« ZurückWeiter »
general harmony of the language of which accent is the efficient. We have also pretty full information from the poets what syllables ought to have a long, and what a short quantity. To preserve, then, in our pronunciation, the true harmony of the language, we have only to take care to give the vowels a long sound or a short sound, as the quantity may require; and, when doubled consonants 'occur, to pronounce each distinctly.” Ibid. page 228*.
In answer to this plea for alteration, it may be observed, that if this mode of pronouncing Latin be that of foreign nations, and were really so superior to our own, we certainly must perceive it in the pronunciation of foreigners, when we visit them, or they us : but I think I may appeal to the experience of every one who has had an opportunity of making the experiment, that so far from a superiority on the side of the foreign pronunciation, it seems much inferior to our own. I am aware of the power of habit, and of its being able, on many occasions, to make the worse appear the better reason ; but if the harmony of the Latin language depended so much on a preservation of the quantity as many pretend, this harmony would surely overcome the bias we have to our own pronunciation ; especially if our own were really so destructive of harmony as it is said to be. · Till, there. fore, we have a more accurate idea of the nature of quantity, and of that beauty and harmony of which it is said to be the ef. ·
* By what this learned author has observed of our vicious pronunciation of the vowels, by the long and short sound of them, and from the instances he has given, he must mean that length and shortness which arises from extending and contract. ing them, independently of the obstruction which two consonants are supposed to occasion in forming the long quantity. Thus we are to pronounce Manus as if written and divided into Man-nus; and Pannus as if written Pay-nus, or as we always hear the word Panis (bread); for in this sound of Pannus there seems to be no necessity for pronouncing the two consonants distinctly or separately, which he seems to mean by distinctly, because the quantity is shown by the long sound of the vowel: but if by distinctly he means separately, that is, as if what is called in French the schéva or mute e were to follow the first consonant, this could not be done without adding a syllable to the word; and the word Pannus would in that case certainly have three syllables, as if written Pan-eh-nus.-See Observations on the Greek and Latin Accent and Quantity," sect, 24.
ficient in the pronunciation of Latin, we ought to preserve a pronunciation which has naturally sprung up in our own soil, and is congenial to our native language. Besides, an alteration of this kind would be attended with so much dispute and uncertainty as inust make it highly impolitic to attempt it.
The analogy, then, of our own language being the rule for pronouncing the learned languages, we shall have little occa, sion for any other directions for the pronunciation of the Greek and Latin proper names, than such as are given for the pronun. ciation of English words. The general rules are followed almost without exception. The first and most obvious powers of the letters are adopted, and there is scarcely any difficulty but in the position of the accent; and this depends so much on the quantity of the vowels, that we need only inspect a dictionary to find the quantity of the penultimate vowel, and this determines the accent of all the Latin words; and it may be added, of almost all Greek words likewise * Now in our pronunciation of Latin words, whatever be the quantity of the first syllable in a word of two syllables, we always place the accent on it: but in words of more syllables, if the penultimate be long, we place the accent on that; and if short, we accent the antepenultimate.
The Rules of the Latin Accentuation are comprised in a clear and concise manner by Sanctius within four hexameters :
Accentum in se ipsâ monosyllaba dictio ponit.
Extollit seipsam quando est penultima longa.
Each monosyllable has stress of course;
Must on the Jast but two its force express.
pronun. ciation of the Greek and Latin languages is, that in the Latin ti
* That is, in the general pronunciation of Greek; for, let the written accent be placed where it will, the quantitative accent, as it may be called, follows the analogy pf the Latin.
and si, preceded by an accent, and followed by another vowel forming an improper diphthong, are pronounced as in English, like sb or zh, as natio, nation; persuasio, persuasion, &c.; and that in the Greek, the same letters retain their pure sound, as Qidautía, dyrwoía, Epobátrov, X.7.2.* This difference, however, with very few exceptions, does not extend to proper names; which, coming to us through, and being mingled witir, the Latin, fall into the general rule. In the same manner, though in Greek it was an established maxim, that if the last syllable
*“ The Greek language,” says the learned critic, was happy in not being " understood by the Goths, who would as certainly have corrupted the t in so aitia, wricy, &c. into aicik, wcior, &c. as they did the Latin motia and « doceo into mosbio and desbeo*.” This, however, may be questioned; for if in Latin words this impure sound of e takes place only in those words where the accent is on the preceding vowel, as in nario, fucio, &c.; but not when the accent follows the t, and is on the following vowel, as in satietas, societas, &c. why should wc suppose any other mode of pronunciation would have been adopted by the Goths in their pronouncing the Greek? Now no rule of pronunciation is more uniform in the Greek language than that which places an acute on the iota at the end of words, when this letter is succeeded by a long vowel; and consequently if the accont be preserved upon the proper letter, it is impossible the preceding t and s should go into the sound of sh: why, therefore, may we not suppose that the very frequent accentuation of the penultimate í before a final vowel preserved the preceding from going into the sound of sh, as it was a difference of accentuation that occasioned this impure sound of t in the Latin language ? for though i at the end of words, when followed by a long vowel, or a vowel once long and afterwards contracted, had always the accent on it in Greek; in Latin the accent was always on the preceding syllable in words of this termination: and hence seems to have arisen the corruption of t in the Gothic pronunciation of the Latin language.
It is highly probable, that in Lucian's time the Greek T, when followed by i and another vowel, had not assumed the sound of ; for the Sigma would not have failed to accuse him of an usurpation of her powers, as he had done of her character : and if we have preserved the T pure in this situation when we pronounce Greek, it is, perhaps, rather to be placed to the preserving power of the accented i in so great a number of words, than any adherence to the ancient rules of pronunciation; which invariably affirm, that the consonants had but one sound; unless we except the y before 7,%& %o&; as åyisãos, d'yxuga, dyXiota, Ko to do where she 7 is sounded like : but this, says Henry Stephens, is an error of the copyists, who have a little extended the bottom of the y, and made a y of its for, says he, it is ridiculous to suppose that v was changed into y, and at the same
timo * Ainsworth on the Letter T,
was long, the accent could scarcely be higher than the penultimate; yet in our pronunciation of Greek, and particularly of proper names, the Latin analogy of accent is adopted : and though the last syllable is long in Demosthenes, Aristophanes, Theramenes, and Deiphobey yet as the penultimate is short, the accent is placed on the antepenultimate, exactly as if they were Latin ..
As these languages have been long dead, they admit of no new varieties of accent like the living languages. The common accentuation of Greek and Latin may be seen in Lexicons and Graduses; and where the ancients indulged a variety, and the moderns are divided in their opinions about the most classical accentuation of words, it would be highly improper, in a work intended for general use, to enter into the thorny disputes of the learied; and it may be truly said, in the rhyming adage,
When Doctors disagree,
Disciples then are free. This, however, has not been entirely neglected. Where there has been any considerable diversity of accentuation among our
time that y should be pronounced like x. On the contrary, Scaliger says, that where we find any before these letters, as avkugo., it is an error of the copyists, who imagined they better expressed the pronunciation by this letter, which, as Vossius observes, should seem to demand something particular and uncommon.
It is reported of Scaliger, that when he was accosted by a Scotchman in Latin, he begged his pardon for not understanding him, as he had never learned the Scotch language. If this was the case with the pronunciation of a Scotchman, which is so near that of the Continent, what would he have said to the Latin pro. nunciation of an Englishman? I take it, however, that this diversity is greatly exaggerated.
* This, however, was contrary to the general practice of the Romans; for Victorinus in his Grammar says, Græca nomina, si iisdem literis proferuntur, (Latine versa,) Græcos accentus habebunt : nam cum dicimus, Thyas, Nais, acutum habebit posterior accentum; et cum Themistio, Calypso, Theano, ultimam circumflecti videbimus, quod utrumque Latinus sermo non patitur, nisi admodum raro. “ Greek nouns turned into Latin are pronounced with the same letters, they have “ the Greek accent: for when we say Thyas, Nais, the latter syllable has the acute " accent; and when we pronounce Themistio, Calypso, Theano, we see the last " syllable is circumflexed; neither of which is ever seen in Latin words, or very "' rarely."-Servius. Forsier. Rsply, page 31. Notes 32, bott.
prosodists, I have consulted the best autho, ities, and have sometimes ventured to decide : though, as Labbe says, Sed his de
rebus, ut aliis multis, malo doctiorum judicium expectare, quam meam in medium proferre sententiam.”
But the most important object of the present work is settling the English quantity, (see Rules 20, 21, 22,) with which we pronounce Greek and Latin proper names, and the sounds of some of the consonants. These are points in a state of great uncertainty; and are to be settled, not so much by a deep knowledge of the dead languages, as by a thorough acquaintance with the analogies and general usage of our own tongue. These must, in the nature of things, enter largely into the pronunciation of a dead language, and it is from an attention to these that the Author hopes he has given to the Public a work not entirely unworthy of their acceptance.