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SLIDES CURVES-CIRCUMFLEXES-WALKER WRONG.
IN vocal language, we perceive at every impulse of the voice, an upward or downward slide, or turn. The simplest of these movements have been called by Mr. Walker, the rising and falling inflections. They are both made distinct in asking a question having two members connected disjunctively by or: as, Will you ríde, or walk? Will you go, or stay ?-or, the rising is heard distinctly in asking a definite question, and the falling, in answering it: as, Did John go to the office? Yès. They also appear distinct in a declarative sentence having two members; as, He went and returned. Want of modesty is want of sènse.
The other movements have been named by the same author, the rising and falling circumflexes. The rising circumflex is a union of the falling and rising slides on the same syllable (). The falling circumflex is a union of the rising and falling slides on the same syllable (^). Both will be made plain on the words walk and ride in the following example, if we protract the voice a little, while pronouncing them: It is my intention not to walk, but to ride also on James and you, in the following: Ah, it was Jâmes that did it! I never thought it could be you!
The circumflex is rarely used except in irony, sneer, or taunt; or to bring out more clearly the meaning of some passage where there is great brevity of language.
From the examples given, it is clear that the
rising and falling inflections, or slides, as I shall call them, carry the voice out in a straight line; e. g., e? е toy
Did he say a Did he say boy, or e ?-and, that the circumflexes carry the voice round with a sort of semicircular sweep: e. g., "If you said so, then I said sô." I can think of no better example to show the rising and falling circumflexes than this, if only the comic humor be kept in view.
There are also other turns of the voice, which occupy the space between the slides and circumflexes; and, for the want of some knowledge of which, great confusion has hitherto involved the whole system, and rendered it of but little practical use. I have named them the rising and falling curves. The rising curve is begun with some of the falling slide, and ends with the rising ('), approximating to the rising circumflex. The falling curve begins with some of the rising, and ends with the falling slide (^), approximating to the falling circumflex.
The rising curve is naturally employed on the last of several particulars, when these are connected in the beginning of a sentence by one or more copulatives: e. g., Exercise and témperance strengthen the constitùtion. Diligence, industry, and proper improvement of tíme, are material duties of the yoùng. And sometimes on the last member of a comparison, thus: I had rather ríde than walk. When more than two particulars are disjunctively connected, the rising curve is used on the one preceding the last; and, on the last, the falling
curve: e. g., Did Jóhn, or Jámes, or Joseph get the medal? Neither Jóhn, nor Jámes, nor Joseph got it. Did you say one, two, or three? Was your number óne, twó, thrée, or fòur ? A well-instructed pupil would recite his grammar in this manner: Present dráw, imperfect drew, perfect participle drawn. Present gó, imperfect wént, perfect participle gòne. Present love, imperfect loved, perfect participle lòved. Nominative wé, possessive ours, objective ùs. Amó, amáre, amávi, amàtum.
From these examples, it is seen that, as words present successive changes of sense and form, there is something in the turn of the voice to mark them; even to the nicest shade. All such turns of voice in conveying thought, are as invariably settled by the laws of conventional usage, as the meaning of the words. The more one word resembles another in sound, but differs from it in signification; and the more liable any word is to be taken for another not expressed; and, in general, the more concise language is, the greater is the necessity to make these changes in the voice so as to be rendered distinctly audible. But any attempt to distinguish them by a system of annotations, unless they be perfectly clear to the mind of the student, and liable to no mistake or doubt, will tend rather to embarrass than to aid him.
Walker has given the two following examples as I have marked them, to illustrate his rules for reading sentences of similar construction in all cases: Exercisè and témperance strengthen the constitution. Diligence, industry, and proper improvement of tíme, are material
duties of the young. Here he gives to the words exercise, diligence and industry, where there is imperfect sense, the same inflections which he gives to constitution and young, where sense is fully formed: contrary to the established laws of utterance; which require in all similar cases, a suspension of the voice while the sense is suspended, or incomplete, and a falling slide, curve, or circumflex when the sense is formed and complete. Of course, exercise, diligence and industry should be read with rising slides; and temperance and time, with rising curves, as I have marked them in the previous examples. From the first promulgation of his system of inflections to the present time, his errors have been constantly copied, as the true principles. In a work but recently published, I find the following examples given to illustrate Walker's rules: Depèndence and obédience belong to youth. The yoùng, the healthy and the prósperous should not presume on their advantages. The same corrections are needed here as in the former case. The true mode would be: Depéndence and obedience belong to youth. The young, the healthy and the prósperous, should not presume on their advantages.
The mistakes of Walker and others, probably, arose from the fact that, in sentences of this construction, the sense and the ear demand a different inflection on the first member from that on the second, as in the first example; and a different inflection on the third member from that on the first and second, as in the second example; and having discovered no modification except the circumflex, they naturally fell into the error, as I have showed, of thus using the falling inflection; when they
themselves would, very likely, read the same passages as I have marked them. No wonder, truly, that so many respectable teachers have thrown aside all guides on this subject, as tending only to mislead and to confound!
As it regards rules for the employment of these inflections, it is exceedingly questionable whether any system would be attended with much benefit, even if it could be made perfectly clear; since it would necessarily be cumbered with numerous exceptions; and, after all, a judicious application of rules must mainly depend upon the quick perception, and good sense of the reader.
The great fault hitherto in works of this sort, has been the multiplicity of rules; and rules too, for the most part, based upon false principles. The best aid that can be afforded, it is believed, after leading the student to the knowledge of just principles, is to furnish him with various, well-selected examples for practice. And when he shall have been well exercised in these, it is presumed his taste and judgment will be so well improved for accurate discrimination, that little else will be needed to enable him to apply the annotations properly; or rather, to express properly what the annotations would plainly represent.
EXAMPLES TO ILLUSTRATE PUNCTUATION.
A paragraph of several periods.-Truth is the basis of every virtue. It is the voice of reason.
Let its pre