Page images
PDF
EPUB

"1

position pour varier les sons. The very name of
Havai, or more correctly Hawai'i, confirms this view.
It is pronounced
in the Samoan dialect,

Savai'i
Tahitian,

Havai'i
Rarotongan,

Avaiki
Nukuhivan,

Havaiki
New Zealand,

Hawaiki from which the original form may be inferred to have been Savaiki.?

All consonants fall under the category of noises. If we watch any musical instruments, we can easily perceive that their sounds are always preceded by certain noises, arising from the first impulses imparted to the air before it can produce really musical sensations. We hear the puffing and panting of the siren, the scratching of the violin, the hammering of the pianoforte, the spitting of the Aute.

The same in speaking. If we send out our breath, whether vocalized or not, we hear the rushing out, the momentary breathing, the impulse produced by the inner air as it reaches the outer.

If we breathe freely, the glottis is wide open, and the breath emitted can be distinctly heard. Yet this is not yet our h, or the spiritus asper. An intention is required to change mere breathing into h; the velum penculum has to assume its proper position, and the breath thus jerked out is then properly called asper, because the action of the abdominal muscles: gives to it a certain asperity. If, on the contrary, the

1 Buschmann, Iles Marq. pp. 36, 59. Pott, Etymologische Forschungen, 6. 46.

2 Hale, l. c. p. 120. • Czermak, Physiologische Untersuchungen mit Garcin's Kehlkopfspiegel, sitzungsberichte der K. K. Akademie der Wissenschaften, rol. xxix. 1858, 7. 563.

breath is slightly curbed or tempered by the pressure of the glottis, and if thus held in, it is emitted gently, it is properly called spiritus lenis, soft breath. We distinctly hear it, like a slight bubble, if we listen to the pronunciation of any initial vowel, as in old, art, ache, ear, or if we pronounce “my hand," as it is pronounced by vulgar people, “my 'and.” According to some physiologists, and according to nearly · all grammarians, this initial noise can be so far sub. dued as to become evanescent, and we all imagine that we can pronounce an initial vowel quite pure. Yet I believe the Greeks were right in admitting the spiritus lenis as inherent in all initial vowels that have not the spiritus asper, and the laryngoscope clearly shows in all initial vowels a narrowing of the vocal chords, quite distinct from the opening that takes place in the pronunciation of the h.

It has been customary to call the h or spiritus asper a surd, the spiritus lenis a sonant letter; and there is some truth in this distinction if we clearly know what is meant by these terms. Now, as we are speaking of whispered language, it is clear that the vocal chords, in their musical quality, can have no influence on this distinction. Nevertheless, if we may trust the laryngoscope, that is to say, if we may trust our eyes, the chordæ vocales or the glottis would seem to be chiefly concerned in producing the spiritus lenis, or in mollifying the spiritus asper. It is their narrowing, though not their stretching, that tempers the impetus of the spiritus asper, and pre1 Brücke, p. 9. 3 Brücke, p. 85. “If in pronouncing the spiritus asper the glottis is dar. rowed, we hear the pure tone of the voice without any additional noise." The noise, however, is quite perceptible, particularly in the oux clundestina • Brücke, Grundzüge, p. 9.

vents it from rushing straight against the faucal walls, and in this sense the noise or friction which we hear while the breath slowly emerges from the larynx into the mouth may be ascribed to them. There is another very important distinction between spiritus asper and lenis. It is quite impossible to sing the spiritus asper, that is to say, to make the breath which produces it, sonant. If we try to sing ha, the tone does not come out till the h is over. We might as well try to whistle and to sing at the same time.1

The reason of this is clear. If the breath that is to produce h is to become a tone, it must be checked Fig. 12.

Fig. 13.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

'-(h); e. g. hand.

-; e. g. and. by the vocal chords, but the very nature of h consists in the noise of the breath rushing forth unchecked

i See R. von Raumer, Gesammelte Schriften, p. 371, note. Johannes Müller says: “The only continua which is quite mute and cannot be accompanied by the tone or the humming of the voice, is the h, the aspirate. If one attempts to pronounce the h loud, with the tone of the chordæ vocales, the humming of the voice is not synchronous with the h, but follows it, and the aspiration vanishes as soon as the air is changed into tones by tbo choriæ vocales."

[ocr errors]

shall see,

from the lungs to the outer air. The spiritus lenis, on the contrary, can be sounded, because, in pronouncing it more or less distinctly, the breath is checked near the chordæ vocales, and can there be intoned.

This simplest breathing, in its double character of asper and lenis, can be modified in eight different ways by interposing certain barriers or gates formed by the tongue, the soft and hard palate, the teeth, and the lips. Before we examine these, it will be useful to say a few words on the general distinction between asper and lenis, a distinction which, as we

affects

every one of these breathings. The distinction which, with regard to the first breathing or spiritus, is commonly called asper and lenis, is the same which, in other letters, is known by the names of hard and soft, surd and sonant, tenuis and media. The peculiar character meant to be described by these terms, and the manner in which it is produced, are the same throughout. The authors of the Prâtisâkhyas knew what has been confirmed by the laryngoscope, that, in pronouncing tenues, hard or surd letters, the glottis is open, while, in pronouncing medie, soft or sonant letters, the glottis is closed. In the first class of letters, vibration of the vocal chords is impossible; in the second, they are so close that, though not set to vibrate periodically, they begin to sound audibly, or, perhaps more correctly, they modify the sound. Anticipating the distinction between k, t, p, and g, d, b, I may quote here the description given by Professor Helmholtz of the general causes which produce their distinction.

“ The series of the mediæ, b, d, g," he says, “ differs from that of the tenues, p, 1, k, by this, that for

the former the glottis is, at the time of consonantal opening, sufficiently narrowed to enable it to sound, or at least to produce the noise of the vox clandestina, or whisper, while it is wide open with the tenues, and therefore unable to sound.

“ Mediæ are therefore accompanied by the tone of the voice, and this may even, when they begin a syllable, set in a moment before, and when they end a syllable, continue a moment after the opening of the mouth, because some air may be driven into the closed cavity of the mouth and support the sound of the vocal chords in the larynx.

“ Because of the narrowed glottis, the rush of the air is more moderate, the noise of the air less sharp than with the tenues, which are pronounced with the glottis wide open, so that a great mass of air may rush forth at once from the chest."

." 2 We now return to an

Fig. 14. examination of the various modifications of the breaths, in their double character of hard and soft.

If, instead of allowing the breath to escape freely from the lungs to the lips, we hem it in by a bar. rier formed by lifting the tongue against the uvula, we get the sound of ch,

'h (ch); e. g. Loch. as heard in the German

'b (g); e. g. Tage (German). 1 See Lepsius, Die Arabischen Sprachlaute, p. 108, line 1. : This distinction is very lucidly described by R. von Raumer, Gesam melte Schriften, p. 11. He calls the hard letters Aatre, blown, the soft let.

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »