April is National Poetry Month, so I’m reading A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver. Did you know that the sounds of letters have names, beyond vowels and consonants? After all, the soft s has has a different use in poetry than the clackity k.
Here are some terms that Mary Oliver borrowed from an 1860 text called Brown’s Grammar, Improved.
semivowel: “a consonant that can be imperfectly sounded without a vowel so that at the end of a syllable its sound may be protracted, as l, n, z, in al, an, az.” (p. 21) These are the semivowels: f, h, j, l, m, n, r, s, v, w, x, y, z, and the soft forms of c and g.
mute: “a consonant that cannot be sounded at all without a vowel, and which at the end of a syllable suddenly stops the breath, as k, p, t, in ak, ap, at.” (p. 22) There are eight mutes: b, d, k, p, q, t, and the hard forms of c and g.
Are you observing National Poetry Month?
Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by Bermudaonion’s Weblog. Kathy says: “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.”