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A Handbook of the English Language by Latham

Isolate them from their vowels


is a further condition in the formation of a vowel sound, that the passage of the breath be uninterrupted. In the sound of the l' in _lo_ (isolated from its vowel) the sound is as continuous as it is with the a in _fate_. Between, however, the consonant l and the vowel a there is this difference: with a, the passage of the breath is uninterrupted; with l, the tongue is applied to the palate, breaking or arresting the passage of the breath.

s. 108. The primary division of our articulate sounds is into vowels and consonants. The latter are again divided into liquids (l, m, n, r) and mutes (p, b, f, v, t, d, k, g, s, z, &c.).

s. 109. _Sharp and flat._--Take the sounds of p, f, t, k, s. Isolate them from their vowels, and pronounce them. The sound is the sound of a whisper.

Let b, v, d, g, z, be similarly treated. The sound is no whisper, but one at the natural tone of our voice.

Now p, f, t, k, s (with some others that will be brought forward anon) are _sharp_, whilst b, v, &c., are _flat_. Instead of _sharp_, some say _hard_, and instead of _flat_, some say _soft_. The terms _sonant_ and _surd_ are, in a scientific point of view, the least exceptionable. They have, however, the disadvantage of being pedantic. The _tenues_ of the classics (as far as they go) are sharp, the _mediae_ flat.

s. 110. _Continuous

and explosive._--Isolate the sounds of b, p, t, d, k, g. Pronounce them. You have no power of prolonging the sounds, or of resting upon them. They escape with the breath, and they escape at once.

It is not so with f, v, sh, zh. Here the breath is transmitted by degrees, and the sound can be drawn out and prolonged for an indefinite space of time. Now b, p, t, &c., are explosive, f, v, &c., continuous.

s. 111. Concerning the vowels, we may predicate a) that they are all continuous, b) that they are all flat.

Concerning the liquids, we may predicate a) that they are all continuous, b) that they are all flat.

Concerning the mutes, we may predicate a) that one half of them is flat, and the other half sharp, and b) that some are continuous, and that others are explosive.

s. 112.--The letter h is no _articulate_ sound, but only a breathing.

* * * * *



s. 113.--The attention of the reader is now directed to the following _foreign_ vowel sounds.

1. The _['e] ferm['e]_, of the French.--This is a sound allied to, but different from, the a in _fate_, and the ee in _feet_. It is intermediate to the two.

2. The u of the French, ue of the Germans, y of the Danes.--This sound is intermediate to the ee in _feet_, and the oo in _book_.

3. The _o chiuso_, of the Italians.--Intermediate to the o in _note_, and the oo in _book_.

For these sounds we have the following sequences: a in _fate_, _['e] ferm['e]_, ee in _feet_, ue in _uebel_ (German), oo in _book_, _o chiuso_, o in _note_. And this is the true order of alliance among the vowels; a in _fate_, and o in _note_, being the extremes; the other sounds being transitional or intermediate. As the English orthography is at once singular and faulty, it exhibits the relationship but imperfectly.

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