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THE pronunciation of the learned languages is much more easily acquired than that of our own. Whatever might have been the variety of the different dialects among the Greeks, and the different provinces of the Romans, their languages now being dead, are generally pronounced according to the respective analogies of the several languages of Europe, where those languages are cultivated, without partaking of those anomalies to which the living languages are liable. Whether one general uniform pronunciation of the ancient languages be an object of sufficient importance to induce the learned to depart from the analogy of their own language, and to study the ancient Latin and Greek pronunciation, as they do the etymology, syntax, and prosody of those languages, is a question not very easy to be decided. The question becomes still more difficult when we consider the uncertainty we are in respecting the ancient pronunciation of the Greeks and Romans, and how much the learned are divided among themselves abou it *. Till these points are settled, the English may well be al
* Middleton contends that the initial c before e and i ought to be pronounced as the Italians now pronounce it; and that Cicero is neither Siero, as the French and English pronounce it; nor Kikero, as Dr. Bentley asserts; but Tchitchero, as the Aliāńs promounce it at this day. This pronunciation, however, is derided by Lipsius, who affirms that the c among the Romans had always the sound of k. I.ipsius says too, that of all the European nations, the British alone pronounce the i properly; but Middleton asserts, that of all nations they pronounce it the worst. Middleton De Lat. Liter. Pronun. Dissert. Lipsius, speaking of the different pronunciation of the letter G in differen) countries, says: o Nos hodiè (de literå Gloquente) quam peccamus 2 Italorum enim plerique ut Z expriment, Galli et Belgiae ut j consonantem. Itaque illorum est Lezere, Fuzere: nostrum, Leiere, Fuiere (Lejere, Fujere/. Omnia imperité, ineptè. Germanos saltem audite, quorum sonus hic germanus, Legere, Togere; utin Logo.-. Togo, nec unquan variant: at nos ante I. E. A. 7, semper diciniusque jemmam, jaetulot, jinjivam, joyrum ; pro istis, Gemmam, Gaetulos, Gingivam, Cyrum. Mutemus aut vapulemus-Lipsius, De Rect, Pron. Ling. Lat. Page 71.
lowed to follow their own promunciation of Greek and Latin, as well as other nations, even though it should be confessed that it seems to depart more from what we can gather of the ancient pronunciation than either the Italian, French, or German *. For why the English should pay a compliment to the learned
Hinc factum est ut tanta in pronunciando varietas exiiteret ut pauci inter se in
literarum sonis consentiant. Quod quidem mirum non esset, si indoctitantùm a doctis in eo, ac non ipsi etiam alioqui eruditi inter se magna contentione dissiderent. —Adolp. Meker. De Lin. Grac. vet. Pronun. cap. ii. page 15.
* Monsieur Launcelot, the learned author of the Port-Royal Greek Grammar, in order to convey the sound of the long Greek vowel , tells us, it is a sound between the e and the a, and that Eustathius, who lived towards the close of the twelfth century, says, that 6%, 8%, is a sound made in imitation of the bleating of a sheep; and quotes to this purpose this verse of an ancient writer called Cratinus;
Caninius has remarked the same, Hellen. p. 26. E longtim, cujus sonus in ovium balatu sentitur, ut Cratinus et Varro tradiderunt. The sound of the e long may be perceived in the bleating of sheep, as Cratinus and Vario have handed down to us.
Eustathius likewise remarks upon the 499 v. of Iliad. I. that the word BX3) # a riv 8 ro; xXsloga; #x2; pow;lixio xzz3 ré; Taxafe; 37 #xel wivorov troorwy owvos. Kg3-1905. Bob est Clepsydra sonus, ex imitatione secundum veteres; et 3; imitatur vocum ovium. Blops, according to the ancients, is a sound in imitation of the Clepsydra, as baa is expressive of the voice of sheep. It were to be wished that the sound of every Greek vowel had been conveyed to us by as faithful a testimony as the 3rz; we should certainly have had a better idea of that harmony for which the Greek language was so famous, and in which respect Quintilian candidly yields it the preference to the Latin.
Aristophanes has handed down to us the pronunciation of the Greek diphthong aş 23, by making it expressive of the barking of a dog. This pronunciation is exactly like that preserved by nurses and children among us to this day in bow •wow. This is the sound of the same letters in the Latin tongue; not only in proper names derived from Greek, but in every other word where this diphthong occurs. Most nations in Europe, perhaps all but the English, pronounce audio and laudo, as if written owdio and lowdo; the diphthoug sounding like ou in loud. Agreeable to this rule, it is presumed that we formerly pronounced the apostle Paul nearer the original than at present. In Henry the Fighth's time it was written St.
foales, and sermons were preached at Poule's Cross. The vulgar, generally the last
languages, which is not done by any other nation in Europe, it is not easy to conceive; and as the colloquial communication of kearned individuals of different nations so seldom happens, and is an object of so small importance when it does happen, it is not much to be regretted that when they meet they are scarcely intelligible to each other *. But the English are accused not only of departing from the genuine sound of the Greek and Latin vowels, but of violating the quantity of these languages more than the people of any other nation in Europe. The author of the Essay upon the Harmony of Language gives us a detail of the particulars by which this accusation is proved: and this is so true a picture of the English pronunciation of Latin, that I shall quote it at length, as it may be of use to those who are obliged to learn this language without the aid of a teacher.
last to alter, either for the better or worse, still have a jingling proverb with this
pronunciation, when they say As old as Poules. The sound of the letter u is no less sincerely preserved in Plautus, in Menaech,
page 622, edit. Lambin, in making use of it to imitate the cry of an owl—
It appears here, says Mr. Forster, in his defence of the Greek accents, page 129, “ that an owl's cry was tu, tu, to a Roman ear, as it is too, too, to an English.” Lambin, who was a Frenchman, observes on the passage, “Alludit ad noctuat vo“ cem seu cantum, tu, tu, seu tou, tou.” He here alludes to the voice or noise of an owl. It may be farther observed, that the English have totally departed from this sound of the u in their own language, as well as in their pronunciation of 1atin.
* Erasmusse adfuisse olim commemorat cum die quodam solenni complures principam legati ad Maximilianum Imperatorem salutandi causã advenissent; Singulosque Gallum, Germanum, Danum, Scotum, &c. orationem Latinam, ita barbare ac vastë pronunciásse, ut Italis quibusdam, nihil nisi risum moverint, qui eos non Latine sed suá quemdue linguá, locutos jurássent.—Middleton, De Lat. Liu. Pronun. The love of the marvellous prevails over truth: and I question if the greatest diversity in the pronunciation of Latin exceeds that of English at the capital and in some of the counties of Scotland, and yet the inhabitants of both have no great difficulty in understanding cach other.
“The falsification of the harmony by English scholars in their pronunciation of Latin, with regard to essential points, arises from two causes only : first, from a total inattention to the length of vowel-sounds, making them long or short merely as chance directs; and secondly, from sounding double consonants as only one letter. The remedy of this last fault is obvious. With regard to the first, we have already observed, that each of our vowels hath its general long sound, and its general short sound totally different. Thus the short sound of e lengthened is expressed by the letter a, and the short sound of i lengthened is expressed by the letter e : and with all these anomalics usual in the application of vowelcharacters to the vowel-sounds of our own language, we proceed to the application of vowel-sounds to the vowel-charac-, ters of the Latin. Thus in the first syllable of sidus and nomen, which ought to be long; and of miser and onus, which ought to be short; we equally use the common long sound of the vowels; but in the oblique cases, sideris, nominis, miseri, oneris, &c. we use quite another sound, and that a short one. These strange anomalies are not in common to us with our southern neighbours the French, Spaniards, and Italians. They pronounce sidus according to our orthography, seedus, and in the oblique cases preserve the same long sound of the i : nomen they pronounce as we do, and preserve in the oblique cases the same long sound of the 2. The Italians also, in their own language, pronounce doubled consonants as distinctly as the two most discordant mutes of their alphabet. Whatever, therefore, they may want of expressing the true harmony of the Latin language, they certainly avoid the most glaring and absurd faults in our manner of pronouncing it. “It is a matter of curiosity to observe with what regularity we use these solecisms in the pronunciation of Latin. When the penultimate is accented, its vowel, if followed but by a single consonant, is always long, as in Dr. Forster's examples. “When the antepenultimate is accented, its vowel is, without ‘ any regard to the requisite quantity, pronounced short, as is
- o “mirabile, frigidus : except the vowel of the penultimate be “followed by a vowel, and thch the vowel of the antepenulti“mate is with as little regard to true quantity pronounced long, " as in manen, redeat, odium, imperium. Quantity is however “vitiated to make i short even in this case, as in oblivio, vinea, “virium. The only difference we make in pronunciation be“tween vinea and venia is, that to the vowel of the first syllable “ of the former, which ought to be long, we give a short sound; “ to that of the latter, which ought to be short, we give the same “sound, but lengthened. U accented is always before a single “ consonant pronounced long, as in humerus, fugiens. Before “ two consonants no vowel sound is ever made long, except that “of the diphthong au; so that whenever a doubled consonant “ occurs, the preceding syllable is short ". Unaccepted vowels “we treat with no more ceremony in Latin than in our own lan“guage.” Essay upon the Harmony of Language, page 224. Printed for Robson, 1774. This, it must be owned, is a very just state of the case; but
though the Latin quantity is thus violated, it is not, as this writer observes in the first part of the quotation, merely as chance directs, but, as he afterwards observes, regularly, and he might have added, according to the analogy of English pronunciation: which, it may be observed, has a genius of its own; and which, if not so well adapted to the pronunciation of Greek and Latin as some other modern languages, has as fixed and settled rules for pronouncing them as any other.
The learned and ingenious author next proceeds to show the advantages of pronouncing our vowels so as to express the Latin quantity. “We have reason to suppose,” says he, “that our “ usual accentuation of Latin, however it may want of many ele“gancies in the pronunciation of the Augustan age, is yet suf“ficiently just to give with tolerable accuracy that part of the
* This corruption of the true quantity is not, however, peculiar to the English; for Beza complains in his sountry: Hinc enim fit ut in Graeca oratione vel nullum, ..ycl prorsus corruptam numerum intelligas, dum multa: breves producuntur, et contră plurima longe corripiuntur. Beza de Germ. Pron. Graeca. Linguæ, p. 53.