Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

In describing the rising radical and vanish of the tone, I contradistinguished the concrete syllabic voice from the protracted radical and vanish of that same interval. But it will be shown hereafter, that Song employs a similar mode of intonation on wider intervals: that is, the protracted radical and vanish are used in continuation with a following or a preceding concrete of wider rising intervals, and the like protracted notes are joined respectively to the summit and the foot of the wider concretes of a downward direction.

As the concrete rise of the voice is perhaps more generally used in speech, than the downward course, I shall, in noticing intervals, employ the term radical and vanishing movement, without specifying its rise, to signify the former; and shall particularize the latter, by annexing the term of its direction. In designating the concrete function, I shall variously denominate it, the radical and vanishing movement,-progress,-interval,-or pitch; or simply the radical and vanish,—or the concrete; or the radical and vanishing tone,-semitone,-third, -fifth,-and octave, according to the general or specific intention.

I have thus endeavoured to describe one of the most important functions of speech. There is a peculiarity in the intonation of the human voice, which has never been copied by instrumental contrivance. The sounds of the horn, flute, reed, and musical glass, may each equal and even surpass in quality a long drawn vocal note; but there is still something absent, that designates them as instruments. It is the want of the gliding concrete, the lessening volume, and the soft extinction of the yet inimitable vanishing movement.

The illustration by a diagram may perhaps facilitate the comprehension of the foregoing descriptions. For this purpose 1 use below, certain parts of the musical notation. The lines and spaces denote places of pitch; the proximate succession being that of a tone. These lines and spaces differ from the staff of the musical system : the latter being founded on the diatonic scale, denotes, in certain places, the interval of a semitone; whereas the lines and spaces of the notation for speech signify always, the succession of a tone, except when otherwise specified. The full black marks, on these lines and spaces, with their issuing appendages of various extent, represent the opening fulness, direction, interval and diminution of the radical and vanishing movement. The whole of this notation being mere metaphor, there is no meaning in the curve given to the sign of the vanish. In that I have consulted only the eye. Time is here represented as in music : the open ellipse signifying the longest ; the black head with a stem, the fourth of it; this head with its stem marked at the extremity by one and two hooks, each successively the eighth and sixteenth of the open ellipse.-Except for the prolonged radical and vanish, it is not my intention to use the notation of time, in this essay. This subject has been well analyzed, and clearly arranged in music; and the application of its well contrived symbols to speech, when desirable, will not require much ingenuity or labour.

عملها

Concrete

Fifth.

Downward

Fifth.

Concrete
Octave.

Downward

Octave.

I have not represented the semitone, since its mode of delineation may be easily understood from the picture of the other intervals. The circumstances of its notation will be considered in a future section.

The reader must not be discouraged by the seeming difficulty of the foregoing distinctions. I have here laid down, as a didactic rule, the very train by which these phenomena were discovered. They were not seen at a glance. The first views were full of indistinctness and doubt, greater perhaps than a quick student may experience from the descriptions in this section : yet I can declare that now after three years, the functions here explained, are much more perceptible to me, than the varieties of color without direct comparison; and quite as distinct as the literal and syllabic sounds of discourse.

SECTION III.

of the Elementary Sounds of the English Language; with their Relations to the. Radical and

Vanishing Movement.

The radical and vanishing concrete, under all its forms, is employed on a limited number of sounds, which in the English language amount to thirty-five. The deficiencies, redundancies, and confusion of the system of alphabetic characters in this language, prevent the adoption of its subdivisions in this essay.

An alphabet should consist of a separate symbol for every elementary sound : and it appears to me that the best practical arrangement of the elements, would be that which regards their use in discourse. It will not be denied that intonation is one of the most important functions of speech : consequently the ordering of the elements should have some reference to it. In the present section therefore, these elements will be described and classed according to their use in intonation.*

* I set aside, in this place at least, the sacred division into vowels, consonants, mutes and semivowels. The complete history of nature will consist of a full description of all the relationships of things. We received the classification of the alphabet from Greek and Roman grammarians: and their division, according to organic causes, into labial, lingual, dental and nasal elements, is to be regarded as a legitimate part of that history. But whatever motive connected with the vocal habits of another nation, or the etymologies of another tongue, may have justified the division into vowels and consonants under their present meaning, it does not now exist with us. Without designing to overlook or destroy any arrangement which truly represents the relationships of these sounds, it is only intended to add to their history, a classification grounded on their important functions in speech. The strictness of philosophy should not be so far forgotten, as to suffer the claim of this classification to be exclusive. Let it remain as a constituent portion only of new and wider prospects, yet to be opened in the art.

Passing by other assailable points of our immemorial system, the distinction, implied by its two leading heads, is a misrepresentation. Had he an ear who said -a consonant can not be sounded without the help of a vowel ?

Among the thousand mismanagements of literary instruction, there is at the outset in the horn book, the pretence to represent elementary sounds by syllables composed of two or more elements, as: Be, Kay, Zed, double U, and Aitch. These words are used in infancy, and through life, as simple elements in the process of synthetic spelling. If the definition of a consonant was made by the master from the practice of the child, it might suggest pity for the pedagogue, but should not make us forget the realities of nature.

As the number of elementary sounds in the English language exceeds the literal signs, some of the letters are made to represent various sounds, without a rule for discrimination. I shall endeavour to supply this want of precision by using short words of known pronunciation, containing the elementary sounds, with the letters which represent them marked in italics.

The thirty-five elements are now to be considered under their relationships to the radical and vanishing movement. And as the properties of this function are-prolongation of sound, variation of pitch, with initial force and final feebleness; these elements should be viewed in their varied capacity for admitting the display of these properties.

Our elements of articulation may be arranged under three general heads.

The first division embraces those sounds which display the properties of the radical and vanish in the most perfect manner. They are twelve in number; and are heard in the usual sound of the separated italics, in the following words:

A-11, a-rt, a-n, a-le, ou-r, 3-sle, o-ld, ee-l, 00-ze, e-rr, e-nd, i-n.

From their forming the purest and most plastic material of intonation, I have called them Tonic sounds.

They consist of different sorts of vocality; by which I mean that "raucus' quality of voice which is contradistinguished from a whisper or aspiration. They are produced by the joint functions of the larynx and parts of the internal and external mouth, through which the air must pass in their formation.

The tonics have a more musical quality than the other elements : they are capable of indefinite prolongation: admit of the concrete and tremulous rise and fall through all the intervals of pitch : and may be uttered more forcibly than the other elementary sounds, as well as with more abruptness : and whilst these two last characteristics are appropriate to the natural fulness and stress of the radical, the power of prolongation, upon their pure and musical quality, is finely accommodated to the delicate structure of the vanishing movement.

Any pronouncing dictionary shows that consonants alone may form syllables ; and if they have never been appropriated to words which might stand solitary in a sentence like the vowels 'a,''i,' 'o,' 'ah' and 'awe'--it is not because they can not be so used; but because they have not that full and manageable nature which exhibits the functions of the unconnected syllable with sufficient emphasis, and with agreeable effect.

The next division includes a number of sounds, possessing variously among themselves properties analogous to those of the tonics; but differing in degree. They amount to fourteen; and are marked by the separated italics, in the following words:

B-ow, d-are, give, v-ile, z-one, y-e, w-o, th-en, a-z-ure, si-ng, l-ove, m-ay, n-ot, r-oe.

From their inferiority to the tonics, in all the emphatic and elegant purposes of speech, whilst they admit of being intonated or carried concretely through the intervals of pitch, I have called them Subtonic sounds.

They all have a vocality ; but in some it is combined with an aspiration. B, d, g, ng, l, m, n, r, have an unmixed vocality ; v, z, y, w, th, zh, have an aspiration joined with theirs. We have learned that the vocality of the tonics is, in each, peculiar in sort. The vocality of some of the subtonics is apparently the same; and among all, it does not differ much ; resembling certain five of the tonics, which will be designated presently. Like the vocality of the tonics, it is formed in the larynx : but instead of passing altogether through the mouth, it has its reverberations in the back of the mouth, and the cavities of the nose. Some of the subtonic vocalities are purely nasal, as : m, n, ng, b, d, g. The rest are partly oral. The nasal are soon silenced by closing the nostrils : the rest are not materially affected by it. The vocality of b, d and g may not be immediately apparent to those who have not, by practice in the abstract utterance of the alphabet, attained the full command of pronunciation. Writers, in noticing these letters, have spoken of it under the name of

guttural murmur,' and have regarded it as a peculiar sound; whereas it is the identical vocality, heard in v, th-en, z, zh, and r, subsequently modified by the contact of organs, into

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »