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The following commendation is subscribed by more than one hundred members of Congress.
"The subscribers highly appreciate Dr. Webster's purpose and attempt to improve the English Language, by rendering its orthography more simple, regular, and uniform, and by removing difficulties arising from its anomalies. It is very desirable that one standard dictionary should be used by the numerous millions of people who are to inhabit the vast extent of territory belonging to the United States; as the use of such a standard may prevent the formation of dialects in states reinote from each other, and impress upon the language uniformity and stability. It is desirable also, that the acquisition of the language should be rendered easy, not only to our own citizens, but to foreigners who wish to gain access to the rich stores of science which it contains. We rejoice that the American Dictionary, bids fair to become such a standard, and we sincerely hope that the author's elementary books for primary schools and academies will commend themselves to the general use of our fellow citizens."
The public is informed, that the engrossing committees of Congress use the author's dictionaries as their guides in orthography.
The President and Professors of Yale College; those of Middlebury in Vermont, and the professors of the Theological Institution in Andover, commend the author's books in the following terms..
"It seems desirable that the children in this country should be instructed, if possible, in one form of orthography and pronunciation, and it is more important that they should not be taught an antiquated orthography rarely seen in books which they are afterwards to read. Dr. Webster's dictionaries and spelling book constitute a series of books for the purpose of instruction, which, we hope, will find their way into all our schools. We use them ourselves, and we most cheerfully recommend them to the general use of our fellow citizens."
At a meeting of literary gentlemen on the evening after commencement in Middlebury College in Vermont, in 1830, present the president and fellows of the College, and other gentlemen from that state and the state of New-York, it was resolved unanimously to recommend Dr. Webster's dictionaries and spelling book to the favorable consideration of the community, with the hope of thereby promoting uniformity in spelling and writing our language."
The visitors of the schools in Hartford, have recommended the introduction of the Elementary Spelling Book into the several schools in the School Society.
The recommendations of the American Dictionary, and of the abridgments, and of the Elementary Spelling Book, by the professors in the literary institutions in Kentucky, and in other states; of clergymen, judges, lawyers, and editors of periodicals and other publications, are too numerous for insertion. The gentlemen say, this! series of books is what the country has long wanted; and if introduced into all our seminaries of learning will supersede the necessity of a change of books of these kinds. The Elementary Spelling book and School Dictionary, having the same orthography and the same Key to pronunciation, it is important that they should be used together in schools.
District of Connecticut, es
BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the twenty-second day of May, in the fifty third year of the Independence of the United States of America, Noah Webster, of of the said District, hath deposited in this office, the title of a book the right whereof he claims as Author, in the words following, to wit:
"The Elementary Spelling Book; being an improvement on the American Spelling Book. By Noah Webster, LL. D."
In conformity to the Act of Congress of the United States, entitled "An Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned." And also to an Act, entitled," an Act, supplementary to an Act, entitled an 'Act' for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Bocks, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."
May, 22, 1929.
CHAS. A. INGERSOLL, Clerk of the District of Connecticut.
This Elementary Spelling Book is designed as a provement on the American Spelling Book; a work whose extensive and increasing circulation manifests the estimation in which it is held by the citizens of the United States. The classification of words in that work has been universally admitted to be a great improvement on all the schemes which had preceded it; and the pronunciation, with few exceptions, is in exact accordance with the best usage both in England and the United States. The classification, however, which was imperfect in that work, is here completed, and the few errors in orthography and pronunciation, which occur in that, are corrected in this work. Indeed the plan of classification here executed is extended so as to comprehend every important variety of English words, and the classes are so arranged, with suitable directions for the pronunciation, that any pupil who shall be master of these Elementary Tables, will find little difficulty in learning to form and pronounce any words that properly belong to our vernacular language.
The tables intended for Exercises in spelling, and forming words, contain the original words, with the terminations only of their derivatives. These tables will answer the important purposes, of teaching the manner of forming the various derivatives, and the distinctions of the parts of speech, and thus anticipate, in some degree, the knowledge of grammar; at the same time they bring into a small compass a much greater number of words than could be otherwise comprised in so small a book.
The pronunciation here given, is that which is sanctioned by the most general usage of well-bred people both in the United States and in England. This fact is stated from personal knowledge. There are a few words in both countries whose pronunciation is not settled beyond dispute. In cases of this kind, I have leaned to regular analogies, as furnishing the best rule of decision.
There has been, for half a century past, an affectation of pronouncing the English u as yu, in a multitude of words, in which this sound had before been unknown. This affectation resulted in changing d before u into j as gradual, [grajual], and t into ch, as in nature [nachure], and one author went so far as to change s into sh, in words beginning
with super, as superior, [shooperior]; with a like affectation, d before i in immediate, obedience, was changed into j, [immejeate, obejeence]. The mischiefs resulting from this affectation, in changing the proper sounds of the letters, and thus impairing the use of the alphabet, have been very extensive, and cannot be easily repaired. But the good sense of the intelligent part of the British public has, in some degree, checked the evil;; and the last writer on orthoepy has rejected the chu, and dje, and dju, from every word in the language.
In orthography there are some classes of words in which usage is not uniform. No two English writers agree on this subject; and what is worse, no lexicographer is consistent with himself. In this branch of English philology, I have adopted, both in this work, and in my dictionary, that orthog raphy which is most simple, and which is now the best authorized. I have pursued the rules which are held to be legitimate, and rendered all classes of words, falling within the rules, uniform in orthography. If established rules and analogies will not control the practice of writers, I know of no authority by which uniformity can be produced.
In this work, the figures 1 and 2 express the first and second sounds of the vowels, as in the American Spelling Book. The other sounds of the accented vowels are represented by points or marks attached to the letters. highly desirable that this mode of remedying, in some measure, the evils of a very irregular orthography, which cannot be reformed, might be adopted in all printed books. It was adopted in the Hebrew language, and is used in the German, Swedish and Danish at this day. This would serve to fix the pronunciation of words, facilitate the acquisition of it both by foreigners and our own children, and probably contribute to the propagation of the English language, and of christianity among distant nations.
The vowels in unaccented syllables are, for the most part, left unpointed; as I am convinced that any attempt to designate sounds so slight and indeterminate, would do more harm than good.
Letters printed in the Italic characters, are mute; but by the classification of words here adopted, few of these characters are necessary.
The reading lessons are adapted, as far as possible, to the capacities of children, and to their gradual progress in knowledge. These lessons will serve to substitute variety
for the dull monotony of spelling, show the practical use of words in significant sentences, and thus enable the learner the better to understand them. The consideration of diversifying the studies of children, has also had its influence in the arrangement of the lessons for spelling.
It is useful to teach children the significations of words, as soon as they can comprehend them; but the understanding can hardly keep pace with the memory, and the minds of children may well be employed in learning to spell and pronounce words, whose signification is not within the reach of their capacities; for what they do not clearly understand at first, they will understand as their capacities are enlarged.
The objects of a work of this kind being chiefly to teach orthography and pronunciation, it is judged most proper to adapt the various tables to these specific objects, and omit extraneous matter. In short, this little book is so constructed, as to condense, into the smallest compass, a complete SYSTEM of ELEMENTS for teaching the language; and however small such a book may appear, it may be considered as the most important class-book, not of a religious character, which the youth of our country are destined to use.
In the plan and execution of this work, I have had the advice and assistance of some of the most experienced instructors in New-York, to whom I would present my grateful acknowledgments.
ANALYSIS OF SOUNDS
Language or Speech is the utterance of articulate sounds, rendered significant by usage, for the expression and communication of thoughts.
Articulate sounds are those which are formed by opening and closing the organs. The closing of the organs is an articulation or jointing, as in eb, ed, et. The articulations are represented by the letters called consonants. The sounds made with the organs open, are called vowels, as a, e, o.
Sounds constitute the spoken language, addressed to the ear; letters or characters, representing sounds, constitute written language, which is presented to the eye.
The letters of a language, arranged in a certain order, compose what is called an Alphabet.
The English Alphabet consists of twenty six letters, or single characters-a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p. q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z. The compounds ch, sh, th, and ng are also used to represent distinct sounds; and another sound is expressed by si, or z, as in brasier, azure, pronounced brazher, azhur.
Of the foregoing letters, a, e, o, are always vowels; i and u, are vowels or diphthongs; w is also a vowel; and y is either a vowel, a diphthong or a consonant.
A, has five sounds, as in late, ask, ball, hat, what.
E, has three sounds, as in mete, met, prey.
I, has three sounds, as in pine, pit, fatigue.
O, has four sounds, as in note, not, move, dove.
U, has three sounds, as in truth, but, bush.
The sounds of the vowels most generally used, are the lon and the short.
Examples of the first or long
a in make, fate, grace.
Examples of the second
a in mat, band, grand.