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Attitude of Respect.
Stand with the heels touching, the feet being turned out at an angle of about sixty degrees. Bear the weight of the body upon the balls of both feet equally. Have both legs straight, and knees firm. Have no inclination of the body to either side. Let the head be perfectly erect, with eyes looking straight forward. The arms fall at the sides as in the Speaker's Position. Do not lift or draw back the head or shoulders, nor push forward the hips so as to hollow the back.
This is called the position of Respect, and is the formal attitude when about to bow. It is very like that of the soldier on dress parade, and says: "I am at your service."
For Getting the Weight of the Body upon the Ball of the Foot.
Standing as described on page 24, rise slowly upon the balls of the feet until the heels are at a considerable distance from the ground, then slowly return to the original position. Do not change the attitude of the body in the least during this exercise. as you rise, and let the breath go as slowly while descending.
If the body has to poise forward before it can rise, the weight is on the heels and the position is incorrect. Watch that the body does not sag back upon the heels when you return to position, and practise this exercise until carrying the weight of the body upon the ball of the foot becomes a habit; see that you do so at all times while walking or standing. In rising there is often a tendency to push the hips out in front or draw the shoulders back; avoid even the slightest tendency to do either.
Do not cramp the body, but let everything be done with perfect ease. Try to feel as if you were buoyed up by the air, as you would be in the water.
Remember that the more slowly you practise all exercises, the greater will be your control over the muscles. Nervous, jerky movements mean lack of control, and result in habits of angular, awkward action. Grace comes from the perfect command of every muscle, even the smallest.
We have seen that the words in a phrase, like the syllables in a word, differ in pitch; that is, that speech, like music, has melody. Not only is this the
case, but in every syllable the voice is constantly moving up or down the scale. It is in this respect that speech differs most widely from song, where every note must be sustained on a level. This movement or bending of the voice on a word is called inflection.
The inflections of the voice are very numerous, and we shall have occasion later to study many of them; for the present, however, we will confine ourselves to the two simplest: the rising and the falling.
The rising inflection (') indicates uncertainty, doubt, indifference, timidity or deference to the will of the person addressed.
The falling inflection (') is positive, and denotes completeness, certainty, and expresses the will of the speaker.
It is John.
Will you come ?= “you must come."
Rising inflections start from the lower or middle tones of the voice and sweep upward.
Falling inflections strike a high pitch and sweep downward.
Just as with the melody of emphasis, the extent of the inflection will depend upon the strength of feeling behind it. Sometimes, as in great surprise, the voice sweeps through the compass of an octave on a single word. In ordinary speech, the range is very narrow. Practise the exercises in Lesson V., with many degrees of both rising and falling inflection, until you can command them at will.
In ordinary questions and in phrases which imply indifference or timidity on the part of the speaker, the words following the emphatic word tend upward instead of downward, as in a positive statement. Here the wider range of inflection distinguishes the emphatic word from the rest of the phrase. It is as if the impulse of the emphatic word carried the remaining words upward in spite of themselves. E.g., Are you sure of it?
When a question is asked with great earnestness it
often has the falling inflection, much as if it were a positive statement. Compare: Can you prove it? I can prove it.
Where wilt thou lead me? speak; I'll go no further.
Inflection indicates the state of the speaker's mind; it has nothing to do with the grammatical construction of the sentence.
Positive statements are sometimes put in the form of a question for greater effect. E. g., Isn't it so ? Would you have believed it? Is it not wonderful? meaning, it is so; you would not have believed it; it is wonderful. Questions like these are not asked for information; they answer themselves. These "rhetorical questions," as they are called, may sometimes be given with a rising inflection; generally, however, they are spoken with a falling slide of the voice.
Remember March, the Ides of March remember!
Did not great Julius bleed for Jústice' sake?
A positive statement that is closely connected with what follows has a slight rise or bend of the voice at the very end, which shows that the thought is not yet completely stated: "I will walk with you, but not now."
The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.-Longfellow.