« ForrigeFortsæt »
With respect to the sentiment or the spirit of an interrogation, there are some notable properties which seem to govern the use of intonation.
When the question is prompted by the ignorance or uncertainty of the speaker, and thus contains a real inquiry, it generally bears the thorough expression; which must consequently in many instances, overrule the formula for the partial intonation of sentences constructed with pronouns or adverbs, or with the inverted position of the nominative case, and of sentences in conjunction or series.
Hamlet. Dost thou hear me old friend?
Can you play the murder of Gonzago?
Prospero. Thy father was the duke of Milan, and
A prince of power.
Although in the stated form of this rule, I have ascribed to it only a general operation, yet, when the question is made with much earnestness, its bearing is universal.
The intonation appropriated to those questions which are made argumentatively, or in the way of a confident appeal, varies from the full thorough application, through all the degrees of its partial use, to the very opposite expression of the most positive declaratory sentence : But of the appealing interrogation I shall speak hereafter.
When a question is vehemently made, under any mode of construction of the sentence, and with any number of such questions, either in conjunction or in series, the rule may be received as very general, which assigns to the expression the thorough extent.
Show me what thou'lt do!
To outface me with leaping in her grave ? The reader may find full illustration of this rule, by turning to Shylock's noted parallel between the Jew and the Christian, with his earnest resolve upon revenge-in the first scene of the third act of the Merchant of Venice.
If a question be addressed in a moderate temper of inquiry, the speaker will generally affect the partial mode of expression. When Hamlet says to Guildenstern,
Will you play on this pipe ? the composure of mind, and the rank of the prince, mingle in the question the mild authority of a request, with the doubt of an inquiry ; and this is perhaps properly represented by the use of the interrogative intonation on the first part of the sentence, with a subsequent reposing descent of the diatonic cadence. It is true, the instrument is brought into the scene, and the question is thereupon put, with a view to the consequent quibble ; and on this ground, perhaps, the word pipe might be regarded as emphatic. Still the emphasis may be made by a stress or force of voice on the last constituent of the triad, as well as by the ascent of the interrogative interval.
When a question is made with surprise, indignation, scorn, and other emotions of a similar spirit, it generally receives the thorough expression. I can not transcribe from the first act of Hamlet, so much as it furnishes to illustrate the influence of wonder, on the intonation of a question. But if the reader will turn to the scene between Hamlet, Horatio, and the two officers, he will find, that from the moment Horatio informs Hamlet of his having seen his father, there follows, on the part of the prince, a succession of questions, with both the declaratory and interrogative construction, most of which require a marked use of the thorough expression. With like earnestness, Cleopatra, in the play which bears her name with Antony's, says to Proculeius, the friend of Cæsar,
Know sir, that I
Be gentle grave unto me. The repulsive indignation of this question can not be fairly painted without the fullest measure of interrogative coloring.
When the last syllable of a question is emphatic, and its intonation is not forcibly directed to the partial expression, by some one of the preceding rules, particularly by that which concerns the series, this last syllable bears the interrogative interval. Should the sentence be short, or consist of a single member, the expression will have a thorough application. In the dialogue between the murderers of Clarence, the second speaker exclaims and asks,
What! shall we stab him as he sleeps ?
From the answer of his companion, it is plain that the question points at the act of sleeping, and this produces an interrogative emphasis on the last word. Had the inquiry been whether the victim should be stabbed or strangled, the word • stab would carry the emphatic intonation, and the sentence might end with the diatonic cadence.
It will be shown, in a future section on exclamatory sentences, that many phrases having the grammatical construction of a question, and containing other and stronger sentiments that overrule the interrogative intonation, are not properly expressed by rising intervals, but by the contrary movements of pitch.
Having thus endeavoured to bring the subject of interrogative sentences, as regards the entire or the partial application of their expressive intonation into something like a systematic form, I must leave the correction of the errors of the effort, and the amplifying of its approved hints, as a work for the better ear and closer attention of others.
Let us now proceed to consider more particularly the manner in which the interrogative intervals are applied to indi. vidual syllables.
As prefatory to this investigation I must here make some remarks on the use of the radical and vanishing movement, when applied to short and immutable syllables. 1 formerly suggested the modes of trial, by which the existence of the various concretes might be exemplified on long quantities : and I likewise asserted that no syllable could be uttered without passing through the radical and vanish, under some form of intonation. We have now reached a point in our subject, at which the reader may receive the proof of this assertion, as respects thc equable concrete of speech. I must suppose that the reader is familiar with the effect of the concrete rise through a third or fifth or octave which constitutes interrogative expression. Now let him take the immutable syllable, "top,' which is one of the shortest in the language, and pronounce it as a mere sound, without meaning or sentiment. Again, let him utter it as a question: and he will perceive that with whatever rapidity it may be pronounced, he can still accomplish, on it, the peculiar effect of interrogative intonation. There is therefore in the last experiment some accident of the voice which is not heard in the first. The distinction between the two cases arises solely from the use of a wider transit of the concrete progress in the latter. For it may be readily shown that it does not proceed from any peculiarity in the quality, nor from a certain degree in the force of the voice: and that it is not produced solely by a change of the syllable to a high place of pitch, without its concrete movement, may be ascertained by the following experiment. Let the reader, rise through the musical scale by repeating the word “top,' taking care to give it no more than the radical and vanish of a second at each degree : he will perceive that to whatever height he ascends, the interrogative intonation will not be produced. Now I know not to what this intonation, when heard on an immutable syllable, is to be ascribed, if not to a rapid fight of the voice, through a concrete interrogative interval. The audible effect justifies the conclusion ; though the succession of time, and of space on the scale, which is so distinctly perceptible in the movement of the slower concrete, is in this case of the immutable syllable, altogether beyond my power of measurement.
It will appear in the trials above proposed, that the interrogative effect is producible on the shortest syllables: and such experiments will warrant the general conclusion, that every interval of the scale is practicable on every syllable in speech. But it is to be remarked that the use of the wider intervals on short syllables, when compared with their application to long and indefinite ones, has a feebleness of interrogative expression directly proportional to the rapidity of their flight; and consequently that the long and distinctly measurable concrete on indefinite syllables produces the strongest expression of interrogation. It is desirable, however, that the thorough expression should be equally diffused: and as all syllables are not by length qualified to bear the slow and most eminent interrogative concrete, it follows that other means, besides those already described, must be employed on short syllables, for the purpose of fulfilling strongly and uniformly the intonation of a question. The means for strengthening the comparative feebleness of interrogative expression on short syllables, consists in raising them, by the change of radical pitch, to the line of the summit of the slow concretes which are allotted to the indefinite quantities in a sentence; as the following notation of a case of thorough expression will exemplify: