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syllable has been reduced to its present proportion by ‘correption, if we may revive the very happy Latin term by which a shortened syllable was said to be seized or snatched. Other familiar instances are gossip God sib, shepherd, and the pronunciation of vineyard. In all these we see the accented syllable has suffered alteration through its accentuation. When we seek the cause why accent should have operated in manners so opposite, we shall probably find that the diversity of result is due to a difference of situation in the usual employment of the composite. A word, for instance, whose lot it was to be often emphasized would naturally be the more liable to correption of its accented syllable. 3. As we have seen that each of the syllables of a disyllabic word may be in different manners affected by the accent, so we may next observe that both of these changes may sometimes be found in one and the same word. The word housewife is often pronounced huz'if, and this pronunciation is the traditional one. The full pronunciation of all the letters in housewife is not produced by the natural action of the mother tongue, but by literary education. Regarding huz'if, then, as the natural and spontaneous utterance of housewife, we see that both syllables have suffered alteration. The attenuated condition of the second syllable is accounted for by the absence of the accent; while the first syllable has suffered from an opposite cause, namely, the intensification produced by the accent. And when, through the beat of metre, the accent becomes emphasis, we find the first syllable spelt with correption, even in literature:—
The sampler, and to teize the huswives wooll.
The name of Shakspeare, it is well known, appears with many variations of orthography. The most curious perhaps of all its forms is that of Shaxper', which exhibits both sides of the double action now described. In Shaxper we see that each of the two syllables is shrunken, but from opposite causes. The first syllable is compressed by the intensifying power of the accent, while the second syllable is impaired by reason of the languor of a toneless position.
633. These changes, which thus result from accentuation, sometimes run into curious phonetic distortions. Standish is the name of a place in Gloucestershire, but it is better known as a man's name in the poetry of Longfellow. The word is an altered form of Stonehouse, or rather of Stanhus, which was its ancient shape. Here the accented syllable has drawn a D on to it, and the languid syllable an H. The former is but an instance of a well-known phonetic affinity which in various languages has so often produced the combination ND. But that the hus should have lapsed into ish is something more particularly English, and belongs to the same class of tendencies by which that sound has often risen among us both out of Saxon and out of French materials. 74.
A great number of transformations which are a stock item of astonishment with us, are only to be accounted for by the consideration of accentual conditions. Such are Ciceler for Cirencester, Penlon for Erdington, Ransom for Rampisham (Dorset), Posset for Portishead:—and so the ancient Clatfordtun is now Claverton; Cunacaleah is Conkwell. The scene of the following question is laid in the time of Queen Anne:—
* This form is found with the date of 1579. Shakespeareana Genealogica, compiled by George Russell French. 1869.
Candish, Chumley. Why should we say goold and write gold, and call china chayny, and Cavendish Candish, and Cholmondeley Chumley 2—W. M. Thackeray, Esmond, Bk. III. ch. iii. 634. The common formula Good bye has come out of “God be with ye.” This had been caused by the strong emphasis on the first word. From a like cause springs that excess of clustering words together in pronunciation which may be observed in English country places. I often find it hard to understand the name of a rustic child, because the child utters Christian and surname together as one word. One little girl I well remember how she puzzled me by repeatedly telling me she was called ‘Anook.' I had to make further enquiries before I learnt that this represented Ann Hook. Here the accent was on the surname, and so I apprehend it was in the instance following:— However, Miss Max had adopted Jameskennet (she always said the name as one word), and he had been a great comfort to them all.— honor. The Affirmative (Macmillan's Magazine, May, The word hobgoblin owes its form to this habit. It means the goblin called Rob or Hob, as the household elf was called Robin Goodfellow. It is to smartness of accent that we must attribute that source of flexion, which has developed out of Composition. 605. Such flexion is the result of the adhesion of lowtoned words to those which are higher toned, to words rendered eminent and attractive by a superiority of accent. Thus, if the word IBO resolves itself into three words answering to the three letters of which the word is now composed, and if these three words stood once free of each other in this order—Go will 1, it was because of the accentual preeminence of Go that the other two words first of all began
to lean enclitically on it, and at length were absorbed into unity with it.
635. And as the action of sound is a matter of great consequence in the shaping of words, so also we may detect a like power working to effect transpositions in phraseology. Why do people often say ‘bred and born 'instead of ‘born and bred,’ except that they like the sound of it better? There is in most newspapers a quarter which is thus headed: —Births, Marriages, and Deaths. But in conversation it is hardly ever quoted in this form. The established colloquial form of the phrase is this:—Births, Deaths and Marriages. Now it is plain that the latter does violence to the natural order which the printed formula observes. Whence then has this inconsequence arisen Solely, as it seems, from the fact that the less reasonable order offers the more agreeable cadence to the ear.
Enough has been said to shew that the shaping of words and phrases is not always to be accounted for upon grounds of reason, but often by reference to the formative agency of Sound.
3. OF Sound As AN INSTINCTIVE OBJECT of
636. Our path leads us more and more away from the conscious action of man in the development of speech, to mark how the sentient and instinctive tendencies of his nature claim their part in the great result. There is observable a certain drawing towards a fitness of sound; that is to say, the speaker of every stage and grade strives after such an expression as shall erect his language into a sort of music to his own ear. And this is reached when harmony is
established between the meaning and the sound; that is to say, when the sound strikes the ear as a fit accompaniment to the thought. It is a first necessity in language, that it should gratify the ear of the speaker. . 637. As the savage and the civilised man have different standards of music, so have they different standards of what is harmonious in their speech. Civilised nations are converging towards an agreement on both these heads; but they will sooner be at one on the matter of music than they will on the modulation of speech. Of these two, music is the simpler, and the more amenable to scientific treatment. In the very elements of the melody of language, namely the tones which are proper to the several vowels, there is an hereditary difference which, though of the most delicate and subtle kind, yet produces by combination wide divergencies in the modulation of speech. Each separate nation has a musical pitch of its own. A slight variety of pronunciation modifies the musical note of a vowel in such a manner that the science of acoustics can measure the interval; and Helmholtz has suggested that philologers should make use of these musical notes to define the vocalic condition of languages and dialects. 638. In consonants the great difference of national standards is manifest. The Gothic ear enjoys a precipitous consonantism, while the Roman family prefers a smooth and gentle one. And as a natural consequence of this difference, we, when we were most Gothic, could endure an abruptness of consonants which now that we have been Frenchified in our tastes, is displeasing to our national ear. Thus, we now count it vulgar to say ax, and yet this Sound was quite acceptable to the most cultivated Saxon. We have transposed the consonants, and instead of Ås we say sk; instead of ax we say ask; and we prefer tusks to