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corruption of Nos, from the French Nous; as also Us, by retaining the last instead of the first letters ; You and Ye of Vous, (Fr. pronounced Voo,) i. e. Vos: He, She, It, are Is, EA, ID: They, we at first thought the Saxon Hi, i. e. I1; but we now consider it the same as Tha (Saxon), De (Dutch and Swed.), Die (Ger.), and as The, This, That, These, Those ; all which varied forms are, probably, like Desso (It.), resolvable into ISTE, ISTA, ISTUD, taken either as singular or plural: Him is a cor. of EUM; and changed into Them for the plur.; for in Saxon, Him is for both numbers: Her is, in Saxon, Hire, and given as gen. and dat. of Heo, (now She,). i. e. EA; Ea it was originally the possessive: hence, her is with us both genitive and accusative.
The Saxon has Him for dat. and Hine for accus.; the Ger. has Ihm and Ihn; the Swedish has Han nom. he, and Hanom, accus. him; De they, and Dem them: we have some doubt whether the termination m be not the preposition Om, Am, &c., (for it is variously spelled,) affixed to the pronoun; but we rather think it is the accusative singular of the Latin.
Who, Which, What, are QUI, QUIS, QUID, QUOD; Whom is QUEM; My is MEUS; Thy, Tuus; Mine and thine are cor. of Myen, Thyen, en being a usual adjective affix; as golden from gold. Our is a cor. of Notre (Fr.), i. e. NOSTER; Your of Votre, i. e. VESTER: whence, by analogy, Their (for Theyer), Her, &c. We have other unnecessary cases, or
duplicate adjective signs: as, Her's, Our's, Your's, Their's; which are just as ignorantly put, as, Ouren; Youren, Hisen, Theiren, &c., by the illiterate.
Self, used for the purpose of emphasis, is SE-ILLE; as, Myself, Thyself, Yourselves, Ourselves: Hisself, Theirselves, have been superseded by very ludicrous grammatic blunders; for Himself, Themselves, are as incorrect as Theeself, Usselves, &c.
THE NOUN OR SUBSTANTIVE.
HERE the name may be first considered. As usual the grammarians have preferred the least intelligible and appropriate term that could well be found; and some very amusing reasons have been assigned for the propriety of substantive. The grammarians of the learned languages have, with some show of reason, employed the terms Noun Substantive and Noun Adjective; i. e. a name that can stand by itself without any assistance; and a name that requires to be added to or rested upon another. There is, as usual, in these terms, a good deal of false theory, concerning which we cannot stop to inquire at present. But though the grammarians of the learned languages have noun substantive and noun adjective, why should their vernacular imitators, after treating noun and substantive as synonymous, prefer the latter to the former? Probably the sole reason was, that the one seemed a more respectable looking
word than the other. But substantive, besides being apt to suggest the notion of substance, is objectionable for other reasons, as being connected with false theory. Noun, (i. e. NOMEN, ONOMA,) name, is perhaps as intelligible and appropriate a term as can be found for the purpose. It is desirable that names or designations should at least possess the negative merit of not being false guides; but in general we must proceed much further in our inquiries than they can conduct us. What, then, is that which we agree to call noun ? How shall we define it? -Hoc opus! There is nothing so important, in a philosophic view, as correct definition; but, at the same time, there is nothing so difficult: a position which existed long before the author of this work; but one which seems little considered-if we may judge by the rash and confident manner in which intellectual crudities and empty verbosities are given for adequate and accurate definitions. “A noun,” says the grammatist, "is the name of any thing that exists, or of which we have any notion:" and, without stopping to look round for either notion or existence of explanation, he proceeds to other doctrines equally edifying to grammatic believers.
This truly grammatic definition was one of the first things that gave the author, when yet a credulous youth, some notion of grammatic absurdity. If, he reasoned, a noun be the name of any thing which exists; how can Nothing, or any one of those words which denote non-existence, be a noun? And if the
expression, any thing of which we have any notion, mean more than any thing which exists, it means too much to be a correct definition; for all words that have any signification, are names of things (either physical or metaphysical) of which we have a notion: and if it be affirmed that thing denotes a real existent, in distinction from attribute, action, relation, &c., then, also, the definition is not only incorrect, but manifestly false; for many words are called nouns which denote no such absolute entity: and the contrary supposition is not merely a philologic error, but a cause of much metaphysical absurdity, which men give and receive as sound ratiocination.
Well, perhaps exclaims the impatient reader, (and he cannot be more impatient of the subject than the author,) give us your own definition! We have not yet promised one; for though nothing, in a philosophic view, is more important than correct definition, nothing is more difficult; and nothing is more absurd and mischievous in reasoning, than incorrectness of this kind; for then our understandings are entrusted, not merely to blind, but to false or treacherous, guides. We must never forget that noun is one of those artificial entities which are as apt to cause perplexity as to be of any utility. We consider that which is in question to be necessary only as a fulcrum on which to rest our lever in demolishing grammatic absurdity: and we define a noun to be a grammatic designation, given not only
to all those words which are the names of sensible objects, as, Man, Horse, Bird, Tree, Stone, Lake, River, City, &c.; but also to all those words which can be employed in a sentence as if they were names of such objects as, Hunger, Reason, Virtue, Vice, Nothing, Non-existence, &c. Any of the latter words can be employed exactly as the former, in connexion with other words, to form a sentence: as, Man is a rational animal; Reason is very different from imagination; Non-existence is preferable to eternal torture. Thus any word which can be put as the agent or subject, the nominative or object of a verb, is entitled to the grammatic designation of noun: and we know not of any other definition which is admissible
All words thus designated may be distinguished into Nouns physical and Nouns metaphysical: many of the latter are not names of entities, but of nonentities such as, Fate, Luck, Chance, &c.: few of these, comparatively, denote absolute existents any way analogous to physical objects: they, for the most part, merely indicate qualities, motions, relations, thoughts, feelings, &c. &c. Many even of those nouns which may be considered physical, are not properly names of things or absolute existents, but of motions: as, Current, Stream, Storm, Wind, Wave, Billow, Breath, Sound, &c. &c.
This unsubstantial nature of what are called substantives, which "give to airy nothings a local habitation and a name," is certainly a great convenience