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southern and western pronunciation ? Something of this sort may be seen at present in Scandinavia. The Swedish and Danish languages have initial K in common in a large number of words. The Danish K has no chirt angwhere; but the Swedish K is pronounced as ch when it is followed by certain vowels. The Danish word for church is kirke ; the Swedish word is kyrka. In the former case the K is pronounced as in Scotland; in the latter it sounds like the first consonant in the English church. A like division of pronunciation may possibly have existed in this island before the Conquest. Or the chirt may have been still more partial than this; it may have had but an obscure and disowned existence like the sh sound as a substitute for the ch in Germany); and the French influence may have fostered it by a natural affinity, and given it a permanent place in the English language.
Those words which in Saxon began with cw adopted the Latin q initial, as described in the last chapter.
In the close of words also ch has taken the place of the Saxon c (or sometimes cc) as in church (cyrice), speech (spæc), reach (ræcan), teach (tæcan), and sometimes it has taken the form tch as in latch (læccan), thatch (þæc), match (gemäcca), wretch (wreccea). This -tch extended at one time to words in which we are not familiar with it; thus in Spenser's Faery Queene, i. 2. 21, we read ritch for rich.' The quaint old Scottish grammarian before quoted, speaks contemptuously of this tch development of our pronunciation, calling it an Italian chirt.'
• With c we spil the aspiration, turning it into an Italian chirt; as, charite, cherrie, of quhilk hereafter. This consonant, evin quher in the original it hes the awne sound, we turn it into the chirt we spak of, quhilk indeed can be symbolized with none, neither greek nor latin letteres ; as, from cano, chant; from canon, chanon ; from castus, chast; &c.' Of the Orthographie, &c., pp. 13, 14.
Analogous to the use of t before the ch (anciently c) is the putting a d before an ancient g. Thus we have the form hedge (A.S. hege), wedge (A.S. wecg), ridge (A.S. rig), &c. The more classical Anglo-Saxon form is hrycg, but this is not the form which would tend to produce ridge. On the contrary, it has produced the modern form rick, a synonym for a stack of corn or hay.
In the word knowledge the same mode of orthography is applied by a false analogy; and oblidge has been recalled to simplicity by reference to its original, the French obliger.
The c before the g has just the contrary effect to that of the d. While dg indicates the soft dental or palatal sound of g, cg indicates the dry and guttural sound, either like our modern gg or like ck.
Saxon words beginning in sc- are in modern English spelt sh-: e.g.
The vowels will afford further examples of the great revolution in orthography which has taken place since Saxon times. The most constant of the vowels has been the first, A. Many words can be quoted in which it has remained unaltered from Saxon times : e.g. and, bake, can, fare, hare, hale, hawk, lade, lake, land, make, man, name, sake, shake, sallow, stand, staple, saddle, stare, tame, wan, wake.
When changed, it has oftenest become o, as bone (ban), both (batwa), hot (hât), mon (Scottish for man).
Sometimes we see a compromise, the old A being retained by the side of the new o, as road (A. S. rad), load (A.S. lad).
Sometimes E has taken the place of A, as step (stapan).
Where the Saxon A final has become o, as it generally has, the addition of the E final of the fifteenth century has come in to produce an effect which is never seen on a Saxon page. The combination oE is absolutely unknown in Saxon orthography, but is quite familiar to our eyes in such words as foe, hoe, roe, woe, toe, from the Saxon forms fá, rá, wá, tá. In many words we have disused this ending where it was in vogue, as agoe, alsoe, &c. In all of these cases, however, e has no sound, nor ever had. It is, in fact, the e-subscript, of which hereafter.
On the other hand, the vowel-combination Eo was very common in Saxon, but in English it has been always very
Ben Jonson said it is found but in three words in our tongue, yeoman, people, jeopardy. Which were truer written yéman, péple, jepardy.' To these of Ben Jonson's may now fairly be added the word leopard : for though the eo in this word has a Latin origin, yet its acquired pronunciation stamps it with an English character.
The diphthongs oi, as in foil, soil, and ou, as in young, about, are now common in 'Saxon' words, but there were no such in Saxon. They are among the French transformations. Some of them we have already dropped; thus we no longer use horrour, terrour. There is a disposition in some quarters to do the same with honour, and also to vindicate the pure Saxon word so unjustly Frenchified into neighbour. This ou is sometimes present in sound when absent from the spelling. If we compare the words move, prove, with such words as love, dove, shove, &c., we become aware that the former, though they have laid aside their French spelling from mouvoir, prouver, yet have retained their French sound notwithstanding.
But the vowel which makes the greatest figure on the Saxon page is Æ; and this is altogether absent in English.
These are some of the more conspicuous instances of that revolution in orthography which has caused Saxon literature to look so uncouth and strange in its own native country.
English spelling has been produced by such a variety of heterogeneous causes, that its inconsistencies are not to be wondered at. Grimm has remarked on the want of regularity in our vowel usage: for we use a double e in thee, and a single one in me, whereas the vowel-sound is alike in the pronunciation. The probable cause was the aim at distinction between the pronoun thee and the definite article the ; words which down to the end of the fifteenth century were written alike, and often check the reader. The eye has its claims as well as the ear, when so much is written and read; and this accounts for many cases of dissimilar spelling of similar sounds, as be the verb and bee the insect.
If we now leave the Saxon and notice the French words that entered largely into our language in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, there is this general observation to be made concerning them :- They were at first pronounced as French words; and although the original pronunciation was soon impaired, yet a trace of their native sound followed them for a long time, just as happens in like cases in our own day. The French accentuation would remain after every other tinge of their origin had faded out. But in course of time they were so completely familiarised that their origin was lost sight of, and then they insensibly slid into our English pronunciation. The spelling would sometimes follow all these changes, but in other cases the habit of writing was too strongly fixed.
Of this we have not merely the argument from general analogy, which tells us that in like cases it is always so, but we have also two kinds of direct proof. One is from the spelling. The word honour is spelt in a manner for which its present pronunciation does not account. In pronunciation the weighty syllable is the first, yet in the spelling we throw the preponderance into the last syllable. Our spelling is traditional, and represents, not a present, but a past pronunciation. When this word honour was first introduced into English, it was actually pronounced, for a long time, with the accent and vocalic fullness on the last syllable, just as the French honneur is to this day. Our orthography of honour, so contradictory to our pronunciation, would be sufficient, with the example of honneur before us, to satisfy us that this word must have retained its French pronunciation for a long time after its use was established among us. But the fact may also be established by direct proof. The use of this and analogous words in poetry enables us by the rhythm to decide absolutely on so much of their pronunciation as is involved in their accentuation, and that, in the case before us, is the chief thing. We find the word as early as the second text of Layamon, which we may fix at soon after
Thus we read in vol. i. p. 259 (ed. Madden) :
and leide hine mid honure
bigb in the tower. Here it is plain to the experienced reader, notwithstanding the inexactness of the metre, that the word honúre is accented on the second syllable. But to the general reader this quotation would not be convincing. If, therefore, we pass from the opening of the thirteenth to the close of the