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in view, I say, we might construct a notation, which, it is presumed', would convey a clearer idea of the several forces of speaking sounds, than any that has hitherto been hit upon. Let us, for example, take the foregoing passage from Pope; let us consider the less significant words as unaccented syllables of the others, and associate them together accordingly: and let us mark those words only, which have emphasis stronger than accent, with a different character :
Britons, attend! beworth likethis approv'd,
AsCato's self hadnot disdain’d tohear. But if writing words in this manner should be found troublesome, or appear too much to disguise them, we need only put a hyphen between the accented and unaccented words, and the same effect will be produced ; that is, the whole assemblage will seem but one word; by which means we shall have an exact idea of the relative force of each. Thus, the foregoing passage may be marked in the manner following:
Britons, attend ! be-worth like-this approv'd,
Let it not be imagined that this mode of printing is proposed as a model in all cases for teaching to read: no; such unusual combinations might, instead of improving some pupils, perplex and retard them; but there are others, to whom this association may be highly useful in giving them a clear and distinct idea of the three kinds of force, of which all composition is susceptible ; and this, it is presumed, is better performed by this than by any method hitherto made known to us.
Another method of marking the different forces of words.
From the method of marking the words we have just proposed, it is impossible not to have taken notice of a circumstance which arises from it, and which, if properly attended to, will set the utility of this method in a still stronger light; and that is, the classification that necessarily follows the uniting of unaccented words to those that are accented, as if they were syllables of them : this classification naturally divides a sentence into just so many portions as there are accents. Thus, in the sentence before quoted,
Prosperity | gains friends, and adversity | tries them, there are four portions, and these portions to an ear unacquainted with the language would seem to be exactly so many words. Here then is a new principle of dividing sentences independent on the pauses, and which cannot fail to convey to us a clear idea of pronunciation. It has been before observed, that the emphasis which requires more force than the accented words but seldom occurs, and that when it does occur, the sense of the passage depends much more on the
inflection we give to the emphatic word, than on the force we pronounce it with. To these observations it may be added, that, when there is no uncommon emphasis in a sentence, we may often pronounce it with more or fewer accents, without materially affecting the sense.
Thus, in the following sentence, Pitch upon that course of life which is the most excellent, and custom will make it the most delightful—Spect. No. 447; the two words, excellent and delightful, are contrasted with each other, and therefore may be said to be emphatical ; but the emphasis on these words, it is evident, requires no more force, than several others in the sentence. Now this sentence, without any injury to the sense of it, may be pronounced only in four portions; the four words, that, excellent, custom, and delightful, having accented force, and the rest unaccented ; as if written in the following manner :
Pitchuponthatcourseoflife whichisthemostexcellent, | andcustom I will makeitthemostdel ghtful. Or it may be pronounced in ten portions, with no other alteration in the sense than to render it upon the whole more sententious and emphatical, thus,
Pitch | uponthát | course, of life I whichisthemòst | éxcellent, I andcustom | willmakeit | themóst | delightful; where we see the sole difference between the former and latter pronunciation of this passage lies in giving accented force to four words in the one, and to ten in the other.
It must not be imagined that these divisions always indicate pauses : no; this distinction into portions is the separation of a sentence into its accentual impulses, and these impulses, though no pause intervenes, are as much distinguished by the ear, as the portions separated by a pause. Thus the ear perceives as great a difference between the first manner of pronouncing the words most, where they sound like unaccented syllables of the words excellent and delightful, and the last, where they have an independent accent, as it would do to have a pause inserted or omitted in any other part of the sentence.
This classification of words seems pregnant with instruction : by applying it to sentences of difficult pronunciation, we give the pupil a distinct idea of the different forces of words, and by these means convey to him that idea of them which we think the best. Let us suppose we wanted to instruct a pupil in the true emphatic force of a passage in Pope's Essay on Man, where the poet is inquiring after happiness.
Plánt | of celestial / seed, 1 if dròpp'd | belów,
'Tis nowhere to be found, ) or everywhere. If we wished to explain our sense of the manner in which this passage ought to be read, could we possi. bly take a better method than this of dividing it into such portions as are each of them pronounced like single words? In this mode of marking the lines, each word has its degree of force settled by the easiest method in the world, that of accented or unaccented syllables; and if to these accents are added the slide or inflection, with which every accent is necessarily pronounced, we have a notation of speaking sounds that gives us as infallibly the leading notes of speech, as the notes of music convey to us the tune of a song; the graces and beauties of singing and speaking
must be conveyed by the living voice to the ear, but this does not preclude in either the utility of marks to the eye.
But though I would by no means recommend this association of words as a common lesson for youth, I am well persuaded that, on some occasions, it may be very useful to explain the pronunciation of some difficult passages by it. A youth will have a much clearer idea of the force he is to give to the subordinate words of a sentence, by considering them as syllables of the other words, than by any other explanation we can make use of; and in order to impress this idea, it may not be improper to write or mark phrases, with the words thus associated.
Utility of understanding the different Slides, and differ
ent Forces of Words.
In the same manner I would recommend the use of accents, to mark the different slides of the voice. Where the language is smooth, and the meaning clear, any kind of marks would do more hurt than good; but where the language is uncouth, and the meaning obscure, nothing can be more certain than the usefulness of some marks to direct the voice in the pronunciation. Let us illustrate this by some passages from Dr. Young.
Speaking of the folly of those who delay an amendment of their lives, he says,
How excellent that life they ne'er will lead !
The things they can't but purpose they postpone. This passage will lose much of its clearness, and all its beauty, if the word fate's, in the third line, is not pronounced with the falling inflection : this inflection