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ACCENT.-DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LONG AND ACCENTED
SYLLABLE. Accent is a strong and firm enunciation of a consonant after a vowel in the same syllable. Such, at any rate, is accent in the English language, whatever it may be in other languages. It is heard in such words as men, mat, top, beset, befit, dispel, distract, desist. In each of these words there is one consonant which is uttered with a firmer compression of the proper organs than the rest, giving to that consonant greater prominence and force. In consequence of this firmer compression of the organs, some little delay is occasioned in the utterance: hence, although the preceding vowel is always short, the syllable itself, taken together, requires as much time for its pronunciation as a syllable which contains a long vowel.
It is usual with writers on this subject to speak of vowels as being accented. Thus, they would say that in the word abode an accent is placed on the last syllable ; yet all that can be properly said of that syllable is, that the vowel o is protracted in the utterance of it. To show the difference between simply a long syllable and an accented one, take the two words late and let. Here is precisely the same vowel in both words, namely, 3. In the first word it is long, in the other short; in the first word it is pronounced slowly, in the other rapidly; in the first word the final consonant is uttered with a slight compression of the organs, in the other with a firm one. The same things hold true of mane, men; tale, tell; nought, not; pool, pull; seen, sin.* Every one can perceive a striking difference between the consonants in those words which have the accent and those which are not accented. This difference always exists between the two, whenever and however they occur; and a consonant after a long vowel in a syllable is never uttered as is a consonant on which the accent falls.
From what I have said, there is an obvious distinction between a long syllable and an accented one. A long syllable is one which contains a long vowel; an accented syllable is one which has the consonant in it, following a vowel, accented. A short syllable is properly one in which the vowel is short; an unaccented syllable is one which has no accented consonant.f
* I hardly need to say, that the sounds which meet the ear, not the lettera which meet the eye, are to be here regarded
† See Prosody.
It will follow from what has now been advanced that a long syllable is never accented, and that an accented syllable is never long in the sense of having in it a long vowel. be added, that some syllables are both short and unaccented, as the second and third syllables in every, ivory, merriment.
The use of accents gives the English language a great superiority over those which do not have them in point of variety, force, and sprightliness of diction. By giving a greater number of combinations to its sounds, it is less exposed to monotony, and is better adapted to the uses of poetry.
FAULTS OF UTTERANCE.-RAPIDITY AND INDISTINCTNESS.-CLIP
PING.-SOUNDS OF DIFFICULT UTTERANCE.- REMARKS.-LET
There are two great faults in reading and speaking, independent of what is included in propriety of expression, which deserve our attention. These are, rapidity and indistinctness of utterance,-faults which almost every young reader possesses in a greater or less degree, and of which it is extremely difficult to cure him. “ Read slow” _“ don't read so fast ”_" you
read too quick”—“read distinctly”. -“ don't huddle your letters so much together _“ nobody can understand what you read,” are repeated the thousandth time with about as much effect in removing the difficulty as the pattering of rain on the housetop. Few scholars, I believe, were ever cured of the evils in question by such monitions simply, however often reiterated, or however well intended. A sense of shame at being so often noticed, and the loss of vivacity with the increase of years,
will commonly do something, in process of time, towards a remedy. After all, the fault of indistinctness often continues with little amendment, when that of rapidity has much abated,-a proof, by the way, that the former is not so dependent on the latter as is sometimes imagined. Were I to attempt to destroy both faults in one, I should begin with that of indistinctness rather than that of rapidity. When a person becomes clear and distinct in his enunciation, he will generally lose his rapidity, or, at least, so much of it as to render it comparatively harmless. A person cannot be clear and distinct in his articulation, and be, at the same time, very rapid; but he may be not deficient in slowness, and yet quite indistinct. The fault of indistinctness will therefore claim my principal attention.
A person never clips a long vowel, norone that is followed by an accent; nor is it common for him to clip or sink the first consonant in a word or syllable. The vowels which he clips. or sinks, or confounds, are those which are short, and not followed with an accent : the consonants which he treats in this way, are those which end a word or syllable. Let a person clearly enunciate every unaccented short syllable, and the final consonant in every syllable, and he will always read distinctly. In this, I believe, there is no mistake; and if there is not, the chief points to be regarded, and difficulties to be overcome, are reduced to two. Hence I propose two general rules to be regarded, in order to read clearly and distinctly.
RULE I. Clearly enunciate, or pronounce, every short unaccented syllable.
Liable to be pronounced
Very zirous, or ver desirous.
Cotemprary. Besides this sinking of a vowel, there is a great tendency with indistinct readers to confound one vowel with another. Thus, for calcu-late they read calke-late; for barba-rous, barberous; for stimu-late, stime-late ; for victo-ry, victe-ry; for exasper-ate, exaspur-ate. There is hardly a greater blemish in reading than this confusion of sounds, and yet nothing is more
A reader of good taste will give every vowel, however short it may be, its true sound, with its due proportion of utterance; and, in doing this, he will not, like some, make a syllable long when correct usage makes it short. Stimulate should be so pronounced as to give the second syllable, u, the short sound of vowel 8, and to give it clearly; so with petulant, virtuous, natural, without the insertion of ye before the vowel; nor should that consonant ever be inserted in similar cases, as some have taught. Give the short sound of 8 its legitimate
expression, and there will be no occasion for inserting ye to distinguish it from other vowel sounds. Every and ivory should be so pronounced that the second syllable of the one may be readily distinguished from that of the other. These are only given as a few specimens of what is continually occurring in vowel sounds.
The dipthong 2, 4, (heard in mind, bind,) is frequently sounded short, while it retains its dipthongal character. I, my, thy, are always short when they are not emphatical, as,
I love thy kingdom, Lord,
Shall fill the remnant of my days. Some give to my the sound of me short; as, me God, me king, &c. Such a pronunciation appears affected, and it is anomalous. We might as well call I, e, and thy, the.
When a consonant follows a long vowel, or another consonant, it is often carelessly enunciated ; that is, the organs are too feebly or imperfectly compressed, and the breath is too languidly employed. Take the word transcendent: the s, d, and t, at the end of the several syllables may be, and sometimes are, so faintly articulated as to be scarcely audible. In the words contact, abrupt, defunct, resist, resists, commands, commandments, are consonants in the like condition.
Most persons are very prone to give the consonant ar too feeble an articulation. In the words liberty and government this is particularly true. Many persons almost entirely sink this letter in these two words. In some words it is made to do little more than to lengthen the vowel which precedes it, as in bar, star, more. This is more especially the fact after the former of these vowels. But this sound should never be so suppressed as to be inaudible. The consequence of doing it is a feeble and indistinct utterance of other letters with which it is connected. Nor, on the other hand, do our ears tolerate that full vibration of the letter which foreigners generally give it. It should have a distinct enunciation, but little more.
I will now subjoin a few examples, in which are contained words the utterance of which is difficult to one who has not habituated himself to use distinctness.
For forms of government let fools contest :
Whate'er is best administered is best. Those who vociferạte loudest in favor of liberty, are not of course its truest supporters, or best defenders.
His sons stood still around him. Through distant worlds, and regions of the dead. Tempests and fire. These things distract the mind. They thronged the road through which we passed. With impetuous recoil, and jarring sound. He heeded not the obstacles in his way. The shepherd of Salisbury plains.
The incompressibility of bodies is their power of resisting compression into a smaller compass.
His arguments were considered to be incontrovertible by most of his hearers.
It came upon him in an unexpected moment. They entered into an agreement to reconsider and settle all their differences. The treacherousness of the memory is like the treacherousness of an adversary.
The mysteriousness and unaccountableness of things do not prove that they have no existence.
He conceived an unconquerable aversion to such idealisms.
There sat he with the most inconceivable imperturbation of countenance.
The crows flew clamorously into the crevices of the rocks.
The most incompatible and incongruous ideas were crowded together.
His disingenuous and incommunicative disposition continually produced suspicions injurious to his reputation.
It is strongly recommended to all who would acquire a clear and distinct articulation, to practise much on such sounds of difficult utterance as have now been given. It answers a valuable purpose to select from a spelling book columns of difficult words of every description, and read them with a slow, full, distinct enunciation. By taking this course the organs are not embarrassed by the blending of sounds from different words, as they are in reading sentences, but are employed on a single word at a time. An opportunity is thus afforded to dwell on each syllable long enough to make it distinct, and, if any error is committed, to ascertain in what it consists. The sound of every letter can in this way be noticed, and the organs
practised till they make it perfectly and readily.
Although I consider the rules and suggestions which I have given sufficient to enable a person to acquire a clear and distinct articulation, yet it should be remembered that they are sufficient to those only who will be at the trouble to practise them. It is not enough that a scholar reads them over, pei. haps once a month, to his teacher, or is even made to recite them, and then thinks about them no more. He must practise