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APPENDIX TO CHAPTER II.
On Spelling-reform. 186. Alphabetic writing is essentially phonetic. It was the result of a sifting process which was conducted with little conscious design, by which all the other suggestions of picturewriting were gradually eliminated, and each figure was brought to represent one of the simple sounds obtained by the analysis of articulate speech. The historical development of Letters tells us what their essence and function is—viz. The expression of the Sound of words. Spelling is the counterpart of pronunciation. But there is a law at work to dissever this natural affinity. Pronunciation is ever insensibly on the move, while spelling grows more and more stationary. The agitation for spelling-reform which appears in cultivated nations from time to time, aims at restoring the harmony between these two.
Among the Romans--a people eminently endowed with the philological sense- there were some attempts of this kind, one of which is of historical notoriety.
The emperor Claudius was a phonetic reformer, and he wrote a book on the subject while in the obscurity of his early life. Three letters as a first instalment of reform he forced into use when he was emperor, but they were neglected after his time and forgotten. Yet two of the three have been quietly resumed by a late posterity. These represented I and U consonants as distinct from the cognate vowels. In the seventeenth century the European press gave these powers to the forms J and V. Claudius was not however the first to direct attention to the inadequacy of the Roman alphabet. Verrius Flaccus had made a memorable proposal with regard to the letter M. At the end of Latin words it was indistinctly heard, and therefore he proposed to cut the letter in two, and write only half of it in such positions—thus, N.
187. During the last three centuries many proposals for spelling-reform have been made in this country and in America. Among the reformers we find distinguished names'.
1 Sir John Cheke, 1540 (Strype’s Life). John Hart, 1569: 'An Orthographie conteyning the due order and reason howe to write or painte thimage But for practical results, the first was Noah Webster. In his Dictionary, 1828, he spelt traveler, worshiped, favor, honor, center, and these were widely adopted in American literature, especially the ejection of the French u from the termination -our. But he was an etymological as well as a phonetic reformer. And when he proceeded to write bridegoom, fether, for bridegroom, feather, his public declined to follow him, and he retraced his steps.
Julius Hare and Connop Thirlwall in their joint translation of Niehbuhr's History made some reforms, partly phonetic, partly etymological ; such as forein, sovran, stretcht. Thirlwall returned to the customary spelling in his History of Greece 1835; but he covered his retreat with an overloaded invective at English prejudice, which has since been quoted oftener than his wisest sentences.
A strictly phonetic spelling-reform requires that we should have a separate character for every separate sound, and that no character should ever stand for any but its own particular sound. One such system has acquired the consistency which a working experience alone can give. Mr. Pitman's phonetic alphabet has been tested by thirty years of practical work, in printing books large and small, as well as in the continuous appearance of the Phonetic Journal, which is now in its thirty-sixth year. In this system the Roman alphabet is adopted as far as it goes, and new forms are added for the digraphs which, like th, sh, represent simple sounds. The place of publication is Bath, but the movement first took a practical shape in Birmingham, where in 1843 Mr. Thomas Wright Hill originated a Phonetic Fund to meet the necessary sacrifices of such an experiment. Mr. Hill was the father of Matthew Davenport Hill, Q.C., and of Sir Rowland Hill, and of three other distinguished sons. After the meeting of 1843, Mr. Ellis helped Mr. Pitman in the formation of the new characters, and from that year to the present the system has been in operation. The alphabet
of manne's voice, moste like to the life or nature.' Bishop Wilkins, 1668. Benjamin Franklin, 1768. William Pelham, Boston, U.S. 1808, printed . Rasselas' phonetically. Abner Kneeland, Philadelphia, 1825. Rev. W. Beardsley, St. Louis
, 1841. Andrew Comstock, Philadelphia, 1846. John S. Pulsifer, Orswigsburg, Pennsylvania, 1848. Alexander Melville Bell, London, 1865.
which has thus been produced consists of thirty-eight characters, which are arranged below according to Mr. Pitman's distribution. The quotations which are given in illustration are taken from the Phonetic Journal, 1862 and 1864.
THE PHONETIC ALPHABET.
alms, father E e
ell, head, any E &
ale, air, bear I i ill, pity, filial , i eel, eat, mere
Labial. O o as in on, not, nor Ο ω all, law, ought ४४
up, son, journal Oo ope, coat, pour U u
full, foot, could do, food, tour
H 4 wreath, thigh ad wreathe, thy S s
hiss, seal Z z
Coalescents. W w as in wet, quit
Aspirate. H h as in he, hope
188. SPECIMEN OF PHONETIC PRINTING,
Þe a pro
“ Wi kanot tel az yet whot “We cannot tell as yet what laŋgwej iz. It me bi a pro- language is. It
may dokfon ov netyr, a work ov duction of nature, a work of human art, or a Divịn gift. human art, or a Divine gift. Båt tu whotever sfir it beloņz, But to whatever sphere it belongs, it wud sim tu stand xnsor- it would seem to stand unsurpast-ne onikwald in it-bį passed-nay unequalled in it-by enitiŋ els.
anything else. de sįens ov laŋgwej iz a The science of language is a sjens ov veri modern det. Wi science of very modern date. We kanot tres its liniej mog be- cannot trace its lineage much beyond de beginiŋ ov our sen. yond the beginning of our centyri, and it iz skersli resivd az tury, and it is scarcely received as yet on a futiŋ ov ikwoliti bị yet on a footing of equality by de elder brangez ov lerniŋ. the elder branches of learning. Its veri nem iz stil onseteld, Its very name is still unsettled, and de veri8s tįtelz dat hav and the various titles that have bin given tu_it in Ingland, been given to it in England, Frans, and Jermani, ar so France, and Germany, are so veg and veriiŋ, dat de hav vague and varying that they have led tu de most konfyzd įdiaz led to the most confused ideas amon de p8blik at larj az tu among the public at large as to de rial objekts ov dis nų sį- the real objects of this new sci
Wihir it spoken ov az ence. We hear it spoken of as Komparativ Filoloji
, Sįentifik Comparative Philology, Scientific Etimoloji, Fonoloji, and Glos- Etymology, Phonology, and Glosoloji. In Frans it haz resivd sology. In France it has received de konvinient, båt somwhot the convenient, but somewhat barbarys nem ov Lengistik. barbarous name of Linguistique. I mįself prefer de simpel desig- I myself prefer the simple designeson ov de Sįens ov Laŋgwej, nation of the Science of Language, do in
diz dez hị. though in these days of high-soundiŋ tįtelz, tis plen nem -sounding titles, this plain name wil hardli mit wiđ jeneral will hardly meet with general akseptans." - Maks Muleroz acceptance." - Max Müller's Lektyrz on de Sjens ov Lay- Lectures on the Science of Langwej, (Ferst Siriz,) 1861.
guage, (First Series,) 1861. " F fil konvinst ov de trut “I feel convinced of the truth and rizonabelnes ov de prin- and reasonableness of the prinsipelz on whiç de Fonetik ciples on which the Phonetic Reform rests, .. and Reform rests,
and do Mr Pitman me not liv though Mr Pitman may not live
tu si de rez8lts ov hiz perse- I to see the results of his perseviriŋ and disinterested ekzer-vering and disinterested exerSonz, it rekwįrz no profetik tions, it requires no prophetic pouer to persiv dat whot at power to perceive that what at prezent iz pu-pud bį de present is pooh-poohed by the meni, wil měk its we in de many, will make its way in the end, gnles met bį arguments end, unless met by arguments stroŋger dan doz hidertu lev- stronger than those hitherto lev. eld at de Fonetik Nuz. Wonelled at the Fonetic Nuz. One argyment whig mịt bi ssp- argument which might be supozd tu we wid de stųdent ov posed to weigh with the student of laygwej, nemli, de obskyrefon language, namely, the obscuration ov de etimolojikal stråktur ov of the etymological structure of wordz, į kanot konsider veri words, I cannot consider very formidabel. de prensnsieson formidable. The pronunciation ov laŋgwejez cenjez akordiŋ of languages changes according tu fikst loz, "de" spelin iz to fixed laws, the spelling is genjd in de most arbitrari changed in the most arbitrary maner, so dat if our speliŋ manner, so that if our spelling folod de pronensieson or followed the pronunciation of wordz, it wud in rialiti bi a words, it would in reality be a greter help tu de kritikal sty- greater help to the critical student ov laŋgwej dan de prezent dent of language than the present onserten and snsįentifik mod uncertain and unscientific mode ov rịtiy.”—Maks Muler'z Lek- of writing."- Max Müller's Lecturz on đe Sjens ov Langwej, tures on the Science of Language, (Sekond Siriz,) 1863.
(Second Series,) 1863.
To offer an estimate of the merits of this phonetic alphabet would be out of place here. It puts forward a claim to supersede that now in use by right of superior and universal fit
This claim seems likely to be tested by a variety of practical experiments; for example, it has been used for printing three of the Gospels, Genesis, the Psalms, and the Acts in the Mikmak language, that of the natives of New Brunswick; Nova Scotia, under the direction of the Bible Society. The friends and promoters of this alphabet say that it is soon caught by savages abroad and by children at home; and that for the education of our own people it provides the quickest and best means of learning to read the ordinary print. All this will have to be established by a slow probation; and the supporters of the system seem resolved to sustain the trial. Meanwhile, I will point out an