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abbreviation from the classical Greek oůdév. A person who looked at oùdév might be inclined to say that the essential power of that negative is stored up in the first syllable, while the second is a mere expletive or appendage. From this point of view it would be inconceivable how the first part should perish and the second remain. But if we consider that the first is the elder part, and that the second was added for the sake of emphasis, it is plain that the second part would carry the accent, as indeed the traditional notation represents it.
This effect of the accent must be particularly attended to, as presenting, perhaps, the best of all keys for explaining the transformations which take place in language. Were we to disregard the influence of the laws of sound, and imagine that sense was the only thing to be taken into consideration, we should often be at a loss to understand why the most sense-bearing syllables have decayed, while the less significant ones have retained their integrity. The national and characteristic Scottish word unco is an instance. It is composed of un and couth, the ancient participle of the verb cunnan, 'to know.' So that uncouth meant "unknown,' ' unheard-of,' and consequently 'strange.' In England the word has retained its original form, because the accent is on the second syllable ; but in Scotland, the accent having been placed on the first, and the word having been much used in such a manner as to intensify the accent by emphasis, the second syllable has shrunk up to the condition which is so familiar to the admirers of Scottish literature.
2. So far we have been considering the formative effect of accent in its simplest instances,—those namely where the accented syllable retains its integrity, while the unaccented seems to wither, as it were, by neglect. But we must now proceed to a somewhat more complicated phenomenon.
The accent does not always prove so conservative in its operation. It is like wind to fire; a moderate current of air will keep the fire steadily burning, but if the air be applied in excess, it will destroy the flame which before it preserved. So with the accent; if it be highly intensified it will not conserve, but rather work an alteration in the syllable to which it is applied.
A familiar instance of the effect of an accent in altering the form of a syllable may be seen in the word woman. This word is compounded of wife and man, and the change which has taken place in the first syllable exhibits the altering effect of an intense accent.
The same thing may be observed in the word gospel. This word is composed of good and spel; but the first syllable has been reduced to its present proportion by 'correption, if we may revive the very happy Latin term by which a shortened syllable was said to be seized or snatched. When we seek the cause why accent should have operated in manners so opposite, we shall probably find that the diversity of result is due to a difference of situation in the usual employment of a given word. A word, for instance, whose lot it was to be often emphasized would naturally be the more liable to reption of its accented syllable.
3. As we have seen that each of the syllables of a disyllabic word may be in different manners affected by the accent, so we may next observe that both of these changes may sometimes be found in one and the same word.
The word housewife is often pronounced huz'if, and this pronunciation is the traditional one. The full pronunciation of all the letters in housewife is not produced by the natural action of the mother tongue, but by literary education. Regarding huz'if, then, as the natural and spontaneous utterance of housewife, we see that both syllables have
suffered alteration. The condition of the second syllable is accounted for by the absence of the accent; while the first syllable has suffered from an opposite cause. There it has been the intensification of the accent that has occasioned the change. And when, through the beat of metre, the accent becomes emphasis, we sometimes find the first syllable spelt with correption.
In Milton's Comus, l. 751, this occurs :
• Beauty is Nature's brag, and must be shown
(Ed. Tonson, 1725.)
The name of Shakspeare, it is well known, appears with many variations of orthography. The most curious perhaps of all its forms is that of Shaxper 1, which exhibits both of the phenomena that we are now considering. In Shaxper we see that each of the two syllables is shrunken, but from opposite causes. The first syllable is compressed by the intensifying power of the accent, while the second syllable is impaired by reason of the languor of an enclitic position.
These changes, which thus result from accentuation, are sometimes seen to carry with them interesting phonetic accompaniments. Standish is the name of a place in Gloucestershire, but it is better known as a man's name in the poetry of Longfellow. This word is an altered form of Stonehouse, or rather of that word in its ancient shape of Stanhus. Here the accented syllable has drawn a d on to it, and the languid syllable an H. The former is but an instance of a well
1 This form is found with the date of 1579. Shakespeareana Genealogica, compiled by George Russell French. 1869.
known phonetic affinity which in various languages has so often produced the combination no. But that the hus should have lapsed into ish is something more particularly English, and belongs to the same class of tendencies by which that sound has often risen among us both out of Saxon and out of French materials.
A great number of transformations which are a stock item of astonishment with us, are only to be accounted for by the consideration of accentual conditions.
Such are Ciceter for Cirencester; Yenton for Erdington; Ransom for Rampisham (Dorset); Posset for Portishead, &c. So Clatfordtun has become Claverton; Cunacaleah is Conkwell, &c. The scene of the following quotation is laid in the time of Queen Anne :
Candish, Chumley. • Why should we say goold and write gold, and call china chayny, and Cavendish Candish, and Cholmondeley Chumley ?'-W. M. Thackeray, Esmond, Bk. III. ch. iii.
Here may be noticed such a familiar formula as Good bye, which has come out of God be with ye.'
But there are effects traceable to accent, which are of a more deep-seated and comprehensive character. It is to accent that we must attribute the rise of flexion, in the great bulk of the phenomena included under that name. Flexion is the result of the adhesion of low-toned words to those which are higher toned, to words rendered eminent and attractive by a superiority of accent. Thus, if the word IBO resolves itself into three words answering to the three letters of which the word is now composed, and if these three words stood once free of each other in this order—GO WILL I, it was because of the accentual pre-eminence of so that the other two words first of all began to lean enclitically on it, and at length were absorbed into unity with it.
And as the action of sound is a matter of great consequence in the shaping of words, so also we may detect a like power working to effect transpositions in phraseology. Why do people often say 'bred and born' instead of .born and bred, except that they like the sound of it better? There is in most newspapers a quarter which is thus headed : -Births, Marriages, and Deaths. But in conversation it is hardly ever quoted in this form. The established colloquial form of the phrase is this :-Births, Deaths and Marriages. Now it is plain that the latter does violence to the natural order of things, to which the printed formula adheres. Whence then has this inconsequence arisen? Solely, as it seems, from the fact that the less reasonable order offers the more agreeable cadence to the ear.
III. OF SOUND AS AN INSTINCTIVE OBJECT OF
Our path leads us more and more away from the conscious action of man in the development of speech, to mark how the sentient and instinctive tendencies of his nature claim their part in the great result. There is observable a certain drawing towards a fitness of sound; that is to say, the speaker of every stage and grade strives after such an expression as shall erect his language into a sort of music to his own ear. And this is reached when harmony is established between the meaning and the sound; that is to say, when the sound strikes the ear as a becoming representative of the thought. It is a first necessity in language, that it should gratify the ear of the speaker.
As the savage and the civilised man have different standards of music, so have they different standards of what is