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press by the letter s; and, if we looked only to the expression of the sound, we should spell the word sity. This, however, is not the case, and that for the following reason. -The word city is a word of Latin origin. In that language its form was civitas, and it was spelt with c. To change this c into s conceals in some degree the origin of the word; for this reason the c is retained.
There are in the English language many words like city, where the natural spelling is with s, but where c is retained for the sake of exhibiting the origin, history, or derivation of the word. Now the origins, histories, and derivations of words are taught by what is called Etymology; so that, when we admit a mode of spelling that for the mere representation of the sound is unnecessary, we admit it on what is called the Etymological Principle.
§ 50. REMARKS ON THE CHIEF PECULIARITIES AND EXPEDIENTS OF THE ENGLISH ALPHABET AND ORTHOGRAPHY IN DETAIL.
The letter C.-1. Before a small vowel c is pronounced as s; city, citizen, cetaceous, Cyprian.
2. Before a broad vowel or a consonant c is pronounced as k; cat, craft.
3. Followed by the letter h it serves to express the sound of tsh; as church, birch.
4. At the end of a word c rarely occurs. (See k.)
The letter D.-In a large class of words d is used in spelling where the real sound is that of t. Words like stuffed, tripped, plucked, &c., are all pronounced stuft, tript, pluckt, &c.
The letter G.-1. Before a small vowel g is generally pronounced as j; Egypt, gin, gibe, gibbet, congeal, gem, &c. 2. Before a broad vowel or a consonant 9 is pronounced as in gun.
In sin never as s in those, i. e. as z.
3. With the letter h it retains its natural sound, as in
The letter H.-The letter h enters into combination with other letters, and these are used as convenient modes of expressing those simple elementary sounds which have no sign equally simple to represent them.
1. The combination of h with t, or th.-This expresses two sounds: 1. that of the th in thin; 2. that of the th in thine.
2. The combination of h with s, or sh.-This expresses the sound of the sh in shine.
3. The combination of h with c, or ch.-This expresses the sound of the ch in chest, and is equivalent in sound to tsh.
The letter I.-For the circumstance of this letter representing two distinct sounds, see § 27.
The letter K.—1. K rarely comes before a broad vowel. In this place we generally find c.
2. But it is used before a small vowel; because in that position c would run the chance of being sounded as s.
3. At the end of words, k is used in preference to c. We write stick, lock, rather than stic, loc, or stice, locc.
4. K is rarely doubled. We write stick, lock, rather than stikk, lokk.
The letter S.-In a very large class of words the letter s is used in spelling where the real sound is that of the Words like stags, balls, peas, &c. are pronounced stagz, ballz, peaz.
The whole of the details in the English spelling are far too numerous to be exhibited in the present pages. Those that have been just noticed are the points of the greatest importance. By attending to what follows, we shall see that for most of the leading peculiarities there is a
a. The reason for c, when followed by a small vowel, having the sound of s, may be collected from §§ 46 and 49.
b. The reason for c being rarely found at the end of words is as follows:
The sound of the letter c is either that of k or s.
Which of these sounds it shall represent is determined by what follows.
If followed by nothing, it has no fixed sound.
Therefore is inconvenient at the end of words.
c. The reason for d being often sounded like t is as follows:
The words where it is so sounded are either the past tenses of verbs, or the participles of verbs,-as plucked, tossed, stepped, &c.
Now the letter e in the second syllable of these words (and of words like them) is not sounded; whence the sounds of k (in pluck), of s (in toss), and of p (in step), come in immediate contact with the sound of the letter d.
But the sound of the letter d is flat, while those of k, s, and p are sharp; so that the combinations kd, sd, and pd are unpronounceable. Hence d is sounded as t.
In the older stages of the English language the vowel e (or some other vowel equivalent to it) was actually sounded, and in those times d was sounded also.
Hence d is retained in spelling, although its sound is the sound of t.
d. The reason for g, when followed by a small vowel, having the sound of dzh (or j), may be collected from § 47.
e. The reason for h appearing in combination with t, s, and c, in words like thin (and thine), shine, and chest, is as follows:
The Greeks had in their language the sounds of both the t in tin, and of the th in thin.
These two sounds they viewed in a proper light; that is, they considered them both as simple single elementary sounds.
Accordingly, they expressed them by signs, or letters, equally simple, single, and elementary. The first they denoted by the sign, or letter, 7, the second by the sign, or letter, 0.
They observed also the difference in sound between these two sounds.
To this difference of sound they gave names. The sound of (t) was called psilon (a word meaning bare). The sound of (th) was called dasy (a word meaning rough).
In the Latin language, however, there was no such sound as that of th in thin.
And, consequently, there was no simple single sign to represent it.
Notwithstanding this the Latins knew of the sound and of its being in Greek; and, at times, when they wrote words of Greek extraction, they had occasion to represent it. This they did by adding the letter h.
As the influence of the Latin language was great, this view of the nature of the sound of th (and of sounds like it) became common.
The Anglo-Saxons, like the Greeks, had a simple single sign for the simple single sound: viz. p (for the th in thin), and (for the th in thine).
But their Norman conquerors had neither sound nor sign, and so they succeeded in superseding the Anglo-Saxon by the Latin mode of spelling.
Add to this, that they treated the two sounds of th (thin and thine) as one, and spelt them both alike.
f. In effecting the combinations sh and ch, other causes, requiring long explanation, were at work over and above the one just given.
g. Of the letter k it may be said in general terms that it is never used except where c would be pronounced as s; that is, before a small vowel. If kid were spelt cid, it would run the chance of being pronounced sid.
Now, the preference of c to k is another instance of the influence of the Latin language. The letter k was wanting in Latin; and, as such, was eschewed by languages whose orthography was influenced by the Latin.
h. The reason for s being often sounded like z is as follows:
The words where it is so sounded are either possessive cases, or plural nominatives; as stag's, stags, slab's, slabs, &c.
Now in these words (and in words like them) the sounds of g (in stags) and of b (in slabs) come in immediate contact with the sound of the letter s.
But the sound of the letter s is sharp, whilst those of g and b are flat, so that the combinations gs, bs, are unpronounceable. Hence s is sounded as z.
In the older stages of the English language a vowel was interposed between the last letter of the word and the letter s, and, when that vowel was sounded, s was sounded also.
Hence s is retained in spelling, although its sound is the sound of z.
i. This fact of s at the end of words so frequently being sounded as z reduces the writer to a strait whenever he has to express the true sound of s at the end of a word. To write s on such an occasion would be to use a letter that would probably be mispronounced; that is, pronounced as z.
The first expedient he would hit upon would be to double the s, and write ss. But here he would meet with the following difficulty :-A double consonant expresses the shortness of the vowel preceding; as toss, hiss, egg, &c. Hence a double s (ss) might be misinterpreted.
In this case he has recourse to the letter c. The letter c, followed by a small vowel, is sounded as s-pence, dice, ice, &c.