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English GRAMMAR is the art of speaking and writing the English language with propriety.
It is divided into four parts, viz. ORTHOGRAPHY, ETYMOLOGY, SYNTAX, and PROSODY.
This division may be rendered more intelligible to the student, by observing, in other words, that Grammar treats, first, of the form and sound of the letters, the combination of letters into syllables, and syllables into words ; secondly, of the different sorts of words, their various modifications, and their derivation ; thirdly, of the union and right order of words in the formation of a sentence; and lastly, of the just pronunciation, and poetical construction of sentences.
OF THE LETTERS.
Section 1. Of the nature of the letters, and of a perfect
alphabet. Orthography teaches the nature and powers of Jetters, and the just method of spelling words.
A letter is the first principle, or least part, of a word.
The letters of the English language, called the English Alphabet, are twenty-six in number.
These letters are the representatives of certain articulate sounds, the elements of the language. An articulate sound, is the sound of the human voice, formed br the organs of speech.
į or eye
The following is a list of the Anglo-Saxon, Roman, Italic,
and Old English Characters. Saxon. Roman. Italic.
Old English. Cap. Small. Cap. Small.
ai. B b B b
b 1 i I i I ¿
୩ J j
J j 7 j jay.
kay. L 1 L
el. 1 L
h r R
t Đ th
u or you
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 arti. culate 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 repre. sent, not one sound alone, but several sounds. This will appear by reflecting, that the sounds signitied by the united letters th, sh, ng, are elementary, and have no sin. gle 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. Letters denoting the
Words containing the simple sounds.
simple sounds. as heard in
bull By this list it appears, that there are in the Englisa language fourteen simple vowel sounds : but as i and 2., when pronounced long, may be considered as diphthongs,
or diphthongal vowels, our language, strictly speaking, cum tains but twelve simple vowel sounds; to represent which, we have only five distinct characters or letters. If a in far, is the same specific sound as a in fat; 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
day, sad f
van, love in
egg, go h*
hop, ho k
kill, oak 1
in in น
ye, yes ng
ing, sing sh
shy, ash th
thin, thick th
then, them zh
pleasure Several letters marked in the English alphabet, as con sonants, are either superfluous, or represent, not simple, tout 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. Jis
* Some grammarians suppose h to mark only an aspiration, or breathing : est it appears to be a distinct sound, and formed in a particular manner, by e organs of speech.
unnecessary, becanse 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 unneces. sary, 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 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, 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, fil; which require vowels to express them fully.
The vowels are, a, e, i, o, U, and sometimes w 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 diffi culty 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 30 and 31.*
* The letters w and y, are of an ambiguous nature"; being consonants at the begioning of words, and yowels at the end. Encyclopedin Britannica, WALKER's Critical Pronouncing Dictionary, page 24, third edilun. PERRY': English Dictionary, Pretzte, page 7.