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N 135. SATURDAY, AUGUST 4, 1711.

Est brcvitate opus, ut currut sententia

HOR. 1 Sat. X. 9.

Let brevity dispatch the rapid thought.

!

I HAVE somewhere read of an eminent person, who used in his private offices of devotion to give thanks to heaven that he was born a Frenchman : for my own part, I look upon it as a peculiar blessing that I was born an Englishman. Among many other reasons, I think myself very happy in my country, as the language of it is wonderfully adapted to a man who is sparing of his words, and an enemy to loquacity.

As I have frequently reflected on my good fortune in this particular, I shall communicate to the public llo my speculations upon the English tongue, not doubting but they will be acceptable to all my curious readers.

The English delight in silence more than any other European nation, if the remarks which are made on us by foreigners are true. Our discourse is not kept up in conversation, but falls into more pauses and intervals than in our neighbouring countries ; as it is observed, that the matter of our writings is thrown much closer together, and lies in a narrower compass than is usual in the works of foreign authors: for, to favour our natural taciturnity, when we are obliged to utter our thoughts, we do it in the shortest way we are able, and give as quick a birth to our couceptions as possible.

This humour shews itself in several remarks that we may make upon the English language. As first of all by its abounding in monosyllables, which gives us an opportunity of delivering our thoughts in few sounds. This indeed takes off from the elegance of our tongue, but at the same time expresses our ideas in the readiest manner, and consequently answers the first design of speech better than the multitude of syllables, which make the words of other languages more tuneable and sonorous. The sounds of our English words are commonly like those of string music, short and transient, which rise and perish upon a single touch; those of other languages are like the notes of wind instruments, sweet and swelling, and lengthened out into variety of modulation.

In the next place we may observe, that where the words are not monosyllables, we often make them so, as niuch as lies in our power, by our rapidity of pronunciation; as it generally happens in most of our long words which are derived from the Latin, where we contract the length of the syllables that gives. them a grave and solemn air in their own language, to make them more proper for dispatch, and more conformable to the genius of our tongue. This we may find in a multitude of words, as · liberty, conspiracy, theatre, orator,' &c,

The same natural aversion to loquacity has of late years made a very considerable alteratiou in our language, by closing in one syllable the termination of our præterperfect tense, as in these words drown'd, walk'd, arriv'd,' for drowned, walked, arrived, which has very much disfigured the tongue, and turned a tenth part of our smoothest words into so many clusters of consonants. This is the more remarkable, because the want of vowels in our language has been the general complaint of our politęst authors, who nevertheless are the men that have made these re trenchinents, and consequently very much increase our former scarcity.

This reflection on the words that end in ED, I ha heard in conversation from one of the greatest genius this age has produced *. I think we may add to t foregoing observation, the change which has happen in our language, by the abbreviation of several wor that are terminated in eth;' by substituting an s the room of the last syllable, as in drowns, wall arrives, and innumerable other words, which in t pronunciation of our forefathers were • drownet walketh, arriveth.' This has wonderfully multipliet letter which was before too frequent in the Engli tongue, and added to that hissing in our languag which is taken so much notice of by foreigners ; b at the same time humours our taciturnity, and eas us of many superfluous syllables.

I might here observe, that the same single leti ou many occasions does the office of a whole wot and represents the his' and “her' of our forefathe There is no doubt but the ear of a foreigner, whi is the best judge in this case, would very much di approve of such innovations, which indeed we « ourselves in some measure, by retaining the old te mination in writing, and in all the solemn offices of o religion.

As in the instances I have given we have e tomized many of our particular words to the deti ment of our tongue, so on other occasions we ha drawn two words into one, which has likewise vei much untuned our language, and clogged it wit

This was probably Dean Swift, who has made the san observation in his proposal for correcting, improving, and a eertaining the English tongue, &c. See Swift's Works.

consonants, 25. mavi. - T like, for may not Z #

It is periaps the summer than we needs ME: tailed some of our wort and conversation trei o. syllables, as 11 and as al ruichou wa into a language prstand swer for these tat? Ux. . upon as a par: 6° 0 Bergen poets tiavt teel likers bras's gogorre. ExpE30 tions thrown OL *** :* which ap essentia! this humour: ST" run so far, the I anong whom. ** in particum: ei perfiupes ieties a la adjust the speurt low house ne coutonnie duiwer destrovec or

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nevertheless are the men that have made these retrenchinents, and consequently very much increased our former scarcity.

This reflection on the words that end in ED, I have heard in conversation from one of the greatest geniuses this

age has produced *. I think we may add to the foregoing observation, the change which has happened in our language, by the abbreviation of several words that are terminated in eth;' by substituting an s in the room of the last syllable, as in drowns, walks, arrives,' and innumerable other words, which in the pronunciation of our forefathers were drowneth, walketh, arriveth.' This has wonderfully multiplied a letter which was before too frequent in the English tongue, and added to that hissing in our language, which is taken so much notice of by foreigners ; but at the same time humours our taciturnity, and eases us of many superfluous syllables.

I might here observe, that the same single letter on many occasions does the office of a whole word, and represents the ‘his' and “her' of our forefathers. There is no doubt but the ear of a foreigner, which is the best judge in this case, would very much disapprove of such innovations, which indeed we do ourselves in some measure, by retaining the old termination in writing, and in all the solemn offices of our religion.

As in the instances I have given we have epitomized many of our particular words to the detriment of our tongue, so on other occasions we have drawn two words into one, which has likewise very much untuned our language, and clogged it with

* This was probably Dean Swift, who has made the same observation in his proposal for correcting, improving, and ascertaining the English tongue, &c. See Swift's Works,

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