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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/408

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

If this r is produced skillfully by the vibration of the uvula alone it is to be distinguished from the lingual r only by a practiced ear, but if as in Swiss, German, and certain Gallic dialects, the pillars of the soft palate take an active part in its formation, it acquires a very harsh and disagreeable character. The substitution of w for r, by which real becomes weal, great, gweat, etc., is so far as personally observed English and not American. It is also probable that the use of w for v, as weal for veal, wery for very, is cockney, and never heard in the United States,

Did space permit much might be added to this description of the more patent differences of the elementary sounds of the mother-tongue as spoken by Americans and Englishmen, but syllabic accent, inflections, and vocal timbre also claim some attention.

Accent.—In all English words there is one syllable which receives greater stress of voice than the others. In words of two syllables the accent falls on the first one, and in polysyllabic words on the antepenult. The exception to this rule and the general laws of accent can not receive any notice here, but it is to be kept in mind that nothing more decidedly alters the phonetic character of English than changes in syllabic accent. A good pronunciation is distinguished by a firm and prompt attack of the accented syllables which are like the emphasized notes of a song, and they sustain the rhythmical flow of speech.

Apart from the primary accent there is a secondary and tertiary one laid on other relatively less emphatic syllables, and in the misuse of these is to be found one American peculiarity. In general, Englishmen have a more emphatic and superior delivery of the primary accent, but they are more wont to slur over the remaining syllables. This gulping of long words is offset by an opposite and equally great defect among Americans, who sometimes give the secondary accent in many words almost the same force as the primary, and their speech thus becomes drawling. Instead of giving one they employ a double decided accent as here marked in mil'ita'ry, mat'rimo'ny, ter'rito'ry, cir'cumstan'ces, and also in words of fewer syllables there is a like fault as in gi'gan'tic, im'men'se, rhu'barb, and a great many similar instances in which there should be a strong primary, and a very light secondary accent. To a native English ear this slow division and double accentuation of words is one of the most striking of the many peculiarities of American English.

Emphasis, Inflections, and Vocal Timbre.—For the learned the above orthoëpical differences are all important, but for the great mass of the people the vocal qualities embraced under the present heading constitute the most striking distinctions which the unpracticed ear recognizes between the vernacular of the two countries. Even the child without knowledge or thought of correct pronunciation is struck by the foreign tone of voice and the novel inflections. The American in London, though he may assume the dress and manners of the people,