« ForrigeFortsæt »
peruse these pages, and indeed cannot be new to any of our long established readers. The memoirs with which Mr. Morgan has favoured us evince the good sense of the writer : but they would probably have been received with more interest, if they had exhibited a nearer view of Dr. Price's social circle, and had contained more particulars of his domestic history. Those, however, who wish to regard him only as he was distinguished in his professional, his literary, and his political career, will be fully gratified by these authentic details: but even they will complain of the absence of an Index, or Table of Contents, by means of which a reference to any particular circumstance or period would have been facilitated. A volume of the Doctor's ser-mons, subsequently published also by Mr. M., will be the subject of a future article.
Art. X. Enclytica,, being the Outlines of a Course of Instruction
on the Principles of Universal Grammar, as deduced in an Analysis of the Vernacular Tongue. 8vo.
6s. Boards. Booth, &c. GRAMMAR, like all human science, begins in, experience.
The phænomena of language must first be observed, then classed; and the truism, or form of expression which describes in general terms a mass or collection of these specific facts, is called a rule of grammar. . The grammar of a particular tongue is the set of rules defining the practice of a given language: universal grammar is the set of rules common to all the varieties of human speech. We do not, therefore, wholly approve even the title-page of the present author, who professes in it to have here deduced the Principles of Universal Grammar from an Analysis of the Vernacular Tongue. Without consulting and considering the comparative anatomy of many dialects, in a distinct stage of growth and advancement, the laws of universal grammar cannot be inferred, or compiled.
Few topics are so incompletely examined in our best Èncyclopedias as the philosophy of grammar. Indeed, the theory of languages is yet in its infancy; and a great mistake, we apprehend, prevails respecting the nature of its origin and the course of its progress. Men are supposed to have begun with a single uniform tongue, which has since branched into many
dissimilar ramifications : but we must be of opinion that language is instinctive, and was bestowed on man, not as a lesson only to be learned by rote and already perfect in all its parts, but as a faculty, liable to be diversely exercised by any two human beings. Any mother and child would soon agree on the words necessary to their intercourse, but these words might differ in every family. Any brothers would soon
concert a reciprocally intelligible vocabulary, but persons in the next village would probably contrive a distinct nomenclature. It is by collecting the children of neighbouring huts, and the families of contiguous villages, that the words invented by each become the common property of all: for, as we have observed on a former occasion, language is confluent, not difuent. If by political arrangement several tribes were united into a nation, a language pervading the whole incorporation would result from the tributary conversation of each: while, if an empire were dissolved by anarchy, every province would slide back into a separate patois. In South-America (see Dolrighoffer), in Africa (see Mungo Park), and in NewHolland see the letter of Palmer), a new language occurs at the distance of every day's journey, or oftener : but, among nations which intercourse concatenates, one language will overflow a hemisphere. Languages are every where numerous in proportion to the want of civilization; and an universal language can result only from the combination of the entire earth.
This anonymous author's first part, or chapter, treats of the gradual formation of speech. He supposes that names, or nouns, were first invented: but we incline to think that interjections are the earliest sort of words. The easiest articulation, and consequently the first syllable uttered by children, is mah. In one language, this syllable becomes mamma, and signifies the breast ; in another, it becomes mama, and signifies the mother ; in a third, it becomes amme, and signifies the nurse s in a fourth, it becomes amma, and signifies to suck. In the mind of the child, this articulation is associated with the approach of the action of sucking; and by accidental convention with the mother it becomes a verb or a noun, a person or a part of the body. Now in this primary state of the sound it is clearly an interjection : which, like ho! there ! lo! hush ! off! fie! paints an internal impression, and is not a definable portion of any affirmation. The onomatopæia, again, is an interjection, and is among the first words. Gush ! cuckoo ! baa! thunders ! may serve alike for verb or substantive; for the name of the torrent or its motion, of the bird or its note, of the sheep or its bleat, of the crash or its action. Impersonal verbs border on interjections; and these are classed, both by Adam Smith and by the present author, among the elements of language. It is moreover admitted here that all nouns are at first proper names ; and that a noun designated one individual, before it was by compact employed to designate other individuals of the same kind. Now every noun in the vocative case, in which state it probably originates,
is in fact an interjection, and describes an internal impression. It is as yet no portion of an affirmation.
We should perhaps regret the disuse of interjections by our dialogue-writers, novellists, and poets, since an interjection is often a picturesque and expressive term; and that interjection, which the first appearance of any object tends to call forth from the human animal, its most natural name. In Hebrew, the sparrow is called tsppur; in Greek, the owl is buas ; in Latin, the bell is tintinnabulum ; in French, the gurgle is glouglou ; in German, the wolf is wolff: all with an obvious imitation of their several sonorous characters: but the chirp, the wittawhoo, or the tingtang, when first mimicked by the human listener, was the imitation of an internal idea of the ear, an echo of nature more or less exact, which in proportion to its precision might recommend itself to the adoption of others, and thus become a name; being nevertheless, in its pristine form, a mere interjection, designating some internal affection of the utterer, affirming nothing, and denominating nothing. As, when we think of a quarrel, we tend to imitate the advancing gait, the scowling brow, the snorting nostril
, and the clenching fist, of the angry man; so, when we think of any sonorous object, we tend to imitate its voice or sound. In soliloquy, are prepared the future elements of dialogue. The human animal has a certain pleasure in chattering, or making a noise with the organs of speech : boys whistle when they are alone, or mimic the notes of animals; and articulate sounds are thus first prepared, then appropriated.
The interjection, it may be observed, as easily slides into a verb as into a noun. The first articulate mah of the child may as well signify I suck, as signify breast or mother ; and accordingly, in every language, the elementary verb, the fundamental auxiliary, signifies I suck. The Latin sum we conceive to be derived from sugere, sumus to be a contraction of sugimus, and sunt of sugunt; and the other elementary verb, to be, appears to have been originally, in Latin, edo, es, est ; I eat, thou eatest, he eats, or is. The defective character of auxiliaries may be traced to their original significance. Nothing insulting, no claim of superiority, appears in I suck : but some such meaning might be couched in I eat. temptuous but a respectful feeling is associated with thou eatest, and he eats: but the contrary might be insinuated in thou suckest, he sucks. Hence es and est become the second and third persons of sum.
In like manner, the English I am is etymologically connected with annie, nurse: but the English to be is probably
derived from bey, the lap, and means I rest, thou restest, he rests; the participle been signifying in the lap. In Persian, am is the auxiliary, and the root of the pronoun for the first person, which we call me, my, mine : -- in Sanskreet, the auxiliary ami is etymologically connected with amba, mother; - and 'the igo, drink, of the Brazilian savage, supplies his aich igo, I am. Every where, the same filiation occurs.
After having briefly discussed the origin of language, the. author proceeds to affirm (p. 8.) that all parts of speech are reducible to four; namely, nouns, verbs, modes, and connectives. We object to the term Modes instead of adverbs," because it is inconvenient to employ in a new sense those technical words which have already been otherwise appro-priated. — The second part treats of comparative analogy. Much is said of the cases of Greek and Latin substantives; which are supposed, as by Gregory Sharpe, to have been formed by the coalescence, or post-position, of the article: but how did the article obtain its cases? They must be concealed particles of the class which we call prepositions. For of man, to man, they write man-of, man-to : and this manner of spelling as one word the substantive and its preposition is called declining a noun. Adjectives are in some languages declinable, in others indeclinable; and nothing is gained by attaching inflections but a power of transposing them freely in composition. — Illustrations from the Sanskreet language are frequent in the notes to the present volume.
We think that the English language is susceptible of two improvements in the inflection of its substantives. First, anomalous plurals might be abolished. We could as easily say oxes as foxes, or gooses as houses, and we could soon accustom ourselves to sheeps and fishes. Secondly, the genitive or possessive case might be written with the vowel i when it forms a separate syllable; as the witchis prayer, instead of the harsh elision, the witch's prayer.
In the inflection of its adjectives, also, our language is open to improvement. The comparative inflection might be attached to polysyllables and participles. We are to say discreeter, devouter, politer, according to Lindley Murray's rule: but we cannot say prudenter, piouser, polish’der. We may here observe that a great blunder appears to us to be committed in Mr. Murray's chapter on the comparison of adjectives: where he authorizes the admixture, in the same word, of the comparative and the superlative degrees. This we conceive to be false grammar. He justifies nethermost, uttermost, uppermost : but the roots being neath, out, and up, it seems to us to follow that we may write in the comparative nether or neathmore,
and in the superlative nethest or neathmost : -- so again outer, or utter, or out more in the comparative, and in the superlative outmost, or utmost; and so upper or upmore in the comparative, and upmost in the superlative: — but we consider it as a double and anomalous comparison to write uttermost or uppermost. In the words undermost and foremost, the roots are not already in the comparative degree; and these are only apparently, not really, analogous cases.
We cannot better display the style of observation adopted by the author of Enclytica than by reprinting bis remarks on the pronoun:
· The English pronoun differs from the other classes of its nouns, by having, in imitation of other European languages, an objective or accusative case. Ex. I thou (he she it)
ye they thee (him her it)
you them. • In this construction may be observed a strict adherence to nature, and an evidence that the human intellect is seldom directed by mere caprice in the formation of language. The third person is the only one, in which a sexual pronoun or a sexual inflexion of the pronoun is required, because it is the only one, which is at the same time indicative and declaratory.
"The Latin construction extends the same distinction to the plural number of that person, and is therein imitated by the Italian and French languages. But this disposition would be of little use in the English tongue. For as that tongue is guided by nature in the generic arrangement of its names, no mistake can arise from the employment of an ungeneric plural pronoun, in those phrases where the predicates are all of one sex ; and as according to the well known rule of syntax, when nouns of different gender unite to constitute plurality, the most noble * includes them all, the distinction is in that case useless even in those languages where it has place. It was probably adopted in the Latin and its derivative tongues, only in conformity with their capricious attribution of gender to the names of things ungeneric in themselves and frequently inanimate.
• The German language is similar to the English in the generic disposition of its pronouns. The French and Italian pronouns have an oblique case also. †
6 * This is considered, in the Greek and Latin, as well as all modert. European languages, to be the masculine; but in Hebrew, Arabic, and the kindred dialects of Western Asia, all that is ungeneric is placed under a feminine inflection.
+ The use of which appears to be very capricious, and only to be learned in the distinct practice of each language. Ex.
Je te vois