Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

k mirábile, frigidus ; except the vowel of the penultimate be “ followed by a vowel, and then the vowel of the antepenulti! mate is with as little regard to true quantity pronounced long,

as in maneo, 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.* Unaccented vowels

we treat with no more ceremony in Latin than in our own language.” Essay upon

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 sufficiently 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 country: Hinc enim fit ut in Græca oratione vel nullum, vel prorsus corruptam numerum intelligas, dum multæ breves producuntur, et contrâ plurimæ longæ corripiuntur. Beza de Germ. Pron. Græcæ Linguæ, p. 50.

general harmony of the language of which accent is the ef“ ficient. 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, 56 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, therefore, we have a more accurate idea of the nåture 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, hy 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 contracting 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 Paynus, 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 must 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 occasion for any other directions for the pronunciation of the Greek and Latin proper names, than such as are given for the pronunciation 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 yowels, 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 syliable 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 op 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.
Exacuit sedem d ssyllabon omue priorem.
Ex tribus, extollit primam penult ma curta:

Extollit seipsam quando est penultima longa.
These rules I have endeavoured to express in English verse:

Each monosyllable has stress of course ;
Words of two syllables, the first enforce :
A syllable that's long, and last but one,
Must have the accent upon that or pone :
But if this syllable be short, the stress

Must on the last but two its force express. The only difference that seems to obtain between the pronunciation of the Greek and Latin languages is, that in the Latin ti

* That is, in the general pronunciation of Greek; for, let the writers aí ent be placed where it will, the quantitative accent, as it may be called, follows the analogy of the Latin,

and si, preceded by an accent, and followed by another vowel forming an improper diphthong, are pronounced as in English, like sh or zh, as natio, nation; persuasio, persuasion, &c.; and that in the Greek, the same letters retain their pure sound, as Qidavčía, áyracía, mpa@ATION, *. t. 7.* This difference, however, with very few exceptions, does not extend to proper names; which, coming to us through, and being mingled with, 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 “ aitía, átíov, &c. into aidia, wolov, &c. as they did the Latin motio and « doceo into moshio and dosheo."" This, however, may be questioned; for if in Latin words this impure sound of t takes place only in those words where the accent is on the preceding vowel, as in natio, facio, &c.; but not when the accent follows the t, and is on the following vowel, as in satietas, societas, &c. why should we 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 accent 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 yowel preserved the preceding r 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 é and another vowel, had not assumed the sound of o; for the Sigma would not have failed to accuse him of a usurpation of her powers, as he had done of her character: and if we have preserved the r pure in this situation when we pronounce Greek, it is, perhaps, rather to be placed to the preserving power of the accented í 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 yo x, Xi' &; as ãysenos, ayuuga, áyxiore, X. 7. ho where they is sounded like x: but this, says Henry Stephens, is an errour of the copyists, who have a little extended the bottom of the y, and made a y of it: for, says he, it is ridiculous to suppose that v was changed into and at the same

ولا

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

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 the accent is adopted: and though the last syllable is long in Demosthenes, Aristophanes, Theramenes, and Deiphobe, 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 learned; 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

time that y should be pronounced like v. On the contrary, Scaliger says, that where we find a y before these letters, as arruga, 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 pronunciation 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 Victorinas 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 cir. cumflecti videbimus, quod utrumque Latinus sermo non patitur, nisi admodum

“ If 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. Forster, Reply, page 31. Notes 32, bott.

b.

raro.

« ZurückWeiter »