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EARLIEST SPELLING EXERCISES.

“The spelling-book ought, therefore, to contain all the sounds of the language, and these ought to be taught in every family from the earliest infancy. The child who learns his spelling-book, ought to repeat them to the infant in the cradle, before it is able to pronounce even one of them, so that they may be deeply impressed upon its mind by frequent repetition.

“It is incredible to those who have not seen it, how much the attention of babes is excited by the repetition of a few simple sounds, and their combinations, such as : ba, ba, ba; da, da, da; ma, ma, ma; la, la, la, and so on. But the charm which it has for them, is not the only advantage; it contributes to the development of their faculties, and prepares them for future greater exertions."

This, we fear, is carrying “the system” rather too far back. We do not think that man can learn any thing as a mere receptive or passive being, without a practical exercise of his own active powers; and on this ground we think it impossible for a child to get a knowledge of any sound, until he is able to pronounce it. But his growing ability for the various sounds should be carefully watched.

It would be found, on observation, that the fundamental sounds are produced spontaneously by the child at different periods. As soon as they appear, they ought to be taken up and exercised ;* the peculiar modifications, on the contrary, of these sounds, in the mother-tongue, ought to be taught at a later period, when perfection has been attained in the fundamental sounds, which to no children, perhaps, is more necessary than to those whose mother-tongue is the English, on account of the great preponderance which in this language the modified sounds, sons nuancés, have over the fundamental ones. To this fact it must be attributed, that the English have so much more difficulty than most continental nations in speaking foreign languages, and that they have mutilated the languages of classical antiquity by the most barbarous pronunciation that ingenuity could well have devised, if purposely attempting to disguise the beauty and harmony of their sounds. It is not, however, merely to facilitate the correct pronunciation of foreign or classical lan

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• The first ideas of number likewise may be awakened, earlier than by visible objects, by the repetition of da; da, da; da, da, da; &c.

THE FUNDAMENTAL SOUNDS.

231

guages, but as much on account of the mother-tongue itself, that we would recommend an early attention to the cultivation of the organs of speech, by exercises comprehending all the fundamental sounds, of which, for this purpose, we subjoin a table; adding after those letters to which more than one pronunciation attaches in the English language, a word to mark the particular sound which is here intended. To prevent misunderstanding, and save repetition, we have had the letters, denoting the fundamental sounds, printed in peculiar type; which, wherever it occurs in the course of this chapter, represents the respective sounds as marked in the table.

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We will not trouble our readers with a lengthy explanation of this table, but merely state,

1st. That the three perpendicular series contain the sounds produced in the three leading organs, or we should rather

say, the three chief localities of speech; the throat, the cavity of

• The sound of the Greek v, in the Greek (not the English) pronunciation, corresponding with the French u, in lune for instance; and with the German Ue.

+ The aspirated k, the x of the Greek, and the ch of the German languages, to which the Scotch pronunciation of the words light, night, &c. corresponds.

I Th, although written with two characters in English, is in fact but one sound, and has accordingly been denoted by one letter, e, in the Greek, and D in the Anglo-saxon alphabet. The same is the case with the Ng, which is represented by a single character in the Spanish ñ.

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THEIR ENGLISH MODIFICATIONS.

the mouth, and the front of the mouth, whence the sounds produced in them might be denominated guttural, gingival, and labial.

2d. That the horizontal series enumerate the sounds according to the mode of their formation in the three organs mentioned; so that, for instance, the R is obtained by the same operation in the throat which, in the cavity of the mouth, produces the L; whilst, on the other hand, the L and the T both proceed from the cavity of the mouth, but under a different position of the organs. This will be easily seen on observing the analogy which exists between the respective sounds of any two of the horizontal series. The R, for example, bears exactly the same relation to the G, as the T does to the D, or the P to the B.

3d. That the English language, whilst omitting the two sounds Ue and x, has, in addition to the remaining nineteen fundamental sounds, a great number of modifications, of which the following are the most important : 4. Intermediate vowels :

A approaching to O, as in hawk.
A approaching to E, as in flat.
E approaching to A, as in bread.
E approaching to , as in fir.

U approaching to , as in hut.
B. Double vowels, or dipthongs:

a k as in aye.
O kas in boy.
E I as in I, night.
O U as in howl.

# U as in pure.
C. Modifications of consonants :

Ś modified in two sounds, as in zeal, or peace, and in shield,
O modified in the consonant Y, as in yea.
The perpendicular series
P

V, as in veal.
B modified in W, as in well.
F

WH, as in what,

, .

SOUND AND WRITTEN CHARACTER.

233

The combinations of the consonants with each other, are not to be enumerated among the modifications, as they are not like the diphthongs formed by organic contraction, but · by mere mechanical juxtaposition ; although some of them are expressed by one letter in different languages. In English, for instance, we have the X, for the combination of K with $; the G, as in gentle, and the #, as in jelly, for the combination of with the modification of $, represented by SH; in the same manner as the English CH, for instance in chaff, represents the combination of T with SH.

For fear of being too prolix, we have not noticed the finer shades of one and the same sound, which are peculiarly observable in the vowels; for instance, the short high O in not, the long high o in nod, and the deep in note and node; nor will our limits permit us to transcribe all the different representations, of which each of the sounds mentioned is capable in the English system of written signs on one hand, and on the other, to enumerate, along with each written character, all the different sounds which it serves to express. To give an example of each, the sound A is

represented by A in father, by AA in bazaar, by EA in heart, by AU in aunt, by E in clerk; whilst the letter A represents, besides the sound a in father, its two modifications, one approaching to o in all, the other to E in add; and the sound E in ace, with its modification approaching to a in vary; not to mention the indistinct or effaced sounds, which it has in initial and final syllables, as for instance, in about, Roman, cottage, &c.

The incongruities between the sound and the written character, in which the English language abounds, and the difficulties with which the child is surrounded by the common plan of teaching spelling, will be still more strongly illustrated by analysing a few words, placing on one side the different sounds, and on the other, the different letters of which they are composed.

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SOUND AND WRITTEN CHARACTER.

one

THING.
The vowel # with Spell : Tee, Aitch,

consonant Th Eye, En, Jee; thing;
before, and one con- Eye is a vowel, the
sonant Ng after it.

other four are conso-
nants.

Tee ;

RIGHT.
The diphthong EX, Spell: Ar, Eye,
with one consonant Jee, Aitch,
R before, and one right; Eye is a vowel,
consonant T after it. the other four are

consonants.

AGE.
The vowel , with Spell: Ai, Jee, Ee ;
two consonants D, age; Ai, and Ee are
and Sø after it. vowels, the Jee is a

consonant.

We will not multiply these illustrations, but leave it to the reader's imagination to fancy, how bewildered must be the ears and brains of a poor child, who is required to believe bonâ fide, that Ar-eye-jee-aitch-tee, sounds REIT; or what notions of justice and intelligence he must form on finding himself repeatedly thumped for being “so stupid,” as not to understand “so plain a thing." How much more obvious is it, to let the child first distinguish in the ear the sounds R, EX, and T, and to tell him afterwards, that one of the ways in which, in English, the sound Ek is represented, is by the letters IGH. For this reason, spelling ought to be taught before writing or reading; that is to say, the knowledge of the written signs should not be imparted until the child has a clear perception of each sound, as it strikes the ear, and of the different combinations with other sounds of which it is capable.

If this distinction between the instruction in sounds, and the instruction in letters, is not as strongly

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