a contrast, while it only suggests the other, that word must be spoken with a force adapted to its peculiar office; and this is the very case where the power of emphasis rises to its highest point. Examples.
I that deny'd thee gold, will give my heart. Here the antithetic terms gold and heart, being both expressed, a common emphatic stress on these, makes the sense obvious. But in the following case, only one part of the antithesis is expressed. Brutus says,
You wrong'd yourself, to write in such a case. The strong emphasis on yourself, implies that Cassius thought himself injured by some other person. Accordingly we see in the preceding sentence his charge against Brutus,-- you have wrong'd me.” Again, Brutus says to Cassius,
You have done that you should be sorry for. With a slight stress upon sorry, this implies that he had done wrong, but suggests nothing of the antithetic meaning, denoted by the true emphasis, thus, You have done that
fòr. This emphasis on the former word implies, “Not only are you liable to do wrong, but you have done so already;" on the latter it implies, “though you are not sorry, you ought to be sorry." This was precisely the meaning of Brutus, for he replied to a threat of Cassius, “I may do that I shall be sorry for.”
you should be
Sect. 2.- Emphatic Inflection. Thus far our view of emphasis has been limited to the degree of stress with which emphatic words are spoken. But this is only a part of the subject. The kind of stress, is not less important to the sense, than the degree. Let any one glance his eye over the examples of the foregoing pages, and he will see that strong emphasis demands, in all cases, an appropriate inflection; and that to change this inflection perverts the sense. This will be perceived at once in the following case,
“ We must take heed not only to what we say, but to what we do." By changing this slide, and laying the falling on say and the rising on do, every ear inust feel that violence is done to the meaning. So in
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stárs ;
But in ourselves, that we are underlings; the rising inflection or circumflex on stars and the falling inflection on ourselves is so indispensable, that no reader of the least taste would mistake the one for the other. But the principle which I wish to illustrate, will be more obvious, by recurring to the case recently mentioned, in which one part of a contrast is expressed, and the other only suggested; so that the whole meaning of a sentence depends on the emphatic inflection given to a single word. A strong example of this has already been given in the perversion of sense which would arise from wrong inflection on the word drunkard; see the close of Rule IV. p. 32.
Another example we have in Paul's exhortation to Christian servants; " And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are bréihren; but rather do them service, &c." The meaning is, their being fellow Christians, is no reason why they should be disobeyed as masters; and this the rising slide on brethren expresses. The falling slide would express a very different sense, namely, that