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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/402

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tongue. Such departures have always arisen among colonists long and widely separated from the mother-country. It would be a contradiction, therefore, of all historical precedents in this regard if any American, native of the second generation, and bred in the United States, were to speak English, or any other modern language, with absolutely the same phonetic effect as a native of the mother-country. It is an undoubted fact that decided differences of English pronunciation exist between the educated classes in England and in the United States, and it is the object of this article to show in what these differences consist.

A careful comparative study of British and American English reveals the important fact that the phonetic differences are not confined to timbre of voice, or to accent and inflections, but that they are of a more radical nature, and are to be found in the component vowel sounds themselves. It is not within the limits of this article to take into comparative consideration the broad subject of the various accents and dialectic peculiarities which exist in various parts of the United States and England, but it is intended to confine this phonological analysis to such patent differences of speech as prevail between educated Englishmen and the great mass of the more intelligent natives of this country. As social and business ties between the two countries are becoming constantly stronger and more direct, attention is more frequently drawn to these existing inconsistencies of utterance. Some Americans have in a measure modified their pronunciation to accord with English usage, and some of our actors especially have been at no small pains to reform their speech in accordance with the English standard which has come to prevail in the principal theatres of this country.

It would greatly facilitate the analysis here undertaken if there were some universal alphabet of the elementary sounds of all languages into which a translation could be made of such special modifications of vocal elements as are to be described. The nearest approach to such a universal alphabet is the one invented by Alexander M. Bell, and now successfully employed in the instruction of deaf mutes, but as it is only known to comparatively few the more ordinary terms of orthoepists will be used.

The subject will be presented in the following order:

1. Differences in vowel and diphthongal sounds.

2. Differences in the consonants.

3. Differences of syllabic accent.

4. Differences of emphasis, inflections, and vocal timbre.

The subdivisions under these heads will be as far as practicable in alphabetical order.

Differences in Vowels and Diphthongs.—First in the order of the vowels there are the various sounds of the letter a, which furnish some of the most typical instances of the departures of the American