A Festschrift for Shoichi Watanabe on his 80 th Birthday
KAZUNORI KUMADA Seventeenth-Century Classification of Consonants 205
KAZUNORI KUMADA Seventeenth-Century Classification of Consonants 1. Introduction In seventeenth-century England, under the influence of rationalism, a certain group of grammarians, acknowledged as ‘phoneticians’ by Dobson (21985: 1, 199), shifted their focus to the theoretical observa- tion and the systematization of sounds, and developed an interest in general phonetic alphabets rather than their particular languages. In- spired by the fervent desire for scientific investigation and the system- atic phonetic description of sounds, they “felt free to challenge and modify the grammatical model enshrined in” Greek and Latin gram- marians, such as Priscian and Donatus, the model which many gram- marians and spelling reformers had been kept shackled by (Robins 41997: 135). They labored to establish a different and improved pho- netic framework based on their own notion of sounds. Considered from the modern standard, their observation of sounds was still prem- ature, but they made a remarkable contribution to the development of modern phonetics (Lehnert 1938: 173, 163) as the ‘Precursors of Modern Approaches’ (Kemp 22006: 474-477). Of their outstanding description and classification of sounds to be observed as an intriguing object of research, our primary concern is their approaches to the classification of sounds, especially of conso- nants. In England, prior to the seventeenth century, their classification of sounds was still considerably affected by such Greco-Roman tradi- tional schemes as Priscian’s division of sounds into vocales, semivo- cales (f, l, m, n, r, s, x), and mutae (b, c, d, g, h, k, p, q, t) (Keil 1855: 2,...
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