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The Oxford Magazine;
For AUGUST, 1768.
ON ENGLISH GRAMMAR.
L E T T E R II.
IT is evident to every one, who and distinction as men, and therefore examines himself, that he was enquiries concerning speech are not made not only to think, but likewise less interesting than liberal. The to speak, or to communicate his Grecians, convinced of the utility of thoughts to others. The most sub- such an enquiry, gave the title of lime exercises of the human mind Grammarian, as the highest compliafford very little pleasure, when con- ment they could pay to persons disfined to the bosom of the philoso- tinguifhed in any branch of mental pher. He is not contented to know, exercise and science. Nor were they he longs to communicate. And, as to be blamed. For tho' we can comthe Roman orator expresses himself, municate our thoughts to one anit is impossible that a man should en- other by articulate sounds, yet somejoy any pleasure from the prospect of thing more than the mere use of articeleltial glories, who has not an op- culate sounds is requisite to make us portunity of communicating them to understood. There is a propriety in others. What he has asserted is con- speech, which is requisite to make it firmed by the sacred writings. There intelligible, without which we canwe are told, that the first man was not communicate our ideas to others; uneasy in his solitary state, and that and therefore, it has been found nethe divine benevolence created a fe- cessary to lay down such rules as are male of the fame species to render sufficient to guard languages from him happy; insinuating, that, with- barbarism; and a collection of these out company or conversation, even rules has, by some, been reduced to paradise would lose all its beauties, a system, which is what we generally and be incapable to produce happi- stile Grammar. ness. The brutal creation, being by Grammar is divided into general nature irrational, could not have re- and particular. General or universal cognized the proper objects of dis- grammar explains the principles which course. Speech may therefore be re- are common to all languages. The presented as the joint exercise of our grammar of any particular language best and noblest faculties, as the ex- applies the common principles of ercise of our reason, and our social universal grammar to that particular affection; it is our peculiar ornament language, and contains such rules as Vol. I. G ars
are peculiar to it, and requisite to the speaking or writing it properly. Every language consists of sentences; sentences of words; words of syllables; and syllables of one or more letters. Letters, therefore, syllables, words, and sentences, constitute the whole subject of grammar.
Sound articulate is the matter of language, and letters, which being invented to convey the articulate sounds of every language to the reader, mould have been expressive of every articulate sound made use of by persons who speak the same language.
But this has hardly been the cafe in any language that we know of. To instance in the English, we have fix-and-twenty letters; but every vowel in our language has two or more sounds annexed to it; we should therefore have - twice the number of letters to express even our vocal sounds, exclusive of such letters, which are called consonants, some of which have different sounds likewise. Our alphabet consists of twentyfix-letters, which ave, A, a; B, b; C,c; D,d; E, e; F, f; G, g; H, hj I, i; J, y, K, k; L„ 1; M, m; N, n; O, o;P, p;Qq;R,r; S, 6; T, t; U, u; V,v; W,w; X, Xj Y, y; Z, z.
These letters are divided into vowels and consonants; and the consonants are subdivided into mutes and liquids.
• A <vcwel is a letter which may be easily and distinctly sounded by itself. The vowels are fix, namely, a, e, i, 0, u, y. Of vowels are formed diphthongs, which may be called compound vowels, as 'they, proceed srorn the union of two or more vowels pronounced by a single effort of the voice; such are at, a*, &c. When three vowels are united in, one sound they form a triphthong.
A censenant is a letter which cannot be sounded of. itself and, from its
own power, but at all times in company with some auxiliary vowel.
Consonants are subdivided into mutes and semivowels. The mutes are such as yield no sound without the help of a vowel; these are h, c, d, g, k, q, t; the semivowels make an obscure or imperfect sound, they are /, m, n, r, f, s; the first four of which are likewise called liquids.
X is called a double consonant, because it has the compounded sound of c, or k, and /, thus ax sounds like acks.
A has three sounds, slender or slow, short and broad. It is long, or slenJer, in face, date, and in words ending with ation, as salvation. It is sliort in bat; it is broad, having an obscure sound mixed with 0 in sail, calf. A forms a proper diphthong only with i,y, u, or w. As in plain, clay, audience, slaw. It is an improper diphthong, when joined with t, as in Cæsar, being scarcely pronounced at all.
B has an unvaried sound. It is mute, or not sounded, in debt, debtor, subtle, doubt; and after m at the end of words, as comb, climb, dumb, lambx limb, thumb, womb.
C is sounded soft, like an s, before an e, i, or y, as in center, circle, policy. It sounds hard, like Jt, before a, o,u; as- in care, cord, curd. When joined with h it has sometimes a soft sound, like that of the Italians in cita, which they found chitta-; this sound it has in charm, charity; but in words de'rived from the Greek, it has the hard sound of x> as in arch-angel, which is pronounced arc-angel. In words derived from the French it is sounded like an fit, as in machine. C should not ever end a monysallable in English, and therefore we write stick,, block, &c.
D has the fame sound in most of the ancient and modern languages. In Knglisti it generally inortens the . vowel that comes before it, as in bad,
M On English
fed, lid, rod, mud. Our natives used formerly to pronounce the dd as it is now sounded by the Welch, thus bladder is in some counties sounded blather, and ladder, lather; like the th in father. <
- ^ is sounded long, or short, in different words; it is long in scene; it is short in men; and always before a double consonant, as in cellar; it is the fame when joined with two consonants, as in medlar. It is silent, mute, or not pronounced at the end of words, monosyllables excepted, as in state; but in this cafe it generally serves to lengthen the syllable, thus pin, when the e final is joined to it, makes pine. We said, that e final generally serves to lengthen syllables, and we expressed ourselves properly, for in live, it does not lengthen the syllable. Before n, in the end of words, it is scarcely pronounced, as in open; and when it follows r and /, at the end of words, in imitation of the French, it is pronounced with an obscure sound before them, as in commendable, lucre.
F is pronounced like the *, or//;, of the Greek, as in filial; which the Italians and Spaniards substitute for it.
G has two sounds, hard and soft; before e and i its sound is uncertain, in gem, gentle, generation, it is soft; but in gear, geese, geld, get, gewgaw, it is hard, as ill is likewise in derivatives from words ending in ing, as insinging. It is commonly soft before i, as in giant,gigantic, gibbet, giblet, gill, gilliflower, gin, ginger, gingle, gipjy; but sometimes it is hard, as in gimblet, give. It is always hard before a and a, as in gave, gum. This uncertainty of sound is perplexing to foreigners; it would not be amiss to substitutes instead ofg when it sounds soft, and to retain jr when sounded hard; former times have adopted this rule, and we find some old authors writing jentleman, instead of gentle
When g is" followed by an h, at the beginning of a word, it is sounded hard, as in ghost. The Italians, who sound it soft before an e or i, have, in like manner, put an h after it, to preserve the hard sound in the singular and plural numbers, as in luogo, luoghi. Gk has often the sound off in the end of words, as in laugh; and, in derivatives, preserves the fame sound, as in laughter. Sometimes, indeed, the g is not pronounced, when followed by h, whether it be at the end or in the middla of words, as in though, sought, right, which are pronounced tbo', rite, Sec. righteous, and brightness, are likewise pronounced as if the g were omitted.
H is only an aspiration and hard breathing, lhewing, that the vowel, which follows, must be pronounced with a strong emission of breath, as in hat, horse; but in hour and honest, heir, herb, hostler, humble and humour, it is not sounded at all.
I has both a long and a short sound; in monosyllables, the long sound is denoted by an e final, as pin, pine, thin,, thine. The short sound is used in it, bit, pit, sit. It should be observed, that the Ihort sound of i is not the long sound contracted, but a sound wholly different; and this may be applied to the other vowels likewise. / before r sounds like a ihort *, as in flirt, dirt; excepting when it is followed by an e final, in which cafe it is long, as in fire. It forms a diphthong only with e, in which case it sounds as if the word were written with ee, as in field; but in friend, which is pronounced frend, it is silent. I makes a triphthong with eu; the words in which it is connected are derived from the French, as lieu, which is sounded lu with an u open.
y is a consonant, having the soft sound of g, in jail, and is entirely different from the vowel /; it should be therefore distinguished from it, both in its name and its shape; and G 2 should lhould be used only In such words wherein it would be subservient to their etymology, as in ejaculation. . K has the found of c before came, and is used before e and i, where c would be soft, as in kin, kill. • It formerly used to end a word, even after c, as in Baltick; but modern writers omit the k as useless, for we now write Baltic without the k. It lhould always end a monosyllable, as jiick, lick. It is often used before an n, and then has scarce any sound, as in knell, knave, know, which aie pronounced nhell, nha-ue, nhoiu.
L has the fame liquid found as in other languages. In monosyllables, which end with this letter, it is doubled, to give force to the preceding vowel, as in kill, mill, full. When full is used in composition at the end or middle of words, the moderns omit the last /, as in wonderful; but jt is retained in fulfill. L is mute in calf, half, Sec. Lei at the end of words, is pronounced something like the French, from which such words are derived, as in commendable. ', M has always the fame sound.
N has always the fame found. When used after m it is almost silent, as in damn, condemn, hymn.
Ohas three or foLirdifferentsounds. It is long in abede and bene; but this may be owing to the e silent at the end. • It is short in block, rock; it is sounded like a short i in women; and like a a in Jon, come, ton. When it forms a diphthong with a it has the found of o long, as in approach. Oa is sometimes sounded like au, as in broad, which the North Britons not attending to, generally pronounce like ca in road, calling brede, whereJis tlicy should pronounce it braud. V. hen joined with i, it unites the sound of the two letters, as far as they can be united, without destroying the sound of either. Yet it should be observed, that the Londoners, in their pronunciation of spoil, sound
this diphthong as if the word were written spile. When joined with another a it has the sound of the Italian «. It forms a diphthong likewise with u and iv, as hour, sower. In some words it has only the sound of o long, as in foul, bowl. These different sounds are made use of to distinguish different senses, as we pronounce the diphthong in sow, a female pig, to distinguish it from the word sow, which signifies to scatter seed on the ground, and is pronounced as if written with a long o. Ou is sometimes like o soft, as in court; sometimes like o short, as in cough; sometimes like u close, as in could; and sometimes like a open, as in tough, rough. It is frequently used in the last syllables of words ending in r, as in labour, &c. In these words some moderns have omitted the », writing labor, not considering that our, at the end, has neither the found of or nor ar, but one which approaches very near to the French, by the medium of which language we have adopted those words; thus colour, honour, are hot derived immediately from the Latin words color and honor, but from the French coleur and hontur.
P has always the fame sound; the Germans and Welch vitiously confound it with b. It is sometimes mute, when followed by ans, as in psalm, generally pr*nounced salm; and in tempt, which is pronounced temt. When followed by h, it has the sound of f, and is used in words derived from the Greek, as in philaJophy, philanthropy.
'Q_ls generally followed by a a; its sound was expressed by cw by the Saxons, which holds good in quaint, quick; but in words derived from the French it is sounded, as they sound it, /'. e. like a k, as in conquer, liquor, risque.
R has a rough snarling sound in all languages. It is uled with // in
words On English i
words derived from' the Greek, as in myrrh, rhyme. When it is followed by re at the end of words, especially in those derived from the Latin or French, the e is pronounced obscurely before the r, as in massacre, theatre, sepulchre.
S has a hissing found. At the beginning of words it is Jlender, like c before /; as in so, sister: it retains the fame found if it follows a consonant, as in cox-verse; it sounds like * at the end of words, as in trees; but in this, thus, us, surplus, it has a clear found, like ss. It has the found of z, before an e mute, as in muse, refuse; as likewise before a final y, as in rosy; and it retains the fame sound in bosom, desire, wisdom, prison, prisoner, present, damsel, casement. Before ion it has the sound of Jh, as in occasion, conversion. S is mute in jste, istand, demesne, -viscount. A celebrated editor of Milton, carried away with too great a fondness of making his orthogfaphy agree with pronounciation, has omitted the s in the former word, writing it He; which is a refinement that the French academy have not had the hardiness to attempt, though they retrenched the s in many words of their language, wherein it is not pronounced. The letter s has a property which deserves our notice; and this property is, that of being sounded before all consonants except x and z, in both of which it is, notwithstanding, contained.
T, before the vowels a, e, o, u, and y, is sounded hard, as in take, tent, toss, tumble, tympany. Before i it is sounded like Jh, as in nation: but when an j goes before, it retains its hard found, as in question, suggestion; as likewise in derivates from words which end in y, as mighty, mightier. Th has two sounds; the one soft, as in thus, thence, there, and in all their derivatives. Th has the fame sound in all words between
two vowels, as father 1 and likewise between r and a vowel, as burthen. It is sounded hard in thin, thick, thunder. When it is followed by an e silent it is sounded soft, as in breathe, clothe.
U has two sounds; it is long in use, and stiort in us: it mixes with at ft <"> 0, but generally has the found of iv, as in quaff, quest, quick, quote. It is silent, sometimes, before a, e, i, y, as in guard, guest, guilt, buy. It is joined with e at the end of a word, in imitation of the French, and is mute, together with the'f, as in prologue, synagogue, plague, rogue, mague. . 1,
V is a consonant, having the found of a coarserst, and mould not only be printed in a different character, but likewise have a different name to distinguish it from the vowel u: hence some name it w?.
W is supposed by some to be either a vowel or a diphthong; in diphthongs it is said to be an undoubted vowel, as iriiich as »', as in how, bom, cov;; which would hive the fame found if written with u instead of ««• .in ivaier it seems to have the force of a diphthong, as it may be resolved into ouaier. But they, who contend for its being a consonant, reply, that letters of the fame found are always reckoned consonants in other alphabets, and that iu follows a vowel without any hiatus, or difficulty of utterance, as in" the words frosty •weather. The vicious pronounciation of this letter instead of the <v, by the Londoners, exposes them to the raillery of those in the country, who are continually laughing at the iveal, ivinegar, ivine, ivillain, of these citizens.
X is a double consonant, aud is pronounced like cs or is, as in ax; it sounds like gs in examine. It never begins an English word; but in those words which are derived from other anguages it is retained, and sounds