by Jonathan Pritchard ENCIL and paper in hand, the Dean of St. Patrick's would sit in his cathedral, listening to the preacher's sermon. ``As soon as any one got up into the pulpit,'' the Reverend Patrick Delany recalled, Jonathan Swift ``carefully noted every wrong pronunciation, or expression, that fell from him.'' 1 Delany's witness is valuable not only because it reminds us that Swift took seriously his decanal responsibilities,2 but also because it suggests that his interest in norms of pronunciation was more searching than is often assumed. (It is also a good story: ``carefully'' sells the humor of the scene.) Pronunciation is apt to be regarded as an aspect of Swift's enduring interest in the vernacular, its cant and jargon, gossip and chit-chat, street cries and billingsgate, and their shiftlessness or futility: much of the material adduced in A Complete Collection of Genteel and Ingenious Conversation (1738) concerns the voicing of the spontaneous, the trivial, and the evanescent. The importance of the correct rehearsing of a text--and in this regard Swift drew no distinction between the sacred and profane, or between verse and prose--is nonetheless realized in a variety of tracts, including A Proposal for Correcting, Improving
Studies in Philology – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Feb 22, 2007
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