« ForrigeFortsæt »
received and maintained; but such a case rarely occurs in so small a tract of country. On the contrary, dialects that receive the impulse later, subordinate themselves to the primary one, and are agglomerated in what is to form a new and more refined kind of language. The written language influences and finally becomes identical with the language of the learned.
It goes with the stream of literature and education, and gradually extinguishes all that it does not incorporate with itself.
The sketch of the rise and decay of dialects here given, will shew the necessity, in investigating any one, of setting out with clear ideas on language. What is the cause of the subdivision of language into dialects? It must be observed that language is not the product of a simple, but of a compound power. The consequence of this is, that in the formation of dialects, it must undergo two changes, one affecting the vocabulary, the other the phonetic structure of the words. As the causes of the former change, the gradual development to which language has been subjected, and the dependence of this development on outward circumstances, may be considered sufficient. Outward circumstances vary, so does the vocabulary. But this will not account for the change of phonetic structure, which can only take place through the organs of speech. Ethnologists have not yet asserted that habits affect the human organs, and certainly if they are so affected, it is to a very inappreciable extent. Another cause there must be, which, in my opinion, is nowhere to be found but in the external influences of intercourse, and the mixture of originally different stocks of people. It follows that when the words of an absorbed population are no longer in the dialect under examination, evidence may still exist in the phonetic structure.
Hitherto it has only been to the vocabulary and grammar that philologists have looked for evidence of absorption. In these departments they may easily fail to find that for which they seek. It is well known that wherever synonymous words are taken into a language, the meaning divides itself between them. Haupt and kopf are examples, the former, meaning the intellectual head, being the proper High German word, the latter, meaning the skull, clearly
MIXTURE OF DIALECTS.
an incorporation from another dialect. The thinnest disguisechange of accent, etc.—moreover, has sufficed to conceal a foreign word even in the languages with which we are most familiar. What is the Scotch sicker? The answer is, the German sicher. But the German sicher is only the borrowed form of the Latin
The formation of such a word is an impossibility in the German languages, though in perfect accordance with Latin. “Hurricane” might be traced through all the European languages, yet we have indubitable proof that it comes from another hemisphere, and is actually an importation from the Carribbean islands.
The argument that a dialect, because now unmixed, has always been so, is also fallacious. We know that dialects do mix, and that the tendency of language is gradually to incorporate, so as to make unrecognisable, or to throw off, its foreign elements. The ordinary conversation of the bilingual portion of the Irish people is freely mixed from either side, English words have taken a permanent place in Irish dictionaries, and Celtic still remains in English dictionaries. There is an authentic story of some antiquity concerning an English party of contraband tobacco-dealers, who introduced their commodity to a company of Irishmen. Neither side could understand one word from the other. At length an Irishman was found to act as interpreter, and these are the words of which he made use : “ How many big ordlaicr for my fat two penny, ipsaw law my company here?” This is in plain English :“How many inches (of tobacco) for twopence, in the name of myself and all my company ?" What still exists partially in Ireland, was once general in England. In such a process words are distorted from their original meanings, and frequently never
The influence of foreign organs on a language cannot be better exemplified than by reference to the Canton dialect. An Englishman in China finds that he cannot converse in Canton English* until he learns it. Suppose English should become the language of all Canton at some future time, would this dialect maintain
* The following is a portion of a dialogue with a Chinese bookbinder :“How fashion you wanchee bindee ?”
itself? or would it eventually become pure English? Neither result would be arrived at; the dialect spoken could not be otherwise than altered according to the nature of the Chinese organs.
One of the most important languages with which we can compare any of the English dialects, is the English itself, or, as it is called, the Anglo-Saxon. But it is evident that Anglo-Saxon is made up of widely-differing dialects. The state of modern English is very conclusive evidence on this point, as the discrepancy between the orthography and orthoepy is to be accounted for in no other way. The varying pronunciations of so many words are also the wrecks of dialects.
The pronunciation of English words has mainly depended on the period of their introduction into the dominant language, which varied with the influences bearing on it from the accessory dialects. In proof of this it can be shown that different periods of the same word coexist in various parts of England. The word “salve” is pronounced as it is written by those called the best speakers; but in some parts and by many persons it is pronounced saave, and in the Cumbrian dialect is sawve. From this we learn that if the word “calm” had been introduced earlier into English, it would have been pronounced cawm ; and if sufficiently late, like the French calme.
In citing the Anglo-Saxon dictionary as an authority, it must be remembered that it is only a collection of all the words extant in the literature, whatever may have been their origin. The same objection certainly applies to the dictionary of every language, and the more strongly when the dialect under examination has higher claims to antiquity than that with which it is compared. Obviously, therefore, a dialect should at all times be taken as an individual whole, with reference to all its influences, but certainly with reference to something higher than the dictionary of this or that language.
My wanchee takee go way alla this cover, putee nother piece.”
I savy; you wanchee lever, wanchee sileek cofuh ?” “ Alla same just now have got; you can do number one proper ?”
“ Can do, ca-an. I can secure my no got alla same lever for this; this have Eulop lever.”—Chinese Repository, 1836.
THE PHONETIC STRUCTURE.
If language may be correctly defined as a synthesis of idea and sound, we have in the phonetic structure of a dialect the body through which the spiritual essence struggles into existence. Taken absolutely, the phoneticism of language is but an imperfect representation of the idea, and written language still more imperfectly represents the sounds it is intended to transfer to our organs. Possibly in the language of books we can much nearer attain the idea of the writer, than the phoneticism of his language.
The disadvantage thus resulting from the defectiveness of written language, is first felt by the student in endeavouring to supplement his knowledge from books; but still more when attempting to convey his own impressions in the orthography that necessity and custom have imposed on the dialect. It is the fate of all uncultivated dialects to be rendered repulsive to strangers by their orthography, and in none is this the case more than in Cumbrian. The varying powers of English characters applied to a difficult phoneticism, would produce abundant confusion, but in addition, every writer has used his own discretion, besides being frequently compelled to vary from every other, by the peculiar pronunciation of his own locality. Should any proper attempt be made at producing a Cumbrian glossary, the orthography would not be one of its least difficulties.
The vocalism of the Cumbrian dialect presents us with two striking phenomena. But before proceeding to describe these,
it will be necessary to establish the names of the vowel sounds, by a comparison of the German or Italian (which are identical) with their English equivalents.*
aa (ah) o The broad and narrow pronunciations (or expressions) of the Irish consonants (see page 31) must be again brought in question. The word cen (cean), the head, when pronounced by a native of the west of Ireland, is heard as the English “can,” with an audible compression of the first consonant. The broad sound of the final consonant is only to be appreciated, by unaccustomed ears, in contrast with the narrow. Let a native of the south be heard to pronounce the same word, he calls it kyown. From this we learn that the narrow and broad expressions of the consonants are capable of being developed into respectively the short vowels i (ee) and u (00). In the pronunciation kyown, the former appears as the semivowel y, the latter blended with the a sound, forms the dipthong ow.
It must be observed that i (ee), a (aa), u (00) are principal vowels which no language is without; the other two, e (a), o are intermediate sounds that have developed themselves in some languages within the reach of history. The Cumbrian dialect shows the broad and narrow expressions of the initial consonants, developed more or less, almost invariably in conjunction with the intermediate vowels. Examples of these peculiarities are abundant. We find the narrow expression as a y in gyate (gate), hyame (home), and even attaching itself to the initial vowel, or rather enjoying an independent existence in yell (ale), Yamon (Eamont). With all but the guttural consonants this expression is so developed as to be written e or ee, as in leaf (loaf), neam (name), pronounced almost in two syllables. The broad expression is found in such words as cworn (corn), strwoke (stroke), and forms the distinction between Odin and Woden. It exists unwritten in the English " one."
* Wherever it is necessary to use the German vowel, the English equivalent will be given with it in parenthesis.