Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

must precede the word though in the following example:

lesire to perceive those things that God has prepared for those that lóve him, though they be such as eye had not seen, ear beard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive.

Locke.

I can

Loose sentence. .

A loose sentence has been shown to consist of a period, either direct or inverted, and an additional member which does not modify it; or, in other words, a loose sentence is a member containing perfect sense by itself, followed by some other member or members, which do not restrain or qualify its signification. According to this definition, a loose sentence must have that member, which forms perfect sense, detached from those that follow, by a long pause and falling inflection.

As in speaking, the ear seizes every occasion of varying the tone of voice, which the sense will permit; so in reading, we ought as much as possible to intimate the variety of speaking, by taking every opportunity of altering the voice in correspondence with the sense: the most general fault of printers* is, to mark those members of loose sentences, which form perfect sense, with a comma, instead of a semicolon or colon : and a similar, as well as the most common fault of readers is, to suspend the voice at the end of these members, and so to run the sense of one member into another; by this means, the sense is obscure, and a monotony is produced, instead of that distinctness and variety, which arises from pronouncing these members with such an inflection of voice as marks a certain portion of perfect sense, not immediately connected with what follows; for as a member of this kind does not depend for its sense on the following member, it ought to be pronounced in such a manner, as to show its independence on the succeeding member, and its dependence on the period, as forming but a

* The grand defect of the points is, that only two of them, the comma and period, necessarily mark a continuation and completion of sense : the semicolon and colon, by being sometimes placed after complete sense and sometimes where the sense continues, are very fallacious guides, and often lead the reader to an improper turn of voice. If to the colon and semicolon were annexed a mark to determine whether the sense were complete or not, it must certainly be of the greatest assistance to the reader, as he would naturally accompany it with a turn of voice, which would indicate the completeness or incompleteness of the sense, independent on the time; and such a mark seems one of the great desiderata of punctuation. I know it may be said that the completeness or incompleteness of the sense is of itself a sufficient guide, without any points at all : yes, it may be answered, but without the gift of prophecy we are not always able to determine at sight whether the sense is complete or not; and sometimes even when we have the whole sentence in view, it is the punctuation only that determines whether the member of a sentence belongs to what goes before, or to what follows. The intention of the points is, in the first place, to fix and determine the sense, when it might otherwise be doubtful; and, in the next place, to apprise the reader of the sense of part of a sentence before he has seen the whole. A mark, therefore, which accomplishes this purpose, must unquestionably be of the utmost importance to the art of reading

part of it.

In order to convey precisely the import of these members, it is necessary to pronounce them with the falling inflection, without suffering the voice to fall gradually, as at a period; by which means the pause becomes different from the mere comma, which suspends the voice, and marks immediate dependence on what follows; and from the period, which marks not only an independence on what follows, but an exclusion of whatever may follow, and therefore drops the voice as at a conclusion. An example will assist us in comprehending this important inflection in reading :

All superiority and preeminence that one man can have over another, may be reduced to the notion of quality, which, considered at large, is either that of fortune, body, or mind. The first is that which consists in birth, title, or riches; and is the most foreign to our natures, and what we can the least call our own, of any of the three kinds of quality. Spectalor, No. 219. In the first part of this sentence the falling inflection takes place on the word quality ; for this member

966761A

we find contains perfect sense, and the succeeding members are not necessarily connected with it; the same inflection takes place in the next member on the word riches; which, with respect to the sense of the member it terminates, and its connexion with the following members, is exactly under the same predicament as the former, though the one is marked with a comma and the other with a semicolon, which is the common punctuation in almost all the editions of the Spectator. A little reflection, however, will show us the necessity of adopting the same pause and inflection on both the above-mentioned words, as this inflection not only marks more precisely the completeness of the sense in the members they terminate, but gives a variety to the period, by making the first and the succeeding members end in a different tone of voice. If we were to read all the members, as if marked with commas, that is, as if the sense of the members were absolutely dependent on each other, the necessity of attending to this inflection of voice in loose sentences would more evidently appear. This division of a sentence is sometimes, and ought almost always to be, marked with a semicolon, as in the following sentence at the word possess.

1

EXAMPLE

Foolish men are morr apt to consider what they have lost than what they possèss; and to fis their eyes upon those who are richer than themselves. rather than those who are under greater difficulties. Spec. No. 574.

The result of these examples is one almost invariable rule, namely, that, however the inflections may alter upon the pauses in every other part of the sentence, yet in that part of the sentence where the sense begins to form, we must constantly adopt the rising

inflection. This is abundantly exemplified in the sentences already produced, and is indeed one of the most general rules in reading. Those who wish to see a farther application of the inflections, must consult Elements of Elocution, p. 184.

Orthoëpial figures; or, Figures of pronunciation.

As we call that a figure of speech which has a peculiarity of meaning, and differs from the most simple and ordinary sense of the words ; so I call those figures orthoạpial, where the peculiarity of the phrase requires a peculiarity of pronunciation. Under these figures of orthoʻpy, I class the interrogation, the exclamation, and the parenthesis ; which are generally said, by our grammarians, to require some peculiar modulation of the voice : and to these I shall add other figures, which may be called the commencement, the contrast, the series, the question and answer, the echo, the antecedent, the variation, and the cadence. I shall not contend for the strictly logical propriety of this classification, but shall content myself with hoping that it may have a tendency to place several important particulars of pronunciation in a clearer and more distinct point of view; and by that means gain them a more attentive consideration, and an easier admission to the understanding. Nothing can be a greater proof of the advancement of science, than a new nomenclature. If new combinations and new distinctions of ideas are discovered, there must necessarily be new terms to express them.

The Interrogation. It must be first observed, that, with respect to pronunciation, all questions may be divided into two classes ; namely, into such as are formed by the interrogative pronouns or adverbs, and into such as are formed only by an inversion of the common arrangement of the words ;* the first with respect to inflection of voice, except in some few cases, may be considered as purely declarative; and like declarative sentences, they require the falling inflection at the end : and the last, with some few exceptions, require the rising inflection of voice on the last word; and it is this rising inflection at the end, which distinguishes them from almost every other species of sentence :-of both these in their order.

The indefinite question, or the question with the inter

rogative words.

Rule I. When an interrogative sentence commences with any of the interrogative pronouns or adverbs, with respect to inflection, elevation, or depression of voice, it is pronounced exactly like a declarative sentence.

EXAMPLES.

How can he exalt his thoughts to any thing great and noble, who only believes that, after a short turn on the stage of this world, he is to sink into oblivion, and to lose his consciousness for ever?

Spectator, No. 210. As an illustration of the rule, we need only alter two or three of the words to reduce it to a declarative sentence; and we shall find the inflection, eleva

* Mr. Harris calls the former of these questions indefinite, and the latter definite; as these may be answered by yes or no, while those often require a whole sentence to answer them.

See Hermes, b. i. p. 151.

« VorigeDoorgaan »