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Classical Grammar, Lesson 01. Letters

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1. The English language has twenty-six letters: 

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 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 

2. Those letters which can be sounded by themselves, are called vowels.  There are five vowels: A, E, I, O, U. 3. Two vowels coming together form a diphthong, when the two sounds are blended into one, so that neither of them is quite lost.  The only proper diphthongs in our language are eu, oi, ou; but two vowels are often used to mark a simple vowel sound. 4. Those letters which cannot be sounded by themselves, are called consonants. 5. The letter Y is a consonant when it stands at the beginning of a word or syllable, but a vowel in other positions. 6. The letter W, after a vowel in the same syllable, is also a mere vowel.

7.  The different parts of the mouth, principally the palate, the tongue, and the lips, are called the organs (that is, the instruments) of speech.

8.  The vowel sounds are formed rather by the voice passing through the cavity of the mouth more or less enlarged in different directions, than by the action of the palate, tongue, or lips. But in sounding a consonant there is always some pressing of the organs. No consonant can be spoken or heard without some helping sound. If it has not the distinct sound of a vowel, it must have something of a hiss, hum, or breathing. 9. Vowels pronounced by themselves, or with consonants, form syllables: syllables by themselves, or with other syllables, form words: and words are used as signs of ideas.