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at a time, and, afterwards, the whole series, in sequence, as one word.
But, important as syllabication is, in the aid which it renders to audible reading, it is not less so in the dividing of words to the eye, as an assistance to the silent perusal of the written page. In writing, a word sometimes occurs so near to the end of one line, that all its letters or syllables cannot be contained in that line, and part of them must be carried into the next. It becomes a matter of importance, then, that, in solving this practical difficulty, the division be appropriately made, in conformity with the component parts of the word; otherwise, the eye may be confused by a collocation of letters which baffles or misleads the mind, in its attempt to recog. nise the successive syllables, and consequently leaves the reader at a loss for the sense of what is written.
The general rule given on this subject, by grammarians, is, that, in syllabication, words should be divided by arranging the letters in groups corresponding to those into which they naturally fall, in correct pronunciation. This rule would be, in all cases, a safe guide; and there could be no perplexity in attempting to apply it, were the question one which related to the usage of spoken language, which consults the ear rather than the eye. The rule, accordingly, holds good in oral spelling, in which syllabication is employed as an aid to pronunciation ; and, in the columns of the spelling-book, therefore, the learner may find such words as baker, maker, turner, assistance, etc., divided thus; ba-ker, ma-ker, tur-ner, as-sis-tance, etc.
In the case of written language, in its general forms, however, the sound of words and syllables to the ear, not being the main object of attention, the syllabication of a word is performed with more regard to the action of the eye, as suggesting the meaning to the mind, by a division of the word according to
its etymology. The written form of a word commonly reveals its derivation; which is not necessarily the fact in spoken language; as the successive changes and, sometimes, the corruptions of speech throw an utter obscurity over the actual orthography and derivation of many words. Hence the greater tendency, in writing, to favor, to a certain extent, the etymological rather than the orthoëpical mode of syllabication. If, therefore, we adopt, in written expression, the general rule before quoted, we must make allowance for certain exceptions, in which the former of these modes is followed, to the exclusion of the latter.
It would be a great convenience, in the interpretation of written language, if, in those instances in which a division of words into syllables becomes necessary, we could carry the principle of etymological syllabication through all the parts of a word. But custom, which has absolute sway in all matters of language, has so habituated the eye, in tracing the lines of written composition, to obey the early rule of practice in oral syllabication, that to deviate from it would be an offence. Thus, we could not endure a syllabic division such as this, - salv-at-ion, pre-fat-or-y, - although it presents the actual derivation and composition, and suggests, at once, the proper signification of the words. The rule of approved custom, we find, limits the etymological division to terminations and, in particular, to affixes, or suffixes, and witholds it, in many cases, even from prefixes. The principle, therefore, of dividing words into syllables corresponding to the derivation and composition of their parts, while it does not uniformly apply to initial, and seldom to middle syllables, holds good in suffixes, and detaches them from the roots which precede them, so as to leave the root of a word, — the main key to its meaning, -a full and
distinct effect on the eye and the mind. Hence, in passing from the spelling-book, (which is primarily intended to be used as an introductory aid to the audible process of reading aloud,) to the dictionary, (which is intended as a guide, not only in orthoëpy, but in orthography, in its strict acceptation of written spelling, and in the definition of terms, and is used for silent reference, rather than oral practice,) the learner will find the words formerly quoted, divided thus : bak-er, mak-er, turn-er, as-sist-ance.
EXERCISE. The most convenient form of prescribing and performing exercises in syllabication, is to unite them with those in written spelling, as suggested under the preceding head of “ Orthography.” It is a great economy of time, and, at the same moment, an exceedingly useful training, to present, in the act of writing the words prescribed by the teacher, the proper syllabication of every one, marked by the hyphen, along with its orthography. Opportunity, also, is thus found for accustoming the pupil to the proper discrimination, in the practice of written spelling, as regards the difference between it and oral spelling, in the terminations of the classes of words referred to in a preceding paragraph, in connection with the distinction to be observed between orthographical and etymological spelling.
Examples of Rules in Written Syllabication. I. When a single consonant follows the name sound of the vowels, a, e, i, o, u, y, the consonant falls into the succeeding syllable ; as in ha-lo, female, ti-ny, ho-ly, du-ly, thy-my.
II. When a single consonant follows the short
sound of the vowels a, e, i, o, u, y, it is attached to the vowel; as in al-um, ev-er, im-age, hom-age, up-on, hyp-o-crite.
III. When two consonants occur between two vowels, one of the consonants is attached to the preceding, and the other to the latter vowel; as in ac-tu-ate, fes-tive, im-pede, oc-tave, un-der, cymbal.
Exceptions. — The suffixes -er and -ing, as in task-er, kind-er, vast-er, act-ing, gasp-ing, wast-ing.
IV. When three consonants occur between two vowels, the first consonant is commonly attached to the former, and the last two, to the latter vowel; as in dis-place, up-braid, un-dress, ob-struct, con-gress, con-clude, dis-tress.
V. The suffixes, -ed, -er, and -ing, commonly constitute a separate syllable from the other syllables or letters of a word; as in act-ed, mark-ed, warp-ed, read-er, wait-er, weav-er, read-ing, wait-ing, weav-ing.
Exceptions. — (1.) When the suffixes, -ed, -er, and -ing, follow the liquids, l, m, n, preceded by a single vowel, the liquid is attached to the suffix; as in tamer, ta-ming, ti-ler, ti-ling, shi-ner, shi-ning. (2.) When they follow c or g soft, the consonant is attached to the suffix; as in ra-cer, ra-cing, wa-ger, wa-ging. — (3.) When they follow a double consonant, the latter of the two consonants is attached to the suffix; as in sad-der, glad-der, lad-der, blab-bing, mad-der, mad-ding, cram-ming, rap-ping, bat-ter, batting, bet-ter, bet-ting, fit-ter, fit-ting, stop-per, stop-ping, but-ter, but-ting, cup-per, cup-ping.
Suggestions. In the process of correcting errors in orthography, on the plan formerly proposed, it should be the corrector's duty, in all cases, to mark, also, errors in syllabication; and, when the teacher adopts the method of writing, on the blackboard, a model exemplification of the words of the lesson in
orthography, so as to furnish a standard for deciding the propriety of corrections, he should uniformly insert the hyphen between the syllables of all the words of the lesson.
The early formation of correct habit, makes a careful attention to this branch of practical grammar, a matter of great importance to accuracy and despatch, in whatever form of business requires the skill of a correct and ready writer.