As all nations who are acquainted with the method of communicating their ideas by characters, (which represent the sound that conveys the idea,) have some particular method of managing, or pronouncing, the sounds represented by such characters, this forms a very essential article in the constitution of the language of any particular nation, and must, therefore, be understood before we can make any progress in learning, or be able to converse in it. But as this is very complex and tedious to a beginner, by reason of the great variety of powers the characters, or letters, are endued with under different circumstances, it would seem necessary, at least in languages which have never before appeared in writing, to lessen the number of these varieties, by restraining the different sounds, and always representing the same simple ones by the same character; and this is no less necessary in the English than any other language, as this variety of powers is very frequent, and without being taken notice of in the following Vocabulary, might render it entirely unintelligible. As the vowels are the regulations of all sounds, it is these only that need be noticed, and the powers allotted to each of these in the Vocabulary is subjoined.
A in the English language is used to represent two different simple sounds, as in the word Arabia, where the first and last have a different power from the second. In the Vocabulary this letter must always have the power, or be pronounced like the first and last in Arabia. The other power, or sound, of the second a, is always represented in the Vocabulary by a and i, printed in Italics thus, ai.
E has likewise two powers, or it is used to represent two simple sounds, as in the words Eloquence, Bred, Led, &c. and it may be said to have a third power, as in the words Then, When, &c. In the first case, this letter is only used at the beginning of words, and wherever it is met with in any other place in the words of the Vocabulary, it is used as in the second case: But never as in the third example; for this power, or sound, is every where expressed by the a and i before-mentioned, printed in Italics.
I is used to express different simple sounds, as in the words Indolence, Iron, and Imitation. In the Vocabulary it is never used as in the first case, but in the middle of words; it is never used as in the second example, for that sound is always represented by y, nor is it used as in the last case, that sound being always represented by two e’s, printed in Italics in this manner, ee.
O never alters in the pronunciation, i.e. in this Vocabulary, of a simple sound, but is often used in this manner, oo, and sounds as in Good, Stood, &c.
U alters, or is used to express different simple sounds, as in Unity, or Umbrage. Here the letters e and u, printed in Italics eu are used to express its power as in the first example, and it always retains the second power, wherever it is met with.