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Several letters marked in the English alphabet, as consonants, are either superfluous, or represent, not simple, but complex sounds. C, for instance, is superfluous in both its sounds ; the one being expressed by k, and the other by 8. G, in the soft pronunciation, is not a simple, but a complex sound; as age is pronounced aidge. Jis unnecessary, because its sound, and that of the soft g, are in our language the same. , with its attendant u, is either complex, and resolvable into kw, as in quality: or unnecessary, because its sound is the same with k, as in opaque. X is compounded of ge, as in exemple ; or ks, as in expect.

From the preceding representation, it appears to be a point of considerable importance, that every learner of the English language should be taught to pronounce perfectly, and with facility, every original simple sound that belongs to it. By a timely and judicious care in this respect, the voice will be prepared to utter, with ease and accuracy, evo ery combination of sounds; and taught to avoid that confused and imperfect manner of pronouncing words, which accompanies, through life, many persons who have not, in this respect, been properly instructed at an early period.

Letters are divided into Vowels and Consonants.

A Vowel is an articulate sound, that can be perfectly uttered by itself; as a, e, 0; which are formed without the help of any other sound.

A Consonant is an articulate sound, which cannot be perfectly uttered without the help of a vowel ; as b, d, f,l; which require vowels to express them fully.

The vowels are, a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes u and y.

W and y are consonants when they begin a word or syllable ; but in every other situation they are vowels.

It is generally acknowledged by the best grammarians, that w and y are consonants when they begin a syllable or word, and vowels when they end one. That they are consonants, when used as initials, seems to be evident from


their not admitting the article an before them, as it would be improper to say, an walnut, an yard, &c.; and from their following a vowel without any hiatus or difficulty of utterance ; as, frosty winter, rosy youth. That they are vowels in other siutations, appears from their regularly taking the sound of other vowels; as w has the exact sound of u in saw, few, now, &c. ; and y that of i, in hymn, fly, crystal, &c. See the letter W and Y, pages 24 and 25.*

We present the following, as more exact and philosophical definitions of a vowel and consonant.

A vowel is a simple articulate sound, perfect in itself, and formed by a continued effusion of the breath, and a certain conformation of the mouth, without any alteration in the position, or any motion of the organs of speech, from the moment the vocal sound commences, till it ends.

A consonant is a simple, articulate sound, imperfect by itself, but which, joined with a vowel, forms a complete sound, by a particular motion or contact of the organs of speech.

Some grammarians subdivide vowels into the simple and the compound. But there does not appear to be


foundation for the distinction. Simplicity is essential to the nature of a vowel, which excludes every degree of mixed or compound sounds. It requires, according to the definition, but one conformation of the organs of speech, to form it, and no motion in the organs, whilst it is forming.

Consonants are divided into mutes and semivowels.

The mutes cannot be sounded at all, without the aid of a vowel. They are b, p, t, d, k, and c and g hard.

The semi-vowels have an imperfect sound of themselves. They are f, l, m, n, r, , s, z, x, and c and g soft.

Four of the semi-vowels, namely, l, m, n, r, are also distinguished by the name of liquids, from

The letters w and y are of an ambiguous næture ; being consonants at the beginning of words, and vowels at the end.

ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA. Walker's Critical Pronouncing Dictionary, page 24, 3d edition. Perry's English Dictionary, Preface, page 7.

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their readily uniting with other consonants, and flowing as it were into their sounds.

We have shown above, that it is essential to the nature of a consonant, that it cannot be fully uttered without the aid of a vowel. We may further observe, that even the names of the consonants, as they are pronounced in reciting the alphabet, require the help of vowels to express them. In pronouncing the names of the mutes, the assistant vowels follow the consonants ; as be, pe, te, de, ka. In pronouncing the names of the semi-vowels, the vowels gener. ally precede the consonants; as ef, el, em, en, ar, es, ex. The exceptions are ce, ge, ve, zed.

This distinction between the nature and the name of a consonant, is of great importance, and should be well explained to the pupil. They are frequently confounded by writers on grammar. Observations and reasonings on the name, are often applied to explain the nature, of a consonant : and by this means, the student is led into error and perplexity, respecting these elements of language. It should be impressed on his mind, that the name of every consonant is a complex sound; but that the consonant itself is always a simple sound.

Some writers have described the mutes and semi-vowels, with their subdivisions, nearly in the following manner.

The mutes are those consonants, whose sounds cannot be protracted. The semi-vowels, such whose sounds can be continued at pleasure, partaking of the nature of vowels, from which they derive their name.

The mutes may be subdivided into pure and impure. The pure are those whose sounds cannot be at all prolonged; they are k, p, t. The impure, are those whose sounds may be continued, though for a very short space; they are b, d, g.

The semi-vowels may be subdivided into vocal and aspirated. The vocal are those which are formed by the voice ;

the aspirated, those formed by the breath. There are eleven vocal, and five aspirated. The vocal are l, m, n, r, v, w, y, z, th, flat, zh, ng ; the aspirated, f, h, 8, th, sharp, sh.

The vocal semi-vowels may be subdivided into frure and impure. The pure are those which are formed entirely by the voice ; the impure, such as have a mixture of breath with the voice. There are seven pure-l, m, n, 1, w, yo ng ; four impure-v, z, th flat, zh.

A dipthong is the union of two vowels, pronounced by a single impulse of the voice; as ea in beat, ou in sound.

A tripthong is the union of three vowels, pronounced in like manner ; as eau in beau, iew in view.

A proper dipthong is that in which both the vowels are sounded ; as oi in voise, ou in ounce.

An improper dipthong has but one of the vowels sounded; as ea in eagle, oa in boat.

Each of the dipthangal letters was, doubtless, originally heard in pronouncing the words which contain them. Though this is not the case at present; with respect to onany of them, these combinations siill retain the name of dipthongs; but, to distinguish them, they are marked by the term impropier, As the dipthong derives its name and nature from its sound, and not from its letters, and properly denotes a double vowel sound, bo union of two vowels, where one is silent, can, in strictness, be entitled to that appellation ; and the single letters i and u, when pronounced long, must in this view be considered as dipthongs. The tripthongs, having at most but two sounds, are merely occuJar, and are, therefore, by some grammarians, classed with the dipthongs.

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SECTION 2. General Observations on the Sounds of the


A has four sounds; the long or slender, the broad, the
short or open, and the middle.

The long; as in name, basin, creation.
The broad; as in call, wall, all.
The short ; as in barrel, fancy, glass.
The middle ; as in far, farm, father.

The dipthong aa generally sounds like a short in proper names; as in Balaam, Canaan, Isaac ; but not in Baal, Gaal.

de has the sound of long e. It is sometimes found in latin words. Some authors retain this form ; as ænigma, æquator, &c. ; but others have laid it aside, and write enigma, Cesar, Eneas, &c.

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The dipthong ai has exactly the long slender sound of a as in pail, tail, &c.; pronounced pale, tale, &c.; except plaid, again, raillery, fountain, Britain, and a few others.

Au is generally sounded like the broad a; as in taught, caught, &c. Sometimes like the short, or open a; as in aunt, flaunt, gauntlet, &c. It has the sound of longo in hautboy ; and that of o 'short in laurel, laudanum, &c.

Aw has always the sound of broad a; as in bawl, scrawl, crawl.

Ay, like its near relation ai, is pronounced like the long slender sound of a; as in pay, day, delay.


B keeps one unvaried sound, at the beginning, middle, aud end of words ; as in baker, number, rhubarb, &c.

In some words it is silent; as in thumb, debtor, subtle, &c. In others, besides being silent, it lengthens the syllable; as in climb, comb, tomb.

C. C has two different so’inds.

A hard sound like k, before a, 0, 0, r, b, 1 ; as in cart, cottage, curious, craft, tract, cloth, &c.; and when it ends a syllable; as in victim, flaccid.

A soft sound like s, before e, i, and y, generally ; as in centre, face, civil, cymbal, mercy, &c. It has sometimes she sound of sh ; as in ocean, sccial.

C is mute in czar, czarina, victuals, &c.

C, says Dr. Johnson, according to English orthography, never ends a word; and therefore we find in our best dictionaries, stick, block, publick, politick, &c. But many writers omit thek in words of two or more syllables; and this practice is gaining ground, though it is productive of irregularities ; such as writing mimic and mimickry ; traffic and trafficking.

Ch is commonly sounded like tch; as in church, chin, chaff, charter ; but in words derived from the Greek, has the sound of k; as in chymist, scheme, chorus, chyle, dis. tich ; and in foreign names; as Achish, Baruch, Enoch, &c.

Ch, in some words derived from the French, takes the sound of sh ; as in chaise, chagrin, chevalier, machine.

Ch in arch, before a vowel, sounds like k; as in arch-angel, archieves, Archipelago : except in arched, archery, archer, and arch-enemy; but before a consonant it always

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