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on Book I;
THE account which I have given of the several letters took its origin in the desire of finding a tolerably firm basis for forming a judgment of the real sound of each. But any inquiry of this kind presupposes some acquaintance with at least the leading divisions of articulate sound, so far as they are actually heard from the lips of Europeans and Western Asiatics. For this reason I have prefixed to the discussion of Latin sounds, a brief account of articulate sound in general, omitting, however, many of the finer distinctions, and many of the sounds (chiefly Asiatic and Slavonic) which there seems little room for supposing were known to, or at least represented by, Greeks or Romans. Etymology becomes a science only when its physiological conditions are understood and applied, and I believe no greater service could be rendered to Comparative Grammar, than the publication of a brief and clear Grammar of Phonetic, with illustrations (a) from misformations of sounds, such as are now heard from individuals; (b) from varieties of sound in living languages and dialects; and (c) from well ascertained facts in the history of words. To write such a book would require, besides knowledge and caution, an acute and trained ear, as well as sensitive and flexible organs. Few possess these qualifications. I cannot pretend to any of them. At present, the only book which can be named as combining these different parts of the discussion in relation to the ancient languages is Max Müller's Lectures, Vol. II. But it is not nearly full enough.
1 A few copies of these Observations and of Book I. were privately distributed in April last. Some verbal corrections, and one addition (p.), have been since made.
Some other books which I have used are named in the note to P. I1. But to these must be added Alex. J. Ellis' elaborate work (not yet finished) on Early English Pronunciation- --a work with which I did not become acquainted till after Book I. was stereotyped, and of which I have consequently made hardly any use in that book (except in the list of vowels). When I see the admirable mode in which English pronunciation is there discussed, I feel how very imperfect, nay almost perfunctory, by the side of it is any inquiry into Latin pronunciation, which has yet been made. And yet Mr Ellis' inquiry is into the pronunciation of a language, still living, and familiar, and only five or six centuries old. An inquiry into classical Latin is into a pronunciation which has not been uttered by any accredited representative within the last seventeen hundred years. Still I persuade myself, that the pronunciation which I have given, may be taken to be one which would at least have been intelligible to Cicero or Cæsar, and which would not have differed from his own, more than the pronunciation of educated men in one part of England would differ from that heard in other parts.
I have assigned little weight to the accounts of pronunciation given by Roman grammarians, except so far as they imply the nonexistence, at the time, of sounds which the letters might on some other grounds be supposed to have had. Some isolated statements made by Cicero and Quintilian are worth careful notice; but to describe sounds properly requires a large acquaintance with possible and actual sounds, and who in the ancient world had that? It is absurd to see loose statements of writers of uncertain age, but probably between A.D. 200 and 600, and often nearer the latter than the former, taken as authenticated evidence of the pronunciation of Cicero and Cæsar, and conclusions deduced from them by writers who have themselves a loose knowledge of sounds, and that derived only from books, not from close study of the human voice itself. Assuming that the Roman spelling was in the main phonetic, i.e. that it varied with the sound, (though doubtless the change in the spelling lagged behind the change of sound,) I am
1 On the pronunciation of Greek a pamphlet by Friedrich Blass, über die Aussprache des Griechischen (1870), has lately come to me. will be found well worth reading.
sure that the only safe guide is the actual history of the letters, aided by a knowledge of their possible and likely sounds.
I have thought it would be convenient if I put together here some of the facts and arguments upon which my view of the Roman pronunciation is based, instead of leaving them to be collected from the accounts of the several letters in Book I. Some points I have treated at greater length than others, because there is not that general agreement which would permit of my using more dogmatic brevity. Prof. Max Müller has recently (Academy, Feb. 15, 1871) thrown doubt on what he fairly states to be the conclusion almost all scholars have come to with respect to the Latin c. Prof. Munro has in a privately circulated pamphlet1 replied to his arguments on this question, besides expressing his own opinion on most other points of Latin pronunciation. My own argument was written before I saw Mr Munro's remarks, but I have since taken one or two hints from them. I am glad to find my views on the pronunciation of Latin generally accord closely with those of one whose fine taste and many-sided scholarship need no commendation from me. I have mentioned candidly my difference on some points, though I am well aware how probable it is that I am wrong.
The question What was the Roman pronunciation? is quite distinct from the question, Shall we adopt it? Prof. Müller's argument has a tendency to confuse them. I quite admit that a change in our pronunciation of Latin is inconvenient, but the inconvenience is greater in imagination than in reality, and will be soon overcome, whilst the benefit to any student of philology will be very great. With our English pronunciation of the vowels, of j, v, c, g, r and others, the development of the language becomes an inextricable riddle, and the student naturally gets into the fatal habit of dissociating letters from sounds. Nor can it be said that we shall not be approaching to the pronunciation of continental nations. We shall approach them considerably at once, and if, as seems to me probable, they change their pronunciation eventually, we shall be coincident with them in proportion as we and they respectively have succeeded in ascertaining the truth. Nothing short of that can or ought to be the common goal and place of meeting. Argu
1 The reply to Prof. Müller is now reprinted in Academy, March 15.
ment from some supposed superiority of one sound, as sound, to another, seems to me worthless: the question is one of historical fact, not of æsthetical selection1; and we shall do better in speaking Latin as the Romans spoke it, if we can but discover how, than in either indulging fancy or being swayed by delusive associations however habitual.
I assume throughout, until the contrary be proved, that a letter has but one sound, except so far as it is necessarily altered by its position as initial or medial or final. The phenomenon presented by most letters in English of sound and sign having but a fortuitous connexion is, I believe, nearly unique.
On v consonant.
The following are the reasons for the pronunciation of v consonant as Eng. w, or perhaps sometimes as French ou (in oui), and not as the labio-dental v.
1. The same letter was used without any distinction for the vowel and the consonant sound. There is no doubt that the vowel sound was English oo. 'By a slight appulse of the lips the vowel oo becomes the consonant w.' (Bell, p. 151). 'W is often considered to be a vowel, but is not so.' (Ellis, p. 580). At the same time the Romans were quite alive to the distinction. The emperor Claudius proposed a new letter, and Quintilian thought it would have been desirable to have one. For (he says) neither uo, as the ancients wrote, nor uu, as those in his time wrote, expressed the sound; which he compares to the digamma (I. 27. 26, XII. 10. 29, quoted in Book I. p. 29). The later grammarians, e.g. Terentianus Maurus, dwell at greater length on this difference. This makes it probable that the sound was rather w than French ou. Comp. Gell. XIX. 14 with id. X. 4.
2. A sound practically identical with w is generally considered to be the sound of u when following q. It is probable, indeed, as Mr Ellis says, that qu in Latin represents only a
1 If the matter were really one of taste, I should not be afraid of putting the questions: Is a sibilant or buzz a finer sound than a mute or. semivowel? Are seas and cheese pleasanter sounds than keys, sin and chin than kin; or veal and vain more expressive than weal and wane?
labialised guttural, not a clearly pronounced kw, for it never lengthened the preceding syllable: but then the nearest approach to such a labialised k is kw, certainly not kv (comp. Quint. 12. 10. § 29).
3. The vowel o, when following v (consonant or vowel), was retained till the Augustan age and later, though after other letters it had usually changed to u; e.g. servos, later servus; quom, later (in 4th century) quum. Compare this fact with Bell's statement: 'When w is before oo, the combination is rather difficult from the 'little scope the organs have for their articulative (i.e, consonantal) 'action: the w is in consequence often omitted by careless speak'ers, wool being pronounced ool, woman, ooman, &c.' (Bell, p. 171). It is worth notice, that in English the pure Italian a was retained after w in several words (water, &c.), and in the 17th or 18th century gave way to its present usual sound of aw (Ellis, 187-8).
4. u and v were frequently passing into one another: compare milvus and miluus, relĭcŭum and reliqvum; genua sounded as genva, pituita as pitvita, tenuia as tenvia (§ 92).
Again v is vocalised in soluo for solvo, acuæ (Lucr.) for aquæ, siluæ for silvæ, &c. (§ 94. 2). So solvo has solūtus, volvo, volūtus, just as acuo has acutus,
5. v between two vowels constantly falls away, not sapped by a slow decay, but as it were melted before the eye and ear of the people. Compare amaveram, amaram; audiveram, audieram; cavitum, cautum; ævitas, ætas; juvenior, junior; reversum, rursum; providens, prudens, &c. (§ 94). This phenomenon, repeatedly occurring, seems hardly explicable, except on the assumption of the v being a vowel, or the closest approach to a vowel.
6. vin Latin never (except in nivis, and the compounds bivium, tri-vium, &c.) follows short i. Now there is no difficulty in pronouncing Engl. Iv, but iw is very far from easy. Indeed ▾ after any short vowel is not common in Latin. I have only noticed the following instances: avis, avus, Bavius, bovis, brevis, cavus, exuviæ, induviæ, favus, fluvius, gravis, Jovis, juvenis, levis, ne-vis (§ 728), novem, novus, ovem, ovis, pluvia, pover(=puer), simpuvium; and the verbs caveo, faveo, juvo, lavo (also luo), moveo, paveo. (The syllable preceding v is in all accented.) The cause of