« PrécédentContinuer »
The grave accent.() is placed on e, and gives it a deep and open sound. Ex. mère, frère, erces. It is also put on the preposition à, to distinguish it from the third person of the present of the verb avoir. It is used in the preposition voila, to distinguish it from the verb voiler; in the adverb là, to prevent its being confounded with the article la, and in many other words, for which recourse may be had to my Universal Pronouncing Dictionary.
The circumflex accent (4) is placed on all vowels, without distinction. Some grammarians have maintained that this accent, denoting the suppression of a letter in a long syliable, ought to be placed wherever this suppression exists. This notion may be refuted by a multitude of examples. Whatever may bave been the origin of the circumtiex accent, that it gives a lengthened and extremely open sound, is certain. 'I hus, pronunciation requires that it should be employed in âtre, grâce, &c. although in these words there is no suppression; because, the pronunciation of the a would be extremely ridiculous, it badly sounded.
The circumflex accent serves also to express the difference which subsists between two words, whose orthography is the same, but the sense of which differs: it is put on the participle da, to distinguish it from the preposition and article du. It is placed on u in all adverbs which terminate in tment, when the suppression of the e occurs. Ex ambigument, congrurnent.
Sometimes the circumflex accent is put on u at the end of a syllable, when it is preceded by an e; but then it has the same sound as in brale. Ex. vergeure: if, in this word, we put a simple u, the reader is led to pronounce it as in procureuse, peureuse; but, if we put a circumflex & (rergeûre), he necessarily pronounces verjúre ; and this is the true pronunciation. It is the same in gugedre, &c. This orthography is the more deserving of attention, as many persons, particularly the natives of Gascony, have acquired a vicious pronunciation of ed in gageure, and words of the same termination, pronouncing them as we do the letters eu in jeune, procureur, tuteur, toleur, &c.
The circumflex accent is not placed on u in words terminating in ure, although the suppression occurs. Thus, we write réglure, rayure, rainure, reliure. In this class of words, the academy adopts the circumflex accent, wben the u is preceded by a vowel; but, unquestionably, this accent is useless, because the pronunciation is not more lengthened in the one than in the other.
The apostrophe (') serves to indicate the elision of a vowel. Ex. L'amour, pour le amour'; l'honneur, pour le honneur; l'estime, pour la estime. Eleven monosyllables admit of the apostrophe: ce, de, je, la, le, me, ne, que, se, te, and si. Si, however, admits the apostrophe only betore il, ils.
In general, the elision of a final vowel takes place only when the word which follows it begins with a vowel or with h not aspirated. It is necessary to except the feminine adjective grande, which sometimes loses the final e mute, by elision, before certain substantives, although these substantives begin with a consonant. Ex. Grand'chère, grand chose, grand'mère.--(See my Universal Pronouncing Dictionary.) The apostrophe is only put after presque and entre, when they serve to compose a word beginning with a vowel. Ex. Entr'acte, s’entr'aider, presqu'ile. With this exception, those words retain the e mute. Ex. Presque égal, entre autres, entre eux, entre elles, presque entier.
Lorsque, puisque, quoique, que, take the apostrophe before elle, il, on, un, une, and the other words which are often combined with them, when they begin with a vowel or h mute. Ex. Lorsqu'elle vint; puisqu'il l'aime; quoiqu'on ait dit; qu'une femme soit vertueuse, & elle sera estimée, &c. Puisqu'Aristote, &c.; Quoiqu'homme, &c. We write jusqu'à, jusqu'au, jusqu'ici, jusqu'alors, jusqu'à aujourd'hui, and not jusqu'aujourd'hui.
The apostrophe is never put in le and la after the imperative mood, nor after the adverb là. Ex. Gardez-le avec vous, conduisez-la au bain. Etait-elle là avec lui. We likewise never put it in ce, de, le, la, que, before huit, huitaine, kuitième, oui, and onze, and their derivatives. Ex. Le oui and le non: elle a dit que oui; le buit du mois, la huitaine, le huitième; le onze, le onzième, la onzièine.
OF THE NOUN.
Scholar. What do you mean by the word termed by grammarians noan ?
Master. A word which presents to the mind the idea of any object, being, or thing, whatever: such is its magnetic power over the human mind, that, the instant it is expressed, we are, in a great degree, as feelingly alive to the perception of the object, as if it stood before us.
S. How many kinds of nouns are there?
M. Three. First, the proper, which relates to an individual person or thing; as Newton, Paris. Second, the common, relative to a class inore or less nugierous, of similar persons or things; as anin.al, animal; man, homme; philosopher, philosophe; house, maison ; room, chambre. Third, the abstract noun, which represents a quality or abstract, as if it were an existing object, though it only exist in the mind; as, courage, courage; patriotism, patriotisme; love, amour; birth, naissance; time, temps; eternity, éternité ; reward, récompense.
S. Are there not some other particulars, as well as the name of objects, deserving attention ?
M. Yes ; two essential ones ; the first relates to the gender of nouns, which are either masculine or feminine, in French ; and the second, respects the manner of forming their plural.
S. How am I to obtain information respecting the genders of nouns?
M. By attending to the Vocabularies of this work, and committing to memory the Familiar Phrases, in which the priucipal words exemplifying the genders of nouns are exhibitel; an end for which many of these phrases were composed.
When you wish to increase your information relative to the genders, beyond what is contained in this collection, you may consult Universal and Pronouncing Dictionary of the French and English Languages, which contains a far greater number of words than any of the same kind hitherto published. I herewith present you with a few rules, by which the gender of a noun may be nearly ascertained.
Nouns ending in e mute, é, and ion, are commonly feminine, as prudence, prudence; humanité, humanity; religion, religion.
The terminations ble, cle, fle, gle, ple, dre, gre, tre, vre, sme, ste, eige, oge, uge, are exceptions to this rule.
Nouns ending in consonants, which are very numerous, are inasculine, with few exceptions.
The terminations, ere, eure, ire, me, phe, one, oire, are nearly common to both genders.
The names of winds, rivers, mountains, trees, and shrubs, are less arhitrary, being, for the most part, masculine.
The names of flowers and roots, are coinmonly of the feminine gender.
S. Having explained the gender, will you be kind enough to give me an idea of the number.
M. In French there are two numbers; the singular and the plural: the former relates to one object or thing; the latter to several.
The French, as well as the English, form the plural of their nouns by the addition of an s to the singular, with this difference, that the latter always pronounce it, but the former do not, unless the following word begins with a vowel; and then s is sometimes softened into 2, which, forming a syllable in combination with such a vowel, links the two words together: so that s is never sounded s, but sometimes 2, and may be considered rather a sign for the eye thau for the ear.
I shall now explain to you why s, softened into z, is pronounced before a word beginning with a vowel. Taste and judgment have happily produced this change, for the sake of harmony, and to prevent a hiatus or clashing of vowels, which grates on the ear, and occasions a gaping barbarous sound; as if we were to say in English a ass, a art, or in French trois ânes, not sounding the letter s. To guard against this inconvenience, the agreeable sound of z is introduced between two vowels.
S. Are there no exceptions to this rule of forming the plural of French nouns by the addition of s?
M. Yes; four, which are as follows :
First. Nouns ending in s, x, orz, receive no addition in the formation of the plural. Example: le méchant fils, les méchans fils; the wicked son, the wicked sons: la belle voix, les belles voir; the fine voice, fine voices: le gros nez, les gros nez; the big nose, big noses,
Second. Nouns ending in au, eu, ieu, and ou, take a to form their plural; as, un grand chapeau, a large hat; de grands chapeaux, large hats; un feu allumé, a kindled fire; des feux allumés, kindled fires ; ce lieu est élevé, this place is elevated ; ces licux sont élevés, these places are elevated; voici un caillou bien dur, this is a very hard fint ; voilà des cailloua bien durs, those are very hard flints.
Third. Nouns ending in ail or al, change their terminations into aux, in the plural; thus, un travail assidu, a diligent labour; des travaux ussidus, diligent labours; son cheval est fougueux, his horse is unruly; ses chevaux sont fougueur, his horses are unruly
Fourth. Nouns of several syllables ending in nt, convert the t into s, in their plural; as, je récompense un enfant obéissant, I reward a
dutiful child; je punis les enfans, désobéissans, I punish undutifu children
All monosyllables, except gent, people, (which makes gens in the plural,) follow the general rule; as, le vent est violent, the wind is boisterous ; les vents sont favorables, the winds are favourable.
The following nouns may be called exceptions to the second and third examples immediately preceding, as they take an s to form their plural, instead of x, &c.
Matou, cou, clou, filou, hibou, licou, fou, sou, trou, verrou ; ram cat, neck, nail, pick-pocket, owl, balter, madman, penny, hole, bolt: bal, carnaval, régal, bocal; ball, carnival, treat, decanter: attirail, détail, éventail, épouvantail, gouvernail, mail, portail, sérail; apparatus, detail, fan, scarecrow, helm, mall, church-gate, seraglio.
Bétail, cattle; wil, eye; ciel, heaven; and oil, garlic ; are quite irregular, and make bestiaux, yeux, cieux, and aulx in their plural.
ON THE ADJECTIVE.
Scholar. What is an adjective?
Master. A word joined to a noun, to signify that the object represented by the noun, is possessed of some property or quality; as, a round table, une table ronde; a red coat, un habit rouge; the words round and red are adjectives, because they denote the figure and colour of the objects, table and coat.
S. Does the French adjective differ from the English ?
1. The English adjective has neither gender nor number; but the French agrees
with its noun in both. 2. The English adjective precedes the noun; the French, with some exceptions, generally follows.
The gender and number of adjectives have been introduced into some languages, to manifest more immediately their dependance on the noun with which they are connected. Hence proceeds that gråmmatical harmony, termed by the Latins concordance, and wbich the French generally observe with great exactness.
S. How do you form the feminine gender of French adjectives?
M. The feminine adjectives must always end in e mute; hence it happens, that adjectives ending in e mute in the masculine, do not change that termination to denote the feminine; therefore, they say un homme aimable, une femme aimable ; an amiable inan, an amiable
woman: des hommes aimables, des femmes aimables; amiable men, amiable women. Adjectives ending differently, take an e mute, to form the feminine ; as, un homme savant, une femme savante (learned); un joli homme, une jolie femme (pretty).
With soine adjectives, the mere addition of an e mute to the masculine will not form the feminine. By attending to the following observations, you will soon become acquainted with these irregularities.
1. Of adjectives ending in c, which are seven in number, three require the addition of he to the masculine to form the feminine, as blanc, blanche, white; franc, franche, sincere; sec, seche, dry: three change the c into que; as, public, publique, public; Turc, Turque, Turk; caduc, caduque, decayed; and the last receives the addition of que, as, Grec, Grecque, Greek.
2. Adjectives ending in f, form the feminine by changing f into ve; as, un hombie vif et naif, a lively and ingenuous "man; une femme vive et naïve, a lively and ingenuous woman.
3. Adjectives ending in eur or eux, change their terminations into euse ;* thus, cet homme est menteur et peureux, this man is false and cowardly; cette femme est menteuse et peureuse, this woman is false and timid.
Comparative adjectives, such as meilleur, better; supérieur, superior; follow the general rule of forming the feminine, by adding e mute to the masculine ; as, cet homme est meilleur, cette femme est meilleure.
4. Adjectives terminating in l, preceded by e, u, or ei, require the addition of le to form the feminine ; as, cruel, cruelle, cruel ; nul, nulle, null or void ; pareil, pureille, similar.
When l is not preceded by those vowels, they follow the general rule; as, fatal, fatale, fatal, &c.
5. Adjectives ending in n, preceded by o or ie, double the n, and add e mute in forming the feminine ; as, un bon homme, a good man; une bonne femme, a good woman; un usage ancien mentionné dans l'histoire ancienne, an ancient custom recorded in ancient history.
Many nouns, some of which may be used adjectirely, change the termination our into rice. They are the following:-accusateor, acteur, administrateur, admoniteur, adoratenr, adulateur, ambassadeur, approbateur, auditeur, bienfaiteur, calomniateur, coadjutenr, competiteur, conciliateur, conducteur, conser. vateur, consolateur, coopérateur, corrupteur, curateur, débiteur, délateur, d estrctent, dictateur, directeur, dispensateur, dissipateur, dissimulateur, distributeur, donateur, électeur, émulateur, exécuteur, fauteur, forvicateur, générateur, instigateur, inoculateur, introducteur, instituteur, inventeur, lecteur, législateur, libérateur, modérateur, moteur, opérateur, persécuteur, perturbateur, procurateur, protecteur, réconciliateur, réformateur, spectateur, séductenr, testateur, tuteur, violateur, usurpateur, zélateur.
In the few following the feminine terminates in resse; thus-péchenr, pécheresse ; enchanteur, enchantresse ; vengeur, vengeresse ; and two others (which are law terms), demandeur, demanderesse ; défendeur, défenderesse.
Gouvernenr makes gouvernante. Empereur makes impératrice. Orateur, amateur, and auteur, are used for both genders.