In music as well as in grammar, the first word remains somewhat constant, in that it refers to the sound itself – how it sounds, the decibel level, the texture and coherence, etc. Between the two, it is the tenor that alters, for in music, it refers to the male voice intermediate between the bass and the alto, while in grammar it is the content and substance of that which is said.
Thus, in either manner of usage, whether in music or in grammar, the combination of both is a bifurcated distinctiveness that goes to the duality of the following: How it is being played or said, as opposed to what is being emitted or posited. Both in verbal communication, as well as in written delineation and presentation, each are important. In the former, one can often modulate the first upon the second, and even adapt the second in order to “soften” the first.
Thus, a person might say, “Go take a hike” in an angry, unforgiving manner, and the words spoken are consistent with the tone granted. Or, one can say it in a joking, soft-spoken manner, and suddenly the tenor of the words take on an entirely new meaning – for, no longer do you actually mean the words themselves, as in “Please go away, I don’t like you and I don’t want to see you”; rather, stated in the second manner, it can simply be a cute retort, a friendly quip or a joking gesture.
In writing, however, one must be quite careful – for the tone of a sentence is encapsulated within the tenor of the written statement; the two, being entangled by the written mode of communicating, can easily be misinterpreted unless carefully crafted. That is why texting, emailing and other written modes of delivery can be dangerous vehicles easily misunderstood and taken with offensive intent that otherwise was meant in a different manner.
The “tone” of a written sentence, paragraph or page must be intimately woven with the context of the “tenor” presented; and how the reader or recipient reads it, what internal “tone” is ascribed, can be misguiding.
For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the tone and tenor of a Federal Disability Retirement packet is important to consider.
Will a somewhat “third-person, objective” persona be assumed? Will the SF 3112A, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, be presented in a cold, clinical manner, where the tone is set “as if” someone else is describing the personal issues of the medical conditions, as well as their effect upon the Federal or Postal employee’s capacity and ability to perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, or will it be more likened to a weeping bundle of hysterical cries begging for approval, or even closer to an angry shout that deafens the ears of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s assigned “specialist”?
Tone and tenor need to be decided upon early on in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, and it may well be that consulting with an attorney who specializes in preparing such applications will ensure the proper modulation in both the tone and tenor of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire