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The following are the general rules for the division of words into syllables.
1. A single consonant between two vowels, must be joined to the latter syllable: as, de-light, bri-dal, re-source: except the letter x; as, ex-ist, ex-amine: and except likewise words compounded; as up-on, un-even, dis-ease.
2. Two consonants proper to begin a word, must not be separated; as, fa-ble, sti-fle. But when they come between two vowels, and are such as cagnot begin a word, they must be divided ; as, ut-inost, un-der, in-sect, er-ror, cof-fin.
3. When three consonants meet in the middle of a word, if they can begin a word, and the preceding vowel be pronounced long, they are not to be separated ; as, dethrone, de-stroy. But when the vowel of the preceding syllable is pronounced short, one of the consonants always belongs to that syllable; as, dis-tract, dis-prove, dis-train.
4. When three or four consonants, which are not proper to begin a syllable, meet between two vowels, such of them as can begin a syllable belong to the latter, the rest to the former syllable: as, ab-stain, com-plete, em-broil, dan-dler, dap-ple, con-strain, hand-some, parch-ment.
5. Two vowels, not being a diphthong, must be divided into separate syllables ; as, cru-el, de-ni-al, so-ci-e-ty.
6. Compounded words must be traced into the simple words of which they are composed ; as, ice-house, glowworm, over-power, never-the-less.
7. Grammatical, and other particular terminations, are generally separated : as, teach-est; teach-eth, teach-ing, teach-er, contend-est, great-er, wretch-ed; good-ness, free-dom, false-hood. .
The rules for dividing words into syllables, with the reasons in support of them, are expressed at large in the author's English Spelling-book, Thirteenth, or any subsequent, edition, page 210—215.
CHAPTER III. Of Words in general, and the Rules for spelling them.
Exercises, p. 47. Key, p. 9. Words are articulate sounds, used by common consent, as signs of our ideas.
A word of oire syllable is termed a Monosyl. lable; a word of two syllables, a Dissyllable; a word of three syllables, a Trisyllable; and a word of four or more syllables, a Polysyllable.
All words are either primitive or derivative.
A primitive word is that which cannot be reduced to any simpler word in the language: as, man, good, content.
A derivative word is that which may be reduced to another word in English of greater simplicity: as, manful, goodness, contentment, Yorkshire *
There are many English words which, though compounds in other languages, are to us primitives: thus, circumspect, circumvent, circumstance, delude, concave, complicate, &c. primitive words in English, will be found derivatives, when traced in the Latin tongue.
The orthography of the English Language is attended with much uncertainty and perplexity. But a considerable part of this inconvenience may be remedied, by attending to the general laws of formation; and, for this end, the learner is presented with a view of such general maxims in spelling primitive and derivative words, as have been almost universally received.
RULE 1. Monosyllables ending with f, 1, or s, preceded by a single vowel, double the final consonant: as, staff, mill, pass, &c. The only exceptions are, of, if, as, is, has, was, yes, his, this, us, and thus.
* A compound word is included under the head of derivative words: as, penknife, teacup, looking-glass; may be reduced to other words of greater simplicity.
Exercises, p. 47. "Key, p. 9.
. RULE II. Monosyllables ending with any consonant but f, 1, or s, and preceded by a single vowel, never double the final consonant; excepting add, ebb, butt, egg, odd, err, inn, bunn, purr, and buzz.
Words ending with y, preceded by a consonant, form the plurals of nouns, the persons of verbs, verbal nouns, past participles, comparatives, and superlatives, by changing y into i: as, spy, spies; I carry, thou carriest; he carrieth, or carries; carrier, carried; happy, happier, happiest:
The present participle in ing, retains the y, that i may not be doubled; as, carry, carrying; bury, burying, &c.
But y, preceded by a vowel, in such instances as the above, is not changed; as, boy, boys: I cloy, he cloys, cloyed, &c.; except in lay, pay, and say; from which are formed, laid, paid, and said; and their compounds, unlaid, unpaid, unsaid, &c."
RULE IV. Words ending with y, preceded by a consonant, upon assuming an additional syllable beginning with a consonant, commonly change y into i; as, happy, happily, happiness. But when y is preceded by a vowel, it is very rarely changed in the additional syllable : as, coy, coyly; boy, boyish, boyhood; annoy, annoyer, annoyance; joy, joyless, joyful.
- RULE V. Monosyllables, and words accented on the last syllable, ending with a single consonant preceded by a single vowel, double that consonant, when they take another syllable beginning with a vowel : as, wit, witty; thin, thinnish ; to abet, an abettor; to begin, a beginner.
Put if a diphthong precedes, or the accent is on the preceding syllable, the consonant remains single: as, to toil, toiling; to offer, an offering; maid, maiden, &c.
Exercises, p. 50. Key, p. 11.
NULE VI. ' Words ending with any double letter but l, and taking ness, less, ly, or ful, after them, preserve the letter double; as, harmlessness, carelessness, carelessly, stiffly, successful, distressful, &c. But those words which end with double l, and take ness, less, ly, or ful, after them, generally omit one l; as fulness, skilless, fully, skilful, &c.
RULE VII. Ness, less, ly, and ful, added to words ending with silent e, do not cut it off: as, paleness, guileless, closely, peaceful; except in a few words; as duly, truly, awful.
RULE Vill. Ment, added to words ending with silent e, generally preserves the e from elision; as, abatement, chastisement, incitement, &c. The words judgment, abridgment, acknowledgment, are deviations from the rule.
Like other terminations, ment changes y into i, when preceded by a consonant; as, accompany, accompaniment; merry, merriment.
RULE IX. Able and ible, when incorporated into words ending with silent e, almost always cut it off: as, blame, blamable ; cure, curable ; sense, sensible, &c.: but if corg soft comes before e in the original word, the e is then preserved in words compounded with able; as change, changeable; peace, peaceable, &c.
RULE X When ing or ish is added to words ending with silent en the e is almost universally omitted : as, place, placing ; lodge, lodging ; slave, slavish; prude, pridish ; blue, bluish ; white, whitish..
RULE XI. . Words taken into composition, oftep drop those letters which were superfluous in the simple words: as, handful, dunghil, withal, also, chilblain, foretel.
The orthography of a great number of English words, is far from being uniform, even amongst writers of distinction. Thus, honour and honor, inquire and enquire, negotiate and negociate, control and controul, expense and expence, allege and alledge, surprise and surprize, complete and compleat, connerion and connection, abridg.. ment and abridgement, and many other orthographical variations, are to be met with in the best modern publications. Some authority for deciding differences of this nature, appears to be necessary: and where can we find one of equal pretensions with Dr. Johnson's Dictionary? though a few of his decisions do not appear to be warranted by the principles of etymology and analogy, the stable foundations of his improvements." As the weight of truth and reason (says Nares in his « Elements of Orthoepy'') is irresistible, Dr. Johnson's Dictionary has nearly fixed the external form of our language. Indeed, so convenient ts it to have one acknowledged standard to recur to; so much preferable, in matters of this nature, is a trifling degree of irregularity, to a continual change, and fruitless pursuit of unattainable perfection ; that it is earnestly to be hoped, that no author will henceforth, on light grounds, be tempted to innovate.”
This Dictionary, however, contains some orthographical inconsistencies, which ought to be rectified: such as, immovable moveable, chastely chastness, fertileness fertily, sliness slyly, fearlessly fearlesness, needlessness needlesly, If these, and similar irregularities, were corrected by spelling the words analogically, according to the first word in each part of the series, and agreeably to the general rules of spelling, the Dictionary would doubtless, in these respects, be improved.