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quite so bad as most Americans imagine ing great respect.
“ 'Ave I the pleasand as Mr. Grant White assumes. It ure," etc., would not suit them at all. would indeed be a difficult problem to Note also (what Mr. Grant White overdeal with, if the worse-speaking English- looks, by the way) that a big rough h, men always precisely inverted the use which sounds very unpleasant even in a of the aspirate ; omitting it where it word beginning with h, under ordinary should be, and systematically introducing conditions, does not sound ill at all when it where it has no business. It would the chief emphasis of a sentence falls on require as much skill and as good a
such a word. A man may say
Hhome knowledge of spelling to practice such as to offend as much as though he said consistent blundering as to speak cor- 'ome, or even more ; but one would find rectly. Those who have studied Eng. it very difficult to pronounce the h with lish talk in this respect know that the disagreeable strength in such a sentence very worst misusers of the aspirate give as this: “I am heartily at your service.” the h correctly at times, always, in- Note again the difference in the aspiradeed, with some words; and also that tion of the h’s in the following sentence, they are as likely to offend by “exaspi- if earnestly emphasized : “I am right rating” an h which is perfectly in place glad to see you here ; you must look on when duly aspirated as by inserting an my house as your home.” A strong ash where no h should be. I remember piration on here and house would be an American whom I met in Boston, in offensive, but the aspirate in home could 1873, — rather an ignorant man I need not well be too strong. hardly say, — who remarked to me when While the number of those who use he heard that I had recently met Mr. unauthorized h's is great, and of those Emerson, “I guess you said, “'Ave hi who drop their h's much greater, it must the 'honor hof haddressing Mr. Hemer- be admitted that the number of those son?'” He was not altogether jesting, who in some way or other maltreat the as I at first thought, for he supposed that aspirate is so large that one may doubt all Englishmen came over to America whether one in a hundred in England affected with the h disease, but that some can be excepted. Mr. Grant White quickly caught the purer “ American ac- says that he has heard highly educated cent," as he called it. Now every Eng. men, scholars and men of scientific atlishman knows that an exaspiration' tainments, men who write capital letters of h's, when 'honored by an introduc- after their names (though that counts tion, is more-apt than usual to display for absolutely nothing), drop their h’s in the strength of his aspirations; but even England,“ just as in America men of in such an accession of the malady as is like position have a nasal twang, say thus brought on, he would not speak as Mu'ica for America, and the like.” I my Boston friend imagined. No one have myself heard “men of like posicould, in fact, without breaking up his tion" in America, including a professor talk into gasps. He would say, “'Ave who earnestly advocates the continued I the Ihonor of addressing Mr. Hemer- study of classical literature in American son? ” — a sentence which has no gasps colleges, say “ you was,” “I don't know in it, because the extra h's come in as,” “I remember of,” “unbeknown," along with the exaggerated emphasis and make other like mistakes. Yet I which the much-oppressed person wishes doubt not that offenses against the laws to introduce. It is indeed noteworthy of aspiration in England are as common that these maltreaters of the aspirate al- as "you was ” and “we was” in Amerways use a word into which they can ica. The omission of the h in such words fling a strong aspiration, when express- as he, him, her, etc., may be occasionally noticed in the rapid speaking of even aspirate when it comes in company the best bred men in England; but here America has no advantage, for in these Still more often is h neglected in words I have repeatedly noticed the h words beginning with rh. But this fault slurred or lost in quick speaking in is quite as common in America as in America. The h in words beginning England. I have oftener heard of Road with wh is so often dropped in England Island than of Rhode Island. that it is doubtful whether custom does Lastly come the cases where there not justify its omission altogether. Yet is divided authority as to whether an h I am inclined to think that many Ameri- should be sounded or not. Mr. Grant cans rather overaspirate the h in wh. White dwells on the omission of the asThe Irish unquestionably do so. Wh pirate in the word hospital, remarking with them is altered into hw, a fault of with surprise that he has often seen the speech which more than one English words an hospital in books published novelist has noted and ridiculed. I see within the last ten years. He says this that Mr. Grant White regards hw as in answer to Mr. Ellis's remark that the proper way of presenting the as- the omission of the h in this word is an pirated w. This seems to me erroneous. archaism. But there are many who conI have, indeed, very little doubt that in sider that to sound the h in this word is old times hw was the uniform and there- as improper as to sound it in honor or fore correct way of giving the consonan- hour. I myself constantly sound the h tal sound in what, which, whale, etc. In now in hospital and humor (at least Saxon times, certainly, the sound was when in America), but it appears to me hw, and the spelling accordingly. Very incorrect. So in the word humble, which, likely the Irish retain the old-fashioned since Dickens made Uriah Heep so consound in this case, as in several others stantly call himself “ a humble” person, in which modern English pronunciation has gained an aspirate to which it is not has departed from it. But at present legitimately entitled. We must all sound English folk must not say hwat, hwale, the h in humble now, I suppose; but beand so forth, if they wish their breeding fore David Copperfield was written a (for in England these points are matters clergyman who should have substituted of breeding rather than of education) to “a bumble and contrite heart,” in the remain unquestione There is a le- “Dearly beloved brethren,” for the legitimate way of aspirating the h in wh, gitimate “an humble” would have been which to a good ear perfectly differenti- regarded as a very ignorant and vulgar ates whale from wail or wale, which from witch, and so forth. We may say hwat, And now to consider the origin and what, or wat (which we must spell wot, progress of the h disease in all its vathough), and only one of these is right. ried forms: — Among the best bred Englishmen the There seems no room for doubting delicate aspiration corresponding to the that the h disease had its origin in Lonmiddle sound is consistently given. To don. Walker speaks of it as specially one accustomed to the rough hwat, what prevalent in London in his day, and properly pronounced sounds like wot ; even now it is more common in the pure but to a good ear, not spoiled by con- cockney dialect (the most hateful form stantly hearing the rougher sound, the of the English language in existence) distinction is nearly as great as that be- than anywhere in England. Moreover, tween house and 'ouse, - albeit I must its prevalence in other places than Lonadmit that many Englishmen who never don is greater or less according as such drop an h when it is alone neglect the places are nearer to or farther from the metropolis. We find no trace of it in example, and you find the modifications Cornwall or Wales; very little in Cum- of English tending towards increased berland, Northumberland, and York- stress on the various tones; in other shire. In the midland counties it is less words, the reverse of the clipping and common than in the southern. It is at slurring which is always going on, though its maximum in the heart of London. under varying forms, in the metropolis. In this respect it is like the v-and-w Consider the northern dialect, for exammalady, which, even when at its height ple, as truthfully presented in Tenny(it has now nearly died out), was never son's Northern Farmer : so badly felt in the provinces as in the
" Wheer 'asta beän saw long and meä liggin' metropolis; though of course, like all 'ere aloän? metropolitan defects, it spread in greater
Noorse ? thoort nowt o' a noorse; whoy, Doc
tor 's abeän an'agoän or less degree over the whole country."
Says that I moänt 'a naw moor aäle: but I beänt This being the case, we are justified a fool: in assuming that the disease had at first Git ma my aäle, for I beänt a-goin' to breäk that form which is characteristic of the faults of language found at great centres Here there are shortenings of the more of population, and especially in the chief familiar words 'asta for hast thou, and city of the nation. If you wish to hear so on; but the tones are all lengthened, French clipped and slurred you should and the throwing in of a's separately, or go to Paris, and German suffers like as additions to vowel sounds, shows well treatment in Vienna and Berlin. It is how the comparatively slow-going life the same with English in London. In of provincial places leads to prolixity in a great and busy city, men shorten their pronunciation as well as in speech. In words and sentences as much as possi- great cities all this is reversed. Men ble, being assured that what they say have not time for drawling or vain repewill be understood, because all speak the titions. We might be tolerably certain, same language and adopt the same con- apart from other evidence, that such a venient abbreviations. Thus, just as in peculiarity as the dropping of the letter Paris cette femme becomes c'te f’me, and h had its origin in cities, and not in counVoila ce que c'est becomes V'la c' q' c'est, try places. It saves time and it saves so in London City Bank becomes c'ty breath to omit the aspirate, and one might B'ak; halfpenny is abridged first to ha'- safely have guessed that in London the penny, and then to hapny or 'apny. Om- h would be dropped in the long run, nibus is shortened into 'bus; every one merely because of the convenience of in it addresses the conductor as 'ductor; the omission as a ready form of wordthe conductor shortens the cry of all clipping. Of course we may believe right into ry, announces the threepenny (for a raison de plus) that, as I suggestfare as thripns, and so forth. In fact, ed several years since in my essay on it may be laid down as a general propo- English and American English, the Lonsition that, although a language becomes don fogs had something to do with the modified in provincial places and in colo omission of the h. It is something, when nies, it is only in busy cities, and chiefly a real “London particular " prevails (a in capital cities, that a language is modi- fog which no one who has ever expefied by clipping and slurring. Take any rienced its delights can forget), to avoid forins of county patois in England, for an aspirate; and though the denser fogs last usually but two or three days alto the extra h thrown in on words begingether throughout the year, it is seldom ning with a vowel or a silent h. No so clear and pleasant in the heart of cultured person ever pronounces the asLondon that one would be apt to luxu- pirate on unemphasized words as the riate in many aspirations. Still, it ap- cockney pronounces it in words which pears to me more probable that the h have not properly any initial aspirate. was dropped in clipping the language, It becomes clear, then, that the false asafter customary city fashion, than that pirate of the cockney is in reality thrown its loss was (at least primarily) due to in only for emphasis. Of course there London fog and mist.
1 In Shakespeare's time there appears to have ? I have been asked, when what is considered been a v-and-f disease, insomuch that in his son- dense fog has prevailed in New York, whether it nets we find “vades" for "fades.” This still is not pretty nearly as bad as a London fog. The lingers in parts of England, but I suspect it had densest fog I have ever seen in New York, or inits origin in London.
deed in America, would have to be thickened at ent view, oddly overlooks the circumadopted their speech in this respect, to stance that the view which he does take, least tenfold, and then colored a strong yellow- not see his own feet. I have passed two steps outbrown, and loaded with acid vapors and heavy side my own door, have stopped, and (unwisely) smoke, to approach in effect the true London par- turned round to consider my whereabouts, and ticular. In such a fog a cab-driver cannot see his have then been scarcely able to find my way back. horse's head or shoulders; sometimes a man can
must be cases, also, where an EnglishBut if we assign the suppression of man who slurs his h's endeavors to set the h to slurring and laziness, how are matters right by throwing in extra h's we to account for the introduction of a at random. In such a case he is not as forced h where no h ought to be ? At often right as wrong, for the simple reafirst sight it seems as though any ex- son that it is usually after a mistake in planation of this fault must of neces- the suppression of an h that he throws sity be inconsistent with the interpreta- in an extra strong h, and the chances tion I have assigned to the omission of are in favor of its falling where no h is the h. For every one who has ever wanted; but in any case, one would not heard the forced h in its native home - notice an h that fell rightly, whereas one I mean specially in London — knows would at once remark an erroneous h. that it is emitted after a fashion entirely Hence arises the quite mistaken notion opposed to the idea of laziness.
that the Englishman who both supYet in reality there is nothing more
exaspirates ” his h's invainconsistent between the “exaspirated" riably goes wrong. Any one who careh and the suppressed h than there is be- fully follows the talk of such a man tween the volubility of a London cab- will notice that he quite often gets an man when anxious to convey his mean- h in the right place, and correctly proing very forcibly and his customary nounces a word which has no h. brevity. The same
That h should fall out of words be“ Jump in, gu'nor,” to his fare at the ginning with wh is obviously explained beginning of a ride shall vituperate him by the theory here advanced ; and the in well-chosen but objectionable objurga- circumstance that even the most invettions for ten minutes at a stretch, when erate maltreater of the h never throws the journey is over, and the right fare one in where it should not be in words offered him. We need not wonder if, beginning with w (never, for instance, in like manner, the same people who says which for witch, however steadily drop their h's under ordinary conditions he may say witch for which) corresponds throw in more h’s than are necessary well with my theory. For there is no when they wish to emphasize their con- gain in emphasis by aspirating a word versation. It is indeed noteworthy, and beginning with w, as there is by aspiratin it we find, I think, the key to the ing a word beginning with a vowel or a problem we are dealing with, that the silent h. true sound of the aspirate is never given Mr. Grant White, who takes a differby cockneys, and by those who have
presses and “
so far from being, as he supposes,
than in the heart of its native home. explanation of the phenomenon," would, For there can be no manner of doubt if accepted, add enormously to the diffi- that all those peculiarities of pronunciaculty of the problem. It will be ob- tion which are regarded as especially served that if my theory is correct we Irish are in reality old English. The can at once understand why the h is not letters ea in old English stood origmaltreated in Ireland, America, and inally for the sound which they still Australia, which is the really remarka- represent in the word great. (Pepys ble point. If the h disease is a defect spells skates indifferently skeats and due to slurring, and of comparatively skates.) The French raison and saison recent origin, we can readily understand were altered into reeson
1 and seeson why it has not made its appearance out- only through cockney laziness, reducing side the old home of the English-speak- all broad vowel sounds to narrow ones. ing people. There, and there alone, So tea stood for the same sound as the would the people slur (at least in the French thé, but has been narrowed into busy centres of population) the language tee. As for hwat and hwy, I remember common to all, and which all spoke with distinctly how my grand-aunt, a lady equal readiness. Elsewhere the lan- of eighty-four, belonging to the old guage would be more carefully dealt' school, used, in 1848 and 1849, to comwith.
plain that I, as a schoolboy, was not In Ireland, for example, to begin with better taught than to say w'at and w'y; that case, the English language was not she herself pronounced the words with SO common that it could be readily all the aspirational emphasis employed slurred. Irish folk had to speak it and by the Irish of to-day. She systemathear it spoken with distinctness in order ically said goold for gold, obleege for to understand it readily. There the oblige. (So did Lord John Russell, still modes of pronunciation, and such mat- later.) The Irish, then, retained the old ters in particular as aspiration, had to English sounds here, and doubtless, also, be attended to more carefully than in in the initial h. England, and especially in London. As the colonization of America was a very slight difference in this respect later affair than the occupation of Irewould make a great alteration in the land, we do not find so many archaisms result, for all changes in a language in America as in Ireland. The h disoriginate in very slight differences. But,
ease in England must of course be set it may be urged, the contrary is de- later still, or that would doubtless have monstrably the case in Ireland ; for spread in America, too. As matters acthere the English language has under- tually happened, the Americans started gone great changes : they say raison free of all trace of this malady, and have and saison for reason and season, hwat been able, notwithstanding importations and hwy for what and why, goold for of great numbers of h-dropping Enggold, obleege for oblige, and so forth ; to lishmen in later times, to keep the malsay nothing of certain changes in con- ady from spreading in the new country. sonantal and vowel sounds, which may Probably not a single Englishman or be attributed to peculiarities in the vocal Englishwoman who has landed here organs. This, however, affords strong with the h disease has been cured of evidence in favor of my theory, that a it; for it seems incurable in the adult. language is less modified at a distance But probably in not a single case have
1 Thus Falstaff's play upon words has been lost tainly pronounced in Shakespeare's time, and we where he says, " What! a reason on compulsion! see at once the play on the words “reasons" and Not though reasons were as plenty as blackber- raisins." ries." Pronounce" reason" as the word was cer