Accent

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ACCENT

Accent or Prosody. This fallacy arises from a false accent or a false emphasis in speech. A false stress of voice is placed upon a given word in order to mislead, confuse, or produce a wrong interpretation. Accent fallacies are fallacies that depend on where the stress is placed in a word or sentence. The meaning of a set of words may be dramatically changed by the way they are spoken, without changing any of the words themselves. Accent fallacies are a type of equivocation.

Here’s an example:

A dessẻrt is a course of fruit served after the meal;
But, a dẻsert is a forsaken region;
Therefore, a forsaken region is a course of fruit served after meal.

In the major premise, dessert which has its stress on the second syllable means “a course of fruit served after the meal”; In the minor premise, where the stress is on the first syllable, the term means “a forsaken region”. A change in stress of the word spells a chang in meaning. (Note: The difference in meaning may be overlooked if the argument is spoken.) I rẻsent the letter.

I resẻnt the letter.

This sentence could mean either that one sent the letter again, or that one has a feeling of resentment towards it. So, the sentence could be a boopy trap.

No husbands please.
This sentence could mean either that no husbands make people happy. (No husbands please), or that husbands are not allowed to get in (No husbands please).

Another Example:

1. Suppose that two people are debating whether a rumour about the actions of a third person is true. The first says, “I can imagine him doing that; it’s possible.”

The second replies, “Yes, it’s possible to imagine him doing that.” This looks like agreement.

If however, the second person stresses the word imagine, then this appearance vanishes; “Yes, it’s possible to imagine him doing that.” This now sounds like a pointed comment meaning that though it may just about be possible to imagine him doing that, there’s no way that he would...
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