1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/T

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19413931911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 26 — TPeter Giles

T the last letter in the Semitic alphabet, where, however, its form in the earliest inscriptions is that of a St Andrew's Cross X. In both Greek and Latin, however, although the upright and cross stroke are frequently not exactly at right angles and the upright often projects beyond the cross stroke, the forms approach more nearly to the modern than to the Semitic shape. The name Tāw was taken over in the Greek ταῦ). The sound was that of the unvoiced dental stop. The English t, however, is not dental but alveolar, being pronounced, as d also, not by putting the tongue against the teeth but against their sockets. This difference is marked in the phonetic differentiation of the dental and the alveolar t by writing them respectively t and . The alveolar sound is frequent also in the languages of India, which possess both this and the dental sound. The Indian , however, is probably produced still farther from the teeth than is the English sound. In the middle of words when t precedes a palatal sound like i (y) which is not syllabic, it coalesces with it into the sound of sh as in position, nation, &c. The change to a sibilant in these cases took place in late Latin, but in Middle English the i following the t was still pronounced as a separate syllable. A later change is that which is seen in the pronunciation of nature as neitṣᵊ. This arises from the pronunciation of u as yu, and does not affect the English dialects which have not thus modified the u sound. Similar changes had taken place in some of the local dialects of Italy before the Christian era. At the end of words the English t is really aspirated, a breath being audible after the t in words like bit, hit, pit. This is the sound that in ancient Greek was represented by θ. In medieval and modern Greek, however, this has become the unvoiced sound represented in English by th in thin, thick, pith. Though represented in English by two symbols this is a single sound, which may be either inter dental or, as frequently in English, produced “ by keeping the tongue loosely behind the upper front teeth, so that the breath escapes partly between the tongue and the teeth, and partly, if the teeth are not very closely set, through the interstices between them” (Jespersen). In English th represents both the unvoiced sound þ as in thin, &c., and the voiced sound ð, which is found initially only in pronominal words like this, that, there, then, those, is commonest medially as in father, bother, smother, either, and is found also finally in words like with (the preposition), both. Early English used þ and ð indiscriminately for both voiced and unvoiced sounds, in Middle English ð disappeared and þ was gradually assimilated in form to y, which is often found for it in early printing. It is, however, to be regretted that English has not kept the old symbols for sounds which are very characteristic of the language. In modern Greek the ancient δ (d) has become the voiced spirant (ð), though it is still written δ. Hence to represent D, Greek has now to resort to the clumsy device of writing NT instead.  (P. Gi.)