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out of good society; and, for the present, stomach and abdomen, two learned foreigners, supply, between them, as well as they can, the place of belly; but they are only upon trial, and there is no chance whatever that they will long give satisfaction. It is supposed, indeed, that genteel people, finding so much trouble with such attendants, will contrive, in future, to do without them altogether. The fact is, that pantomime can be successfully substituted for much of the old vulgar drama of real life. It may be urged, that all this results from false refinement and delicacy, and that things ought to be called by their proper names. But this is a Utopian doctrine wherever there is such an entity as refinement; and when the question is about the degree, or the extent, who is to be judge or sovereign arbiter? The calling of gross things by their proper names is one of the privileges of the dead languages. Many instances similar to the above might be presented.
4. There is a set of low words and phrases which originate in wretched metaphor, or in allusions to things of a mean and sordid nature, such as the following: to cram a subject or person down any one's throat, or to saddle him with a heavy expense, or to blink his argument, or to haul him over the coals, or to put him in a cleftstick. All such expressions can never be elevated into lasting dignity, however closely they may be associated with the genius of a Swift or a Butler (just as low-life may be associated with the genius of Hogarth); nay, though they may have the high sanction of parliamentary authority; and certainly, though not omnipotent, it can produce very extraordinary effects upon the verbal currency of the kingdom.
It is not necessary to indicate the respectable classes of words, which are of course too numerous to be easily arranged under distinct denominations. In general those terms and expressions, and modes of speech, which have the highest political, intellectual, literary, and scientific origin, possess the greatest dignity; for the general tendency is for words to sink from a higher to a lower—not to rise from a lower to a higher rank. Instances of the latter process are, for the most
art, those of extraordinary individual merit.
hus, terms which were at first objected to as Scotticisms (such as the verb notice, &c.), and F. or as too technical and plebeian or classic composition, have, in course of time, risen to respectability in the language. All such words as are evidently useful, peculiarly convenient, distinctive, and descriptive, are sure of adoption, whence soever derived: they are a kind of professional adventurers that are sure to make their way in the world, and to come into general practice.
There is a very large number of words, found in books and dictionaries, which do not properly rank either with the high or the low—the genteel and respectable, or the mean and vulgar order: and which may be designated the awkward squad, or pedantic company. They never had any recommendation but their learned bulkiness and strangeness; and therefore they have been unsuccessful candidates for admission into general and established usage.
All our words, indeed, are, properly speaking, of learned origin; and many of them may have been introduced unnecessarily; but mere pedantry has had very little share in their introduction. They have, for the most part, been adopted, not from the classic, but from the low and (strange as the association may appear) philosophic Latin; not directly from the schools, or from mere scholars; but from the professions, and in connexion with the arts and sciences, and institutions, and inventions, and improvements, and business of life. The schools and colleges are, indeed, distant reservoirs of the regular su plies; but the cisterns whence they are ††, received, the immediate channels of communication, are government, legislation, jurisprudence, theology, physic, &c. &c.; or, to include all in two words, the sciences and the arts. The great agents in the formation of our language (as of every language) have been authors (such as ever had any influence—for there are many writings that never had readers) and orators, legislators and lawyers, ministers of state and ministers of religion, physicians and apothecaries, inventors and improvers in all the sciences and arts which are in any respect connected with the wants and wishes of men. These are the influential, the assimilating, the transmuting agents of every people. Hence the obvious reason, as before intimated, why the English language is partly Greek, but chiefly Latin. Sect. IX.-VocabulArt REDUNDANCY AND
These extremes not only meet in the same language; but in proportion as it is remarkable for the one, it is also remarkable for the other. The most defective and least philosophic languages present these attributes so strikingly as to render them obvious to every enquirer. Take, for example, the Saxon, which is evidently what all languages are in a greater or less degree, remarkable for vocabular redundancy and vocabular deficiency: they have too many and too few words: they have too many of one sort and too few of another: they have a superfluous multitude of words of general import, but they are . and destitute of particular, distinctive, and efinitive terms: they will furnish you with a thousand names for one and the same entity (like the wonderful Arabic, to which its admirers give the praise of a thousand names for a sword); but there are a thousand entities for which they supply no name.
Both these opposite qualities are evidently great faults—not perfections in language. As to the one, there never, probably, has been but one opinion, and that sufficiently correct; but concerning the other, much error and confusion have prevailed. One will eulogize the copiousness of a language by exaggerating the number of names which it possesses for one object; another will affirm, that there are no two words, in any one language, that are precisely synonymous. The last is one of those positions which are so freely hazarded on all subjects, concerning which men consider themselves fully justified by established usage, in thinking little and saying much. The usual boast of verbal copiousness is as if a savage were to demonstrate how extraordinary his wealth is by exhibiting a thousand bows, kept for his own exclusive use; or as if a mechanic were to prove the amazing abundance of his tools by exhibiting a thousand hammers. What is wanted is a sufficient number of apt tools or verbal instruments for every intellectual purpose. Tried by this test, the English has, perhaps, as little imperfection as any language, ancient or modern; though it has much useless and cumbrous copiousness of one description of terms, and considerable deficiency of another. It has (like every other language) too many terms of general, and too few of particular import: it has too many generic and too few specific and individualic terms: there are a thousand names for one logical genus; but many of the logical species and individuals have no names assigned to them. These two opposite faults (which are mutually proportionate) are two of the grand o of language; and principal causes of much of the error, deception, misunderstanding, controversy, and other evils which have prevailed, and, probably, will prevail to the end of the world: for, if the moral nature of human beings were as good as that of angels, they could not rise to any very high state of perfectibility, without a much less imperfect instrument of verbal intercommunication than they yet possess. We are not very sanguine concerning remedies for any existing evils; but it is something to indicate their causes; the knowledge of which, if not available for any great improvement, is at least likely to remove the mental malady of false theory.
SECT. X-OF Logical Diversities re VERBAL SIGNIFICATION.
It is probable that the author would not have invited attention to the distinctions indicated above, but for a small publication entitled, A Table of the Springs of Human Actions, by the acute Jeremy Bentham.
There can be no doubt that the fact, so distinctly stated in the above publication, was previously as familiar to minds in any considerable degree logical, as was the principle of mental association before it was so distinctly stated by Mr. Hobbes. Indeed, some remarks of the latter (as, where he distinguishes among different names applied to the same thing, according as it is liked or misliked) approach so very nearly to the very distinctions employed by Mr. Bentham, that the author concluded, that the philosopher of Westminster had borrowed from the philosopher of Malmsbury.
All words that have any import (for some are as destitute of import as mummies are of life), are obviously distinguishable into passioned and unimpassioned, or passionate and dispassionate: the one indicate thoughts, the other sentiments; i. e. the one indicate mere perceptions or acts of the understanding (the dry pure light of reason, as Bacon terms it): the other indicate thoughts as imbued with (or, as Bacon terms it, drenched in) the affections: in the one, logical entities are presented, unaccompanied by any judicial decision concerning them, by the affections; in
the other, they are accompanied by a sentence of approbation or disapprobation: in the one there is no indication of feeling, any more than if the mind were pure abstract intellect, incapable of emotion; in the other there is an expression of feeling, either of like or of dislike, either of pleasure or of displeasure, or (what is the lowest degree of the same thing) either of approbation or disapprobation. As all words are either impassioned or unimassioned; so all the former obviously admit of eing ranged in two opposite classes, answering to the opposite states or acts of mind, which are expressed by the terms approbation and disapprobation, affection and disaffection. Hence, after separating all words into impassioned and unimpassioned, Mr. Bentham again divides the first division into eulogistic and dyslogistic, and thence denominates the unimpassioned class neutrologistic. Perhaps the scientific purpose intended, is as well accomplished by these as by any designatives that could be invented. If there be any objection to them, it is, that they are not sufficiently popular. Perhaps approbative, disapprobative, and neuter or neutral, would be more obvious distinctions: non-probative might be objectionable. But what is wanted for such purposes is a designative phraseology of fixed and definite import: that which is least popular is most likely to ensure these qualities; and it is a tribute of respect due to inventors and improvers not hastily to reject or lightly to alter the terms employed by them. From the very nature and general habitudes of the human mind; from the history of man; from our own observation and experience, it might be inferred that language has much of an impassioned and little of an unimpassioned character; that it is composed chiefly of eulogistic and dyslogistic, and contains few neutrologistic terms. Human beings as infallibly impress their own likeness upon their mental and moral, as upon their natural offspring. Hence the obvious similitude of idiomatic peculiarity to national character; or the correspondence which exists between the genius of a language and the genius of a people; for, according as the one is more or less impassioned (not to advert to other circumstances here), so is the other. But whatever natural, mental, moral, and political diversities may exist in mankind, they all agree in this, that they are more under the dominion of passion and prejudice than the guidance of reason: hence, every language (even the wisest, comparatively considered) has much of the attribute of absurdity: and every language(even the most neutrologistic) has much of a passionate and little of a dispassionate character. Every language, therefore, is very fit for rhetoric (taken in the widest possible import), but very unfit for logic; is an apt and powerful weapon of passion and prejudice, but a very defective instrument of reason. It is of some importance to know things as they truly are, whether we can change them or not; for without that knowledge there is no chance of improvement. There is very little reason to hope for a perfect language; but in proportion as we understand the nature, and become acquainted with the imperfections, of that which we have, the more are we likely to make a proper use of it; and to guard against the errors and prejudices and other evils which result from its unfitness for logical purposes: the important principle of utility will be more steadily kept in view ; enquiry after truth will be more successful; discussion will be more fair and honorable, and the temper of disputants more candid. He who strives not for rhetorical display or polemic victory; who aims only at truth in theory and utility in practice; who wishes not to take any unfair advantage of the understanding of those to whom he speaks or writes, will endeavour to employ neutrologistic phraseology : and he who is determined to prevent, if possible, others from taking an unfair advantage of his understanding, will carefully watch the verbal movements, and will guard against the stratagems and assaults of impassioned language, consisting of eulogistic and dyslogistic terms. Before leaving this subject, it may be useful to subjoin a few distinct remarks. 1. Out of the most multitudinous vocabulary, very few terms, comparatively considered, can be selected that are absolutely neutrologistic; i. e. purely intellectual, without any mixture of sentiment and prejudice and passion. The whole verbal multitude (with the exception of a mere handful of neuters), belonging either to the eulogistic or dyslogistic faction. They may be distinguished by many shades of character as partisans; but they are all approbative or disapprobative, respectful or disrespectful, admirative or contemptuous, fond or invidious. 2. The neutrologistic terms of a language are not only very few ; they are liable to be corrupted. Take a recent instance: what adjective could well be more neutrologistic than radical was only a few years ago? But it had the misfortune to be adopted by a particular class of o reformers; and the consequence has Yeen, that this humble member of the vocabulary is already strongly dyslogistic—deeply imbued with contempt and aversion; and, to many a mind, it is nearly, if not quite, as odious and exasperating as democrat or revolutionist. In this manner have thousands of words been perverted from their primitive simplicity of unimpassioned import; and when once thus corrupted, it is impossible for them to recover their original innocence. There are almost numberless instances of dispassionate, becoming passionate phraseology; but the instances of a contrary process or transmutation are very rare. 3. Eulogistics and dyslogistics are properly antithetic or rather antipathetic to one another; but many words are made to perform both parts: thus saint is a gracious eulogistic, as employed by one description of persons; but a most ungracious dyslogistic as employed by another: in the one it indicates sincere partiality; in the other sarcastic bitterness. Any eulogistic may thus be sarcastically converted into a dyslogistic: hence many terms have the two opposite characters at the same time, according to the tempers and opinions of the agents employing them: and hence, also, the radical and permanent change from the one extreme of fixed and universally
received import to the other, which words experience in process of time; for either may be changed into the other; but in the struggle between what is termed the good and the bad sense of a word, the evil spirit generally prevails: for we have many examples of beautiful approbatives being changed in course of time into such ugly disapprobatives as to be quite frightful; but we have few examples of the contrary process. The reason is obvious : ridicule, if not the test of truth, is a test which few people are willing to have either their persons or their opinions tried by ; and they as naturally shrink from odious charges. When, therefore, dyslogistic phraseology is applied to that in which o: are interested or implicated, they feel ike a man accused of a horrible offence; who is willing to change not only his abode, but his very name, rather than encounter the imputation or bear the odium. Such words as despot and tyrant were once very loyal names; but it would be libel or treason to apply them now to such persons as they used to designate: pedant and pedagogue were once of very innocent and laudable import; but the persons so designated became ashamed of their antique name, and consider themselves insulted or persecuted when it, is now applied to them : parson and pricit were at no great distance of time very respectable and even honorable names; but instead of being proud of them, or making a noble stand for their eulogistic dignity against the lewd laity; the reverend gentlemen, to whom they were applied, became ashamed of them, and were willing to assume such a servile name as minister, or such a clumsy designation as clergyman; and is these be fated to become dyslogistic, they also will be discarded. It was remarked in another place, that the tendency is for the members of the vocabulary to sink, not to rise in the scale of dignity; as we have numerous instances of polite words and phrases becoming vulgar; but few or no examples of a contrary process. The same holds with the eulogistic and dyslogistic distinctions: we have almost numberless instances of the former sinking into the latter, but few instances of the latter rising into the former: and these few instances are only found when the persons or par. ties intended to be mortified and disgraced, by a dyslogistic designation or nickname, take kindly to it and glory in it; for then the malignant intention of their enemies is defeated, and a reaction commences in favor of the persecuted. Christian (as well as Nazarene) was perhapsalisirs a nickname; but the persons thus designated took kindly to the invidious distinction, and gloried in it, as well as in that ignominious peculiarity of their religion, the cross. The result was, that both rose in process of time into the highest estimation. Quaker was originally a nickname; but the Friends, who have always possessed to many respectable qualities to be a degraded caste (for in that case the most honored designation ever invented must have sunk with them), took, if not cordially, at least patiently and meekly to their nickname, and described themselves as the people commonly called Quaker"; the 1esult is, that Quaker is become an eulogistic, or, at least, has lost all its dyslogistic import: and it is as respectable in common usage as their own fond Friend, with less quaintness.
All that was intended by these instances was illustration; which being, it is hoped, fully accomplished, it is unnecessary to detain the reader longer with the subject; but there is one other consideration that deserves to be stated.
It is now sufficiently apparent, perhaps, that, as language has little of a dispassionate and much of a passionate character, so many entities both physical and metaphysical have no neutrologistic designation: they are never presented to the understanding as mere strangers, whose character is to be discovered by acquaintance— for their name proclaims their character: it is either a badge of honor or a badge of disgrace; and those wearing it can have no interview with the understanding, absolutely free from all prejudice or sinister agency; but are of by the high authority of universal consent either as approved or condemned, as good or bad, as amiable or hateful.
The entities that have two distinct sets of names, i. e. eulogistic and dyslogistic, answering to the views and feelings of the persons employing them, are sufficiently numerous (even if no other cause existed) to produce incalculable diversity of opinion, endless controversy, and factious hostility.
OF THE PARTS OF SPEECH OR THE GRAMMATIC DISTINCTIONS OF WORDS.
The parts of speech are usually said to be nine; but Mr. Tooke, as well as others before him, reduced them to two. Many of his remarks respecting them are not only acute but just; and it will be proper to examine minutely what he has advanced. Mr. Horne Tooke (as well as Plato and other ancients, and Vossius and other moderns) resolves all the parts of speech into noun and verb. Thus far he is very explicit and very positive; but farther he has not proceeded. He affirms, indeed, that the verb is properly a noun; but he adds, that it is something more than a noun; what that something more or verbalising property is, he either could not or would not inform the world. The opinions of Horne Tooke (though hitherto barren of any very important effects or useful results) have met with cordial reception: and all who now write about grammar acknowledge his authority. That hardy reasoner, the late Dr. Geddes, expressed the hope of being able to prove at some future period that all verbs were originally nouns. In this opinion the learned doctor was avowedly saying after Mr. Tooke, who also hoped to be able to accomplish extraordinary things at some future period. Numerous testimonies in favor of his opinions might be adduced from recent grammatic works. The following is a pretty good synopsis of his principles, extracted from a recent grammar. “Every abstract term in language had, originally, a sensible, palpable meaning, generally a substantive meaning. Adjectives are, originally, either nouns or verbs. Pronouns take their rise from nouns, verbs, and numerals. Articles, or, Vol. X
more properly, definitives, are nothing but pronouns used in a particular sense, and for a particular purpose. Interjections are chiefly verbs; some are substantives. Adverbs, for the most part, originate in adjectives; a few are verbs and nouns. Conjunctions and prepositions are generally verbs and nouns. ‘Nouns constitute, in general, the primitive words in all languages. Verbs are the first-born offspring of nouns. They are nouns employed in a verbal sense; at least the greatest quantity of words are of this class; a few, indeed, appear to have started into being at once as verbs, without any transmigration through a substantive state.’ If Mr. Horne Tooke had not entangled himself with en and th and to as meaning do, and as being necessary verbal adjuncts, it would have been easy to understand what (we should have supposed) he must have intended by verbs being something more than couns. The following are examples of nouns, employed in a verbal sense, without the assistance of any verbal adjunct; gallant men eye the fair—hand them a chair, or seat them on a sofa-back their friends—face their enemies—spur their horses—chain their dogs—-kennel their hounds—bag their game— table their money—stake their property—shield their honor, and pistol their enemies. A thousand such instances might be collected (without much trouble) of sensible, palpable, substantive meanings, and of nouns employed in a verbal sense: and it is probable that most of those words which now appear in the abstract state of mere verbs, were previously names of physical entities. It is true, that, in all such instances as those presented above, there is ellipsis, i.e. something left out: gallant men back their friends and face their foes; i. e. do back their friends, and do face their foes; which is the old mode of the sentence, and that which we still adopt when we wish to speak emphatically; and even then there is much more implied than expressed; there is much verbal ellipsis: but for the same reason that the meaning remains when so much expression is left out, the same meaning might have been conveyed if the omitted expression had never existed. Children (as also foreigners) when beginning to speak our language, can make themselves understood by merely pronouncing nouns. My child, now playing round my table, has just said, “Pa, me book.” The fond father understood her as readily, and as perfectly, as if she had said, “Please, my papa, will you give to me a book " or, “Please, my papa, will you take up one of these books from this table, with one of your hands, and then put it into my hands? for I wish to amuse myself with handling it and looking at it; but I am not tall enough to reach it, else I would not be at the trouble of asking you to hand it to me.’ If language had the rude origin which Mr. Horne Tooke always supposes, it is certainly very improbable that such a metaphysical part of speech as the verb, according to our modern notions of it (i. e. a word which signifies to be, to do, or suffer, &c.), had any distinct, separate, or independent existence. Add to this the fact that a very great number of verbs (as w; as of all the other parts of speech) are, without doubt or controversy, resolvable into nouns. Now we believe full justice has been done to the statements contained in the Diversions of Purley; and now, perhaps, many persons would suppose the subject to be satisfactorily disposed of: all words are resolvable into nouns, and nouns are names, and what more would we have; for, as we cannot proceed ad infinitum, we must stop somewhere; and where so proper to stop as with the names of things This has certainly some show of reason, and is much more satisfactory than putting the world on the back of an elephant, and the elephant on the back of a tortoise, and the tortoise on the back of nothing : it does happen, however, that where the difficulty seems to end with Horne Tooke and others, it only begins with the author: not that he hopes for a palpable demonstration as to the origin of language; but he does think that the noun requires to be explained and accounted for as much as any part of speech whatever. Granting that it is resolvable into no other part of speech, what is it to be resolved into ? If it be the offspring of no vocabulary parent, nor the result of any etymologic transmigration, but started into being at once a perfect substantive or full-grown noun; whence, or how did it start into existence; What is the reason of its imposition or application? For if (as Mr. Tooke so often affirms) there be nothing arbitrary or unaccountable about language; if (as he also reiterates) that be a trifling etymology which does not assign the cause or discover the reason for the imposition of any word; it is doing nothing towards satisfying our philologic curiosity, to resolve all the parts of speech into the noun, and then tell us that a noun is a name. If said noun be in any respect descriptive (and without this, according to Mr. Tooke, it could be no significant part of speech) what is its descriptive property—how did it acquire its designative power? Here also we shall attempt supplementary explication, that full justice may be done to the claims set up for the noun as being the sole, original, and pre-existent part of speech. The position of Mr. Tooke, that there is nothing arbitrary about language, we consider perfectly sound; and to assert the contrary is (we conceive) manifestly absurd. Even those unmeaning names with which we, in these modern times, are so familiar, called proper nouns, were originally descriptive of some quality, or expressive of some circumstance; and in the successive re-application of them there is an assignable reason for their imposition; for such names as Robert, John, Alfred, Hunt, Fox, &c., are not employed at random, as we might suppose such new and strange names as those fabricated by Swift; and even, for the employing of these, there is an assignable reason. Perhaps, indeed, nothing more was ever intended (where the understanding had any share) by affirming the meanings of applications of words to be arbitrary than that, where any one word is employed, some other word might have been used for the same purpose; or that terms are liable, in process of time, to have their signification changed; or that they may be differently understood, and applied
in different ages, and even by different persons of the same age and country: and thus (as frequently happens in controversy) one person might affirm, and another might deny, that words are arbitrary signs; and be all the while disputing about nothing. But there could be no controversy with Mr. Tooke, or with any who adopt his opinions, concerning the present subject of enquiry. He frequently states, as an essential etymologic principle, that there is a reason for the imposition of every word: i. e. that it has a descriptive significancy, without which, he insists, it has no significancy whatever. In what, then, does the significancy of the noun consist? Or, in other words, whence does the noun itself derive its existence? This question seems to admit of an easy and satisfactory answer in reference to a certain class of words, formed by what is called onomatopoeia, or imitation of the sound: such as buzz, hum, grunt, croak, cluck, click, clock, clang, clink, clash, whir, whiz, cuckoo. Many more might be presented; but these are sufficient as a specimen, which is all that is intended here. If such words be considered nouns, here is a satisfactory origin of the noun (and perhaps, after all, of the whole of language); for we have only to suppose the letters that indicate, to the eye, the sounds of which such words consist, contrived (arbitrarily, or conventionally, if you will—for other marks might have been invented and employed), like the signs in the gamut (and the one is just as much a philosophic contrivance as the other), merely for the purpose of literature; i. e. to extend the utility of the spoken by rendering it also written language. This is certainly the simplest manner of accounting for the origin of language; the simplicity is in such a case, if not a demonstration, at least a strong argument. The only reasonable doubt seems to be, whether onomatopaeia could supply a sufficient stock or capital to begin the business of language with: all that the author will venture to affirm, is (for he is not confident) that upon the maturest reflection, aided by considerable enquiry, he thinks it neither impossible nor improbable, that such a small number of words, as seem to originate directly in an imitation of natural sounds, should be available for every verbal purpose; and that, in the slow process of ages, they should have multiplied into the multitude that now form the largest vocabulary with which we are acquainted. It has been said above, if such words as hun, buzz, croak, &c., be considered nouns, we have, at once, in onomatopoeia, a satisfactory origin of the noun as the first part of speech, and that from which all the other parts are derived : but a question still remains, ought such words to be regarded as primarily nouns or verbs? They indicate not any substantive entities, but sounds; and what are sounds but actions or motions, produced by certain impulses given to the atmosphere, whose vibratory movement acts upon the tympanum, or beats upon the drum of the ear. With hardly any exceptions, the im:tative words, considered as nouns, are also verbs; there are many imitative verbs without any corresponding nouns; and in most of those imitas