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man, if his chief good and market of his time, be but to sleep and feed?" The customs of poets in writing participles vary, as dropt, dropp'd, dropped; the last form is here uniformly adopted, as the object of this work is to inculcate that mode of spelling which is in present use by the educated classes in writing prose. There is a change now going on in words ending in our, and in others with a doubled consonant after an unaccented vowel, which may necessitate alterations in some future editions, if this work should live to require them.

Grammarians sometimes mean letters and sometimes sounds, when they use the terms vowels and consonants; when they use the term diphthong they sometimes mean digraphs or two letters together, though they represent only one sound, and sometimes they mean two sounds in combination. Much ambiguity is caused by this lax method of using these and other terms, and for the sake of clearness, the terms below will always be used in conformity with their definitions.

Occasionally even in this work the terms consonant and vowel are used, without the qualifying words letter or sound, but in no case where any ambiguity could arise.


A LETTER is an alphabetical character to represent a sound. A DIGRAPH is two letters together to represent either a simple or a compound sound, as oo, sh, oi, ch, in the words, moon, shine, boil, church.

A DIPHTHONG is TWO VOWEL SOUNDS in combination, and is sometimes represented by one letter as i, u, in mitre and unit, and sometimes by two letters, as, oi and ow in boil and now.

A COMPOUND Consonant or vowel letter, is one which stands for two sounds as ī, ū, x, j.

The ASPIRATE is that breathing preceding a vowel sound, which is represented by the letter h.

ACCENTED is said of that syllable which is spoken louder than the adjoining ones, as men in momentous.


These are relative terms usually applied to

vowel sounds, the word long meaning a duration of about

half as long again as short.

WHISPER and WHISPERED are used to denote the sound of air forced through small apertures, as the ƒ in fife.

VOICE, is the tone formed by the vocal chords at the glottis,

and is modified by the form of the mouth into the various vowel sounds.

VOCAL, having the quality of voice, as the sound v, which is a combination of whisper and voice.

PHONIC, the true representation of the sounds of a language by means of the letters of its alphabet.

PHONETIC, the true representation of the sounds of language by means of an enlarged and special alphabet of about forty letters.

A VOWEL SOUND is vocalised breath issuing from the mouth, without any impediment caused by contact of the tongue with the palate, teeth or lips.

A CONSONANT SOUND is one which is impeded by the contact of the tongue or lips, or by the breath being forced through very small apertures.

A CONTINUOUS SOUND is one whose commencement, middle and end, are absolutely the same, and which can be prolonged at will.

AN EXPLOSIVE SOUND is one which is loudest at its commencement, and can be sounded but a very short time.


A SHORT description of the Organs by which Speech is produced, and of the materials from which all the Elementary sounds of Language are formed, will lead to a clearer under

standing of the principles of Orthography as developed in the following pages.

The Instruments of Speech are the LUNGS, which are a natural pair of Bellows, terminating in the Trachea or Windpipe. These are two large spongy masses containing innumerable air-cells, and are situated in what is called the chest. When fully inflated, the lungs of a middle-sized man will contain about 16 cubic inches of air. The right and left Lungs are completely separated from each other by a membrane called the pleura, which lines the thoracic cavity, and divides it into two chambers, by passing double across it from the breast-bone to the back, and thus forming a closed sac for each lung. By this arrangement injuries or disease affecting one lung are not necessarily communicated to the other, which may still continue faithfully to perform its functions. When the lungs are full, the muscles contract the cavity in which they are placed, and the air is expelled; when empty, the chest is again distended by involuntary muscular action, and the outer air rushes in through the mouth or the nose to fill up the vacuum; the countless air-cells become inflated, and the lungs become a bellows or reservoir of air to be gradually expended in the process of speaking. Respiration is generally an instinctive or involuntary act, but in speaking, singing, whistling, or playing upon a musical wind instrument, it is controlled and regulated by the will, and more especially so in the expiration or expulsion of air from the lungs. The position of the body considerably affects the capacity or extent of the cavity of the chest in which the lungs are situated, and consequently the more or less quantity of air inhaled by them for the purposes of speech. An upright position of the body, the head erect, and the shoulders thrown back so as to expand or make broader the chest, are favourable to obtaining a large supply of air, and as its result, to the imparting strength to the voice; whilst, on the contrary, a bending position with the head hanging over the chest, and a bringing forward of the shoulders, lead to a smaller supply of air, and to a diminution of power in the voice.

The lungs communicate with the TRACHEA or WINDPIPE, which is a narrow elastic tube from three-quarters of an inch to an inch in diameter, kept open by hard rings of gristle, and serving as the vent of the bellows. It is situated at the front part of the neck, the oesophagus or meat-pipe being placed behind the windpipe. The windpipe is the communication by which the air is drawn into and expelled from the lungs. Inspiration is the term used for drawing air into the lungs, expiration, for expelling it from them, and respiration, for the combined actions of breathing in and out.

At the upper portion of the windpipe is situated the LARYNX, a gristly box which may be easily felt by the finger in the middle and fore part of the neck. The Bellows and pipe (the lungs and trachea), may properly be said to end here, and that wonderful apparatus of speech to commence, which begins at the Larynx and terminates at the lips. The Larynx is a box of gristle with moveable sides, furnished with a very complex set of muscles for altering its shape, and traversed by a highly elastic membrane which is like that at the top of a drum, split into two by a tongue-shaped aperture called the glottis. The two membranes thus divided are called the Cordæ vocales or vocal ligaments, and are capable of being put in motion by the expired breath, that is, by the breath which leaves the lungs, but not by the inspired breath or that which enters the lungs. When these ligaments are put into vibration a peculiar sound is heard which we call voice. The vocal ligaments are, therefore, membranes which are held fast on all sides but one, and are capable of vibrating at their loose external edges. The breath, in escaping from the lungs, must necessarily pass through this box, which is open at both ends. The vocal ligaments will not vibrate unless they are brought into a proper position, and stretched to a certain degree of tightness; hence, all expired breath is not necessarily vocal. Unvocal breath is generally called whisper, in contradistinction to vocal breath or voice. The sound produced in the Larynx may be compared to that of an organ-pipe, having no distinctive character of its own, except pitch, and being exactly the

same whether a consonant or a vowel sound has to be produced from it. The whispered or vocal breath is, therefore, modified into the various sounds of speech in passing from the Larynx through the oral cavity, that is, from the uvula or termination of the soft palate to the lips.

Above the Larynx, and behind and above the uvula is the cavity of the Pharynx; there is also the cavity of the Nose, and that of the Mouth, all of which perform important parts in the production of Speech.

The TONGUE, being chiefly composed of muscular fibres, and having a thin, flexible tip and a large fleshy root, is capable of taking a great variety of positions and shapes, and performs a most important part in the production both of vowel and consonant sounds.

The pitch or compass of the speaking voice is about one octave, and of the singing voice, two octaves. Whispered breath, as well as tone, is also capable of pitch, that is, of being lower or higher-graver or more acute-but the differences are not so easily recognised by the ear as those of the singing voice. The voices of women are an octave higher

in pitch than those of men.

Sometimes there are affections of the throat which take away the power of vibration in the Corda vocales for weeks or even months, and it is then impossible to pronounce the vocal consonants; the sounds of b, d, g, z, v, &c., are changed into p, t, k, s, and f; and the words bib, did, gig, vivid, become pip, tit, kick, fifit, and so on.


In ordinary breathing there is little noise, and to hear it we must be close to the person, but if the breath be forced, at the ordinary pressure on the lungs, through very small

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