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As an introduction to his dictionary, Mr. Worcester has prefixed several brief essays, clear and succinct in style, and at the same time sufficiently comprehensive, on the following subjects-1. Principles of Pronunciation; 2. Orthography; 3. English Grammar; 4. Origin, Formation, and Etymology of the English Language; 5. Archaisms, Provincialisms, and Americanisms; 6. History of English Lexicography.

In treating of pronunciation, Mr. Worcester begins with that crux criticorum, as every author of a pronouncing dictionary must feel it to be, the key to the vowel sounds, denoted by certain marks or figures to be annexed to the vowels in all the words in the vocabulary. It is doubtless difficult for any orthoëpist fully to satisfy himself in this matter, and it is very certain he cannot perfectly convey his own ideas of all the minute distinctions of sound to other persons. The inconstancy of our vowel sounds, and the great diversity that in many words exists between the orthography and the pronunciation, render it difficult to apply, to its full extent, a system of notation by arbitrary marks. English, says La Harpe, would be half French, were it not for its "inconcevable prononciation." "The extreme viciousness of the English pronunciation seems to be in conflict with the ar ticulation of the human voice." This is more vivacious than philosophical. Our pronunciation cannot appear more vicious to Frenchmen, or to conflict more with natural articulation, than theirs does to us.

We will not undertake to say how the present race of critics in France speak of the irregularities of their own language; but one of the French Encyclopedists drew a picture of the contrariety between its orthography and its pronunciation, which we should consider greatly exaggerated as a picture of the English language.

"It has happened," he says, " by the alterations which rapidly succeed each other in pronunciation, and by the corrections which are slowly introduced in writing, that the pronunciation and writing do not correspond. And though societies of men of letters have been charged with the business of reducing them to rules, so as to harmonize together, they are still found to be at an inconceivable distance from each other; so that two things, which in their origin were imagined faithfully to represent one another, differ not much less than the portraits of the same person at very distant periods of his life. In fine, the disagreement has become

so excessive, that no one dares to attempt a remedy. We pronounce one language; we write another; and being accustomed, during the remainder of life, to the inconsistencies which have caused us so many tears in childhood, if we should renounce our bad orthography for one nearer to the pronunciation, we should not be able to recognize our spoken language under the new combination of characters."

Mr. Worcester's key to the sounds of the vowels exhibits a more minute analysis than that of Walker. This is a dry subject for commentary, and ours shall be very brief. Walker's Key represents but four sounds of the letter a; namely, the long slender English sound, as in fate; the long Italian, as in far; the broad German, as in fall; and the short Italian, as in fat. To these Mr. Worcester adds a long before r, as heard in fare, rare, pair, and bear. It may not be amiss to remark, that bear has an anomalous pronunciation. We have the same sound in pear, swear, wear, and perhaps a few other words of the same class, which do not occur to us. But the common sound of ea before r, is that which is familiar to us in clear, dear, drear, fear, gear, &c. But words having the same form as fare and pair have uniformly, if we mistake not, the same sound of a that is denoted by these words. For want of marking this variety in the sound of a, Walker has sometimes given to words of this form the long sound of a in hate, and sometimes that of a in hat, where neither represents the true sound, and consequently the reader is liable to be misled. It is not probable that Walker pronounced the word rare with the long slender English sound of a in fate; but his notation so teaches. Nor do we believe that he considered this sound as applied to the a in parent any thing more than an approximation. Unfortunately, some persons, who have looked for perfection in his representation of vowel sounds, have acquired the habit of an affected pronunciation of this word, and others of the same class, such as apparent, care, careful, fare, farewell.

It cannot be doubted that Walker, who had analyzed very carefully the vowel sounds as affected by the consonants, perceived the peculiarity of sound occasioned by r following the vowel, in examples like those we have cited; although we do not find it remarked upon in his critical examination of the power of the letters. Mr. Worcester has done good

service in this addition to the key of the vowel. The propriety of the other addition to his key, that of a intermediate, having neither the short sound, as in fat, nor the Italian, as in far, we think is apparent. This sound is denoted in the key by the arbitrary vowel mark on the words fast, branch, grasp, and grass. To the vowel in these words, and others of the same class, Walker gives the short sound. The Italian sound of a in such words, which we generally hear from those who have bestowed little care upon pronunciation, it appears to us, approaches nearer to the true sound than that which is noted by Walker.

To the letter e Walker gives in his table of vowel sounds only the common long and short sounds, as in me and met. Mr. Worcester adds e, like a in rare, exemplified in heir, there, where. Here, again, the imperfection of Walker's notation appears. For the purpose of indicating the sound of the vowel, he spells these words with a long, as in fate; and the last of them, in the following awkward manner, hware and hware-az. He probably never distorted his mouth so as to pronounce them according to this orthography. Another addition in Mr. Worcester's key to the same letter is what he calls the short and obtuse sound, as in her, herd, fern, fervid. Some of these, also, for the sake of indicating the true sound, Walker was obliged to spell with a different vowel. Thus her is directed to be pronounced hur, like u in tub. But we cannot come at this sound with the vowel before r, except by the help of another syllable, as in hur-ry. Whether we gain any thing by such a process, every one can judge. It is pretty certain, however, that no orthoëpist has skill enough to lead one astray in pronouncing the word. Not exactly thus is it with herd, to which Walker gives the short vowel sound, like e in met. It is possible, by very labored self-training, to give to this word the strange and indescribable sound which we have heard in the utterance of earth, erth, with short e, a sound so difficult, that Walker proposed it with many grains of allowance, and for the sake of guarding against "a coarse, vulgar pronunciation, as if written urth. There is, indeed," he says, "but a delicate difference between this and the true sound, but quite sufficient to distinguish a common from a polite speaker."

Thus it appears, that Walker's table of sounds, in regard as well to the letter e as to the letter a, is not sufficiently

complete to indicate all the legitimate sounds, and that he was obliged to recur to indirect methods to supply what was wanting.

To the letter i Walker assigns only one long and one short sound. Mr. Worcester adds the sound of long e, as in machine, police, mien, marine. Words in which i has this sound are not very numerous. They are derived generally from modern European languages, most of them from the French, and retain the foreign sound of the vowel. He also adds what he denominates the short and obtuse sound, as in fir, sir, bird, virtue. This sound, we believe, is confined to the vowel as followed by the letter r, and does not extend to a great number of words. The larger part, we think, are words compounded of circum, and other words derived from the Latin; being generally, also, Latin compounds with circum already formed in this language, and merely changed to English forms.

To the sounds of o noted in Walker's table Mr. Worcester adds o like short u; as in son, done, &c. The former, having assigned no such sound to o in his key, was obliged to exemplify it in the words in which it is found by substituting short u, in spelling them according to their true sound.

To the letter u Mr. Worcester adds to the sounds exemplified in Walker's table the short and obtuse sound, as in fur, turn, &c., the vowel being followed by r. All the words of this class, by Walker's notation, are pronounced with u as in tub, a sound that does not agree with fur. Mr. Worcester adds also the sound of u in rule, rude, true, a class of words in which the vowel is preceded by r, giving it the sound of o in move. Between this sound and the common long sound of u there is, as Walker says in another case, "but a delicate difference." As we commonly pronounce the long u in tune, tube, and lute, we perceive little difference between these words and rule, true, &c. But as the sound of u long is modified by the initial consonants in cube, mule, and pure, which last word differs very perceptibly in sound from poor, the ground of Mr. Worcester's distinction is obvious. Walker was aware of the difference, and spells rule, and other words with r preceding the vowel, with 00, in order to exemplify the true pronunciation.

In Walker's table y is wholly overlooked. Mr. Worcester notes it long, as in style, short in symbol, short and obtuse in myrtle.

Having followed Mr. Worcester through his key to the vowel sounds, and taken some pains to examine its application to many words in the dictionary, we are able to speak with confidence concerning his system. It is a great improvement upon that of Walker, whose pronouncing dictionary has long been regarded as the standard in the United States. We think this is shown by the cursory remarks we have made in comparing the two systems. Walker's is evidently defective, and Worcester's appears to us to be as comprehensive as the nature of the subject permits it to become. In consequence of the completeness of his system, he applies the marks of the vowels in the key directly to the words in the dictionary in their true orthography, and is seldom obliged to have recourse to Walker's awkward method of spelling words in an altered orthography, merely to exemplify the pronunciation.

We have spoken thus far of the most determinate vowel sounds. In monosyllables, in the accented syllables of other words, and generally in the syllables upon which the secondary accent falls, the sound of the vowels is so distinct that their power can be marked with such exactness as to be readily comprehended. But in familiar, audible reading and recitation, in animated public speaking, and especially in free conversation, syllables are continually occurring, in which the sounds of the vowels are so indistinct, that it is impossible to settle them by the appropriate varieties of long and short sounds indicated in a key by figures or arbitrary marks. Even in regard to grave and solemn discourse, this cannot be done, in very many cases, without supposing great restraint and extreme stiffness on the part of the public reader or speaker. Walker, attempting to denote the sounds of the vowels heard so imperfectly by the distinct long and short sounds comprised in his table, instead of guiding us to the true pronunciation, makes it more uncertain than if it were left to accident. Indeed, in a great portion of unaccented syllables, the natural, we might almost say the unavoidable, pronunciation is such as to produce uniformity; and in proportion to the strength of the accented syllables, uniformity in the unaccented is more sure to follow. If, therefore, it were not for the appearance of acknowledging his system of notation of vowel sounds to be defective, the orthoëpist might as well leave the unaccented syllables generally to the natural play of

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