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vowel is from the Latin word vocalis, vocal, through the French voyelle. It means what can be sounded or form voice by itself. Some ambiguity is connected with the use of the word, inasmuch as it not only denotes a sound, but also the letter which represents the sound. In this chapter it is used to denote the sound, and not the letter.

It has been found that the note of a common organ may take the qualities of all the vowel sounds in succession. This is effected merely by lengthening the tube which confines the vibrations. It would seem, therefore, that the peculiar character of the different vowel sounds depends on the length of the cavity which modifies the voice. In pronouncing the a in father, the cavity seems barely, if at all, extended beyond the throat; in pronouncing the a in all, it reaches to the root of the tongue; and to the middle of the palate in pronouncing the long e in eat; the sound of the long o in oat requires the cavity to be extended to the lips, which must be stretched out to form a cavity long enough to pronounce the u in jute. See GUEST'S English Rhythans.


SECTION CXII.-CONSONANTAL OR CONSONANT SOUNDS. CONSONANTAL SOUNDS are those which cannot be formed without bringing the parts of the mouth into contact.

Thus the sound indicated by the letter p cannot be produced without bring the lips into contact. So the sound indicated by I cannot be pronounced without bringing the tongue and the roof of the mouth near the teeth into contact.

Though the consonantal sounds can be isolated, that is, separated from the vocalic, yet in practice they are joined to vocalic sounds and pronounced with them. For this reason, this class of sounds can be properly called consonants, from the Latin words con, with, sonans, sounding.

The particular consonantal sound that is produced by interrupting the stream of air which flows out in the production of a vowel sound, depends upon what parts of the mouth are brought into contact.



An ARTICULATE SOUND, from articulus, a Latin word for joint, is properly one which is preceded or followed by the closing of the organs of speech, or bringing some parts of the mouth in contact. A consonant is, in the strict sense, an articulation, or an articulate sound; but, in use, the term is frequently extended to vowel sounds. Vowel sounds are produced by the lower organs of speech, and consonantal sounds

Brute animals utter vowel sounds; man only can utter consonantal sounds.

by the upper.

SECTION CXIV.-ANALYSIS OF SYLLABIC SOUNDS. In the analytical examination of words and syllables for the purpose of discovering the elementary sounds of which they are com

posed, we must withdraw our attention from the letters, and fix it upon the sounds themselves. In the common pronunciation of words and syllables, the consonantal sound is not uttered without the vowel sound with which it is connected. But in our analytical examination, we can utter it or partly utter it without the vowel. We can in this way separate an elementary consonantal sound from its associated vowel sound, so far, at least, as to discover its nature. Thus, in analysing the sounds in the combinations indicated by ro, lo, do, po, we can isolate the sounds indicated by r, l, d, P, and pronounce them as if written r-o, l-o, d-o, p-o. In the case of d there is an imperfect sound, in which there is a slight vocality. In the case of p there is

fp but little more than an effort at a sound.


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If the vocal ligaments be so inclined to each other as not to vibrate, the emission of breath from the lungs produces merely a whisper. This whisper may be modified in like manner as the voice by similar arrangements of the organs. Every vocal sound has its correspondent whisper sound.

If you take the sounds of p, f, t, k, s, th in thin, sh in shine, and isolate them from their vowels, and pronounce them, the sound is that of a whisper.

If you treat the sounds of b, v, d, 9, 7, th in thine, z in azure, in the same way, the sound is no whisper, but one at the natural tone · of the voice. The first class are called SURDS, the second class

Sonants. Instead of these, the terms sharp and flat have been used, or aspirate and vocal, and are their equivalents.



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A part of the consonant sounds are CONTINUOUS, and a part are


isolate the sounds of p, b, t, d, k, and g surd, you have no power to prolong the sounds or of resting on them. They escape with the breath at once. It is not so with the sounds of f, v, sh, %, zh, s, l, m, n, r, ng. Here the breath is transmitted by degrees, and the sounds can be prolonged. The first class are explosive, the second continuous. See LATHAM's English Language, and Introduction to WALKER'S Dictionary.

SECTION CXVII.--DR. RUSH'S CLASSIFICATION. I. Tonic Sounds. A-11, a-rt, a-n, a-le, ou-r, 2-sle, o-ld, ee-1, 00-ze, e-rr, e-nd, i-n. These twelve tonic sounds have a vocality, as distinguished from a whisper or aspiration, and admit of indefinite prolongation.

II. SUBTONIC SOUNDS. B-ow, d-are, g-ive, si-ng, l-ove, m-ay, 12-ot, roe, have unmixed vocality ; v-ile, z-one, y-e, w-o, th-en, a-z-ure, have aspiration. Some of the subtonic vocalities are nasal ; as, m, n, ng, b, d, g.

III. ATONIC SOUNDS. U-p, ou-t, ar-k, i-f, ye-e, h-e, wh-eat, th-in, pu-sh. These nine have no vocality, but only a whisper or aspiration. In this classification of the elementary articulate sounds, we have twelve tonic, fourteen subtonic, and nine atonic sounds; in all, thirty-five.

Seven of the tonic elements are dipthongs : a-ll, a-rt, a-n, a-le, 2-sle, o-ld, ou-r. The remaining five are monothongs, having one unaltered sound : ce-l, 00-ze, e-rr, e-nd, i-n.

This classification, though distinguished by great analytical ingenuity and talent, is not so well adapted to the purpose of this work as the one adopted.


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», sin,

21. That of p in pat,


bat, 23.

f , fan, 24. 25. That of th in thin, 26. th, thine, 27.

t 28.

d din,

!, van,


k in kin,



, gun, sonant. surd.




z zed, sonant.

97 surd.

33. That of sh shine, surd. sonant.


», azure, / sonant. surd. sonant.

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39. That of ch in chest, surd.

40. That of j in jest, sonant.



1. The first, the sound of a in father, called the Italian or ancient sound ; the second, the sound of a in fat, called the short or French sound ; the third, the sound of a in faste, called the long or English sound; the fourth, the sound of a in fall, called the German sound, are varieties of one and the same original sound. Of the last there is a shortenel Tariety, as in what. The fourth is allied to the eighth and ninth.

2. The fifth, the sound of e in mete, though considered as the long sound of the sixth, is strictly the long sound of i in fit, the seventh,

3. The sixth, the sound of e in met, is strictly the short sound of a in pole, and not e in mete, as sometimes stated.

4. The seventh, the sound of i in fit, though often considered as allied to i in fine, is, in the opinion of good writers, a shortened variety of the sound of e in meten

5. The eighth, the sound of o in note, bears the same relation to the ninth, that of a in not, as that of a in fate to that of a in fat.

6. The tenth, the sound of u in bull, is closely allied to the eleventh, the sound of oo in pool. They are both varieties of the same sound, pronounced rapidly in the one case and slowly in the other. The two sounds bear the same relation to each other as the sound of a in fate to the sound of c in fat, and of ee in feet to i in fit.

7. The twelfth, the sound of u in but, is regarded as the short sound of u, the long sound being, in this table, put down as diphthongal. 8. The thirteenth, the sound of w in wet

, is allied to the sound of oo in cool. Some writers consider it as identical, and assert that the words will, oo-ill, are sounded alike. It is, however, convenient to consider the w, as in will, as a separate and independent sound. It is sometimes vocalic and sometimes consonantal.

9. The fourteenth, the sound of y in yet, is allied to the sound of e in mete. Some writers consider it as identical, and assert that the words yet and ee-et are sounded alike. It is, however, convenient to consider the y, as in yet, as a separate, independent sound. It is sometimes vocalic and sometimes consonantal.

10. The fifteenth, the sound of h in hot, is by some grammarians classed with the vowel sounds, and by others with the consonant sounds. It is simply a breathing.

11. The sixteenth, the sound of ng in king, is a simple elementary sound, expressed, not by a single elementary sign or letter, but by two letters, or a combination. The sound of ng in king is allied to the sounds of n and g. It differs, however, from the sounds of both of these letters, either single or taken together. The sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth are called nasals, from the organ concerned in their production.

12. The nineteenth, the sound of l in let, and the twentieth, the sound of r in run, are, in some languages, convertible into each other. See Section clxvii.

13. The twenty-first, that of p in pat, and twenty-third, that of f in fan, are in some languages convertible. So are the twenty-second, that of b in bat, and the twenty-fourth, that of v in van. See Section cxxvii.

14. The twenty-fifth, the sound of th in thin, is a simple elementary sound, and, as such, should be expressed by a single letter. Instead of this, it is expressed by two letters, or by a combination, so that, although a simple sound to the ear, it has the appearance of being a compound one to the eye.

15. The twenty-sixt the sound of th in thine, like the sound last mentioned, is a simple sound, expressed, not by a single elementary sign or letter, but by two letters ; but, though different from the sound last mentioned, it is expressed in the spelling in precisely the same way. The th in thin is allied to the sound of t, as in tin. The th in thine is allied to the sound of d, as in dine.

16. The thirty-first, that of 8 in sin, the thirty-second, that of zin zed, the thirtythird, that of sh in shine, thirty-fourth, that of z in azure, are called sibilants, from the property of hissing.

17. The thirty-third, the sound of sh, as in shine, is in the same predicament as sounds 25, 26. It is a simple elementary sound, expressed, not by a single elementary sign or letter, but by two letters in combination. The real sound of h, preceded by s, is very different from that of sh in shine; and the real sound of sh in shine is


different from that of h preceded by s.

18. The thirty-fourth, the sound of z in azure, though without a corresponding sign or letter, is simple and elementary. The sound of - in azure and that of & in pleasure are identical. It might properly be expressed by zh, or a new character. This sound is related to sh in shine, as th in then is related to th in thin.

From the first to the twelfth, inclusive, the sounds are represented by the characters a, e, i, o, u. Those represented by a, o, and u are called broad or strong vowels; those represented by e and i are called small or weak vowels.


From the twenty-first 'to the thirty-fourth inclusive, the consonant sounds allied in pronunciation, or cognate, are arranged in pairs. In each pair, the sound of the even number has vocality

, being produced by the voice, and the sound of the odd number has only an aspiration, or a whisper, being produced by the breath.

Thus, if the sound of p in the first pair be isolated from its vowel, it will be only that of a whisper; but if the allied sound of b bé uttered, it will not be a whisper, but the natural tone of the voice.

As already mentioned, the sounds in the series p are indicated by the terms surd, aspirate, or sharp; and the sounds in the series b are indicated by the terms sonant, vocal, or flat.

The Tahitians confound the cognate elements represented by d and t, and also those represented by b and p.


The Vowel sounds, the Nasal sounds, and the Liquid sounds, are sonant; one half of the remaining sounds are sonant, and the other half and the sound of the letter h are surd.—See Section CXVIII.

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The Vowel sounds, the Nasal sounds, the Liquid sounds, the sounds of f, v, s, sh, zh, of th in thin, of th in thine, are continuous. The sounds of b, of p, t, d, k, 9, and h, are explosive.




1. The first, that of a in father, closes the mouth a little more than the fourth (see below), and, raising the lower jaw, widening the tongue, and advancing it a little nearer to the lips, its sound is less hollow and deep. The second, that of a in fat, being dependent, cannot be easily exhibited in its organic production. For the meaning of the word 'dependent, see Section CLVI. The third, that of a in fate, is formed higher in the mouth than the first, while the tongue widens itself to the cheeks, and raises itself, and thus a less hollow sound is produced than either of the other two. The fourth, that of a in fall, is produced by forcibly driving out the breath, modified in its passage by the tongue's contracting itself to the root, the mouth being open in nearly a circular form.

2. The fifth, that of e in mete, is organically produced by dilating the tongue a little more than in the case of the third, and advancing it nearer to the palate and the lips. In the formation of this sound, the tongue is as near to the palate as possible without touching it.

3. The sixth, that of e in met, is dependent, and cannot easily be exhibited in its organic production. The seventh, that of in fit, is also dependent.

4. The eighth, that of o in note, is formed by nearly the same position of the organ as that of a in fall. But the tongue is a little more advanced into the middle of the mouth, the lips are protruded, and form a round aperture like that of the letter, and the voice is not so deep in the mouth as when the fourth sound of a is produced,

24 Eng. Lang. 6.1


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