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D Cymmrodor.






HAVING made a prolonged study of the singular pronunciation of this important dialect, I venture to assert that it involves at least thirty-seven simple sounds. In the orthography followed by Canon Spano, in his version of St. Matthew's Gospel, these are represented by thirty-five characters, whether simple, as c, d, etc., or compound,―genuine digrams -such as ch, gli, gn, and the like.

In entering on a discussion of these characters, I must say at the outset that they are, unfortunately, by no means in harmony with the number of the sounds; or even, in some instances, with their nature. Thus dd, by way of example, seems but ill-adapted to give us a clear idea either of the palatal d, unknown to classical Italian, or of the strong d, which is incorrectly spoken of as a double letter, in the same

The following observations were printed in Italian in the year 1866, accompanying a version of St. Matthew's Gospel into Sassarese by the Rev. Canon Spano. The present translation has been made from a revised copy of the original issue, at the instance of the illustrious author, by Dr. Isambard Owen.



way as that term is improperly applied to the other digrams of the Italian language, bb, ff, ll, etc.

That our ears perceive no reduplication in the case of these so-called double letters when they are spoken correctly, was said, and not merely said, but proved, by that acute author, Lionardo Salviati, (1) nearly three centuries ago. Such sounds should accordingly be regarded as additional modifications, strong, but nevertheless simple, of the other sounds usually (2) represented by single consonants, and thus augment their number.

The thirty-five characters are the folowing:-a, b, c, ch, ci, d, dd, e, f, g, gh, gi, gl, gli, gn, h, i, j, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, sc, sci, sg, sgi, t, u, v, z, zz; and the thirty-seven sounds :

27. P

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28. r

29. s voiceless.

30. s voiced.
31. sc sibilant.
32. sg (French j).
33. t

34. u

35. v

36. z voiceless.

37. z voiced.

13. gn



1. a. Is pronounced as in Italian.

2. b. When, as in Italian, it should take the sound. of bb (see Note 2), it is pronounced precisely as in that language; but when the weak modification is required, the Sassarese pronunciation of this letter seems to me of a Spanish character; that is to say, less labial than the Tuscan b, the lips being approximated without actually touching. Thus

when I got a native of Sassari to repeat several times over the words "bozi", voce, "a bozi manna", ad alta voce, "la bozi", la voce, "dabboi", dipoi, I invariably heard in the first, second and fourth examples, the strong b, incorrectly called double, of the Italian language, while in the third the sound of the Spanish b appeared to me most manifest.

The same may be said of initial v, when by the influence of the preceding word it has to be pronounced as b. In this case also, it is the Spanish b that is heard. Thus, cun vinu; lu vinu;-the former is pronounced with the Italian v, the latter with a weak b, but a b of Spanish sound. (See under letter v).

In the Logudorese dialect, as the Rev. Canon Spano observes in his Grammar, initial b, in circumstances which should call for its weak sound (the sound that is of b single) is generally absorbed. Thus, "unu boe", un bue, "su bentu", il vento, are pronounced unu oe, su entu, while sos boes" sos ventos",

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i buoi, i venti, are sounded with the strong b.

In the languages of the Gaelic and Welsh families, suppression of the initial consonants by the influence of the preceding word holds a very frequent place, as will be seen further on.

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3. c. This letter is pronounced with the hard sound when standing before the vowels a, o, or u, or before any consonant, or as a terminal in proper names. Cabà", cavare, "cori", cuore," Criltu" Cristo, " Sadoc", are pronounced, as far as regards c, precisely as in Italian, as long as the strong form of that letter is required in Sassarese. If, on the other hand, its sound is weakened, Sassarese follows the practice of Celtic tongues, and changes the hard e into an equally hard g, Thus the word cori, and its Welsh equivalent calon, pronounced, if isolated, with e, are transformed into gori in spoken Sassarese, and galon, in both spoken and written Welsh, when the preceding words possess the property of


producing the initial change of c into g, as, for instance, in "lu do' gori", dy galon.

It will be useful to note here, that the Latin or Italian hard c, which is mostly found in the middle of a word between two vowels, is very often rendered in Sassarese (never in Tempiese) by gg; i.e., by a hard strong g, as in the words poco, dico, fuoco, which in Sassarese are written and spoken poggu, diggu, foggu, in Tempiese pocu, dicu, focu. The same exchange of the voiceless sound for the voiced occurs in the case of p and t, as can be observed in the Sassarese words, "cabbu", "daddu", corresponding to the Italian capo, dato, and the Tempiese capu, datu.


C takes the Italian sibilant sound before e and i, as in ceggu" cieco. In the Cagliaritan dialect only this sound is susceptible of initial mutation in pronunciation. Celu, in fact, is spoken in Cagliaritan with the Italian c aspirate when the sound of that letter should be strong, while in "su celu" il cielo, though unseen by the eye, the ear distinctly perceives sgelu, with the French j, or Cagliaritan x.

The Italian c sibilant is very often rendered in Sassarese by z, as well in pronunciation as in the orthography followed in the version of St. Matthew. The Italian words cielo, il cielo, pace, croce, luce, corresponding to the Tempiese celi, lu celi, paci, gruci, luci, appear in Sassarese as zelu, lu zelu, pazi, crozi, luzi, a strong sound being given to the z in the first instance, a weak one in the four last. (See under letter 2.)

The letter c, of hard sound, when preceded by 7, enjoys the singular property of transforming both that sound and its own into the German gutteral ch;-otherwise the Spanish j, or, if preferred, the modern Greek x; as heard in nacht, hijo, and yaxos, but not as in nicht and xrpa, which have the ch and x palatalized. Thus the word Thus the word "balca" barca, will be pronounced as if it were written baxxa. (See under letter 1.)

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