Miscellaneous papers relating to Aborigines, ca. 1839-1871 - Page 75

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[Page 75]
In the English phonetic alphabet,* the common equivalent for every written  and printed phonetic character (columns 2 and 3), will be found distinctly marked by the bold letters in the words eel, ale, alms, &c. The whole of the foreign sounds, both written and printed, are provided for in the Key, where French, German or Italian words are given, with italic illustrations, for every sound.
 By comparing carefully, therefore, the written and printed forms in columns 2 and 3, with the prominent letters in the English words opposite, the English scholar will soon be able to fix unmistakably the true value of the written and printed phonetic letters, and he will there find, that in no case can such written and printed character ever represent more than one sound, viz. : that indicated by the prominent letter in any word in column 4, or by the italic type in any foreign word in the Key. He must make himself thoroughly acquainted with every sound and its representative before commencing the work of writing from the lips of a native, and even then, more than ordinary care will be required to ensure accuracy.¶
It will be necessary to obtain in every case, as nearly as possible, the syllabic or oratorical (i.e. slow and distinct) pronunciation of each word, in preference to its colloquial or quick pronunciation. For this purpose it is believed the English portion of the Ethnical Alphabet will be found amply sufficient for the Australian dialects. Additional sounds are provided for in the Key on the following page.
In all cases where two distinct vowel sounds occur close to each other, as in the New Zealand word Ma-o-ri, the written forms 34 and 54 must be used instead of the diphthong 14 (ow in owl). A hyphen should be placed between each vowel, thus, M 34 - 54 - ri, i.e. Má-o-ri (not Mowri). The ng, No. 30 (modified probably), may be found useful in Maori words of the Ngatimanipoto class.
* " Of late years the whole subject of phonetics has been taken up with increased ardour by scientific men . . .  The best philological treatises I can recommend are the essays published from time to time by Mr. Alexander John Ellis, by far the most accurate observer and analyser in the field of phonetics. . . .  .One argument which might be supposed to weigh with the student of language, viz., the obscuration of the etymological structure of words, I cannot consider very formidable. The pronunciation of language changes according to fixed laws, the spelling has changed in the most arbitrary manner, so that if our spelling followed the pronunciation of words, it would in reality be a greater help to the critical student of language than the present uncertain and unscientific mode of writing ....Dialects which have never produced any literature at all, the jargons of savage tribes, the clicks of the Hottentots, and the vocal modulations of the Indo-Chinese, are as important, nay for the solution of some of our problems {in comparative philology}, more important than the poetry of Homer, or the prose of Cicero." - Max. Müller. Lectures on the Science of Language. (See also p. 99, Second Series, last paragraph.)

¶ If at a loss to find out the value of the written or printed letters in columns 2 and 3, on forwarding his application to the PRESIDENT OF THE COMMISSION,Melbourne, every explanation will be afforded.

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