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MEN make known their thoughts by using words.
A spoken word consists of a sound or a succession of sounds, shaped by the movements of certain organs of speech.
The chief shaping organs are the lips and the tongue.
A written word consists of marks called letters.
OF LETTERS AND SYLLABLES.
The English Alphabet consists of twenty-six letters.
Some letters stand for sounds of the Voice, and are hence called Vowels, (from the Latin, vocalis; French, voyelle.) Others, representing merely the movements which shape the sounds, are called Consonants, (Latin, con-sono, I sound with,) —a wrong name, for these letters do not represent Voice sounds at all.
Vowels. The pure
vowels are five-a, e, i, o, W.
fate, fat, far, fall.
got, three tube, tub, bull. Note.—The sounds are sometimes interchanged; as, clerk, pronounced clark ; what, pronounced whot ; love, pronounced luv.
W and y are vowels, except at the beginning of a syllable. W as a vowel is always sounded like u; and y, like e or ė. Even at the beginning of a syllable, when regarded as consonants, they are little more than double vowels :Wet
et. Two vowels in the same syllable make a Diphthong; as, boil, loud. When the vowel sounds are blended, as in the given examples, the diphthong is called proper; but, if one vowel is silent, as in boat, bread, the diphthong is called improper.
Three vowels in the same syllable make a Triphthong; but one of the three is always silent, making the sound that of a diphthong; as, beauty=beuty.
SILENT VOWELS.— Vowels are sometimes silent; as, e in pine and a in boat ; but it may be noted that though silent they are not powerless, for they cause the companion vowel to assume its long sound.
Consonants. Excluding w and
y, there are nineteen Consonants in the English Alphabet. They are classified thus :