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Both kin or chen and lin, ling, or lein, are evidently contractions of klein, (Ger.,) little.
AFFIXES OF VERBS.
Here, to avoid repetition, we do not intend to notice those terminations already treated of, such as est, eth, es, s, ing, ed, and the irregularities of what is called the substantive verb. The affixes now in view are those immovable terminations which we have in many verbs, viz. en, er, ize, fy, ish: en is the obsolete sign of what is commonly called the infinitive mood, and is manifestly the same as the Greek ein as PHILEIN, loven, to love: having been once connected with many verbs it was considered a fixture, and therefore remains, though it adds no meaning; as, slacken, to slack, blacken, to black, &c. Here, as in other instances, custom has the effect of making us fancy that en gives meaning or force or dignity; but if we had been more used to slack, black, &c., than to slacken, blacken, the case would have been reversed. However, as en causes no inconvenience, it may remain; especially as some words (after we have been so long used to it) would seem exceedingly awkward or unmeaning without it: as, enliven, brighten, frighten.
The verbal termination ize is adopted from Greek: as, BAPTIZE, to immerse; a new verb formed on BAPTO, to dip or bathe; liberalize, to render liberal; temporize, to suit the times (tempora); bru
talize, to render brutal; demoralize, to render immoral; authorize, to give authority to, &c.
The verbal termination er, is (like en in Saxon and German, and ein in Greek) the French, Italian, Spanish and Latin affix of what is commonly called the infinitive mood: as, BATUO, Beat, BATUERE, cor. into Battere, It., Battre, Fr., Batir, Sp., batter; SPUTO, to spit, spout, SPUTARE, sputter, cor. into spurt, spirt. We have many verbs formed upon nouns by assuming this affix: as, pester, from pest; flatter, (and Fr.,) from FLATUS, &c.
Where we have duplicates of the same verb as beat (BATU-O) and batter (BATUERE), the latter form is generally augmentive: batter, is to beat much or forcibly; sputter, is to spit much or forcibly.
The verbal termination ish, is a cor. of is, the first person present indicative, of the same verbs in French as, Flourish, Banish, Garnish, (cor. into Furnish,) &c., in French, Fleuris, Bannis, Garnis, &c. The s is now silent in French; but it was not silent when such words were adopted into the English language; and as oui was anciently ouis, we have it corrupted into yes.
A verbal affix of very general use is fy, i. e. Fio, or rather FACIO, to make: as, rectify, to make RECT-um or right; beautify, to make beautiful; brutify, to make a brute, i. e. of a human being. In this, as in so many other cases, there is a less proper application of fy, which tends to produce equivo
calness: as, verify, justify, &c., which do not mean to make true, to make just; but to prove true, to prove just.
THIS term now so much extended beyond its original import is generally defined, The art of speaking and writing a language with propriety. Without any regard to the etymology of the word, (for which the reader is referred to the Dictionary,) we are willing to take this as the present and established signification; but as the noun propriety is one of those vague entities which abound so much in literature, we will take the liberty of distinguishing English Grammar into two kinds, viz. Rational and Arbitrary. The first is intelligible and useful: the last is a jumble of unintelligibleness and absurdity in theory; and it is attended with no utility but much inconvenience and trouble in practice. The cause of this inconvenience and trouble is, that arbitrary rules of speech are imposed, which have a similar effect as fetters or cumbrous armour. The reason of the unintelligibleness and absurdity of grammar as set forth by the grammatists, is their misty notion of propriety; which they one while consider as identical with reason, and another while as identical with custom. They would unite these two into a beautiful system; which is about as practicable as to
amalgamate the most incoherent bodies. They are not content with saying, one mode of speech is proper, because it is agreeable to the custom of the best writers; and another is improper, because it is contrary to approved precedent. This would be intelligible doctrine, and it is the only rationale of arbitrary grammar.
RATIONAL GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
THIS is presented chiefly for the sake of contrast to arbitrary grammar; and after what has been already written, it is hardly necessary to show how widely different the one is from the other. It must be remarked, that Rational Grammar is a desideratum; as the grammatic rules of every language are, in many respects, absurd, being calculated to render it not more but less fit for its professed purpose. Happily, though the principle of utility has been little regarded, and though there has been much blind legislation to establish a despotic system of syntactic propriety, our language is yet one of the simplest and freest in the world; and, with a very moderate reform, might be wholly disincumbered from all grammatic difficulty. We are surely as competent to simplify and improve our grammar, as to simplify and improve our machinery: and we have only to lay aside one of the double forms of the pronouns or to agree that either form shall be proper in
any position; to substitute Be as a regular verb for that jumble of anomaly now employed; to throw away the useless terminations est, eth, es, or s, (appended to verbs in connexion with thou and he, &c.,) and to disallow all anomalies of verbs, nouns, and adjectives.
The only imaginable objection to such grammatic improvement is, that it would appear strange: so is every thing new, however excellent, till we become used to it. Every new fashion seems odd, if not ridiculous, when first introduced; but it soon appears more excellent than that which it supersedes. We have only to set up an enlightened and useful custom in the room of the old, absurd, and inconvenient grammatic usage, and it will immediately begin to acquire the venerable qualities of the approved, established, and ancient form of speech; and the oldest institutions and customs were once new.
If it be asked, What is the amount of utility in the proposed alteration? That is considerable in every view of the question. It is important to have a sensible instead of a senseless kind of grammar; one, for which satisfactory reasons can be assigned to youths and foreigners. It is of considerable utility to have an easy instead of a difficult kind of syntactic propriety; for with the former, the writer or speaker is enabled to direct his whole consideration to the justness of his thoughts and the meaning of his words; but a complicated syntax distracts his attention; and having to accomplish the two operations