THE BRITISH TONG.

A correspondent has very kindly apprised me of an addition to the Online Books Page, namely A briefe and a playne introduction, teachyng how to pronounce the letters in the British tong, (now comenly called Walsh), by W. Salesburye (London, 1550)—it’s available as a pdf file, accessible from here. It’s a 39-page booklet doing just what the title promises, even if the continuation is perhaps false advertising: “…wherby an English man shal not only w[ith] ease read the said tong rightly: but markyng the same wel, it shal be a meane for him with one labour and diligence to attaine to the true and natural pronuncation of other expediente and most excellente languages.” At any rate, here’s the description of ch:

Ch, doeth whollye agree wyth the pronunciation of ch, also in the Germayne tonge, of the Greke chy, or the Hebrue cheth, or of gh, in Englyshe: And it hath no affinitie at al wyth ch, in Englyshe, excepte in these wordes, Mychael, Mychaelmas, and a fewe suche other. Ch also when it is the radical letter in anye Walshe worde, remayneth immutable in every place.

Comments

  1. Interesting, given the period. I’ve always approved of Shakespeare for his transliteration of Llewellyn as “Fluellen”: not precisely correct, but rather better than the “Lou Ellen” that’s common nowadays in UK English speakers who don’t know the basics of Welsh.

  2. Does he mean that “Michael” and so on were at that time pronounced with uvular fricatives, or just that he thought that a “k”-sound was as close to the Welsh “ch” as English ever got?

  3. I think what is meant is that the Welsh ‘ch’ was (and is) *never* pronounced in the commonest English way (Norwich, chair). ‘Affinity with’ suggests that he doesn’t mean that the pronunciation is exactly the same but that it is, indeed, the closest approximation found in English.

  4. On the same site, you might be interested in Familiar Dialogues (1586), by Jacques Bellot (a treatise written to teach Frenchmen to pronounce English; each page is divided into three columns: the first is English, the second is the same text in French, the third is English written phonetically as though it were French), and possibly The English Dictionarie (1647) by Henrie Cockeram.
    I have other language-related books which will be going up on the site once I’ve scanned them, including William Bullokar’s 1585 translation of Æsop’s Fables written in his phonetic “New Orthographie”.

  5. Thanks for the additional links, and keep the good stuff coming!

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