Immagini della pagina

advantage which this phonetic alphabet offers to the young philologer. He would find it a profitable exercise to master this alphabet and transliterate passages of English into it. The gain would be that he would thereby acquire consciousness of the elementary sounds which go to make up English words. If the want of this acquirement is not much felt by English philologers, it is because they are unaware how great a defect it is and how seriously it impedes their researches.

189. But there are schemes before the public which aim at a less radical change, and advocate only a certain measure of reform. They do not aspire to absolute phonetic perfection, and yet they have a standard of their own, which may be described as Consistent spelling. The distinction in itself is just, and it may be exemplified in the French language. Of the three languages we may say that the German is (comparatively speaking) phonetic, and the French consistent; while the English is neither the one nor the other.

The reformers of whom we are about to speak content themselves with the endeavour to bring English spelling nearer to a state of consistency with itself. Such is the purpose of the system projected by Mr. Edward Jones, of Liverpool. He would correct our orthography by using the present letters of the alphabet more consistently, without adding new characters; and by reverting, in certain cases, to the simpler spelling of standard old authors. This proposal is advocated on the ground of the small amount of change which it would necessitate.

190. The following are said to be all the words beginning with A that would have to be changed :aback abak

achieve acheev abbey abby

achromatic acromatic abeyance abayance acquiesce acquièss ablative ablativ


aker aboard abord active

activ above abuv


adjurn abroad abraud

admeasure admèsure absolve absolv

adolescent adolessent abstemious abstemius' adventurous adventurus abusive abusiv ædile


affright afrite











apologue apolog
aghast agast





apeer airbuilt airbilt


airtight airtite

approach aproche


arabesque arabesk

archæology arkeology
alphabet alfabet

archangel arcangel

architect arkitect

ambitious ambitius
amphibious amfibius





atmosphere atmosfere

auspicious auspicius

autograph autograf
aphorism aforism

autumn apiece apeece Upon this system, which Mr. Jones calls the 'Analogic,' and which is particularly recommended for its educational usefulness, Mr. Ellis has commented vigorously. He sees no gain or beauty in it, and he denies its consistency.

The memory is not relieved of its grievance, and the whole plan is aimless. In like terms he would speak of all attempts to alter our orthography partially. If a change is to be made at all, it must be by a restoration of the old phonetic principle which (he thinks) reigned paramount till it perished in the Wars of the Roses.

191. The third and last scheme to be mentioned is one that endeavours to conciliate opposite interests. Mr. Danby P. Fry has proposed a plan for the improvement of English orthography, which is to avoid all breach of continuity whether as regards the forms and powers of the characters, or as respects the etymology. The only case in which he confers a new power on a character, or modifies its form, is in the letter v. He would have a v vowel, to represent the vowel in full, bull, and to be distinguished by a slight peculiarity of form. With this addition the twenty-six simple letters would become twenty-seven. For the rest he proceeds on the principle of codifying the actual practice, and he would therefore recognise the consonantal digraphs ch, gh,

lace of preceding vowhich it is

kh, ph, rh, sh, th, wh, ng, as alphabetic characters, adding to them dh and zh. He would write the and that as 'dhe' and 'dhat’: and azure he would write “azhure.' After the same manner the vocalic digraphs ee, ai, aa, au, oa, oi, oi, ou, would be counted as primary letters, and thus complete an alphabet of forty-six characters. The e final would be discarded in all instances in which it is really idle, having no effect on the preceding vowel; and freez, gauz, would take the place of freeze, gauze (158). In this scheme the idea seems to be that an orthography-reasonably phonetic and consistent-ought to be discovered without the sacrifice of tradition and historical association. It would be not uniform spelling, but consistent spelling; so dhat dhat half ov dhe language which iz spelt etymologically may be spelt consistently on dhe etymological principle, while dhe odher half ov dhe language which iz spelt phonetically may be spelt consistently on dhe phonetic principle.

The phonetic principle is to be admitted when it does not conflict with the etymological. For instance, the s would be rejected from island (properly iland), but retained in isle, to which it rightly belongs. For Mr. Fry proposes, as a means of reconciling tradition with current pronunciation, that silent letters should be preserved whenever required by etymology, but otherwise omitted,

192. More plans are proposed than we have enumerated or have space to enumerate. It is plain where so many schemes are broached that the need of some change is very widely felt, but there seems to be little agreement as to the direction reform should take.

If however a distinct path is chosen, it will at once lay open to our view a new and as yet unnoticed difficulty. When we enter on the path of spelling-reform, we pass from that on which we are tolerably agreed, namely conventional orthography, to raise a new structure on a foundation of unascertained stability. The moment you resolve to spell the sound, you bring into the foreground what before lay almost unobserved—the great diversity of opinion which exists as to the correct sound of many words.



193. The term Interjection signifies something that is * pitched in among' things of which it does not naturally form a constituent part. The Interjection has been so named by grammarians in order to express its relation to grammatical structures. It is found in them, but it forms no part of them.

The interjection may be defined as a form of speech which is articulate and symbolic but not grammatical. It is only to be called grammatical in that widest sense of the word, in which all that is written, including accents, stops, and quotation marks, would be comprised within the notion of grammar. When we speak of grammar as the handmaid of logic, then the interjection must stand aside.

Emotion is quick, and leaves no time for logical thought : if it use grammatical phrases they must be ready made and familiar to the lips; there is not time to select what is appropriate or consecutive. Hence the limited variety of interjections, and the almost unlimited use of single forms.

An interjection implies a meaning which it would require a whole grammatical sentence to expound, and it may be regarded as the rudiment of such a sentence. But it is a confusion of thought to rank it among the parts of speech. It is not in any sense a part; it is a whole (though an indistinct) expression of feeling or of thought. An interjection bears to its context the same sort of relation as a pictorial illustration does.

We rightly call an adjective or an adverb a Part of Speech, because these have no meaning by themselves without the aid of nouns and verbs, and because their very designation implies the existence of nouns and verbs. But an interjection is intelligible without any grammatical adjunct; and such completeness as it is capable of is attained without collateral assistance.

194. Ancient grammarians ranked the interjections as adverbs, but the moderns have made them a separate class. If it were a question to which of the parts of speech the interjection is most cognate, it must be answered to the verb. For if we take any simple interjection, such as, for example, the cry ‘Oh! Oh!' in the House of Commons, and assign to it a predicative value, it can only be done by a verb, either in the imperative or in the indicative first person. Either you must say it is equivalent to ‘Don't say such things,' or else to 'I doubt,' 'I wonder,' 'I demur, 'I dispute,' 'I deny,' 'I protest’: by one or more of these or such verbs must 'Oh, Oh!' be explained; and thus it seems to present itself as a rudimentary verb. But this again rises, not out of any singular affection that it bears to the verb in its formal character, but out of the general fact that the verb is the central representative and focus of that predicative force, which unequally pervades all language, but which in the interjection is wrapped round and enfolded with an involucre of emotion.

It may stand either insulated in the sentence, or by virtue of this obscure verbal character, it may be connected with it by a preposition, as

Oh for a humbler heart and prouder song! This is the nearest approach which it makes to structural

« IndietroContinua »