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word he utters, is scarcely more probable than that a machine should do so. Rogue and knave are in every parrot's mouth : but the ideas they stand for are incomprehensible by any other beings than those endued with reason and a moral faculty.
It has however been a common opinion, and it is sufficiently probable, that, among irrational animals, there is something which, by a figure, we may call Language, as the instinctive economy of bees is figuratively called Government. This at least is evident, that the natural voices of one animal are, in some degree, intelligible, or convey particular feelings, or impulses, to others of the same species. But these, and other animal voices that might be mentioned, have no analogy with human speech.--For, first, men speak by art and imitation, whereas the voices in question are wholly instinctive. That a dog, which had never heard another bark, would, notwithstanding, bark himself, admits of no doubt; and that a man, who had never heard any language, would not speak any, is equally certain. Secondly, the voices of brute animals are not broken, or resolvable, into distinct elementary sounds, like those of man when he speaks ; nor are they susceptible of that variety which would be necessary for the communication of a very few sentiments : and it is pretty certain, that, previously to instruction, the young animals comprehend their meaning, as well as the old ones. Thirdly, these voices seem intended by nature to express, not distinct ideas, but such feelings only, as it may be for the good of the species, or for the advantage of man, that they should have the power of uttering; in which, as in all other respects, they are analogous, not to our speaking, but to our weeping, laughing, groaning, screaming, and other natural and audible expressions of appetite and passion.”
Buffon, in his account of the ouran-outang, says, “The tongue, and all the organs of the voice, are similar to those of men, and yet the animal cannot articulate; the brain is formed in the same manner as that of man, and yet the creature wants reason: an evident proof that the parts of the body, how nicely soever formed, are formed to very limited ends, when there is not infused a rational soul to direct their operations."
The following is a list of the Roman, Italic, and Old
f g h í
ef: jee. aitch.
į or eye.
m N n 0
jay. kay. el.
Roman. Cap. Small. A a B b с
C D d E e F f G
g H h I i J j K k L 1 M
n 0 o P
у Z 2
స ని ని నాలు
X Y Z
u or you.
vee. double u. eks
A perfect alphabet of the English language, and, indeed, of every other language, would contain a number of letters precisely equal to the number of simple articulate sounds belonging to the language. Every simple sound would have its distinct character; and that character be the representative of no other sound. But this is far from being the state of the English alphabet. It has more original sounds than distinct significant letters : and, consequently, some of these letters are made to represent, not one sound alone, but several sounds. This will appear, by reflecting, that the sounds signified by the united letters, th, sh, ng, are elementary, and have no single appropriate characters in our alphabet ; and that the letters a and u represent the different sounds heard in hat, hate, hall; and in but, bull, mule.
To explain this subject more fully to the learners, we shall set down the characters made use of to represent all the elementary articulate sounds of our language, as nearly in the manner and order of the present English alphabet as the design of the subject will admit; and shall annex to each character the syllable or word which contains its proper and distinct sound. And here it will be proper to begin with the vowels.
By the preceding list it appears, that there are in the English language fourteen simple vowel sounds : but as i and u, when pronounced long, may be considered as diphthongs, or diphthongal vowels, our language, strictly speaking, contains but twelve simple vowel sounds; to represent which we have only five distinct characters or letters. If a in arm is the same specific sound as a in at; and u in bull the same as o in move, which is the opinion of some grammarians ; then there are but ten original vowel sounds in the English language.
The following list denotes the sounds of the consonants, being in number twenty-two. Letters denoting the
Words containing the simple sounds.
dog, sod. f
for, off. in
van, love. 8
go, egg h*
hop, ho. k
kill, oak. 1
lop, loll. in
my, mum. in
nod, nun. P
in in in in
zed, buzz. in
ye, yes. ng
king, sing. in
shy, ash. th
thin, thick. th
then, them. zh
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 s. G, in the soft pronunciation, is not a simple, but a complex sound ; as age is pronounced aidge. J is unnecessary, because its sound, and that of the soft g, are in our language the same.
Q, 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 gs, as in example ; or of ks, as in expect.
From the preceding representation it appears to be a point of considerable importance, that every learner of the English
Some grammarians suppose h to mark only an aspiration, or breathing; but it appears to be a distinct sound, and formed in a particular manner by the organs of speech.
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, every 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, d, 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, 1; which require vowels to express them fully.
The vowels are, a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes w
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 froin 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 situations, 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 letters W and Y, pages 17 and 18.*
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
* The letters w and y are of an ambiguous nature ; being consonants at the beginning of words, and vowels at the end.
Encyclopædia Britannico. WALKER'S Critical Pronouncing Dictionary, page 24, third edition. PERRY'S English Dictionary, preface, page 7.