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they occur thus: for example, we may say 'Mother!' as an exclamation, or if we are asked 'Who gave you that book?' we may answer, 'Mother,' which is a short way of saying 'Mother gave it me,' or 'Mother did.' But usually words occur in sentences, and then we can describe what is the relation in which each word in the sentence stands to the rest. The part of grammar which treats of words when they are regarded in their relation to other words,of words when they form parts of groups of other words,—is called Syntax. So far as Grammar is studied as an Art,— as a subject of practical usefulness to prevent us from making mistakes in speaking or writing,-Syntax is the more important department. But in so far as we study grammar in the spirit of scientific curiosity, for the sake of learning something about our English tongue, Syntax is of no more importance than Etymology. In the following" pages however no attempt has been made to keep the treatment of Etymology rigorously distinct from that of Syntax. For in discussing the forms of words it is often an advantage to deal with their uses when they are related to other words.
40. When we have dealt with the sounds of our speech, the signs or letters which represent them, the words taken separately, and words arranged in sentences, our treatment of the subject will be finished. Recognition is indeed frequently given to another department of Grammar, called Prosody. The aspect of this word must not mislead the reader into thinking that Prosody has to do with prose, for prose is just what Prosody does not deal with. Prosody has to do with Verse, with compositions in metre. Now it is clear that Prosody is not an essential department of grammar, for there might well be a language in which there were no compositions in verse, no metre, and therefore no Prosody. As a fact there is probably no language without metrical compositions of some sort, such as hymns to the gods or chants before going into battle, and if there is metre, then there are principles which regulate the employment of the metre, and these principles constitute Prosody. But there is no necessity for the existence of metrical compositions in every language. Most of us pass our lives and express ourselves only in prose. We may conceive that an entire nation expressed itself only in prose, and had never expressed itself in anything else.
But as soon as a language presents us with compositions in metre, Prosody becomes possible. And most languages do contain compositions in metre amongst their oldest literary possessions. This is naturally the case, since verse is easier to recollect than prose, and is often better worth recollecting. Consequently, in an early age verse is handed down, while prose perishes.
The common blunder must be avoided of supposing that rhyme is the same thing as verse, or that poetry is the same thing as either. Verse is the name applied to the arrangement of words in metre. In modern English verse, this arrangement is such as to allow the accent, or stress of the voice, to fall at regular intervals, like the beats in music. This regular recurrence of accented and unaccented syllables is called rhythm.
A study of metres helps us to appreciate and enjoy the skill which our poets have shown in devising varied and appropriate measures for their verse. But the adequate discussion of this subject would occupy too much space in our book. Moreover, as grammarians we are concerned not with the effective use of language but with its correct use. Questions of style are appropriate to treatises on Composition or Rhetoric rather than to a treatise on Grammar, and the metrical arrangement of words is a matter of style.
41. It will be convenient if we bring together the chief results which we have reached in this chapter.
Grammar has sometimes been described as the Art of speaking and writing correctly. But people may possess the Art of correctly using their own language without having any knowledge of grammar. We define it therefore as the Science which treats of words and their correct
It contains the following departments,-Orthoëpy, Orthography, Etymology, and Syntax.
Orthoëpy deals with the correct pronunciation of words.
Orthography deals with the correct spelling or writing of words.
Etymology deals with the classification of words, their derivation and inflexion.
Syntax deals with the combination of words in sentences, their government, agreement, and order.
ELEMENTARY SOUNDS IN ENGLISH.
42. WE have assumed that the English dictionary contains 100,000 different significant sounds or words, five or six thousand of which are in use as the vocabulary of the average well-educated man. These different sounds are composed of a very limited number of simple or elementary sounds. Just as chemistry teaches us that out of some seventy elements are formed the boundless varieties of substances which nature and man's art present to us, so an examination of the sounds which we utter in pronouncing English words shows us that they are made by combining about forty sounds which are simple or elementary. Take, for example, the words bat and but. Each word contains three simple sounds in combination, but two of the simple sounds, b and t, are the same in each.
43. Vowels and Consonants. Our first business will be to ascertain the different sorts of sounds which we make in speaking. The division of letters, which serve as the signs or symbols of sounds, into vowels and consonants, is known to everybody. Let us carefully inquire into the nature of the distinction between these sounds.
Open your mouth and let the breath pass out unchecked while you utter the sound of a in path, or of e in feed, or of
o in note. The sound can be continued until you are out of breath. Now pronounce the letter b in bad, not calling it bee,—' bee' is merely its name as a letter of the alphabet. Pronounce it as if you ir.tended to say bad, but changed your mind and stopped as soon as the first letter had escaped. The sound is an instantaneous one. There is a sudden explosion of the b', and to prolong it is impossible. Why? Because the sound is made by closing the iips and tearing them rapidly apart. Observe how a man who stammers pronounces the word bad. He does not prolong the sound of b, he could not prolong it, but he repeats it, closing and separating his lips until at length he gets the word out. Again, take the sounds d and t, pronouncing them as we should do, if we started saying words of which they form the first letter and stopped as soon as we had got the first letter out. Begin to say dog, or ten, and check yourself at the end of the d'or t'. No amount of effort will enable you to continue the sound uninterruptedly.
Shall we say then that vowels are sounds which we can prolong indefinitely, in other words, which we can keep on making without a break, and consonants are sounds which come to an end instantaneously? Further experiments will show that this ground of distinction fails. Take the sounds represented by f, v, s, sh, l, m, n, r. Like the vowel sounds, these sounds can be prolonged while the breath holds out. The distinction between vowels and consonants consists rather in this. A vowel is a sound by the aid of which we can pronounce any other sound at the ordinary pitch of the voice. A consonant is a sound by the aid of which we cannot pronounce any other sound at the ordinary pitch of the voice. Pronounce once more the sounds p', b', t', d', without any accompanying vowel. The parting of the lips in p' and b' is just audible: so is the click of the tongue against the teeth in and ď. We cannot say that absolutely no sound is produced. If we practised
these experiments in a company of silent people, we should make noise enough to attract attention. But the sounds would not be uttered at the ordinary pitch of the voice. Conversation across the table in these tones would be inaudible, and a speech in so low a key to a public meeting would be no better than dumb-show. Add a vowel to these silent letters however; say pay, be, toe, daw, and you can make yourself heard a hundred yards away. But let us try the combination of p, b, t, d, with those other consonants which we saw could be uttered by themselves, f, v, s, sh, l, m, n, r. If we place together pr, bn, tl, dz, we shall not find that we have obtained a combination which can be pronounced at the natural pitch of the voice. Instead of saying, therefore, that vowels are sounds which can be uttered alone, and consonants are sounds which can be uttered only by the aid of a vowel, let us put the matter thus:
Vowels are sounds by the aid of which any consonantal sound can be audibly produced.
Consonants are sounds which will not enable us to produce audibly sounds which are by themselves almost inaudible.
44. This account of the difference between vowels and consonants does not agree with the account which is usually given. It is commonly said that vowels are sounds which can be produced alone, and that consonants are sounds which can be produced only by the aid of a vowel. But though this statement of the matter suits the derivation of the words, —for vowel comes from vocalis, which means 'capable of being sounded,' and consonant comes from cum, 'together,' and sonans, 'sounding,' i.e. 'what is sounded along with something else,'—it does not seem to suit the facts of the case. If a public speaker incurs the hostility of his audience, the ssss...of their disapproval can be heard very well without the addition of any vowel to aid its pronunciation. The sh...! with which ill-mannered people are rebuked for chattering at a concert; the mmm? with which we express our hesitation when an acquaintance makes a statement or a proposal which does not commend itself to our favour, are consonantal sounds which are audible enough when they stand alone.
Then again it is sometimes said that vowels are open sounds and