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A Handbook of the English Language by Latham

Hence the combination monkshood


The

following quotation from Ben Jonson may be read in two ways; and the accent may vary with the reading:

1.

Lay thy bow of pearl apart, And thy _silver shining_ quiver.

2.

Lay thy bow of pearl apart, And thy _silver-shining_ quiver.--_Cynthia's Revels._

s. 362. _On certain words wherein the fact of their being compound is obscured._--Composition is the addition of a word to a word, derivation is the addition of certain letters or syllables to a word. In a compound form each element has a separate and independent existence; in a derived form, only one of the elements has such. Now it is very possible that in an older stage of a language two words may exist, may be put together, and may so form a compound, each word having, then, a separate and independent existence. In a later stage of language, however, only one of these words may have a separate and independent existence, the other having become obsolete. In this case a compound word would take the appearance of a derived one, since but one of its elements could be exhibited as a separate and independent word. Such is the case with, amongst others, the word _bishop-ric_. In the present language the word _ric_ has no separate and independent existence. For all this, the word is a true compound, since, in Anglo-Saxon, we have

the noun _r['i]ce_ as a separate, independent word, signifying _kingdom_ or _domain_.

Again, without becoming obsolete, a word may alter its form. This is the case with most of our adjectives in -ly. At present they appear derivative; their termination -ly having no separate and independent existence. The older language, however, shows that they are compounds; since -ly is nothing else than -lic, Anglo-Saxon; -lih, Old High German; -leiks, Moeso-Gothic; = _like_, or _similis_, and equally with it an independent separate word.

s. 363. "Subject to a few exceptions, it may be laid down, that _there is no true composition unless there is either a change of form or a change of accent_."--Such is the statement made in s. 358. The first class of exceptions consists of those words where the natural tendency to disparity of accent is traversed by some rule of euphony. For example, let two words be put together, which at their point of contact form a combination of sounds foreign to our habits of pronunciation. The rarity of the combination will cause an effort in utterance. The effort in utterance will cause an accent to be laid on the latter half of the compound. This will equalize the accent, and abolish the disparity. The word _monkshood_, the name of a flower (_aconitum napellus_), where, to my ear at least, there is quite as much accent on the -hood as on the _monks-_, may serve in the way of illustration. _Monks_ is one word, _hood_ another. When joined together, the h- of the -hood is put in immediate apposition with the s of the _monks-_. Hence the combination _monkshood_. At the letters s and h is the point of contact. Now the sound of s followed immediately by the sound of h is a true aspirate. But true aspirates are rare in the English language. Being of rare occurrence, the pronunciation of them is a matter of attention and effort; and this attention and effort create an accent which otherwise would be absent. Hence words like _m['o]nks-h['o]od_, _well-h['e]ad_, and some others.


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