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Re: A question about liquid sound /r/ and /l/

xinhui zhou <zxinhui2001@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
why /r/ and /l/ are called liquid and how this term liquid originated ?

I don't know the answer, but you can find many old uses via http://books.google.com/books?ie=UTF-8&q=liquid+vowel+date%3A0-1830

For example:
A Grammar of the English Tongue: with the Arts of Logick, Rhetorick, Poetry, &c. Illustrated... by John Brightland - 1759 - 300 pages

Page 36 - Consonants are divided into Mutes and Liquids call'd also Half-Vowels; the Mutes are b, c, d, f, v, g, j, k, p, q, t, and are so call'd because a Liquid cannot be sounded in the same Syllable when a Vowel follows it, as (rpo).

that page has a poem to help you remember them:

The Consanants we justly may divide
Into Mutes, Liquids, Neuters; and beside
We must for double Consonants provide.
Eleven Mutes Grammarians do declare,
And but four Liquids, l, m, n, and r.
Behind the Mutes the Liquid gently flow
Inverted, from the Tongue they will not go.

And here's one from 1710:
The Art of English Poetry Containing...
by Edward Bysshe - 1710 - 482 pages