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sink the itself in this, its preface. Our own ears obstinately refuse to show us any difference between the of fur and the r of furry; nor are they more docile as regards a double r, one smooth and the other rough, in paring; they only inform us of an ŭ slipped in between the ǎ and the which ought to follow the ǎ.
We are grateful to the Manual for casting its influence decidedly against that frightful corruption which would thrust in a y before the vowels of such words as guard, kind, girl, making of them gyard, kyind, gyirl. It is now happily infrequent, excepting in certain societies or localities; but the nature of such things is to grow and spread vastly more rapidly than a good honest improvement in orthography. We appeal to all who love good English to stand firm against the barbarism. It is enough to have had all our u's converted into yu's; let us save our other vowels from a like fate.
A special chapter is devoted by our authors to an exposition of the effect of the accent upon the utterance of syllables, and of the mode of pronunciation of the vowels and most usual digraphs in unaccented syllables, and we have nowhere else seen the subject treated so fully and so successfully. It is a matter of very considerable consequence in English orthoepy, for our powerful accent, and our predilection for close and indistinct vowels, lead to a very general obscuration of the unaccented parts of our words, such as gives not a little color to the accusation brought against us by foreigners, that we swallow half of our language, instead of uttering it. There are three different classes of cases to be distinguished under this head. First, we have syllables which, under the influence of a neighboring accent, have altogether lost the long or full pronunciation which they once possessed, and have become distinctly and properly short, so that we should never think of sounding them otherwise, whatever might be the explicitness, emphasis, or effort with which we were speaking. Such are the final syllables of forfeit, vestige, determine, definite; their original long sound ("long e," ori in ravine) has become shortened into . Such are also the finals of cabbage, college, valley, foreign, fountain, whose long vowel ("long a," or e in they)
has been contracted for good and all into its organic correspondent, short ě. Certain orthoepists, our authors among them, regard the terminations ey, ain, and some others, as abbreviated into %, and would have us say mon-i (money), cap-tin (captain); but, if we are not mistaken, the more usual as well as the theoretically correcter utterance is ě. It almost seems as if the Manual meant to authorize us to say also cabbij du-il (duel), box-iz (boxes); but these, we are confident, are to be rejected as vulgarisms. Second, there are syllables whose vowels are pronounced in full when we speak with special deliberation or emphasis, but are shortened in familiar or careless utterance. To this kind of change the vowels of open syllables, preceding or following the accent, are especially liable. Examples are the a of traduce, the o of obey, crocodile, borrow, the u of tenure, and the like. This class is conterminous with, and passes into, the next. Third, the vowels of many syllables are not merely shortened in rapid utterance, but undergo also a loss of their distinctive quality, passing over into the indifferent sound u (in but), the lowest barathrum which a slighted vowel can reach. Such are, in particular, syllables containing an a of which the full pronunciation would be open (as in far), as comma, idea; syllables containing an a or o before a liquid, especially r, as dismal, woman, dollar, pistol, author; and the like. Within the limits of this class of changes there is room for much question, and for much difference of opinion, as to how far theory shall sanction as allowable the liberties which a thoroughly colloquial style of speaking actually takes: what shall be suffered as merely careless, and what stigmatized as slovenly. There is hardly an open penult in the language, preceded by the principal accent and followed by a secondary accent-e. g., apathy, enemy, ability, opposite, erudite-which is not frequently converted into an u, and the line between permissible colloquialisms and offensive vulgarisms is not everywhere easy to draw. A complete dictionary ought, of course, to try to draw the line, and should mark by some simple notation all cases where a vowel sound is liable to become altered in rapid pronunciation, distinguishing also
from one another those which come under our second and third classes. WORCESTER has recently, in his large quarto lexicon, made the attempt to indicate syllables obscured by the influence of accent; but he has applied his sign of obscurity so generally and so indiscriminately as entirely to destroy its significance: we can never know whether the dotted vowel is merely to be left unemphatic, while unaltered in respect either to quantity or quality of sound, or whether it is liable to be abbreviated without change of quality, or whether, finally, it may pass over into the indiscrete u.
The seventh chapter of the Introduction, on "the classes of words liable to be mispronounced," taken in connection with the orthoepical views set forth and supported in the Vocabu lary itself, lays open the great subject of varying and disputed pronunciations, which is much too vast for us to think of entering upon it otherwise than very superficially. The chapter is a useful summary of rules and warnings, and most of its dicta commend themselves to universal acceptance; of course, it stigmatizes some pronunciations as erroneous which we ourselves decidedly prefer to those for which they are rejected, and which we have not made up our minds to relinquish; for every one who arrogates to himself the right to an independent judgment must find such to be the case with every orthoepical work which he consults. The method followed in the Vocabulary in regard to words recognized as of questionable orthoepy is one which cannot fail to give general satisfaction, being nearly the same with that adopted in WORCESTER's great work; the principal authorities for the different modes of pronunciation are mentioned, and explanatory remarks are often cited from their works; so that one who does not implicitly adopt the Manual as an authority in pronunciation, may yet advantageously use it as a guide. The general fairness and good sense which distinguish it in other departments belong to it also in this; in spite of our not very infrequent dissent from its decisions, and though we find it to treat some words as of established pronunciation, respecting which good usage seems to us to be still divided, we should hardly be less willing to accept it in the gross than any other work of like character
with which we are acquainted. To settle authoritatively all controverted points of pronunciation is a thing which we should be far from attempting to do for any other person, and equally far from allowing any other person to do for us. There is, doubtless, hardly another modern tongue, in the cultivated pronunciation of which so many actual ambiguities exist as in that of our own. This is in part owing to the anomalous condition of our vowel system. There is a large class of words adopted by us from the learned languages, which have been too rarely exchanged among us to have their mode of utterance in all points established, so that usage varies between a long and a short enunciation of one of their vowels-a variation which implies in English not merely a difference of quantity, but one of quality also, and often a great one; take microscope, for example: there the decision must be between the heavy diphthong which we call "long i," and the lightest and nimblest of the vowels. But there are also numerous other differences, affecting some of our most familiar words: signs, in part, of that natural growth and change which constitutes the life of language; there are analogies striving to extend themselves, new tendencies struggling for a place, cumbersome sounds slipped over and mouthed into easier form, and all the other processes which from one point of view work corruption, from another, legitimate development. No language can be made absolutely uniform excepting as those who use it meet and exchange speech with one another; and the greater the dissociation, the more numerous and decided the local peculiarities which will spring up. Nor can such peculiarities be entirely effaced throughout a great community, or over a vast extent of country; general education, the teacher and the spelling-book and reader, can do much toward checking alteration and bringing about uniformity, but something will always escape their reach; and even a cultivated class is not free from the tendency to produce and give currency to mannerisms and affectations of speech, at variance with the spirit of the language, and rejected by the mass of those who speak it. What, in such a state of things, is to be done? We have not, like France, a
Paris of which we are the literary as well as political subjects; we are too equal in feeling, too independent in sentiment, to submit to the dictation of the learned of any locality, be it London, the Universities, or Boston, and to permit them to impose their local peculiarities upon us in the stead of our own. Happily there is no need that we make a matter for serious regret of a certain degree of indeterminateness and flux in the usages of our native tongue. To petrify the forms of utterance of a language is not altogether desirable, any more than to lock up its vocabulary against the intrusion of new words and phrases and the extrusion of old ones. The whole mass of a people must bear their part in constructing and developing its language; the cultivated class, with grammarians and lexicographers at their head, are a powerful conserving and directing force, with power to hold within bounds, to suggest, to favor or reject, but they should be careful not so to overdo their part as to sever the cultivated language from its true resting-place and support, the consciousness and sympathy of the masses. What the orthoepist has to do is to extend his observations as widely as possible, noting the varieties of utterance through every district and every class, and in cases of doubtful pronunciation to decide on which side his influence shall be cast, in view partly of the prevailing weight of authority, judged as well by quality as by numbers, but also of the general analogies and natural and legitimate tendencies of the language, and the comparative desirableness of the different modes among which his choice is to be made. Concurring usage can make anything in language good, can stamp as elegant in one word what in another precisely similar to it is an odious vulgarism: but there are anomalous or ungraceful pronunciations which require to be sustained by a more preponderating weight of authority than is needed to give universal currency to others: in some cases a mere respectable minority is justified in standing out stubbornly against a corruption which threatens to become successful.
The whole Introduction is divided into numbered paragraphs, and numerous references in the Vocabulary, attached to almost every vocable, direct the student's attention back to