"I can't see how you can make anything out of that," said the doctor. "Very well, I can easily explain," replied Oxenden. "In the first place we must take the old Hebrew alphabet. I will write down the letters in their order first." Saying this he hastily jotted down some letters on a piece of paper, and showed to the doctor the following: Labials. Palatals. Linguals.
"Release," repeated the man of the torches. "Blessed release from your torments. Peace out of pain." The voice was of wonderful quality, rich and unctuous, the labials dropping, honeyed, from the lips. It wooed the crowd, lured it, enmeshed it. But the magician had, a little, lost confidence in the power of his spell. His mind dwelt uneasily upon his well-garbed auditor.
It is not so soft and sonorous as the Algonquin which abounds in labials, but more so than the Winnebago, which is the most harsh and guttural language in America. The Narcotah sounds to an English ear, like the Chinese, and both in this, and in other respects, the Sioux are thought to present many points of coincidence.
Linguists deem themselves in sight of something better than the "bow-wow" theory, and are no longer content to let the calf, the lamb and the child bleat in one and the same vocabulary of labials, and with no other rudiments than "ma" and "pa" "speed the soft intercourse from pole to pole."
A circumstance which had treated Sofia to many a moment of covert entertainment and not a few that threatened to shatter what slender illusions had survived eighteen years of Mama Thérèse. Now it so happened that Mr. Karslake had never before sat at that particular table. The language spoken at it to-day intrigued Sofia extravagantly. It was rich in labials, gutturals, and odd sibilances.
Young as he was he had the lines of half a century scored under his eyes and on his temples, thin lines on clear, yellow skin. The whites of his eyes were yellow too, as though he had suffered from jaundice. Which he had, as I learned very soon after he opened upon me in a clear, sonorous voice that rolled the r's and beat like a flail on the labials and diphthongs.
He chooses his words with measured caution. He is what is known as a smooth talker. The torpedo talker is of the rapid fire explosive variety. He bursts into a conversation. He scatters labials, dentals, and gutturals in all directions. He is a war-time talker, boom, burst, bang, roar, crash, thud! He fills the air with vocal bullets and syllabic shrapnel.
At death, guns are fired, to announce to the gods the departure of the spirit; of these there are many, having one supreme head, and to them offerings and sacrifices are made. They do not believe in metempsychosis. The Limboo language is totally different from the Lepcha; with less of the z in it, and more labials and palatals, hence more pleasing.
They smiled, displaying their wonderful teeth, consulted together, and finally with many labials and uncouth pointings of shapely hands they indicated the door of the "first floor front," whose wooden shutters were closely barred. St. George led the way and entered the bare, unclean passage where discordant voices and the odours of cooking wrought together to poison the air.
I said in England we used twenty-six letters, and I named all of them correctly except the last. I called it "zed," but the editor said it was "zee," and I did not argue the point. He then asked me to pick out the vowels, the consonants, the flats, the sharps, the aspirates, the labials, the palatals, the dentals, and the mutes.