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Division and Classification of Sounds.


organs always unite in one function. Chief parts to be noticed are, within, the cavity of the mouth and its parallel the tongue, that the passive, this the active member; without, the mouth-flaps or lips which open and shut the mouth. More minutely, we distinguish, proceeding forward, the following places or pairs of organs. (1) The root of the tongue (Báois rys plwoons) on one side, and on the other the epiglottis together with the fauces (palate, velumpalati) against which it leans. (2) The back of the tongue (its upper surface) and the roof of the mouth. (3) The tip of the tongue and the upper row of teeth or the gum lying above them. (4) The two rows of teeth which like palisades [oxos ódórror] enclose the mouth. Finally, (5) The lips covering the two rows of teeth, as the folding doors of the mouth. Of these (2) (4) are secondary to (1) (3) leaving three chief organs, the root of the tongue, its tip (with the corresponding parts of the roof of the mouth) and the lips. Besides these the nostrils must be taken into account as side-passages and sounding-board of the mouth.

REMARK. While the oral cavity corresponds in general, as was said, to the tube of the wind instrument, both in structure and design (viz. the carrying forward and resonance of the tones, § 3), the active member in the former, the tongue distinguishes it from all artificial instruments of sound, which have merely passive cavities, and gives occasion to the characteristic peculiarity of human speech.1

3. The instruments just described, throat and mouth, may be either passive or active with reference to the air streaming through them. The former, when they offer it a free course, serving merely as a channel; the latter, when they present some hindrance to its passage. The throat, however, can oppose such hindrance only in a passive manner, by contracting the glottis so that the breath must pass with a degree of force; the mouth, on the contrary, does this actively whenever its coupled organs meet and intercept the breath. Only the mouth, therefore, is capable of a proper activity, the throat of a barely passive effort, and hence we may call this the feminine, that the masculine organ of speech, designations which will be illustrated by our

consideration of the sounds.

§ 2. Division and Classification of Speaking-sounds. Whenever the instruments which we have described become active during the passage of the breath, speaking-sounds are produced, or

1 Hence, perhaps, in many languages, named from the tongue (jizb, jiwooa, lingua, langue, etc.).

the elements of human speech. These fall at once into two chief classes, having reference to the two main organs or passage-points of the breath, the throat and mouth. Thus the more passive the organs, the more undeveloped and imperfect the sound; and the greater their activity and coöperation, the more complete and thoroughly organized is the sound. In regard to this three cases are possible. The organs may be either both passive, or one active and the other passive, or both active. In the first case, when both throat and mouth continue passive, i. e. stand open in such a way that the air can pass without meeting resistance anywhere, there arises a perceptible breathing. This is the lowest step in the formation of sound, not properly a sound as yet, but only the preparation, the attempt at a sound; still it was embraced in the original alphabet as a proper element of speech, and furnished according to the degree of its strength with a twofold sign, the weaker of which in later alphabets is lost. In the second case, when one of the organs becomes active, i. e. offers some resistance to the breath, we first obtain tangible elements of speech. If it is the throat which exerts itself by contracting the glottis so that the breath in passing is first forcibly compressed, and then, expanding in the open cavity of the mouth, is made to vibrate in all its parts, there arises a clear voice or tone, falling distinctly on the ear, commonly called a voice-sound or vowel (vocalis). If, on the other hand, the mouth alone is active, while some pair of the organs mentioned § 1 meet together and intercept and compress the air issuing from the now quiet (not sounding) throat, i. e. articulate, an obscure sound is formed, which first becomes distinct when joined to one of the former kind, a soft noise, most appropriately called articulation. Sounds of this sort, being distinctly audible only in connection with vowels, are called joint-sounds (consonantes), while the vowels, as clear in themselves, are independent sounds (sonantes). Both stand in the same opposition to each other as the organs and operations by which they are produced (§ 1), and are in a strict sense elements (elementa as the letters are called in Latin), i. e. the primary matter of speech. The vowels are the feminine, i. e. material, positive, the consonants the masculine, i. e. formal, negative element, as it regards not only the sonorousness, but also their grammatical and etymological character. The vowels render speech clear and sonorous, while the consonants limit and give support to the tones which would otherwise flow away in an endless, confused succession. Those are the movable,

1 So Silv. de Sacy, Grammaire, Arab. § 1, who well characterizes the sounds of both kinds.


Of the Vowels.


flowing, these the fixed, combining element; those the light, these the shadow; those the flesh and blood, these the skeleton of the body of speech; those represent more the individual sensation, these more the universal conception; in a word, those give beauty, fulness, life to language, these give it outline, comprehension, strength. It is implied in the very idea of an element, that it is of itself only a half-complete speaking sound, requiring the other as its complement. This necessity is met in the third case above mentioned, by the coöperation of both organs. Here the tone proceeding from the throat is accompanied by a compression of the oral organs (articulation), and so an articulate tone is formed in which vowel and consonant blend together and their opposition melts into a higher unit. In this manner first arises an entire, perfect (individualized) sound, and the syllable is accordingly to be regarded not as a twofold, but a single organic sound. When several such articulated sounds are combined, through the fusing power of the Accent, into the unity of a conception, a higher vocal-whole is produced, an articulate word, in which the syllables form the members and joints (articuli). Words, again, link themselves together into a sentence, sentences into periods, etc., and the coherent discourse thus becomes a membered body, i. e. a body composed of syllables, words, sentences, etc., united as if by joints. This is the meaning of the appropriate, old designation articulate discourse, by which from the μépones ar

лo of Homer, the peculiarity of human speech as distinguished from the vowel-tones of animals and musical instruments, has been expressed.

§ 3. Of the Vowels.

For the formation of a vowel three things are requisite: 1. That air should issue from the lungs; 2. that the glottis should be so far

1 Comp. A. W. Schlegel, Wettsbreit der Sprachen in the Athenäum 1 B, reprinted in his critical writings 1 B. S. 179 ff. 194 ff. — Böckh in Daub and Creutzer's Studien 4 B. S. 376. — The Rabbins also have much to say of this distinction, which they commonly express by calling the vowels the soul (i. e. the movable, living), the consonants the body (i. e. the fixed), part of language, a distinction which certainly is more striking in the Semitish than the Japhetish languages.

2 So it was evidently regarded in the oldest oriental mode of writing, where not separate consonants and vowels, but syllables (of the simplest form, consonants united with the primitive vowel a, as ba, ga, da, etc.), hence not elements but individual units of sound, are denoted. Comp. the author's Heb. Gram., § 11, 1. And it may now be safely assumed that no original language of either the Semitish or Japhetish stock, exhibits roots consisting of a mere vowel or consonant. Where this appears to be the case, one element is lost.

contracted that the air can only make its way through with a degree of force and vibration; 3. that the resultant tone should be carried forward through the mouth, shaped to its appointed form and sent out in front. The first of these, the emission of the air, takes place either with a light, scarcely perceptible pressure on the epiglottis, or with a stronger thrust from the depths of the chest-serving, perhaps, to open a way for the air into the mouth, or it may be only a sigh, as it were, occasioned by the exertion necessary to set the throat in action. One or other of these precedes every vowel pronounced with a fresh opening of the mouth, i. e. every vowel commencing a new vocal whole, whether word or syllable, and furnishes it a basis. When a preceding consonant furnishes this basis, it is therefore naturally wanting; and generally in medial sounds it is perceptibly weakened, hence easily swallowed up, and in many languages, as the Greek, is here entirely obliterated. This is indicated by the so called breathing-letters (breathings, spiritus, hiatus) which appear in the Semitish mode of writing in their integrity, with a twofold power ( and ) and in all parts of the word, in medial and final as well as initial sounds; but which in the later alphabets have suffered detriment in various ways. On the second condition above mentioned, the con traction of the glottis, and the consequent vibration of the air, depends the clear sound [Klang] of the vowels. If the opening is too wide, a mere breathing only is produced, and this under the other conditions of speaking gives rise to the whisper, a colorless shadow of loud speech. In the third place, finally, the mouth though merely passive discharges a twofold function of essential importance: 1. By carrying forward the tone originating in the throat to the air without, it gives it resonance and clearness. Without this, led off through the nose, it would amount only to an obscure, muttering (μvoor) tone. Let the nostrils also be closed, and nothing is heard but a dull, stifled grunt. 2. By means of the different form of its opening (expansion or contraction) the mouth occasions the distinction between clear and obscure tones, that is, the distinction of vowels in speech, which is here the main subject of our investigations. To direct ourselves aright amid the multitude of different vowels, we must advert to the positions of the mouth in pronouncing them, and distinguish the primary from the secondary positions.

1. When the mouth is opened in such a way that the tongue rests quietly on the lower jaw, and all the other organs likewise lie perfectly still and passive-which we may call its normal opening or normal position and therefore the tone from the throat streams


Vowel Sounds.


forth freely, without the slightest interference of the organs of the mouth, there arises a pure throat-tone, in this view the purest and most original of the vowels, the vowel a. It is neither clear nor obscure, but both (somewhat as the light shows no distinction of colors, yet contains in itself the ground of such a distinction), and is therefore not indicated in the original Semitish alphabet and the Dewanagari, but is added in pronunciation to every letter. It may appropriately be called the original vowel. From this its Normal Position the mouth can depart in two ways; either by expansion (extension in breadth, diductio, dilatatio) or by contraction (constrictio), movements which are attended by an approximation of the related organs. In proportion as the mouth expands in breadth, by which the teeth are disclosed, while the tongue rises in an arch towards the roof of the mouth- the tone becomes clear, and gives by degrees ä, e, etc. In proportion, on the other hand, as the mouth contracts itself and projects the lips to a point while the tongue drops its upper surface and retires within the lower jaw-the tone becomes obscure and sounds in succession ä, o, etc. Let these movements be carried to their extreme limit, and the exerted organs approximate so closely

1 [It may, possibly, be worth while to observe that in testing the principles of this essay, the reader should drop from his mind the names of the letters treated of, and attend simply to their sound. And the sound, again, for the most part, particularly in the case of the vowels, is that which is represented by the German, Italian and Spanish (Continental) alphabets as distinguished from the English. What this sound is, or the true enunciation of each letter, as here employed, will best be understood from a careful study of the essay itself, and to this the consonants may safely be left; but a provisional exhibition of the principal vowelsounds (though of only proximate accuracy) may not be unacceptable.

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in churn,) but made by holding the organs firmly as in pronouncing o, while endeavoring to sound e (long a).

ü pronounced


Fr. u in vu, made by placing

the organs as for u (oo), and then, with only a slight motion of the tongue towards the under teeth, giving out the e sound. (See Sears's edition of Nöhden's German Grammar, p. 37, and Fosdick's Introduction to the French

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