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done, even with the aid of contemporary related dialects only, toward penetrating their common history, because one will be found to have preserved one part, another another, of their ancestral tongues; but conclusions so reached will be inferior both in copiousness and in certainty to those which are derived from a comparative study of older and younger dialects, which illustrate the laws of change in their progress, and trace, as it were, currents and courses of development whose direction we can follow backward with confidence. This advantage we enjoy, to the highest known degree, in the Indo-European languages. In the Germanic branch we have several different lines of linguistic descent, extending through a period of 1,500 years; the English going back to the Anglo-Saxon of the seventh century; the German nearly or quite as far; the Scandinavian to a somewhat less remote period; while the venerable Gothic of the fourth century (oldest of all) helps notably to bridge over the interval to the primitive language of the family. Celtic literature is much less rich, and also less ancient, carrying us up to or beyond the tenth century. The oldest of the numerous Slavonic dialects, the ancient Bulgarian, has monuments a thousand years old. The Lithuanic is of much more recent date, but in many of its forms more antique and primitive than any of the languages hitherto referred to. The Romanic languages, through their mother, the Latin, take us up to a few centuries beyond the Christian era; the Greek to toward a thousand years before Christ. The varied series of Persian tongues comes down from an antiquity nearly equalling the Greek; and the Sanscrit, the sacred language of ancient India, exceeding all the rest in age, and yet more in its preservation of primitive material and forms, reaches in its oldest records an epoch removed nearly 4,000 years from our own day. In investigating this rich and varied body of kindred tongues, the new science of language elaborated its processes and deduced its general laws, applicable, with such modifications as the separate cases require, to other families also. The general method of study is everywhere the same, being conditioned by the nature of language itself, as a thing of historic growth, and by the capacity of related languages to cast light upon each other's history. Historic analysis, by the aid of an extensive and careful comparison of kindred forms, is the grand means of research. From this its fundamental method, the science, in its growing stage, bore for some time, the familiar name of “comparative philology.” The comparison must be made in a scientific and orderly manner, proceeding from the nearer to the more remotely connected, from the clearer to the more obscure; but, finally, all language is brought within its sphere, and the full meaning of each linguistic fact is read in the light of every other, diverse as well as correspondent. The history of Indo-European speech has been more carefully read, and is better understood, than that of any other grand division of human language— imperfect as is still our comprehension of much that concerns it, partly owing to the incomplete analysis of evidence still preserved, but partly also to the irreparable loss of evidence. Some of the principal facts in that history are worthy of further attention. The chief processes in the growth of the languages of our family have been shown to be the combination of old material into new words, with accompanying corruption and mutilation of phonetic form and independent meaning. These processes may go on in the future to an indefinite extent, with constant evolution from each form of speech of another slightly differing from it, until the descendants of every existing dialect shall be so unlike their ancestors that their relationship Hai be scarcely discoverable. The question arises, whether there has been the same indefinite progress in the past, without traceable sign of an actual beginning. This inquiry is to be answered in the negative; the evidence of language points distinctly back to an earliest condition, or commencement of history; our analysis brings us finally to elements
which we must regard as original. First, it must be claimed that our analyses are real, and not imaginary ; they are the retracing of the steps of a previous synthesis. This is palpably the case with the latest of them, as in the case of truthful (truth-ful) and godly (god-like); it is equally clear, too, as regards all the formative apparatus which is peculiar to the Germanic languages, since this must have been elaborated by them from their own materials, since the separation of the Germanic branch from the rest of the family. But there is! no stopping in this series of admissions. Every word-clement, separable by analysis, of which the genesis can be shown, which can be carried back to a word having an independent status in the language, must have been appended as an independent vocable to the words with which it was first connected. And even more. Considering how easily the evidence of origin becomes obliterated by the processes of phonetic alteration, we may not deny a former independence to formative elements of which we cannot now trace the genesis. The parts into which etymological analysis separates our words are, as a universal rule, those by the actual putting together of which the words in question were once made up. In analyzing irrevocability, for example, we take off affix after affix, leaving each time a word to which that affix had been added, till at last is left only the syllable voc, which conveys the idea of “calling,” and which, though nowhere appearing in its naked form in actual use, we must believe to have existed before any one of the various affixes with which we find it in combination was appended to it. To such syllables, which we call roots, we everywhere arrive by pushing our analytical process to the utmost, and these we believe to be the germs out of which language has actually grown. In other words, the Indo-European languages began with an original monosyllabic stage. From monosyllabic roots, by processes not differing in nature from those which are still in operation, has been developed the marvellous and richly varied structure of our modern speech. This is a truth, the recognition of which has been reached, almost with unanimity, by students of language; the objections which are urged against it by the few who refuse it their belief are founded in misapprehension and prejudice, and are of no avail.
The Indo-European roots are of two classes : roots of position, demonstrative or pronominal roots, and roots of quality, predicative or verbal roots. The former form chiefly pronouns and prepositions ; the latter, verbs and nouns. Pronominal roots denote the relations of things to the speaker as regards place; their fundamental distinction is between the this and the that, the nearer and the remoter object. They are of the simplest phonetic form, generally a simple consonant with a following vowel, composing an open syllable, and they are but few in number. The verbal roots are more numerous, counting by hundreds, and they are of every variety of form, from a simple vowel to a vowel both preceded and followed by one or more consonants. Instances are : i and gá, denoting simple motion; ak, swift motion; stá, standing; vas, staying; sad, sitting; pad, walking; vart, turning; pat, flying ; ad, eating; pa, drinking; vid, seeing; rak, speaking; dá, giving; garbh, grasping; dik, pointing out; bhar, bearing; kar, making; bandh, binding; bhà, shining; bhú, growing, &c., &c. They represent each its own meaning in its nakedness of all limitations or applications, in a state of indeterminateness from which it is equally ready to take on the semblance of verb, substantive, or adjective.
The first beginnings of polysyllabism were made by compounding together roots of the two classes. Thus, the addition to the root vák, “speaking," of the pronominal elements mi, si, ti, produced combinations to which usage assigned the meaning “I speak, thou speakest, he speaks,” laying in them the same idea of predication which we put into the ambiguous word love, when we say “I love." Other pronominal elements, modified or combined to express
duality and plurality, formed the other numbers of this simple verbal tense. The prefixion of an augment, an adverbial prefix, pointing to a “then” or “there” as one of the conditions of the action, gave a past tense; reduplication, symbolizing the completion of the action, produced a perfect. The future and the moods, subjunctive and optative, were chiefly formed by comp sition with the developed forms of other roots, signifying “to be” and “to desire.” Expansions of the verbal scheme, down to such late formations as the Germanic preterit (I love-d = I lore-did) and the Romanic future (j'aimer-ai = j'ai & aimer, “I have to love,”) are very numerous and various. The same root of action or quality, by the addition of other affixes, in part of pronominal origin, in part derived from other verbal roots, had its indefiniteness limited to expression of the person or thing possessing the quality or exerting or suffering the action, or of the act or quality itself; and the forms so created became the basis of still further modification and combination. Thus arose nouns, substantive and adjective; for the two classes are originally and in idea but one. Things were named as the possessors of qualities or acts, not in the way of definition or complete description, but by seizing on some notable characteristic, and making it stand as representative of the rest. Nouns were provided with caseterminations; these varied the themes to which they were appended, as to number, whether singular, dual, or plural; as to gender, whether male, female, or neither of the two, (and this, as already noticed, upon an ideal scheme of classification;) and as to case, or kind of relation sustained to the action of the sentence, whether as subject, direct object, or indirect object, with implication of the relations which we express by the use of the prepositions to, in, with, from, for, and of. Eight such cases were possessed by the primitive language; the Anglo-Saxon retained five of them; we have saved but one of the oblique cases, the genitive, (our “possessive.”) Prepositions, adverbial prefixes to the verb, of mixed pronominal and verbal origin, were from a very early time important aids in directing and limiting the action expressed by the verb; these only later, and by degrees, detached themselves from the verb, and came to belong to the noun, assuming the office of its disappearing case-endings. The article is the part of speech of most modern origin, the definite article growing out of the demonstrative pronoun, the indefinite out of the numeral one. At what rate these processes of growth went on at the beginning, how rapid was the development out of monosyllabic barrenness into the wealth and fertility of inflective speech, we can never hope to know. The conditions of that ancient period, and the degree in which they could quicken the now sluggish processes of word-combination and formation, are beyond our ken. We know only that, before the separation of the Indo-European tribe into the branches which later became the nations of Europe and southwestern Asia, so much of this linguistic development had taken place that its traces remain uneffaced, even to the present day, in the languages of them all; and, also, that the work was accomplished hundreds of years, if not thousands, before the light of recorded history breaks upon the very oldest member of the family.
Much of what has been shown to be true of the history of Indo-European language is true also of that of other divisions of the human race. All the varied forms of speech which fill the earth have grown into their present shape by development out of such simple elements as we have called roots; roots, too, have been everywhere of the same two classes, pronominal and ver. bal, and the earliest forms have been produced especially by the combination of the two. Linguistic families are made up of those languages which have recognizably descended, in the ordinary course of linguistic tradition, from a common ancestor. But these great families are found to differ from one another, not only in their material, but also in their management of it; in their apprenension of the grammatical relations to be expressed by the combination of elements, and in the general way in which they apply their resources to the expression of these relations. o languages are what is generally called “inflective.” By this is meant, that they show a peculiar aptitude in closely combining the radical and formal elements, forgetting their separate individuality, and accepting the compound as integral sign cf the thing indicated; submitting it then, as a whole, to the altering processes of linguistic growth. This tendency shows itself very differently in different constituents of the language: in untruthfully, for example, the four elements are held independently apart; while in sing, sang, sung, song, inflection has reached its extreme result, substituting an internal variation for original aggregation. The value of this distinction will appear more clearly as we go on to consider the characteristics of the other great families. We will take them up in an order partly geographical, partly based upon their relative importance. The second family is the Semitic, or Shemitic, so called because the descent of most of the nations speaking its languages is traced in the Bible to Shem. Its principal branches are: 1. The northern, Syriac or Aramaic. 2. The central, Hebrew and Phenician. 3. The southern, Arabic, with its outliers in Eastern Africa, the languages of Abyssinia. It is a strongly marked group, and, though occupying but a narrow territory, is of prime consequence, from the conspicuous part which the race speaking it has played in the history of the world. In the great empires of Mesopotamia the Semitic race first rose to high importance; then in the commercial and civilizing activity of the Phenicians, whose colony, Carthage, long disputed the dominion of the world with Rome. Meantime, the politically almost insignificant little people of the Hebrews were producing a religion and religious literature, which, made universal by Christ, were to become the mightiest clements in history. Finally, in the Mohammedan uprising, the third branch of the race advanced suddenly to a leading place, and for a while threatened even to reduce to vassalage the Indo-European nations; and it is still a conquering and civilizing power in parts of Asia and Africa. The Semitic type of language is also inflective, like the Indo-European, but not in such a way as implies any historical connexion between the two. The Semitic tongues are in many respects of a more strange and isolated character than any others known. Their most fundamental peculiarity is the triliterality of their roots, every Semitic verbal root containing just three consonants. And it is composed only of consonants: their vocalization is almost solely a means of grammatical flexion. Thus, q-t-l is a root conveying the idea of “killing;" then qatala means “he killed;” qutila, “he was killed;” uqtul, “kill;” qâtil, “killing;” igtäl, “causing to kill;” qats, “murder;” qitl, “enemy;” qutl, “murderous;” and so on. Prefixes and suffixes are also used, but to only a limited extent; there is little left for them to do; the formation of derivative from derivative, by accumulation of affixes, is almost totally unknown. This significant vocalization is, to our knowledge, an ultimate fact in Semitic speech in all its forms, as is the radical triliterality; but it seems impossible to regard the latter, especially, as absolutely original; and many attempts are made, with but indifferent success as yet, to reduce the roots to a simpler and less Procrustean form, out of which they should be a development. The different languages are of very near relationship, like German, Dutch, and Swedish, rather than like German, French, and Russian, for instance. Nor have they varied in the course of their recorded history to anything like the same extent with the Indo-European languages. Everything in Semitic specch wears an aspect of peculiar rigidity. The Semitic verb is strikingly unlike ours in its apprehension of the element of time. It distinguishes only two tenses, whose chief distinction is that of complete and incomplete action: each may be, in different circumstances, either past, present, or future. Of wealth of modal forms there is but little; distinctions of the action of transitive, causal, intensive, iterative, reflexive, and the like, by so-called conjugations, are multiplied instead. In their nouns, the Semites distinguish two genders, masculine and feminine, and three numbers; but cases are almost wanting, only the Arabic separating nominative, genitive, and accusative. The substantive verb is mostly wanting. The language is poor in particles and connectives; sentences are strung together, not interwoven into a period. The characteristic stiffness is also shown in the development of signification. Words applied to intellectual and moral uses remain metaphors; the figure shows through, and cannot be lost sight of Semitic speech, then, is rather pictorial, forcible, vivid, than adapted to calm and reasoning philosophy. The next family of languages is one of much greater extent and variety. It covers the whole northern portion of the eastern continent, with most of Central Asia, and parts of both Asia and Europe lying further south. We will call it the Scythian family; it is known also by several other names, as Ural-Altaic, Tataric, Mongolian, Turanian. It is divided into five principal branches: 1. The Ugrian, or Finno-Hungarian, which is chiefly European in situation, including the languages of the Lapps, the Finns, and the Hungarians, with their congeners in the Russian territories, on both sides of the Ural. 2. The Samoiëdic, in Siberia, of small consequence. 3. The Turkish, or Tataric, spoken by races who have played some conspicuous part in modern history, especially in the dismemberment of the Mohammedan empire: its subdivisions are numerous, and extend from Turkey in Europe to the lower Lena, in Northern Siberia. 4. The Mongolian, the language of a people who in the 13th century overwhelmed nearly all the monarchics of Europe, and established for a brief period an empire the widest the world has ever seen: the Mongols now live in insignificance under Chinese domination. 5. The Tungusic, in the extreme cast, having for its principal branch the Manchu, spoken by the present ruling dynasty and tribe in China. The Scythian races have played but a subordinate part in human affairs. War and ... have been their chief trade: they have shown no aptitude for advancing civilization, and but little for appropriating it. No written monuments of their languages carry us back to a past at all remote. But it is claimed of late by students of the Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions, that one of their languages is a Scythian dialect, of the Finno-Hungarian branch, and even that those who spoke it were the founders of the civilization of that region. If this is established as true, it will greatly modify the aspect of ancient ethnological history. The linguistic tie which binds together the branches of this great family is but a weak one, much less unequivocal than in the other families we have noted. There is less correspondence between them in linguistic material and forms; either their separation is very remote, or they have had a peculiarly mobile and alterable structure. Their chief resemblances are of morphological character; they are all alike “agglutinative;” the combinations by which their words are formed are of a loose nature; the root or theme is held apart from the suffixes, and these from one another, with a distinctive consciousness of their separate individuality. All formative elements follow the root to which they are attached; prefixes are unused; the root, which is monosyllabic, remaining pure and unchanged, whatever accretions it may receive. It, however, usually affects the suffixes, in a manner which constitutes one of the striking phonetic peculiarities of the family. The vowels are divided into two classes, H. and light, and only vowels of the same class are allowed to occur within the limits of the same word; hence, the vowels of all suffixes are assimilated to that of the root. Thus, in Turkish, from babá comes bâbâ-lar-um-dan, “from our fathers;” while from dedeh comes dede-ler-in-den, “from their grandfathers.” This is usually called