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'consonants, they are so short as scarcely to add any appreciable 'quantity to the syllable; wilt, bent, brink, lamp, &c. have thus but 'very little more duration than wit, bet, brick, lap, &c. When these 'letters however come before voiced consonants, they form the 'longest syllables in the language, as in willed, bend, tongues, lambs, 'film, helm which have as long quantity as any syllables containing the same vowels can have. The liquids have the same quantity as ⚫ other varied consonants before vowels. They are however longer 'when final.' M. Bell, Principles, pp. 167, 8.
On the length of Consonants.
Among the consonants there are various degrees of quantity. The vocal articulations are essentially longer than the non-vocal, but in each class there are varieties.
'Thus: The breath obstructives p, t, k are the shortest.
'The breath continuous elements f, th, s, sh are the next longer. 'The shut voice consonants b, d, g are the next in length.
The close continuous voice consonants v, th, z, zh (i.e. French 'j) are longer still.
'The open continuous voice consonants or liquids 1, m, n, ng 'are the longest simple consonants.
'wh, w, y and r are not included because these consonants do not occur after vowels, but only as initials in English; and all initial 'letters, whether voice or breath, are alike in quantity.' M. Bell, Principles, p. 86.
On sharp and flat Consonants. (Comp. § 2.)
vii. Brücke's view is as follows, as stated by v. Raumer: 'The difference between the soft and hard consonants consists ' in this, that the voice sounds with the former and not with the 'latter. When we speak aloud, the voice must actually sound in 'pronouncing the soft consonants: in whispering, the sound of the ' vocal chords falls away altogether, but the place of this is supplied ' in the case of the soft consonants by a rustling in the larynx.ˆˆ Cf. Brücke, p. 55. See von Raumer's criticism (Gesam. Schriften. p. 450 sq.).
Mr Bell's account is as follows: When the glottis is contracted 'to a narrow chink the breath in passing sets the edges of the orifice, i.e. the vocal ligaments, in vibration, and creates sonorous ' voice. When the glottis is open, and the superglottal passage is
'contracted, the breath creates in the latter the non-sonorous rustling or friction, which is called "whisper." The organic effect ' of the open glottis will be understood by whispering a voiced con6 sonant, such as v. The result is clearly different from the sound 'of the non-vocal consonant of corresponding oral formation, f. 'For the former, the fricativeness of the breath is audible from the throat, through the oral configuration; for the latter, the breath 'friction is audible only from the lip.' Visible Speech, p. 46.
In Lower Germany usually, as in England always, the soft (flat) consonants are accompanied (in speaking aloud) with the sound of the voice. But in far the greater part of Germany, i. e. over almost the whole of South and Mid-Germany, the regular pronunciation of the soft consonants is, according to von Raumer, unattended by the faintest sound of the voice. Again, many persons accompany some soft consonants with the sound of the voice, and pronounce others without; e.g. some give the sound of the 'voice to w, but not to s; others to w and s, but not to soft 'mutes; others again, and this is frequent, to the nasals, but not to ' other consonants.' Von Raumer mentions, that a highly educated man of his acquaintance, who never voiced the soft consonants, yet found it inconceivable how people could confuse together such different sounds as the soft and hard consonants. (p. 454.) See also Max Müller, Lectures, II. pp. 118, 131,
On the imperfect vocality of Consonants.
viii. 'All consonants being merely transitional sounds in ordinary utterance, the voice is not equally sustained from the beginning 'to the end of the vocalized articulation. In pronouncing the word 'leave for instance the vocality of the v is clearly heard only at the 'junction of that element with the syllabic sound, the vowel; and 'the initially voiced v sinks imperceptibly into its voiceless corre'spondent f—as if the word were written leavf. This effect does 'not require to be written, as it is inherent in the implied transi'tional character of the consonant.
'When a voiced consonant comes before a non-vocal element, 'the murmur of the vocal letter is heard only at the instant of its 'junction with the preceding vowel, and immediately lost in the transition to the next element, as in the words art, purse, else, felt, 'lance, cant, lamp, ink, &c.
'Foreigners in pronouncing English words generally fail to give 'the requisite abruptness to these "liquids” before voiceless conso
The preceding observations shew that the absolute quantity 'of voice in a vocal consonant depends on the nature of the follow'ing element. Five degrees of absolute quantity in the sound of 'will be recognised in the following combinations; arranged from 'shortest to longest: felt, health, fell'd, realm, fell. M. Bell,
Visible Speech, p. 67.
ix. In French such words as stable, schisme are not pronounced as in English with the final voiced consonant held or prolonged, but either with the faintest vowel murmur following, thus making 1, m initial and consequently shortening the sound, or with an entire remission of the vocal murmur, i. e. with 1, m whispered. See Ellis, p. 52.
X. The same imperfect vocality is noticeable particularly in a comparison of Icelandic with English s.
'S is always (in Icelandic) intentionally s and never z, but z is 'sometimes generated, although it is not recognized. Thus s final ' after 1, n, and perhaps in other cases, generates an intermediate z. 'For example if we compare eins, sins with English stains, scenes 'we should see that the difference of the terminations arises from the s in Icelandic being intentional and predominant, but the z gene'rated and therefore lightly touched, while in English the z is inten'tional and predominant, and although the s is often prolonged and in the church singing of charity children not unfrequently painfully hissed, it is yet merely generated by a careless relaxation of 'the voice, and its very existence is unknown to many speakers. 'I found also that there was an unacknowledged tendency to pro'nounce s final after long vowels in the same way.' Ellis, p. 547.
This is only in accordance with English (and Icelandic) habits of modifying the second consonant to suit the preceding sound. Latin took the opposite course and expelled n when preceding s, or s when preceding m or n, clearly because s was sharp and m or n flat (see §§ 191, 2. 193).
On diphthongs. (Comp. § 20.)
xi. 'The common definition of a diphthong "a complexion or 'coupling of vowels when the two letters send forth a joint sound, so as in one syllable both sounds be heard" (Ben Jonson), is quite 'defective if not absolutely erroneous. Between a coupling of 'sounds and a diphthongal sound the interval is as wide as between a mechanical mixture and a chemical combination. The two 'marks of sound which connote a diphthong are neither of them 'sounded, they do but indicate the two limits, from one of which to 'the other the voice passes continuously in uttering the diphthong;
'it is the filling up of the interval so symbolised which constitutes 'the diphthongal sound and accordingly it is not every two vowel 'symbols which can be conjoined to represent a diphthong, but only 'such two as admit of a continuous uninterrupted passage of the breath from one limit to the other. A diphthong is a sound of an 'essentially different nature from a vowel or any combination of ' vowels. However rapidly two vowels are made to succeed each 'other they will remain two vowels still and never blend into a diphthong. The nearest analogue to the diphthong is the slur in 'vocal music. In general (I do not say always), a diphthong cannot 'be reversed as such; i.e. in the act of reversal it becomes a vowel 'syllable.' J. J. Sylvester, Laws of verse (Lond. 1870), p. 50.
A similar definition of a diphthong is found in Brücke, p. 27. See also Mr Bell, Visible Speech, p. 78. Ellis, p. 51. Comp. Rumpelt,
Deutsche Gram., p. 33.
xii. The general rule for the stress upon the elements of diph'thongs, is that it falls upon the first, but this rule is occasionally 'violated. Thus in many combinations with initial i, u the stress 'falls on the second element, in which case, according to some 'writers, the first element falls into y, w, which, however, others 'deny. In iu, ui the stress is properly on the first element. But 'in Italian chiaro, ghiaccio the i is touched quite lightly, and is almost ' evanescent, so that it would generally be thought enough to denote 'the chi, ghi as palatalised k, g.' Ellis, p.
'There are three principal vowels a, i, u, whence are formed six 'principal diphthongs, each consisting of two vowels connected by a 'gliding sound arising from the continuance of the voice-sound while 'the organs of speech pass from the positions due to one vowel 'to that due to the other. It is this glide which gives the diphthongal 'character. The first element or vowel is usually brief, but it generally receives the accent, and it may be long. The second 'element is generally long and occasionally accented. These six diphthongs are ai, au, ui, iu, ia, ua. The two first, ai, au, degene'rate into the intermediate vowels e, o in various shades, as may be 'satisfactorily proved historically. The two next, ui, iu, generate 'the peculiar middle vowels French eu, u; and the two last 'cause the evolution of the consonants y, w. Of these the diph'thongs ui, iu are the most unstable. The pure sound of the 'first occurs in the French out as now pronounced; it is however ' used as a dissyllable by Moliere1 and must therefore have been pro'nounced as the present French oui. The pure sound of the second, 'iu, is common in Italian as più. In both ui, iu, the stress may be
1 Diez's Etymological Dictionary, sub voce. The older oil was dissyllabic, from hoc illud. (Ellis.)
'laid on either element, and in both the attempt may be made to fuse the diphthong into a single sound. When the stress falls on the 'second element, an Englishman (but not a Welshman) says we, 'you. When the organs of speech endeavour to produce a single 'sound, it differs from either, and results in French eu, u in various 'shades.' Ellis, Philolog. Soc. Trans. 1867. Suppl. p. 58.
On English r.
xiii. The English pronunciation of r is so peculiar, and its effect on vowels so great that an English student studying vowel sounds is liable to fall into many mistakes if he does not bear it constantly in mind. The following passages will explain the matter. The vowels will be denoted by the numbers in the list on p. 9.
'R is produced when the breath is directed over the upturned tip ' of the tongue so as to cause some degree of lingual vibration. In 'order to effect this, the breath must be obstructed at all other 'points, that the force of the stream may be concentrated on the tip; and the tongue must be held loosely to enable it to vibrate readily. The vibration may be produced in every degree from the 'soft tremor of the English r, which merely vibrates the edge of the tongue, to the harsh rolling of the Spanish rr, which shakes the 'whole organ. The trilled or strongly vibrated r is never used in English.
'Between vowels as in merit the r is strongest, but it has only a 'momentary tremor; for consonants between vowels are always 'short in English.
'r initial has the consonantal vibration, but only of the edge of 'the tongue.
'Final r is the 3rd vowel. When the tongue is raised just 'enough to mould the passing stream of air, but not yield to it, we ' have the condition for the final r. The aperture for the emission ' of the voice is so free that the vowel quality of the sound is scarcely, if at all, affected. When the succeeding word however 'begins with a vowel, the final r has generally the effect of medial 'r, to avoid hiatus, as in her own, or else, &c.' M. Bell, Principles, p. 189.
xiv. 'The open vowel quality of the English r draws all pre'ceding closer vowels to a greater degree of openness than they have 'before consonants. This is particularly noticeable in the 16th and '8th vowels, which are regularly changed into the 15th and 7th before r (3rd vowel). But the 18th and 10th-the closest vowelsequally illustrate the tendency. Very few English speakers pronounce ee (18th), and oo (10th), distinctly before r, at least in