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provided we avoid a too forcible pronunciation of the 7, when it ends a word, or is followed by a consonant in the same syllable, we may give as much force as we please to this letter at the beginning of a word, without producing any harshness to the ear. Thus, Rome, river, rage, may have the r as forcible as in Ireland; but bar, bard, card, regard, &c. must have it nearly as soft as in London. This letter, therefore, forms an exception to the foregoing rule.
Hissing too much the terminations tion, sion, &c.
There is a vicious manner of pronouncing these terminations, by giving them a sharp hiss, which crushes the consonants together, and totally excludes the vowels, as if the words nation, occasion, &c. were written na-shn, occa-zhn, &c. As words of these terminations are very numerous in the language, any improper mode of sounding them must tarnish the whole pronunciation, and therefore ought to be most carefully guarded against. These terminations, therefore, ought to be pronounced as distinctly as if written, nashun, occazhun, &c. The diphthong io, for want of the accent, is sunk into that sound, which is annexed to the o in the last syllable of honour, favour, terrour, &c. which can be classed with nothing so much related to it as short u.
Pronouncing s indistinctly after st.
The letter s after st, from the very difficulty of its pronunciation, is often sounded inarticulately. The inhabitants of London of the lower order cut the knot, and pronounce it in a distinct syllable, as if e were be
fore it; but this is to be avoided as the greatest blemish in speaking: the three last letters in posts, fists, mists, &c. must all be distinctly heard in one syllable, and without either permitting the letters to coalesce, as if written pose, fiss, miss, &c. or suffering the ts to make a distinct syllable, like the vulgar of London, as if written pos-tes, fis-tes, mis-tes, &c. but letting the t be heard, however feebly, yet distinctly between the two hissing letters. For the acquiring of this sound, it will be proper to select nouns that end in st or ste; to form them into plurals, and pronounce them forcibly and distinctly every day. The same may be observed of the third person of verbs ending in sts or stes, as persists, wastes, pastes, &c.
Pronouncing w for v, and inversely.
The pronunciation of v for w, and more frequently of w for v, among the inhabitants of London, and those not always of the lower order, is a blemish of the first magnitude. The difficulty of remedying this defect is the greater, as the cure of one of these mistakes has a tendency to promote the other.
Thus, if you are very careful to make a pupil pronounce veal, and vinegar, not as if written weal and winegar, you will find him very apt to pronounce wine and wind, as if written vine and vind. The only method of rectifying this habit seems to be this. Let the pupil select from a dictionary, not only all the words that begin with v, but as many as he can of those that have this letter in any other part. Let him be told to bite his under lip while he is sounding the v in those words, and to practise this every day till he pronounces the v properly at first sight: then,
and not till then, let him pursue the same method with the w; which he must be directed to pronounce by a pouting out of the lips without suffering them to touch the teeth. Thus, by giving all the attention to only one of these letters at a time, and fixing by habit the true sound of that, we shall at last find both of them reduced to their proper pronunciation, in a shorter time than by endeavouring to rectify them both at
Not sounding h after w.
The aspirate h is often sunk, particularly in the capital, where we do not find the least distinction of sound between while and wile, whet and wet, where and were, &c. Trifling as this difference may appear at first sight, it tends greatly to weaken and impoverish the pronunciation, as well as sometimes to confound words of a very different meaning. The best method to rectify this is, to collect all the words of this description from a dictionary, and write them down; and instead of the wh, to begin them with hoo in a distinct syllable, and so to pronounce them. Thus let while be written and sound hoo-ile; whet, hoo-et; where, hoo-are; whip, hoo-ip; &c. This is no more, as Dr. Lowth observes, than placing the aspirate in its true position, before the w, as it is in the Saxon, which the words come from; where we may observe, that, though we have altered the orthography of our ancestors, we have still preserved their prounciation.
Not sounding h where it ought to be sounded, and inversely.
A still worse habit than the last prevails, chiefly among the people of London, that of sinking the h at the beginning of words, where it ought to be sounded, and of sounding it, either where it is not seen, or where it ought to be sunk. Thus we not unfrequently hear, especially among children, heart pronounced art, and arm, harm. This is a vice perfectly similar to that of pronouncing the v for the w, and the w for the v, and requires a similar method to correct it.
As there are but so very few words in the language where the initial h is sunk, we may select these from the rest; and, without setting the pupil right when he mispronounces these, or when he prefixes the h improperly to other words, we may make him pronounce all the words where his sounded, till he has almost forgot there are any words pronounced otherwise. Then he may go over those words to which he improperly prefixes the h, and those where the h is seen, but not sounded, without any danger of an interchange. As these latter words are but few, I shall subjoin a catalogue of them for the use of the learner. Heir, heiress, herb, herbage, honest, honesty, honestly, honour, honourable, honourably, hospital, hostler, hour, hourly, humble, humbly, humbles, humour, humorist, humorous, humorously, humorsome: where we may observe, that humour and its compounds not only sink the h, but sound the u like the pronoun you or the noun yew, as if written yewmour, yewmorous, &c.
Suppressing e where it should be pronounced, and pronouncing it where it should be suppressed.
The vowel e before and n in a final unaccented syllable, by its being sometimes suppressed and sometimes not, forms one of the most puzzling difficulties in teaching young people to read. When any of the liquids precede these letters, the e is heard distinctly, as woollen, flannel, women, syren; but when any of the other consonants come before these letters, the e is sometimes heard, as in novel, sudden: and sometimes not, as in swivel, sadden, &c. As no other rule can be given for this variety of pronunciation, perhaps the best way will be to draw the line between those words where e is pronounced, and those where it is not; and this, by the help of the RHYMING DICTIONARY, I am easily enabled to do. In the first place, then, it may be observed, that e before l, in a final unaccented syllable, must always be pronounced distinctly, except in the following words: shekel, weasel, ousel, nousel, (better written nuzzle,) navel, ravel, snivel, rivel, drivel, shrivel, shovel, grovel, hazel, drazel, nozel. These words are pronounced as if the e were omitted by an apostrophe, as shek'l, weaz'l, ous'l, &c. or rather as if written, shekle, weazle, ouzle, &c.-but as these are the only words of this termination that are so pronounced, great care must be taken that children do not pronounce travel, gravel, rebel, (the substantive,) parcel, chapel, vessel, in the same manner; a fault to which they are very liable.
E before n, in a final unaccented syllable, and not preceded by a liquid, must always be suppressed, ex