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Saxon is He, Heo, Hit; or what is manifestly another of the same, though called by the Saxon gram, marians the Article or Definitive, Se, Seo, Thæt; and the plural is Hi (I1, Lat.) or Tha; whence our They.
Concerning the insertion of H and S, &c., see Etymologic Preliminaries. It could be shown, it is believed, that all the different forms of the German, Swedish, Danish, and Dutch pronouns, were, in like manner, corrupted from the Latin.
QUI, (and Fr.,) Chi, It., changed into Who (also into Why, How, &c.); QUIS, QUID, Which; QUOD, What.
This and That, (with their plural These and Those,) contracted into The, called definite article; Diese, Dass, Das, &c. Ger.; Dat, Die, De, Te, &c. Dutch; Det, Dette, &c., Swed., &c.; seem like Desso, It., corrup. of ISTE, ISTA, ISTUD; unless Ditto be a more probable etymon.
THE WORDS COMMONLY CALLED PRONOUNS CONSIDERED IN REFERENCE TO NUMBER, GENDER, AND CASE.
THERE is, doubtless, some advantage in diversity of termination for the purpose of indicating singleness and plurality; yet that this advantage is much less than grammarians suppose, is evident from the little
use made of numeral distinction in English Connouns. Without any loss of meaning, but with much grammatic convenience, we have no numeral diversity in our relatives-Who, Which, What, That, and in what is called our Definite Article The.
What numeral distinctions can appear more ne than Thou and You? Yet if Thou had not cessary found protection among the Quakers, and refuge in prayer, it would have wholly perished; and that royal pronoun We, threatens to supersede I; for established usage is, already, almost as shy of it as of thou.
Any sign of Gender is as little necessary as of Number: hence, except in the third person singular, no such sign exists. Lindley Murray (whose grammatic celebrity entitles him to some preference as an authority) indeed, tells us, "The persons speaking and spoken to, being at the same time the subjects of the discourse, are supposed to be present; from which and other circumstances, their sex is commonly known and needs not to be marked by a distinction of gender in the pronouns: but the third person or thing spoken of being absent, and in many respects unknown, it is necessary that it should be marked by a distinction of gender." Well then, what becomes of this necessity in the third person plural, which contains no sign of distinction in gender? The grammatist could not but perceive his statement to
be too hazardous, unless accompanied by some saving clause; and, therefore, in the legitimate manner of a sophist, he subjoins, "at least, when some particular person or thing is spoken of, that ought to be more distinctly marked: accordingly, the pronoun singular of the third person has the three genders, he, she, it"!!!
The reader would be as little edified as gratified by comments on such doctrines. There is a useless but embarrassing distinction attempted, if not already effected, between Who and Which; as if the former belonged exclusively to persons, and the latter to things and animals devoid of reason, such as turkeys and infants: if this additional fetter of senseless mar be imposed upon free-born Englishmen, it will be their own fault; for up to a very recent period, there is the sanction of the best usage for scornful disregard of such petty distinctions; which serve nó purpose except to render English composition difficult.
We have seen how little the distinctions of Number and Gender are necessary: but the distinctions of Case (except what is called the Genitive) are worse than useless; for they cause much embarrassment : were it not for these and a few other grammatic nuisances, the English language would be the simplest, easiest, and most manageable ever constructed.
The truth is, we have varieties of termination
called cases for no reason in the world save that they existed in Greek and Latin; but though such varieties of termination might be necessary or useful in these languages, it does not follow that they are either necessary or useful in English; which accomplishes by position the same purpose which the former effected by case: hence, (fortunately,) we have no accusative case of nouns; which retain the same unchanged form whether nominatives, or objectives. If every purpose of speech be accomplished without change of termination in nouns, what can render such change necessary or useful in pronouns ? If This, That, These, Those, Which, What, It, The, &c., be fully competent to the purpose for which they are employed without any change, what could possibly incapacitate the other words of the same class for performing their office, if they appeared only in a single form? But it is useless to reason on the subject. We have Me, Thee, Him, Whom, &c.; merely because the monkish grammatists found Me, Te, Eum, Quem, &c., in the Latin language. Nor is it surprising that, in borrowing so much from it, they should have adopted more than was necessary; but why should we deify and worship or consecrate and preserve their blunders? Let the grammatists cogitate an apophthegm of their great lexicographer : What reason did not dictate, reason can never explain. Let them humbly content themselves with saying this or that unreasonable part of grammar is,
because it was; and because it was and is, therefore it shall be for ever.
But having much affection for the English language; and contemplating the long duration and wide prevalence that seem to await it, we have some desire that it should descend to future times as free from imperfection as possible: and the abuses we complain of might be easily removed without the least danger or inconvenience.
If what are termed the pronouns were brought to the simple state in which the nouns of the English language exist, they would appear thus: I, I's; Thou, Thou's; He, He's; She, She's; It, It's; We, We's; You, You's; They, They's; Who, Who's.
This is all that is necessary in the way of personal and relative Connoun: and what a contrast of simplicity to the jumble of anomaly which at present enjoys the patronage of established usage! Many, indeed, will deem it a very naked simplicity: and the disciples of custom, who always judge more by habit than by reflection, will, probably, find in it some mirthful amusement; for which it is hoped they will be duly grateful. We are not sanguine in our expectation that such simplicity will be either generally relished or adopted; but if the objective case be given up, we care not about the rest; for it is that which next to the verb, causes the chief difficulty of English grammar. Such anomalies as My, Mine; Thy,