Page images
PDF
EPUB

of use:

able, are useless. Of such as may be easily uttered, there are more than enough for all the purposes ful writing, or the recording of speech.

Thus it is, that from principles so few and simple as about six or seven and thirty plain elementary sounds, represented by characters still fewer, we derive such a variety of oral and written signs, as may suffice to explain or record all the sentiments and transactions of all men in all ages.

OBSERVATIONS. Obs. 1.–Different vowel sounds are produced by opening the mouth differently, and placing the tongue in a peculiar manier for each; but the voice may vary in loudness, pitch, or time, and still utter the same vowel power.

OBs. 2.--Each of the vowel sounds may be variously expressed by letters. About half of them are sometimes words: the rest are seldom, if ever, used alone even to form syllables. But the reader may casily learn to utter them all, separately, according to the foregoing series. Let us note them as plainly as possible: eigh, å, ah, awe, ēn, , eye, i, oh, o, ( ?, yew, è, ù. Thus the eight long sounds, eigh, ah, awe, eh, eye, oh, ooh, yew, are, or may be words; but the six less vocal, called the short vowel sounds, as in at, et, it, ot, ut, put, are commonly heard only in connexion with consonants; except the first, which is perhaps the most frequent sound of the vowel 'A or ama sound sometimes given to the word a, perhaps most generally; as in the phrase, “ twice ă day.”

OBs. 3.- With us, the consonants J and X represent, not simple, but complex sounds : hence they are never doubled. J is equivalent to dzh ; and X, either to ks or to gz. The former ends no English word, and the latter begins none. To the initial X of foreign words, we always give the simple sound of Z; as in Xerces, xebec.

Obs. 4.–The consonants C and Q have no sounds peculiar to themselves. Q has always the power of k, and is constantly followed by u and some yowel or two more in the same syllable; as in quake, quest, quit, quoit. C is haid, like k, before a, 0, and u; and soft, like 8,

before syllables ca, ce, ci, co, cu, cy, are pronounced ka, se, și, ko, ku, sy. S before & preserves the former sound, but coalesces with’ the latter; hence the syllables, sca, sce, sci, sco, scu, scy, are sounded ska, se, si, sko, sku, sy. Ce and ci have sometimes the sound of sh ; as in oceun, social. Ch commonly represents the sound of tsh ; as in church.

Obs. 5.-G, as well as C, has different sounds before different vowels. G is always hard, or guttural, before a, 0, and w; and generally soft, like j, before e, i, or y: thus the syllables, ga, ge, gi, go, gu, gy, are pronounced ga, je, ji, go, gu, jy:

OBs. 6.-The imperfections of the English alphabet have been the subject of much comment, and sundry schemes for its reformation have successively appeared and disappeared without effecting the purpose of any one of their authors. It has bien thought that there ought to be one character, and only one, for each simple sound in the language ; but, in attempting to count tho several elementary sounds which we use, our orthoepists have arrived at a remarkable diversity of conclusions. Bicknell, copying Martin's PhysicoGrammatical Essay, says, "The simple sounds,”* originally necessary to speech, were in no wisé to be reckoned of any certain number: by the first men they were determined to no more than ten, as some suppose ; as others, fifteen or twenty ; it is however certain that mankind in general never exceed twenty simple sounds; and of these only five are reckoned strictly such."--Bicknell's Grām., Part ii, p. 4. Obs. 7.—The number of oral elements is differently reckoned by our

e, i, and

y: thus the

*

critics, because they do not agree among themselves concerning the identity or the simplicity, the saineness or the singleness, of some of the sounds in question; and also because it is the practice of all, or nearly all, to admit as elementary some sounds which differ from each other only in length or shortness, and some which are not conceived to be entirely simple in themselves. The circumstances of the case seem to make it impossible to find out for a certainty what would be a perfect alphabet for our tongue.

Obs. 8.-Sheridan, taking i and u for diphthongs, h for “no letter,” and the power of h for no sound, made the elements of his oratory twenty-eight. Jones followed him implicitly, saying, " The number of simple sounds in our tongue is twenty-eight, 9. Vowels, and 19 Consonants. H is no letter, but merely a mark of aspiration.”Prosodial Gram., p. xiv. Bolles says, “The number of simple vowel and consonant sounds in our tongue is twentyeight, and one pure aspiration h, making in all twenty-nine.”—Octavo Dict., Introd., p. 9. Walker recognized several more ; but I know not whether hé has anywhere told us how many there are.

OBs. 9.—Lindley Murray enumerates at first thirty-six well known sounds, and the same thirty-six that are given in the main text above; but he afterwards, contradicting certain teachings of his Spelling-Book, acknowledges one more, making thirty-seven-the third sound of _“An obscure and scarcely perceptible sound: as in open, lucre, participle.Gram., p. 11. Comstock, who does not admit the obscure

e, says, There are thirty-eight elements in the English alphabet, and * a deficiency of twelve lotters.-Elocution, p. 19. Wells, deducting C, Q, and X, says, “ The remaining twenty-three letters are employed to represent about forty elementary sounds. School Gram., 113th Th., p; 42.

His first edition stated the number of sounds to be " forty-one.—P. 36.

Obs. 10.-For the sake of the general principle, which we always regard in writing, a principle of universal grammar, as old at least as the writings of Aristotle, that there can be no syllable without a vowel, or without some vowel power, I am inclined to teach, with Brightland, Dr. Johnson, L. Murray, and others, that, in English, as in French, there is given to the vowel e, in some unaccented syllables a certain very obscure sound, which approaches, but amounts not to an absolute suppression, though it is commonly so regarded by the writers of our dictionaries. See Murray's examples above. If the e in "open" or able be supposed to have some faint sound, the oral elements of our language may be reckoned thirty-seven.

Obs. 11.-It is also a general principle, necessarily following from this, that, where the vowel of a syllable is suppressed or left entirely mute, any part' which remains, of such syllable, falls to another vowel, and becomes part of another syllable: thus Cowper, in the phrase "?Tis desp'rate," reduces five syllables to three. But Wells, in arguing against the common definition of a consonant, says, “We have many syllables in which the vowel, though written, is not heard at all in pronunciation, as in the words taken, burdened, which are pronounced tak-n, burd-nd." And he adds, “There are instances, also, in which a consonant is sounded as a distinct syllable, without the use even of a written vowel, as in the words chas-m, rhyth-m.School Gram., p. 31. Here a very excellent teacher evidently in culcates error; for chasm, rhythm, or even chasmed, is only a monosyllable, and to call a consonant a syllable, is a contradiction in terms.

IV. FORMS OF THE LETTERS.

In the English language, the Roman characters are generally employed; sometimes, the Italic; and occasionally, the Old English. In writing, we use the Saipt

.

The letters have severally two forms, by which they . are distinguished as capitals and small letters.

Small letters constitute the body of every work; and capitals are used for the sake of eminence and distinction,

RULES FOR THE USE OF CAPITALS.

RULE I.-TITLES OF BOOKS.

The titles of books, and the heads of their principal divisions, should be printed in capitals. When books are merely mentioned, the chief words in their titles begin with capitals, and the other letters are small; as, “ Pope's Essay on Man.”

RULE II.-FIRST WORDS.

The first word of every distinct sentence, or of any

clause separately numbered or paragraphed, should begin with a capital.

RULE III. - NAMES OF DEITY.

All names of the Deity should begin with capitals; as, God, Jehovah, the Almighty, the Supreme Bcing.

RULE IV.PROPER NAMES.

Titles of office or honour, and proper names of every description, should begin with capitals; as, Chief Justice Hale, William, London, the Park, the Albion, the Spectator, the Thames.

RULE V.- OBJECTS PERSONIFIED.

The name of an object personified, when it conveys an idea strictly individual, should begin with a capital; as,

“Come, gentle Spring, ethereal mildness, come.”

RULE VI.WORDS DERIVED.

Words derived from proper names of persons or places, should begin with capitals; as, Newtonian, Grecian, Roman.

RULE VII.I AND 0.

The words I and O should always be capitals; as, “ Out of the depths have I cried unto thee O Lord.”Psalms, cxxx, 1.

RULE VIII.-IN POETRY.

Every line in poetry, except what is regarded as making but one verse with the line preceding, should begin with a capital; as,

“Our sons their fathers' failing language see,

And such as Chaucer is, shall Dryden be.”—Pope.

RULE IX.-EXAMPLES, ETC. A full example, a distinct speech, or a direct quotation, should begin with a capital; as, “ Remember this maxim : “Know thyself.”—“Virgil says, 'Labour conquers all things.

RULE X.--CHIEF WORDS.

Other words of particular importance, and such as denoto the principal subjects of discourse, may be distinguished by capitals. Proper names frequently have capitals throughout.

an, ant.

CHAPTER II.—OF SYLLABLES. A Syllable is one or more letters pronounced in one sound, and is either a word or a part of a word; as, a,

In every word there are as many syllables as there are distinct sounds; as, gram-ma-ri-an.

A word of one syllable is called a monosyllable ; a word of two syllables, a dissyllable ; a word of three syllables, a trissyllable; and a word of four or more syllables, a polysyllable.

DIPHTHONGS AND TRIPHTHONGS. A diphthong is two vowels joined in one syllable; as, ea in beat, ou in sound.

A proper diphthong, is a diphthong in which both the vowels are sounded; as, oi in voice.

An improper diphthong, is a diphthong in which only one of the vowels is sounded; as, oa in loaf.

A triphthong is three vowels joined in one syllable; as, eau in beau, iew in view.

A proper triphthong, is a triphthong in which all the vowels are sounded; as, uoy in buoy,

An improper triphthong, is a triphthong in which only one or two of the vowels are sounded ; as, eau in beauty, ior in anxious.

[ocr errors]

.

SYLLABICATION. In dividing words into syllables, we are to be directed chiefly by the ear; it may however be proper to observe, as far as practicable, the following rules.

RULE I.-CONSONANTS.

Consonants should generally be joined to the vowels or diphthongs which they modify in utterance; as, ap-os-lol-i-cal.

RULE II.-VOWELS.

Two vowels, coming together, if they make not a diphthong, must be parted in dividing the syllables; as, a-e-ri-al.

RULE III. TERMINATIONS.

Derivative and grammatical terminations should generally be separated from the radical words to which they have been added; as, harm-less, great-ly, con-nect-ed.

RULE IV. PREFIXES.

Prefixes in general form separate syllables; as, mis-place, out-ride, up-lift: but if their own primitive meaning be disregarded, the case may be otherwise ; thus re-create and recreate are words of different import.

RULE V.--COMPOUNDS.

Compounds, when divided, should be divided into the simplo words which compose them

; as, no-where.

RULE VI.-LINES FULL.

At the end of a line, a word may be divided, if necessary; but a syllable must never be broken.

CHAPTER III.-OF WORDS.

A Word is one or more syllables spoken or written as the sign of some idea, or of some manner of thought.

SPECIES AND FIGURE OF WORDS. Words are distinguished as primitive or derivative, and as simple or compound. The former division is called their species, the latter, their figure.

A primitive word is one that is not formed from any simpler word in the language; as, harm, great, connect.

A derivative word is one that is formed from some simpler word in the language; as, harmless, greatly, con pected, disconnect, unconnected.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »