Page images
PDF
EPUB

sentences confused. Syllables might also be sufficiently distinguished by a certain elevation or depression of voice apon one syllable of each word, which was the practice of some nations. But the English tongue has, for this purpose, adopted a mark of the easiest and simplest kind, which is called accent, and which effectually answers the end.

Every word in our language, of more than one syllable, has one of them distinguished from the rest in this man. ner; and some writers assert, that every monosyllable of two or more letters, has one of its letters thus distinguished.

Accent is either principal or secondary. The principal accent is that which necessarily distinguishes one syllable in a word from the rest. The secondary accent is that stress which we may occasionally place upon another syl. lable, besides that which has the principal accent; in order to pronounce every part of the word more distinctly, forcibly, and harmoniously : thus, “Complaisant, caravan," and“ violin,” have frequently an accent on the first as well as on the last syllable, though a somewhat less forcible one. The same may be observed of “ Repartee, referee, privateer, domineer,” &c. But it must be observed, that though an accent is allowed on the first syllable of these words, it is by no means necessary ; they may all be pronounced with one accent, and that on the last syllable, without the least deviation from propriety.

As emphasis evidently points out the most significant word in a sentence ; so, where other reasons do not forbid, the accent always dwells with greatest force on that part of the word which, from its importance, the hearer has always the greatest occasion to observe: and this is necessarily the root or body of the word. But as harniony of terinination frequently attracts the accent from the root to the branches of words, so the first and most natural law of accentuation seeins to operate less in fixing the stress than any other. Our own Saxon terminations, indeed, with perfect uniformity, leave the principal part of the word in quiet possession of what seems its lawful proper ty ; but Latin and Greek terminations, of which our language is full, assume a right of preserving their original accent, and subject almost every word they bestow upon us to their own classical laws.

6

Accent, therefore, seems to be regulated in a great measure by etymology. In words from the Saxon, the accent is generally on the root; in words from the learned languages, it is generally on the termination; and if to these we add the different accent we lay on some words, to distinguish them from others, we seem to have the three great principles of accentuation ; namely, the radical, the terminational, and the distinctive. The radical:

as, Love, lovely, loveliness ;" the terminational: as, “ Hármony, harmónious ;" the distinctive : as, “ Convert, to convért."

ACCENT ON DISSYLLABLES.

66 To

Words of two syllables have necessarily one of them accented, and but one. It is true, 'for the sake of emphasis, we sometimes lay an equal stress upon two successive sy!lables : as, “ Di-réct, sóme-times ;" but when these words are pronounced alone, they have never more tllan one accent. The word “ a-mén,” is the only word which is pronounced with two accents when alone.

Of dissyllables, formed by affixing a termination, the former syllable is commonly accented : as, “ Childish, kingdom, áctest, ácted, tóilsame, 16ver, scóffer, fairer, fóre. most, zéalous, fulness, meekly, artist."

Dissyllables formed by prefixing a syllable to the radical word, have commonly the accent on the latter: as, beseém, to bestów, to return."

Of dissyllables, wbich are at once nouns and verbs, the verb has commonly the accent on the latter, and the noun on the former syllable : as, “ To cemént, a cément; to contract, a contract; to preságe, a présage.”

This rule has many exceptions. Though verbs seldom have their accent on the former, yet nouns often have it on the latter syllable : as, “ Delight, perfume." Those nouns which, in the common order of language, must have preceded the verbs, often transmit their accent to the verbs they form, and inversely. Thus, the noun "water" must have preceded the verb “to water," as the verb “to correspónd,” must have preceded the noun “correspondent:" and“ to pursue" claims priority to “pursuit.' So that we may conclude, wherever verbs deviate from the rule,

it is seldom by chance, and generally in those words only where a superior law of accent takes place.

All dissyllables ending in y, our, ow, le, ish, ck, ter, age, en, et: as, “Cranny, labour, willow, wallow;" except " allow, avótv, endów, belów, bestów ;" “ battle, banish, cámbric, bátter, courage, fasten, quiet;" accent the former syllable.

Dissyllable nouns in er, as, “Cánker, butter," have the accent on the former syllable

Dissyllable verbs, terminating in a consonant and e final, as, “Comprise, escape ;” or having a diphthong in the last syllable, as, “ Appéase, revéal;” or ending in two consonants ; as, Attend ;' have the accents on the latter syllable.

Dissyllable nouns, having a diphthong in the latter syllable, have commonly their accent on the latter syllable ; as, "Applause;" except some words in ain: as, "Villain, cúrtain, mountain."

Dissyllables that have two vowels, which are separated in the pronunciation, have always the accent on the first syllable: as, “Lion, ríot, quiet, líar, rúin ;" except “ create."

ACCENT ON TRISYLLABLES. Trisyllables formed by adding a termination, or prefixmg a syllable, retain the accent of the radical word: as, " Loveliness, tenderness, contemner, wagoner, physical, bespatter, commenting, comménding, assurance.

Trisyllables ending in ous, al, ion: as, “ árduous, cápital, méntion," accent the first.

Trisyllables ending in ce, ent, and ate, accent the first syllable: as, “Countenance, continence, armament, imminent, élegant, propagate ;" unless they are derived from words having the accent on the last : as, 6. Connivance, acquaintance;" and unless the middle syllable has a vowel before two consonants : as, Promulgate.”

Trisyllables ending in y, as, "entity, spécify, líberty, victory, súbsidy," commonly accent the first syllable.

Trisyllables ending in re or le, arcert the first syllable : as, “Légible, théatre ;" except “ Discíple," and some words which have a preposition: 29, “Example, indépture."

Trisyllables ending in ude, commonly accent the first syllable : as, “ Plénitude, hábitude, réctitude."

Trisyllables ending in ator, have the accent on the middle syllable; as, “Spectator, creátor," &c.: except

brator, sénator, barrator, légator."

Trisyllables which have in the middle syllable a diph. thong, as, “ Endeavour;" or a vowel before two conso. gants; as, “ Doméstic;" accent the middle syllable.

Trisyllables that have their accent on the last syllable, are commonly French : as, “ Acquiesce, repartée, magazíne ;" or they are words formed by prefixing one or two. gyllables to a long syllable : as, “ Immatúre, overcharge."

ACCENT ON POLYSYLLABLES.

Polysyllables, or words of more than three syllables, generally follow the accent of the words from which they are derived: as, “ árrogating, continency, incóntinently, commendable, communicableness."

Words ending in ator have the accent generally on the penultimate, or last syllable but one: as, “ Emendátor, gladiátor, equivocátor, prevaricator."

Words ending in le commonly have the accent on the first syllable. as, “ámicable, despicable:” unless the second syllable has a vowel before two consonants : as, - Combóscible, condemnable.”

Words ending in ion, ous, and ty, have their accent on the antepenaltimate, or last syllable but two: as, “Sal. vation, victorious, activity.”

Words which end in ia, io, and cal, have the accent on the antepenult: as, “ Cyclopaedia, punctílio, despótical."

The rules respecting accent, are not advanced as complete or infallible: they are merely proposed as useful. Almost every rule of every language has its exceptions ; and, in English, as in other tongues, much must be learned by example and authority.

It may be further observed, that though the syllable on which the principal accent is placed, is fixed and certain, yet we may, and do, frequently make the secondary priocipal, and the principal secondary: thus, “ Caravan, complaisant, violin, repartee, referee, privateer, domineer,” may all have the greater stress on the first, and the less

Fáll,

on the last syllable, without any violent offence to the ear: nay, it may be asserted, that the principal accent on the first syllable of these words, and none at all on the last, though certainly improper, has nothing in it grating or discordant; but placing an accent on the second syllable of these words would entirely derange them, and produce great harshness and dissonance. The same observations may be applied to “ demonstration, lamentation, provocation, navigator, propagator, alligator,” and every similar word in the language.

SECTION 2. Of Quantity. The quantity of a syllable is that time which is occupied in pronouncing it. It is considered as LONG or SHORT.

A vowel or syllable is long, when the accent is on the vowel ; which occasions it to be slowly joined in pronunciation with the following letters : as, bāle, mõõd, hõūse, feature."

A syllable is short, when the accent is on the consonant;

which occasions, the vowel to be quickly joined to the succeeding letter: as, “ant, bõanět

, hŭngěr.” A long syllable generally requires double the time of a short one in pronouncing it; thus, “ Māte” and “Note" should be pronounced as slowly again as “ Măt” and “Not.??

Unaccented syllables are generally short: as, “admire, bóldness, sinněr." But to this rule there are many exceptions: as, “álső, éxile, gángrēne, úmpīre, fóretáste,” &c.

When the accent is on a consonant, the syllable is often more or less short, as it ends with a single consonant, or with more than one: as, Sadly, róbber ; persíst, matchless.'

When the accent is on a semi-vowel, the time of the syllable may be protracted, by dwelling upon the semivowel: as, “ Cur', can', fulfil :" but when the accent falls on a mute, the syllable cannot be lengthened in the same manner: as, “ Búbble, captain, tótter.” ha anantity of vowels has, in some measure,

been

« PreviousContinue »