Page:The Comic English Grammar.djvu/108

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Accent is the marking with a peculiar stress of the voice a particular letter or syllable in a word, in such a manner as to render it more distinct or audible than the rest. Thus, in the word théatre, the stress of the voice should be on the letter e and first syllable the; and in cóntrary, on the first syllable con. How shocking it is to hear people say con-tráry, the-átre! The friends of education will be reminded with regret, that an error in the pronunciation of the first of these words is very early impressed on the human mind.

"Mary, Mary,
Quite contráry,
How does your garden grow?"

How many evils, alas! arise from juvenile associations!

Words of two syllables never have more than one of them accented, except for the sake of peculiar emphasis. Gentlemen, however, whose profession it is to drive certain public vehicles called cabs, are much accustomed to disregard this rule, and to say, "pó-líte" (or "púr-líte"), "gén-téel," "cón-cérn," "pó-líce," and so on: nay, they go so far as to convert a word of one syllable into two, for the sake of indulging in this style of pronunciation; and thus the word "queer" is pronounced by them as "ké-véer."

The word "á-mén," when standing alone, should be pronounced with two accents.

The accents in which it usually is pronounced are very inelegant. Clerks, now-a-days, alas! are no scholars.

Dissyllables, formed by adding a termination, usually have the former syllable accented: as, "Fóolish, blóckhead," &c.