Pronunciation of the English Language
Author(s): Adams, James William
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THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
ANOMALY & CAPRICE:
IN TWO PARTS
AN ANALYTICAL PROCESS RESPECTING
AND VARIATIONS, CHIEFLY
CONFINED TO MONOSYLLABLES.
AN INVESTIGATION OF PROSODY
IN ALL THE MULTIPLIED FORMS
OF WORDS, SYLLABLES, GREEK
AND LATIN ANALOGY, &C.
DIALECTS OF HUMAN SPEECH IN ALL COUNTRIES
AND AN ANALYTICAL DISCUSSION AND VINDICATION OF
THE. DIALECT OF SCOTLAND.
REV. JAMES ADAMS, S. R. E. S.
Documenta damus quæ sint ab origine nata. OVID. METAMORPh. LIB. I.
Quelle langue raisonne'e! M. GIBELIN, mond. prim. sur la langue Angl.
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR BY J. MOIR, PATERSON'S COURT:
AND SOLD By MANNERS ND MILLAR, PARLIAMENT SQUARE,
BY E. BOOKER, NO. 56 NEW BOND STREET, LONDON,
& BY THE AUTHOR, MONTFORT COURT,
NO. II. CHEAPSIDE.
NO literary subject has been so much handled by British
writers within the course of the present, expiring century,
nor so frequently been distinguished by the exertions of learning,
wit, and ingenuity, as grammatical systems of the English
language. Some masterly productions have fully displayed
what is most essential to speech, practical rectitude.
But a comprehensive theory, and explanation applicable to
every research respecting leading principles, rules and variations
of Pronunciation, have not yet satisfied the enquiry of
speculative observation. Such an undertaking is deemed
impracticable, and is in reality so difficult, that every new
effort claims the notice of the friends of our native tongue,
and leads to hope that some lucky attempt will at last check
and overturn the common opinion and reproach, that our
pronunciation is anomalous and capricious. Does it seem consistent
with sense and reason, that the oral language of a
nation deemed philosophic and wise, a language sweet in
sound, guided by scrupulous orthography, and articulations
wonderfully varied and suited to the radical and native powers
of words, should be void of principle and rule? Solutions
of these difficulties, like the hidden operations of the mind,
or secrets in nature, may have long eluded our enquiry, but
are not metaphysically undiscoverable. Foreigners have
held out a glimmering torch, and dropt the unrolled Fusus of
the Labyrinth, by naming our Tongue the speech of Reason,
better expressed in French, langue raisonée, and that with
reference to its varied sounds. The Greek and Latin prosody
presents endless windings and changes, which we find in
our quantity and shifting accent.
Many late ingenious Writers have produced very satisfactory
solutions in appearance; but, being only applicable
to particular words, they leave the reſt under similar combinations
in the forlorn state of wretched Exception, and
afford a mere glimpse of limited discovery. I seek to guide
my way by all the expansion of light the powers of Euphony
and original principles can afford. This is an extract of a former
attempt I presented in Latin and French three years past,
now reduced to a more regular plan, divested of foreign
matter, and the display of satirical Fancy, to which repeated
challenges, and formal defiance of answering common objections,
enforced by the usual reproach of anomaly and caprice,
gave birth. The times naturally exciting a patriotic warmth,
led me to introduce politics, religion, satire, and poetry,
imagination being delusively indulged by the false principle
of quid prohibet ridendo dicere verum, in so grave a subject
as grammatical disquisition! My attempt found circulation
within the narrow limits of literary friends. I can only here
express, by silent thanks and gratitude, the great kindness of
many. I often then cried out, in the height of my zeal, and
still repeat it, with more tempered warmth — "Let French
have its due and limited merit: let it serve as a humble handmaid
to our Language, and general pursuit of Literature; but
Heavens forbid its becoming our mistress, and object of main
attention! Long has it aimed at universal Monarchy in Europe,
by diminishing the sway of Latin, and still endeavours
to cast a general blur on English, German," &c. The last
summer, a well known French teacher in London published
a plan of universal language grafted on the French. It merits
the scorn of every Briton: grafted on such a stock, this Tree
of Literature will thrive no better in Britain, than the accursed
Tree of Liberty. Just was the spirit and meaning
which our Ministers displayed, in publishing their late Proposals
of Peace, not in French nor in English, but in Latin,
which was the common language of Treaties, till the pride
of Lewis XIV. abolished the custom, to make way for the
intended triumph of his own over Europe. The late Emperor
of Germany proscribed the teaching of French in the
public schools of Germany. My satire has given grammatical
scandal; like Horace, I am compelled to use a palinodia
to this charming modern Canidia. But, without offence to
the prevailing bias of French, I may cooly add, that our
own Language should form the first object of early study
next, that which gives true taste, and a more perfect knowledge
of it, the noble Latin Tongue. In this study did
England or Scotland formerly most excel? Has it now lost all
patronage in England? Is it better supported in Scotland,
where it seems to be confined to the school of Esculapius, and
chiefly noticed in the yearly initiation of her famed Pupils.
The powerful Guardian of Hygieia? The celebrated Doctor
Gregory still strives to buoy up the paralysed powers of that
For this moderation of British spleen against all that is
French, and other judicious hints, I stand indebted to another
eminent friend of Latin and British literature, known
by his biographic illustrations of our poets, who, like Aristarchus
of old, liberally invites the docile and timid adventurer
in the hazardous pursuits of public Applause, to his
friendly threshold. If now and then I dropt some remains
of former satire, and sinister comparison against the fashionable,
easy, polished, nervous, most regular, and unvarying Gallic
tongue, it is not to depreciate its real merit, but to bear down
the unjust reproach (chiefly made by our rivals the French)
of imputed anomaly and caprice. Hence I have excluded
the evasive term of Exception, and spew it is useless, p. 53.
If originality be any merit, I have neither transcribed, nor
followed previous writers on the subject. I have little hopes
of this spontaneous and hard labour in the service of my
country being indemnified, and must, if I fail, rest content
with the monumental inscription of Phaeton, and generously
hope that some ingenious investigator of Language* will
serve the public better by those helps I proudly confide my
attempt may produce.
Should the present attempt please the Literati, the Author
has in hand the second part of English Grammar, the accidents,
syntax, &c. &c. equally original and instructive, for
* Perhaps thou, hopeful Theobald, to whom part of my former whims were
Elements and Rules of the Pronunciation of the English
- - - - - Pag.
General theory - - - - - 9
Leading principles - - - - - 11
Affected or less common modes of pronouncing words - - - - - 16
Classical variations - - - - - 17
Letters and combinations exhibited to the sight - - - - - 18
Letters and combinations exhibited to the ear - - - - - 20
1. Sound of simple vowels - - - - - 22
2. Sound of simple vowels - - - - - 24
Sound of simple consonants - - - - - 25
Rules and sounds of coalescing consonants - - - - - 28
Coalescing consonants rendered mute, &c. - - - - - 30
The investigation of sounds confined to monosyllables - - - - - 32
Monosyllabic scunds of unimpeded vowels - - - - - 34
Monosyllabic sounds of impeded vowels - - - - - 38
Investigation of the mutes - - - - - 42
G reduced to strict rule - - - - - 43
Objections and difficulties relating to G hard or soft - - - - - 44
Mutes continued - - - - - 46
Investigation of semi vowels - - - - - 47
M and N investigated - - - - - 48
Erroneous spelling — the letter R - - - - - 49
R doubled becomes softer - - - - - 50
The hissing S mitigated - - - - - 51
W softened. United mutes and liquids - - - - - 52
The term Exception eluded - - - - - 53
Peculiar sounds produced by double and inseparable consonants
- - - - - - 54
Double and inseparable consonants - - - - - 56
Harsh coalescence mitigated - - - - - 60.
- - - - - Pag.
Rules of arch in composition- - - - - 61.
Harsh coalescence mitigated - - - - - 62
Change in woman accounted for - - - - - 63
Sc, sch, and th, hard, or soft - - - - - 64
Th soft, hard, h silent. - - - - - 65
Coarse combinations of W softened - - - - - 67
Analytical doctrine of diphthongs, &c. - - - - - 68
Spurious diphthongs, &c. discussed - - - - - 71
Diphthongs useful, easy, not capricious - - - - - 73
Diphthongs: their variations discussed, &c. - - - - - 74
Difficult sounds resolved - - - - - 75
Prime and secondary sounds of diphthongs - - - - - 76
Ou, ow, fully investigated - - - - - 77
Ou, ow, varied through contrast - - - - - 78
Its grammatical licentiousness - - - - - 79
Hint to Universities, Scotch Literati, &c. - - - - - 80
The variations of ea,- - - - - - 81
Ee claims singular attention - - - - - 83
The powers of ei overlooked - - - - - 84
Regular variations of ei and eo - - - - - 85
Seven distinct classical sounds found in one single word - - - - - 86
Regular variations of ui - - - - - 88
Elements and Rules of English Pronunciation adapted to the
Sounds of secondary and expletive Syllables, under the investigation
of Quantity and Accent - - - 89
English prosody investigated - - - - -90
Quantity and accent distinguished - - - - -91
Analogy of Greek and English accent - - - - -92
Deception of accented consonants - - - - -93
Silent e, key of English sounds - - - - -94
Steady rules of silent e. - - - - -95
Apparent defect of silent e - - - - -96
- - - - - Pag.
Apparent defect of silent e vindicated - - - - - 97
The prevalence of long or short vowels - - - - - 98
Doubled or accented consonants pointed out - - - - - 99
Greek and English accent exemplified - - - - - 100
Rules of dissyllables, trisyllables, &c. - - - - - 101
Expletive syllables obscure - - - - - 102
Prevalence of vowel or consonant - - - - - 103
New doctrine of short finals - - - - - 104
Shifting accent, &c. - - - - - 105
Measure of compound words, &c - - - - - 106
Objections answered - - - - - 107
Difficulties solved - - - - - 108
Diversity in similar finals - - - - - 109
Analogy of Greek, Latin, and English metre - - - - - 110
Source of the shifting accent - - - - - 111
Greek, Latin, English analogy - - - - - - 112
New system of spurious diphthongs - - - - - 113
Anglo-Latin sounds absurd - - - - - 115
Greek, Latin. and English metre - - - - - 116
Greek and Latin prosody falsified - - - - - 117
Further proof of Greek analogy - - - - - 118
Sounds of very long syllables - - - - - 119
Peculiarities of Greek, Latin, English - - - - - 121
Alteration of letters - - - - - 122
Alteration of syllables - - - - - 123
English sound of Latin names examined - - - - - 124
Latin names disfigured - - - - - 12S
General vindication - - - - - 126
Insular happiness - - - - - 127
Verbal translation of Rule Britannia - - - - - 128
APPENDIX - - - - - 131
ELEMENTS AND RULES
THE GENERAL THEORY OF ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION
— THE LETTERS OF THE ALPHABET AND POTENTIAL
SOUNDS-ELEMENTARY COMBINATIONS —
WE begin with exhibiting the leading Principles
on which the analysis and solution of many
changes and difficulties, held forth as indefinable
and capricious, are founded.
ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION is not slavishly subjected
to the abſolute sway of elementary powers,
nor does it ultimately, or compulsively, receive its
guidance and standard from the authority of
learned individuals, or academical institutions;
nor from the bar, pulpit or stage, but from the
general practice of the great body of polished
Society at large, which the presiding and guardian
Genius of our language directs in the free
choice and use of sounds, tempered and varied
according to the exigency of native harmony, the
origin, and meaning of words. This great basis
of adopted sounds much resembles the establishment
of our laws and civil institutions. Thus
the general modes of our pronunciation may be
reduced to systematic order, in opposition to the
prevailing opinion of caprice and anomaly.
PRINCIPLE I. THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE is
chiefly derived from the antient Saxon and mother-tongue,
which, like the corrupted Hebrew,
is rough and guttural, from the prevalence of
combined consonants. It had long triumphed
over the old British, in all its natural roughness
and began to be mixed with the Danish, in the
short reign of that nation, when the ascendant
sway of Norman tyranny attempted to abolish
the language of the country, and introduce
the French of those days. Oppression soon
yielded to the native spirit of liberty, and then
was gradually produced the happy effect of a
just temperature of the coarse language of the
North, and the softer accent of southern Europe,
by the civil and religious, the commercial and
military intercourse of this Island with France,
Italy, Spain, &c. At this epoch we began, and
still continue, to soften and perfect our speech
according to the prevailing ideas of times and
taste, ever ready to admit any improvement under
the extensive rules of regular combinations,
and orthography substantially observed. Such
being the grounds and mixture of our present
language, (nor is there any modern European language
unmixed and pure,) we seek not to destroy,
or even wish to conceal, the radical form of words
or sounds; hence first the Saxon origin is most
remarkable in its Etymology and varied articulation:
but its guttural and harsh combinations
are softened, letters a little altered, sometimes
suppressed, or changed into affinitive and milder
PRINC. II. As, with the view of enriching and
softening our language, many words have been,
and are introduced from other languages, we do
not seek in like manner to conceal their source.
Thus Hebrew, Greek and Latin, Italian, Spanish,
German, Swedish, Danish, and Dutch, and even
French, when we derive new and occasional help
immediately from it, carry in our sounds, or writing,
proofs of their origin. From the Greek we
have innumerable words: and, as a singular specimen
of this candid principle, we here mention
the word ache; for why or how does ch, sounded
tch in English words, sound k? Ch is the Greek
hard k, (x) the word is Greek, therefore we prefer
the sound of the Greek double consonant to
our own, still modelling the word our own way,
by substituting e final for the Greek syllabic οζ,
(aχοζ, a-chos) a-che, pain, &c.
Latin words abound with us. Many such are
erroneously deemed French; but we go higher,
as appears by our greater conformity to the Latin
root: for example, fe-ver English, fe-bris Latin,
fié-vre French; Extend Engl. extendere Lat.
étendre Fr. Obedient Engl. obedient Lat. obéissant
Fr, So Glory, gloria, gloire; Honor, honor,
honneur; Antient, antiquus, ancien.
From the above it will appear, that simple rules
and elementary combinations often yield to the
influence of radical powers.
PRINC. III. The affinity of some consonants,
d and t, f and v, &c. or that of vowels, may occasion
a difference of sound from the written letter.
This frequently occurs in Latin: O and u
varied much: os in the singular number, passed
into u short, and i short, as mutos, mutus, optumus,
optimus , &c. like our words busy, bisy, bury, berry,
wonder, work, wunder, wurk, &c. The same is
found in Italian, the most obsequious slave of
elementary combinations, ottimo, uttimo; and in
French, which mostly deviates from its simple
alphabetic sounds, nous sommes, nou summ, &c.
We may also make some allowance for what may
be termed deception, or illusion of sound. This
is not classical, but an incorrect mode found in
common discourse, which vanishes, when brought
to the test of rule ; as yal-low, yellow, cow-cumber,
cu-cumber, sparrow-grass, asparragas, &c.
Is it reasonable to allow potential sounds of
letters in Hebrew, Greek, German, &c. and to
criticise them, when occasionally used by us; as
o sounded ou (French) s, sh, m, n, aimm, eemm,
ainn, inn, eenn, &c.? This seems to be totally
overlooked in English grammars.
But of all objections, that seems the most absurd,
(and is generally urged by all opponents, as
a proof of anomaly and caprice) which criticises
a change of sound, when the very formation of a
syllable is changed; as in the words so-ci-al, an-xi-ous, (obscurely sounded so-shal, ank-shous,)
and so-ci-e-ty, anx-i-ety, per i long and clear:
for here the spurious diphthongs are disjoined,
and a new combination of letters succeeds, so that
it is impossible to observe the first sound, and yet
this is ever urged as an inconsistency.
PRINC. IV. Is something similar to the above,
to wit, the mitigation or extension of sounds, not
founded on mere elementary combination, forming
what is called autophonous, or onomaphonous
sounds, occurring frequently in Greek and Latin,
and sometimes in French, as (δαζ) bous, bos,
bœuf; or, to confine ourselves to English, cuckow,
bull, and the comprehensive and expressive words,
full, all, much noticed by our encomiast Mons.
Gibelin, (mond. primit.) Cough and hichcougb,
are singular autophonous words, deviating from
alphabetic rule. The very sounds express their
meaning. Thus laugh, aunt, father, are softened
beyond the reach of simple combination. The
word Thames, in the varied changes of the written
letters, is made by subtle Etymologists an
onomaphonous name. (See Thames, under the Lett.
PRINC. V. Shews the great cause of change of
sound produced by the accent affecting the combined
letters, or the change of the sound of a
letter, in the same or similar syllables, when a
new signification is implied, so unjustly termed
capricious, or anomalous. We may name this
the Rule of Contrast. ANTIENI ORTHOGRAPHY is
sometimes the latent cause of such changes, and
may be noticed here as a prevailing principle.
PRINC. VI. The harmonic powers of long and
short, quantity and accent, and accent itself, often
changed, named the SHIFTING ACCENT, cause
many changes in the vowels and consonants, arising
from the pliancy of encreased syllables,
conformable to our natural rapidity of speech,
and yet unnoticed precedent of the Greek shifting
PRINC. VII. The substantial and radical parts
of words, or sounds, are more attended to by us
than simple letters or mere expletive syllables,
common and applicable to any word: but in
Latin, instead of additional beauty, it is rather a
blemish, that mere expletive syllables should form
the main study and difficulty of its prosody; as
or in honor is short, in ho-no-ris, o becomes long,
de-cos, de-co-ris, twice short. in this we deviate
from the Latin, and commonly shorten, sometimes
lengthen, the expletive; contrary to Latin
rule, ho-no-ra-bilis, hon-or-able, is twice contracted:
and ablis, a-ble, expletive, long in Latin, is always
short with us. By this principle, even diphthongs
become short and obscure, when mere finals.
PRINC. VIII. Monosyllables have rules of
sound widely different from dissyllables and polysyllables.
Hence the division of this Extract;
for pretended anomalies and capricious deviations,
contrary to simple monosyllabic combinations,
are wholly irrelevant, when applied to secondary
syllables, intermediate, or final vowels, and diphthongs,
which changes are generally the regular
result of the prevailing power of accent or quantity.
Hence we are led to restrain, and almost wholly
to reject the term, or rather abuse of the word
exception, which in English grammars, especially
such as are written by the French, are carried to
an absurd excess. Here the Teacher stops, and
thinks his solution is satisfactory, and full; when
interrogated on the cause of exception, he submissively
answers, he cannot tell; and being urged,
ignorantly asserts, that it is an indefinable mode,
or capricious use of English pronunciation; and,
what is more absurd, he often makes the exception
more prevalent, than his limited, ill stared,
and false rules; consequently the very exception
forms most commonly secondary, and very frequently
the very primary rules of English Pronunciation.
To these principles we venture to add some
Affected or leſs Common Modes of Pronouncing
As this may be frequently held as the result of
pedantry, so it is very often that of singular variety,
arising from the intrinsic powers of our
The stage rather gives into affectation, and
many popular speakers, even in the pulpit, where
words, sounds, and studied modes, should be less
sought after, than simple and plain order and
Some modern variations, arising from simple
combinations and analogy of rule, and sounds
differently uttered and supported by the authority
or practice of our Universities, are respectable
and optional, as Rome per o long. So most
Cambridgians pronounce know-ledge, kno-ledge,
others knól-edge, both by rule; kno, from the radical
word to know ; knol is guided by the shifting
accent, which seizes the sound of simple o
(found in ow) and unites it to the doubled consonant.
Many such examples might be produced:
one is singular indeed in the adopted English
word Lieutenant, which by rule may classically
be pronounced at least seven different ways.
(See the diphthong ieu.) In Greek, the accent,
natural quantity and position of letters, admit
With well founded variations we enter not into
contest, because, being supported by rule, they
add strength to the attempted plan, and assertion,
that rule and reaſon, not anomaly and caprice,
give rise to changes in our Pronunciation*.
The following order will be observed in the
minute investigation of the Elements, Principles,
and Rules of English Pronunciation, in this first
* To these leading principles we add, what at first hearing
will be deemed a paradox, that the simple pronunciation
of any English word is easy to all foreigners, except the
French, with the sole exclusion of the hard th, which is difficult
to most nations: but that th should prove too rough
for the powerful organs of our brethren the Irish, is surprising,
as English is their adopted language. Why English
sounds are so easy to foreigners in general, is, that we find
more or less all our sounds in other languages; but why so
difficult to the French alone, is, they have endless sounds
so peculiar to themselves, that no verbal explanation or analogy
with any other tongue, can convey an idea of the nasal
and monotonous prevalence of their syllables. This is demonstrated
and exemplified in the original, Euphonia Anglicana,
Combat et Jeu littéraire, Proœm. pag. vi. &c. &.
A great stock of foreign, grammatical and comparative
literature is required to pronounce decidedly on our combinations
and variations of sound; this is not a common gift
or acquisition of vulgar grammar-writers, dealing so largely
in unsatisfactory exceptions.
THE EYE is first invited to view the Alphabet,
divisions, and combinations of our letters: next,
the EAR is called on to listen to the primary, secondary,
occasional, and extraordinary sounds of
our letters: lastly, we address ourselves to the
MIND, and intreat the Reader to weigh the simple
combinations, and causes of variations, under the
same or similar formation of letters and syllables,
realised and exemplified in monosyllabic words,
for such, as far as circumstances will permit, will
be solely noticed in this first part. (See the reason
above — PRINC. VIII.)
A view of the ALPHABET of English Letters,
its division, and elementary combinations.
We have twenty-six letters.
A, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r,
t, u, v, w, x, y, z.
Alphabetic order of simple VOWELS.
A, e, i, o, u, (w) y.
Alphabetic order of coalescing, or combined Vowels,
called Diphthongs and Triphthongs, presented
to the Eye.
Ai ay, au aw, ea, eau, ee, ei ey, eo, eou, eu ew,
ia, io, iou, ie, ieu iew, oa, oe, oi oy, oo, ou ow,
ua, ue, ui uy, ya.
The Three orders, or distinct classes of Diphthongs
and Triphthongs, named proper, improper,
FIVE PROPER. Ai ay, au aw, oi oy, oo, ou ow.
TWELVE IMPROPER. Ea, eau, ee, ei ey, eo,
eu ew, ie, ieu iew, oa, add to these oe, ua, ui uy.
Twelve false, spurious, null ; some of them occasionally
appear in the character of diphthongs :
such are marked with a star. Æ, ea*, eo*
eou, ia, ie*, io, iou, oe*, (œ) ua, ue.
Alphabetic order of Simple CONSONANTS, to be
named by final Vowels.
B, c, d, g, j, k, p, q, t, v, y, w.
To be named by preceding Vowels.
F, h, l, m, n, r, s, x, z.
FIRST CLASS of doubled and coalescing Consonants,
generally commencing a Syllable, named Mutes
Bl br, cl cr, dr, fl fr, gl gr gth, kl kr, nch,
pl pr, sl st stl sm sn, tr, — gth, &. nch, close
SECOND CLASS of coalescing Consonants, generally
closing Syllables, and altering preceding Vowels,
contrary to common rule.
Ld ll lk lt, nc nd nt, rd rl rm rn rch rt, sh ſs,
th. Mutes and liquids here stand reversed.
THIRD CLASS of coalescing Consonants, initial
and final, radically harsh, rough and guttural,
from Hebrew, Greek, & German.
Bt, ch, chr ck ct, ft, gh gm gn ght, kn, ld lf
lk lph lm ln, mb mn mpt, ng, ph pt pth, sc sl sm
ſs sch sw, th, wh wr, zz.
Such is the general muster of our letters, with
their divisions, evolutions, and elementary combinations,
simply exposed to sight.
WE now call upon the EAR to listen to the
sounds which they produce by their intrinsic powers
or accidental changes. As human knowledge
is chiefly comparative, we will borrow aid
and help from the dead and living languages, of
which every well educated Reader has, or may
form a sufficient idea, to serve our present purpose.
As French is so commonly known, and
bears in some respects a great analogy with English,
(an analogy to be looked for in the detached
sounds of letters, their changes and suppressions)
it will be frequently employed, and even some
occasional help may be derived from its characteristic
difference, if compared with our own
or other European languages. It is not foreign
to the present object of vindicating our pronunciation
from anomaly and caprice, to assert
here, with candid censure, that no objection,
or reproach can he, and is constantly made against
our language by our rivals the French,
which cannot be demonstrated to hold, with
equal force at least, in their varying modes of
sounds, changes, and suppressions of letters and
Nor is it useless to notice the many limited and
erroneous rules, ,explanations and false analogies,
of English pronunciation, set down by French
masters, when drawn from the sounds of their
own language, in which scarce one articulation
can be found in the most simple French words,
perfectly conformable to our own, and not equally
different from the rest of Europe. The word
La Muse, seems very simple; yet no Englishman,
or any one but a native Frenchman, or one
long habituated to the language, can sound it
indistinguishably right, and conformably to the
true French sound. Also the common word
Monsieur, is unattainably difficult to us in general,
and all foreigners, who have not in a manner
given up their native tongue for French. We
have also a trifling word, simple in appearance
to us, which not one Frenchman in ten
thousand can rightly articulate; it is the word,
Sir. Thus many English and French sounds,
are mutually indefinable and inexplicable, by any
resource of analogy between these two languages.
Hence it appears what errors a French
or Englishman must make, in reasoning on sounds
which neither perfectly possesses in both languages,
and has no knowledge of other tongues.
The sounds and combinations of our letters,
are thus stated by the Numbers, 1. 2. 3. 4.
No. 1. is the general and common sound. No. 2.
a frequent and secondary sound. No. 3. and 4.
mark it to be accidental, potential, and rare.
Respecting this distinction of potential sounds,
it may be observed, that it is common to all
languages ; and further, that no English grammars
seem to notice the potential sounds of many of
our letters. (See PRINC. III.)
As the simple vowels are the source of articulation;
we must begin with them, first remarking,
that the very naming our letters will go far towards
sounding words of one syllable.
FIRST POSITION of the free, and independent
Vowels, that is, of Vowels standing alone, or
following Consonants, without the influence of
A, No. 1. The common foreign clear e, expressed
by our diphthong ai, or ay.
REMARK. This sound of a is frequent in Hebrew.
It is the first, the softest, the easiest
movement of the voice, and all the organs of human
sounds; therefore we make it our first letter.
No. 2. a, common foreign. No:3. 4. â broad,
E, No. I. i foreign, like our diphthong ee.
Reason. It is the result of the anticipated order
of our English vowels. No. 2. e foreign;
and c mute, restoring a preceding vowel to its
natural English, or long sound, or softening the
I, is peculiar to us : having something of the
Greek ei, or French aï, and German ei, or ey.
Reason. It is the result of the anticipated
movement. Lipsius notices and praises this English
letter, as the sole remnant of the true and
long Roman i, quem (sonum) soli Britanni retinent,
Lips. de Lit. I. The old Latins wrote ameicus,
reivus, &c. for amicus, rivus. No. 3. i foreign.
O, No. 1. the Greek o mega, o long. No. 3.
ou French, potential.
U, No. 1. yu, having a twang and twist of
voice peculiar to us. No. 2. bordering on the
Italian u, or ou French: it has also a mixed sound
of u French and Italian, losing the twang of y, yu.
Y, No. 1. wei. No. 2. i foreign, and is placed
finally for simple i. W, u, u, or double u, turns
to u, in all finals.
SECOND POSITION of Vowels prefixed to Consonants,
named the dependent and impeded state.
Remark. In this position our vowels receive
a foreign and contracted sound; and this is much
more frequent than the long English sound.
Hence, a, e, i,, u, y, agree with the common foreign
sound. O, only has a peculiar articulation
resembling â broad.
A, No. 1. slender a French, &c. No. 2.
clearer, and a little more open. Also frequently
very open and broad, â.
E, No. 1. common foreign. No. 2. 3. a clear,
u rough. No, 4. a obscure.
I, No. 1. common foreign. No. 3. u rough;
a, foreign clear. No. 4. j.
O, has two distinct sounds in this state, the
first is deemed short, though it sounds long, and
resembles a kind of open â. No. 3. o short u,
like the Italian and French o, in ottimo, nous sommes
uttimo, (summ). No. 4. it sounds wu, as y
U, No. 1. the common Flemish u. No. 4.
e short, and i short.
Y, No. I. i common foreign. No. 3. turns to
a consonant. No. 4. g.
The order in which our letters stand drawn up
to view, calls for the display of the coalescing
vowels or diphthongs. They form a distinct part
of pronunciation, which at present would cause
much confusion, or interruption in explaining
the sounds of the simple vowels joined with the
consonants. Wherefore we will examine them
SIMPLE CONSONANTS named by the position of
final and independent Vowels. These are called
B, No. 1. bee, or bi, per i foreign.
C, No. 1. cee, per s and k, soft and hard, as in
French. No. 3. aspirated, or potential sh: See
s and t below.
D, No. 1. dee. T is its affinitive letter.
G, No. 1. dgee: the Italian g when soft, before
e and i. It follows the hard Hebrew, Greek,
and German g, (as in French) before a, o, u, & h.
J, No, 1. djai: the Italian j. No. 4. assumes
the place of i.
K, No. 1. ka, (kai) the foreign ka.
P, No. 1. pee.
Q. No. 1. kîew, or rather with some mixture
of the Italian u or French ou, and diversely
sounded as in French, per k and cw.
T, No. 1. tee. No. 2. s and sh, the Hebrew
sin and shin.
V. No. 1. vee. No. 3. 4. substituted for f
and u, affinitive letters.
Y; No. 1. wy, per i English. No. 4. g, and
sometimes a vowel.
W. See this heterogeneous letter at the end of
the simple consonants.
SIMPLE CONSONANTS named by preceding Vowels.
Vowels have in this position a foreign and
short sound, and are in their impeded and dependent
state, and thus the consonants are named,
and resemble in general similar foreign consonants:
this requires explanation.
Our vowels are generally deemed short, or contracted,
when they lose their natural English, or
long sound, by that diminution of the double
durance of time which they require being placed
alone, or closing a monosyllable, as a (article)
I (pronoun) o (exclamation,) or the monosyllables
be, be, go, sky, &c. Here the vowels are free,
and unimpeded: the same appears in detached
syllables, as fa-mous, fe-ver, bi-ped, o-pen, ru-ler,
ty-rant: thus accent and quantity, or the double
mora of time, rest on the vowel, which is equivalently
double, and is often expressed by two
vowels, or a diphthong a, ai, e, ee, &c. (See acc.
and quant. in the second part.)
But when the vowel joins a subsequent consonant,
the accent or quantity rests on the consonant,
which is either really doubled, or only
doubled in sound; as fell, pill, null, &c. hat, set,
fit, &c. which kind of words our ancestors wrote
with two closing consonants, hatt, sett, fitt, &c.:
thus the vowel is contracted, and transfers its
double mora to the consonant.
THESE consonants are called liquids or semi--
vowels. Most are soft and mollifying letters.
F, No. 1. eff. No. 3. 4. v, its relative.
H, No. 1. ache; atche, or aitch, commonly
spelt with e mute final, or with a diphthong,
therefore the vowel sound remains long: It
sounds as in Greek, in which it is expressed by
our comma when soft, & by the comma turned
to the right when hard; or like the Latin
or French h, soft or mute. No 2. aspirated and
L, No. 1. ell. No. 4, r.
M, No. 1. emm. No. 2. 3. imm, eemm, and
N, No. 1. enn. No. 2. 3. een, inn, and ainn.
That these two remarkable semi-vowels, in particular,
have occasionally and radically these potential
sounds, will be proved in the sequel.
R, No. 1. arrh and urrh, the roughest letter
in the English language; it is so in other languages,
and is named the canine letter. No. 2.
softer like the French r, when succeeded by a
second r, or e mute, or corrected by diphthongs.
S, No. i. eſs. No. 2. z, as in French. No.
3. aspirated, or potential sh, like the Hebrew
sin and shin. It seems a singular omission in
English grammars, not to notice in the alphabet
this frequent potential sound. It is deemed the
hissing English letter, yet Latin equally abounds
with S: Our hissing is a little abated by the
potential sound of z.
X, No. 1. ex. No. 4. ksh.
Z, No. 1. uzzard, zad, zed. No. 2. when
two occur, the sound is sz.
REMARKS ON W.
W, is here classed apart, being an heterogeneous
letter, sometimes a consonant, and sometimes
a vowel. It prevails much in the Northern languages.
No 1. If final, it differs not in sound from u:
if placed initially, it is a consonant, partaking
more of v than u, as its sound and form sufficiently
No. 2. Its influence on the a is as singular
as it is regular. Whether a precedes, or follows
the w, it is very open and broad. Nor, if duly
considered, is its frequent effect on a subsequent
o, though o be united to r, less remarkable ; for o
receives the very short sound of u, but the long
sound of o is restored by e mute final, which also
restores a to its natural English sound: We find
that four words formed by f, g, x, following a,
mollify the broad sound of aw.
No. 4. the subsequent o also softens its coarse
sound by converting w into u, and forming a
transposed diphthong uo sounding ou French.
(See two below, and mb and rd, counteracting
the common influence of w over o, in womb,
W, by its elementary power, names the letter
y, (wy) and once also the short o (sounding u)
wu, (one, wunn,) below.
THE FIRST CLASS of doubled and coalescing
THIS soft and inseparable combination requires
no other explanation, than that the letters are inseparably
united in their spelling and sound, and
that they generally begin a syllable, and in dissyllables
often lengthen preceding vowels.
THE SECOND CLASS of Coalescing Consonants,
closing a syllable, or a monosyllabic word, and
altering the sound of preceding vowels, contrary
to the common rule. The usual numbers, No. 1.
No. 2. &c. indicate the frequency of the sound.
a, No. 1. aw.
i, No. 1. i long.
o. No. 1. o long.
a, No. 1. aw.
o, No. 1. o.
u, No. 3. ou Fr.
a, No. 1. aw.
a, No. 1. aw.
o. No. 1. o long
Nd. No. 1. i long.
Nt. i. No. 4. i long.
Rd. o, No. 1. o long.
Rk. o, No. 3. o long.
Rch. o, No. 4. o long.
Rm. a, No. i. a foreign.
Rn a, No. 1. a foreign.
o, No. 4. o long.
Rt. o, No. 1. o long.
Sh. u, No. 4. ou Fr.
St. o, No. 3. 4. o long.
a, No. 1. a foreign.
i, No. 4. i, u, Eng.
u, long and soft.
N. B. All vowels are not equally affected,
some rarely, e never.
THE THIRD CLASS of rough, harsh, and guttural
coalescing Consonants, initial and final.
Bt, No. 1. b mute, as in French.
Ch, No. 1. tch in English words : the true
Spanish ch: a combination more difficult to the
French than th. In Greek words X, that is
kappa hard. In French words, sh. No. 3. dge,
and No. 4. silent in finals.
Cr, No. 1. kr.
Chr, No. 1. kr.
Ck, k; k is often omitted as redundant.
Ct, No. 2. 3. c mute. No. 4. c omitted, leaving
the sound of e mute final.
Ft, No. 2. t becomes f.
The following Six Combinations contain the hard
and remarkable GUTTURALS.
Gh, No. i. h mute initially ; both vanish, being
final after simple consonants; but closing
diphthongs substitute f, and once p. (See dipth.)
(Gb, is the German ch, hence dochter, daughter.)
Ght, No. 1. gh vanishing, leaves preceding i
Gm, No. 1. g mute in finals.
Gn, No. g initially mute. G in finals is suppressed,
and n receives, as the t above, the sound
or effect of e mute, as if it were finally added.
Kn, No. 1. k, initially mute.
Ld, No. 4. 1 mute.
Lf, lk, lm, ln, lv, lph, l mute, No. 1.
Mb, No. 1. b mute. No. 3. 4. the preceding
i becomes long, and o (No. 4.) becomes i
and ou French.
Mn, No. 1. n mute. If separated in dissyllables
or pollysyllables, both are sounded.
Mpt, No. 1. p mute.
Ng, No. 2. g mute, or scarce sounded, in participles
Ps, Pt, No. 1. p mute.
Pht, ph mute.
Sc., No. 1. initial c vanishes. No. 4. intermediately
placed, c is mute.
Sl, No. 4. being intermediately placed, s is
Si, No. 4. converted into ce or se.
Sch, No. 1. in Greek words sk. No. 2. frequently
Sw, No. 3. 4. w mute.
Th, this combination is not confined to us; it
abounds in Spanish: the Italians, French and
Irish, make it the Shiboleth of our language.
No. 1 In pronouns and adverbs, Dh (which the
Germans seem to retain) and being intermediate,
if it is followed by e in English words.
Th, No. 2. in Hebrew, Greek, and most proper
names, appellatives and verbs, it has the hard
and hissing sound of the Thau, the Egyptian
Thoth, and the Greek Theta. No. 3. 4. like the
Hebrew tau, it loses its aspirated h, and sounds
simple t. Th, notwithstanding its supposed roughness,
softens preceding a, 1, o, and u.
Wh, No. i. h is sounded, though faintly.
No. 3. w mute.
Wr, No. 1, initially w is mute.
THE SIMPLE THEORY OF THE ENGLISH ALPHABET,
AND ITS VARIOUS COMBINATIONS, HITHERTO
CHIEFLY CONFINED TO THE SIGHT AND EAR,
REALISED IN THE FORMATION OF MONOSYLLABLES.
WE rest the verification of the title of this
literary attempt on the following process, and
specious, if occasionally defective, proofs to be
exhibited to the mind by examples, solution of
difficulties, analysis, and reason of sounds deviating
from the general order, rule and law of the
simple and direct powers of letters, in order to
shew that the presiding Genius of our Language
is not actuated by anomalous caprice.
The past resembles the plan, outlines, or groundwork,
of a building exhibited to sight, as a guide
to future operations. For the sake of greater
perspicuity, we may observe again the use of the
numbers 1, 2, 3, 4. No. 1. marks the primary,
general, and regular order of elementary sounds
in monosyllabic words, or the radical, main, and
substantial syllable of words: No. 2. a secondary
and common small variation, arising from some
change, encrease, or power of different letters,
meaning, or origin of words: No. 3. a less common
variation, founded in some particular reason:
No. 4. is rare, and difficult to resolve by common
rule of simple combinations. This broad and
extensive mode of pointing out the rules of our
Pronunciation, will render useless the term of
vague and unsatisfactory Exception, with which
English grammars abound: such, in particular,
as are compiled by the French for the use of their
countrymen, are replete with erroneous principles,
false English, limited and defective rules,
and discover inattention to, or ignorance of that
direction of Reason in English pronunciation,
which (per PRINC. VII.) frequently pays more
regard to the import and origin of words, than to
simple elementary powers. It was this that made
a learned foreigner and profound philologist bestow
with some surprize this encomium on our
language, quelle langue raisonnée! (Mons. Gibelin
mond. primit.) We will now endeavour to merit
it, by realising the flattering commendation of
this learned Swiss.
Principles, Rules, Examples, Solutions of Difficulties,
&c. chiefly confined to Monosyllabic
PRINCIPLE. Monosyllables may be considered
as the roots of longer words, and future sounds.
In English, every monosyllable is of itself
clear and distinct in point of sound, either in virtue
of the prevailing long vowel, or the prevailing
double sound of the consonant: But in common
discourse and poetry, monosyllables (where
no particular emphasis is required) are occasionally
so blended and mixed with other words, as
to resemble short syllabics, and sound so obscure,
as to create much confusion in the ear of strangers,
who complain of that singular rapidity of
pronunciation, which the solemn delivery of the
orator, or slow reader, renders easy to them.
FIRST POSITION of the free and unimpeded Vowel
The GENERAL RULE is found under No. 1.
pag. 22. and 23.
A, No. 1. ai. A (article) the only monosyllable
so terminated; and in all disjoined syllables,
fa-tal, la-dy, &c. a sounds ai.
OBJECTION. The syllabics a, ia, ma, na, fa,
pa, wa, &c, &c; have the three foreign sounds,
of a slender, a clear, and â, aw, broad in the
words A-men, An-na, Britannia, Chi-na, ma--
ma, pa-pa, fa-ther, ra-ther, Spâ, wâ-ter, &c.
therefore the general rule fails in the very first
setting out, especially if we add that a has generally,
or more commonly, the foreign sound: consequently
the term of bare exception, or anomalous
caprice, holds in full force.
ANSWER 1. The objection and examples are
common, but the reasoning is erroneous and false.
2. Here no word, but Spâ is a monosyllable; but
as they seem to fall under the general rule of
unmixed syllables, they may be noticed. 3. The
rule is confined to English words: the above examples,
and all similar, are either foreign words,
or mixed syllables, or short finals in dissyllables
and polysyllables, in which our vowels have the
short foreign sound, as An-na, Chi-na, Britan-nia,
Lu-ca, He-be, Chi-1i, and most simple words in y
final, as fu-ry, en-vy, &c. So far then is the objection
irrelevant, that it confirms PRINC. VIII.
and PRINC. II. Ma-ma, pa-pa, are certainly foreign
words: we leave the softening or naturalizing
them to the delicate organs of children, in
whose mouths they sound more pleasing and
tender; mam-ai, pap-ai. We say Amen, or aimen,
as pure Hebrew, or naturalized. Fa-ther,
ra-ther, and many similar, sound a clear foreign,
being combined in sound with the double consonant
th, thus doubled, fath-ther, rath-ther, gath--
ther, &c. &c. (See rule of dependent vowels,
p. 26.) See also th p. 31. where it is described as
a softening combination. N. B. There .seems to
be a singular softness in the word father, as in
the word aunt, more than the simple powers of
the combinations of th or au naturally admit.
See PRINC. VIII.
Spâ is totally foreign, and seems to sound as,
absurdly to us as to foreigners by ai.
Wa-ter, per a broad, is perfectly conformable
to the general rule and influence of w. See w
consonant, p. 27.
E, No. 1. EE, be, he, she, me, the. No. 2.
many sound e per e foreign, in the compound of
the Latin de & re, as de-fend, se-cond, re-sound,
re-flect; but the ear will find this to be the result
of the subsequent consonant being doubled
in sound, defend, secc, or sekkond, ressound, or rezound,
&c.: thus we sound decimate, dessimate,
&c. No. 2. e mute restores the length of vowels,
bit, hat, her, bîte, hate, here, &c. it lengthens also
the vowel-sound before two consonants; as singe,
chance, France, which would otherwise be short,
sing, thank, Frank. E mute is a great key of
our pronunciation. But as it would now cause
some confusion, and run into dissyllables, it is
reserved for future discussion.
I, No. 1. Ei, I pronoun, the only word in English
terminated by i, all others are foreign: therefore
per No. 2. sound i foreign, Chili, Brindi-si,
&c. either as initials, or obscure finals. No. 4.
i becomes j consonant in the word soldier, soldier.
Hence Hierusalem, &c. Jerusalem, &c.
Thus we trespass a little beyond the bounds of
monosyllables, to verify monosyllabic combinations.
O, No. 1. O long, go, lo, no, so. No. 3. O, has
frequently the potential sound of ou French, e
mute being added to the subsequent consonant; as
move, prove, from the French mou-voir, prou-ver,
(per PRINC. II.) Rome also sounds ou French,
but o long prevails by use and rule, Rome, Roman.
OBJECTION. Do, to, who, whom, are neither
French words, nor have they e final mute after
them: and why is whose, bosom, also sounded
per ou? And, after all, e final mute does but
seldom produce that effect; therefore, bare exception
or caprice, can be the only solution.
Why also is the w mutilated? Another capricious
ANSWER. The inference does not hold good.
The first part chiefly belongs to PRINC. III., the
rule of contrast, or influence of antient orthography.
The rule of contrast founded on reason, is more
conformable to the presiding Genius of our Language,
than the simple rule of elementary combination,
and is remarkably prevalent in English
THE POWERS of CONTRAST exemplified.
Do, verb, per ou Fr. Doe, animal, per o long.
To, preposition. Toe, of the foot.
.Hoe, instrument,& woe.
Home, & womb (woum.)
And, it behoves, present
time, per ou.
It behove, preterit, per
In order totally to exclude bare and capricious
exception, we may add to the great rule of contrast
ANTIENT ORTHOGRAPHY, per PRINC. V.
Oe, ou French is the antient, and modern Dutch
diphthong oe, (ou) still found in a word or two,
shoe, canoe, or shoo, canoo; doe, toe, whoe, whoese,
whoem, were so written formerly, and the word
bo-som, boe-som, as commonly sounded.
A curious and pertinent digression on the old
words doe, and do, serving to remove a common
error, that how do you do is a whimsical tautology.
The old significant word, do, to do, per o long,
is lost by modern refinement. This word formerly,
and even to this very day in Lancashire,
relates to the state of health, valere: he dos, (per
o) well; he dos ill; he can neither die nor do:
therefore, in the friendly enquiry, how do you do,
the first do, (dou) is the emphatic potential, or
auxiliary verb, expressing the actual state of the
verb, as he does write, &c.: the second do, (do)
is the verb valet.
U, No. 1. yu, no English word terminates in u:
we find its sound in the word use. Mr Sheridan
seems to carry to affectation the mixture of the i
and ou, in Duke, diouk, &c. No. 2. as u before
the combination with the final consonant loses the
twang of iu, so the long u often seems to lose it:
no one ever sounded us by ious, give ious this
day, &c., so true, blue, &c. lose that twang.
Bush, but-cher, push, put, (present time) per ou
French, buis-son, bou-cher, pousser, bou-ter, (old
Y, No. i. wei ; by, cry, my, &c.: by and my,
frequently sound short, or sink, when no emphasis
is required; my friend with my father returned
home; he is my friend, not yours; I came by
Hull, not by Chester.
W, is a vowel in finals, as, aw, ew, ow, &c.
See w above, and diphthongs below.
THE SECOND POSITION of Vowels in their dependent
and impeded state, exemplified, &c.
A, No. 1. a slender, at, bad, can, fan, man, mad.
No. 2. two consonants render it a little more
open, as bank, cast, dart, fast, &c.; and the r
alone, or followed by consonants, still more, as
bar, car, far, star, arms, art, cart, dart, hard,
&c.: if w precedes, then by rule of w alone,
(see W) a is very broad, war, warm, ward, want,
E, No. 1. e foreign, bed, den, let, bell, nest, sex.
No. 2, 3. the roughness of the letter r, (see R)
arch, or urrh, totally absorbs and assimilates to
itself, e, i, and y. E, her, har and bur, the hard
u seems more prevalent, as herd, hurd, hence
arises the absurd and unintelligible sounds of the
Latin words, fer, per, ter, and no foreigner would
understand this pure Latin phrase pronounced
our English way; fertur per urbem ter virgis
obverso tergore verberatus, vir & virgo: furtur
pur urbem tur vurgis obvurso turgore vurberatus
vur & vurgo. Hence cler, der, mer, sound clar
and clur, dar and dur, mar and mur, in clerk,
Derby, merchant: servant, survant and sarvant,
No. 4. e erroneously sounded a in yellow.
I, No. 1. i foreign, in, sin, hill, &c. Pint, per i
English. See nt below.
No. 2. 3. it undergoes the same treatment
from r, as e above. Bird, sir, stir, stirk, (per u)
gird, girl, gurl or garl, and sir in sir-rah, Sar--
rah. No. 4. i becomes a consonant in ier, soldier,
sold-jer, Hier, Jerusalm, &c.
O, No. 1. sounds like a broad a before most
consonants; bog, God, on, rod, ox, fox, cord, (see rd
below, and p. 29.) No. 2. before m and n, v, th, it
frequently has the sound of u short: com-ing, son,
ton, hon-ey, Lon-don, and commonly after w, (see
W) cov-er, broth-er, moth-er, noth-ing, that is,
when o is short: after w, work, word, worm, worth,
worship, (per o or u) won-der, &c. No. 4. one,
and its derivative once, sound wunn and wunce.
This change is so very rare, that it would not
deserve notice, did not the rule or powers of contrast
vindicate this very useful and common
word from caprice, and make rational variation
here triumph over elementary combination; for
one in rigour should sound o long, at least u short;
it is thus contrasted.
One, wunn, differs from Own, proper.
Per o short u,, Per o long. (See diphth.
But, if it sounded o hard, or u, the very short o,
without w, the confusion would be not only contrary
to rule, but ludicrous.
One, if sounded o common
trespass upon e final
and become homo--
phonous with - On, (upon)
If the rough o be shortened
without w, into
o short (u) then the
sound of un will be
ridiculously similar to Un, the privative,
One woman, one man,
will admit no ridiculous
idea by giving it
the sound of wunn.
Unwoman, and unman!
This would express
the undoing the human
U, No. 1. u coarse Flemish, us, must, cur, fur,
sun, run, &c. No. 4. e in bu-ry, ber-ry, and
i short in bus-sy, bizzy, by affinity of sound.
Y, No. 1. common foreign i.
No. 3. it becomes a consonant, in yes, yest, yon.
No 4. bay sounds bag, in bay-o-net, by illusion of
sound, PRINC. III.
SIMPLE CONSONANTS named by the First Position
of unimpeded Vowels, exemplified.
B, bee. — C, No. 1. as in French. K before
a, o, u: — Can, cap, &c. Core, cog, &c. Cup, cut, &c.
per k. Cell, ceſs, cid, cit, &c. per s before e, and
i; and as it sounds s, it sometimes follows s in all
its variations; hence it appears doubled in bracelet,
braſs-let, de-ci-mate, deſsi-mate, &c. No. 3
thus also it becomes sh; social, so-shal, &c. See
D, No. 1. dee. No. 2. the contracted d in
preterits after f, x, &c. becomes t, cleft, waxed,
wait, &c. Its affinity with t appears in Welch
and German: Got, for God, &c.
G, is a various and perplexing simple letter,
affording occasion to endless and groundless exceptions
against its most stable rules, through inattention
to, or ignorance of radical words, under
which it appears so diversified and anomalous.
No. 1. G, dgee, sounds soft like the Italian
before e and i, thus partly imitating the French
g. But this rule is confined to words taken from
Latin, Italian and French, though radically Greek,
gem, dgem, gen-tle, genus, hence homo-ge-neous,
Dio-ge-nes, Genesis, and a few more that come to
us with the original Greek g, thrice strained and
softened by Latin, Italian and French.
Secondly, (also per No. 1. or common sound,)
g is hard as in French before a, o, u, or when h
and u coalesce with g, imo, gag, game, gay,
go, God ; gun. 2do, ghit-tar, guide. Add to this
Hebrew, German, Saxon, and most Greek nouns,
and proper names. Such are the general and
steady rules of G.
OBJECTION. "No letter, by the authority of
"all grammars, is so variable and capricious as
"this; the term of bare exception alone can
"mark its opposition to. To this pretended
"unanswerable objection, is tacked an abridged
"list of English words, because it is readily grant"ed
that Hebrew, Greek, German, or their de"rivations,
should be pronounced by g hard,
"though some few even of these are sounded per
"g soft, in conformity to their use in Latin,
"Italian and French. Get, geld, geese, give,
"gild, gift, gimp, gill, girl, gird, gig. Add final
"ger in dissyllables, and gin, ging, &c. initial
"gil, gim, git, giz: Fin-ger, lin-ger, dag-ger, swag"ger,
ti-ger, an-ger, get in tar-get, and geth, alto"geth-er,
gil-der, gimlet, git-tar, gizzard, &c.
"Now all these being very common English
"words, triumphantly shew the prevalence of a"narchy
and anomaly in English pronunciation."
ANSWER. The solution is easy, and little more
seems to be required towards affording a very ready
and satisfactory reply, than the admission of
the influence of antient orthography, or way of
spelling, which, though now refined, still leaves
the antient sound of many words, and clearly
proves that b, or u, were found added to g, or
that they remain in the radical word: or that the
sound of e, or i, is converted into a, or u before r,
2dly, We must remember the rule regards English
words, which we have received thrice rectified
and refined by Latin, Italian, and French,
even in some Greek proper and common names;
that Hebrew, German, or Saxon words retaing hard.
Now, the very words singled out above are of the
latter description. Get, gilt, and the following five
words, are not only German word, but may be
found in old books written with a subsequent h,
ghett &c. Gimp, is better. and commonly spelt
ghimp; gills, (of a fish) comes from the Portuguese
and French words guel-ras and guelle.
Girl, and gird, because we sound them by a or u,
i being placed before r, (See page 40.) garl or
gurl, gurd. Gig, a modern vehicle; the inventor
may answer for the name, perhaps the contrast
of jig, (dance), made him prefer the radical part
of gigle, (to laugh), which is German.
The solution of similar syllables in dissyllables
is the same. 1mo, Gimlet, gina-gam, git-tar, gizzard,
will be found spelt with h after the g. 2do,
The final ger, and gger, gin, ging, and geth-er,
receive the hardened g from another source;
To-wit, when the primitive word does not contain
e final after syllabic g, ger, gin, ging, which
are pure German finals, those syllabic endings
will be hard; for er, in, ing, are the expletive syllables
added to g, which has already terminated
the radical word per g hard; the word, I say, or
leading part of it.
EXAMPLES. E mute in singe, (to burn), makes
g soft in the participle, sin-ging, range, ran-ging,
re-venge, re-ven-ging, &c. But to sing, (music),
to hang, to begin, &c. &c. being radically hard,
are not softened by adding ing; the same holds
in respect of ger, as a-venge, avenger, per g soft.
Also ger in finger, linger, &c. contains no radical e
mute ; for fing, and ling, are the main and accented
syllable; ing, or ger, is the German or Saxon
expletive, from fen-gar, or fin-ger, and langaran,
German. Dag-ger, swag-ger, &c. have the same
solution. An-ger, is pure Saxon. Ti-ger owes
the sound of g hard to the Latin and Greek
ti-gris, and perhaps to the French sound, and
better way of preserving the root, ti-gre. Ger,
gen, gin, from the Italian or French, are soft by
rule, gin-ger, gender (gendre) &c.
1st Remark: We have many words formed by
g, so little in use, that no common reader can
determine whether g is hard or soft: that is,
whether they are Greek, German, Italian, English,
or French words.
2d Remark: Common writers of grammar, and
those who are totally ignorant of the dead languages,
consequently weak etymologists, and
have no guide but their own tongue, acquired by
habit, or some knowledge of only one foreign
language, particularly English and French, are
liable to a thousand errors and false decisions,
and therefore inevitably fall into the nonplus of
bare exception. See the close of the principles, p. 17.
J, No. 3. The Italian j, djai. Jay; jig, jill,
No. 4. see letter i turned into j, p. 40.
K, almost useless after c, is often omitted, as
P, No. 1. pee, past, pest, pit, pot, put.
Q, No. 1. k, towards the end of words, oblique,
&c. Initially Cw, quell, qualm, quar-rel, quell,
&c. as quoi is sounded in French.
N.B. qu has the same influence over a as the
w, qua, quaw, as q ual, &c. p 27.
T, No. 1. tee, tap, tip, top, tup. No. 3. it turns
to s and sh, see tian, tion, &c. in the trisyllables.
V. No. i. vee; related to u and f. V in finals
is closed with e mute, and is a softened f. It is
the great stumbling-block of our Londoners, who
substitute it most absurdly for w, and vice versâ
w for v.
Y, No. 1. Initially placed is a consonant, yes,
SIMPLE CONSONANTS named by preceding
Vowels: exemplified, &c.
F, No. 1. eff. No. 4. v. of, (preposition) ov, thus
distinguished from the local adverb off; he went
off; of his own accord.
H, as in Latin and French, No. 1. mute, or
aspirated in different words; hour, per h mute,
harm, hiss, hurt, &c. &c. per h aspirated. We
have few words in which h is not sounded.
L. No. 1. a very soft semivowel. No. 4. in
the word co-lo-nel, by contraction it assumes the
sound of r, cor-nel.
M and N analytically examined.
M and N are remarkable semivowels and liquids;
they demand some attention. For their
radical and innate sound of e (emm and enn), occasionally
seems to convert a preceding vowel into
a diphthong, as appears in a few words under
the combination of m, sounding a mm, eem, and
under that of n, ainn, and eenn, or inn. We leave
to the Learned this new problem, and mode of
potential sounds in these and other letters; but
a similar process being noticed and admitted in
other languages, why should it be rejected in
ours, as of itself it directly tends to account for
some sounds, which otherwise perhaps must be
left to the weak refuge of bare and unsatisfactory
exception? See PRINC. III.
Under this intreated attention, and due deference
to the Learned, we proceed to discuss the
soft semivowel m and n,
M, No. 1. emm, stem, gem, affecting preceding
vowels like other consonants. No. 2. im, before
words radically taken from the Latin conjunctive
preposition im, which by a corrupt imitation of
the French we write em, though very commonly
pronounce it im, and now more analogously write
im, unless the Greek em prevails. Examples front
dissyllables, &c. are unavoidable, em-pale, emboss:
em-bassador, emperor and empress, retain the e.-
Other words found in monosyllabic em, are either
Greek, Saxon, mere French, or English simple
(non compound) nouns, &c. as em-phasis, em--
blem, em-pory, em-py-real, &c. all Greek : emmet,
empty, &c. from the Saxon, æmmet, æmptian, &c.
from the French embrasure, empire, &c.
No. 3. m sounds aimm in cam-bric, Cam-bridge,
chamber: To avoid this appearance of trespass
against the union of simple vowels with simple
consonants, many follow the general rule, by
sounding a foreign, cambric, chamber, &c.
Thames (river) is a singular word. How h
crept in after t we cannot tell; however it is mute;
not being found in the root Tame, by conflux of
which river, and that of the Isis, it is formed, and
better expressed in Latin and French, Tamisis,
La Tamise, which, say subtle etymologists, is found
in the confused powers and conflux of the letters
in Thames, sounded per aimm above, and the contraction
of es into z; for, contrary to the common
order of letters and syllables, Thames sounds
Taimz ; which seems to exhibit the contraction
of Tame and Isis.
N, No. 1. enn: fen, men, pen. No. 2. eenn,
having the shortened sound inn; under the same
process as m, emm, eemm, or imm: for Greek
words or roots preserve en, and some words deemed
French originally, entry, envy, enemy, entrée,
envie, ennemi, though radically Latin, which we
have transcribed into our own language from the
corrupted source of French: Sometimes we even
mix both. as enemy, with one n, from inimicus,
and by adopting e instead of i, ennemi, inimicus.
We now begin to conform to the purer origin, as
appears in these and other words — intire, indite,
insign, insue, &c. from in-teger, in-dico, in-signe,
in-sequi, &c. &c.
Our own name, EN-GLISH and EN-GLAND, sounded
IN, is very singular, which the potential powers
of n, (enn, eenn) well considered may explain.
With reason then (and may it succeed)
many begin to write IN-GLISH, &c. so conformable
to the Italian and Spanish In-glesi, so different
from the Latin and French, An-glus, An-glois,
and so similar to the original German sound Einghe-lant
and Ein-gle-mensh, to which our IN may
be attributed, if the above speculation of n,
exceptionable to the Learned.
R: this letter is singularly rough in the mouths
of Normans, and the inhabitants of the county
of Durham, who cannot pronounce these words
without a disagreeable rattling of the throat,
Rochus Rex Maurorum. R truly verifies its name
of litera canina, and imitates the grining snarl as
closely as our ow, the barking of a dog. No. 1.
its sound is ARRH, and URRH, before e, i, (u) y.
No. 2. Society, even in letters, frequently softens
native coarseness. In Greek, when two r's occur,
the first receives the spiritus lenis, the second
the asper: and we use the common sound of the
short vowels, e, i, y, when they are succeeded by
two r's. This mitigation of the coarse r, holds
also when the r is only doubled in sound, unless
the radical part or word, exhibits the rough pre,
valence of r, arrh, or urrh. All which we will
R, No r. arrh and urrh. See how e, i, are affec
ted-by this letter, p. 39. 40.
No. 2. 3. r softer : can only be verified in dissyllables,
&c cher-ry, fer-ry, mer-ry, mir-ror,
pyr-rich, Pyr-rhus: Here r is really doubled.
The following words only double the sound of r,
ver-y, spir-it, mir-aculous, lyr-ic, pyr-ite, myr--
iad, &c. &c ver-ry, spir-rit, &c. &c. the
roots of which are all soft, ve-rus, spi-ro, ly-ra,
No. 3. The following words, either actually
containing two r's, or sounded with two r's, yet
retaining the rough sound of arrh and urrh, are
no capricious exceptions, but founded in rule.
Sir-rah, squir-rel, stir-ring, stir-rup, syr-op, sounded
sur-rop. The reason clearly appears in the
leading monosyllabic root. SUR-RAH, or more
commonly SAR-RAH, comes from SIR. Squir-rel
has the Latin and Greek root, per u, sciu-rus,
ski-ou-ros, or the old English word to squirm, to
frisk about; stir-ring, stirrup. from to stir: syrop
is a Greek word, per u Greek (upsilon) su-ro--
pion, not per y Greek, as the French name it.
S, No. i. (as in French) before o, i, u, sounds
z, but if it stand for c, in that case it retains the
sound of s, not z. Muse, rise, wise, per z, muze,
&c.; race, peace, brace, rase, pease, brace, per s.
Hence the common error of precedent, and president;
the first should sound s, the other z, and
thus shew thetr difference. No. 2. 3. aspirated
like the Hebrew sin and shin, chiefly before u —
Sugar, sure, as-sure ; and in contracted syllables,
sion, &c. (See tri-syllabics below) shu-gar,
Mr Sheridan's Dictionary seems to carry this
hissing sound too far; it is the most disagreeable
and reproachful of all our sounds, and therefore
should not be affectedly extended.
OBJECTION. The following nouns flatly contradict
the above pretended general rule — a dose,
grease, house, louse, mouse, use, abuse.
ANSWER. We shall here find the influence of
the great and characteristic PRINC. V. superior
to common rule relating to the mere sound of a
The above words are nouns, in contrast with
the same turned to verbs: and thus the principle
of sense and reason justly triumphs over the
minutiæ of sound.
To dose, grease, house, louse, mouse, use, and
abuse, are all sounded by z, expressing the verb.
To the above rule of s add, in analogy with the
French, that preceding consonants give s its own
sound, as sense, immense, &c. like the finals; ass,
hiss, asses, hisses, &c.
X, No. t. ex, next, vex, &c. No. 4. X sounds
ksh, in anxious, anxshus. &c. See tri-syll. below.
Z, No. 1. zed, zad. uzzad. No. 2. when two
occur. the first sounds s, muzzle, puzzle, &c.
W, to the w often noticed, may be added, that
its effect on subsequent a failing in three or four
words formed by f, g, x, in wa-fer, wag, wag-gon,
wax, deserves examination. We know that e
final corrects the broad sound, as wake, ware,
wave, &c. and derivatives, wage, wager, &c.
Perhaps wa-fer was origininally wrote wa-fre ;
or its root may be the cause, as in wa-fe-rers,
id est, way-faring, or wandering-men; or from the
Saxon word waef, light and floating ; and waeg,
waeg-gon, and waex; thus the common influence
of w, joined with the subsequent a, is weakened
by one half of its common powers, and instead of
a broad open a (aw) a becomes weak. This is,
the result of ae the old Saxon. diphthong: like
the word wrath, a being mitigated by the sub.
sequent th. See th p. 31.
THE FIRST CLASS of double or coalescing Consonants.
A sight of them, in the alphabetic order above,
is sufficient to shew their soft combination in
the division of a syllable which they produce,
as fa-ble, me-tre, bi-ble, no-ble, &c. (See dissyll.
THE SECOND CLASS of coalescing Consonants.
INTRODUCTION. This new order or combination
so singularly preserving the long sound, or
giving a new sound contrary to the rule of vowels,
is treated as mere and bare exception to the
supposed general rules of English pronunciation.
We will endeavour to prove the very reverse;
for as this arrangement of letters and sounds so
frequently occurs, and has its regular rules, why
should a law be laid down as general, which extensively
fails? This unsatisfactory mode of exception
may be easily avoided, by distinguishing
the combinations of letters into distinct classes,
which being considered a part, will be found to
have their general rules, and form a quiet and
peaceful department of their own, without opposition
to the prevailing powers of others. Such
is the nature of the simple e mute, of diphthongs,
of accent and quantity, and finally of the following
combination of consonants acting upon the
vowels by rules peculiar to themselves.
If we cast an eye on this, and the preceding
order of consonants, we shall find a striking difference,
which will second this idea of distinguishing
the different classes of letters, and thus
preclude the evasion of bare exception; for as the
concurrence of two vowels, called a diphthong,
does produce a new process of sounds, contrary
to the common rule of vowel-combinations; so
certain concurring consonants, formed by a preceding
semivowel or liquid, according to the doctrine
contained in m and n; (page 47). and this
kind of consonants being of themselves inseparably
united, may also produce new modes of articulation,
contrary to the common law of vowels
united with subsequent consonants: for such combinations
will be found to consist of two liquids,
or the transposed order of liquids preceding mutes.
The rule also of antient orthography will help to
solve every difficulty, which our modern refinement
has caused, by attaching new sounds to elementary
combinations in the doubled consonants;
for frequently the simple vowel now used, was formerly
a diphthong with a single or double consonant,
or the final E mute was found in theoldword:
Lastly, when the vowels a, i, o, u, y, are not at
all, or not uniformly affected by this class of coalescing
consonants, the radical formation of the
word must be weighed.
Modern orthography. Antient.
ALD, No. 1. AW, bald,
scald, &c. Bawld, scawld.
ILD, No. 1. 1 Engl. child,
mild, wild, &c. Chi-lde, mi-lde,
OLD, No. 1. o long, bold,
cold, fold, &c. Bo-lde, co-ld, fo-lde.
OBJECTION. — Children, wilderness, per i foreign,
and Gold per ou French, are clearly anomalous
ANSWER. — This ill-grounded objection gives
room to display many rules. First, it exceeds
the limits of the monosyllable, and is answered
per Princ. VIII. 2do, It confirms the laws of
mutes preceding liquids: for in CHILD, the liquid
precedes the mute, but the change of the plural
by dr brings forth mute and liquid in due order,
and, forming the final syllable by DREN, leaves i
under the dominion of the single 1, il, CHIL, dren
Wilderneſs and bewilder; d appears better separated
in order to serve the sound at least of
final DER; which DER, noticed below amongst
the dissyllables, is resolved in sound into DRE; or,
by a less speculative and more common change
of sound, it may be held as the effect of the shifting
accents. See shifting accent below.
GOLD. Is found written with an u; but neither
being conformable to present rule, is commonly,
or more correctly pronounced per o long;
hence the old or provincial word, gulde.
ALL, No. 1. (aw), all, ball, call, fall, gall, hall,
&c. per AW antiently.
OLL, No. 3. o long poll, (head), roll, scroll, toll,
droll ; pole, role, &c. antiently & radically.
ULL, No. 4. (ou) bull, full, pull; the rest by U
common, dull, hull, &c.
OBJECTION. — Here, at least, anomaly triumphs
over all rule unanswerably, in PALL-MALL, sounded
paill maill, or rather pell mell, besides innumerable
dissyllables, &c. in all: call-ow, hall-ow,
mall-et, pall-id, tall-ow; also endless words in
OLL syllabic, holl-ow, foll-ow, poll-ard, poll, moll,
doll, &c. — As ULL is singled out by No. 4. we
shall not object against it, for the exception is general.
ANSWER. — Pall-mall, was formerly written
paill-maill, and is the French pêle mêle : Modern
refinement effaced the a, and lengthen-.
ed the i into 1, retaining its foreign sound, by
Principle II. The significative verb, TO MALL,
sounded per â broad, is better and most commonly
The rest are dissyllables, therefore rather out of
place; but, to shew a ready answer is not wanting
to any objection, cal-low, hal-low, mal-let,
squal-lid, are not derived from any English monosyllabic;
mallet, and squal-lid are Latin, malleus,
Thus talent is sounded per a short; talent, from
the Latin, ta-len-turn; pallid comes from pale, with
single 1. The above, poll, moll, doll, never had a
final radical e mute; pollard, if taken from poll,
(pole, head) follows the shifting accent, (see
below): Moll, Poll, Doll, are derived from Mary
and Dorothy, or Molly, Polly, and Dolly.
The objection states all wrong spelt or divided,
for they are only so divided when the
root is long, as ll joined in polling, (voting by
head) lol-ling, (leaning) divides the two consonants.
The same answer stands for fol-low, pol-lard,
col-lar, col-lum, &c. &c. all main leading syllables
in ol without any final e mute being antiently
continued after ll.
The ull per ool is not objected, because the
objection states the exception to be general: the
term general exception is absurd, for thus the
exception becomes a common rule. Per PRINC.
VIII. p. 15.
ALK, a, aw (1 mute) balk, chalk, walk, talk,
but talk, mineral, per contrast, sounds a, per a
foreign with the 1.
OLK, o long (l mute) folk, yolk.
ALT, No. 1. a, aw, alt, malt, salt, &c.
OLT, No. 1. o long, bolt, colt, holt, &c. &c.
antiently spelt per e final.
ANC, No change, yet the a foreign is often
turned into ai by our Londoners, and very fine
speakers — France, dance, Fraince, daince, &c.
but e mute only lengthens c, which would otherwise
sound Frank, short.
END, thus end, send. &c. are as affectedly
sounded by i foreign; for e is never affected, as
said, by these combinations.
IND, No. 1. i Engl. bind, find, mind, &c.
Wind (the air) per i foreign, if you please, counterdistinguished
from, to wind, or tie up. The
poet, in virtue of the general rule, uses i Engl.
or i foreign.
OBJECTION. Hinder, sin-der, win-dow, &c.
are surely arbitrary exceptions.
ANSWER. 1mo, They are dissyllables. 2do,
Even so they confirm the rule, first, by the way
they should be spelt, being simple underived
dissyllable; (see diss.) secondly, by comparing
hin-der, and hind-er: hin-der to impede, is a
simple dissyllable; hind-er, or be-hind, is a monosyllable
encreased by expletive er, or be (by)
INT, i Engl. No. 4. pint, derived either from
the French peinte, or the radical affinitive d, pint,
pind, from pondo, pound weight.
ORD, No. 1. o long, bond, ford, hord, antiently
written per oa sounding o. This still appears
by the modern spelling of many such words,
and our Northern mode of pronouncing. But
where oa is not radically found, the o is like â
broad, as Lord, fork: and chord, cork, cor-di-al,
&c. from the Greek and Latin words. After w,
o sounds short u, as rd.
ORK, No. 4. o long, in pork, pork-et ; written
antiently per oa.
ORCH, No. 4. o long, porch, French, porche.
ARM, a foreign, clear, and aw; in virtue of
the r, or preceding w; as arms, charm, harm,
warm, warn, &c.
ORN, No. 4. o long, and is then followed by
e mute, or original oa, as borne (carried) for-lorn,
OST, No. 1. o long ; here the antient oa appears
again, in host, most, post, &c. coast, or cost (seaside)
cost or coast, is thus distinguished from cost
(expence) and hoarse from horse, though horse
has e final lost in the contrast.
ORT, No. 1. o long, at least in all monosyllables,
as fort, port, &c. French ; though more
originally Latin, porta, fortis, but not in that
USH, No. 4. ou French: as bush, push, from
the French buisson, pousser. Add puss (a cat,
hare) other words have the common short u,
crush, rush, &c. Hence Rous, and Prous, in
Russian, Prussian, savour of affectation.
OSS, No. 4. o long, gross, to engross, from the
French gros: a before ss in Bass sounded baiss;
is singular, but is better written with e final,
ST, No. 4. i long, in the sacred word Chri-st:
owing, says the learned Wallesius, (who never
uses the term exception) to the Greek division
of the word Chri-st; i long, in mist, &c. is the
TH, vowels appear sometimes long or softened
before th: and th becomes soft dh, being intermediate
and followed by e, as fath-er, moth-er, &c.
dh. Wrath, per a slender — Both, truth, ruth; so
loth and sloth, sound long, owing to the antient
e final — bothe, lothe, clothe, or oa, booth, sloath.
&c.: truth from true: ruthe, from the Teutonic
THIRD CLASS of combined Consonants, Gutturals,
These constitute a new order of sounds widely
different from the above, and are partly final,
partly initial. PRINC. I. teaches that we soften
harsh combinations, the form of which the etymology
of words obliges us to preserve.
BT, as in French, No. 1. b mute: with great
reason: for bt is a mere stuttering sound, and
violent distortion of the lips and cheeks: A looking
glass will shew it — debt, dett.
CH, No. 1. tch in English words, initially and
finally, as chase, cheese, child, church; lurch,
much (the Spanish moucho, moutcho) such, &c.
In Hebrew and Greek words k, as cham,
chasm, ache (αχoζ) cha-os, choir (koir or cwire).
Some Greek words, deemed, with truth we hope,
to be English, charity, chaste, &c. keep the
CH, in French words sh, chaise, ma-chine, but
returning to the Greek, we say me-cha-nism, per
Greek X, k, chi.
No. 2. ch sounds dge. Though this belongs
to dissyllables, and forms an obscure syllable, we
will notice it here as a syllabic: wich, in Norwich,
Har-wich, Green-wich, Wool-wich, &c.
sounds idge, Nor-ridge, Har-ridge, Green-idge,
&c. thus analysed.
1mo, W so placed, is changed or suppressed:
hence rwich becomes rrich, which is by rule
sounded ritch; this again is softened by affinity
of sound into ridge, which is so nearly allied to
the other, that the ear cannot readily make the
distinction; hence Nor-ridge, Har-ridge, &c. per
RULE OF CH, sounded K hard, or TCH, in words
composed of ARCH.
ARCH is sometimes a Greek, sometimes an English
syllabic. If followed by a consonant, it
sounds artch; as Arch-bishop, Arch-duke, or in
English proper names, Archibald, or common
nouns, archives, archer, architect, by some; but
in pure Greek proper names, and nouns, when a
vowel succeeds arch, k is sounded, — as Archi--
pelago, Archi-mede, Arch-angel, Archiepiscopal:
this jumble may happen from the confusion,
or sense of the word arch, pure Greek,
and pure English, though with us, arch seems
rather to mean sly, artful, arch-rogue; yet in the
application, it often signifies principal, &c. as
Arch-bishop, Priest, Duke, &c. Hence Archibald,
per artch, for the words signifies arch and
CR, k, crime, &c.
CHR, crism, &c.
CK, k, k often omitted as superfluous, as public,
FT, No. 2. t disappears or coalesces with f,
often, soften, &c. often, &c.
The following six are the harsh gutturals, consequently
altered in sound. See p. 30.
1. GH, No. 1. initially h vanishes, leaving g
hard: Ghost, &c. finally both are mute in vowels,
the vowel being left clear and long; high,
nigh, &c. Hugh; but pugh (monkey) retains g
better written without h. In diphthongs f replaces
gh (See diphthongs).
GH, 2do, is the German ch, in dochter, which
we change into GH mute, daughter, dâ-ter.
CH and gh are also remarkable gutturals in
Scotch sounded finals.
2. GHT. No. 1. gh vanishes, leaving the power
of e mute to the t after i, bright, fight, &c.
3. GM. No. 1. g mute in flegm, but, on division
of the syllable, g and m remain, as fleg-ma-tic.
4. GN. No. 1. g mute, gnat, gnaw, nat, naw,
&c.: but being final g is mute, and i before n is
long, sign, benign, sine, benine.
5. KN. k mute, knave, knife, &c. nave, nife.
LD. per No. 4. 1 is suppressed, and OU sounded
OU French, in could, should, would.
LF. 1k, lm, ln, 1ph (after a, & o) 1 is suppressed;
half, calf, Ralph, calm, and Lincoln, qualm,
Alnic, walnut, yolk, folk: n is mute in kiln.
MB. No. 1. b mute: dumb, lamb, plumb.
No. 4. i and o preceding are lengthened, as
climb (clime, comb (côme), womb (woum), per
ou French; and No. 4. i is sounded short under
the same combination of wom, wim. Hence is
formed the analysis of wom in woman: Wombman,
by which man in English, as homo in Latin,
hic et hæc homo, is of both genders ; and the
plural women, or womb-men, for the distinction
of number, has the sound of short i, wim-en. The
word wi, or wy, still in use in Lancashire, signifies
the female, as wi-calf, &c. hence, according
to the Lancashire phraseology, not deemed very
delicate in its choice, use, and sound of words,
wim-en implies she-men: but wiman is true Saxon,
which we keep in the plural.
MN, in the conjoined syllable n is suppressed,
damn, dam; but dam-nation divides it.
MPT, p is silent, tempt, temt.
NG. No. 1. g is clearly sounded in all words but
participles, in which it appears weak:— be-ing,
go-ing, — King, sing, ring, &c. Ph sounds f:
phy-sick, Phil-ip, &c.
PS, pt, pht, p, and ph, ps ; p and ph mute; as
psalm, ptisan, phtisick, pseudo (seu-do) s forsakes
c, 1, m, in vis-count, isle, de-mesme. All.
the above collisions of consonants and modified
sounds are very analogous to the French, and
tend to prove, that the variations of letters are
not the exceptions result of caprice, but a secret
influence of harmony, that tempers the articulated
sounds, or language of man.
ss, No. 4. passes into c or s: it lengthens the
a in the word baſs (musical instrument) bace,
better written baſie, s doubled, a long, per e
SC. No. 1. is simple c or s, in words supposed
French, as scene, sci-ence, scent. — in English, c
is hard k before a, o, &c. scale, scar, skale, skarscope,
scorn, scot, scull, scarf, scrape, scrip, &c.
In Greek words sc is sk, as scep-tic, or septic,
but sceptre, scene, though radically Greek, sound
soft c per s.
SCH, No. 1. all are Greek words under this
form, therefore generally sound sk, scheme, school,
&c. No. 4. c or s, as schedule, though pure
Greek; some sound schism soft, preferring the
French sound to the real Greek.
SW. No. 1, both pronounced in swan, swing,
&c. No 3, 4. w mute, sword, sôrd ; and in
Chiswick, Chissick, &c. not in Sleswish, Riswick,
Brunswick, foreign words.
TH sounded dh, zdh, and simple T (p. 31.)
TH. No. 1. & No. 1. hard or soft; dh seems.
soft: th, sounded like zdh, resembles the hissing
sound of the serpent, and is difficult to foreigners.
The Spaniards have both, as the Armenians;
our southern and oriental Visitors learn in
a very short time to pronounce English with singular
propriety, and better, in two or three
weeks application, than the French in as many
years; so great is the general contrast of French
sounds with the English and that of other nations.
TH, No. I. is soft dh, in all pronouns, adverbs,
and particles; as thy, they, that, this, them,
these, there, then, though, the, and before e
labic — fath-er, weth-er, broth-er, &c.
TH, DZH. This harsh th resembles the Hebrew
thau, the Egyptian thoth, and Greek theta, which
sound is expressed by an hieroglyphic or emblem
of the figure and hissing of the serpent, imitated
by darting the tip of the tongue beyond the
teeth, and then hissing, which will throw open the
lips with an undulating kind of vibration, and
often produce a titillating sensation on the upper
lip, dzh, as thump.
No. 1. Thus we sound Hebrew, Greek, &c.
proper names; all nouns and verbs, particularly
such as mark force and strength, as thunder,
thump, thwack, threat, death, thief, thirst, &.c.
&c.; and verbs, to think, to thank, &c.; proper
names, Theophilus, Theodore, &c. This rule relates
to th initial, not to the intermediate or final,
softened, as above explained, by e subsequent.
The contrast of dh and tzh, is visible in thy,
pronoun, thigh (limb).
The constancy of the rule is remarkable; nor
can thirdly, being an adverb, be deemed exceptious,
being radically a noun, third. This word
clearly shews the difference of the soft and hard
th; for dhird is as absurd as the omission of the
h: thy and thigh, by their contrast of sense and
sound, equally prove the distinction. Though
we have attempted to mark the difference by dh,
and tzh, or tzth, a nice ear may depict it better
perhaps; this is the only sound we cannot exhibit
in English, by the power of letters or analogy
with most other languages, whilst the rival
French abounds with indefinable articulations
both labial and nasal, found in no one language
but their own.
TH, No. 2. h, as in the Hebrew, is occasionally
mute, chiefly in proper names: Thomas, Thames
(river); we may again* venture to add An-tho--
ny, as it is commonly spelt, and supported by
etymology, if really derived from the Greek, Anthos,
Thyme, asth-ma, lose also the h. †
* This word was much censured by the ingenious British
Critic, in his review of the original (October 1794), in
which, losing sight of the secondary title, Jeu Littéraire, he
treated the whole with an air of more gravity than the subject
† The past tedious discussions and speculations of letters,
gave occasion, in the original, to enter into a Whimsical analysis
of the above words, and endless play on the TH, which
may amuse a classical reader, but are here foreign to our
purpose. See Euphonia Anglicana, or Combat et Jeu Littéraire,
pag. 76. to pag. 87.
WH, No. 3. W is silent in who, and derivatives.
See the contrast of who, and hoe, &c. pag. 37.
Also, whole and wholesome, lose the sound of
w: it is preserved in other words, as whether,
where, what, whey, when, &c. corruptly confounded
by our Londoners, &c. with wether (a
sheep), ware, way, wen, &c.
WR, is very course and guttural in the mouths
of our northern countrymen, and requires softening.
Hence, the initial w is quiescent: wrack,
wrap, wren, write, wrong, — rack, rap, &c. Thus
occasionally the writing only preserves the right
sense, when the rule of contrasts fails in sound,
and thus supplies the defect.
With reference to page 28. we here notice,
under No. 4. the singular combination of w with
preceding t, in the word two — tou (ou French)
wo becomes uo, and appears transposed for ou,
which the Scotch dialect makes twâ; twô would
seem equally rough to us.
DIPHTHONGS, to use a free simile, are the cavalry
of our language: they have the combined
force of a double vowel, which they frequently
relinquish, and act as simple vowels; this appears
in their analysis, by which we find they sometimes
take the sound of the first, sometimes of
the second vowel; more commonly that of the
first. Greek and Latin afford a similar process,
aulæ, au la-i, præ-ire, pre-ire, &c.
They stand displayed to sight in full array,
with their respective divisions, pag. 18, 19. We
shall now exhibit them to the ear, with the usual
distinction of numbers, respecting their general,
occasional, rare, and uncommon sounds. This is
erroneously deemed the hardest and most irregular
part of our pronunciation.
FIRST CLASS, containing the Five Proper Diphthongs.
They are named proper, because they verify
their appellation from dis and thong, double sound,
or double mora of tone, which they naturally
demand. They are very erroneously defined,
and worse treated, by Mons. Chambaud, in the
English part of his Dictionary, which, restricted
to the French, has equal merit with his Grammar,
but both teem with error, whenever, like his
countrymen, he dogmatises on English sounds,
and combinations of sounds, which he frequently
holds forth as capricious and indefinable.
AI, AY, No. 1. a English, clear and long. No. 4.
e French, short. Analysis, a, i.
AU, AW. No. 1. the Italian au in Lau-ro. No. 3.
a foreign. No. 4. a English, and o. The analysis
exhibits a and u ; a English, long or short ; u
OI, OY, No. 1. Like the French ai liquified in
the word aille, verb. No. 3, i English. No. 4.
o long. This change is found in the analysis,
OO, No. 1. ou, French, long. No. 2. ou, Fr.
shorter. No. 3. o long. Analysis o, o; o long, o
silent, o short, u.
OU, OW. The most variable and difficult English
diphthong: it has seven different articulations
found in its analysis, o, u; as o is the most
variable of all vowels, no wonder the diphthong
is liable to all its changes. No. 1. it resembles
ow Dutch, in vrow, or the autophonous barking
of a dog, bow-wow. No. 2. o long. No. 3. o short,
like broad â, or u short. No. 4. u long, English,
and ou French.
SECOND CLASS, twelve Improper Diphthongs.
They are named improper. because they lose
the main property of a diphthong, that of the
double sound, and retain only the quality of a
long vowel, but are much less subject to be shortened
by subjoined consonants.
* EA, No. 1. i foreign, long. No. 3. e foreign,
short. The analysis, a, e, contains these sounds ;
for a, English, e, i, French, being weak vowels,
are very liable to be contracted and changed,
particularly before the subjoined r, hence the ea
will sound a foreign, and u.
EAU, EAW, No. 1. u long. No. 3. o. No. 4. e
English, and e foreign. The analysis e, a, u, and
its French origin, explain all these sounds.
EE, No. 1. i foreign, long. No. 4. e foreign,
short ; the most steady diphthong.
EI, EY, No. 1. e foreign, long, and is very- analogous
with the French diphthong ei. No. 3. i
English. Analysis, e, i, English and foreign.
* EO, No. 1. ee. No. 4. o. analysis, e, o:
EU, EW, No. 1. u Engl. No. 3. o. No. 4. â
broad. Analysis, e, u, w. Combination has turned
e into o, which is frequently adopted in writings,
shew or show, &c.
* IE, No. 1. i foreign long, when a diphthong,
No. 4. e foreign short. Analysis, i, e.
IEU. IEW, No. 1. u English. No. 4. ev, iv, ef,
if, in virtue of its analysis and affinity of letters,
i, e, u; u, v and f, being near akin.
OA, No. 1. o. No. 2. d broad. No. 4. ai
Thus of French sounds ai, and wá : François,
Danois. Analysis o, a, per ai, or á.
* OE, No. 1. ou French, when a diphthong,
for generally it is o long, in virtue of e mute; oe
(ou) is the old English diphthong, and the modern
Dutch. Analysis o, ou, potential, e expletive.
* UA and UE, are spurious.
* UI, UY, No. 1. y long in finals; before two
consonants, i foreign before one, though followed
by e mute, u long. Analysis, u, i, English
THIRD CLASS; twelve Spurious Diphthongs.
These, in every sense of the word, are spurious.
and false diphthongs, because they do not even
lengthen a syllable; they are mere phantoms of
diphthongs; their confused and obscure sounds
make them rank as a particular class of combined
vowels, always short and obscure, and contracting
instead of lengthening syllables.
We present them to the eye and ear, in their
disjoined form and obscure sounds.
Such as become occasionally diphthongs, are
marked above, and will be now marked with
* AE, is the old Saxon diphthong ae: and has
some influence in our sounds.
* EA, a, e, i short, obscure in a final expletive
* EU, o short, e only softening a preceding g,
* EOU, null e as above, ou becomes obscure u,
or as, es, is, os, us, ys, indistinctly in eous.
IA, null, sounding i or a short, or properly neither
one nor the other, being almost undistinguishable
from any other vowels.
* IE, obscure short i.
IO, i, or o absorpt in an obscure vowel-sound.
IOU, common o or u, contracted and equally
OE, spurious, commonly no more than
lengthened by e mute, like i in ie final.
OE, the same as the Latin œ, scarce used in
* UA, UE, UI, UY; Ua and ue, have some remote
appearance of real diphthongs, u chiefly
serves to harden the preceding g.
These spurious diphthongs may be analysed,
or decomposed like the proper and improper
diphthongs: not into clear, but obscure vowels.
GENERAL REMARK ON DIPHTHONGS.
From what the eye and ear may gather from
the general statement of diphthongs: 1mo, We
find there are many coalescing occurrences of
vowels. 2do, That ea and ou ow, are the only difficult
diphthongs, owing to their frequent variation,
Which is rare in all the rest; so that, in general,
our diphthongs are neither so difficult nor unsteady,
as commonly represented under endless
and erroneous exceptions. 3tio, That the diphthongs,
even sometimes all the five proper, are
reduced in sound to simple vowels. But etymology,
and the powers of this union, require the
written form in order to discover the roots of
word*: the coalescence also of two sounds is naturally
low, which the prevailing strong and
doubled consonants occasionally only, and accidentally,
Respecting number, variation, contraction, &c.
English and French diphthongs seem very analogous;
perhaps they abound more, and equally vary
in Greek. The Latin and Italian have but few,
the old and radical Saxon constantly presents
the ae, which is one cause of some changes in
our sounds; as wag, wag-gon, a being a little
softened after w, from waeg , waegan and waeghen
Saxon, or Dutch. See w, p. 27.
We still shall confine ourselves to monosyllables
as much as possible, for sometimes diphthongs
are shortened in dissyllables, &c. like
simple vowels, by the sole result of quantity and
accent, or from their being mere expletive syllables;
so that objections now sought beyond the
extent of the monosyllable, are totally irrelevant,
per PRINC. VIII. ; this cannot be too often repeated.
The closing of diphthongs by y, or w, makes
no change in them, they are finally substituted
for i and u, there being no English words terminated
by i or u.
THE THEORY of DIPHTHONGS realised by Examples,
Solution of Oblethons, &c.
EXAMPLES of the FIRST CLASS of proper Diphthongs.
AI, AY, No. i. Bail, fain, pain, saint, day, gay,
Remark, That ai, though it seems simply to
sound long English a, is a proper diphthong, appears
by the word gay; for if it were simple e
foreign, gay by rule would sound djai: therefore
ai, ay, has the true property of a real diphthong:
No. 4. said, he said, per e short, used only in
AU, AW, No. 1. Laud, fault, law, jaw, flaw,
&c. No. 3. a foreign, — aunt, haunt, many add,
taunt, vaunt. Of this change, two reasons may
be given. 1mo, To temper or elude the coarse,
disagreeable, and nasal sound of the radical
French an: 2do, the rusticity of the English
sound in this combination, as so clearly appears
in aunt, if sounded broad; this word is more autophonous
and endearing, per a foreign common:
See p. 13. The terrific word gaunt (ghastly)
retains very properly the coarse aw. And laugh
(gh final in diphthongs, see gh) laff per a slender
is a true onomaphonous human sound, aw expresses
what is called the rustic horse laugh : the
Highland articulation, instead of a pleasing easy
sound, resembles the painful rattling effort of
the breast and larynx obstructed by a quinsey.
No. 4. o, in some French words, hautboy, hautgout.
Ai, in the French word gauge, gaidge.
But how? It may be thus explained: the French
au makes an improper single sounded diphthong
o: this sound we reject in eau: and commonly
adhere to one of the letters, a, e or u. Beaumont,
be-mont, bu-mont; bai-mont, beau-ty, bu-ty.
In gauge, ge final naturally produces the long
sound of ai, the French sound of o being rejected,
and a retained. The French precedent of
rejecting both a and u, seems more singular than
our suppressing only u. It is remarkable, that
all provincial French dialects adopt our sounds of
* OI, OY., No. 1. open and broad a-i . — Coil, foil,
toil. No. 3. it is sounded softer by some, — in
boil (bile) quoir, quire or kite. No. 4. scrutoir
(French) scrutore. So little are we willing or
able in many borrowed French words to give
them their native sound! A general proof of this
is, that no Englishman, not perfectly formed to
French sounds, can pronounce the simple words
muse and plus, like a Frenchman, much less scrutoir
: PRINC. I. See also page 69.
* OE, ou French, shoe, canoe, found written
shoo, canoo: oe sounding ou French, is so rare and
casual, that it is ranked amongst the spurious
diphthongs: it is the Dutch oe in doen, per ou
French; do, who, &c. formerly written with e
mute, sound ou.
oo, No. i. ou French — food, fool, moon, ooze,
&c. No. 2. oo, is a little short before d and 1,
formerly doubled in the words — good, hood, stood,
wood, wool: and before k, — book, cook, rook.
No. 3. oo, before r, commonly sounds o long:
— boor, door, floor, written also done, &c. poor
and moor, per ou, are in contrast with pore (of
the body) and more, encrease.
OBJECTIONS found in every English Grammar,
chiefly fabricated by French writers, and the generality
of our .own, who represent ai and oi, our
steadiest diphthongs, as very irregular: ai, say
they, often sounds e, or i foreign, and oi, o, or i
foreign. Mr Chambeau fixes on the word certain;
others chase the word Cap-tain for ai; and
for oi, tor-toise; cap-ten or cap-tin, tor-tose, or
tor-tise, say the different contending supporters
of bare exception, are the sounds of ai and oi,
in such words.
ANSWER. — 1mo, These being dissyllables, the
objection is of no weight against monosyllabic
doctrine, per PRINC. VIII. 2do, The contest is
de falso supposito, a false supposition: for ai and
oi, have an obscure sound in the above examples,
consequently no distinct sound of this or that
vowel prevails. This will be fully explained in
the poly-syllables, and rules of accent and quantity,
in the second part.
A Minute INVESTIGATION and EXPLANATION
of the most variable and difficult Diphthong,
OU, OW, has seven different sounds, formed by
o, u, w. This will give a general idea of the
cause of these variations, for o is the most changeable
of all the vowels, its straying encreases by its
combination with u, which is also subject to many
changes, and readily passes into w.
OU, OW, per No. 1. sounds ow coarse, and has
a second common sound of o long ; 3. â or au,
from the sound of the impeded o (â) 4. o is turned
into u, 5, u long, 6. u short, 7. ou French.
See page 69. on, ow, — See also page 73. respecting
the change other diphthongs are subject to
by adhering to the influence of combining letters,
as it often happens in French, oi sounding
wâ, or ai, &c. To this we may add another
rational cause of change by the rule of CONTRAST,
for more words are found under this
diphthong of contrasted sense and sound, than
under any other.
First then, per No. 1. we find the general
sound to be ou, ow, coarse, as — our, house, hound,
cow, how, now, plow, crown. Per No. a. it has
prevailing sound of o long; o very short, sound.
ing u, is not uncommon. This may be best exexhibited
A TABLE of contrasted Sounds and Sense.
Ou,ow, the course Dutch
ow. O long, and o very short
Bow, reverence. Bow, instrument.
Bowl. globe. Bowl, a cup,
Crowd, numbers. Crow'd, crowing of fowl.
Flow-er, meal. Flow, to run, a high
flower, a spark.
Grows, a bird. Grows, he grows old.
Lower, to become dark. Lower, more humble.
Mow, stack, heap. Mow, to cut down.
Sow, animal. Sow, work, agriculture.
Slough, bog. Slow, tardy.
Thou, pronoun. Though, adverb.
Enough, for number. Enough, enuff, quantity.
The contrast may also be found in many other
words; cowl, coal — rough, row — fowl, foal —
mould, mold — south, sooth, &c.
We may further observe, that the clear o prevails
before rd, rs, rt, rth, and simple r, in four,
number: before ld, and simple l, in soul: examples,
— gourd, course, court, fourth, shoulder.
So far the wanderings of this unsteady diphthong
may be traced, and other deviations easily
be brought to sight, as they extend but to a few
words, sounded by o hard, like â, and o very
short like u, or by u long, and ou French,
This is the result of our grammatical liberty
and freedom, which sometimes finds place with
us, and in this diphthong degenerates almost into
licentiousness; for once the divorce is made betwixt
the o and ill-fated u, o runs wild in search
of old connections with consonants. Hence, it
becomes rough and hard, like â broad in the Saxon
words — trough and hough, which, in Saxon, have
the simple o, with f trot, hof. — Cough assumes
the sound of â and f and produces a singular,
expressive: autophonous sound of the object signified.
— Bought, fought, nought, sought, were formerly
written per au. Next o disappears, and
leaves the hard u in possession of the sound, in
grough, rough, and tough: It seems not to care
for the society of ch, ng, rn, nt, th, in touch,
young, journey, country, youth, per u. — Then,
as if desirous of the former union with u (ou) it
rejects the coarse Dutch ow, and assumes the
softer French ou, in you, your, youth, wound (a
hurt) cou'd, wou'd. — The Scotch dialect reduces
this roving grammatical entity to perfect regularity,
and uniformity of sound; yet we refuse to
check its liberty, because it shews the extent of
literary combination in our language, and would
totally overthrow the diphthong oo. Now, these,
and some similar difficulties, might be facilitated.
to strangers, shorten our grammars, and render
our prounciation visibly plain and easy, by introducing
four accents, the grave, the acute, the
circumflex, and the jugum. This alone would
express the common variations of our vowels and
diphthongs. If we absurdly reject them as a
French precedent, the Hebrew and Greek will
free us from the self-reproach of introducing
French modes of literature. But why, after all,
do we not introduce them in our new publications?
It is an object worthy the attention of
our universities; the Scotch Literati would have
great merit, and be followed, if they would boldly
bring forward this great desideratum in our language,
now solely confined to our dictionaries.
OBJECTION. — Our, per ow, your per ou French,
is surely capricious, for no power of contrast or
combination is found in the final letters to cause
ANSWER. — 1mo, The objection is as weak as all
similar pretended capricious deviations. 2do, Our
is derived from the rough monosyllable us ; your
from the soft combination of you.
THE SECOND CLASS of the Twelve Improper Diphthongs
* EA, No. 1. ee, flea, pea, sea, tea, fear, near,
steam, cream, veal, least, &c.
N.B. the harsh influence of simple r frequently
disappears after these improper diphthongs,
when their combination produces the sound of
simple e ; hence, — hear, fear, rear, and ear, because
in this case the powers of the diphthong support
the long sound of the vowel before the consonant;
but when r is seconded by another adjoined consonant,
it frequently overpowers the diphthong.
It often happens that ea also loses the long sound
of ee, when placed before other single written
consonants, but doubled in sound. The rule of
contrast frequently requires this change.
No. 2. ea becomes e foreign in the words —
bread, dead, head, dread, thread, health, wealth,
death, breath, weather, feath-er, and a few more,
in which the simple e or doubled consonants, antiently
prevailed; ch commonly preserves the
long sound — beach, reach, teach, preach, &c.:
treach-e-ry is short, formerly written trech-e-ry ;
breach, also, and perhaps a few more.
The RULE or POWER of CONTRAST.
Is very visible in this diphthong, for if ea preserved
its regular sound of long e English, it would
cause much confusion with the diphthong ee, and
ea itself in some words.
Bread, food. Breed, race, birth.
Breach, rupture. Breech.
Bear, animal. Bear, verb.
Meal, flower. Meal, repast.
Pear, fruit. Peer, equal.
Sweat, perspiration. Sweet, dulcified.
Steal, verb, as some
sound it. Steel, iron.
Read, verb, present. Read, preterit.
More similar words may be found.
OBJECTION. — The boasted rule of contrast often
fails, therefore is of no force, as bear, beer,
bier — dear, deer.
ANSWER. — It rarely fails, therefore is of great
force. We have some few words of similar or
dissimilar formation, causing the same sound,
which the combination or frequency of the word
will not permit us to distinguish by sound, and
therefore we then must appeal to the difference
of the spelling, as pear and pair, dear and
deer, &c. This often happens in Latin, &c. But
in French, this neglect of some alteration of sound
is remarkable in this and other examples; — sou
(that is sous, soub, sub) sous, sol, saoul, all per ou.
No. 3. a and u in heard, sounded — hard, and
hurd (verb) hearken (per a) earth, search, per
Thus r, supported by other consonants, imperiously
triumphs over the diphthong, reducing it
to the weak state of a simple vowel.
OBJECTION. — Why is hear'd pronounced hurd,
and hard, and ee preserved in fear'd, rear'd,spear'd,
&c. equally terminated by r, backed by a fresh
consonant? The reasoning is false; or the change
ANSWER. — Both denied: forthough heard comes
from hear, sounding ee, yet its preterit is no contraction,
but formed by rd coalescing: now
fear'd, rear'd, &c. are apostrophised for feared,
&c. but no one says hear-ed, or apostrophises
heard, which is the simple preterit of this verb,
so found in all our books, bible, &c.
EAU, EAW, No. 1. u — beau-ty — Beawd-ly (an
English town) — bu-ty — Bude-ly: and in names
of beau. No. 3. o — beau, a fop, true French.
Many English Names in Beau are so sounded, or
per No. 3. ai, ee. and e foreign, short: thus, the
Beau-mont family is distinguished per bo, bu, bai,
bee, bém. No. 4. oy, flam-beau, flam-boy: it is
a French word; we sound it after our own way,
and keep the radical spelling.
EE, No. 1. i foreign, long ; deep, heed, feet,
feel, keel, reel, sheep, sleep, sheet. This distinction
of long i interests the attention of foreigners,
particularly the French, who, by contracting the
long ee, fall into a piteous or laughable contresens,
as may be proved by sounding all the above
words too quick, or by short i foreign, deep, dip,
heed, hid, * &c.
* This important distinction of long and short in English,
gave occasion to the author to display a poetic whim, in imitation
of Ovid, in a Latin elegy, and French prose, descriNo
4. ee short, one word with its derivative,
named inexpreſsibles, by others very politely
Theresas is sounded rapidly, and stands in contrast.
with ea, as — the breech of the cannon
made a breach in the wall.
The participle been also has ee short, formerly
El, EY, ignorance or inattention to the powers
of this diphthong is visible in some* modern
ing the doleful adventure of a poor French emigrant Priest.
It stands inscribed to the playful and classical Muses of our
noble school of Westminster. See Euphonia Anglicana,
duo Lintea. But if such errors of sounds committed by the
Frencch make us smile; then have the French equally reason
to turn the laugh against us, as we will not, particularly the
British ladies, open our mouths through very misplaced
shame, in pronouncing a and ai, &c when long and clear in
French words; and thus fail into the same absurdities, as appears
in the word paix, if sounded per e fermé.
In such cases the blush of the master and of the pupil may
be saved, by desiring the young lady, in his absence, to consult
the dictionary, by changing the open ai into an e fermé.
— Late experience taught this efficacious mode of correction.
Feb. 4. 1799.
* The word Rheimes (Reimes, or Reims) is very erroneously
spelt Remes in some dictionaries, and so stands prefixed
to the old original edition of the New Testament The
like error, caused by the same deceptions authority. appears
in the late new edition printed at .Edinburgh. But we have
the pleasure to find, that the above rules and powers of this
diphthong are observed by the New Edinburgh Gazetteer.
See there the word Rheims.
publications. It is analogous to the same diphthong
in French, with similar variations all regular.
No. i. e foreign long, one or more consonants
being immediately subjoined, as — fein, vein, heir,
reign, eight, weight, eith-er, though e mute
should follow, as — eire, seize, Rheimes (a city)
Seine (river) also in finals, as — bey, dey, grey,
they, and o-bey. No. 3. i English, if it form
a distinct initial syllable, or has e mute immediately
added, without an intermediate consonant,
as — plei-ades, hey-den, eye, eyes.
OBJECTION. — Eyle (of a church) height, sleight,
and heigh-ho, are either anomalous or capricious
sounds, if the above rule is true.
ANSWER. — Both denied; in virtue of this repeated
principle, that elementary combinations do
often yield to the influence of radical powers,
1mo, Eyle is better written isle. 2do, Height
from high, and sleight comes from sly, the radical
words. Heigh-ho is no word, but mere exclamation
EO, No. 1. ee, Neot. S. Neots (a town) feof,
Theo-bald, peo-ple. No. 3. o, yeo man, yo (and
yee-man) The-o-ry, The-on, &c. form disjoined
syllables. No. 4. e foreign, is the result of accent
in leop-ard, lepp-ard: so jeo in jeop-ardy, jep-pardy,
is contracted, says a learned Etymologist, from
j'ai perdu. But dissyllabic words in which the
powers of accent interfere, are governed by other
rules than the simple combination of vowels and
diphthongs, and should not be noticed (by PRINC.
VIII. page 15.) amongst monosyllables.
EU, EW, No u English long, — Eu-rope, Iu--
rope, dew, few, jew, &c. No. 3. o, yew, yo or
yu:— shew, per ow or ew. Hence to shew,
verb, and a show.
No. 4. â broad, — chew, thaw, being so written,
it is more conformable to the sound and German
** IE, when a diphthong sounds No. 1. ee,
— brief, chief, grief, fiend, mien, fief, field, &c.
No. 4. once e short foreign, before nd, friend
(frend) in — cries, lies, flies, &c. it is no more than
IEU, u English, Dieu, lieu (adu, inlu).
No. 4. IEU may sound ev, iv, or ef, if, in Lieu--
ANALYSIS of the adopted word LIEUTENANT.
This word affords a singular proof of the fruitful
powers of syllabic combinations, and our
grammatical liberty: it admits seven distinct
modes of pronunciation, all conformable to principle
Liv, lif, lev, lef, lu, -tén-ant, or -ten-ant, per
e obscure, or short.
LIEU, is the monosyllabic part of the word ;
ieu, may be thus analysised into its component
parts, i, e, u: our diphthongs, particularly those
we call spurious, assume sometimes the first,
sometimes the second component vowel: v and
f, and certainly u and v, are affinitive letters;
such letters in all languages often shift into their
kindred form. Hence we have by common rule,
lieu lu; and by e and i, v or f, lev, lef, or liv, lif,
which form five distinct sounds all in rule; now
final tenant, may be distinguished two ways by
the accented n ten'-ant, or be sounded per e obscure;
all constituting seven distinct, free, legal,
or regular, not capricious sounds left to the choice
of the speaker, Q.E.D. This being a French
word, significant and useful, we have adopted it,
and being unable to pronounce it its own way,
we have a right to follow our own sounds; and
it is sufficient (and conformable to PRINC. II)
that it preserves in writing its radical form.
Thus it appears, that variation of pronunciation
is not founded on mere caprice, but on the component
parts of words, which may leave the
choice of sound to the speaker, or produce some
general approved variation appropriate to different
OA, No. 1. — has the clear sound of o long — boat,
coat, moat, &c. No. 3. â, — broad, cloath, groat,
moath; better written — cloth, moth, like, froth,
frost. The analysis of OA, furnishes the source
of variation: distinction of sense, orthography,
concurrence of o, and a, &c. determine the occasional
sound of o or â broad. The Scotch dialect
uses the English a (ai) in this diphthong, —
oak, oats, aik, alts, &c. being always in opposition
to our classical sounds.
* UA, UE, (See spurious diphth).
* UI, UY, forms a regular variation: 1mo, y
long, being final, Buy, Guy. 2do, Before two consonants,
i foreign short — build, quill, quilt, quince.
3tio, Before one consonant, though followed by
e final, u long:— fruit, bruit, re-cruit, bruice,
cruise, per z, sluice.
The power of contrast is once found in this
diphthong: suit (sute) of clothes: suit (sweet)
N.B. Cru-et, is erroneously sounded cru-it.
THE THIRD CLASS Of spurious, false, and accidental
This difficult and prevalent combination having
nothing to do with monosyllables, nor main
syllables of words, we refer it to the trisyllables,
ELEMENTS AND RULES
ADAPTED TO THE SOUNDS OF SECONDARY AND EXPLETIVE
SYLLABLES, UNDER THE INVESTIGATION OF
ACCENT AND QUANTITY.
THE GENERAL THEORY OF ACCENT AND QUANTITY
— POWERS OF E MUTE — FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES
DRAWN FROM A SHORT REPETITION OF
MONOSYLLABLES — THE SHIFTING ACCENT — ITS
ANALOGY WITH THE GREEK — RULES OF DISSYLLABLES,
&C. &C. — PECULIARITIES OF COMMON
DISCOURSE — GREEK AND LATIN PROPER NAMES
— CONCLUSION — "WHEN BRITAIN FIRST AT HEAVEN'S
COMMAND," in Latin Sapphics.
THE present subject will exhibit the very important
doctrine of long and short, clear and
obscure, sounds, comprehensively expressed by
the term of ENGLISH PROSODY.
The past laborious discussions may afford some
amusement and satisfaction to the curious. Sounds
resulting from combinations already displayed,
will serve as a contrast to this part; and whether
the judicious and learned admit or reject many
solutions of objected difficulties, it will afford
new, more satisfactory, and pleasing subject of
discussion. Future changes arise from new principles,
and new rules which, we trust, will ultimately
confirm and establish the attempted vindication.
See PRINC. VIII. page 15.
The present investigation has opened to us a
secret track of discovery which no English writer,
I believe, has yet noticed, with reference to its
antient source found in the Greek language. We
find ourselves obliged lightly to run over again
the beaten field of monosyllables, as the foreground
from whence we may view, with greater
perspicuity, all the force and powers of accent
and quantity or prosody, in the full order and
array of encreasing syllables, regularly stationed
and distinguished by their exact analogy and
ACCENT is not here considered as a peculiar,
national, or characteristic tone of voice, but in
the general grammatical sense of letters and syllables,
being long or short, clear or obscure.
Hence the two terms, Accent and Quantity,
are generally treated as synonimous; practically
speaking, this may he true, and more easily understood
by the generality of Readers, who cannot
enter into a few short hints, we may be permitted
to introduce to the notice of the profound
Literati; for one part of the present doctrine can
only be supported by an extensive and Classical
knowledge of the dead languages, and general
acquaintance with the very minutiæ of Greek
and Latin prosody. Thus we shall discover the
secret springs, the original source by which our
language has been gradually guided in atuning the
united sounds of its words and syllables. Hence,
in poetic composition, all partiality apart, it surpasses
its rival the French, by its analogy with the
Greek and Latin metre, and boldly emulates the
varied cadence, and harmonic powers of Italian
and Spanish; for that language is barbarous, or
defective and weak, which cannot treat poetic
subjects without the jingle of Gothic Rhyme,
which our Saxon ancestors frequently neglected;
so powerful is the old Language on which ours is
Quantity, then, and Accent, are not synonymous
terms; the distinction, however new (and thus is
submitted to the judgment of the Literati, and
profound Linguists) will afford great light in the
The term Accent seems thus to differ from that
of Quantity, — Quantity implies both long and
Perhaps the classical Scholar would be pleased with the
attempted flight of the original on this subject, a satirical
comparison of English and French poetry, Euphonia Linguæ
Anglicanæ, or Jeu Littéraire, p. 30. 164.
short measure: Accent seems confined to the
long prevailing sound, whether in consonants or
vowels: Quantity seems, strictly speaking, confined
to vowels, which are counteracted by the
powers of accent, from whence that frequent
change of sound proceeds, called the shifting
accent, as — bràce, brace-let, bras-selet, — tòne,
tón-ic, — frèquent, fre-quént, — wom-an, wím-en,
— nòte, nót-able, — dóg-ma, dog mát-ical, &c.
Accent then seems more immediately to belong
to consonants, which vowels additionally
receive on some occasions, when their own power
of quantity would fail, or is heightened by the
accented tone, as — com-ply', al-ly'. Accent again
is that power which consonants commonly receive
by being doubled in sound; for single consonants
are of themselves all short, as in Greek
and Latin. In Latin two consonants do, or may
render preceding vowels long by situation (situ)
but English bears a greater similitude with the
Greek accent, when, as in English, two conjoined
consonants do not give the vowel a long sound.
This appears in the conformity of the Greek
and English accent, and their contrast with the
Latin in these and similar combinations, λε'γoντεζ
lég-en-da-ry, which in Latin are lengthened by the
two consonants, nt, le-gént-es, &c. so mín-ister in
English, and mi-níster in Latin, stand in contrast.
Also the short vowel receives in Greek and English
the shifting accent, δόγματα, δoγμάτιχος, dóg-ma,
dog-mát-ical. The learned and judicious Greek
and Latin scholar, will not call this pedantry:
The sequel will be more readily understood.
QUANTITY then may be thus more specially
defined: the measure of the vowel. All vowels,
and diphthongs in English are of themselves long:
that is, have a double mora, or length of tone.
All single consonants in Greek, Latin and English,
are short, and pronounced quick, when they
are not accented or doubled in sound.
EXAMPLES. — 1mo, La-dy, fe-ver, di-vers, o-pen,
2do, Latin, lem-on, lil-ly, bod-y, sub-urb,
The consonant is short, or weak, in the first
examples, because quantity, or both quantity and
accent, rest en the vowels.
In the second the vowel is short, weak and
foreign sounded; because the accent rests on the
consonant, which is so doubled in sound, that,
deceived by the ear, we should write such words
with two consonants; Lattin, lemmon, lilly, &c.
as many frequently and erroneously do.
We now proceed to discuss the nature and
powers of e mute, or e final silent, for it is the
key of innumerable sounds, p. 36. This will
unavoidably oblige us to return to monosyllables,
or to notice the main monosyllabic part of words,
which is generally the principal guide of encreased
E mute is the silent e of the Hebrew; and the
mute or obscure French e, with this difference,
that in English scarce a word can be found where
it has not some effect and characteristic use;
whereas, in French, it seems very frequently to
be indiscriminately used as a final unmeaning
expletive, as we find it in many old English words,
Paule, fore, ende, persone, &c. copied after the secondary
and false origin of many of our words,
not originally French, because we find them preexisting
in Latin Our ancestors commonly pronounced
e final like the obscure poetic French e
in all monosyllables, in which the long vowels, or
softened consonants, are now ruled by its silent influence:
for it appears more harmonious, or congenial
to our natural love of brevity, or rapid pronunciation,
to contract the syllable; and likely
the insipid sound of e, so frequently repeated, was
the chief cause of its proscription; this sound is
still preserved in German; in low Dutch it adds
an awkward protraction to its ponderous and
Besides Latin or French words, we have few
Saxon or English monosyllables and dissyllables
in which the first syllablic vowel is long; and it is
probable those owe their long sound to an antient
word terminated by the e, then weakly
sounded, as lady, perhaps from ancient la-de, the
feminine of lad, and la-zy from the old verb, now
disused, to la-ze, of which the participle is still
The GENERAL RULE of E Mute.
E mute lengthens the preceding vowel, or softens
a preceding consonant. The rule being
disjunctive, never totally fails, and that E lengthens
the preceding vowel is so general in monosyllables,
that only a few deviate from the first
part of the rule, and that in virtue of laws much
more powerful than elementary combination. It
is useful to single them out, and shew why they
deviate from the common rule.
One cause will be found in their radical formation,
or contrasted sense, the other we omit as
A, E, These words are — are, were, there, where.
I, O, give, live, one, come, done, gone, dove, drove,
glove, love, shove, some, &c. if any more.
Other monosyllables invariably observe the
common rule, from which these deviate in virtue
of more important rules. Objections drawn from
dissyllables here, as on other occasions, are irrelevant,
per Princ. VIII.
ANALYTICAL REASONS, OBJECTIONS, &c.
1mo, Many of these words are pure Saxon,
Teutonic, and German, a little modified, and
softened by the e: and many were written originally
with the doubled consonants. 2do, Others
are contrasted words. 3tio, Some may follow the
common rule ; as are, were, a and e placed before
r, p. 39.
We here present the roots of such words, and
cause of change.
A, ARE, AR, German, and formerly
written without e final.
E, were, war, and wur, the influence
of r and German
to ware, whare,
There, where, Saxon der and dœr, and pwær.
In the above words, we may observe that e
final is not wholly defective, nor in these:
gaff, giff, geev; old English, softened by
leotan softened, or sounded in contrast
with live, alive.
sum, Saxon, without e final.
Done, the German gedaen broad, and the Dutch,
heavy doen; dun is softened, or quickened by o
very short, sounding u.
gaen, broad and long, German,
tempered and quickened by o
hrd, and a little lengthened
by e final, for otherwise it would sound
like Don: Don, John, which, to a nice
ear, differs from gone.
Dove, love, love, per u, antiently wrote duv,
glue, luv, or luve; duvve, and duyve, glof,
gluf, Dutch, Saxon, old English, corrected
or softened by e mute.
drove, verb, short; drove,
(Dutch, schuyve) shove, per
o short u.
see it discussed under the letter o,
These minutiæ, all contained under No. 4. or
very rare sounds, would not have been so noticed;
if strict adherence to the general rule had not required
us to shew there is some ground for the
present deviation from the rules of simple combination,
and that the impulse of caprice is not
OBJECTION. — Admitting that the above changes
have some appearance of reason, and that the
solution is preferable to the nonplus of bare exception,
the difference found in here and there,
per e English and e foreign in the same final, is
ANSWER. — Denied: the reason is clearly found
in the radical words; for there is daer, broad
German, and we find it written in old English
thair: here comes from heer and hier, the same
root ; thus the is formed from die, Dutch article
The word, or syllabe some short, per u, is analogous
to the French very short o in sommes, nous
sommes, nou summ, pag. 24.
POWERS AND RULES
QUANTITY AND ACCENT.
We now enter upon Principles and Rules of
English Prosody, by which we are guided in the
sounds of long and short, clear and obscure syllables,
confined to prose.
ROLE. — All monosyllables in prose, or considered
apart, are long and clear in our language.
The REASON: because either the vowel or
diphthong prevails by their unimpeded power of
quantity; or the consonant, which, being accented,
consequently doubled in sound, takes from
the vowel its long and natural sound. See p. 26.
We may see also how this rule is counteracted by
the combination of many final, double, coalescing
consonants, pag. 29. Diphthongs are seldomer
contracted by subjoined consonants, pag: 73.
The doctrine of distinction between quantity
and accent, is exemplified by contrast, in virtue
of the powers of e mute.
Vowel Quantity. Accent, or Accented Consonants.
A, ai, Bate, cape, hate,
fate. Bát, cáp, hát, fát, &c.
E, ee, Mete, here, rede
the. Mét, húr, ríd, thém, &c.
I, Bite, chide, ride,
slime. Sít, chíd, ríd, slím.
O, Fore, hope, grove
clothe: Fór, hóp, grót, clóth.
U, Use, cure, cur'd. Us, cur, curd.
Y, Myle, rhyme, thine. Mill, rim, thin.
Here the vowels are all
long and natural.
Here all short, and consonants
Double consonants are also softened, and the
preceding vowel is lengthened by e mute, final.
Haste, paste, range, &c. Hast, past, rang.
In reference to the rule of double final inseparable
consonants, see page 29.
THE SHIFTING ACCENT.
Singular proof and instance of the Analogy of
the Greek and English Accent.
As we owe many words to the Greek, and
gratefully acknowledge it by preserving the Greek
sounds of letters, so by the same PRINCIPLE II
many of our sounds, not only in Greek, but also
in Latin words made English, may originate from
the same source, which will help to discover the
nature of our shifting accent, by an explanation
quite new, and therefore submitted to the
We limit ourselves here to the monosyllable:
the long vowel, the Greek omega in the
monosyllable ων, receives the long sounding circumflex;
the neuter όν, by little o, or short o,
receives the sharp quick acute accent: this is
singularly assimilated in the sound of the English
word own, and the preposition ón, up-ón: the one
has the identic sound of the Greek circumflex,
the other of the acute accent: the first is found
in the long vowel, the other in the prevailing
sound of the doubled consonant. We may remark,
that our long vowels much resemble the
Greek omega and eta, the form of which indicates
the combination of two vowels, as most of our
long vowels are depicted, ω, η, and analysed into
oo, ee or ai.
Thus the doctrine of monosyllables being fully
investigated, we proceed.
RULES OF DISSYLLABLES, TRISYLLABLES, &C. &C.
PRINCIPLE:— The prevailing sound of the monosyllabic
word, or initial and radical syllable, commonly
guides the dissyllable.
THE FIRST GENERAL RULE.
Simple dissyllabic nouns of Saxon or English
origin, or deemed English, have the first syllable,
long, the second not only short, but generally
The reason: All such finals are accidental,
changeable, and expletive syllables, applicable to
other words, and therefore the main sound should
be placed on the main syllable, which is frequently
Not only common vowels, but even diphthongs,
and e mute, do form such expletives:
therefore diphthongs will become obscure, and
e final lose its effect on the vowel. Ose, ize, use,
are generally long, ile frequently.
Most of the rest are short expletives
EXPLETIVES — Ab, ac, aa, ay, aw, ant, aint, &c.
throughout the a in all combinations.
Eb, ed, ein, eign, &c. &c. throughout the e in
ib, id, ic, &c. int, throughout.
O, u, y, with all their final and expletive forms.
Ble, bre, cre, &c. &c. see the list of mutes and
liquids, page 19.: these, with e final, render preceding
vowels long, or soften the initial syllable.
An, al, at, on, ol, often produce the shifting
accent, as will appear afterwards.
EXAMPLES — O,r-gan, ór-phan, mór-tal, &c. &c.
The expletive formed by e mute follows the same
rule — na-ture, spor-tive, hand-some, fa-cile: We
sometimes keep the long Latin i, as Gen-tile, &c.
and ite in proper names. The diphthongs — Captain,
certain, bar. fain, &c. — Fo-reign, tortoise,
ho-nour, nar-row, pi-ous, and all final unaccented
vowels become short, and have the foreign sound
in foreign words — Anna, Hebe, Chili, &c.: o
and u (u always) receives a final e mute in English
words, and y replaces the i — en-vy, duty,
&c. and in plurals, y passes into ie before s — city,
cities, where e mute acts as a peculiar characteristic
in English, and frequently leaves i short,
instead of lengthening it.
DIRECTIONS for Discovering whether the Sound
of the Vowel or Consonant, prevails in the
This is intended to satisfy the common enquiry
relating to long or short vowels.
The radical monosyllable shews this for the
most part; by striking off the expletive we discover
the monosyllable. We have very few initial
syllables formed otherwise by long vowels; and
such are commonly words taken from Latin, as
— la-bour, fe-ver, li-bel, do-lor — even in those the
long vowel does not most prevail, as — fám-ine,
hón-our, líl-y, nor do we adhere to the radical
Latin quantity. Observation will point out some
guide in these, for most commonly those initial
Latin-English syllables are long, when the finals
can be contracted in sound into mutes and liquids,
by substituting e final, as — la-bor, fe-ver,
la-bre, fe-vre, &c. &c.: the rest have not this
help ; see below.
Such is the rapidity of our pronunciation, that
the above finals are not only short, but obscure,
and so little distinguishable to the ear, that the
pretended exceptions of the diphthongs ai and
oi, in — Cap-tain, cer-tain, tor-toise, &c. would
have a sound equally indistinct, if written with
any one of the six vowels, closed by n or se ;
therefore the dispute, whether Cap-tain sounds e
or i, is fundamentally erroneous. The sound is
obscure, therefore neither e nor i can prevail: the
dispute in all English-French grammars proves
the assertion; the sound being obscure, how can
it be determined? therefore neither e nor i prevails
in Cap-tain, &c.
Foreigners would be much helped by the following
Almost all the obscure finals may be well
sounded by the slender and feminine e French
but very properly so, when expletives produce the
sound of the united mutes and liquids, and the
intermediate vowel seems changed into e obscure
final; thus — mor-tal, por-ter, na-dir, can-dor, sul--
phur, sa-tyr, seem to sound, or may be sounded
indiscriminately, — mor-tle, por-tre, na-dre, can--
dre, sul-phre, sa-tre. Hence the French might
easily avoid the very disagreeable false accent in
the words — por-ter, wa-ter, by transposing er
into re, as in — mor-dre, pau-vre, &c. instead of
of the disgusting sound of — por-tàir, wa-tàir, &c.
These united mutes and. liquids, or thus transposed,
are so easy and soft in their combination;
that very probably the vowel, as said, owes its
long sound to the transposition of finals in these
and similar words — fa-vre, sa-vre, la-bre, ni-gre,
fu-tre, &c. from — fa-vor, savor, labor, ni-ger,
fu-ture, &c. which is most conspicuous in — fa-ble;
ta-ble, no-ble, &c. The word honour (hon-or)
is no objection, because n, r, are two liquids, and
cannot be united: so that the true sound of
hon-our, is hon-ur, per u obscure.
These finals, thus contracted into mutes and
liquids, show the powers of e mute.
The Shifting Accent in Dissyllables.
This change of the radical quantity, or long
sound of the vowel transferred to the consonant,
begins in dissyllables. It arises from our love of
quick sounds, and finds frequent admission, when
certain consonants seem naturally and readily to
lead to the contraction, as l, n, m, s, t, &c. passing
into ll, nn, &c. The shifting of the Greek
accent appears to be its model.
EXAMPLES of the Shifting Accent in Dissyllables.
Cone, con-ic, — brace, brace-let (brass-let) —
tone, ton-ic, — school, schol-ar, — coal, col-lier, —
pale, pal-lid — poll, pol-lard, — crise, crit-ic — wise,
wis-dom, — mode, mod-ern, modest (mò-dish retains
long o) — nose, nos-tril, &c. &c.
Here the Greek movement is closely followed,
as above explained. In the trisyllabic order we
shall see that this change of sounds, or shifted
accent, arises from a greater and more visible con.
fortuity with the Greek accent, than with the
The Second General Rule of Dissyllables directly
contrary to the former.
The opposition is the result of reason and
1mo, Most compound words have the mora,
length of sound, accent, or quantity, on the last
syllable, sometimes equally strong on both when
the final syllable is not an unmeaning expletive.
2do, Most verbs formed from nouns transfer
the original accent or quantity to the last syllable.
The REASON. — 1mo, The contrasted sense of
the word justly claims the change. — 2do, The expletive,
or less important syllable, shifts its sound,
and the main word, or part of the word, in such
finals, deserves more attention, for this expletive
is not obscure, because it is a significant
EXAMPLES. — Abs-cond, al-lure, al-ly, com-pel,
dis-join, ob-tain, al-low, ab-hor, &c. &c.
Compound nouns seem stronger, as both syllables
are sounded equally strong, though the main
word should be rather more accented.
Prim-rose, pen-knife, wind-mill, sword-fish,
OBJECTION. — 1mo, House and wife compounded
in — house-wife, contradict the rule.
2do, add hand-ful, care-ful, &c.
ANSWER. — 1mo, We noticed the occasional
powers of the shifting accent; so it has crept in
here, from the easy combination of the syllable,
and because the very sense of the word and application
seem to require it, which would otherwise
be ridiculous; for we not only say of a woman,
in the direct sense of the two words, house-wife,
a good huzzeif; but even of a man, which would
be ridiculous under the full sound of wife.
2do, — Handful, careful, &c. — here ful is no
more than a final expletive found in many words
seeming accidentally to express plenty, full, — but
being written with one 1, it is no more than ive,
al, some, ship, hood; which may be called equally
significative: ive, with some straining,
may be, derived from habens, al from all, and
some from summa — ship, and hood, resemble
nouns; — full, some, ship, and hood, are not so
obscure as other finals — man-hood, hard-ship,
NOUNS turned to VERBS.
Des'-ert, to de-ser't — pres'-ent, to pre-sént —
prot-est, to pro-tes't — cab-al, to cab-ál — trans'-fer,
to trans-fér — pér-mit, to per-mít ; but a few
finals in t remain the same in noun and verb, and
therefore the rule said, most verbs, &c. — mer'-it,
to mer' it — spir'-it, to spir'-it — cred'-it, to cred'-it.
OBJECTIONS. — Deviations from the rule are
found in these compounds, — a trans'-fer, a reb-el,
a sub-ject ; and in the verbs — to glò-ry, to én-vy,
ANSWER.—These changes are supported by
reason or use, which overlooks sometimes common
rut: : for — trans-fer — reb-el — sub-ject, are compound
nouns of trans and fero, re and bello, sub
and jaceo — to glòry — énvy, and a few similar
simple verbs in y, formed from the same noun,
have no change of accent, because, 1mo, a trans--
fer, a sub-ject, and a reb-el, reserve the change
of accent to give force and distinction to the
verb, to trans-fér, to subjéct, to re-bél.
2do, To glo-ry — to en-vy — to tal-ly — to hur-ry
— to par-ry — to fer-ry, &c. if any more, formed
from similar nouns, preserve the same accent, in
non-compound verbs terminated by the expletive
y, the most weak and common of all expletives.
Use, guided by the ear, neglects the rule, which
holds in rigour, for — to en-vy' — to glo-ry' &c. are
marked with the transferred accent in good English
dictionaries, and the Scotch strictly observe
it ; they say — to en-vy', &c. which seems to prove
that the rule was in force formerly.
OBJECTION. — the absurdity of difference in —
dù-ty, and Ju-ly', is indefinable, both being simple
words, and closed by that weak and common expletive
ANSWER. — This shall be given up as whimsical
and arbitrary, if not supported by reason and
rule. — Duty is certainly a simple dissyllable, with
its expletive y, therefore the first syllable bears
the mora of sound. July is undoubtedly a compound,
from the Latin Julius, and that from the
Greek uios ius contracted; and by our custom the
termination us being cut off; i derivative only remains,
and being final, is written with y in English;
that this is not an analytical whim, we prove by
most classical authority — Julius á magno dimiſum
nomen Iulo, Virg. Julius (or July') is a name
derived from Julus. We know July is the name
of a month, from Julius, and Julius is Julius
Cæsar, Iuli filius, uios, ius, contracted into y in
English: qui potest melius solvere, solvat.
Other kind of nouns and verbs, perfectly similar
in accent and writing, find another resource
of distinction, as — an abuse, an advice, &c. &c.
— to a-bùze, to ad-vìze, s being sounded z : and
some others by a new expletive to the verb.
A list of dissyllables with the shifting accent,
might here be usefully added. These are remarkable:
Hick-cough (from high and cough)
— two-pence, tup-pence, wom-an (wom-en, wim--
men , plural) folk contracted in — Nor-folk, Suff-olk.
This will be further noticed below.
COROLLARY, — From the above rules of accent
and quantity, arises the close analogy of Greek
and Latin measure in poetry. The monosyllable
affords the Cæsura, the dissyllable gives the Spondee
and Trochee, and the two short, the Amphibrachys.
General or Common Rule.
Trisyllables derive their measure from the dissyllables.
The rule rests on the same principles,
the most prevalent is that of the encreased expletives,
vowels or diphthongs, being equally involved.
Analogy of the First Rule.
Plen-ty, plen-ti-ful, — emp-ty, emp-ti-ness, —
hand-some, hand-some-ly. — Cap-tain, Cap-tain--
ship, cer-tain, cer-tain-ly :— pi-ous, pi-ous-ly, —
nar-row, nar-row-ly. — La-dy, La-dy-ship .— Zeal,
Analogy of the Second Rule.
Abscond, abs-cond-ing, disjoint, disjointment,
al-low, al-low-ance, &c. &c. — Al-ly, al-lî--
ance, has i long, dal-li-ance, has i short from dal--
ly, ly expletive being short, and no compound,
as ly in al-ly is, from ad and ligo.
If the second syllable is an expletive, and the
last a monosyllabic word, then the chief accent,
mora, or quantity, will rest on the third, as — o--
ver-char'ge, un-der-gò, ex-er-cîse (ex, êr, ceo).
Now all simple words used in English, if
sounded contrary to this rule, are foreign, French,
Spanish, &c. frequently pure Latin: as — ma-ga--
zine, a-la-mode, ren-dez-vous, to-bac-co — To-le-do,
em-bar-go — Sep-tem-ber, Oc-to-ber, No-vem-ber,
&c. The word Prot'-est-ant, being used as a
simple Latin or French appellative, foregoes the
radical verb to pro-tes't, and adheres to the noun,
The Shifting Accent extended to Trisyllables.
Here it acts more powerfully, and more conformably
to the natural love of rapidity in English
pronunciation, in analogy with the Greek.
This prevalence of quick and rapid enunciation
readily seizes the disposition and fitness of
particular letters, to elude the protracted sound of
vowels thus shortened and quickened by the brisk
doubled consonants. The other reason is new
and speculative, and referred to the judgment of
the more profound Literati and Greek scholars.
Thus we argue: As in English we find innumerable
Greek words, and as in such radical combinations
we pay great attention to the Greek
(page 11. PRINC. II.) so it seems probable, that
the ruling Genius of our language had in view
the Greek tone, which seems so clearly analogous
on many occasions, as to unravel the nature
of the shifting accent, yet unnoticed with reference
to this source! for -stom'-ach, sto-mách-ick, is
very analogous with the Greek ςτομαχιχος the
retrenchment of ος in Greek, and us in Latin, reduces
the word to a trisyllable with the shifted
accent, stóm-ach dissyllable, sto-mách-ic trisyllable.
We leave it to the learned reader to pursue
the analogy in the circumflex over a first long
syllable, changed or shifted on the encrease of
the word, as , ςώμα, ςώματος, ςώματιχος: thus we treat
many Latin words, as crî-men, crîme, which may
bear the long circumflex accent, or our jugum:
but when we lengthen it into a trisyllable, the
accent is changed, as crîme, crim'-i-nal, the i being
shortened. Latin itself often employs the shifting
accent or quantity, as le-go short, lè-gi long
mo-ve-o, mòvi, &c. This may please the skilful
in Greek, and cannot give offence to the English
scholar, for such speculations tend to discover
some hitherto hidden principle of our languages
and to vindicate its sound from caprice.
Examples of the Shifting Accent.
Bile, bil-i-ous, case, cás-u-al, clàmour, clám-o--
rous, con-fìde, con-fid-ence, com-plái-sance, com--
plai-sànce (French) so ad-ver-tîse, or ad-vert-ise,
là-bour, láb-orate, mát-ùre, mát-urate, mî-ser
mis'-e-rable, mode, módest, mód-e-rate, nature,
TRISYLLABLES reduced in Sound to Dissyllables.
The reason we shall assign, will also tend to
reduce the foursyllabics to three, &c.
This contraction is the result of spurious diphthongs,
and this is the proper place for exhibiting
that combination, which pervades our pronunciation.
This treatment also will appear something
new, as may be seen in the list above of
spurious diphthongs, with the adjoined sounds,
page 72, to which we refer, and here proceed to
prove what we have already advanced, by appealing
more to the ear, than to strict rule, in
many of the following examples of the sounds of
Spurious and False Diphthongs Inveſtigated.
Æ and œ: — these Latin diphthongs are commonly
written with simple e, Cesar, Econ-o-my.
* EA has a confused short sound, contracting
ce-an final into Shan : the a is so obscure, per
above rules of expletive finals, that the ear cannot
distinguish the contracted a from any other
vowel; as in — o-ce-an, o-shan, scarcely distinguishable
from — o-shen, o-shin, o-shon, o-shun,
o-shyn, — this will serve as a precedent to most
of the rest.
EO, o, &c. — Dun-ge-on, sur-ge-on, dun-dgon,
&c. g being softened by the mute e — djan, djen,
EOU, u, &c. — Cour-a-ge-ous, cour-a-dgus, g soft--
ened, — dgas, dges, dgis, dgos, dgus — almost indistinguishably.
IA, a, i, &c. — Car-ri-age, mar-ri-age, mar-ridge,
or mar-radge, car-ridge or car-radge — Par-li-ament,
par-li-ment, par-la-ment, &c. obscure as
After c, s, t, x, ial is obscure with the hissing
sound of shal, — social, partial, so-shal, par-shal, &c.
In the word pro-nun-ci-a-tion, i and a form
distinct syllables, therefore is falsely sounded
* IE, e or i foreign in all short plurals, for
the y short is converted into ie short: — ar-my,
cit-y, ar-mies, cit-ies : or i long, if y is radically
long, as — cry, sky, cries, skies ; this holds in dissyllables
I-E, in — anx-i-ety, so-ci-ety, formdis joined syllables.
In pollysyllables, c, s, t, x, precede and
produce the same kind of contraction, — species,
om-ni-scient, an-tient, patient, anx-ious, &c.—
IO, affords a similar contraction before c, s and
x. T preserves its sound when it forms a radical
syllable, for, on examination, it will appear not to
be part of an expletive: as — bast-ion, combustion,
christ-ian, fust-ian: Hence by strict rule
(contradicted by use) Egyp-tian should be sounded,
Egypt-ian, because the root Egypt is closed
by t, and ian is the expletive; custom has
made it yield to the rule of finals, teon, tian,
sion, &c. which the above and similar words do
not so readily admit, on account of a singular
harshness they would thus produce.
Hence the t in other words, and c, s, x form
finals coalescing into sh, with the spurious diphthongs
in ion, ious, &c. X assumes the sound of
k in anxious, ankshus. All this is highly absurd
* This hissing English contraction extended to Latin words,
shews another absurdity in our pronunciation of Latin. In
the year 1755, I attended a public Disputation in a foreign
University, when at least 400 Frenchmen literally hissed a
grave and learned English Doctor (Mr Banister) not by way
of insult, but irresistibly provoked by the quaintness of the
repetition of sh. The Thesis was the concurrence of God in
actionibus viciosis: the whole hall resounded with the hissing
cry of sh (shy, shi, shi) on its continual occurrence in actio,
actione, viciosa — ac-shi-o, vi-shi-osa. Strange, that our great
Schools will not adopt the laudable precedent of the Scotch;
for we render all the vowels, syllables, and words absolutely
unintelligible, exemplified in this phrase: Amabo, Domine refer
mihi quæ curatio dari possit huic ægro uti cito sanetur, — emebo,
Dâm-inee reefur meihei quee curaisho heic eegro dairei pawssit
yutei ceito sai-neetur. This pronunciation would make a
French Doctor think the address was abusive, Hebrew, or
high Dutch ; the first hearing would go far to puzzle the
ablest Latin scholar in Scotland, the eminent Doctor Gregory.
The Frerch may laugh at us; not so much indeed on
account of the singularity of native pronunciation, as our
want of good sense in not imitating their example of tempering
the sounds of their own tongue in speaking Latin; for any
Latin phrase, articulated by the strict laws of French nasal
* OE, spurious, e is mute, and renders o very
clear, doe, foe ; and serves as a counterdistinction,
in roe and row, but more so in toe (of the
foot) and to, preposition.
UA, UE, * UI, UY, are all unconnected with the
present subject, yet may be thus exemplified
here Ua in lan-gua-ge, has a kind of true diphthong
sound; and ue in ton-gue, softens the syllable
ton, naturally hard, as in tongs. Ui, uy,
harden preceding g, as guy and guide.
COROLLARY. — Hence we derive various Greek
and Latin measures, the daclyle, anapæstus, tribrachys,
Words of Four Syllables.
The further we advance, the clearer the road
The monosyllabic root, and the dissyllabic
rules, point out and regulate the long and short,
the clear and obscure syllables.
REASON. — Foursyllabics generally viewed, are
formed by encreasing the expletives — com-pe--
sounds, monotonous, and final accent, would be equally unintelligible
to Italians, Spaniards, Germans, English and
Scotch Literati. See a real and whimsical interview witnessed
by the writer, and related at full length in French, in
the Euphonia Anglicana, Jeu Litéraire, proœm. page xiii.
tent, él-e-gant, com-pe-ten-cy, él-e-gan-cy; delíght-ful,
al-lu-ring, de-líght-ful-ly, al-lu-ring-ly.
A singular Difficulty and Peculiarity of our
The first regards foreigners, peculiarity ourselves;
to wit the combination of three short syllables
pronounced short and rapidly with one
preceding long, as — cóm-pe-ten-cy, ál-le-go-ry,
è-gri-mo-ny. The Greek and Latin have this
measure, but how they pronounced such words
we know not; but this we assert confidently, that
if they did not pronounce the three last syllables
short, they certainly transgressed, most demonstratively,
the laws of poetic measure, and read
their verses erroneously, which is not probable:
this appears in these two words, the one Greek,
the other Latin, Ανδρομαχος, prò-ji-ce-re, as we
-sound in English è-gri-mo-ny.
Hence we may form a fresh observation, which
tends to establish the Theory already advanced;
respecting the shifting accent. We know, that
in prose the Greek accent is never found on the
syllable preceding three short ones, but is shifted
to another, as λέγετε, λεγόμενος, this mode of
sound we most frequently follow in the foursyllabic
word, when the second syllable easily admits
the shifting to the accented consonant,
which consequently is doubled as to the sound,
as — mór-tal, mór-tal-ly, mor-tál-i-ty, ráp-id, rap--
id-ly, rapid-i-ty, &c. this frequently happens (as
noticed above) even in dissyllables and trisyllables,
which originally are trisyllabics and foursyllabics,
as οργανος, οργανιχος, &c. — or-gan, or-gan--
ic, tone, ton-ical.
Now, as to the Latin words having the first
syllable long, with three short, all people besides
ourselves, (and we do it only occasionally) place
the false quantity on the second syllable, as in
the word — pro-jìcere — om-nì-po-tent — mi-sè-ricors;
and yet we hear many English read according
to true quantity — om'-ni-po-tens, mis'-e-ri--
cors Deus. In support of this new doctrine of
the shifting accent, I beg the learned reader will
allow the reasoning to be specious, if not true;
and that it is true, once more this reflection (per
Princ. II.) seems to prove, that, as we have many
Greek words, and in Greek words we observe
the Greek letters (schism, cha-os, &c.) so why
not follow in Greek words the Greek tone?
And in Latin words why not adopt the same impulse,
for sake of real or imaginary harmony? We
may also add, that many Latin words are origiginally
Greek, as crimen, crisis.
Hence — crime, crim-i-nal — cri-sis, crit-ical —
fa-ci-lis — ri-si-bi-lis, fass--
ile, riz-i-ble, &c.
ADVERTISEMENT, this word deserves notice.
If pronounced long, it proceeds from the deception
of ise or ize, commonly long ; if short, then
ise is held as a common expletive, frequently
Ad-ver-tìse is explained the same way; but
ad and verto form the true derivative, and ise is
expletive: therefore, by this solution we should
say ad-ver'-tise, last short, from ad-ver't.
Some words leave the long or short syllable
optional, in virtue of their radical sounds, as —
persev'-erance, or perse-vè-rance, &c. This gives
occasion to some public speakers to correct common
received sounds: that is more commendable
in academies, &c. than in the pulpit.
Words of Five, Six, and Seven Syllables.
These are easy, and guided by the preceding
1mo, We must remark, that we are not slaves
to the Latin quantity, when it is remarkably long
in intermediate syllables we follow it; thus ò-sus
and òble are commonly long, but able, expletive,
ible, uble, are as generally short: ation, etion, otion,
ution, have the accent on the syllabic vowels
a, e, o, u.
2do, That intermediate vowels being short,
have the foreign short sound; hence i in ition,
has the short sound, and the accented consonant
prevails — ish-on, as ab-o-li-ti-on, ab-o-lis'h-on — ad-mo-nísh-on, &c.
3tio, That we never speak capriciously, when
we speak by rule, consequently, as various rules
may be found in various combinations, the change
of old sounds, and adopting of new, or any similar
reform, established, or attempted to be introduced,
are not to be condemned as capricious
and arbitrary; for our elementary combinations,
rules of accent, &c. sanction this wonderful variety
radically found in English pronunciation;
the most singular proof of this docrine is established
in the word Lieutenant, an adopted English
word, which may be pronounced intelligibly
and classically, at least seven different ways,
EXAMPLES of words of five, six, and seven syllables
will be sufficient to discover the order of
their quantity and accent, either under their radical
formation with above rules, or under that
change the shifting accent naturally introduces.
5. — In com'-pe-ten-cy — im-med'-i-ate-ly — innú--
me-ra-ble — no-tò-ri-ous-ly.
6. — Ar-chi-e-pís-co-pal — tran-sub-stan-ti-al-ly
— in-com-mu-ni-ca-bly — om-ni-po-ten'-ti-al: and
many more Greek and Latin words.
7. Ar- chi- e-pís-co-pal-ly — Con-stan-tin-o-pól--
i-tan — in-com-bus-ti- bil'-i-ty, &c.
A great Singularity in English Pronunciation not
found in the powers of any living Language
This shews itself in the easy and natural combination
of the five syllabic com-mù-ni-ca-bly,
or com-mù-ni-ca-ble, hence com-mù-ni-ca-ble-neſs;
which holds out four successive short syllables,
short by our rules, ca being formed from able:
for able expletive is always short. This is the result
of the richness and fertility of the Greek and
Latin tongue, fertile in words, fertile in sounds:
Both those noble languages have the same uninterrupted
quantities, found in the Greek word
τιμα-ο-με-νος, and the Latin abji-ci-mi-ni (being honoured,
ye are cast away) How the Greeks and
Latins sounded them in true poetry we know not;
we can, and do often sound them in all the rigour
of poetic metre ; we often also introduce
some change, and then take for our guide the
Greek prosaic accent.
Erroneous Sounds, &c.
According to the proposed plan, we wish not
to omit noticing a single word in English
which admits any difficulty, or apparently varied
from principle or rule. Some differ from the
written combination, and are noticed in general,
pag. 12. Princ. III.
Yel-low, yal-low These are to be attributed to
common error, caused by affinity
of letters and sounds,p.12.
Busy, biz-zy These to affinity of letters
so in Latin u and i are often
placed one for the other, op-ti-mus and op-tu-mus.
Buzzy, per u, is true Scotch, very expressive of
the bustle, hurry, and buzzing noise of a buzzy
or busy crowd, resembling the buzzing of bees,
verified daily at the Royal Exchange at London,
&c. however, use has preferred the short i.
Apricock, for apricot; Shakespeare, &c. repeatedly
write it apricock. See Tragedy of Richard II.
— scene, Queen and Gardener.
Heard, hurd, and hard, pag. 70, 82, 83,
Lose, loose — some use the long o.
Melancholy, malancholy — illusion of sound.
Move, and prove, per o potential — from mou-voir,
One, once, wun, wunce the derivative ; one is
amply discussed, pag. 40.
Pudding. per ou French — This important word is
profusedly analysed, as it deserves, in the
Euphon. Angl. with all the words above, p.45.
Latin and French.
Puisne, puny, or punior — a law remnant of Norman
Rome, Room See o potential; Rome, per ò now
prevails, pag. 36.
Yelk, yoke; if e offends, o may be substituted.
Some of these words may be held as exotics in
Grammar, as we find exotics, irregularities, and
rare monsters in nature. They make very little
against the main order of language.
Anomalous Contractions of Common Discourse.
This species of grammatical deformity is found
in all languages, and thus presents itself in English.
Asparagus — sparrow-grass, per allusion of sound,
Half-penny — ha-pen-ny.
.Hand-ker-cher — ker-cher, ker-cheif, by contraction.
I-ron — i-orn, r transposed.
Two-pence — tup-pence.
A-ber-ga-yen-ny — A-ber--
Bright-hel-mis-ton — Bright--
Ci-ren-ces-ter — Chi-ces-ter.
Win-ches-ter — Winton, &c.
love of brevity, or
written different ways.
Thus, in Greek, we have μαδια for dia dia.
And in Latin; vin', mal-lem for vis-ne-tu, ma-gis
— vel-lem, nudius, nunc dies est — ain', a-is-ne-tu,
poi, edipol, &c.
In French à-steur, à-cette-heur, &c. hè bien,
abain — est ce que, es que, &c.
The Hebrew contracted certain words, through
respect or modesty.
All these are trifling objections, founded in familiar
Greek and Latin proper Names adapted to the
The ingenious author of the Rhyming English
Dictionary, Mr James Walker, has lately treated
this subject as extensively as English literature
will admit. We have already noticed the general
rule of finals, p. 35. But deceptious English
rules of initial and intermediate vowels, and sometimes
of consonants, in every situation, will offend
the ear of the Greek and Latin scholar.
Otus, and some other syllabics, we are told, are
always short, some always long: But, amongst
many Greek and Latin Names, this rule will
be found defective. Hero-dot-us is short, but
Eu-rò-tils falsifies the rule. Can the English
Scholar tell me why, contrary to prosaic Greek
and Latin rule, we say Pa-trò-clus, and Cleo-pà-tra?
The mute and liquid here follow short vowels,;
wherefore those sounds, and many similar, being
short in prose, the Greek and Latin poet avails
himself of a general rule, which says, that a vowel
becomes long situ, by position, when placed before
two consonants, whilst the prose writer is obliged
to follow the natural quantity of the vowel before
a mute and liquid; but the poet uses it either
way, as our poets use the word wind, per i short
or i long, on account of the general rule of
placed before nd, pag. 57.
Now, to aſſign one reason which induces us to
lengthen, contrary to the Greek and Latin prose,
the words Patroclus, Cleopatra,. or Pericles (why
not Sophocles, Theophrast, &c.?) is the ready coalescence
of mute and liquid (see p. 104.) leaving
the vowel totally disjoined from a subsequent consonant,
which is the free and independent state
of pure English vowels, pag. 22. This (by reason
assigned, pag. 52.) may be the cause of the
vowels being long in English, a, ai, e, ee, i, ei, &c.
as these words help to prove — Ha-tred, me-tre,
ni-tre, — vo-t'ry, — pu-trid: or la-bor, la-bre, &c.
see pag. 104.
The sound of Ca-to, Ma-ro, Na-so, Pla-to, per
a English, appears piteous and unworthy of vindication.
Rome and Greece sink under that non
virilis ejulatio in the mouths of our modern Players,
who have forsaken the manly sounds of Garrick,
in whose time they had their native a. Nason,
Caton, Pluton, in all their nasal French twang,
are more supportable and original, though equally
unintelligible to the rest of Europe
St Helèna, Heleena, is shocking to classic ears;
this corruption of our brave Tars is countenanced
by the ladies, &c. Hebe, Phe-be, Hee-be, Phee-be,
are also extremely effeminate : with some reason,
being names of women. Titus Livy, or Liv-ius,
is. in rule, and Roman, pag. 23. but Tite Live, or
Quint Curse, are disgusting French mutilation, and
reduce the names of the noble Roman historians
by wretched monosyllables to Sansculotism, and
Equadity with Tom Paine, and Tom Thnmb.
Objection against our Language.
We wish to close with energetic effort the present
vindication, by adding to all the past this
final answer to a common misplaced reproach,
that our language is, in sound and combination, a
* farago of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Teutonic, Danish,
Saxon, German, and French. We grant it;
we conceal it not; we are grateful for the adventitious
help of foreign countries: it is the triumph
of literary commerce. Are we ashamed to have
enriched our isle with foreign plants, our cities
and towns with foreign commodities, our persons
and minds with foreign improvements? No:
nor our language with foreign help. Our country
is an island, placed towards the chilling and
torpid north. Man lives on earth to better and
perfect himself: kind Providence has given us
the boundless ocean, and boundless liberty, to
rove secure in our invincible towers of wood around
the vast globe, and visit the lands of strangers.
— Unwise should we be, if we did not take
from them the noblest spoils of uninjured humanity,
and thus enrich ourselves, without making
others poor, by every improvement; yea, that of
language, and mental commerce, wherever foreign
advantages readily, freely, invitingly, cheer
fully hold out to us the grand boon of internal or
external melioration. And, after all, where is
the mighty merit of the nervous German, the
* (See Trans. of the Society of Antiq. of Scotl. vol. 1. p. 447.).
sweet Italian tongue, the majestic Spanish, or the
boast of French excellency? These are all composed
of the language of former invaders and
conquerors. If the term of mother-tongue can
be extended beyond Hebrew, and will stand on
viewing the confusion of the Tower of Babel, then
we may boldly say, originality of language is most
found in those which, as illiberally as ignorantly,
we most undervalue. Let due praise and triumph
be given to the Cambrobritish, to the Irish, and
to the Erse. Those affinitive tongues nobly claim
and maintain the boast and merit of that species
of originality, which admits of no doubt, but
are held as barbarous by our refining age, whilst
WE strive to keep up a share of accidental and
borrowed lustre, common to the languages of
Europe, being providentially divided from the rest
of the world by the interposition of the rolling
waves that guard our happy isle. Exultingly,
then, and with heart filled with gratitude to
kind Providence for the favour of native locality,
will I bring forth the prophetic Muse of the
Scotish and immortal Bard, and triumphantly
sing, in Latian strain, the once general language
of Europe, once most cherished in our isle, and
To its still subsisting Supporters, Patrons, and
warm Friends throughout Great Britain, I respectfully
introduce and submit the verbal translation,
in the name of the yet breathing Latin
Muse. O! Gregory, son of Apollo, abandon
not the sickly, the decaying Maid of Latium,
rouse her sinking nerves, restore her faltering
speech; hear that voice, even now perhaps proving
the stamina of radical powers, and organs, to
be more neglected than impaired.
RULE BRITANNIA, &c,
PRIMA cùm Tellus, imperante Cœlo,
Extulit vultum pelago Britanna,
Hæc fuit sacri data norma juris,
Hosquè custodes Superi dêdere
——— Regito Britanna,
Vortices Tellus, regito Britanna;
Sic fera nunquàm
Servitus fræno subiget Britannos.
Dispari Gentes, minùs aut beatâ
Sorte qui gaudent populi, tyrannis
Colla submittent humiles superbis,
Liberam dum te, celebremquè famâ
Cæteræ Gentes pavidæquè spectent,
Major assurges, magis & verenda,
Hostis externi valitura bellis ;
Ceu furens rauco violentus ore
Cùm tonat Auster
ÆEtherem pulsu secat ambientem;
Ecce nativis agitata campis
Crescit ut radix, meliusqè surgunt
Efferi non to subigent Tyranni,
Quosqué fatales meditantur ausus,
His tibi flammas animo ciebunt,
Et sibi cladem.
Sint tui ruris placidi labores,
Merxqué ditabit cumulata Cives;
Subditus cedet tibi Pontus omnis,
Liberos lætæ sociare cœtus
Ad tuum Titus venient Camœnæ.
TERRA ter felix, cui fusa circum
Cincta præfulges decoris corollâ,
Ceditur splendor tibi fæminarum,
Et mari gaudes animo tueri
Hæc coercendo Batavos minaces
Jura Duncanus statuit per orbem,
Dictus et Vincens, Dominusque Nili
* The Author has, in a former short publication, given a
Latin and English paraphrase of this national song, in order
to remove some invidious boast and comparative depreciation
it seems to breathe with relation to foreign nations, which now
unhappily admit Muses esse veraces. To it is attached an
Academical discourse, in Latin and English, relative to the
P. S. Some words have accidentally escaped our notice
but they are all reducible to some assigned principle or rule.
Thus page 85. Teint and Key may be objected as mere
Teint (a French word) and Key, per i foreign, stand in contrast
with taint, and with quay or kay, which many sound
also like key.
Page 46. line 12. read qualm or qual-i-ty, add squal,
THE DIALECTS OF ALL LANGUAGES,
VINDICATION OF THAT OF SCOTLAND.
Origin of human Language — Primeval State — First Corruption
— Postdiluvian and general Dialects — The South and East,
the West, and our Islands first peopled — The North and America
— The Seat of Savage Man, and Barbarous Languages
— State of Languages in Britain prior to its second population
from the North — Welch, Irish, and Gailic, still more pure
than Latin, Greek, Arc. particular Dialects — Greek, Latin,
Spanish, &c. &c. — French minutely discussed — English,
Welch, and Irish — Scotch, its History, Analysis, Grammar
THE undisturbed solitude I enjoyed during the summer's
recess at Musselburgh, which I endeavoured to improve by
the vicinity of the famed capital of North Britain, presented
to my mind, in the course of the past studies, a subject of
new philosophical investigation, arising from the singularity
of unintelligible sounds and words, which appeared to form
a new language from the prevalence of local dialect. To such
corruptions of classic speech' had always paid attention, at home.
and abroad. In the foregoing Work, allusions have been frequently
made to English, Scotch, and French dialect. That
of Scotland is so remarkable and original, that it appeared
to afford a various subject of close enquiry. Ignorance and
novelty may make an impression of laughable oddity on the
unphilosophic mind of visitors of North Britain. Common
sense, aided by time and experience, having fully subdued
the impulse of native prejudices, I found, on reflection, a
new object of vindication in the general. dialect of Scotland,
the famed moiety of British Empire and splendour. Yes,
said I, to the listening walls of my silent cell, I will vindicate
from vulgar scorn the speech of the invincible and virtuous
inhabitants of the united land of a once divided people,
and descendents of antient Heroes. Their language is a testimony
not of reproachful corruption, but of originality, independency,
and freedom. To give weight to this impression
of imagination that extended itself to the very source of
all dialect, and primeval language itself, in respect of which
all human speech is mere dialect, my mind led me to unlimited
enquiry into all the languages of the world, till speculation
yielding to experimental knowledge, engaged my attention
on my native tongue, and presented to my mind the
reigning corruptions of its established and classical languages.
After I have roved over the primeval world, and viewed
with more certainty neighbouring kingdoms, I will rest my
wearied steps in my native land, and discuss the dialect of
As men we are all of one common parentage: Language is
not the least perfection of our species; it arose not from the
pretended compact of speechless man: new words necessarily
multiplied by new circumstances, or old falling into disuse,
no more affect the specific nature of speech, than the encrease
and decrease of man, the human race. By it man was
raised above the brute creation, and unarticulating tribes of
terrestrial animals; and by it he was but little lessened below
the Angels, and most resembled the Heavenly spirits,
who, like us, have the powers of mental converse, though independent
of the motion of atmospheric air. They form
their colloquial melody inconceivably sweet, which no mortal
ear has heard, or ever has it entered into the heart of man
to conceive. Man, little lessened below the angels, received the
powers of communicating thought by speech, and the Almighty
Father imparted it unto him in all the native sweetness
and harmony of human voice: Hence comes the fond
love of musical converse, by which in our lapsed state, soar.
ing above the rough modes of vulgar speech, we mimicly
commune in harmonic sounds in the imaginary gardens of
pastoral life. In the marked division of that great day on
which our first parents stood the moulded image of God,
knowledge and speech were momentary education in the fulness
of human capacity, and harmony of mental and corporeal
powers. Can we suppose that language fell short of other
external excellency? Was not Milton's morning prayer, if
couched in primeval speech, well suited to the melodious
tenor of graceful Adam, and more graceful Eve? But that
could not be, if, like corrupted Hebrew, it were drawn forth
with convulsive labour of the lungs and throat.
Graceful and manly is the name of Adam, more soft and
sweet is that of Eve, musical is the sound of Eden; the delightful
spot of their adult nativity: their first offspring Cain
himself, and innocent Abel, have the first sounds of the Hebrew
Alphabet found in Aleph or softened a, resembling our
harmonious a (ai) and not less varied in Hebrew than in
English. Harmonious I say. I grant that a in its foreign
sound is majestic, but our a (ai) is the easiest and sweetest
note (page 22.) of the human voice, and key of musical
concord. Adam accords with the first, being more masculine
Eve with the second, more feminine and soft. In rational
joy, in grief moderately plaintive, in the tender mouths
of unarticulating infants, ai is the leading note.
Human language, with all nature, likely experienced a diſadvantageous
change, when disobedient man blushed at naked
perfection; and then did his tongue begin to falter, when
the green leaves made a disgracing covering. Such, we
confidently assert, long after the flood, was the mother,
and the only mother-tongue of man, preserved with little
change. This is not imaginary fiction. Holy Writ supports it
by a powerful expression in the Vulgate (Gen. ch. v.) Terra
erat labii unites et eorundem sermonam; the earth was of one
lip, and of the same sounds.
Polydore Virgil, in the remote reign of Henry VII, marks
this difference even betwixt the English of those clays and
the Scotch, by the distinction of labial and guttural. English
abounding in labial sounds, the Scotch with harsh gutturals,
spoke their respective character to an Italian ear.
We now pass to the origin of primeval and general dialect,
which was the third great punishment of prevaricating man.
Great, I say, according to that order of the allpowerful
Master of the Universe, who punishes daring man by humiliation,
and those small events by which divine scorn confounds
all the mighty and terrific projects of mortals: says the
pagan poet, ridetque si mortalis ultra fas trepidet. This is
better expressed by the Hebrew bard, He that sitteth in the
Heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision, ps. 2.
v. 4. The design of Providence was, that man should disperse
and fill the surface of the whole habitable earth. This
order was likely made known to the encreasing nations of
the south, and choicest spots of population. They comply
reluctantly, and attempt to erect a monument either as an
impious protest against the orders of God, or as a central
point of future rendezvous, and common union, found in the
general language of all. The passage of Genesis (ch. v.)
seems to imply these hints, and makes the tower of Babel
first a monument of human pride, then of its confusion.
What were the foundations of this tower, to what height had
it risen, when the Almighty looked down from above, and
with powerful derision stopt the daring attempt? (See the
wonderful Kurcher de tur. Babel.)
The inraged ingineers in vain called on their labourers, repeated
their orders with imprecations and blasphemy; masons,
carpenters, smiths, with all their subordinate tribes, fell into
general perturbation, and each one seemed to laugh at his neighbour
with insulting gibberish. The first impressions of confusion
having ceased, a general motion for dispersion, and cry, which
all understood, and have transmitted to their dispersed posterity,
was made. The words Sack and Napsack, resounded on
every quarter: Wheresoever intelligible sounds were heard,
the divided crowds formed themselves into tribes, and sought
to associate in some fixed chosen spot. In the south towns
and cities had been built, and overstocked. The west attracted
the choice of the first wanderers, and brought encreasing
crowds towards the sea, where they quietly tarried
till encrease forced them to move. Noah's ark, fresh in memory,
had taught the use of boats and shipping. The winding
coasts received their dispersing colonies along the Asiatic
and African shores. Wild uncultivated countries, immense
lakes, dreary deserts of sands formed by the deluge,
impassable forests, self planted, and filled with lions, tygers,
and horrid reptiles, stopt the progress of encreasing numbers;
and the ambition of forming new kingdoms led out thousands
on new discoveries, and brought them down to our British
Isles, early peopled by the less corrupted race of Japhet, by
whom, says Holy Writ, the Isles of the Gentiles were first colonised
(Gen. eh. v.) even before the warmer and choicer
parts of the western world, Africa and Europe, Greece, Italy
and Spain, were overstocked. Thus the South, East and
West, gradually rose into united nations, the ties of society,
and similarity of manners and dialect, now turned to mother
tongues, marked their boundaries. Increasing multitudes
still reluctantly looked towards the wide expanding North.
Impenetrable forests, vast rivers, immense lakes, cloud capt
mountains, barren rocks, frozen plains, kept in check exploring
rovers, till the bold, daring and ambitious adventurers led
on their subject clans. Providence, not chance, conducted
them to a passage, where what we call the New world, perhaps
2000 years later peopled than the old, drew off whole
tribes, who now began to move briskly from North America
more southerly, as the bettering climate eagerly led them.
Lafitau has remarked the singular event of whole nations
suddenly disappearing. That America was a long series of
years inhabited previous to Columbus' discovery, is manifest
from innumerable monuments, bearing affinity and analogy with
the postdeluvian world, and epoch of the Tower of Babel.
H. Writ (Genesis ch. v.) repeatedly and emphatically expresses,
that from thence (central Babel) the whole earth
was peopled, therefore America, which is one half of the
The great bodies of these wanderers who had disappeared
and peopled America, were by degrees replaced, and now
began to swarm more in the North than elsewhere. Perhaps
the communication with America on the north-east parts
was blocks up, as we now find it; the designs of Providence
being fulfilled in this population of America; and thus God
compelled the multiplying numbers to fill the Boreal countries,
against the will of multiplying rovers, who, of all the
inhabitants of the world, were the most unsettled, most fierce,
most rough in manners, and in language; which was then, as
at present, the criterion of polished or unpolished society.
Now, like the Southern inhabitants, they formed new nations,
built their wooden huts, and mud wall towns: they
drew their boundaries of divided lands, and settled into distinct
tribes of people concentrated by particular interest, and
connection, none perhaps was so great as the prevailing dialect
of each associated hord. The wild beasts, the howling
wolves, the growling bears, were driven from their dens, and
forced to seek shelter, inaccessible to man, in forests, rocks,
and frozen seas. The roughness of the climate gave a similarity
of brutal savageness to man: of which, as said, no
criterion is so great as that of uncouth language; for to it the
southern and western world had paid the most early attention,
well adapted to the display of arts and sciences; even the
belles lettres were early cultivated by the latter. Witness the
beautiful language and most antient poetry of the sacred writings,
the pomp and magnificence of the Assyrian, Median, and
Persian courts, and all the splendour and literature of Egypt.
The beauties of gayest nature, diffussed around in their cultivated
fields, the melody of birds, and the azure canopy of
serene skies, taught polished inhabitants mental and corporeal
refinement; their feasts were elegant, the purple grape
enlivened their meetings, every instrument of music we can
name, softened their ear and speech. But all kind of rational
improvement remained unnoticed in the North, and the
primitive dialects brought from Babel became more disfigured
and harsh. Like our modern venders of bread, they
sounded the horrid and hoarse horn of mangled elks and bufalos,
to call to their barbarous feasts; and councils of war,
their surrounding clans, clad in clotted hides. There they
led around the bleeding horse to gratify their thirst, and
raise into tumultuous joy their savage minds (equino sanguine
læti) and then formed their plans of devastation. What were
their sounds of speech? They seem to have been taught by
the brute creation, not, as in the south by the sweet melody
of spicy groves, and beautiful gardens. These Northern Savages
brayed like the Onager of the forest, howled like the
wolves, croaked like the creeping insects of the Meotic fens,
and hissed like the lurking serpent. The burring sounds
of guttural accents burst from the obstructed larynx, the
hollow nasal tone was transmitted through the prominent
tube of the shaggy human face : these tones distinguished
the settled modes of northern dialects under one common general
language, confusedly understood perhaps by all. Such
dialects we name mother-tongues, Cimbrian, Celtic, Rhunick,
Teutonick, Gothick, and Saxonick, and admit for our noble
Ancestors of uncouth memory, these northern invaders.
The barbarous nations encreased astonishingly; the bracing
air of the North, and rough exercise, rendered them longlived
and prolific above the powers of the enervating South.
They went forth like inundations of devouring locusts in
quest of greener fields, and milder climes. They disturbed
the better parts of Asia and Europe, and lastly established
themselves in our Isles already peopled from the polished
West. They rose into new kingdoms in Greece, Italy,
Spain, France and Britain. Here is a wide unfilled parenthesis
of unknown history. This we leave, and turn our attention
to the language of our country, anterior to this second
population: There yet are remaining authentic proofs that
enable us to speak with confidence on this head. Being the
Descendants of Japhet, our language most probably was that
of postdiluvian Hebrew. I do not mean what Noah spoke
and delivered down to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob or Israel, from
whose race and numerous offspring, it became the tongue of
the chosen people of God; and is still preserved, with many
corruptions, to the present day. — I mean the dialect used by
Japhet and his descendants, less corrupt than the dialects of
his two brothers, and more nearly related to what we call
the old Hebrew, a great, but the least corruption of antediluvian
speech, which God did not destroy, but confounded
with various original dialects, which it has been the business
of man ever since to disfigure more and more. Here I rise
above the obscurity of probability, and attempt to give a most
striking proof of the antiquity of the language of the antient
inhabitants of this isle. As the polished part of the human
race, dwelling on the choicest spots of the globe, paid the
greatest attention to the culture of language, so, on the other
hand, it appears, from what I have advanced, on good grounds)
respecting the barbarous inhabitants of rough and uncultivated
regions, the northern tribes continually disfigured the original
dialects, whilst our Islands seem to have preserved or
slightly changed the language they first received. Hence
we will draw a singular conclusion, founded on fact, that will
carry with it surprise and conviction to wit, that those languages
we now most notice, and admire as most reduced to
art, and best suited to the ear, are perhaps the most corrupt
and disguised, I mean the Greek and Latin, and such
amongst the modern tongues as are nearest formed on their
model: that those, which we most overlook and despise
within our insular bosom, are less corrupt, and approach
the nearest to the original language of man; for that language
must be deemed most affinitive to originality into
which all other languages may be radically resolved, and
consequently, with some allowance of change, was the very
speech of Adam and Eve in Paradise. The question has
been often asked, what that language was? A learned Etymologist,
in the time of Queen Elizabeth, wrote a folio, to
prove that it was pure Welch. Not only the assertion, but
the very problem, is still received with laughter, to which I
expose myself, by not letting loose those muscles which exhibit
the impression of ignorance joined with surprise; for
that is the source of this weakest passion of man, laughter,
which is no confutation of error. A philosophic pause will
create doubt, and doubt may produce a problem, and problem
be supported with specious reasons tending to point out a
hidden truth, that the learned Welchman soared above the
reach of vulgar prejudice and ignorance.
First, then, the Almighty did not destroy, but only confounded
the form and texture of original language, therefore
it still remains substantially in the general speech of man.
Next, may we not ask, if it is not within the power of the
grammatical skill of eminent Linguists to analyse and decompose
literary mixtures, as able Chemists resolve natural
or medical mixtures into their component parts? Now,
what is Greek and Latin, or languages formed on similar
principles, but a disguise, concealment, or confusion, of radical
words, found chiefly in expletive syllables? Cut them off,
and you will find the root is commonly a Hebrew monosyllable.
This experiment being equally verified in pure
Welch, we may conclude that Hebrew, as far as now understood,
or Welch, was the first language of man but as Hebrew
takes the lead in the opinion of all that are not adepts
in the Welch tongue, the conclusion will be in favour of the
former. But this cannot destroy a second problem, viz.
that if Welch was not used by Adam and Eve in Paradise,
Welch, bearing much radical resemblance with Hebrew, is
however the second least corruption of primitive language,
and probably that smallest of corruptions, which Japhet's
sons brought from the South, and planted in the Isles of the
Gentiles, viz. our islands. This proposition will receive
additional strength, when we divide the same honour of originality
with languages affinitive to the Welsh, the Gaelic of
the Highlands, and old Irish. It moreover seems probable,
that the same language existed in the islands scattered on the
coast of Gaul, and that in those parts at least which were more
contiguous to us, as Cesar hints in his commentaries, and the
name of Gallic seems to express. As in Chymistry, so in
Grammar, experimental proofs and examples are more convincing
than speculation. There is not an illiterate wanderer
in the mountains of Wales, North Scotland or Ireland,
who does not understand the first verse of Virgils's Æneid,
despoiled of its expletives.
Arma virumque cano TrojT qui primus ab oris,
Arm agg fer can - pi pim fire or,
The grand expression in Gen. ch. v, in Greek, Latin, English,
French, &c. is equally reducible to the same decomposition.
Τενηθητω φως χαι εγενετο φως * *
Gennet pheor agg genneth pheor. * *
Fiat lux et (ac) lux facta * * * fuit. * *
Feet lur agg lur feet * * * fet. *
Que la lumiere soit faite, et la lumiere fut faite.
La lumier mi seet feet agg la lumier mi et feet.
Let there be light, and there was light, or let light be
made, and light was made, is equally convertible. But
having received these and many more specimens orally from
a famous Bas Breton, Mons. Brigand, eleven years paſt, they
have escaped, in point of exactness, my memory, and I muſt
refer to his dictionary, published about that time. The
book is scarce. Scraps of the language of North and
South America are as readily analysed. See also Mons.
Gibelin, monde primit. grammar, &c. in which he produces
endless primeval words, ſtill preserved in every language
of the world. The Carthaginian in Terence speaks pure
Erse. To these speculations, in which the etymologist may
often run wild, we owe, upon the whole, a most satisfactory,
secondary, proof of revelation, Bible veracity, and a
strong condemnation of modern Philosophers, better named,
malevolent Infidels. It is a confutation of the obscene
scoffer of religion, their mortalized Patriarch, deluding
Buffoon, and self-confuted VOLTAIRE, who, as confidently and
vauntingly, as falsely, boasted that Adam was not the firſt father
of the Americans; because in their language no vestige, as
he most falsely pretends, can be found of the Hebrew, which
he confesses to abound in all European languages. I forbear
to repeat what I have already said on the subject in a former
Scripture and profane history permit us to look far back
into the history of central and polished nations. Our own
history is total darkness, and then only receives most light,
when the mighty empires of the central or southern world
began to lose lustre and power, when the barbarous North became
powerful enough to break the wings of the Roman
Eagle, and seize its prey. This happened about the laſt
inundation of Barbarians into our isle. It was not long before
the wild and unlettered Saxons, mighty warriors, after
having expelled the defenceless Britons, drained off in the
service of Rome against her numerous foes and invaders, became
more softened by our milder climate, but much more
by the true philanthrophic principles of Christian faith, which
had now shone on savage mortals, and proud Pagans. Their
brother-Picts had been less successful in Scotland, but were
powerful enough to establish themselves there, and introduce
their cuſtoms and language, which continually gained ground
by the visits and intercourse of the Saxons. Then the old
language of Japhet's sons gradually lost, and still continues
to lose ground, and retire to the northern hills, whilst Ireland
more slowly yielded to their eastern visitors, and to this
day generally preserves its noble, primitive, and purer language.
Under this commencing great change of the European
world, continually polishing the national language of its respective
kingdoms, with the arts and sciences going hand in
hand, I shall proceed to notice what we strictly name dialect,
which is defined the difference of speech in the same country,
where the radical language is substantially used.
Many reasons shew the source of this difference. Kingdoms
having their respective capitals, and being governed,
led, and influenced by literary men, a claſſical and well regulated
common mode of speech necessarily takes the ascendency,
and marks the polish of the tongue as a leading characteristic
and recommendation of public talents. The illiterate
and laborious cannot, nor does it help their pursuits, to
study and observe the modes of tutored education. The fields,
society and conversation with the beaſts, low drudgery, render
their speech rough, as their food, their dress, and verygait.
Dwelling on mountains, plains, and water, have also
great influence on human speech. Rural simplicity, old
modes not readily abandoned, consequently antiquated words.
and phrases, remnants of antient invaders and visitors, proscribed
by refining politeness, will be adhered to by the
simple, innocent, and better part of national community.
They neither associate with the great, nor the learned.
Their mode of life, habits, and liking, neither admit this
familiarity, nor do they seek it. In the same tract also of
prevailing language, independent distinct governments are
found. Hence, every country abounds in dialect. Spain,
Italy, Germany, France, and Britain, North and South. have
their peculiarities of dialect, as Greece and Rome once had.
Occaſional hints in the above work, and a more perfect
knowledge of the subject, confine my remarks to France,
England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland; this will tend to
illustrate the pronunciation of our own language.
FRENCH DIALECTS. — France has its classic standard of polite
language, and the criterion by which other modes are
termed provincial corruption, or dialect. That classical
mode is inforced by literary compulsion, a formal judicature,
and court, named the French Academy, by which all the difficulties
and niceties of classic language, and all the un,
natural sounds of polished French, are regulated. Then probable
it is that the plain part of society, that those who are
removed from the commerce of the great and learned, placed
far from the pedantic Forum, will swerve from this constraint.
It so falls out in every province of that once polite, refined
nation. A short specimen will prove, what I have so often
advanced, that English pronunciation is more easy and natural,
and at the same time stands in the greatest opposition to
polite French. We find a great similitude of English sounds
in the Gallic dialects. Classical contrast alone makes our
language so difficult in point of pronunciation to the literary
French visitors the most uncouth French provincial would
sooner learn to speak English with propriety, than the ablest
member of the Academie Françoise. His docility is greater,
his organs of speech are less distorted. For what people
in the world, besides the tutored French, can or would
naturally adopt the nasal m and n, their delicate u, and many
diphthongs sounded contrary to elementary combinations?
add to this, the unnatural change and suppression of many
combined consonants, and whole syllables. Hence the untutored
inhabitants of charming Languedoc and Provence
suppress nasal sounds, and pronounce every letter: that kind
of provincial French, like their charming climate, is sweet;
to them English would be easy, if well taught.
French Provincial Sounds, resembling English, contrasted with
polite Academical French.
Tens la main à Monsieur
pour prendre une poire.
Marriage, actions, conditions,
mais, mon, dans, sans, son.
Donnez moi mon chapeau.
Ta foi, Madame ! quatre, enfant,
C est un beau veau, mon fils•
Provincial, like English.
Tens la man a Monssur per
prainder oon pair.
may, moon, dens, sens, soon
.Dornnai mee mein kapiow.
Tai fai Medeme, quaitre, eenfain,
Sest ai bai vai, mein fis.
I have selected these few examples, having often noticed
them; if the reader has any doubt, he may turn to Moliere's
Pourceaugnac, &c. The native Parisian has a number of
affected corrupt sounds, like our Londoners, and the low inhabitants
around Paris, many like our own: the Picardian
dialect has innumerable similar words; the reason is clear,
viz. our long connections there. The Norman bur, &c. like
our Durham articulation, is remarkable. I do not censure
the respectable Norman Clergy, our Refugees; classical education
may have removed their provincial twang. It is singular,
that all the surrounding nations of France agree with us
pretty nearly in disfiguring the famous French word Monsieur,
the stumbling-block of every stranger; and thus we all
mangle it, Monseer, Monssure, Monshoo, Montshoo, MaMasshure,
Monshu, Monsheer, Monshre, Monshire, Montshire,
and not one out of a thousand can pronounce it academically
For confirmation of this also, the reader may turn to Moliere's
Pourceaugnac. But that expression, Mein fis sest ai
bai vai, which I heard in Champagne July 1788, struck my
ears so forcibly, that, not seeing the object, though I guessed
the meaning, by the affinity of English sounds, I turned
about to the speakers driving from market a fine calf, and
asked them several pertinent questions. Their answers confirmed
what I have noticed on the diphthong au and eau, page
75; the academical nasal un converted into ai, is some
proof of the remark on a, page 22. I have often heard abroad
the same, with additional resemblance of our more natural,
or more easy sounds, un beau jeune (homme) ai bai june, or
ENGLISH DIALECTS. — The English classical pronunciation is
counteracted in our different counties by all the influence of
above reasons, pag. 141. *
The South and South Weſt, particularly the latter, have a
rough and quaint mixture of sounds ; most remarkable is the s
turned to z: th to d: broad a: u sounded iow: this is a standing
proof of the corruptions of numerous Flemish visitors.
THE WELCH DIALECT is characterised by a peculiar intonation,
the absurd use of the pronoun her, applied to every
perſon and thing, and by the vicarious change of consonants,
k for g, t for d and p, f for v, and s for z. God, cot, blood
(blud) plut, dear, tear: vice fice : praise (praize) prais. Now,
this twang and change being common to the Germans, even
in their pronunciation of Latin — deum verum de deo vero,
teum ferum te teo fero: and, moreover, not being found in
Irish, or Highland-English, there is an opening for a curious
* The Capital, LONDON, the centre of refinement, like old Paris, is not
the Athens of England; the native inhabitant has a very corrupt affected
mode of speech; nothing is so remarkable as v changed to w, and w to v,
and the suppression of b. when it ought to be sounded after w. See pag
Inquiry I never met with. In other respects, the Welch dialect
has few coruptions. Great is the merit of this native
language. See above, pag. 139.
THE EAST is remarkable for its change of oo into u — school,
fool, skule, fule, &c. But SUFFOLK outdoes all the counties
of Englind in the queer cant and uncouth sounds of phrases
The midland Counties are generally pretty free from dialect;
even the country people have but few oddities of expression
THE DIALECT OF LANCASHIRE is original, and as singular as
the Scotch. It is remarkable, that education and absence
from the country never entirely hide the Lancashire-man.
It has two distinct dialects, the coarse and the (so called)
fine This begins in Pouten in the Field; the coarse runs
southward. Both are remarkable for their plain undisguised
manner of expressing what refinement teaches to insinuate by
more words than one; that is not consistent with their natural
frankness and open temper. This will sometimes produce
in strangers irresistible laughter, in the most serious
circumflances. The dialogue of Tum-mas and Me-ary gives
a good specimen of the unintelligible jargon of Lancashire.
THE YORKSHIRE DIALECT bears great affinity to the paſt,
but is genenally more intelligible:
The more northern Counties sink gradually into the Scotch
accent, on account of their vicinity and old intercourse.
THE IRISH-ENGLISH may be said to be chiefly confined to
the singular tone, or false rise and fall of voice, approaching
to the note of strained interrogation, named the Brogue, and
false quantity. The omission of h in th is remarkable, p. 31.
That contradictory association of ideas, commonly named a
Bull, has no relation to dialect.
The writer Mr STEELE, and a friend of ADDISON, was noted
for such blunders, when surprise and warmth prevented reflection:
"Pray." Mr Steele, said a friend, with a sneer, "how
comes it to pass, that your countrymen make so many Bulls? "It is the effect of the climate," replied he, with some
warmth; "and were an Englishman born there he would make
as many!" We are told this quaintness of phraseology arises
from the peculiar idiom of original Irish, a noble antient
dialect. I believe it, as it confirms the idea of its affinity
with Hebrew: analogy renders it probable ; for many Hebrew
idioms contain as much apparent implicancy or bulls, as Irish
can produce. Thus says the Hebrew, he died and was buried
In THE CITIES of Judea. How can a man be buried in more
cities than one? true: ask the question, in what city? the
answer is, in some one city or other in Judea : and the one city
not being known, the Hebrew uses the plural. Thus, we
may explain some apparent contradictions in the N. Scriptures,
which are replete with such idioms, though but a
small part of them are written in Hebrew. One Evangelist
says, (Matth,. xxvii. 44 ) The thieves that were crucified with
him reviled him. But St Luke (chap xxiii. 40.) seems expressly
to contradict this. St Matthew, according to the
Hebrew turn, singles out a remarkable circumſtance, where
two are differently concerned, and uses a plural, thus marking
out what struck him most, as we say, they all laughed at
him:, when many bewailed his case. The polite Mr Butler's
Horæ. Biblicæ seem to confirm this idea.
The correct language of the Irish bar, proves that English
is as classically spoken in Ireland as in England. Elementary
dialect is less common in Ireland than with us, and differs
besides but in a few changes of a, ae, ee, and oo.
The Anglo-Americans speak English with great classical
purity. Dialect in general is there less prevalent than in
Britain, except amongst the poor slaves. One Thorton proposed,
it is said, a plan of abolishing our language, and that
it was noticed by a philosophical society. Philosophy has
ruined France! May common sense and common parentage
ever preserve a free and well understood commerce between
the daughter and mother, in the mutual independency of Britain
The Scotch Dialect, Historically, Analytically, and Gramatically
considered and vindicated.
INSULAR locality, and historical conjecture, permit us to believe,
with great probability, that a commerce of mutual intelligence
ever subsisted betwixt the English and Scotch; and
it is equally probable there ever was a difference of dialect betwixt
South and North Britain Britain was the general
name of our isle. Buchanan asserts, that interpreters were
never employed in all their transactions of treaties in peace
and war; and by induction it further appears, that the changes
of lauguage made in South Britain. under the Romans,
Saxons, Danes, and Normans, obtained respectively in Scotland,
yet the Gaelic there bore the ascendency, as Saxon did
in England, and is rightly named Scoto-Saxon, in opposition
to Anglo-Saxon. Anterior to Roman invasion all is darkness
in our history, excepting the glimmering lights of Punic,
Celtic, and Cymbrian vestiges of language, which is our object,
not local history considered in any other view; though,
to humble our present pride, and soften our feelings, we may
reflect that, after remaining 4000 years in total obscurity, the
blazing torch of Roman insatiable and restless avarice and
dominion. discovered our isle in the same situation our thirst
of wealth and aggrandisement has lately led us to the discovery
of Otaheite. These desolating Pagans having gained
footing amongst us, opened a free access to their merciless
merchants, and made our island the mart of their slave-trade,
as we Christians now as inhumanely exert the same power
over harmless Africans, then forming a part of the world ruled
by potent Kings and Sages. The increasing philosophic
desolation of Europe, under the revival of infidelity and
idolatry, may plunge us again into our pristine state of abject
barbarity: philanthropy shudders and turns appalled from
the ghastly aspect of probability! The overglutted pride of
domineering Romans, in the short space of 300 years, was
trodden down by the triumphant herds of Northern invaders,
and exhausted Britain changed its masters. The neighbouring
continent poured upon our coasts swarming adventurers,
Saxons, Jutes, and Danes. These wanderers understood
each others ill-formed jargon; such language ever was the criterion
of savageness. But who were the savage Picts or Pects that
pre .existed in Scotland? Were they a prior horde or division
of the above people, or crowds of Britons that fled from tyrannising
Romans to the North? Whatever we suppose them to
be, they disturbed the peace of the original Scots, gained an
ascendency there, and formed close alliance with the powerful
and encroaching Saxons. Nothing proves the Saxon sway
so much as the introduction of its language. It had expelled
the remnants of exhausted Britons, into the mountains of
Wales, Cornwall, and to the Gallic coasts; their language
disappeared with them. The invincible Scots maintained
their ground even in the South. But the increasing power
of the invincible Saxons, commencing civilization, the introduction
of Christianity, intermarriages, &c. gave currency to
their language. It is probable that literature, joined with writing,
was introduced by them; that Saxon schools were opened
in the South. The North still remained unmixed, and
preserved its language pure without the help of writing, and
has delivered down to us its Ossian monuments of native
speech, and still preserves it as a proof of Caledonian bravery,
not wholly effaced in the South, which the Scoto-Saxon speech
evinces; and triumphs, to the present day, in its contrast with
our Anglo-Saxon. I wish not to trace its decay; yet we see its
decrease in proportion as the Scotch accent yields in the Capital,
and in Universities, to refined English, now become a
useful and ingenious mixture of whatever Europe offers for
enriching its powers, and softening its sound. still preserving
the Saxon original in spite of the attempts of the Norman invaders
and tyrants, who endeavoured totally to extirpate its
Many suppose the present Scotch dialect is our old English
speech and pronunciation, even as near our times as 300 years
back. Every historical circumstance will prove this to be
void of all probability. The distinction of mutual independency,
foreign connections, locality itself', perpetual jealousies,
quarrels, wars betwixt England and Scotland. kept up
this jarring difference of language; but vicinity, intermarriages,
mixed possessions. still preserved the radical common
speech, or means of easy intercourse. That the modes of
speech are now different, is clear; that they were always different,
fair induction will render visible. In spite of the present
happy union of interest and sentiment, the common language
widely differs. Can we then think it was the same,
when every motive and influence of diversity, when government
and interests were totally distinct, and connections with
foreigners totally differed? It is more singular that there
then existed any similarity, than that now there exists such a
It is urged and proved, by letters of English and Scotch
correspondence of ministers, in the times of Queen Elizabeth.
Barbour, a Scotch poet, is adduced contemporary with Chaucer,
perfectly analogous in their writing of the language.
Granted: but even this argument is wholly inconclusive;
and only proves, what now subsists, that the lettered Scotch
wrote, and do write classical English, even those who use
the broadest dialect of sounds: that England, in those days,
her classic standard, and that foreign ministers, as the
Scotch then were, would not use a particular national dialect
in writing to the court, any more than the corporation of
Wigan would send up a petition to London in the Lancashire
dialect. Thus, in the course also of a century or two, the
present elegant modern Scotch writers, the works of
Thompson, &c. may be used as a similar argument. If
the reader will consult some old acts of Parliaments anterior
to Barbour and Chaucer, he will find a formal act, and a
severe mulct ordained against introducing the current English
Books printed in the time of Queen Elizabeth, or 200
years anterior, will incontestibly prove the difference of dialect.
I refer to the catechism of B. Hamilton, printed in
the year 1551. I need not go farther into it than the title,
and table of contents, to prove this; to which, if the learned
reader will add the Scotch tone, or intreat a Scotch friend
to read it in his genuine accent, the proof will be stronger,
viz. that 300 years back, the Scotch differed as much from
the current English as now, though a little more similar in
expletives, and some antiquated words, &c. For, if we
make the good prelate 50 years old at the publication, it
will bring the language back 300 years; and 50 years make
little difference in an established language.
The title — "The Catechisme (Câ tiz) quilk na gud
"Christen suld misknaw, set, (seeit) furth be the maiste Rè"verend
father in Gò-d Johne, Arch-bischop of (o-v) Sanct.
"Androws, legatnaite, and prim-at of the kirk of Scotland."
As to the contents and heads of chapters, I doubt if Ben
Johnson could, I am sure that the modern Johnson, the Cinic
Scoto-mastic, could not have made out. "The tabil — Quha
"brakis thair ha-ly dais ? How is it ane thing to be crabit
"at our brotheris faltis, and our brotheris persone? Lesum
"crabitness necessare tull judgis, maisteris, &c. Gret
"skaith that cummis of ane ev'-il toung. Gud men ar
"barnis of Gò-d. Quhat paynis he tholit? His berissing
"was hondrabil," &c. &c. See Mr Whitaker's defence of
Queen Mary, replete with innumerable passages from the
elegant Latinist Buchanan, whose English is as corrupt as
his character. Exclusive of old Pict and Saxon words, obliterated
even in the days of Ben Johnson, we might add innumerable
words, then and still in use: probably the good friends
of Scotland, the French, strove as much as they could to introduce
their own language, or totally to corrupt the English;
which appears in many sounds and words. "Batton, bien, ben"nisson,
bourd, bruliment, builer — Cartes, chopin, corly,
"chandler (candlestick) — Disjune, douce — Gigot, gardlo —
"Fache — Horologe — Add, no always used for not: He is
"no ben, no gud. At for of, &c, Placard — remead — sous,
"(money) to spairge," &c. &c.
Particular Theory and Leading Principles of the Scotch
THE general cast of the Scotish Dialect cannot be deemed,
without injury to the national character, the result of ignorance
and vulgarity; such, indeed, is the real source of our
provincial dialects, and therefore they admit of no vindication.
It is founded on principle; singular and new as the assertion
may appear, reflection and proof will give it weight. When
the common language of the south part of the isle compulsively
yielded to the Saxon, and was in a manner totally banished
by the succeeding mixture of the Danish and Norman,
and much addition from Greek, Latin, Italian, &c. concomitant
circumstances introduced some similarity of change
in the north, by which we understand the southern, eastern,
and western parts of Scotland. There a Scoto-Saxon dialect
prevailed, instead of our Anglo-Dano-Saxon, Thus, the
Scotch adopted so much of the prevailing mixture, as made
their speech absolutely intelligible to the English, but established
a dialect peculiar to themselves; to effect which, they
corrupted, as much as possible, by the mere contrast of combined
sound, the English alphabet in all its variations of
simple vowels, diphthongs, change, or suppression of consonants,
and rules of quantity. This * affected perversion of
sounds found its currency, not by the laws of grammar, but
by practice, and the sole influence of the ear; for it seems
impossible to give an idea of Scotch dialect better any other
manner, than by that of contrasted sounds, acting in direct opposition
to our own, by which all variations of our a, for example,
are directly counteracted, and all other sounds may be
deemed classically Scotch, when they differ from our own.
These changes decidedly lead the step in the eccentric circles
of falsified pronunciation.
* A learned Scotch Clerk makes the discordance and dissonance of Scots--
English, the result of harmonious refinement. A nation formerly always in
arms, probably did not carry about with them folios of Tasso's, and de la
Crusca-dictionaries. See Transact. of the Soc. of Scotch Antiq. Vol. 1.
The Scotch Alphabet, to the eye, resembles our own: to
the ear, it presents a mixture of Celtic, Gothic, Frankic,
Saxon, Danish, German, Italian, French, and English sounds.
Analysis of the Scotch Dialect, per above Principles.
This holds in words of similar combinations. The usual
numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4., and accents, are added.
A 1. ai, Là-dy, fàtal, tàke,
wàke. Lâdy, fâtal, tâke, wâke.
A 2. á, Ar't, arms, fat'her,
hat'. A 1. â airt, airms, fai-ther, fâther.
A 4.â,. Anna, waggon, wax
(wà fer). Awnnâ, ainnai, wâgon, wâx,
Wâ-ter, wâs, wânt,
war, wârm. Wai-ter, wát-er, wais, wus,
waint, weir, wár, wairm.
E 1 ee, de-cent, the, me, be. Dai-cent, thai, mai, bai.
E. 2.i, séven, sécond, or it.
is changed into a, i, and u foreign.
Sell, tell, or short i — pencil,
when, west. Sall, tall, till, tull pincil,whan,
wart, wist, roust.
I 1. ì & y, hide. cried, by,
sky. Heed, cree'd, bee, skee.
I 2. i still, mill, vic-ar,
mist, fist. Hell. mell, tell; and hull,
mull, tull, vì-car, mì-st, fust.
O 1. ò ode, rose, more, go
so. ôdd, rôz, maire, and moor, ga,
gâ, and ge, sai.
O 2. â, bód y, lób by, god
scot. Bô-dy, lò-by, gòd, scòt.
O 4. u,
&c. come, done. some
stone. bone. Còme, dùme, sòme, stein, bein
U 1. u, muse, chuse. Moose, chôz. and chuzz.
U 4. e, i, 5 bury,busy, burst Bùr-ry, bùzzy, borst.
Diphthongs are equally deformed.
Au, aw, Day, say.
Aw, flaw, jaw.
Dee, see — or more open dâi, sâi.
Ai short, flai, jai, or per á
slender. flá, &c.
Oo, & ou, ow, Own, grown, Ain, grain.
Soon, moon, snow. Sain, main, sna'.
But ou, ow, commonly sound ou French, and oo, ai, or
Oo, Poor, door, moor, Pùre, dùre, muir.
Oa, Oak, oats, oath, Aik, aits, aith
Oi, oy, Coil, foil, Moir. Kìle, file, More.
Ea. ee, Sea, fear, rear. Sai, fair, rair.
Ea e short Bread,head,death E long Bread, head. dèath.
Ee long Feet, sheep, deep. E short. Fit. ship. d;p, &c.
Ei, ey, ie, Esh. Rheims, friend. Ee long. Rheems, freend.
Spurious diphthongs have so unfixed a sound in English,
that the Scotch is much puzzled to alter them.
When coalescing consonants
preserve the long, or broad
sound of preceding vowels, then
the vowel is changed, or the
double consonant vanishes of
receives the guttural sound,
if combination admit it.
Bâld, scâld, câll, fâll, &c. Báld, scáld, caw, faw, or cá, fá.
Chìld, mìld, wìld. Chil, meeld, weeld.
Are sounded short in Scotch,
& vice versâ, or the vowel
is changed, as above.
Ost, When sounded long
by as, or vice versâ.
A and e
before nd cause no change
in English : And,
band, send, end. The Scotch through contrast
change them ; ând, bând,
eend, seend, &c.
We suppress the harsh gutturals, or convert them into single
consonants. The Scotch retain them ; and when they affect
to soften them, the articulation or sound resembles that
of a deep asthma, or last rattling of a fatal quinsey. They
omit also many of our consonants, Euphoniæ gratia, say they!
Artful contrivance, not ignorance, has also introduced another
singular deformation of our sounds, backed with the usual
change, corruption of vowels, and interposition of new letters;
as burn, pin, thistle; brin, prin, thrus'e, &c. On the whole,
I do not know a more striking opposition than that of short
and long, and the change of our characteristic i ; prì-mat,
pree-mat; víc-ar, vì-car; exercìse, exer-cèese. The articulation
wun, one, sounded in Scotch o-ne, or a-ne, is a singular
instance of contradiction; for when we sound un per u
short, and omit the twang of w, then they use our wun or
wan, as un-whole, wun, or wan-heil &c.
But we must remark, that, besides the above corruptions,
every word has some peculiar twang, or twist discordant with
received classical English sounds, and that there is a dialect
of dialect in different quarters, and it is this kind of local dialect
alone that locally sinks into vulgarity amongst the illiterate
Scotch, and may rank with our provincial corruptions.
WORDS. — I shall select a few, the form of which is English,
many are of Latin origin, very expressive, and occasionally
found in our etymology and poetry. Many seem well
suited to enrich our own stock, without running to the corrupt
source of French a language more weakened than our
own, by its academical refinements, which prefer circumlocution
to the pithy words of Rabalais, Montaigne, &c.
Awn, ear of corn; aiven, old horse; antercast, mischance;
atry, angry; blate, bashful; bonny, more than simply
good; brae, declivity; braik, harrow; burn, rivulet; byre,
cow-lodge; birkie, a stout youth; ben, within; bumbazed,
astonished; bent, field of rough grass; brander,
gridiron. Canny, skilful; carl, stout old man; carlin,
stout old woman; canty, brisk; cappit, heady; couth, couthy,
social; clour, tumor, rising of a bruise; coof, stupid;
cosy; snug; chuffy, plump-faced; cubic, small boat; cushet,
wood-pigeon; daft, merry; fawsont, decent; glowr, stare;
gusty, tasteful; havered, half-witted; hornie, the devil; ingle,
fire place; lear, learning; lum, chimney; mavis, the
thrush; muckle, great, noteless, unknown; to pech, breathe
short; prie, to taste; primsie, precise; sonsie, one of engaging
look; naif genuine, &c.; syne, since. These words deserve
notice Lyn, watery places, hence Lincolnshire, &c.;
whilly, cheat, thence, whilly in the wisp, deluding meteor, like
a blazing wisp of straw.
REMARK ON KAIL AND WHUSLE. — The expression to kail the
pot, five or six years back, engaged the attention of all our magazine
virtuosi, and most were out. I have made it my business to
discover its genuine sense. There are many interpretations, but
one is singular ; it would have done honour to Dr Johnson to
have mentioned it in his Dictionary, with grateful remembrance
of what we know he experienced in the Highlands. A country-matron,
entirely free from the prejudice of foreign lore
and refinement, assured me, that to kail the pot, is a term of.
hospitality: a stranger comes in before dinner-time; the haggis
or sheep's-head is not quite ready; the broe is good; the
visitor is supposed to be hungry and tired; the good housewife
cries out, Lâssie, kail the pòt. This answers the Latin
expression and custom of prelibation, and is nothing else than
breaking into the pot, and taking out the first mess of the
kail (which also signifies broe or broth) to be presented to
the stranger; and thus we may explain a verse in Virgil,
Aulai in medio libabant pocula; they kailed their pots, i. e. gave
the Gods the first libation, offering, taste, &c. The Southern
visitor laughs, when he hears the Northern inhabitant cry
out, whisle, whasle, or whusle me a guinea. This is a German
word, with a little alteration, in use at Hamburgh, &c.
and signifies to change. Whusle, i. e. change me a guinea.
Thus the laugh originates in ignorance and surprise.
An Englishman has no right to censure and laugh at his
Northern brother's language, till he has spent two months on
the north of the Tweed, and then he will begin to think his
own native words are as just a subject of laugh and censure
to a Scotchman.
SCOTCH DIMINUTIVES. — This is dialect, it is true, but not
unmeaning and corrupt sounds. They express what we often
want in English, and is so abundant in Italian and Scotch,
and has sometimes a pretty effect, formed by ie expletive:
Bardie, bookie, doggie, ladle, lassie, manie, &c. Bardie is a
poor little poet, poetaster, a little book, dog, lad, lass, man,
COMPOUND WORDS. — Many shew a true Danish origin, as
for poverty, rarity kingdom, ugly, &c puretith, raretith,
kunrick, ugsom; and wun or wan for un privative.
SCOTCH PHRASEOLOGY. — Neither this, nor, strictly speaking,
the two last heads, belong to pronunciation or accent, and
may be better reserved for a future display of English grammar,
respecting syntax and idiom, if the present attempt
should enable me again to encounter the perils and terrors of
the press. If the Scotch differ from us occasionally in the application
of words, and they understand one another, wha is
that to us? If they use them in conversing with us. then indeed
either they, or we betray a want of more extensive acquaintance.
Both parties have equal right to laugh, and to
continue laughing till an explanation takes place. But if
they profess to write pure English, and mix their phraseology,
then indeed we may censure the author, and laugh alone.
Thus Dr Priestly has corrected Hume. A few vitiated
idioms have, through inattention, crept into Gibbon's works,
and some other elegant Scotch writers.
The past may give a faint idea of the powers of the great
Master of languages, and of the universe, in the astonishing
corruption of original Hebrew, at the Tower of Babel. The
old Hebrew remains in every language, though more corrupted
than the human ingenuity of the Scotch has been able
to effect in our language. We are happy that the source of
common parentage is so well preserved after past animosities,
as now to enable us, with a little labour and friendly
intercourse, reciprocally to communicate the sentiments of
mutual interest and brotherhood.
Caledones Musæ, paulò majora canamus.
Formal Vindication of the Scotch Dialect.
THIS original Dialect manifests itself by two extremes. The
one is found in the native broad and manly sounds of the
Scoto-Saxon-English; the terms of coarse and harsh are more
commonly employed. The other is that of a tempered medium,
generally used by the polished class of society. To
attempt to vindicate the first will be deemed not only singularity,
but madness, by some of my countrymen, so strong
is the flow of prejudice. The vindication of the second will
meet the ideas of liberal observers of men and manners.
The subject, viewed in this latter light, gives animation to
my efforts. First, then, I assert, that the broad dialect
rises above reproach, scorn, and laughter: Secondly, That
the tempered medium, still retaining its characteristic distinction
of Scotch, is entitled (not exclusively) to all the vindication,
personal and local congruity can inforce, by the principles
of reason, national honour, and native dignity. Under
this twofold distinction I enter the lists in Tartan dress and armour,
and throw down the gauntlet to the most prejudiced
antagonist. How weak is prejudice! The sight of the Highland
kelt, the flowing plaid, the buskin'd leg, provokes my
antagonist to laugh ! Is this dress ridiculous in the eyes of
reason and common sense? No: nor is the dialect of
speech: both are characteristic, and national distinctions. National
character and distinction are respectable. Then is the
adopted mode of oral language sanctioned by peculiar reasons,
and is not the result of chance, contemptible vulgarity,
mere ignorance and rustic habit.
The arguments of general vindication rise powerful before
my sight, like Highland Bands in full array. A louder strain
of apologetic speech swells my words. What if it should
rise high as the unconquered summits of Scotia's hills, and
call hack, with voice sweet as Caledonian song, the days of
antient Scotish heroes, or attempt the powerful speech of
the Latian Orator, or his of Greece! The subject methinks
would well accord with the attempt: Cupidum, Scotia optima,
vires dt:ficiunt. I leave this to the King of songs. Dunbar
and Dunkeld, Douglas in Virgilian strains, and later poets,
Ramsay, Ferguson, and Burns, awake from your graves, you
have already immortalized the Scotch dialect in raptured
melody! Lend me your golden target and well pointed spear,
that I may victoriously pursue to the extremity of South
Britain, reproachful Ignorance and Scorn still lurking there:
let impartial Candor seize their usurped throne.
Great, then, is the birth of this national Dialect; it is not
the spurious offspring of passive corruption and barbarous
ignorance. It took its rise from antient heroes, and was
supported by independency and national pride when their
primitive language, yielding to the mutual intercourse of
two distinct nations, adopted, in a manner that best seemed suited
to reasonable condescension, the more useful speech of a
neighbouring and powerful rival; but just jealousy, and triumphant
struggle, ever sought to damp too great usurpation
of a potent southern enemy. Thus the Scotch dialect, as
powerfully as opposing warriors, tended to preserve national
right and equality. Thus it may rank with the dialects of
Greece, which distinguished that great people, and preserved
the different governments from sinking under the dominion
of more polished Athens. These jarring variations of the
Greek, some broad as the coarsest Scotch, were never deemed
vulgar, contemptible, laughable, and casual corruptions of the
language, and much less proofs of uncultivated society.
In this favourable light we may place the origin of Scotch
dialect, whilst other dialects of the English language are local
corruptions, and carry with them the mark of defective education,
and rustic ignorance. The provincial Englishman,
who quits his country-abode, and mixes with the polite
world, is singled out as an unlettered, vulgar native, because
pure classical English is the standard of polished society in
English land, universally approved and received. The
Scotch dialect does not carry with it this reproach; because
refined English is neither the received standard of that country,
and its most eminent scholars designedly retain the variation;
retain it with dignity, subject to no real diminution
of personal or national merit. It adds honour to their character,
and weight to their words, for it is the received mode
of speech deliberately adopted by the northern moiety of
this great Isle, and is invested with right and title, title unalienable,
antient right and propriety, locally invulnerable.
founded in legitimate choice, and perpetuated by uncontrollable
What! does it not appear that our language is abundantly
honoured by being spontaneously adopted in Scotish land,
thus triumphing, without insolence, over the antient and native
language of a great people, with exclusion of the rivaltongue
of France, which affects every where to establish itself
where alliance and sway give footing to that nation, once
so closely connected with a disunited, disaffected, discordant
mighty empire, that had its own kings, and established succession
of royal power, Imperial Scotland?
These are general arguments. I will add a few particular
remarks respecting what is named the polite and mitigated
dialect, and the common and broad mode of speaking. Both
have their merit, and give room to fair vindication. First,
every liberal and well educated observer will candidly admit,
that there is something pleasing in the tempered dialect of
the Scotch; that it is graceful and sweet in a well-tuned female
voice ; that it would be a pity, nay an injury, to local
merit, wholly to forgoe it. Being characteristic, it carries
with it a distinction a true Patriot should be jealous of resigning,
even to the accidental mistake of the occurring rendezvous
of the day. For, if the fair daughters of Scotia laid
aside all distinction of accent, and wholly adopted our refined
sounds, they would frequently, both at home and abroad, in
the mixed society of English and Scotch, be challenged for
natives of our South. How ready are Englishmen to claim
every affinitive perfection for their own; and how ready is a
Scotchman to give up what genuinely appears not to be his
own. Surely a Duncan, a Campbell, a Primrose, an Elliot,
a Miller, and endless breathing models of fairest cast, would
not wish to lessen, even by momentary error, the local honour
of their birth. Why then should fashion of language,
refining beyond reason, begin to make Scotia recal to mind,
with a sigh, former days, when, in fair Mary's reign, no
Southern rivality, in the mixture of foreign and domestic society,
could, through the total extinction of characterising
national speech, turn to partial commendation the momentary
usurpation of mistake, and challenge the property of another
What though the broad, the rough, the unsoftened accent,
suit not the voice of the Fair, has it not its merit in the
mouths of the sons of Mars, at the head of patriotic Bands? It
is the imitative voice of Jove, when daring monsters tore up
the quiet earth to scale his heaven Ye modern Giants, impious
and daring as your antediluvian fathers, learn from their
fate, if ever you dare assail our united coast, our beloved
home, our British Jove, our terrestrial heaven, for ye have
made the rest of the world a hell, what your doom will be
A modern Baucis and Philemon, with whom I spent the summer-recess,
taught me, with their sonsie crack, to form a just
idea of this subject of my vindication: "The honest peasant,
"the venerable villager, lose nothing of native worth, by the
"manly roughness of their dialect. Its disuse would expose
"the homely trader to the suspicion of lost probity the
"English visitor would decline the commerce of those whom
"he suspects to have bartered away, by artful condescension
"of oral resemblance, the original characteristic and mark
"of a Scotchman," said they in other words. To this may
be well added, the polished company of men of letters, and
public orators, would betray too great condescension, and
misplaced disavowal of local particularity, if they gave up
all distinction of sound. The manly eloquence of the Scotch
bar affords a singular pleasure to the candid English hearer,
and gives merit and dignity to the noble speakers who retain
so much of their own dialect, and tempered propriety of English
sounds, that they may be emphatically named British
Orators. In fine, there is a limited conformity in the present
union of heart and interest of two great kingdoms, beyond
which total similarity of sounds would not be desirable, and
dissonance itself has characteristic merit.
SHALL then the distinction of mere elementary sounds keep
up low national scorn, or make the weak Englishman undervalue
one half of his insular honour, and support of British
grandeur? Let unphilosophic prejudice subside it is at its
last gasp; and every Southern visitor sees, when he has
passed the Tweed, no decay of social merit, no diminution
of scientific and literary excellence; no default of the comforts
of life, make him think he has strayed from the polished South.
He finds a new brotherhood, and encreases the number of
his friends. The human heart, that suffers by being straightened,
and breaths painfully, is here dilated and oscilates
with greater ease, and new pleasure. This freeer intercourse
is one alleviation of continental Anarchy, that precludes a pernicious
wandering amongst strangers, stops the corruption of
our morals, and gives us a fuller sight of our insular advantages.
If some conveniences of Southern ease and luxuries of life still
seem wanting; if, above all, we wish to find a greater conformity
of language in our northern brethren, this well placed
and encreasing intimacy leads the way. But pity it
were, that this enlarged intercourse should either destroy
the noble originality of the Gaelic language, or so totally
change the dialect of the more southern parts, that a pleasing
distinction of two great people, happily and cordially
united in one common interest, should wholly subside. The
learned, even in remoter days, yielded to the impulse of
literary conformity, and now honour the classical English, and
perfect it by their writings; but mere local dialectic sound
never should, never will, never can be, totally removed; the
effort would he as vain, and the prejudice is as unjust, as to
attempt to change the green colour of the eye in the natives
of the Orknies, or to censure that distinction of locality:
climate, custom, distance from the capital, and common
rendezvous of the polished English multitude, will preserve,
it; and being already immortalized by the home-spun verse
of gayest themes, it will ever remain, and merit a better
vindication than my faint, but candid efforts, have presented
to the most prejudiced; which being attentively considered,
will entitle use to.the indulgent notice of unprejudiced British
readers. British readers, I say; for he that names himself
English or Scotch, names but one half of what he is by
the bond of Union: the term is partial, and partiality may
be suspected in all that is appropriate to self-limitation, selfpraise,
self-love. A learned and reverend Friend, native of
Scotland, member of the honourable Scotch society of Antiquaries
(an honour I find liberally extended beyond the
Tweed) has, with his usual versability of wit and literature,
vindicated his native dialect,
An' loùd he spèks in Scottis linguos prees;
Sùet is his sang — — —
Cicero did not speak louder, pro domo suâ. Here the labour
of pen and voice loses weight. But my weaker voice, free
from native and partial impulse, may add weight to his. If we
differ a little in principle, I yield with pleasure to that conciliatory
medium his ingenuity has traced out, in the reform of
the alphabet, though solely admissible in its application to
Scotch orthography. His plan is a desideratum, and would at
once proscribe the apparent inconsistency of the Scotch pronunciation,
solely manifested by retaining our mode of spelling,
and deviating from it in a manner not to be conceived by any
powers of English combination of the letters. How, in the
name of wonder, can Scotch Schoolmasters teach poor children
to read their Bible printed the English way? They use no
other. Hence every word is a stumbling block ; and, from
early youth, the Scotch are taught that our pronunciation
anomalous and capricious, the prejudice is deeply rooted, and
has cost me all my past labour to endeavour to eradicate the
notion for it was chiefly with reference to the Scotch I made
the past arduous attempt.
The Doctor's plan, confined to his native dialect, would
uniformly guide the eye and ear; he is amply entitled, methinks,
to the reward of Theocritus' sweet singing shepherd
in the Greek; prejudiced rivals may give over future censure
and sneer, or dread the Poet's threat. I present the
desirable reform in the new and accented translation of this
philosophic writer, who may here enjoy, without censure, the
privilege of a British Freethinker in Grammar.
O shep-hird mei thy mù bè evir fil't
Wi flagrant henni fre the kem distil't:
Eigìtian figs, and ilka thing that's râr,
Intchantan' Sángstir! be thy deili fâr,
Hèr, tak the kap! observe hù wèl it sméls:
Ghù'd think the Hùrs had dipt in their wels,
Ge, Kissithea! bring the gyt bedén,
An' milk hir hèr befòr oùr Thrysis èn.
Mén-huyl, my gimmers! be' ghur sports forlorn!
Or drèd the mukil buk's mistchìvus horn.
P. S. As some Readers will likely charge the Author of
the above work with pillaging Mr Sheridan, he declares that
he had not read that Writer, till he had finished his work.
He had had a slight glimpse of his Dictionary when it
first appeared, and threw it aside through vexation, that
his own scheme, which he then had in view, had been anticipated,
a scheme founded on the same ideas and principles;
viz. that secret influence of analogy, which guides our pronunciation
in its various modes of sounds with reference to harmony,
&c. Mr Sheridan's too frequent use of the hissing sh, and
strained sound of u, also gave him some disgust of his work.
The preface to the third edition 1790; is certainly injudiciously
retained, and erroneous. His grammar still leaves
many sounds without rule, resigned to arbitrary and capricious
Exception. This preface might have noticed with
honour many late attempts, and the Dictionary have altered
some sounds that border a little on his native dialect
Mr Horn Took's ingenious investigations are of a direct contrary
tendency to Mr Sheridan's productions. He reduces
our language to the state of Saxon barbarity, by underrating
those improvements it has adopted from the most refined
tongues, and by seeming to wish to retrench the regular
machinery of Grammar. Mr Sheridan claims great praise,
not exclusive of equal merit due to his cotemporaries, Meſſrs
Walker, Ash, Perry, Scot, &c. &c.. •
EDINBURGH, MARCH 19. 1799.
THISTLE-STREET, BERNARD'S ASSEMBLY ROOMS,
Where for the present the fervour of any application
will be respectfully answered by the Author.
An Oversight has produced some
PAGE 152. A. 4 â should stand a line lower.
— Line 13. E. 2 i. read e foreign.
— Line 20. till read hill, mill, till.
— Line 21. go, so, add bone, stone, stein, bein.
— Line 23. stone, bone, stein, bein, dele.
Page 5.1.7. read. The powerful guardian of Hygieia, the, &c.
— P 126.1. 5 read farrago —P. 128. 1. 6. for Imperante -read
Statuente. — P. 148. 1. 3. dele to. — P. 148. 1. 18. read uſurping.
— P. 150. 1.16. read mastix.— P.158. 1. 30. for neither read not.
Price 3 s. 6 d.
Cite this Document
Pronunciation of the English Language. 2023. In The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved September 2023, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/cmsw/document/?documentid=154.
"Pronunciation of the English Language." The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2023. Web. September 2023. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/cmsw/document/?documentid=154.
The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing, s.v., "Pronunciation of the English Language," accessed September 2023, http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/cmsw/document/?documentid=154.
If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:
The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. 2023. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/cmsw/.
Pronunciation of the English Language
|Title||Pronunciation of the English Language|
|Year of publication||1799|
Author information: Adams, James William
|Year of birth||1737|
|Place of birth||Bury St Edmunds, England|
|Locations where resident||London|
|Other languages spoken||Latin, French|