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“I. Under a single English word, several Italian words were frequently accumulated, by my predecessors represented as synonimous; but which, by attending to the correspondence of words to sensations, are evidently not so. Great attention was requisite to remove this defect, so prejudicial to all persons studying a foreign language. I have therefore been careful that each word in one language should accord with its correspondent in the other; that those of a signification somewhat different should be more properly placed ; and that those only should remain under the same 'head which were perfectly synonimous, or at least assimilated to each other by an almost imperceptible gradation.
“II. In both volumes of the Dictionary I have found about an hundred words utterly unknown to me. Some of them were not Italian; and each had its proper substitute in the grand Dictionary Della Crusca ; others might, indeed, exist, although I never saw them in tooks, nor heard of them in any part of Italy where I have resided, from Tuscany to the southernmost provinces of the kingdom of Naples. I have cancelled all those of the former class, because they appeared to me manifest errors; I have preserved those of the second whose utility I perceived. Probably those words are common in Lombardy, the native country of Mr. Baretti ; and granting that they are of the smallest use, the rest of Italy ought not, in my opinion, to refuse their adoption.
“ ĮII. I have been very cautious in adding words not admitted by my predecessors. I have subjoined very few, and those only which evidently appeared requisite to give an idea of the corresponding English word, and which, supported by the authority of all the writers of the age, and the use of every country in Italy, are not found in La Crusca, on account of the well-known poverty and timidity of that indigest compilation.
IV. Innumerable definitions are amended. It grieves me to assert that Mr. Baretti, in this respect, was exceedingly negligent.
Who would imagine, for instance, that he could have confused ritma with rimo-aratro with vomere? These errors, more than any. where else, were intolerable in the nomenclature of the civil and canon law. According to him, these were synonimous : lite and processo--pretore and giudice—beneficio and commenda—ostiario and partinajo- metropolitano and primate, and so of many others, which it would be tiresome to transcribe in this place.
“ V. The Dictionary abounded with indecent explanations and phrases. I have some reason to suppose that Mr. Baretti inserted them merely to display his knowledge of the Florentine sayings, not only unintelligible to the Italians in general, but even to the Tuscans themselves, out of Florence. Some of these are now expunged, others corrected. The same care I have evinced in the revision of those sentences and explanations wherein an ill. timed affectation of incredulity tended to revile the Catholic religion. This may have been remarked in the preceding editions, under the head auricular confession, infidel, inquisition,
“ VI. The orthographic errors were incredible: the alphabetic arrangement was violated; lines were either altered or repeated; words improperly placed; adjectives described as adverbs; substantives given for adjectives; and words omitted in the texture of phrases. With regard to the words themselves, they were often so falsely spelled as to have become utterly unintelligible, and not unfrequently to have conveyed a meaning totally different from their real signification. It may appear almost a paradox to assert that these errors exceeded the number of two thousand ; that various sheets contained as many as fifty, and none fewer than ten.
“ In the future editions of this Dictionary I hope that some of my successors will possess more extended powers, and that, availing themselves of the amazing improvements which the philosophic science of language has received in our days, they
will know how to bestow on the work that degree of perfection which it is capable of receiving."
Confirming all these declarations, and admitting, even by the general evidence of teachers and students, that the edition of 1797 had an infinite advantage over the other two; yet, on being carefully examined, it was found to have yet many defects and errors, towards the correction of which, nearly the same care has been necessary, and the same labour has been undergone, in the present republication. For, excepting the errors of the fifth and sixth class, which, indeed, had been almost entirely corrected; in the other four, numberless things were found that deserved at. tention, a great many words were still given as synonimous without any title to this qualification, a great many others were likewise omitted ; and these neither technical nor modern, but universal and primitive, sanctioned by the practice of all Italy, and, what is more remarkable, admitted even by La Crusca. Many definitions, also, were incorrect; and a redundancy of words was used which, instead of explaining, confounded and darkened the object. It would be superfluous to give a detailed numeration of the improvements which have been now made in each of the four articles, As, however, not less than ten or twelve have occurred in every sheet, they may be fairly estimated to exceed thousand.
London, September 22, 1807.
GRAMMAR, which is the art of using words properly, comprises four parts, Orthography, Etymology, Syntax, and Prosody.
Orthography is the art of combining letters into syllables, and syllables into words. It therefore teaches previously the form and sound of letters.
The letters of the Italian language are twenty-one.
Their sound in composition according
to the English pronunciation. Rom. Ital. Аа A a pronounce as in Bb Bb.
urchin, child DI DI
pen, men Ff Ff
father, flock before a, 0, 4, h, or GgGg a consonant, as ins.
game, grant before e and i, as in
gin, geometry I shall anon say more of two other sounds that
G has. Hh Hl, is a mere sign, and has no sound in composition. See the article H at the end of
the following observations on the Italian alphabet. li I i
index, idiom Jj sounds like y in
yield, yellow L1 LI
love, libel M m M m
man, woman Nn Nn 00 00
obscure, born VOL, II.
PP pronounce as in
quack, queen Rr Rr.
rod, rear sis S/S
sea, session Tt Tt
full, bull V v
vein, vivify Zz
The English have na sound like either of the two sounds that this letter has in
Italian, of which I shall say more anon.
Observations on the Italian Letters.
Although I do not intend this Grammar for the use of those who are so illiterate as not to know which letter is a consonant, and which a vowel; yet for method's sake, I say that the Italian letters are partly vowels, partly consonants.
The Vowels are fice:
A, E, I, O, U.
Besides the sound that I have given this letter in the alphabet, it has in composition another sharper when distinguished with an accent, which never happens but at the end of words; as in calamita (calamity). In this word the d is quicker than
n the last a of calamita (loadstone). The whole secret of this difference is, that when a word, ending with any vowel, has such vowel accented, as città, amerà, testè, arvegnachè, aprì, compari, vedrò, chiamerò, perù, soprappiù, the voice makes no stop until it reaches that vowel ; but when a word ending with a vowel not accented cara, amica; vene, superbe ; quanti, sostegni; primo, secondo; (words ending in u not accented we have none throughout the language) then the accent falls on the penultima ; excepting the words that we call voci sdrucciole, as lagrima, barbare, fulmini, pristino; where the accent falls on the antepenultima, as I have marked it.
In poetry, and sometimes in prose, we distinguish some of our vowels with an apostrophe, which generally serves instead of the vowel or syllable cut off; as pa for pajo, vorre' for vorrei ; fanciu' for fanciulli. Such vowels, thus apostrophised, are pronounced as if they were accented.
Some Grammarians, whom I know not whether to call philosophers or musicians, say that the Italian a has six or seven different sounds ; and I am not disposed to contradict their opinion. A nice ear will find somu shadows of distinction not only in each vowel, but even in each consonant, when placed in different combinations; but as such a minute analysis of sounds would prove endless as well as puzzling, I shall neither trouble myself nor the English Reader with such aerial discussions,
but follow the common method. It is not difficult to count the elms and oaks in St. James's Park, but who will number the branches of each elm, and tell the leaves of each oak?
Of E, I, O, U.
What I have said of a, when it is accented, will serve for these four vowels