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Inflection is a slide or bend of the voice, either upward or downward, from the usual level of a sen


The upward, or rising inflection, is usually indi cated by an acute accent ('), and the downward, or falling inflection, by the grave accent (').


The rising inflection is generally applied to single words, though it often extends through several; and sometimes through an entire sentence. In definite questions, that is, such as may be answered by Yes or No, it takes the form of a gradual rise, varied only by emphatic words. The following diagrams will show the direction of the voice in the more common cases of the rising inflection.

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Can you read?

The air, the earth, the water, teem with delighted existence.

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Will you die of hung in the land which your sweat

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Shall we live in



1. Good morning, Henry'. Are you going to school' ?

2. Did you ever try' to help it, John' ?

3. Sun', Wáter, and Wind', and Bird' say, No.

4. Do you see yonder cloud, that's almost in the shape of a camel'?


The falling infection usually mmences at a point above the key, and slides down toward it, and to it when the thought is completed. When a sentense ends with a graver sentiment than the opening one, the voice may fall below the key.


Indefinite questions- that is, such as cannot be answered by Yes or No-are usually delivered with a downward slide from the emphatic word to the end of the sentence.

Every leaf is of a different

What are you going to




do about it?

or be for


If our cause is not just, there is

ever fallen!

hath a separate in

no just cause,

and no

Where sleep the brave


3. Why stand ye here i'dle?

4. What do you call' the play?


justice on earth.

1. Stop! Stand still! Hark'!

2. Tell the truth'; that is the best excuse at all times.

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5. When shall we get to the top' of the hill?

6. Charge', Chester, Charge! On', Stanley, on'!


See page 28 for examples illustrating these principles.

The following are the more general and obvious principles for the use of the Inflections, to which there are many exceptions. There are many sentences and clauses which might very properly be read with either the rising or falling inflection, according to the reader's conception of the idea intended to be conveyed. As a general principle, positive and complete assertion may be said to have the falling inflection, and doubtful or incomplete, the rising.

The rising inflection is generally required — 1. When the sense is incomplete or suspended.

2. In words and phrases of address, except when they are emphatic or long. 3. In language of tender emotion, politeness, gentle entreaty, and poetic expression.

4. In questions that can be answered by Yes or No; except when the question is asked or repeated in an emphatic or an impatient tone.

5. Where such words are inserted in a sentence as Saying, Said, Replying or Replied, Exclaimed, &c., the voice is suspended or kept up.

The falling inflection is generally required

6. When the sense is complete or terminated; but when a sentence consists of several clauses expressing complete sense, the last but one may take the rising inflection.

7. In questions that cannot be answered by Yes or No.

8. In answers to questions, except when given in a careless or slightly disre ■pectful manner.


9. In language of deep emotion, as of authority, bold encouragement, surprise denunciation, or terror.

10. When words or clauses are compared, contrasted, or in antithesis, the for mer part generally has the rising inflection, and the latter the falling; but,

11. When negation is opposed to affirmation, the negative member of the sentence generally has the rising inflection, and the affirmative member the falling, in whichever order they occur.

12. All rules for the rising inflection are liable to be modified by strong emphasis, which overrides every thing else, and gives to the voice the falling inflee tion, or a form of the circumflex, with a strong downward slide.

The following examples are numbered so as to refer to the numbering of the above general principles of inflection.


1. With his conduct last evening', I was not pleased. Here waters', woods', and winds', in concert join.

2. My friends', I come not here to talk. How is this, my father! do you not believe' me'? Well, sir', the victim was' I yet fear to expose your friend. On'! ye brave', who rush to glory or the grave'!

3. My mother'! when I learned that thou wast dead', Say', wast thou con'scious of the tears' I shed? Awake, little girl'; 'tis time to arise'; Come, shake drowsy sleep from your eyes. It is true, Charles', we ought to be obliging to one another'; you shall have my kite to-day' and to-morrow.

4. Can you read'? Will you lend me your kite'? Had Thebes a hundred gates', as sung by Homer'? Can wealth', or honor', or pleasure', satisfy the soul' ?

5. Alas! he said, the ride has wearied you. Came men and women in dark clusters round, sóme crying Let them up! they shall not fall'; and 6thers, Let them lie! for they have fallen'.

6. I will praise God with my voice'; for I may praise him, though I am but a little child'. Come, let us go forth into the fields'; let us see how the flowers

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spring'; let us listen to the warbling of the birds', and sport ourselves on the new grass'.

7. Who, then, can be saved'? How sleep the brave' who sink to rest, by all their country's wishes blest! 8. Mr. L. Do you like' to work' ?

Boy. Yes, sir', very well', this fine weather.

Mr. L. But would you not rather play'?

Boy. This is not hard work. It is almost as good as play.

Mr. L. Who set you to work?

Boy. My father', sir.

Mr. L. What is your name'?
Boy. Peter Hurdle', sir.
Mr. L. How old are you?

Boy. Eight years old, next June'.

Mr. L. How long have you been' here?

Boy. Ever since six o'clock this morning.

Mr. L. Are you not hungry'?

Boy. Yes, sir', but I shall go to dinner soon.
Will you go to town' to-day'? Yes', perhaps I


9. Strike', you slave'! stand', rogue'! stand'! you base slave, strike'! O that I knew where I might find Him! that I might come even to His seat'!

10. Is this book yours', or mine'? It was black' or white', soft' or hard', rough' or smooth'. He preferred hon or to dis'honor, worth to wealth'.

11. I come not to destroy', but to fulfil'. Show that you are brave by deeds', not by words'. Did he go will'ingly' or un'willingly'? He went will'ingly, not unwillingly'.

12. John', John. Mr. Speaker', Mr. Speaker'. Did you see him there'? Sir'? Did you see him there?

Will you deny' it? ing the question in

Will you deny it? said he, repeat a louder and more emphatic tone".


The union of the two inflections is called the circum. flex, or wave, and is marked thus, ^, or thus, .

The circumflex is used to indicate the emphasis of strong assertion, surprise irony, contrast, mockery, or hypothesis ; also, in expressions used in a peculiar sense, or with a double meaning. Its effect is sometimes upon single words, and sometimes it takes the form of a wave, or gradual sweep, extending through the sentence, the voice ascending to the emphatic word, and falling after it, (see figures 3 and 4,) as in language of supplication, or when a proposition is expressed with such confidence in its truth as precludes contradiction: also in an indirect question, that is, when a declarative sentence is spoken in the form of a question.

The two inflections combine so as to form different kinds of circumflex, which may be represented by the following figures:




The application of the different forms of the circumflex to the various classes of sentences, must be left, in a great measure, to the taste and judgment of the teacher.


1. What is it yours?

Are you a traitor?

2. A fine man you will make if you go on in this way!

3. The cat will play with a ball, but she thinks it râre sport to torture a mouse.

4. You are not angry, sure!

5. Some have sneeringly asked, Are the Americans yoo poor to pay a few pounds on stamped pa'per?

6. And they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hâil! King of the Jews!

7. Mother, let me stay at home with you to-day. 8. So, you never knew the history of this man'? 9. My dear, you have some pretty beads there! Yes, papa. And you seem to be vastly pleased with them? Yes, papa.

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