« PreviousContinue »
the original written characters of the Chi- almost endless extent, are very different nese were imitative or figurative, and that from the tropical characters of the Egypthey were few in number. These have, tians, which continued to be simple in in process of time, been modified and their structure, and, in general, incapable changed, both as to form and use, so that of combination. That light may yet be scarcely a vestige now remains of their cast on the invention of proper alphabetie original appearance, and, in some cases, signs, from a diligent and extensive collaof original usage. All the Chinese writ- tion of Egyptian and Chinese characters, ing was originally ideographic; that is, and a better understanding of the true it resembled the figurative and tropical nature and history of each, every lover of hieroglyphic method of the Egyptians. literature will continue to wish and to But now, as stated by that excellent Chi- hope.” To illustrate another very impornese scholar, Abel Remusat, in his Chi- tant step in writing, that of expressing nese Grammar, p. 4, at least one half of grammatical forms by bieroglyphics, althe Chinese characters are merely pho- luded to in the article Hieroglyphics, we netic, or alphabetic, in the sense of syl- extract the following passage from the labic. These the Chinese call hing- fifth Lecture in Spineto's work : “ The ching, that is, representing sound. In marks of the genders are, a square, either the next place, the Chinese have an or- plain or striated, for the masculine, and der of characters which they name hoeï-i half a circle for the feminine. The plural and kia-tsiei, which are designed to ex- is almost invariably expressed by a simpress abstract and intellectual ideas. ple repetition of the [hieroglyphical] These resemble, of course (not in form, units : to these units sometimes is added but a3 to use), the tropical hieroglyphics a quail: all of these stand for the syllable of the Egyptians. But, on the other hand, noue, or oue, which is the termination there are some striking differences be- added to the plural : for instance, the tween the hieroglyphic system of writing word soten signifies king; and, by the and that of the Chinese. The Chinese addition of noue, we have so-tenoue (kings); characters are divided into primitive, or noyte (god), noytenoue (gods); and the simple, and derived, or composite. Of like. In regard to the genders, it seems the first, called siang-hing, which make the Egyptians also expressed them by the elements of all their writing, there employing the pronouns of him, of her; are only about two hundred (Remusat's and these pronouns were represented by Grammar, p. 1, note 2), while the Egyp- the figure of an undulating line over a tian hieroglyphics amount to more than serpent, or over a broken line. In the eight hundred (Précis, p. 267). The first instance, the group represented the derived or composite characters of the pronoun his, or of him, which, in Coptic, Chinese are exceedingly numerous; and was nev, or nef; in the second instance, in these are combined two or more sim- the group stood for the pronoun hers, or ple characters. The combination often- of her, which, in Coptic, was called nes." times is very complex, and not a little These terminations, or an abbreviation difficult for a learner to decipher. These of them, if added to hieroglyphic expresare called hoeï-i. On the contrary, in sions, would make them either of the Egyptian, the combination of proper bie- masculine or feminine gender: “For exroglyphics is very rare; indeed, it scarcely ample, the chenaloper, that is, the goose, ever takes place, and when it does, it is in or the egg, are the phonetic hieroglyphics such a way that the elements of the com- expressing the word child; for both of bination are preserved entirely separate; them represent the letter s, which is an as, for example, in the anaglyphs above, abbreviation of the word se, or tse (son, described. These striking points of dif-" child): therefore if to the bird or to the ference serve to show that although the fig- egg we add the figure of the serpent, or the urative hieroglyphics of the Egyptians, and broken line, we shall have, in the first inthe siang-hing, or original simple charac- stance, the group signifying son of him, or ters of the Chinese, were alike (for such his son; and, in the second, son of her, or must be the case, inasmuch as both were her son. The genitive case is expressed pictures, or imitations of sensible objects), mostly by an undulating line added to a yet, in the course which the two nations group. This bieroglyphic stands for the respectively chose, in order to represent - letter n, and, on those occasions, is taken abstract and intellectual ideas, there was as an abbreviation of the syllable nen, a great diversity ; hence the tropical which is the invariable termination of characters of the Chinese, compounded the genitive case in the Coptic language. of the simple ones, and diversified to an The Egyptians distinguished the third
person singular of the present tense in the these sorts of inscriptions are read horisame way as we do in the English lan- zontally from left to right, are phonetic, guage, by adding the letter s to the word, and comprise some characters for parts such as he does, he writes. The figure of the of words and monograms. As yet the serpent, which stands for the letter s, is a various attempts to decipher these inmark of the third person singular of the scriptions have proved unsuccessful.-See present tense." Champollion has found The Assyrian Wedge-Character explained, a number of other hieroglyphics, which &c., edited by Dorow (Wisbaden, 1820, exhibit the inflections of verbs ; but they in German).-Not only the character of are not yet all accurately determined. the various alphabets differ, but also the “ The passive participle was represented order in which the characters are conby two hieroglyphics, the horn and the nected, or, which is the same thing, the half circle. The pronoun this was ex- way in which the writing is to be read. hibited by a vase and a perpendicular The most ancient ways of writing include, line. The pronoun who or which was rep- ' 1. Cionædon, or column writing, in which resented by a vase and half a circle. the letters and words stand one under the Such are some of the principal and most other, as is the case with the Chinese important grammatical forms or phrases.” writing, and with the Egyptian hieroIt may be made a question whether pho- glyphics ; 2. the Boustrophedon (q. v.), or netic alphabets are all derived from a furrow writing, which proceeds, like the common source, or whether different na- furrows of the plough, alternately from tions, in the gradual progress of improve- right to left, and from left to right; ment, were led to this great invention 3. Sphærædon, circular writing. without mutual communication. If the The various materials used for writing latter supposition be correct, the similari- have been stones, metals, bark and leaves, ty of these alphabets in the oldest Jan- wood, wax, ivory, shells, linen, skins of guages would be owing to the similarity animals, parchment, Egyptian papyrus, in the minds of men, and in the processes cotton paper, and paper made of rags. of their developement; but in either case, The instruments for writing have been after phonetic characters were invented, chisels, styles of iron or bone, reeds and they would naturally assume a great va- quills. Ink was made, in ancient times, riety of forms, being merely arbitrary of the liquor of the cuttle-fish, of cinnasigns. Such we find to be the fact. Å bar, &c. Down to the invention of the considerable number of ancient alphabets art of printing, the calligraphers and stestill exist, such as the demotic, hieratic nographers formed professions. (See and hieroglyphic characters of the Egyp- Stenography.) Of the papyrus, sheets tians, the old Phænician, Punic, Etruscan, (scapi) were formed ; of these, rolls (voluGreek, Runic (q. v.), Cufic (q. v.), arrow- mina) were made, wound round a staff of head characters, and a number of others. box-wood, ivory or gold, to which the The last are also called by some the ends of the rolls were glued. Square books vredge characters, because the lines of are said to have come into vogue in the which they consist are so put together as time of the kings of Pergamus. (See to have a wedge-like form. This species Manuscripts, and Palæography.) It is of writing is found upon some ancient highly probable that the Greeks received monuments of Persia and Babylonia. the art of writing from Egypt, either diThe arrow-head characters may be di- rectly or through the Phænicians. The vided into iwo principal classes, the Greeks say that Cadmus brought them Persian and Babylonian, or the Median the first alphabet, consisting of sixteen letand Chaldean, of which the former has ters, according to Pliny the following : again three, the latter two subdivisions. A, e, r, A. E, I, A, M, N, O, IT, P, E, T, Y. To The Persian arrow-bead characters are these Palamedes (q. v.) added 0, 2, 8, X; found in the ruins of Pasargadæ and Per-, and Simopides (q.v.) again added 2, H,4,... sepolis, in the valley of Murgab near It ought to be observed that the SamariFasa in Persia, in the ruins of Susa and tan letters did not differ from the Greek. Babylon; and, in most of these cases, Originally the Romans wrote only with inscriptions in all three characters stand uncial characters. In the ancient manword for word one under the other. The uscripts found at Herculaneum, and esBabylonian arrow-head character, how- pecially in the Greek manuscripts, all the ever, never appears, except alone, on the words are written in uncial characters, various kinds of tiles and other bricks and are neither separated by points nor and stones in the ancient Babylon; also spaces. There is nothing to indicate on gems and cylindrical amulets. All the division of the words. No sign is met with, which might assist in the pro- the most diligent, inquiry, it doth not apnunciation. The signs of punctuation 'pear that the Britons had the use of letdid not begin to be used until the knowl- ters before their intercourse with the edge of the Greek language was lost. Romans; and though, from the coming (See Winckelmann's Letters on Hercula- of Julius Cæsar till the time when the neum.) With the conquests of Rome, the Romans left the island, in the year 427, art of writing, and particularly the Roman the Roman letters were familiar to the alphabet, were more and more widely eyes of the inhabitants, he is of opinion, spread; but great difficulties were found that writing was very little practised by to attend the attempts to write down the the Britons till after the coming of Si. languages of particular countries with Augustine, about the year 596. The characters adapted to another language; writing which prevailed in England i. e. to other sounds. Such attempts were from this time to the middle of the elev. not often made by the Romans ; but enth century, is generally termed Sazon, when the missionaries spread themselves and may be divided into five kinds; viz. through the countries of Europe, and the Roman-Saxon, which is very similar found it necessary to give instruction in to the Roman, and prevailed in England writing, as well as to prepare translations from the coming of St. Augustine till the of the Gospels into the various idioms, we eighth century; the set Saxon, which took meet every where with complaints of the place towards the middle of the eighth cendifficulty, and sometimes the impossibili- tury, continued till about the middle of the ty, of rendering the native sounds by the ninth, and was not entirely disused till the already existing alphabet. The reason is beginning of the tenth century; the runclear. In some instances, the sounds may ning-hand Saxon, which came into use have been so rude, and so little different towards the latter end of the ninth centufrom the cries of animals (as is some- ry, when learning was diffused in Engtimes the case with the language of sav- land under the auspices of king Alfred, ages), that they could not be expressed in whose reign many books were written by signs for articulate sounds: sometimes in that island in a more expeditious manthe tones were totally different from those ner than formerly; the mixed Saxon, ocfor which the alphabet had been made. curring in the ninth, tenth, and in the beThis circumstance has produced a great ginning of the eleventh centuries, in effect on the orthography of these lan- many manuscripts which were written guages,and, in our opinion, in various cases, in England in characters partly Roman, on the languages themselves. Certain partly Lombardic, and partly Saxon; and differences between sounds have been lost the elegant Saxon, which took place in in consequence of the want of characters England early in the tenth century, lasted to designate them, as appears from a vari- till the Norman conquest, but was not ety of facts. The same complaints, which entirely disused till the middle of the were made in the first centuries of Chris- twelfth, and is more beautiful than the tianity, respecting the difficulty of ascer- writing in France, Italy and Germany taining the true sound of the native words during the same period. The writing in some instances, and of writing them introduced into England by William with Latin characters, are now made by the is usually called Norman, and is commissionaries in the South sea islands, &c. posed of letters nearly Lombardic, which And if it was difficult to adapt the Latin were generally used in grants, charters, alphabet to foreign idioms, how inuch public instruments and law proceedings, more difficult must it be to adapt the with very little variation, from the NorEnglish orthography-certainly the most man conquest till the reign of king Edpreposterous existing—to different classes ward III. About the reign of king Richard of languages! It was, therefore, a very II, variations took place in writing records useful undertaking of Mr. John Pickering and law proceedings. The charters from to prepare an alphabet fitted to convey the reign of king Richard II to that of all the sounds which commonly occur in king Henry VIII, were composed partly the various languages. This alphabet of characters called set chancery and comhas been adopted by the war depart- mon chancery, and soine of the letters ment of the U. States for the writing of called court-hand ; which three different the Indian languages, and by the mission- species of writing are derived partly from aries in the South sea islands. It is given the Norman and partly from the modern at the end of this article. Respecting the Gothic. The modern Gothic began to alphabets used at various times in Great take place in England in the twelfth Britain, Mr. Astle observes that, after century; the old English about the middle of the fourteenth century; and set gin and Progress of Writing (4to., 1784). chancery and common chancery in the The German alphabet was formed by decline of the same century, and are still Kero and Ottfried, in the time of Charleused in the enrolments of letters patent, magne. German was first written with charters, &c., and in exemplifications of Latin letters. In fact, most writings of recoveries: the court-hand was contrived that time, as forms of laws, treaties, &c., by the English lawyers, and took its rise were even drawn up in the Latin lanabout the middle of the sixteenth centu- guage. The thirteenth century is generry, and continued till the beginning of the ally considered as the time when German reign of George II, when it was abolished characters became common, under the by law. The court-hand characters were emperor Frederic II. Others assume a nothing more than the Norman charac- later period. Germany has, as Mr. Breitters very much corrupted and deformed. koph observes, but two national alphabets, In the sixteenth century, the English the (so called) fractur and the current. lawyers engrossed their conveyances and Fractur characters were formed out of legal instruments in characters called sec- the (so called) new-Gothic and monastic retary, which are still in use. The French characters, which sprung up in the elevcall their writings by the names of the enth century. It was not till the fifteenth different races of their kings, in whose century, that the current or cursive chartimes they were written : these were, the acters were used in printing. Before that Merovingian, the Carlovingian, the Cape- time, straight characters only had been tian, the Valesian, and the Bourbon.— used in printing; but the elder Aldus MaThe manuscripts written in the northern nutius (q. v.) made types for the cursive parts of Scotland and in Ireland are in character. Albert Dürer (q. v.) at last characters similar to the Saxon. It seems settled the proportions for the German probable, that the interior parts of Europe characters. In diplomatics (q. v.), the were immediately peopled from the north- knowledge of the letters used at different ern parts of Asia, and the maritime parts periods is very important. They have from Phænicia, and the southern and been classified, &c.—See La Nouvelle western parts of that quarter of the globe. Diplomatique ; also Weber's Essay toIf this be the case, it is not surprising wards a History of the Art of Writing (in that some Eastern customs prevailed in German, Göttingen, 1807).- We have said Great Britain and Ireland, and that many above, that the alphabets of Europe, and, Celtic words are still preserved both in in fact, most, perhaps all, alphabets now the Irish and in the Welsh languages. existing, are phonetic (see the article The Norman characters, it is observed, China, division Chinese Language, Writwere generally used in England from the ing, &c.); and it is interesting to know coming of William I; and the Saxon what articulate sounds are used to express characters were entirely disused in the the thoughts and feelings of man. We very beginning of the twelfth century; have touched upon this subject in the but the Irish and Scots preserved the an- article Voice, and add here a synoptic table cient forms of their characters till the end of the English elementary sounds, as they of the sixteenth century. The Gaelic or really exist in the English language, howErse language, used in the Highlands of ever they may be written. This table is Scotland, and the Hiberno-Gaelic, are taken from the article Sound, written by nearly the same; and their letters are Mr. Herschel for the Encyclopædia Mesimilar to each other; as Mr. Astle has tropolitana. The syllables which conshown by various specimens. The curi- tain the sounds referred to, are printed in ous will find much information on the italics, where words of more than one subject of this article in Astle's Ori- syllable are introduced.
- Rook; Julius; Rude; Poor; Womb; Wound; Ouvrir (Fr.). 13. Good; Cushion ; Cuckoo ; Rund (Germ.); Gusto (Ital.). 2. Spurt; Assert; Dirt; Virtue ; Dove; Double; Blood. 3. Hole; Toad. 4.-; ; .
All; Caught; Organ ; Sought; Broth ; Broad. 5. Hard; Braten (Germ.); Charlatan (Fr.). 6. Laugh; Task. 7. Lamb; Fan; That.
Hang; Bang; Twang. 9. Hare; Hair; Heir; Were ; Pear;. Hier (Fr.); Lehren (Germ.).
10. Lame; Tame ; Crane; Faint; Layman; Meme (Fr.); Städchen (Germ.). 11. Lemon ; Dead; Said ; Any; Every ; Friend; Besser (Germ.); Éloigner (Fr.). 12. Liver; Diminish ; Persevere ; Believe. 13. Peep; Leave; Believe ; Sieben (Germ.); Coquille (Fr.). 14. s; sibilus; cipher; the last vowel and the first consonant.
True Diphthongs. 1. Life; The Sounds No. 5 and No. 13, slurred as rapidly as possible, produce our
English i, which is a real diphthong. 2. Brow; Plough; Laufen (Germ.). The vowel Sound No. 5 quickly followed
by No. 1. 3. Oil; Käuen (Germ.); No. 4 succeeded by No. 13. 4. Rebuke ; Yew; You; No. 13 succeeded by No. 1. 5. Yoke; No. 13 succeeded by No. 3. 6. Young; Yearn; Hear; Here; No. 13 succeeded by No. 2, more or less rapidly. The consonants present equal confusion. different or neutral; the former two havThey may be generally arranged in three ing a constant relationship or parallelism classes: sharp sounds, flat ones, and in- to each other, thus: Sharp Consonants. S. sell
, cell ; -. (as we will here denote it) shame, sure, schirm (Germ.); 0. thing; F. fright, enough, phantom ; K. king, coin, quiver; T. talk ;
FLAT CONSONANTS. Z. zenith, casement ; . pleasure, jardin (French); B. the th in
the words the, that, thou ; V. vile ; G. good; D. duke ; B. babe. Neutral Consonants. L. lily; M. mamma; N. Nanny; v. hang; to which we
may add the nasal N in gnu, Ætna, Dnieper, which, however, is not properly an
English sound; R. rattle ; H. hard. COMPOUND CONSONANTS. C, or To, church, cicerone (Ital.), and its corresponding
flat sound J or D, 3. jest, gender: X. extreme, Xerres ; ;. erasperate, exalt, Xerxes; &c. &c.
We have here a scale of thirteen simple Boston, added to his proposed alphabet, vowels and twenty-one simple conso- which, as we have stated, is now adopted nants, -thirty-three in all,—which are the in some cases, is of great interest, as showfewest letters with which it is possible to ing how the vowel sounds run into one write English. But, on the other hand, another—a subject which we have had with the addition of two or three more occasion to touch upon in the various vowels, and as many consonants, making articles relating to the vowels in this about forty characters in all, every known work. It is to be found, together with language might probably be effectually his alphabet, in the fourth volume of the reduced to writing, so as to preserve an Memoirs of the American Academy (Camexact correspondence between the writ- bridge, 1818), and is given below. The ing and pronunciation. In addition to this alphabet itself is as follows: table, the note which Mr. Pickering, of
* In considering the several letters by which the vowel sounds are represented, both in our own and other languages, it will be perceived, that each of them may be taken as representing, not a single sound, bui a series of sounds, which series will be more or less extensive according to the genius of different languages; and it will be further observed, that each series gradually runs into the adjoining series (if we may so speak), by such slight and delicate modifications, that it is a matter of no small difficulty, in many cases, to decide in what part of any one series we should drop the vowel character with which we begin, and take another to continue the sounds of the next series : in other woras, it is ac! easy to determine at what point one series ends and another begins. For example: if we take the letter o, we may assume the sound which it has in the word father, as the middle point of a series, the whole of whích (beginning with the broad a in fall, and ending with the narrow or slender a in fate) we denote in English by this one character, thus :-FALL-FAR-FAT-FATE; and these are all the sounds in this series, which philologists desiguate in our own language by this one letter. But if we extend our view to other languages, we shall find various intermediate sounds between the two extremes of this same series; for example, between the sounds of our a in fall and in far, we find in the French language the & in påle, mâle, &c., which can only be described, on paper, as a sound between our two, and which is seldom attended to by foreigners in speaking French. Now, if we should minutely examine a number of languages, and should endeavor to arrange accurately, in one progression, all the vowel sounds belonging to this series, we should doubtless discover in those languages many other slight modifications intervening between the different members of our English series.