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more heartily, than perhaps I had ever done in my life, by a description of his pains, in caricature.'
To conclude. He was sincere in friendship, and gratitude was one of the most powerful affections of his mind;-He never forgot a favour. Modest and unpretending merit, found in him a benevolent and disinterested protector; and liberty, and truth, and piety, an ardent and strenuous defender and friend. To sum up all in a word, he lived as a christian and he died as a christian.
The monument of Gessner is erected in a melancholy grove of cypress and elms, in the valley of Zurich. It was a spot that he loved, and is made sacred, by his meditations and prayers. There is a meeting of the waters there, formed by the effusions of the lakes Limmat and Sihll. The traveller often makes a pilgrimage to this honoured grove; it is also, a favourite walk with the inhabitants of the valley, and you may see them, often leaning over the tomb of the poet, or else wandering in small groups, near the dark and moss covered rock, where in life he was wont to recline.
ART. IV.-English Phonology, or an Essay towards an Analysis
and Description of the Component Sounds of the English Language. By Peter S. Duponceau.—Published in the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. Vol. I. No. 17–New
Series. THE THE author of this memoir has been long known to the literary
world, as a highly accomplished linguist. Having in his youth acquired at the best schools of France (his native country), a familiar acquaintance with the ancient learned languages, and with many of their modern ramifications in the southern kingdoms of Europe, he became on his arrival in America, eminently useful to our revolutionary government, by the part which he took in its foreign correspondence. Uniting subsequently, the arduous studies of the civilian with the philosophical recreations of general literature, he has gradually extended his view to almost every cultivated language of Teutonic or Slavonic origin. In oriental learn. ing also, he has made respectable acquisitions; and the Literary Transactions of our Philosophical Society, lately published, evince the critical attention he has bestowed even on the native dialects of this western world.
How then can we, who occupy but a point on the great circle of languages which he has traversed, venture to criticise his treatise on a subject, for which none but a philologist, conscious of vast attainments, would have imagined a name. The schoolboy instructing Hannibal in the art of war, was not less presumptuous than we should be in attempting to review the whole work of Mr. Du. ponceau, to whose general speculations we shall cheerfully listen, with the same mute attention that the simple peasant bestows on the recital of a voyager returned from the Terra Incognita—but whenever he portrays the landscape of our own valley, in colours which we deem untrue to nature, we must be permitted to interrupt him with our homely impressions. In other words, we do not pretend to sit in judgment, but humbly claim the privilege to plead
the cause of our much injured orthoepists (Walker and his col. · leagues) against this learned civilian, who roundly accuses them
of having laboured to no other end than to vulgarize their mothertongue, and to increase its confusion.
We are emboldened to undertake their defence, by the consideration, that how much soever a knowledge of the principles of uni, versal grammar, derived from the study of numerous languages, may contribute to elucidate the external form and structure of each, it does by no means give to the most skilful etyinologist any advantage over his cultivated countrymen in understanding the sounds of their own tongue; much less can it enable him to set aside the authority of those whose ears and whose voices have been practised from infancy in dialects which he may have adopted. Mr. D. acknowledges the great difficulty with which Frenchmen acquire some of the simplest sounds of our language-a difficulty which, by long residence among us, he, we thought, until we perused this essay, had completely overcome; but may not the radical differ, ences which exist between French and English, particularly in point of accentuation, have occasioned certain prejudices of the ear, which with all the delicacy of his perceptions, he has not been able sussessfully to combat? and may not even the multiplicity of his attainments in other languages, where he had not the benefit of early, simple, and strong impressions, have tended still further to confound his ear, and to make him fancy, among foreign sounds in general, differences and resemblances which have no existence in naturel-Cicero has somewhere remarked, that the speech of our ancestors is preserved in its greatest purity, in the mouths of women, and this may be ascribed in part to the delicacy of their organization, but chiefly, we think, to their education and habits, which prevent in general the adulteration of their vernacular tongue, by foreign mixtures. But be this as it may, we hope to prove by the assistance of our masters, Walker and others, whom we still regard as the most successful analysts of the English language, that Mr. D. 'has wasted his ingenuity in impracticable refinements upon its sounds, not unlike those refinements upon its sense to which Dugald Stewart alludes, in the following observations:—May there not be some risk, that by such etymological studies, when pushed to an excess, and magnifitd in the imagina-. tion to an undue importance, the taste may lose more in the nicety of its discrimination, than the understanding gains in point of useful knowledge? One thing I can state as a fact, confirmed by my own observation so far as it has reached, that I have hardly met with an individual habitually addicted to them, who wrote his own language with ease and elegance. Nor will this effect of these pur. suits appear surprising, when it is considered that their tendency is to substitute the doubtiul niceties of the philologer and the
antiquarian, as rules of decision, in cases where there is no legitimate appeal but to custom and to the ear.' Philosophical Essays,
But it is time that our preface should give place to our author's. * By the word phonology,' says he, “I mean in general, the knowledge of the sounds produced by the human voice. However simple and limited this knowledge may appear, it is, in my opinion, more extensive and complicated than is generally thought. Every body knows how difficult it is to acquire the correct pronunciation of a foreign language, but the true cause of this difficulty has never been satisfactorily explained. It has been ascribed to accent, to a tone of voice peculiar to each nation, and which foreigners, after a certain age, cannot imitate. This is certainly true, but it is true also, that these national tones proceed principally from a difference in the articulation of elementary sounds, particularly vowels.'
Here follows a very learned detail (which our limits do not permit us to quote), of sounds which are familiar to particular nations—but which others cannot, without the greatest difficulty, imitate; and of which no idea can be conveyed by alphabetical signs through the eye, to those who have never heard them uttered, even when they have been supposed sufficiently similar to be represented in different languages by the same letters.
From the facts stated, the following inference is drawn:
“May I not then lay it down as a very probable position, that there is no man on earth who has ears to discriminate, and vocal organs to execute, all the varieties of sound that exist in human languages? and if there were such a man, he could not make himself understood, but by those equally gifted with himself, and only by word of mouth. For how could he convey to the mental ear by means of written signs, sounds which the natural ear never heard before? This shows the great difficulty, if not impossibility of representing in an universal alphabet, all the sounds and shades of sounds actually existing in human language. I do not mean to say that certain degree of approximation cannot be reached, and that by comparing together the powers of those languages which are best and most generally known,
--something like a general, though incomplete alphabet of sounds might not be formed, which the learned at least might understand; and which might be made use of to convey to the mind through the eye, a tolerable idea of the pronunciation of idioms yet unknown, and to represent the sounds of languages foreign to each other, in a manner more fixed and determinate than has hitherto been done; but this is a work of much greater difficulty than will at first sight be imagined. To acquire even an imperfect knowledge of so many different sounds, to analyse and compare them with each other, class them according to their respective analogies, and graduate them by an accurate scale, and after all to communicate in an intelligible manner through the eye, the result of all these studies, requires almost an Herculean labour, from which, perhaps, might result a curious and interesting sci
ence; which, until a better name can be devised, I would denomi. nate the Phonology of Language.'
Having lawfully constructed of Greek materials, a new name for an impracticable science, our author 'makes an attempt to apply his principles to the English language:' and here though he ex. presses himself with his characteristic modesty, calling his Essay a 'rude outline which he hopes to see filled up by an abler head and more skilful hand,' it is evident that he anticipates a decided victory over a host of our orthoepists, whose native strength, we believe, he has very much under.rated. Their weapons, though perhaps too ponderous for our arm, we shall endeavour to wield, acting merely on the defensive, and should we be discomfited, stili hope to make good a retreat under the protecting shield of some literary Ajax.
• Various attempts have been made,' says Mr. D. to ascertain and fix the pronunciation of the English language; none of which has yet completely succeeded.'
True, nor has absolute perfection in any art or science ever been attained. To pursue it, says Dr. Johnson, is, « like the first inhabitants of Arcadia, to chase the sun, which, when they had reached the hill where he seemed to rest, was still beheld at the same distance from them.'
• The reason of this failure,' our author conceives, 'is obvious. In. stead of applying the process of analysis to the sounds themselves, in. dependent of, and abstracted from the signs which represent them, grammarians have looked to the signs in the first instance, and proceeded from them to the sounds which they are supposed to represent. Hence we are told of the sound a, the sound e, the sound o, when in fact there are no such sounds in nature, a, e, and o being arbitrary signs which may represent one sound as well as another, and are not always pronounced in the same manner.'
That very able grammarians have not always expressed themselves with logical precision, we freely admit; but that any one of them has considered the characters a, e, and o respectively as identified or necessarily connected with a particular elementary sound, Mr. D. himself cannot seriously mean to insinuate. The English have chosen to name the letter a after its sound in fate, the Irish, after its sound in far, and the Scotch, after the sound in fall; but as long as the vocal sound heard in each of these words is regarded as a distinct element of speech, no .confusion' can result from the different appellations assigned to the letter; and if we number this letter d, å, and å, as Mr. Walker has done (adding a to distinguish its short sound in fat from its long sound in far) we may freely use the form a in respelling every accented syllable in our language, in which either of those vocal elements is found; for the number attached to the form must indicate with certainty the sound intended. We say every accented syllable; for none of our lexicographers have pretended to give any accurate description of the unaccented vocal sounds, and we think it will be discovered that Mr. Duponceau's efforts to ascertain them have been abortive.
It must be acknowledged that in the actual state of our written language, many other letters and combinations of letters usurp the powers of these simple elements; for example, ai in pain, ea in great, eigh in
neigh, assume the sound of a in fate: but according to the plan which our grammarians have adopted, there is no difficulty in detecting the usurpation, for these words being by certain simple rules of English orthography, reduced to a new notation, after a careful consideration of their component sounds, become páne, gråte, nd, and the number affixed refers them to their proper element. In the course of our comments we shall have much more to say on this subject, but at present are contented to express our firm conviction, that Mr. D's predecessors have, in analysing our oral language, exercised the faculty of abstraction, at least as extensively as himself. We leave the proofs to be de duced from an exhibition of the results obtained.
• But,' continues our author, sounds which are similar have been represented by different signs, and vice versa. Thus while the sound of & in the word all, and of o in the word fortune, are exactly alike, the former is represented in Walker's Pronouncing Dictionary by the sign à, and the latter by the sign ở, and on the other hand the sound of a in fame, and that of ai in fair, are both represented in that book by the
Now if Mr. Walker's 83d, be compared with his 167th principle, it will be seen that he considered the sound of o in fortune perfectly equivalent to that of a in fall, and consequently could never have intended to exhibit å and Ở in his marginal key as distinct elements of speech. With some view, therefore, to practical utility, rather than philosophical display, must he have determined on this double expression of one sound, and his object is to us sufficiently manifest and desirable, viz. to avoid, in repelling a very large class of syllables, either à diphthongal representation of a simple vocal sound, or such a representation by a single vowel, as might mislead an incautious consulter of his dictionary. For example, if the word former be re-spelt faur.mur, the combination au must be admitted as an archetype into the key—if re-spelt får-mur, it may, by inattention, be mistaken for a different word: but by placing nộr at the head of the page, (with the explanation that the broad sound è in nor is like the broad å in fall) Mr. Walker was enabled to adhere very nearly to the ordinary orthograhy, as in fór-mur, and by that means to render a reference to the key extremely simple and easy
Fastidious theorists may accuse him of redundancy, for not having excluded è from his alphabetical table of simple and diphthongal sounds, but plain learners, like ourselves, will, perhaps, rather give him credit for recollecting that by labouring to be brief he might possibly become obscure.' Influenced by similar considerations, he has retained, when not absolutely necessary, the mute e at the end of syllables, in order to indicate, at first sight, the length of the foregoing vowel. Thus, glade and fåte might have been reduced to glad and fåt; but the former notations are obviously preferable. Moreover, the admission of è into the key, so far from being a blemish, is truly a most ingenious preliminary to facilitate the explanation of the diphthongal sounds contained in the words oil and pồund.
The next charge against Walker, of deficiency in his elementary scheme, though of more serious import, is not unanswerable: for if when we attempt to unite in pronunciation the vowel a, as heard in fate, with a succeeding r, which consonant is to be found operating uniformly in every example that Mr. Duponceau has given or can give of the sound