Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Classification of Consonants

This is from page 156 of Elementary Greek by Burgess and Bonner. 1907. Scott, Foresman and Company. Chicago. Today's post is simply to show how one might cognitively process a writing system according to a visual chart or construction. Yesterday's post was all about how the writing system displays in a browser.

I have this book and others left to me by my great-aunt, who taught Greek at McGill University, Montreal, in the 1920's and 30's. This is not the textbook that I used in high school but one very like it. It was not until several years later that I started to study linguistics at university and learned phonetic classes of sounds.

This organization of the consonants into classes was considered necessary to understand the assimilation of consonant sounds in the different verb tenses and noun cases.

In Aristotle's Poetics 1456b "A letter is an indivisible sound, not every such sound but one of which an intelligible sound can be formed. Animals utter indivisible sounds but none that I should call a letter(στοιχειον). Such sounds may be subdivided into vowel, semi-vowel and mute."


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