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written, besides others, upon which I lay no stress, from persons who did not speak them vernacularly, as Russian from a Pole, and Turkish from an Armenian. The English in general confound the short A with the vowel in fat, an error into which Mr. Pickering, and I think Mr. Keating, have fallen. I judge the latter from his Dakota (Sioux) vocabularies, in which the vowel in fat is represented in words which have A short in the cognate Konza, if my analysis is correct. This confusion appears in the London Phonotypic Journal (1847, p. 108), where the vowel-character used in writing am (the key word) is placed in as, far, apart, enlarge.
“Mr. Ellis's criticisms upon the Missionary alphabet owe their force to the fact, that it employs no new characters, his own fault being that he employs too many, and not enough. The additions to this alphabet by Mr. Hale, and subsequently by Dr. Comstock, are partly free from these objections. The alphabet of Marsden has a few good features, but this author knew little of phonetics.
“ The objections to Mr. Ellis's alphabet by the Edinburgh Review are perfectly valid, and this author's attempts to avert their force are very weak. Besides his unfortunate citation of the variation of the Latin U, as supposed to be proved by the orthography OPTIMUS, OPTUMUS, he refers to his tables on the value of Roman letters in nine modern languages,' to show how little truth there is in the idea that certain Latin letters are appropriated to certain sounds as European letters.' We here find that U represents the vowel in fool, full, in six out of the nine languages, and that in nut in but two, Dutch and English, in neither of which is it specially applied to this power. In English, the idea of U might have been associated with the words rüle, full. The syllable you has a character in Russian, and sometimes in English. The conjoined 'au' is uniform in six of the examples, but in none, not even English, has it Mr. Ellis's power, according to which ‘maur' spells mayor. The character k as German ch suits no language ; J and W stand alone with their English power; and q is incorrectly and confusedly used for the German g when the sonant of chi, for the distinct Arabic ghain, the modern Greek gamma, and the Hebrew gimel. The diæresis-mark, as in some German books, is corrupted, after the Phonotypic Journal (1847, p. 77) had decided against strokes and dots' because not adapted for ornamental type.' “ The Phonetic News, (1849, p. 103,) in discussing the ability of a
pupil taught with its alphabet to learn ordinary English, says that
the whole construction of the phonetic alphabet was devoted to this end, and that to attain this great, this most important object, the siren voice of scientific analogies was steadily and systematically disregard. ed; not because European analogies were worthless, but because English analogies were paramount.' If this was the intention, the English analogies' must have been extremely difficult to discover, since the crossed I was used at different times to represent the vowel in field, and the consonant and diphthong in thigh. The character w (nearly) replaced a less corrupt type for the vowel in fool, to be itself replaced by w as stronger analogies appeared. In January, 1844, these were secured by using A as in far and A in fat, and there was a similar correspondence between the primary and secondary vowel. characters. In March, A had the cross line lengthened, in October it had the head of T, now shortened to a simple line. In the same month the small letter for the vowel in field was a dotted i, finally rejected for ε, which, in the search for English analogies, was first assigned to the vowel in they, although subsequently pretended to be derived from the double English character in fee.
“As the Essentials of Phonetics contains the fullest and latest ethnical alphabet before the public, it became necessary to examine the basis upon which it is founded. The fact that it was intended to produce as little alteration as possible in the appearance of the printed [English] page,' (Phon. Journ., 1847, p. 32; News, p. 32, 67"", 103,) against the corruptness of which the phonetic publications have been so eloquent, not only calls for its prompt rejection abroad, but also as far as English is concerned.
“If concessions in orthography are allowed to languages with a perverted alphabet, they can and ought to be demanded with tenfold force for the humblest language which spells correctly; as the Danish in its use of j and y. But there is little to fear, since it is not probable that nations, who have spent centuries in keeping their orthography more or less pure, would submit to a literary fraud of such magnitude.
“A singular fact in connection with the wonderful increase of phonetic works in England is the great dearth of examples of the native dialects, and the comparatively few foreign languages investigated, when London must afford such admirable opportunities. Officers in the public service, who have spent years in distant countries, might furnish much information; but, judging from the tone of these jourVOL. II.
nals, nothing can be expected from such a source. Unphonetic works on the English dialects are numerous, but they are almost useless, be. cause unpronounceable ; the word "wapse, for example, which is a form of the German wespe and the English wasp.”
Professor Horsford illustrated “the spheroidal state of water,” by several experiments. He also communicated the following
“ Results of some Experiments on the Explosions of Burning-Fluids.
“It has been maintained, that several of the various preparations, used under the general denomination of Burning.Fluids, are, in certain conditions, explosive. It has been asserted, on the other hand, by venders, that they are not explosive. Wherein the misapprehension lies, how the numerous accidents that have occurred in the use of these preparations are to be explained, and by what precautions such accidents may be prevented, have been subjects of experimental inquiry.
“ The burning-fluids, as a class, are rectified spirits of turpentine, or turpentine with an admixture of a small percentage of alcohol, or of some other inflammable body readily mixing with or soluble in tur. pentine.
Turpentine, alcohol, ether, and the burning-fluids, when fired in an open vessel, burn at the surface as long as a supply of oxygen is kept up. (a) A slight report attends the flash of flame at the commencement of the combustion. (6) The accidents with burning-fluids have ordinarily occurred during the filling of lamps from the cans, when the chamber of space above the fluid within the can or lamp was large, and always in the presence of flame. (b) A mixture of hydrogen (an inflammable gas) with oxygen (an ingredient of atmos. pheric air), in the proportion of two volumes of the former to one of the latter, is eminently explosive. (c) Atmospheric air, substituted for oxygen, lessens the violence of the explosion when fame is applied. (d) The carbo-hydrogen, employed for city illumination, may be substituted for the hydrogen, and the explosive property, somewhat impaired, be still possessed by the mixture. (e) Certain proportions of the gases are better suited to produce violence of explosion. (f)
" It has been found that the vapor of common spirits of wine, ether, and of two varieties of burning-fluid, may severally be substituted for the hydrogen, and the explosive property remain essentially the same, though of unequal energy. (g)
“In these facts, a, b, c, d, e, f, g, lies the explanation of the phenomena that have been observed with burning-fuids.
“ The following experiments were made :
“I. A current of air was directed into the upper part of a loosely. stoppered laboratory glass spirit-lamp, while burning, causing thereby a mixture of alcohol-vapor and air to rush past the flame. After a moment or two, the jet took fire, and was instantaneously followed by explosion. This result was invariable.
“ II. After permitting a drop of alcohol, in a large glass flask of small neck, to evaporate for a moment, and applying flame to the mouth, explosion resulted generally, though not invariably.
“ III. Ether similarly treated yielded less uniform results, because, probably, of the greater difficulty of obtaining the proper mixture of ether-vapor and air.
“IV. A variety of burning-fluid in extensive use, said by the venders not to explode, was subjected to similar experiment, with still less frequent affirmative results. They were, however, sufficient to show that explosions with it are possible. Similar experiments have been made with another variety of burning-fluid, by Dr. Morrill Wyman, with like results.
“It is, then, conceivable, that, when the proper relative amounts of the vapor of burning-fluid and atmospheric air are mixed together, as they may be in the upper part of a partially filled can or lamp, and a flame is brought sufficiently near, explosion must result. If the quantity of mixed gases be large, the explosion may cause the destruction of the containing vessel, or if that remain entire, it may drive out a portion of the fluid, which, taking fire, may cause more or less injury. The course of safety has been pointed out by the dealers in these articles for illumination. It is to fill the lamps (the tops of which screw on and are not supplied with special air-holes) in the absence of flame, by daylight, for example; in which case no explosion can occur." *
* 4 Similar accidents to these have taken place in the use of the so-called airtight stoves for burning wood. After the wood has been fired, and the supply of air for some time shut off, on reopening the draft, and sometimes without, occasional explosions of great violence bave occurred, attended with the blowing out of the stove-door, and in some instances producing still greater injury to the stove.
Professor Agassiz gave additional facts respecting the circulation of insects, and showed in the larva of the mosquito how true vessels, destined for the caudal bronchiæ, arise as branches from the main tracheal tubes.
Three hundred and twenty-third meeting.
November 6, 1849. — MONTHLY MEETING. The President in the chair.
The President exhibited a model of the great wooden dam recently erected across the Connecticut River, at Hadley, and explained the means by which it was kept from floating, or from being carried down the stream.
Professor Horsford made a further communication upon the spheroidal state of water. He illustrated, by experiment, a phenomenon occurring when water is carefully dropped into a hemispherical capsule of polished platinum. The mass having been made to rotate by directing the drops of water obliquely upon the side of the capsule, at a certain stage the irregular motions and shape were resolved into a series of vanishing and reappearing indentations in the margin of the spheroid, of wonderful regularity and beauty. This scolloped edge was occasionally replaced with a series of wave intersections, exhibiting at the surface of the water systems of lozenges_flitting from the circumference to the centre, diminishing till they vanished.
Professor Horsford suggested that the phenomenon might be due to the rotation of the mass, and its motion across the bottom of the capsule from one side to the other, tending, as the mass moved outward, to its elongation, and to contraction
The probable explanation is this. After firing the wood and shutting off the draft, destructive distillation commences. Inflammable gases issue from the wood, which, mingling with air derived from the pipe or remaining still unconsumed, furnish an explosive mixture, which the first jet of fame, or perhaps the incandescent coal, causes to explode.
" As these accidents are not of frequent occurrence, it may be found that the probability of producing inflammable gases in the required quantity is less with some varieties of wood than with others."