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“ its definitions are more accurate than “ those of any other English dictionary known to '
me”; its "etymologies are more sound and “satisfactory than those of any other English “ dictionary known to me"; and (here is the error) "its vocabulary is more copious than those “of any other English dictionary known to me." Are there, then, some dictionaries having more than one vocabulary? The fact is, that Mr. Marsh has created difficulties for himself by attempting, in one general expression, to draw comparisons concerning certain nouns, two of which are in the plural, while the other, unfortunately, is in the singular. The way to surmount the difficulty is to put all the nouns in the plural. This may be done by saying ;—“In “ this edition the words of the vocabulary are
more numerous, the etymologies more sound “and satisfactory, and the definitions more accu“rate than those of any other English dictionary “known to me." The expression “as it stands" is redundant, and should, therefore, be struck out.
The next sentence in the essay is :
“In all these respects the work is a great improve
“ment upon previous issues of that long familiar “to the literary world under the same name.”
Here is a fault not of grammar, but of composition; one against which we should be most carefully on our guard, because it confuses the reader's mind respecting the thought intended to be expressed. Mr. Marsh has connected, by position, words which are disconnected in meaning :—" the literary world under the same name.” The sentence should have been written thus : “ In all these respects the work is a great im“provement upon previous issues of that which, “under the same name, has long been familiar “ to the literary world.”
In the next sentence but one, Mr. Marsh speaks of
It is generally admitted that, when, in a word beginning with “h”, the accent falls on the second syllable, the aspiration of the “h” is so much suppressed, that the word takes “ an”, instead of "a", before it. Thus, we say ;
but an historian;
but an heptagonal figure; a hexagon,
but an hexagonal figure; a hydra,
but an hydraulic press ; a hypocrite,
but an hypocrisy; a hyberbolical expression, ... but an hyperbole; a hypothetical position, ...... but an hypothesis.
We say, also, an harangue, an hiatus, an hilarity, an horizon, an hyena, an hysterical person. The change of accent, from the first syllable to the second, neutralizes the aspiration of the “h”. But before the words "humane", "humidity", and “humility” we do not use "an" but “a”, because, although the accent is on the second syllable, and, consequently, the “h” is not sounded, we still have the sound of “u long”, and therefore say;—"a humane man,” a “humidity," "a humility"; just as we say;—"a “ united family”, “a unanimous decision", etc. So, also, before the words “humour", and “humourist”, we use “a”; not because those words begin with “h”, for the “h” is mute; but because the “u”, which immediately follows the “h”, has the sound of the consonant “y”.
THE HON. GEORGE P. MARSH.
In the line next to that in which Mr. Marsh speaks of "a historian", I read :
When, therefore, instead of exhibiting the oral or
“written forms of a language, which have been
sanctioned by the ablest speakers and authors “in that language, he assumes to impose new or “unusual forms upon the tongue or the pen of “those whose breath it is, he is usurping func“tions which belong to a higher jurisdiction, and the greater the merits of his work may be “otherwise, the greater is the sin of his trans“"
gression.” The conjunction “or” is not always used to contrast things which differ essentially; it is sometimes used where the difference is merely nominal; and good writers generally indicate, by one of the following methods, whether the difference is essential or nominal :If, for the purpose of being more explicit in speaking of something, it is needful to mention it under two names; we then connect the names by " or "
simply; we do not repeat the preposition or the article before the second name; we say ;-"He " went to Van Diemen's Land or Tasmania"; and those who know the language, know that we are speaking of only one place, and that Tasmania is another name for Van Diemen's Land. But if we wish to speak of two places, we repeat the preposition, and say ;-"He came from New “York or from Baltimore”; or we repeat the article, and say ;-"The tongue or the pen ”; or we prefix the word “either" to the former of the two, and say ;-"Either new or unusual forms”. In Mr. Marsh's sentence, which I have quoted at the beginning of this paragraph, he speaks of “ the oral or written forms of a language "; but, as they are distinct and different, he ought to have said ;="the oral or the written forms of a
language". The repetition of the article is just as necessary in this place, as it is in that other part of the sentence, where Mr. Marsh says;“the tongue or the pen". But there is an error of the same sort between these two quotations. Mr. Marsh says;—“When.. he assumes to impose "new or unusual forms upon the tongue or the
pen": he should have said ;—“either new or “ unusual forms"; for, an unusual form is not