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These are plainly resolvable into one letter, or at the most, two letters. H, which we have classed with them, because it seemed to belong more to the guttural than to any other distribution, is merely an aspirate or sign of a strong expulsion of breath from the lungs with open mouth : X, like Ch and Gh, is a compound letter, being Cs ; Qu (for Q is never found without U) is merely Cu; C and K are the same letter, the last being the Greek, and the first the Latin form. There remain to be considered, therefore, only G and C. These two letters are nearly identical ; indeed they were put indifferently, or ad libitum, in many Latin words; and the G was not admitted into the Latin alphabet till after the first Punic war.
Nothing can well be more different from another than are the two powers of these letters, i. e. G and C hard and G and C soft : the one is truly hard (i. e. difficult and harsh) to both mouth (or rather throat) and ear; the other is altogether as soft and easy, being the same as J, S, Tsh.
Here it will be proper to notice this double character of the gutturals. Mr. Horne Tooke affirms, that, with the Goths and Saxons as well as Latins and Greeks, these letters G and C were always hard; but this appears to be one of his confident assump: tions and bold assertions, well supported, it is true,
in this case, by the authority of others. He is evidently wrong with regard to the Goths and Saxons, as is admitted and shown by the Saxon Professor of Oxford; and that he is equally wrong with regard to the Latins, is more than probable; else, how was it that C and T should be indifferently employed in so many words, as Accius, Attius; Planities, Planicies? How should the two powers or sounds (or whatever they ought to be called) of G and C have taken possession of all the modern languages, even in words that are manifestly Greek and Latin?
The double character of these letters is to be regretted for several reasons, and for none more than for the etymologic disguise which it has thrown around many words whose origin would have been obvious; but the fact seems to be, that even from very early and ancient times the evil complained of existed, and that it originated in the difficulty and harshness of the hard or guttural pronunciation of the letters in question ; and there appears a physical reason why it should have become a general rule, that before e, i, and y, G and C are soft ; because there is a peculiar difficulty or labour (for men naturally consult their ease) in making them hard before these vowels, especially as the vowels were anciently pronounced; for the mouth is much more freely opened in pronouncing a, o, and u, than in pronouncing e, i, and y..
It is owing to the guttural difficulty and harshness (especially to the Latins, Italians, and French, through
whom we have received so many words) of G and C, that they change after the following manner :
1. N is assumed for the purpose of producing a nasal facility and smoothness of pronunciation ; thus, Pago became Pango; JUGO, JUNGO, &c.: hence the frequent union of N and G, and N and C, not only in the Latin, but in all the modern languages of Europe, especially the Italian and the French, in which last language N and M have, without the assistance of G, very frequently the ringing nasal sound, which sound predominates so much, (probably because the good people of France find it delightfully easy,) that said language might with more propriety be called after the nose than after the tongue.
It was remarked above, that there is a mutual affinity between M and N, because they have both a nasal character; as the gutturals and the N have, when united, a highly nasal power; hence, they also have a kind of mutual attraction; for as N is frequently taken into union with G, so G and C, or K, are frequently taken into union with N: as, GNOPHOS, KNEPHAS (Greek) for NEPHOS, (NE PHOS,) GNOO, GNOMA for NOEO, NOEMA; Gnatus for NATUS; GNAVUS for Navus; Montagna (It.) for MONTANA, &c. Song, (whence Sing;) i. e. SONUS; Tink, Ting, i. e. TINNIO ; Strong, i. e. STRENU-US ; and many of our terminations in ng : thus, ing, the present participial termination was formerly end, ende, ent, and, ant, ande,
&c.; for such are the caprices of the Saxon orthography, that twenty different spellings might be discovered. · It may just be remarked, before leaving this topic, that the double guttural has, in Greek, the ringing nasal sound : Hang, Ango, is, in Greek, AGCHO; EVANGELIUM is EUAGGELION, &c. &c.
2. Owing to the guttural difficulty and harshness above noticed, C, K, G, are frequently changed, not only into J and S, both in power and in spelling, but also into X, Ch, Gh, W, H, &c.: Fixus from FIGO; Nexo from NECTO ; Veho, i. e. OCHEO; Walk, i. e. Calco; Short, i. e. Curt, i. e. Curt-US; Chain, i. e. CATENA; Chalice, i. e. CALIX; Church, i. e. * Kurk, * Kirk, i. e. KURIKOS; Fellow, i. e. Colleague, i. e. Collega ; Night, i. e. NocTE, (ablative of Nox,) Notte (It.); Right, i. e. Rect-us, &c. &c. The present gh of the English language is silent, and only serves to make the preceding vowel long, except in a few instances where it sounds like ff; but it was at first, as it still is with the Scotch, Germans, &c., a particular Northern guttural, approaching to a strong aspirate or the H forcibly pronounced..
These of course frequently interchange, and the same general rule of transmutation holds; viz. the more harsh and difficult letters (and combinations of letters) usually change into those which are more
smooth and easy. Facility, however, being often the result of early and long habit, a pronunciation may be easy to one people which is very difficult to another. Thus the Saxon sound of gh, ch, so easy to the Scotch and Germans, &c., is almost impossible to the modern English (just as some French sounds are); and th, so easy to the English, is almost unpronounceable to the other nations of Europe. But though so difficult to them, there are almost innumerable instances of its being substituted among us for letters that seem both smoother and easier : as
* Thack, Thatch, i. e. Tect-UM; Thin, i. e. TENU-IS ; Thrust, i. e. Trusit-o ; Thunder, i. e. TONITRU; Thou, Thee, i. é. Tu, TE; Faith, i. e. FID-ES; Mother, i. e. MATER; Father, i. e. PATER; Brother, i. e. FRATER, &c. &c.
The general tendency of transmutation among the dentals is of D into T, and of T and Th into S, Sh, Z: hence, ed, the p. p. of verbs, is frequently changed into t; as, learnt for learned, &c.; and eth, the verbal termination, is now generally s; as loves for loveth, &c.
Di having before another vowel nearly, if not wholly, the very power of J, it is interchanged with it; as,
Journey, (also Char,) i. e. DIURNUS; Journal, i. e. DIURNAL.
S, Sh, Ti, (when pronounced shi,) can hardly be considered dentals, being merely an emission of