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only word in the sentence that is acted upon by the negative word “not,” because the reader learns.something of the methods and style of the orator, but not only this, because he obtains an epitome of the history of the times as well. “Only” being the negatived word (the word upon which the negative acts), it should be given the rising inflection, while the balance of the sentence, being positive, should be given the falling inflection.
Qualified. I believe in the doctrine of peace; but, Mr President, men must have liberty before there can abiding peace.
- JOHN M. THURSTON The phrase, “I believe in the doctrine of peace,” is qualified by the concluding statement, “men must have liberty before there can come abiding peace”; and any expression that is qualified should be given the rising inflection. In this example Senator Thurston states that he believes in peace, provided peace can be had with liberty; but that if the loss of liberty is the price exacted for peace, then he prefers war. In order to convey the meaning of this example, the first phrase should be given the rising inflection and the last phrase the falling; the qualified taking the rising, and the concluding the falling inflection.
Conditional. If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace.
- SAMUEL ADAMS Here we have two conditional phrases and one concluding phrase. All expressions that are conditional in character require the rising inflection, and the clause that concludes the sentence takes the inflection that interprets
the thought. Therefore, if the concluding clause is positive, as in this instance, it should be given the falling infection; but if negative, it should be given the rising inflection. There is no exception to the conditional clause taking the rising inflection, because it is always uncertain in character, and whatever is uncertain should always be given the rising inflection, but the concluding clause, whenever it is negative, is given the rising inflection; as,
So, on the other hand, if I take the life of another, without being aware of any intended violence on his part, it will constitute no excuse for me to prove that he intended an attack upon me.
- SARGENT S. PRENTISS Continuity. Whenever the thought is continuous the rising inflection should be employed until a conclusion is reached; as,
In speaking to you, men of the greatest city of the West, men of the state which gave to the country Lincoln and Grant, men who preëminently and distinctly embody all that is most American in the American character, I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife.
The thought here is continuous and incomplete until we come to the phrase “the doctrine of the strenuous life,” and in order to obtain an unbroken flow of speech the rising inflection should be used until the close of the negative phrase “not the doctrine of ignoble ease,” but from there to the end of the sentence the falling inflection should be used because of its positive character and
the fact that the thought is practically complete with the utterance of the phrase “but the doctrine of the strenuous life," all that follows being merely an amplification.
How many kinds of questions are there? Two.
What are they called? They are called direct and indirect.
What difference is there between these two kinds of questions? The direct question may be answered by either yes or no; the indirect question is answered by a statement or explanation. Usually there is uncertainty as to the answer to the direct question, and therefore the question should generally be given the rising inflection; but as soon as uncertainty ceases to exist as to the answer to a question, it should be given the falling inflection. Therefore, if the speaker knows that the answer is sure to be yes, or if he knows that the answer is sure to be no, the question should take the falling inflection, for then there would be no uncertainty as to the reply to the question. On the other hand, if, for any reason, the quality of uncertainty exists in the indirect question, it should be given the rising inflection. The general supposition regarding questions is that they usually require the rising inflection, but the reverse of this is the fact. A question should only be given the rising inflection when the speaker is not sure as to whether the answer will be yes or no, or when an indirect question is expressive of the uncertainty of the speaker; as, What did you
say? Direct questions, whenever the answer is anticipated, or the question repeated with marked emphasis, or spoken with earnestness in the shape of an appeal, should be given the falling inflection; as,
Immortal spirits of Hampden, Locke, and Sidney, will it not add to your benevolent joys to behold your posterity rising to the dignity of men, and evincing to the world the reality and expediency of your systems, and in the actual enjoyment of that equal liberty, which you were happy, when on earth, in delineating and recommending to mankind?
SAMUEL ADAMS The falling inflection should be given this direct question because the anticipated answer is yes.
The falling inflection should be given a direct question
Has the gentleman done? has he completely done? The reason the falling inflection is here used is that the question is repeated with marked emphasis, and whenever a question is so repeated it should be given the falling inflection on the repetition.
The falling inflection should also be given all direct questions that are earnest appeals; as,
Will you please forgive me? Direct Question. Undoubtedly the world is better; but would it have been better if everybody had then insisted that it was the best of all possible worlds, and that we must despond if sometimes a cloud gathers in the sky, or a Benedict Arnold appeared in the patriot army, or even a Judas Iscariot among the chosen twelve ?
- GEORGE W. CURTIS
Indirect Question. When, O Catiline, do you mean to cease abusing our patience? How long is that madness of yours still to mock us? When is there to be an end of that unbridled audacity of yours, swaggering about as it does now?
A direct question is sometimes used in the form of a statement; as,
The constitutional question is: Has Congress the power, under our Constitution, to hold in subjection unwilling vassal states?
- GEORGE F. HOAR
This is a direct question, but because it is a statement put forth to be argued it should be given the falling inflection. If a request is made of a presiding officer for information regarding what question is then before the body, and the officer replies with a direct question, he should give it the falling inflection, because he does not speak it as a question but as a statement in reply to the member's question as to what is then before the meeting.
What does the falling inflection signify?
The falling inflection, in the main, signifies certainty. The arrival at a result, commands (whether negatively or positively constructed), and all positive words, phrases, and sentences, require, as a rule, the falling inflection.
The Arrival at a Result. We are all born in subjection, all born equally, high and low, governors and governed, in subjection to one great, immutable pre-existent law, prior to all our devices, and prior to all our contrivances, paramount to all our ideas, and all our sensations, antecedent to our very existence, by which we are knit and connected