ACCENT, Accentus, a certain inflection of voice, or a peculiar tone and manner of pronunciation, contracted from the country or province where a person was bred. See VOICE and PRONUNCIATION.

In this sense, we say the Welsh tone or accent, the Northern accent, the Gascon accent, Norman accent, etc.See TONE, etc.

The word is formed from the Latin accentus; compounded of ad and cano, "I sing".

Accent is also a tone or modulation of the voice, frequently used as a mark of the intention of the speaker; and giving a good or an evil signification to his words.

One may give offense with the softest and most soothing words imaginable, by a proper management of the accent and manner of rehearsing them. The accent frequently gives a contrary sense to what the words themselves naturally imported. See WORD, FIGURE, etc.

The accent, properly, has only to do with high and low.Though the modern grammarians frequently also use it in respect of loud and soft, long and short; which confounds accent with quantity. See QUANTITY.

The difference between the two may be conceived from that which we observe between the beat of a drum and the sound of a trumpet: the former expresses everything belonging to loud and soft, and long and short; but, so long as there is a rhythm in the sound, there is nothing like accent.

Accent is also used in grammar for a character placed over a syllable, to mark the accent, i.e., to show it is to be pronounced in a higher or a lower tone, and regulate the inflections of the voice in reading. See CHARACTER, TONE, VOICE, etc.

We usually reckon three grammatical accents in ordinary use, all borrowed from the Greeks, viz., the Acute Accent, which shows when the tone of the voice is to be raised;and is expressed thus ('), see Acute.

The Grave Accent, when the note or tone of the voice is to be depressed; and is signified thus ('), see Grave.

The Circumflex Accent is composed of both the Acute and the Grave; it points out a kind of undulation of the voice and is expressed thus (^). See CIRCUMFLEX.

The word accent is also applied, somewhat abusively, to the characters that mark the quantities of syllables or the time the voice is to dwell on them. See TIME.

The spurious accents answer to the characters of time in music, such as crotchets, quavers, etc. The genuine accents answer to the musical notes sol, fa, etc. See NOTE, etc.

Such are the long accent, which shows that the voice is to stop on the vowel and is expressed thus ( ̄ );the short accent shows that the time of pronunciation ought to be short and is marked thus ( ˘ ).

Some even rank the hyphen, diastole, and apostrophe among accents. See HYPHEN, DIASTOLE, and APOSTROPHE.

The Hebrews have a grammatical, a rhetorical, and a musical accent; though the first and last seem, in effect, to be the same, both being comprised under the general name of tonic accents because they give the proper tone to syllables, as the rhetorical accents are said to be euphonic, inasmuch as they tend to make the pronunciation more sweet and agreeable.

There are four euphonic accents and twenty-five tonic, of which some are placed above and others below the syllables. The Hebrew accents serve not only to regulate the risings and fallings of the voice but also to distinguish the sections, periods, and members of periods in a discourse, and to answer the same purposes with the points in other languages. See POINT.

Their accents are divided into emperors, kings, dukes, etc., each bearing a title answerable to the importance of the distinction it makes. Their emperor rules over a whole phrase and terminates the sense completely, answering to our point. Their king answers to our colon, and their duke to our comma. The king, however, occasionally becomes a duke, and the duke a king, as the phrases are more or less short. It must be noted, by the way, that the management and combination of these accents differs in Hebrew poetry from what it is in prose.

The use of these tonic or grammatical accents has been much controverted. Some hold that they distinguish the sense, while others maintain that they are only intended to regulate the music or singing, alleging that the Jews sing rather than read the Scriptures in their synagogues.

The truth seems here to be between the two opinions.Although we are inclined to think that the primary intention of these accents was to direct the singing, the singing seems to have been regulated according to the sense, so that the accents seem not only to guide the singing but also to point out the distinctions. However, it must be confessed that many of these distinctions are too subtle and inconsiderable, nor can modern writers or the editors of old ones agree on the matter; some of them making twice as many of these distinctions as others.

The Hebrew accents, in effect, have something common with those of the Greeks and Latins and something peculiar to the Hebrew. What they have in common is that they mark the tones, showing how the voice is to be raised and sunk on certain syllables. What they have peculiar is that they do the office of the points in other languages. See POINTING.

Be this as it will, 'tis certain the ancient Hebrews were not acquainted with these Accents ; so that, at best, they are not pure divine. — The Opinion which prevails among the Learned, is, that they were invented about the VIth Century, by the Jewish Doctors of the School of Tiberias, called the Massoretes. See MASSORETES.

The learned Hemming affirms them to be of Arabic Invention; and to have been adopted and transferred thence into the Hebrew by the Massoretes: He adds that they were first brought to their degree of Perfection by Rabbi Judah Sen David Chi log, a Native of Fez, in the XIth Century.— 'Tis indeed possible, the Jews might borrow their Points from the Arabs; but how they should have their Accents from 'em is hard to conceive, the Arabic Language having no such thing as Accents, either in Prose or Verse.

The same Hemming makes the Arab Alchahil Ebn Ahmed, who lived about the Time of Mahomet, the great Improver of the Arabic Accents. — The chief ground of the Opinion is that this Writer is said to have been the first who reduced Poetry into an Art; marking the Measures and Quantities of the Verses, by the Latins called Pedes, and by us, Feet. —Add that the Share Hemming gives Rabbi Judah of Fez, in completing the Hebrew Accents, is chiefly founded on the common Opinion that this Rabbin was the first Grammarian among the Jews. But the Opinion is erroneous;there having been a Hebrew Grammar composed by R. Saadias Gaon, many Years before R. Judah. In M. Simon's Critical History of the Old Testament, we have a Catalogue of Hebrew Grammars; at the Head of which is this of R. Saadias: M. Simon, on this Occasion, observes, "That " after the Jews of Tiberias had added Points and Accents " to the Text of the Old Testament, the Doctors of the " other Schools began to do the like in their Copies, which " were afterwards imitated by the rest."As to the Greek Accents, now seen both in the manuscript and printed Books, there has been no less Dispute about their Antiquity and Use than about those of the Hebrews.— Isaac Vossius, in an express Treatise de Accentibus Graecis, endeavors to prove them of modern Invention;asserting that anciently they had nothing of this Kind but a few Notes in their Poetry, which were invented by Aristophanes the Grammarian, 'about the Time of Ptolemy Philopater; and that these were of musical, rather than grammatical Use, serving as Aids in the ringing of their Poems; and very different from those introduced afterwards.

He adds, that Aristarchus, a Disciple of Aristophanes, improved on his Master's Art; but that all they both did only tended to facilitate Youth in the making of Verses.

The same Vossius shows from several ancient Grammarians that the manner of writing the Greek Accents in those Days was quite different from those used in our Books.

Hen. Christ. Hennin, in a Dissertation published to show that the Greek Tongue ought not to be pronounced according to the Accents, espouses the Opinion of Vossius, and even carries the Matter still further. He thinks that Accents were the Invention of the Arabians, about nine hundred Years ago ;and that they were only used in Poetry ; that they were intended to ascertain the Pronunciation of the Greek, and to keep out that Barbarism which was then breaking in upon them ; that the ancient Accents of Aristophanes were perhaps agreeable to the genuine Greek Pronunciation, but that the modern ones of the Arabs destroy it.

Wetstein, Greek Professor at Basel, in a learned Dissertation, endeavours to prove the Greek Accents of an older standing. He owns that they were not always formed in the same manner by the Ancients ; but thinks that Difference owing to the different Pronunciation which obtained in the several Parts of Greece.

He brings several Reasons a priori for the Use of Accents, even in the earliest Days ; as that they then wrote all in capital Letters, equidistant from each other, without any Distinction either of Words or Phrases ; which without Accents could scarce be intelligible : and that Accents were necessary to distinguish ambiguous Words, and to point out their proper meaning ; which he confirms from a Dispute on a Passage in Homer, mentioned by Aristotle in his Poetics, Chap. V. Accordingly, he observes, that the Syrians, who have tonic, but no distinctive Accents, have yet invented certain Points, placed either below or above the Words, to show their Mood, Tense, Person, or Sense. See further in his Dissertation Hellenica de Accentuum Graecorum Antiquitate et Usu, Basel, 1696.

Accent, in Music, is a Modulation of the Voice, to express a Passion. See PASSION.

Every Bar or Measure is divided into accented and unaccented Parts. See MEASURE.

The Accented Parts are the Principal; being those intended chiefly to move and affect: 'Tis on these the Spirit of the Music depends. See BAR, and MUSIC.

The Beginning and Middle; or the beginning of the first half of the Bass, and the beginning of the latter half thereof, in common Time ; and the beginning, or first of the three Notes in triple Time ; are always the accented Parts of the Measure. See TIME.

In Common Time, the first and third Crotchet of the Bar are on the accented Part of the Measure.— In Triple Time, where the Notes always go by three and three, that which is in the middle of every three is always unaccented ;the first and last accented. But the Accent in the first is so much stronger, that in many Cases the last is accounted as if it had no Accent. See COMPOSITION.

The Harmony is always to be full, and void of Discords in the accented Parts of the Measure. See HARMONY.

In the unaccented Parts this is not so necessary ; Discords here passing without any great Offence to the Ear. See DISCORD, COUNTERPOINT, &c.