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riour to every other that preceded it; and his method of conveying the sound of words, by spelling them as they are pronounced, is highly rational and useful. But here sincerity obliges me to stop. The numerous instances I have given of impropriety, inconsistency, and want of acquaintance with the analogies of the Language, sufficiently show how imperfect * I think his Dictionary is upon the whole, and what ample room was left for attempting another that might better answer the purpose of a Guide to Pronunciation.

The last writer on this subject is Mr. Nares, who, in his Elements of Orthöepy, has shown a clearness of inethod and an extent of observation which deserve the highest encomiums. His preface alone proves him an elegant writer, as well as a philosophical observer of Language: and ļis Alphabetical Index, referring near five thousand words to the rules for pronouncing them, is a new and useful method of treating the subject : but he seems, on many occasions, to have mistaken the best usage, and to have too little attention to the first principles of pronunciation.

Thus I have ventured to give my opinion of my rivals and competitors, and I hope without enry or self-conceit. Perhaps it would have been policy in me to have been silent on this head, for fear of putting the publick in mind that others have written on the subject as well as myself: but this is a narrow policy, which, under the colour of tenderness to others, is calculated to raise ourselves at their expense. A writer, who is conscious he deserves the attention of the Publick, (and unless he is thus conscious lie ought not to write,) must not only wish to be compared with those who have gone before him, but will promote the comparison, by informing his readers what others have done, and on what he founds his pretensions to a preference; and if this be done with. fairness and without acrimony, it can be no more inconsistent with modesty, than it is with honesty and plain dealing.

The work I have to offer on the subject has, I hope, added something to the publick stock ; it not only exhibits the principles of pronunciation on a more extensive plan than others have done, divides the words into syllables, and marks the sounds of the vowels like Dr. Kenrick, speils the words as they are pronounced like Mr. Sheridan, and directs the inspector to the rule by the word Jike Mr. Nares; but, where words are subject to different pronunciatio, it shows the reasons from analugy for each, produces authorities for one side and the other, and points out the pronunciation which is preferable. In short, I have endeavoured to unite the science of Mr. Elphinston, the method of Mr. Nares, and the general utility of Mr. Sheridan; and, to add to these advantages, have given critical observations on such words as are subject to a diversity of pronunciation, and have invited the inspector to•clecide according to analogy and the

But to all works of this kind there lics a formidable objection : which is, that the pronunciation of a Language is necessarily indefinite and fugitive, and that all endeavours to delineate or settle it arc in vain. Dr. Johnson, in his Grammar, prefixed to his Dictionary, says: “ Most of the writers of English « Grammar have given long tables of words pronounced otherwise ihan “ they are written ; and seem not sufficiently to have considered, that, of “ English, as of all living tongucs, there is a double pronunciation : one, 6 cursory and colloquial ; the other, regular and solemn. Tlie cursory pro

best usage.

See Principles, No. 124, 126, 129, 386, 454, 462, 479, 89, 530; and the words Assunt, COLLECT, COVETO'S, DOYATITE, EPHEMERA, SACIETY, &r. aldi !lc ima separable preposition Dis.

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& nunciation is always vague and uncertain, being made different in different * mouths, by negligence, unskilfulness, or affectation. The solemn pronun"ciation, though by no means immutable and permanent, is yet always less " remote from the orthography, and less liable to capricious innovation. They " have, however, generally formed their tables according to the cursory speech 6 of those with whom they happened to converse, and, concluding that the whole * nation combines to vitiate language in one manner, have often established the " jargon of the lowest of the people as the model of speech. For pronunciation, * the best general rule is, to consider those as the most elegant speakers, who decriate least from the written words."

Without any derogation from the character of Dr. Johnson, it may be asserted, that in these observations we do not perceive that justness and accuracy

of thinking for which he is so remarkable. It would be doing great injustice to him, to suppose that he meant to exclude all possibility of conveying the actual pronunciation of many words that depart manifestly from their orthography, or of those that are written alike, and pronounced differentiy, and inversely. He has marked these differences with great propriety himself, in many places of his Dictionary; and it is to be regretted that he did not cxtend these remarks farther. It is impossible, therefore, he could suppose, that because the almost imperceptible glances of colloquial pronunciation were not to be caught and described by the pen, that the very perceptible difference between the initial accented syliables of money and monitor, or the final unaccented syllabies of finite and infinite, could not be sufficiently marked upon paper. Cannot we show that cellar, a vault, and seller one who sells, have exactly the same sound? or that the monosyllable full, and the first syliable of fulminate, are sounded different.y, because there are some words in which solemnity will authorize a different shade

a of pronunciation from familiarity? Besides, that colloquial pronunciation which is perfect, is so much the language of solemn speaking, that, perhaps, there is no more difference than between the same picture painted to be viewed near and at a distance. The symmetry in both is exactly the same ; and the distinction lies only in the colouring. The English Language, in this respect, seems to have a great superiority over the l'rench, which pronounces many lettors in the poetic and solemn style, that are wholly silent in the prosaic and fa-, mar. But if a solemn and familiar pronunciation really exists in our language, is it not the business of a grammarian to mark both? And if he cannot point out the precise sound of unaccented syllables, (for these only are liable to obscurity,) he may, at least, give those sounds which approach the nearest, and by this means become a little more useful than those who so liberally leave every thing to the ear and taste of the speaker.

The truth is, Dr. Johnson seems to have had a confused idea of the distinctness and indistinctness with which, on solemn or familiar occasions, we someunes pronounce the unaccented vowels; and with respect to these, it must be owned, that his remarks are not entirely without foundation. The English Language; with respect to its pronunciation, is evidently divisille into accented and unaccented sounds. The accented syllables, by being pronounced with greater force than the unaccented, have their vowels as clearly and distinctiy sounded as any giren note in music; while the unaccented vowels, för vant of the stress, are apt to slide into an obscurity of sound, which, though sufficiently distinguishable to the ear, cannot be so definitely marked out to the eye by other sounds as those vowels that are under the accent. Thus some of the vowels, when neither under the accent, nor closed by a consonant, have a longer of a shorter, an opener or a closer sound, according to the solemnity or fan:iliarity, the deliberation or rapidity of our delivery. This will be perceived in the

sound of the e in emotions, of the o in obedience, and of the u in monument. In the hasty pronunciation of common speaking, the e in emotion is often shortened, as if spelt im-mo-tion; the o in obedience shortened and obscured, as if written ub-be-de-ence; and the u in monument, changed into e, as if written mon-ne-ment ; while the deliberate and clegant sound of these vowels is the long open sound they have, when the accent is on them in equal, over, and unit ; but a when unaccented, seems to have no such dirersity; it has generally a short obscure sound, whether ending a syllable, or closed by a consonant. Thus the a in able has its definite and distinct sound; but the same letter in tolerable f goes into an obscure indefinite sound approaching the short u; nor can any solemnity or deliberation give it the long open sound it has in the first word. Thus, by distinguishing vowels into their accented and unaccented sounds, we are enabled to see clearly what Dr. Johnson saw but obscurely; and by this distinction entirely to obviate the objection.

Equally indefinite and uncertain is his general rule, that those are to be considered as the most ciegant speakers who deviate least from the written words. It is certain, where custom is equal, this ought to take place ; and if the whole body of respectable English speakers were equally divided in their pronunciation of the word busy, one half pronouncing it bew-zet, and the other half biz-ze, that the former ought to be accounted the most elegant speakers; but till this is the case, the latter pronunciation, though a gross deviation from orthography, will still be esteemed the most elegant. Dr. Johnson's general rule, therefore, can only take place where custom has not plainly decided; but, unfortunately for the English Language, its orthography and pronunciation are 50 widely different, that Dr. Watts and Dr. Jones lay it down as a maxim in their Treatises on Spelling, that all words which can be sounded different ways, must be written according to that sound which is most distant from the true pronunciation ; and consequently, in such a Language, a Pronouncing Dictionary must be of essential use.

But still it may be objected to such an undertaking that the fuctuation of pronunciation is so great as to render all attempts to settle it useless. What will it avail us, it may be said, to know the pronunciation of the present day, if, in few years, it will be-altered? And how are we to know even what the present pronunciation is, when the same words are often differently pronounced by different speakers, and those perhaps of equal numbers and reputation ? To this it inay be answered, that the fluctuation of our language, with respect to its pronunciation, seems to have been greatly exaggerated g. Except a very few single

See the words Collect, COMMAND, DESPATCH,DOMÉSTICK,EFFACE,Occasion. † Principies, No. 88, 545. | Principles, No 178.

$ The old and new 'Athis, with all the various dialects, must have occasioned infinite irregularity in the pronunciation of the Greek tongue; and if we may judge of the Latin pronunciation by the ancient inscriptions, it was little less various and irregular than the Grock. Aulus Gellius tells us, that Nigidius, a grammarian who lived a little more than a century before him, accented the first syilable of l'aleri; but, says he," siquis nunc Valerium appellans in casu vocandi secundum id præceptum Nigidii acuerit primam, non aberit quin “ rideatur.”- Whoever now should place the accent on the first syllable of Valerius, when a vocative case, according to the precept of Nigilius, would set every body a-laughing. Even that highly polished language the French, if we may believe a writer in the Encyclopédie, is little less irregular in this respect than our own.

“Il est arrivé,” says he, " par les altérations qui se succedent rapitlement dans la manière de prononcer, & les corrections qui s'introduisent lentement clans la manière d'écrire, que la pronunciation & l'écriture ne marchent point ensemble, & que quoiqu'il y ait chez les peuples les plus policés de l'Europe, des sociétés d'hommes de lettres chargés de les modérer, de les accorder, & de les rapprocher de la mėme ligne, elles se trouvent


words which are generally noticed in the following Dictionary, and the words where e comes before r, followed by another consonant, as merchant, service, &c. the pronunciation of the language is probably in the same state in which it was a century ago; and had the same attention been then paid to it as now, it is not likely even that change would have happened. The same may be observed of those words which are differently pronounced by different speakers: if the analogies of the language had been better understood, it is scarcely conceivable that so many words in polite usage would have a diversity of pronunciation, which is at once so ridiculous and embarrassing ; nay, perhaps it may be with confidence asserted, that if the analogies of the language were sufficiently known, and so Dear at hand as to be applicable on inspection to every word, that not only many words which are wavering between contrary usages would be settled in their truc sound, but that many words, which are fixed by custom to an improper pronunciation, would by degrees grow regular and analogical ; and those which are so already would be secured in their purity, by a knowledge of their regularity and analogy.

But the utility of a work of this kind is not confined to those parts of language where the impropriety is gross and palpable ; besides such imperfections in pronunciation as disgust every ear not accustomed to them, there are a thousand insensible deviations, in the more minute parts of language, as the unaccented syllables may be called, which do not strike the ear so forcibly as 10 mark any direct impropriety in particular words, but occasion only such a general impersection as gives a bad impression upon the whole. Speakers with these imperfections pass very well in common conversation ; but when they are required to pronounce with emphasis, and for that purpose to be more distinct and definite in their utterance, here their ear fails them; they have been accustomed only to loose cursory speaking, and, for want of firmness of pronunciation, are like those painters who draw the muscular exertions of the human body without any knowledge of anatomy. This is one reason, perhaps, why we find thc elocution of so few people agreeable when they read or speak to an assembly, while so few offend us by their utterance in common conversation. A thousand faults lie concealed in a miniature, which a microscope brings to view; and it is only by pronouncing on a larger scale, as publick speaking may be called, that we

enfin à une distance inconcevable ; ensorte que de deux choses dont l'une n'a été ima. ginée dans son origine, que pour réprésenter fidellement l'autre, celle-ci ne differe kuère moins de celle-là, que la portrait de la même personne peinte dans deux ages très éloignés. Enfin l'inconvénient s'est accru à un tel excès qu'on n'ose plus y remédier. On prononce une langue, on écrit une autre ; & l'on s'accoutume tellement pendant le reste de la vie à cette bizarrerie qui a fait verser tant de larmes dans l'enfance, que si l'on renonçoit à sa ma ivaise orthographie pour une plus voisine de la prononciation, on ne reconnoî. troit plus la langue parlée sous cette nouvelle combinaison de caractères. S'il y en a qui ne pourroient se succéder sans une grande fatigue pour l'organe, ou ils ne se rencontrent point, ou ils ne durent pas. Ils sont échappés de la langue par l'euphonie, cette loi puissante, qui agit continuellement & universellement sans égard pour l'étymologie & ses défenseurs, et qui tend sans intermission à amener des êtres qui ont les mêines organes, le même idiome, les mêmes mouvemens prescrits, à-peu-près à la même prononciation. Les causes dont l'action n'est point interrompue, deviennent toujours les plus fortes avec les tems, quelques foibles qu'elles soient en elles-mêmes, & il n'y’a presque pas une seule voyelle, une seule diphthon, ue, une seule consonne dont la valeur soit tellement constante, que leuphonie n'en puisse disposer, soit en altérant le son, soit en le supprimant.”

I shall not decide upon the justness of these complaints, but must observe, that a worse picture could scarcely be drawn ofthe English, or the most barbarous language of Europe. Indeed a degree of versatility seems involved in the very nature of language, and is one of those evils left by Providence for man to correct : a love of order, and the

utility of regularity, will always incline him to confine this versatility within as narrow bounds as posprove the propriety of our elocution. As therefore, there are certain deviations from analogy which are not at any rate tolerable, there are others which only, as it were, tarnish the pronunciation, and make it less brilliant and agreeable. There are few who have turned their thoughts on this subject, without obserying that they someuines pronounce the same word or syllable in a different manner; and as neither of these manners offend the ear, they are at a loss to which they shall give the preference; but as one must necessarily be more agreeable to the analogy of the language than the other, a display of these analogies, in a Dictionary of this kind, wili immediately remove this uncertainty ; and in this view of the variety we shall discover a fitness in one mode of speaking, which will give a firmness and security to our pronunciation, from a confidence that it is founded on reason, and the general tendency of the language. See Principles, No. 530, 547, 551, &c.


But, alas! reasoning on language, however well founded, may be all overturned by a single quotation from Horace:



-Usus, “Quem penès arbitrium est, & jus & norma loquendi." This, it must be owned, is a succinct way of ending the controversy; and, by virtue of this argument, we may become critics in language, without the trouble of studying it: not that I'would be thought, in the most distant manner, to deny that Custom is the sovereign arbiter of language; far from it. I acknowledge its authority, and know there is no appeal from it. I wish only to dispute, where this arbiter has not decided; for, if once Custom speak out, however absurdly, I sincerely acquiesce in its sentence.

But what is this custom to which we must so implicitly submit? Is it the usage of the multitude of speakers, whether good or bad? This has never been asserted by the most sanguine abettors of its authority. Is it the usage of the studious in schools and colleges, with those of the learned professions, or that of those who, from their elevated birth or station, give laws to the refinements and elegancies of a court? To confine propriety to the latter, which is too often the case, seems an injury to the former; who, from their very pro· fession, appear to have a natural right to a share, at least, in the legislation of language, if not to an absolute sovereignty. The polished attendants on a throne are as apt to depart from simplicity in language, as in dress and manners; and novelty, instead of custom, is too often the jus & norma loquendi of a court.

Perhaps an attentive observation will lead us to conclude, that the usage which ought to direct us, is neither of these we have been enumerating, taken singly, but a sort of compound ratio of all three. Neither a finical pronunciation of the court, nor a pedantic Græcism of the schools, will be denominated respectable usage, till a certain number of the general mass of speakers have acknowledged them; nor will a multitude of common speakers authorize any pronunciation which is reprobated by the learned and polite.

As ihose sounds, therefore, which are the most generally received among the learned and polite, as well as the bulk of speakers, are the most legitimate, we may conclude that a majority of two of these states ought always to concur, in order to constitute what is called good usage.

But though custom, when general, is commonly well understood, there are several states and degrees of it which are exceedingly obscure and equivocal; and the only method of knowing the extent of custom in these cases, scenis to be an inspection of those Dictionaries which professedly treat of pronunciation. We have now so many works of this kind, that the general current of custom,

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