Fallacy of accent

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This fallacy is about the misleading accentuation of words. For other uses, see Accent. Not to be confused with Fallacy of accident.

The fallacy of accent (also prosody, accentus, misleading accent) occurs when the meaning of a text is changed by what word or words are stressed, and either (1) a word different than the author's intent is stressed or (2) it's unknown which word should be stressed. The meaning of a word or set of words may be drastically changed by the way they are spoken, without changing the words themselves.

The fallacy was first coined by Aristotle, who pointed out that word with one spelling could have different pronunciation and different meaning, which effectively created multiple words. Because written Greek had no diacritical marksWikipedia's W.svg, it was occasionally impossible to tell the author's intent.[1][2][3]

It is an informal fallacy and a fallacy of ambiguity, in that it removes context that is necessary to understand the statement.

Contents

[edit] Examples

[edit] Different sentences

[edit] Who took the test?

  1. I didn't take the test yesterday. (Somebody else did.)
  2. I didn't take the test yesterday. (I did not take it.)
  3. I didn't take the test yesterday. (I did something else with it.)
  4. I didn't take the test yesterday. (I took a different one.)
  5. I didn't take the test yesterday. (I took something else.)
  6. I didn't take the test yesterday. (I took it some other day.)[1]

[edit] Can you imagine?

Situation 1:
Amy: I can imagine Cal doing that; it's possible.
Bob: Yes, it's possible to imagine him doing that.

Bob is flatly agreeing with Amy.

Situation 2:
Amy: I can imagine Cal doing that; it's possible.
Bob: Yes, it's possible to imagine him doing that.

Bob is implying that it's possible, but unlikely, that Cal will do that.

Situation 3:
Amy: I can imagine Cal doing that; it's possible.
Bob: Yes, it's possible to imagine him doing that.

Bob is implying that it's impossible that Cal will do "that" outside of Amy's imagination.[4]

[edit] Who does Amy love?

  1. Amy said "I don't really love you now."
    Amy is implying that she loves somebody else.
  2. Amy said "I don't really love you now."
    Amy is implying that her love is decreased, but still exists.
  3. Amy said "I don't really love you now."
    Amy is implying that she still feels something for the speaker, but not love.[2]

[edit] Size matters

It would be illegal to give away

Free Beer![5]

[edit] Different words

Accent 1 Meaning 1 Accent 2 Meaning 2
accent an emphasis on a word accent to emphasize a word[3]
increase the act of becoming larger increase to become greater[3]
insult a disrespectful statement insult to speak disrespectfully[3]
invalid an ill person invalid a faulty argument[2]
record a log of events record to keep track of events[3]
resent to send something again resent to hate[2]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] References


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