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adopted from other languages are often so much disguised, like foreigners in the costume of the country, that their original features can hardly be recognized. Who would suppose, for instance, that our yes, yea, ay, are the French oui ? There is not a single letter the same. The same thing would happen to words of recent importation, if we did not, by a sort of fashionable pedantry and servility in borrowing almost peculiar to us, put the new patches of French orthography as well as French pronunciation upon the old garment of our language, which was sufficiently motley before; for no confusion of tongues or mixture of all the dialects of Babylon could well equal it in anomalies. If we were to spell that truly fashionable word ennui as it is pronounced, it would be ongwee; but who would suppose, judging by the eye, that the one was metamorphosed into the other? It is sufficient to have indicated the fact almost every page of the Dictionary supplies examples and illustrations.
2. Words that are long and hard or difficult are always liable (before language is fixed by grammars and dictionaries) to be much corrupted, or changed from their first form. This has been already indicated.
3. Words much in use or which frequently pass from mouth to mouth in the hurry of common discourse, are exceedingly liable to be corrupted. Hence, all familiar household words, (and that part of our language which has descended from Saxon
times consists chiefly of such,) are usually much more metamorphosed in process of time than the learned or literary and scientific terms of a people: hence, also, the etymologic difficulty attending the particles of every language.
4. The terminations are the parts of words which are most liable to be corrupted, as is evident from a careful inspection of any given number of terms. The physical reason of this seems to be, that all men, being naturally idle and careless, are usually impatient to get to the end of any thing they have to do or say; and therefore hurry the one out of their hands and the other out of their mouth badly finished. The above fact, as well as that immediately preceding it, has been treated of by Horne Tooke with all the acuteness and dexterity which he applied so successfully to his subject, when his understanding was not biassed by theory.
5. There are many verbal corruptions which originated not in carelessness, hurry, or mere mispronunciation, but in deception occasioned by similitude of sound, in new, strange, or foreign words, to that of some others well known: thus, Chartreuse, was corrupted into Charter-House; Asparagus, corrupted into Sparrowgrass; Reticule, Ridicule; Lustrino, It. a shining silk, cor. into Lutestring; Benzoin, Benjamin; LANTERNA, cor. into Lanthorn, as there happened to be horn in the old lantern, &c. &c. Thus did sheer ignorance produce many strange corruptions, as well as an etymology contemptibly
absurd for even that of Horne Tooke is often of ; this description when connected with the Northern Origin.
6. It is with the ignorant and the uneducated that the grossest verbal corruptions chiefly originate and abound; hence they have, for the most part, a radical meanness and vulgarity about them, (unless they have descended from Saxon literature and possess the dignity of Gothic antiquity,) for they never possessed sufficient merit to rise to any office of distinction or station of respectability. Not to adduce such striking instances of gross corruptions (for the examples above, as well as those given under Verbal Contraction, are sufficient) as Bamboozle, Bother, Balderdash, Rip or Rep, (i. e. Reprobate,) Demirip, &c. &c.: even such instances as Hint, i. e. Intimate, Get, Git, Gist, (i. e. Gesta, i. e. RES GESTA,) &c. are rather low words: and hence the difficulty of supporting the familiar or middle style with sufficient dignity, or even decent respectability: a task to which neither the genius of Swift nor the taste of Addison was fully equal.
VERBAL ELLIPSIS OR SYNTACTIC ABBREVIATION.
THAT which is here indicated has the same relation to composition, i. e. to sentences and members of sentences, as verbal contraction has to single and separate words: the one is the leaving out of letters and syllables; the other is the omitting of whole words. Both are to be accounted for in the same manner; both originate in carelessness, or hurry, or the love of ease, natural to all men; who usually take the shortest cut to the object of their thoughts and affections, and employ elliptic modes of expression, for the same reason that they adopt shorthand and other contractions or abridgments of labor. This is ever their short, direct course, when engaged in good earnest about their wishes and wants, their business and necessities. From various causes, manner, or style, will differ among individuals and among nations: that of one may be exceedingly full and redundant in expression; that of another may be as remarkable for shortness and abbreviation some from mental taste and habit are lavish of words, as Cicero; others are sparing of them, as Sallust. There are overpowering temptations to verbal redundancy and prolixity; as when attorneys and reviewers and writers for publishers are paid so much per line or so much per sheet; and there are temptations to the opposite extreme, as when the
writer has to pay for an advertisement; for his words are likely to be few, even if not well ordered. But all such considerations produce no sensible effect on the language of a people, which is always tending to abbreviation in all its modes of expression; for there is this difference between the contraction of words and that of expressions: the former may be checked in process of time, the latter never can be checked; and though there be inconveniencies as well as advantages attending this elliptic process, it is amenable to no grammatic law, and, therefore, is always in full operation.
That which is now under consideration was too obvious to escape observation, and, therefore, it has been frequently noticed by philological and metaphysical writers, as, for instance, by the ingenious Tucker it was familiar, indeed, to mere grammarians; but Mr. Horne Tooke has treated of ellipsis in such a clear, full, and satisfactory manner, that it is unnecessary to enlarge on the question in this place, and, therefore, a few illustrations will suffice.
It is difficult (if, indeed, possible) to select a single sentence or expression which is not elliptic. Take such instances as the following, which happen to occur at the moment: A prince of the blood, i. e. blood royal, or royal blood; a man of colour, i. e. dark colour; a man of rank, of family, of fortune, &c., i. e. of high rank, of good family, of great fortune, &c. Nor is the ellipsis filled up by thus supplying such omitted terms, for there is hardly a