Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

out of good society; and, for the present, stomach All our words, indeed, are, properly speaking, and abdomen, two learned foreigners, suprly, of learned origin; and many of them may have between them, as well as they can, the place of been introduced unnecessarily; but mere pebelly; but they are only upon trial, and there is dantry has had very little share in their introno chance whatever that they will long give sa- duction. They have, for the most part, been tisfaction. It is supposed, indeed, that genteel adopted, not from the classic, but from the low people, finding so much trouble with such at- and (strange as the association may appear) tendants, will contrive, in future, to do without philosophic Latin; not directly from the schools, them altogether. The fact is, that pantomime or from mere scholars; but from the professions, can be successfully substituted for much of the and in connexion with the arts and sciences, and old vulgar drama of real life. It may be urged, institutions, and inventions, and improvements, that all this results from false refinement and and business of life. The schools and colleges delicacy, and that things ought to be called by are, indeed, distant reservoirs of the regular sup their proper names. But this is a Utopian plies; but the cisterns whence they are directly doctrine wherever there is such an entity as re- received, the immediate channels of communifinement; and when the question is about the cation, are government, legislation, jurisprudegree, or the extent, who is to be judge or so dence, theology, physic, &c. &c.; or, to include vereign arbiter? The calling of gross things by all in two words, the sciences and the arts. The their proper names is one of the privileges of great agents in the formation of our language (as the dead languages. Many instances similar to of every language) have been authors (such as the above might be presented.

ever had any influence for there are many 4. There is a set of low words and phrases writings that never had readers) and orators, which originate in wretched metaphor, or in al- legislators and lawyers, ministers of state and lusions to things of a meau and sordid nature, ministers of religion, physicians and apothesuch as the following: to cram a subject or person caries, inventors and improvers in all the down any one's throat, or to saddle him with a sciences and arts which are in any respect conheavy expense, or to blink his argument, or to nected with the wants and wishes of men. haul him over the coals, or to put him in a cleft- These are the influential, the assimilating, the stick. All such expressions can never be ele. transmuting agents of every people. Hence the vated into lasting dignity, however closely they obvious reason, as before intimated, why the may be associated with the genius of a Swift or English language is partly Greek, but chiefly a Butler (just as low-life may be associated with Latin. the genius of Hogarth); nay, though they may Sect. IX.-VOCABULAR REDUNDANCY AND have the high sanction of parliamentary autho

DEFICIENCY. rity; and certainly, though not omnipotent, it can These extremes not only meet in the same lanproduce very extraordinary effects upon the guage ; but in proportion as it is remarkable for verbal currency of the kingdom.

the one, it is also remarkable for the other. The It is not necessary to indicate the respectable most defective and least philosophic languages classes of words, which are of course too nume- present these attributes so strikingly as to render rous to be easily arranged under distinct denomi- them obvious to every enquirer. Take, for exnations. In general those terms and expressions, ample, the Saxon, which is evidently what all and modes of speech, which have the highest languages are in a greater or less degree, remarkpolitical, intellectual, literary, and scientific ori- able for vocabular redundancy and vocabular gin, possess the greatest dignity; for the general denciency: they have too many and too few tendency is for words to sink from a higher to a words: they have too many of one sort and too lower-not to rise from a lower to a higher rank. few of another : they have a superfluous multiInstances of the latter process are, for the most tude of words of general import, but they are part, those of extraordinary individual merit. poor and destitute of particular, distinctive, and Thus, terms which were at first objected to as definitive terms: they will furnish you with a Scotticisms (such as the verb notice, &c.), and thousand names for one and the same entity provincialisms, or as ton technical and plebeian (like the wonderful Arabic, to which its admifor classic composition, have, in course of time, rers give the praise of a thousand names for a risen to respectability in the language. All such sword); but there are a thousand entities for words as are evidently useful, peculiarly conve- which they supply no name. nient, distinctive, and descriptive, are sure of Both these opposite qualities are evidently great adoption, whence soever derived: they are a faults--not perfections in language. As to the kind of professional adventurers that are sure one, there never, probably, has been but one to make their way in the world, and to come opinion, and that sufficiently correct; but coninto general practice.

cerning the other, much error and confusion There is a very large number of words, found have prevailed. One will eulogize the copiousin books and dictionaries, which do not properly ness of a language by exaggerating the number rank either with the high or the low-the genteel of names which it possesses for one object; anoand respectable, or the mean and vulgar order: ther will affirm, that there are no two words, in and which may be designated the awkward squad, any one language, that are precisely synonymous. or pedantic company. They never had any re- The last is one of those positions which are so commendation but their learned bulkiness and freely hazarded on all subjects, concerning strangeness; and therefore they have been un- which men consider themselves fully justified successful candidates for admission into general by established usage, in thinking little and sayand established usage.

ing much. The usual boast of verbal copious

ness is as if a savage were to demonstrate how the other, they are accompanied by a sentence extraordinary his wealth is by exhibiting a thou- of approbation or disapprobation : in the one sand bows, kept for his own exclusive use; or there is no indication of feeling, any more than as if a mechanic were to prove the amazing if the mind were pure abstract intellect, incaabundance of his tools by exhibiting a thousand pable of emotion; in the other there is an exhammers.

pression of feeling, either of like or of dislike, What is wanted is a sufficient number of apt either of pleasure or of displeasure, or (what is tools or verbal instruments for every intellectual the lowest degree of the same thing) either of purpose. Tried by this test, the English has, approbation or disapprobation. perhaps, as little imperfection as any language, As all words are either impassioned or uninancient or modern; though it has much useless passioned; so all the former obviously admit of and cumbrous copiousness of one description of being ranged in two opposite classes, answering terms, and considerable deficiency of another. to the opposite states or acts of mind, which are It has (like every other language) too many expressed by the terms approbation and disapterms of general, and too few of particular im- probation, affection and disaffection. Hence, port: it has too many generic and too few spe- after separating all words into impassioned and cific and individualic terms: there are a thou- unimpassioned, Mr. Bentham again divides the sand names for one logical genus; but many of first division into eulogistic and dyslogistic, and the logical species and individuals have no names thence denominates the unimpassioned class assigned to them. These two opposite faults neutrologistic. (which are mutually proportionate) are two Perhaps the scientific purpose intended, is as of the grand imperfections of language; and well accomplished by these as by any designaprincipal causes of much of the error, deception, tives that could be invented. If there be any misunderstanding, controversy, and other evils objection to them, it is, that they are not suffiwhich have prevailed, and, probably, will pre- ciently popular. Perhaps approbative, disapvail to the end of the world : for, if the moral probative, and neuter or neutral, would be nature of human beings were as good as that more obvious distinctions: non-probative might of angels, they could not rise to any very be objectionable. But what is wanted for such high state of perfectibility, without a much less purposes is a designative phraseology of fixed imperfect instrument of verbal intercommunica- and definite import: that which is least popular tion than they yet possess. We are not very is most likely to ensure these qualities; and it sanguine concerning remedies for any existing is a tribute of respect due to inventors and imevils; but it is something to indicate their provers not hastily to reject or lightly to alter causes; the knowledge of which, if not available the terms employed by them. for any great improvement, is at least likely to From the very nature and general habitudes remove the mental malady of false theory. of the human mind; from the history of man; Sect. X.-OF LOGICAL DIVERSITIES OF VERBAL

from our own observation and experience, it

might be inferred that language has much of an SIGNIFICATION.

impassioned and little of an unimpassioned chaIt is probable that the author would not have racter; that it is composed chiefly of eulogistic invited attention to the distinctions indicated and dyslogistic, and contains few neutrologistic above, but for a small publication entitled, a terms. Human beings as infallibly impress their Table of the Springs of Human Actions, by the own likeness upon their mental and moral, as acute Jeremy Bentham.

upon their natural offspring. Hence the obvious There can be no doubt that the fact, so dis- similitude of idiomatic peculiarity 'to national tinctly stated in the above publication, was pre character; or the correspondence which exists viously as familiar to minds in any considerable between the genius of a language and the genius degree logical, as was the principle of mental as- of a people; for, according as the one is more sociation before it was so distinctly stated by Mr. or less impassioned (not to advert to other cirHobbes. Indeed, some remarks of the latter cumstances here), so is the other. But whatever (as, where he distinguishes among different natural, mental, moral, and political diversities names applied to the same thing, according as may exist in mankind, they all agree in this, it is liked or misliked) apprcach so very nearly that they are more under the dominion of pasto the very distinctions employed by Mr. Ben- sion and prejudice than the guidance of reason : tham, that the author concluded, that the philo- hence, every language (even the wisest, comparasopher of Westminster had borrowed from the tively considered) has much of the attribute of abphilosopher of Malmsbury.

surdity: and every language (even the inost neutroAll words that have any import (for some are logistic) has much of a passionate and little of a as destitute of import as mummies are of life), dispassionate character. Every language, therefore, are obviously distinguishable into passioned and is very fit for rhetoric (taken in the widest possible unimpassioned, or passionate and dispassionate : import), but very unfit for logic; is an apt and the one indicate thoughts, the other sentiments; powerful weapon of passion and prejudice, but i. e. the one indicate mere perceptions or acts of a very defective instrument of reason. the understanding (the dry pure light of reason, It is of some importance to know things as as Bacon terms it): the other indicate thoughts they truly are, whether we can change them or not; as imbued with (or, as Bacon terms it, drenched for without that knowledge there is no chance of in) the affections: in the one, logical entities improvement. There is very little reason to are presented, unaccompanied by any judicial hope for a perfect language; but in proportion decision concerning them, by the affections; in as we understand the nature, and become acquainted with the imperfections, of that which received import to the other, which words exwe have, the more are we likely to make a pro- perience in process of time; for either may be per use of it; and to guard against the errors changed into the other; but in the struggle beand prejudices and other evils which result from tween what is termed the good and the bad sense its unfitness for logical purposes : the important of a word, the evil spirit generally prevails : for principle of utility will be more steadily kept in we have many examples of beautiful approbaview ; enquiry after truth will be more success- tives being changed in course of time into such ful; discussion will be more fair and honorable, ugly disapprobatives as to be quite frightful; and the temper of disputants more candid. He but we have few examples of the contrary prowho strives not for rhetorical display or polemic cess. The reason is obvious : ridicule, if not the victory; who aims only at truth in theory and test of truth, is a test which few people are utility in practice; who wishes not to take any willing to have either their persons or their urfair advantage of the understanding of those to opinions tried by; and they as naturally shrink whom he speaks or writes, will endeavour to em- from odious charges. When, therefore, dysloploy neutrologistic phraseology : and he who is gistic phraseology is applied to that in which determined to prevent, if possible, others from persons are interested or implicated, they feel taking an unfair advantage of his understanding, like a man accused of a horrible offence; who is will carefully watch the verbal movements, and willing to change not only his abode, but his will guard against the stratagems and assaults of very name, rather than encounter the imputation impassioned language, consisting of eulogistic or bear the odium. Such words as despot and and dyslogistic terms.

tyrant were once very loyal names; but it would Before leaving this subject, it may be useful be libel or treason to apply them now to such to subjoin a few distinct remarks.

persons as they used to designate: pedant and 1. Out of the most multitudinous vocabulary, pedagogue were once of very innocent and laudvery few terms, comparatively considered, can able import; but the persons so designated be selected that are absolutely neutrologistic; became ashamed of their antique name, and i. e. purely intellectual, without any mixture of consider themselves insulted or persecuted when sentiment and prejudice and passion. The it, is now applied to them: parson and priest whole verhal multitude (with the exception of a were at no great distance of time very respectmere handful of neuters), belonging either to the able and even honorable names; but instead eulogistic or dyslogistic faction. They may be of being proud of them, or making a noble stand distinguished by many shades of character as for their eulogistic dignity against the lewd laity; partisans ; but they are all approbative or dis- the reverend gentlemen, to whom they were apapprobative, respectful or disrespectful, admira- plied, became ashamed of them, and were willing tive or contemptuous, fond or invidious.

to assume such a servile name as minister, or 2. The neutrologistic terms of a language are such a clumsy designation as clergyınan; and, if not only very few; they are liable to be cor- these be fated to become dyslogistic, they also rupted. Take a recent instance: what adjective will be discarded. could well be more neutrologistic than radical It was remarked in another place, that the was only a few years ago? But it had the mis- tendency is for the members of the vocabulary to fortune to be adopted by a particular class of sink, not to rise in the scale of dignity; as we political reformers; and the consequence has have numerous instances of polite words and been, that this humble member of the vocabulary phrases becoming vulgar; but few or no examis already strongly dyslogistic-deeply imbued ples of a contrary process. The same holds with with contempt and aversion; and, to many a the eulogistic and dyslogistic distinctions : we mind, it is nearly, if not quite, as odious and have almost numberless instances of the former exasperating as democrat or revolutionist. In sinking into the latter, but few instances of the this manner have thousands of words been per- latter rising into the former: and these few inverted from their primitive simplicity of unim- stances are only found when the persons or parpassioned import; and when once thus corrupted, ties intended to be mortified and disgraced, by a it is impossible for them to recover their original dyslogistic designation or nickname, take kindly innocence. There are almost numberless in- to it and glory in it; for then the malignant instances of dispassionate, becoming passionate tention of their enemies is defeated, and a rephraseology; but the instances of a contrary action commences in favor of the persecuted. process or transmutation are very rare.

Christian (as well as Nazarene) was perhaps at first 3. Eulogistics and dyslogistics are properly a nickname; but the persons thus designated took antithetic or rather antipathetic to one another; kindly to the invidious distinction, and gloried but many words are made to perform both parts : in it, as well as in that ignominious peculiarity thus saint is a gracious eulogistic, as employed of their religion, the cross. The result was, that by one description of persons; but a most un- both rose in process of time into the highest gracious dyslogistic as employed by another: in estimation. Quaker was originally a nickname; the one it indicates sincere partiality; in the but the Friends, who have always possessed too other sarcastic bitterness. Any eulogistic may many respectable qualities to be a degraded thus be sarcastically converted into a dyslogistic: caste (for in that case the most honored desighence many terms have the two opposite charac- nation ever invented must have sunk with them), ters at the same time, according to the tempers took, if not cordially, at least patiently and and opinions of the agents employing them: and meekly to their nickname, and described themhence, also, the radical and permanent change selves as the people commonly called Quakers : from the one extreme of fixed and universally the result is, that Quaker is become an eulogistic,

or, at least, has lost all its dyslogistic import: more properly, definitives, are nothing but proand it is as respectable in common usage as their nouns used in a particular sense, and for a parown fond Friend, with less quaintness.

ticular purpose. Interjections are chiefly verds ; All that was intended by these instances was some are substantives. Adverbs, for the most illustration; which being, it is hoped, fully ac- part, originate in adjectives; a few are verbs ara complished, it is unnecessary to detain the rea nouns. Conjunctions and prepositions are geder longer with the subject; but there is one nerally verbs and nouns. other consideration that deserves to be stated. « Nouns constitute, in general, the primitive

It is now sufficiently apparent, perhaps, that, words in all languages. Verbs are the first-born as language has little of a dispassionate and offspring of nouns. They are nouns employed much of a passionate character, so many entities in a verbal sense; at least the greatest quantity both physical and metaphysical have no neutro, of words are of this class ; a few, indeed, appear logistic designation : they are never presented to have started into being at once as verbs, to the understanding as mere strangers, whose without any transmigration through a substantive character is to be discovered by acquaintance- state.' for their name proclaims their character : it is If Mr. Horne Tooke had not entangled himeither a badge of honor or a badge of disgrace; self with en and th and to as meaning do, and as and those wearing it can have no interview with being necessary verbal adjuncts, it would have the understanding, absolutely free from all pre- been easy to understand what (we should have judice or sinister agency; but are introduced by supposed) he must have intended by verbs being the high authority of universal consent either as something more than runs. The following are approved or condemned, as good or bad, as examples of nouns, employed in a verbal sense, amiable or hateful.

without the assistance of any verbal adjunct; The entities that have two distinct sets of gallant men eye the fair-hand them a chair, or names, i. e. eulogistic and dyslogistic, answering seat them on a sofa--back their friends-face to the views and feelings of the persons employ- their enemies--spur their horses--cruin their ing them, are sufficiently numerous (even if no dogs--kennel their hounds--bag their gameother cause existed) to produce incalculable table their money-stake their property-shield diversity of opinion, endless controversy, and their honor, and pistol their enemies." A thousand factious hostility.

such instances might be collected (without much PART II.

trouble) of sensible, palpable, substantive mean

ings, and of nouns employed in a verbal sense : OF THE PARTS OF SPEECH OR THE GRAM. and it is probable that most of those words which MATIC DISTINCTIONS OF WORDS.

now appear in the abstract state of mere verbs, The parts of speech are usually said to be were previously names of physical entities. nine; but Mr. Tooke, as well as others before It is true, that, in all such instances as those him, reduced them to two. Many of his re- presented above, there is ellipsis, i. e. something marks respecting them are not only acute but left out: gallant men back their friends and face just; and it will be proper to examine minutely their foes; i. e. do back their friends, and do face what he has advanced.

their foes; which is the old mode of the sentence, Mr. Horne Tooke (as well as Plato and other and that which we still adopt when we wish to ancients, and Vossius and other moderns) resolves speak emphatically; and even then there is all the parts of speech into noun and verb. Thus much more implied than expressed; there is far he is very explicit and very positive; but much verhal ellipsis : but for the same reason farther he has not proceeded. He affirms, indeed, that the meaning remains when so much expresthat the verb is properly a noun; but he adds, sion is left out, the same meaning might have that it is something more than a noun; what that been conveyed if the omitted expression had something more or verbalising property is, he never existed. Children (as also foreigners) either could not or would not inform the world. when beginning to speak our language, can make

The opinions of Horne Tooke (though hi- themselves understood by merely pronouncing therto barren of any very important effects or use nouns. My child, now playing round my table, ful results) have met with cordial reception : and has just said, “Pa, me book. The fond father all who now write about grammar acknowledge understood her as readily, and as perfectly, as if bis authority. That hardy reasoner, the late Dr. she had said, ' Please, my, papa, will you give to Geddes, expressed the hope of being able to me a book ?' or, ‘Please, my papa, will you take prove at some future period that all verbs were up one of these books from this table, with one originally nouns. In this opinion the learned of your hands, and then put it into my

hands? doctor was avowedly saying after Mr. Tooke, for I wish to amuse myself with handling it and who also hoped to be able to accomplish extra- looking at it; but I am not tall enough to reach ordinary things at some future period. Numer- it, else I would not be at the trouble of asking ous testimonies in favor of his opinions might be you to hand it to me.' adduced from recent grammatic works. The If language had the rude origin which Mr. following is a pretty good synopsis of his prin- Horne Tooke always supposes, it is certainly ciples, extracted from a recent grammar. very improbable that such a metaphysical part

Every abstract term in language had, origi- of speech as the verb, according to our modern nally, a sensible, palpable meaning, generally a notions of it (i. e. a word which signifies to be, substantive meaning. · Adjectives are, originally, to do, or suffer, &c.), had any distinct, separate, either nouns or verbs. Pronouns take their rise or independent existence. Add to this the fact from nouns, verbs, and numerals. Articles, or, that a very great number of verbs (as well as of VOL. X

2

all the other parts of speech) are, without doubt in different ages, and even by different persons or controversy, resolvable into nouns.

of the same age and country: and thus (as freNow we believe full justice has been done to quently happens in controversy) one person the statements contained in the Diversions of might affirm, and another might deny, that words Purley ; and now, perhaps, many persons would are arbitrary signs; and be all the while disputsuppose the subject to be satisfactorily disposed ing about nothing. of: all words are resolvable into nouns, and But there could be no controversy with Mr. nouns are names, and what more would we have; Tooke, or with any who adopt his opinions, confor, as we cannot proceed ad infinitum, we must cerning the present subject of enquiry. He frestop somewhere; and where so proper to stop quently states, as an essential etymologic princias with the names of things? This has certainly ple, that there is a reason for the imposition of . some show of reason, and is much more satisfac- every word: i. e. that it has a descriptive signi- , tory than putting the world on the back of an ficancy, without which, he insists, it has no sigelephant, and the elephant on the back of a tor- nificancy whatever. In what, then, does the sigtoise, and the tortoise on the back of nothing : nificancy of the noun consist? Or, in other it does happen, however, that where the difficulty words, whence does the noun itself derive its exseems to end with Horne Tooke and others, it istence? This question seems to admit of an only begins with the author : not that he hopes easy and satisfactory answer in reference to a for a palpable demonstration as to the origin of certain class of words, formed by what is called language; but he does think that the noun re- onomatopeia, or imitation of the sound : such as quires to be explained and accounted for as buzz, hum, grunt, croak, cluck, click, clock, much as any part of speech whatever. Granting clang, clink, clash, whir, whiz, cuckoo. Many that it is resolvable into no other part of speech, more might be presented; but these are sufficient what is it to be resolved into? If it be the off- as a specimen, which is all that is intended spring of no vocabulary parent, nor the result of here. If such words be considered nouns, here any etymologic transmigration, but started into is a satisfactory origin of the noun (and perhaps, being at once a perfect substantive or full-grown after all, of the whole of language); for we have noun; whence, or how did it start into existence; only to suppose the letters that indicate, to the What is the reason of its imposition or applica- eye, the sounds of which such words consist, tion? For if (as Mr. Tooke so often affirms) contrived (arbitrarily, or conventionally, if you there be nothing arbitrary or unaccountable will—for other marks might have been invented about language; if (as he also reiterates) that be and employed), like the signs in the gamut (and a trifling etymology which does not assign the the one is just as much a philosophic contrivcause or discover the reason for the imposition ance as the other), merely for the purpose of liof any word; it is doing nothing towards satis- terature; i. e. to extend the utility of the spoken fying our philologic curiosity, to resolve all the by rendering it also written language. This is parts of speech into the noun, and then tell us certainly the simplest manner of accounting for that a noun is a name. If said noun be in any the origin of language; the simplicity is in such respect descriptive (and without this, according a case, if not a demonstration, at least a strong to Mr. Tooke, it could be no significant part of argument. The only reasonable doubt seems to speech) what is its descriptive property-how be, whether onomatopæia could supply a suffidid it acquire its designative power?

cient stock or capital to begin the business of Here also we shall attempt supplementary ex- language with: all that the author will venture plication, that full justice may be done to the to affirm, is (for he is not confident) that upon claims set up for the noun as being the sole, ori- the maturest reflection, aided by considerable ginal, and pre-existent part of speech. The po- enquiry, he thinks it neither impossible nor imsition of Mr. Tooke, that there is nothing arbi- probable, that such a small number of words, as trary about language, we consider perfectly seem to originate directly in an imitation of nasound; and to assert the contrary is (we con tural sounds, should be available for every verceive) manifestly absurd. Even those unmean- bal purpose; and that, in the sluw process of ing names with which we, in these modern ages, they should have multiplied into the multimes, are so familiar, called proper nouns, were titude that now form the largest vocabulary with originally descriptive of some quality, or expres- which we are acquainted. sive of some circumstance; and in the successive It has been said above, if such words as hum, re-application of them there is an assignable rea- buzz, croak, &c., be considered nouns, we have, son for their imposition ; for such names as at once, in onomatopæia, a satisfactory origin of Robert, John, Alfred, Hunt, Fox, &c., are not the noun as the first part of speech, and that employed at random, as we might suppose such from which all the other parts are derived : but new and strange names as those fabricated by a question still remains, ought such words to be Swift; and even, for the employing of these, regarded as primarily nouns or verbs? They inthere is an assignable reason. Perhaps, indeed, dicate not any substantive entities, but sounds; nothing more was ever intended (where the un- and what are sounds but actions or motions, derstanding had any share) by affirming the produced by certain impulses given to the atmeanings of applications of words to be arbitrary mosphere, whose vibratory movement acts than that, where any one word is employed, some upon the tympanum, or beats upon the drum of other word might have been used for the same the ear. With hardly any exceptions, the imipurpose; or that terms are liable, in process of tative words, considered as nouns, are also verbs; time, to have their signification changed; or that there are many imitative verbs without any corthey may be differently understood, and applied responding nouns; and in most of those imita.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »