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at work in the past tense of verbs when an ed is added to the present. Take the word walk and add ed: k is a surd sound, d is a sonant. One or other of the sounds must give way, if we pronounce them in the same syllable. The d gives way, otherwise the root itself would be changed, and we pronounce the past tense as if it were written with a surd t, walkt. The same thing happens with such words as slap, hiss, cuff, in which we write slapped, hissed, cuffed, but give these forms the sound of slapt, hisst, cufft.

(2) Our natural laziness induces us to save trouble in the pronunciation of sounds. Accordingly we find

i. That sounds which involve a good deal of effort in their utterance tend to disappear from words. Thus if was formerly gif, day was daeg, godly was godlic. We no longer sound the gh in light and similar words, though we continue to write it. Many words which now begin with a y began in old English with a g.

Again, words have in many instances lost a syllable, sometimes at the beginning, sometimes in the middle, sometimes at the end. If we compare bishop with episcopal, we see that the word has been shorn of its initial e so diamond is adamant without the initial a: bus is omnibus after a double decapitation. Palsy is the same as paralysis with the -radropped out: proxy is procuracy in reduced circumstances. Examples of the tendency to cut words down at the end occur in cab, which used to be cabriolet, in miss, which is a curtailed form of mistress, and in consols, which represents consolidated stocks. School slang supplies illustrations of the same process of abridgment in the words exam for examination, trans and con for translation and construe.

ii. But, curiously, letters have in some cases crept into words, apparently to render the pronunciation easier. If we compare with the Latin numerus, tener, camera, the English number, tender, chamber, we notice the insertion of a b or a d. It is supposed that to pronounce these words with the b or d was found less trouble than to pronounce them without these strengthening letters. For the like reason we have put an n into passager and made passenger, an in between the two syllables of night-gale and made nightingale, an a between the two syllables of black-moor and made blackamoor. All such changes are called euphonic, or are said to be made for the sake of euphony, i.e. owing to our desire to save ourselves effort in speech when we can.

(3) Umlaut. We sometimes find that, when a syllable containing a short vowel is added to a word, there is a tendency to shorten the vowel of the original word into something more nearly approaching conformity with the vowel of the ending. This process is calied Umlaut. Thus the addition of the suffix turns cat into kitten, cock into chicken, thumb into thimble, fox into vixen.

(4) Metathesis. Sometimes the order of the letters in a word is transposed: this change is called metathesis. To say waps for wasp is a vulgarism now, but it was good Old English. A countryman says aks for ask, haps for hasp. The Ridings of Yorkshire are thridings, i.e. third-ings or third parts.' Nostrils are nose-thirles, i.e. ‘nose-holes.'

(5) Accent is the stress of the voice laid upon a syllable in a word. Emphasis is the stress laid upon a word or words in a sentence. Accent has exercised an influence in producing some of the changes mentioned above. The word episcopus was cut down to bishop, and procuracy to proxy, as we said, to economise labour, but it was owing to the fact that the suppressed syllables were unaccented that people felt themselves at liberty to drop them out of these words. We may often observe the tendency to clip words improperly when the neglected syllable carries no accent; thus boys say ex'cise for exercise, lib'ty for liberty.

In modern English the tendency is to throw the accent near the beginning of the word, but this tendency is counteracted, sometimes by our desire to lay the stress on the root of the word rather than on a mere prefix, and sometimes by foreign influence, many French and Latin words preserving their own accentuation. The accent rarely goes further back than the third syllable from the end of the word; when it goes further back than this there is a secondary accent, an echo of the first, as in témporáry, héterodox, héterogéneous; but usually its place is on the third syllable from the end, as in geólogy, extrávagant, miscellaneous, incomprehensible. We do not throw the accent as far back as we might in disorder, interférence, divérsion, and many similar words, perhaps because we wish to lay stress on the important part of the word and not on its prefix; but no general principle can be stated respecting our usage in this matter. There is no consistency in our practice, for the accent is carried back to the prefix in these words,-innocent, cóntroversy, déference. In the following words the accentuation is due to foreign influence;—crusáde, cavalier, ballóon, routine, antique, are French; robúst, moróse, benign, humáne, are Latin. The words sénator and órator have become thoroughly naturalized, and we lay the stress on the first syllable, in conformity with the general tendency of accentuation in English. The less familiar curátor and testátor preserve the accent which they had in Latin.

Many words in English differ in meaning according to their accent. There are upwards of fifty pairs of nouns and verbs like áccent and accént, éscort and escort, rébel and rebél, in which the noun has the accent on the first syllable, and the verb has it on the last. Almost all these words are of Latin origin. In the words absent and frequent we have verb and adjective distinguished by the accent: in compact and expert noun and adjective are thus distinguished. Other examples are given in the Questions at the end of this chapter.


1. Say whether the sounds corresponding to the following letters are (1) sonant or surd, (2) mute or spirant, (3) labial, dental, guttural, or palatal ;—k, d, %, f, th, m.


Which of the following combinations cannot be pronounced as they are written? Why not?-tacks, tags; dogs, docks; staffs, staves; sods, sots; slaps, slabs; jumped, crazed, crashed, robbed, stopped, flocked, flogged.

3. Explain the nature of the changes which the following words exhibit when they are compared with the corresponding forms supplied by other languages, or by our own language at an earlier stage:'enough,' Ger. genug: 'I,' Ger. ich: 'lord,' O. E. hláford: 'rain,' Ger. regen: 'way,' Ger. weg: 'morrow, Ger. morgen: 'warden' and 'guardian': 'warrant' and 'guarantee': 'story' and 'history': 'spite' and 'despite': 'uncle,' Lat. avunculus: 'dropsy,' Gk. hydrops: 'miss' and 'mistress': 'petty,' Fr. petit: 'peril,' Lat. periculum: 'sexton' and 'sacristan': 'citizen,' Fr. citoyen: 'firth' and 'frith': 'long' and 'linger': 'old' and 'elder': 'vain' and 'vanity': 'cook' and 'kitchen': 'thunder,' Ger. donner: 'city,' Lat. civitas: 'priest' and 'presbyter': 'tremble' and 'tremor': 'gender,' Lat. genere: 'Birmingham' and 'Brummagem.'

4. How does the accent of the following words affect their meaning?-affix, contest, frequent, august, torment, refuse, compact, desert, conjure, collect, minute, invalid.

5. These words were formerly accented in the following way:bondage, advertisement, balcóny, mischievous, académy, contráry. Mark the syllable on which the accent falls now. What tendency does the change indicate? What means have we of knowing that a word once bore a different accent from the accent which it bears now?

6. Some letters are said to be superfluous. Exemplify this with respect to some of the letters in the following sentence:-The fox ran quickly near the city walls.'

7. Give words illustrating the various sounds represented by the letter a in English.

Classify the mute consonants into labials, dentals, and gutturals; and also into thin, middle, and aspirate.

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The student must observe that none of these aspirated mutes occur in English. The aspirated mute ph is not the ƒ sound of photograph: it is the ph of uphold. The th is not the sound which we have in thin: it is the sound which we have in at home. The kh is the Greek x, not the sound of ch in church or loch. The sounds of ph, th, ch, as we pronounce them are not Mutes at all: they are Spirants or Breaths. See Abbott and Seeley's English Lessons, p. 283.]

8. Distinguish the true from the false Diphthongs in the following words:-pain, noise, new, people, yeoman, build, now, found, eye, clean, rough.

9. Distinguish the meanings of canon and cannon; tránsport and transport; áccent and accent; dissent and descent; ingenious and ingenuous; désert, desért and dessert; virtue and vertu; expert and expért; supine and supine.

IO. What are Doublets? How have they arisen?

[Words which proceed from the same original but have assumed different forms are called 'doublets.' See § 18. The shortening of words owing to the loss of an unaccented syllable also produces doublets: see § 54, (2) i.]

II. From the list of words illustrating the sixteen elementary vowel-sounds in English (given in § 51, p. 45) select the word which has a vowel-sound corresponding to the italicised letter or letters in each of the following words:-haul, yeast, obey, guard, margarine, tough, guild, said, staid, feast, earth, pour, tour, busy, heifer, sew, fern, hood, flood, pretty, what, leopard, gaol, heir, dove, wool, bouquet, any, people, gamboge, canvas, martyr, syrup, furlough, deter, brewer, widow, reality,, aunt, sauce, abate, oppress, machinery, mischievous, attack, foreign, proclamation, professor, company, influenza.




55. How may our 100,000 words or significant sounds be represented best in writing?

One way would be to have a different symbol or picture for every word, after the fashion of the Chinese. But consider how awkward and troublesome such a method of representing our words would be. Think of the burden on the memory of associating even five hundred words with as many distinct pictures. To learn the meaning of five thousand such pictures would require years of study. Try to realise our difficulties if, instead of representing numbers by a combination of the digits o to 9 and by using the device of place, we employed a different symbol for every different number. Our means of numeration would in this case be of a very imperfect character. Now, although 100,000 distinct sounds may exist in English speech, these distinct sounds are formed by the combination of about forty simple or elementary sounds; and a corresponding number of symbols, or signs, or letters, combined together, will enable us to represent all our existing words and as many additional words as our language may hereafter receive. Suppose that the words gun, rod, were represented by pictures, and that a person had never learnt these pictures, or having learnt them had forgotten their meaning, he would be at a loss to understand the sense of a passage in which they occurred.

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