Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

to the ear, as to be a distinguishing mark of elegant pronunciation. For the sound of unaccented a, of e before r, and i, when it has the diphthongal sound like eye, see Critical Pronouncing Dictionary, in the principles prefixed, at Nos. 92, 98, 114, 115, &c. 554.

Wavering and uncertain pronunciation of vowels

under the secondary accent. The secondary accent is that stress we may occasionally place upon another syllable, beside that which has the principal accent, in order to pronounce every part of the word more distinctly, forcibly, and harmoniously. Thus this accent is on the first syllable of conversation, commendation, and the principal accent on the third. But from a want of attending to the analogies of the language, our best orthoëpists have been at the greatest loss for the quantity of the vowel under the secondary accent, when followed by a single consonant. This may be seen at large in Principles prefixed to the Critical Pronouncing Dictionary, No. 530, &c. It will be only necessary to observe here, that those polysyllables, which have the principal accent on the third syllable, whether we place a secondary accent on the first syllable or not, have every yowel, except u, in that syllable, unless an inverted diphthong succeed, invariably short. Thus the o in the first syllable of proposition, provocation, profanation, the a in the first of lamentation, the e in demonstration, and the i in the first of diminution, are all short: but if an inverted diphthong succeed the first syllable, every vowel except i retains its open sound, as amiability, deviation, filiation, spoliation, dubiosity, &c. Where it may be observed that the u is always pronounced long and open, though under the secondary accent, as lucubration, cumulation, &c.

There is the greater necessity for the observation of this rule, as it tends to give a firmness and decision to a part of pronunciation, which is very loosely and variously marked in most of our pronouncing dictionaries. A vague idea of the propriety of preserving the simple in the compound, and of distinguishing the inseparable preposition from the rest of the word, makes many, who are but superficially acquainted with the analogies of the language, willing to show their precision by pronouncing the o in proposition as open as that in propose, and the e in prepuration like that in prepare ; but a larger view of the language would have shown these critics, this would be to overturn the most settled analogies of pronunciation. If we attend to those sounds which the English ear has almost universally received and acknowledged, we shall find the result to be this general rule. When a penultimate vowel, with the accent upon it, ends a syllable, before a single consonant, that vowel is long and open, as paper, decent, silence, local, lucid, &c.—but when any antepenultimate vowel, except u, is under the same predicament, it is short, as fabulous, delicate, diligence, providence, luculent. This genuine analogy of English pronunciation has been crossed and counteracted by an affectation of reducing our quantity to that of the Latin ; but, though this pedantry has prevailed in words of two syllables, where, to the great injury of the sound of our language, it has reduced long vowels to short ones, it has made little alteration in polysyllables, where we find the antepenultimate, or preantepenultimate, accent still preserves its shortening power, notwithstanding the attempts of some speakers to pronounce the first e in legislature, and the first o in proposition, long An Englishman, therefore, who wishes to follow that path, which nature (or, which is nearly the same, unpremeditated custom) has chalked out, will, as far as polite usage will permit him, pronounce the penultimate vowel long and open, and the antepenultimate short and shut. Thus a proper mixture of long and short vowels will be preserved, and the car be indulged in that vernacular propensity, which nature seems to have given it.

See this explained at large in Principles of English Pronunciation, prefixed to the Critical Pronouncing Dictionary, Nos. 544, 545, &c. and Key to the Classical Pronunciation of Greek and Latin Proper Names, page xxv, No. 18, &c.

Liquid sound of K, C, or G hard, before the vowels.

A and I.

There is a fluent liquid sound of these consonants before the two vowels a and i, which gives a smooth and elegant sound to the words in which they occur, and which distinguishes the polite pronunciation of London from that of every other part of the island. This pronunciation is nearly as if the a and i were preceded by e. Thus, kind is sounded as if written ke-ind; card, as ke-ard; and regard, as re-ge-ard. When these vowels are pronounced short, as in cabbage, gander, kindle, &c. the interposition of the sound of e is very perceptible, and indeed unavoidable; for though we can pronounce guard, cart, and kind, without interposing the e, we cannot pronounce carriage, garrison, and kindred in the same manner. The words that require this liquid sound in the k, €, and g hard, are but few. Sky, kind, guide, gird, girt, girl, guise, guile, card, cart, carp, carpenter, carpet, carve, carbuncle, carnal, cartridge, guard, and regard ;—these and their compounds are perhaps the only words where this sound occurs; but these words are so much in use as to be sufficient to mark a speaker as either coarse or elegant, as he adopts or neglects it.

This sound is taken notice of by Steele in his English Grammar, p. 49, so long ago as the reign of queen Anne : but he ascribes it to the consonant's being followed by a palative vowel, as he calls the a in can, the e in get, and the i in begin, which he says “ are sounded as if written cyan, gyet, begyin, &c. because the tongue can scarce pass from these guttural consonants to form the palative vowels, but it must pronounce y; but it is not so before the other vowels, as in call, gall, go, gun, goose, come, &c.” This observation of Steele’s goes no farther than to such words as cannot possibly be pronounced without the intervention of the e or y sound; but to this it may be added, that though such words as have the long sound of the a in father, or the same long sound heard before r final, or followed by another consonant in the same syllable as car, card, regard; or such words as have the long i, or the short i followed by r, as kirk, gird, girl ;I say though these words may be pronounced without the intervention of e or y, yet with it they are not only more mellow and fluent, but infinitely more elegant and fashionable.

At first sight we are surprised that two such different letters as a and i should be affected in the same manner by the hard gutturals, g, c, and k; but when we reflect that i is really composed of a and e, our surprise ceases; and we are pleased to find the ear perfectly uniform in its procedure, and entirely unbiassed by the eye. From this view of the analogy, we may see how much mistaken is a very solid and ingenious writer on this subject, who says, that ky-ind for kind is a monster of pronunciation, heard only on our stage.” Nare's Orthopy, p. 28. See Critical Pronouncing Dictionary, under the word Guilt.

The liquid sound of T, D, S, and soft C, after the

accent, and before the semiconsonant diphthongs.

Nothing can be better established in the genuine pronunciation of our language, than the liquid sibilation of these consonants, when the accent comes before them, and the inverted diphthongs succeed. This is evident in the numerous terminations in tion, sion, cion; and if we had words ending in dion, it is not to be doubted but that they would flow into the same current of sound.

The general ear, true to analogy, melts these consonants into the soft hiss before the long u; for though apparently a single letter, it is composed of e oo, or rather y oo, and is therefore not only not a pure vowel, but a semiconsonant diphthong, exactly in sound like the pronoun you. Hence we hear polite speakers always pronounce educate, as if written edjucate ; virtue as verchew; verdure as verjure; and if the general ear were not corrupted by being corrected, we

« VorigeDoorgaan »