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The following Table, which contains the terminations of every verb, may be useful to the scholar, as a memorandum, and even a shield, to guard his orthography from the blunders so often made by English learners, in writing the verbs.








Scholar. WHAT are words?
Master. The signs or representations of our ideas and thoughts.
S. How many kinds of words do you distinguish?

M. Nine : viz. the noun, adjective, article or determining word, pronoun, verb (so called by way of eminence), preposition, adverb, conjunction, and interjection, which are adequate to the full expression of all our ideas, thoughts, and sensations; and will become the

; subject of the following conversations.

Š. What are words composed of ?

M. Of sounds in speech, and of letters, which are written characters, when they represent those sounds to the eye.

The useful art of representing speech in written characters is called writing, the invention of which is ascribed to Cadmus, and has been celebrated by Brébeuf, in the following beautiful lines :

C'est de lui que nons vient cet art ingénieux,
De peindre la parole & de parler aux yeux ;
Et par les traits divers de figures tracées,

Donner de la couleur & du corps aux pensées.
The following version will not, I imagine, be unacceptable to tho
English reader:

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S. How many kinds of sounds are there?

M. Two; inarticulate and articulate: the former are so called from their formation by the voice, unassisted by the tongue or lips; while the latter are formed by the voice, modified by the lips, teeth, throat, tongue, palate, or nose. The first are also called vowels; the second, consonants.

S. What name is given to the lettors which represent the inarticulate sounds?

M. Vocal letters; or, simply, vowels: there are five of them, viz. a, e, i, o, u.

S. What are those termned, which describe the articulate?

M. Consonants, and make eighteen in number, viz. b, c, d, f, g, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, x, z. They are called consonants, from the Latin words cum, with, and sunare, to sound; implying the necessity of their junction with the vowels, to express those sounds which alone they could not. If you add to the foregoing letters the consonant n, to denote aspiration, and the letter y, which generally describes the sound already represented by I, all the above letters, twenty-five in number, compose our French alphabet, in which, as you may observe, the W has not been found necessary.

S. What general name do you give the various sounds which constitute a word?

M. Syllables, which, like the vowels or consonants, are expressed or written.

S. Of how many letters is a written syllable composed?

M. Sometimes of a single letter only, which must be a vowel; and sometimes of several, one of which must also be a vowel.

S. Are there no more than five towels?

M. No: but there should be many more, since these five letters cannot represent even all the sounds which the voice, not modified by any motion of the organ of speech, may utter, by the simple emission of the breath. To obviate this dificulty, we have recourse to various means to express different sounds, without resorting to additional letters or characters, which would swell our alphabet.

First, we use three marks, called accents, placed over the vowels, to render their sounds more or less forcible: they are described thus: acute', (aigu); grave', (grave); and circumflex“, (circonflexe). Their application is exemplified in the following words : 4, páte; é, unité; è, procès ; é, tempéte; ô, côte; i, gíte; ú, Húte,

Secondly, we combiue several vowels, and term their combination a compound vowel; they are ten in nuniber: as ea, il mangea; ai, j'ai; eai, je mangeai ; au, étau ; eau, chapeau ; eu, heureux ; &u, væu, eo, geolier; æ, æsophage; ou, ouvrier. I must here point out an imperfection, which is, that all these, except the last, describe no sounds different from those before represented by the five simple Towels with or without accents.


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Thirdly, to express the simple sounds passing through the nose, m or n is subjoined to the vowels, whether simple or compound, and the letter thus subjoined causes them to be called nasals; as am, Adam; an, enfant; aen, Caen ; ean, vengeance; em, emplacement; en, ensemble; aim, faim; ain, pain ; ein, dessein; im, impossible; in, enfin; om, sombre; on, confondu; eon, mangeons; eun, jeun; um, humble; un, tribun. The imperfection just noticed, is also observable here.

S. What do you call a diphthong?

M. The distinct sound of two vowels, the first of which is nearly lost in the second. This double sound, though expressed by several vowels, like the compound, is essentially different. In French, there are nineteen: i. e. --six simple, as ia, diamant; ié, pitié; io, fiole; oe, moelle; oi, moi; ui nuit; seven compound, as, iai, je confiai; iau, miaulement; icu, adieu ; iou chiourme; ouu, rouage; ouai, je jouai; oui, enfoui; and six nasals, as, ian, viande; ien, bien; ion, ambition; oin, soin ; ouin, marsouin; uin, Juin.

The above will give you an idea of the mechanical plan, adopted in written language, to fix the fugitive sounds of the voice. We might indeed have dweit considerably on the subject, and written almost a folio on the numberless irregularities of French pronunciation, complicated with rules, the greater part of which you could never have retained. That your mind may

not be perplexed with unnecessary matter, we shall lead you to French pronunciation, by the simple and easy method which nature daily indicates. To accelerate the attainment of this great object, it will be necessary to pay the most particular attention to the following comprehensive system, in which the sounds of the vowels, diphthongs, and consonants, are fully exemplified by numerous and appropriate examples. These you will pronounce after your instructor, till the pronunciation of each word becomes familiar; but, should you be debarred from the assistance of a French teacher, a free command of the Key which precedes the system, and by means of which French sounds are taught by comparing them with those of a similar nature in your own language, will, in a great degree, prove a substitute.


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