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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

254                The Loom of Language
the three gender-classes still exist  It has dropped two tense-forms
(perfect and future) which are replaced by analytical constructions
Otherwise it has not moved far from the elaborate flexional system of
ancestral Greek,
From various clues such as the study of puns and of metre in Latin
literature, or of features common to two or more of its modern descen-
dants, it seems quite clear that the Latin of the Roman Empire had a
very regular system of spelling With few exceptions a particular
symbol always stood for a particular sound, or a group of very closely
related sounds This is almost true of Italian or of Spanish to-day.
French spelling is scarcely more regular than that of English. The
home-student who wishes to learn a Romance language will need to be
familiar with its sound patterns and conventions. Other readers should
skip the rest of the chapter There are notes on the pronunciation of
Portuguese in Chapter VIII (p 345)
We have seen that Italian is rich in double consonants such as it, II,
nn> zz> etc, and it is necessary to linger on them in pronouncing a word
in which one of them occurs One inconsistency, common to Italian,
Spanish, and French spelling, involves the pronunciation of the symbols
C and G In Latin they always had their hard values in cat and goat. In
its modern descendants they still have them when they precede the
vowels a, 0, and u Thus we meet the same hard C in costa (Italian and
Spanish), cote (French) as in its equivalent coast So also we meet the
same hard G in governo (Italian), goliemo (Spanish), gowvemement
(French), for government Before e and i the Italian C is the CH sound
in child, and the Italian G is the soft G of gem Before e and i the Spanish
C has the same value as the Spanish Z before a, o and #,* i e, the TH
in ^772, and the Spanish G has the value which Spanish J has before
all vowels, i e the guttural sound of Ch in Scots loch Before e and
i the French C is the C in cinder and the French G is the same as the
French J (p 241), which is our S in treasure
When the hard c and^ sounds precede e and z in the Italian word the
symbols which stand for them are CH as in chianti and GH as in
gJnaccio (ice). The corresponding Spanish and French symbols are QU
as in Fr Ivuquet and GU as in Fr guide The symbols CI and GI before
* The 0 value for the Spanish Z and C before e and i is Castilian In.
Spamsh-speafctng America both C and Z have the value of the French G in