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MAX MÜLLER'S SECOND SERIES. We have here the Second Series ture obscured to the youthful mind of Lectures wbich Max Müller (for by a thousand difficulties, even be all the world writes simply Max may at length be able to detect the Müller, without any prefix—a sign, most delicate_shades of meaning in we take it, of general friendliness a Greek or Latin epithet, and yet and respect) has delivered before may never have dreamt of that the Royal Institution of Great Bri- laborious and ingenious study which tain on the science of language. the scientific etymologist is now No one could reasonably expect that engaged in. It has long been a it would equal in interest the first favourite theme of the speculative series, which naturally took posses- philosopher to describe what might sion of the salient topics and the have been the origin and progreswide theoretical views now connect- sive development of human speech. ed with the scientific study of lan- Well, the scientific etymologist guage. But though, on this account, undertakes, by collating all the necessarily inferior to their prede- languages of the earth, and all the cessors, these Lectures will, we are bistories of those who speak or sure, be greedily seized upon by have spoken them, to solve the that omnivorous person, the Gene- same problem. The psychologist, ral Reader, who is avid of instruc- argoing from the nature of human tion when conveyed in a clear and thought and the order of human intelligent manner. They are some- knowledge, forms his theory, and what miscellaneous in their charac- it is well and necessary that he ter, and the observations they may should do so; but his theory resuggest to us will be of the same mains a mere speculation till it is miscellaneous description.
verified by the analysis and the hisThe study of languages by those tory of the actual languages which who wish to enjoy or fully to com- bave been spoken by man. Do not prehend the various literatures of let the rapid speculator, content the world, ancient or modero, and with his, perhaps, too facile method the study of language itself, or ar- of deduction-his inferences from ticulate speech, as the pre-eminent broad psychological principlesgift or faculty of the hnman race, look with contempt upon the slow are two very different things. The labours of those who proceed by ordinary scholar who delights in the historic or etymological method"; his Horace, and fights over again nor let these last, confident in what the battles of Homer, may be as seems to them the secure basis of ignorant of all that pertains to this fact, despise the bold generalisalatter study as the mere English tions of those who take their stand reader, left benighted, as it is gen- on the philosopby, of mind; the erally supposed, or' relegated to two classes of thinkers are necessuch limited custare as he can ex- sary to each other. The philolotract from the literature of one gist would never have given a usemodern: language. Even our for- ful direction to his labours if he tunate scholar, our model student, had not been also in some measure educated after that manner which a psychologist; and it is above all all Europe seems at present to ap- things gratifying to observe that prove, which presents words as the some of the most important con. chief object of knowledge, and in- clusions arrived at by the speculaducts us into thinking by a litera- tive philosopher have been con.
*Lectures on the Science of Language, delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain.' By Max Müller, M.A. Second Series,
firmed by those who have carefully right to left or from left to right analysed the various languages of Lichtenberg maintained that they must mankind, and (so far as this is pos- be read in the same direction as Hebrew, sible) traced their course historically. Grotefend, in 1802, proved that
the letNothing is more easy than to ters followed each other, as in Greek, dabble in etymology, and no study fend, Münter and Tychsen had observed
from left to right. Even before Grote is more laborious than that of the that there was a sign to separate the veritable philologist. Thus it bapa words. Such a sign is, of course, an pens that as all persons are capable immense help in all attempts at deci. of amasing themselves, or pestering phering inscriptions, for it lays bare at their neighbours, by fantastic deri- once the terminations of hundreds of vations, and as very few are able words, and, in an Aryan language, supor willing to pursue those studies plies us with a skeleton of its grammar. that would enable them to discri- Yet consider the difficulties that had minate between theso etymologies yet to be overcome before a single line of the car and such as are sane could be read. It was unknown in tioned by general principles (de- what language these inscriptions were duced from a wide examination of composed; it might have been a Semithe changes which language under- tic, a Turanian, or an Aryan language. goes), there grows up a popular in belonged, and whether they commem
It was unknown to what period they credulity as to the results obtained orated the conquests of Cyrus, Darius, by the philologist. In general, the Alexander, or Sapor. It was unknown ignorant inan is too credalons; whether the alphabet used was phonebere it is a hasty incredulity which tic, syllabic, or ideographic. It would the unscientific person has to guard detain us too long were I to relate how himself against.
all these difficulties were removed one "I do not wonder," says Max after the other; how the proper names Müller, speaking of another branch of Darius, Xerxes, Hystaspes, and of of bis subject--namely, of the mar- their god Ormusd, were traced; how vellous feats which have been per- from them the values of certain letters formed in the interpretation of hiero
were determined; how, with an imperglyphics and of other ancient inscrip- phered which clearly established the
fect alphabet, other words were decitions
fact that the language of these inscrip“ I do not wonder that the discover- tions was ancient Persian; how then, ies due to the genius and persevering with the help of the Zend, which re industry of Grotefend, Burnouf, Lassen, presents the Persian language previous and last, not least, of Rawlinson, should to Darius, and with the help of the later seem incredible to those who only glance Persian, a most effective cross-fire was at them from a distance. Their incredu- opened; how even more powerful ord. lity will only prove the greatest com- nance was brought up from the arsenal pliment that could have been paid to of the ancient Sanskrit; how outpost afthese eminent seholars. What we at ter outpost was driven in, and a practi. present call the Cuneiform inscriptions cal breach effected, till at last the fortress of Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, Artaxerxes, had to surrender, and submit to the terms &c. (of which we now have several edi- dictated by the Science of Language.” tions, translations, grammars, and dictionaries)—what were they originally! It would be a poor retorn for A mere conglomerate of wedges, en- such almost heroic patience, for graved or impressed on the solitary such knowledge, ingenuity, and monument of Cyrus in the Murgháb, perseverance, to treat their results on the ruins of Persepolis, on the rocks with a smile of incredulity. Yet of Behistů, near the frontiers of Media, and the precipice of Van in Armenia. here, as elsewhere, an intelligent When Grotefend attempted to decipher public, aware that 'discoverers must them, he had first to prove that these
have enthusiasm as well as pascrolls were really inscriptions, and not tience, will often hold itself in a mere arabesques or fanciful ornaments. state of suspended judgment. Our He had then to find out whether these system of interpretation of Egypmagical characters were to be read tian hieroglyphics, for instance, horizontally or perpendicularly, from may admit of revisal or improve
ment; Max Müller, in one passage and Latin, as Latin is of French and of these lectures, seems to think Italian. Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin that it is still incomplete; and are sisters, varieties of one and the even discoveries of another kind, of same type. They all point to some which he speaks more confidently, earlier siage, when they were less difmay not yet have assumed their ferent from each other than they now
It is unhesitatingly favour of Sanskrit is, that it is the eldfinal shape.
are, but no more. All we can say in proclaimed to be the “great dis- est sister ; that it has retained many covery
" of the modern science of words and forms less changed and language that Sanskrit, Greek, La- corrupted than Greek and Latin. The tin, Celtic, and other languages of more primitive character and transancient Europe, are related to some parent structure of Sanskrit have naprior and unknown language, to turally endeared it to the student of which the name of Aryan has been language, but they have not blinded given, in precisely the same man- him to the fact that in many points ner in which the modern languages, Greek and Latin — nay, Gothic and French, Italian, and Spanish, are re
Celtic—have preserved primitive fealated to the Latin. This may be tures which Sanskrit has lost.” 80; but if there was an Aryan lan The readers of the First Series of guage, the parent of Sanskrit, Greek, these Lectures will remember that Latin, Celtic, Teutonic, Slavonic, some rather bold hypothesis was just as Latin was the parent of put forth on the origin of language. French and Italian, there must Discarding what he called the Bowhave been an Aryan people and an wow and Pooh-pooh theory – the Aryan civilisation that have depart- liypothesis that interjections and ed without leaving any traces of the imitations of the cries of anitheir existence--that are utterly an- mals, or the sounds made by inaniknown to history. It is difficult, in mate objects, would form the first short, to frame a history of these rude speech of man-the lecturer Aryans that shall correspond with bad recourse to the bold expedient the part their language is said to of supposing that there was some have played. One may here ac- occult connection between certain knowledge & perplexity without roots, or primitive words, and the being rashly sceptical
. The study things signifiei'. In the Second of Sanskrit is a comparative no- Series the same idea is put forth, velty ; first impressions may not but with still more vagueness and endure ; another generation of scho- vacillation. The lecturer was at lars, aided by the labours of their perfect liberty to discard, in what predecessors, may stand on a van- terms be pleased, the Boro - wow tage-ground wbich we do not oc- theory: it is the unintelligible nacopy; the Rig Veda,' the oldest form ture of the hypothesis be substiof Sanskrit, and reputed to be the tutes that we sbould quarrel with. ollest book in the world, is not yet Analysing the oldest dialects of translated; it is not unreasonable, hunan speech which remain for under such circumstances, to give our examination, we eliminate, as a certain qualified assent to this our simplest elements, certain roots, theory of an Aryan people, from primitive words, or what to us are wbom so many other peoples are to representatives of primitive words; be derived. One may rather ac- and the meaning of such words cept it as the best hypothesis which was apparently determined, just as enlightened men an at present the meaning of any word we now form than the last discoverable use, by custom and tradition. No truth.
analysis and no historical investiga
tion enables us to rise to the origin "No sound scholar," writes Max of language, to explain why any Müller,
“would ever think of deriving object about which men had occaany Greek or Latin word from Sanskrit. sion to speak should have been Sanskrit is not the mother of Greek associated with any one of these
syllables more than with another. position that his first words would If, therefore, we are resolved to be coined by an imitation of the frame any theory upon this subject, cries of animals—that out of these it must be from conjectare, from a cries he would make names for them, balance of probabilities. We try to Such paming, however, could only pat ourselves in the position of form the commencement of a lanmen wh, had a language to form, guagemgive an example, so to speak, who had the need and desire to of what might be done with this communicate with each other, and admirable pipe, this throat, these found themselves in the possession lips, ever breaking forth in some of & sound - producing organ, an sound or other. organ wbich, in one way or the Max Müller admits that such other, they as spontaneously used imitations may carry us to a ceras any of their limbs; for a child tain point on our road, but how are cries as readily as it kicks, and all we to account, he asks, for words of through boyhood noise is as de- objects which emit nó sound, and hightful as motion. We try to fancy are not immediately associated with wbat would be the steps of their such as do? He seems to think it progress It must be a matter of impossible that men, after having conjectare; only let the conjecture framed, accidentally so to speak, a be intelligible.
certain number of vocal signs, and Max Müller says:
having found the utility of them, “I believed, and still believe, that in should purposely frame other signs the science of language we must accept by a mere variation of those they alroots simply as ultimate facts, leaving ready possessed. Yet such a stage to the physiologist and the psychologist in the process does not appear to the question as to the possible sympathe. us very difficnlt to imagine. Haotic and reflective action of the five organs ing some words and wanting others, of sensuous perception upon the motory one can imagine these other words nerves of the organ of speeck."
coined by some variation of those What does he in this, and other already in use. Our lecturer puts like passages, mean? What is the the case thus:question be leaves to the psycholo "That sounds can be rendered in gist and the physiologist ? If we language by sounds, and that each lanhad the first articulate words at- guage possesses a large stock of words tered by man before us, we might imitating the sounds given out by cer perhaps frame some question for tain things, who would deny! And the physiologist; we might ask him who would deny that some words, oriwhat connection there was between ginally expressive of sound only, might uttering such sounds and the im- be transferred to other things which pression of certain objects. But no how are all things which do not appeal
have some analogy with sound! But one pretends that in Sanskrit roots, to the sense of hearing-how are the or in any other roots, we have the ideas of going, moving, standing, sink, first articulate syllables that man ing, tasting, thinking, to be expressed ?' made use of for the communication of his wants or his commands.
We will not long detain our That cries, shouts, interjections readers over a matter on which of all kinds, form a part of human they have probably come to the speech, is plain enough; and many conclusion that nothing quite saof the animals about us share in tisfactory can be said. The early this rude species of language, if stages by, which the first people language it is to be called. Bat framed a language, are as irrecoverhow are we to describe the passage able as those early stages in each from this inarticulate language to man's individual consciousness by the articulate speech of man? Man which he advanced to the complete being an imitative creature, it has use of his senses. The suggestions at all times been a favourite sup- which we would offer to bridge over
the passage from the inarticulate language of animals to the articulate speech of man, are briefly these: 1st, That the imitation of the cries of animals, or of other natural sounds made for the purpose of designating the objects connected with them, would, owing to the very structure and play of the human organs, assume the form of an articulate sound. If a man imitates the sound of a bird, he, from the very configuration of his larynx, mouth, lips, makes a very different sound from the bird. It is a man's imitation of the bird. It would only be after repeated trials that he would eliminate, so to speak, the human element, and produce a truly bird-like sound. If he calls a bird from its cry a pee-wit, he puts consonants in his imitation that were not really pronounced by the bird. Thus the imitation of the imarticulate cry becomes, by the spontaneous play of the human organs, an articulate sound or word. It may, indeed, be said, that it is from the habit of using consonants that we put them in our imitations; and we readily admit that, when a nurse tells a child to say bá to a sheep, or moo to a cow, these are but nursery words; there is very little effort of imitation in them of the bleating of a sheep or the lowing of a cow. But without questioning at all that the habit of using articulate speech would render an imitation of the inarticulate still more difficult, we think it may be safely asserted that, from the differenee in his organisation, the first imitations that a man would attempt, would not be such artistic, perfect imitations, as he afterwards learns to make, but would be a human rendering of an animal sound. He would frame a word out of a cry. And, 2d, That when a few words were thus produced, others would be formed, not only in the manner Max Müller points out, , by transferring these words to “things which have some analogy with sound,” which is rather to increase the meanings of words than to add to the stock of
them; but in the much more simple manner of varying the sounds already produced, so as to produce a new vocal sign for the new emergency. This process, as it could only be wanted, so also it could only take place, in the earliest stages of the formation of a language. If a people in possession of a considerable vocabulary want a name for a new object, they fix, as Max Müller shows, on some quality of that object, for which quality a name already exists, and thus the object j, obtains a name. In this manner wheat may have been named from its whiteness, because there was already a word for white. But if there were no name for whiteness, or any other marked quality of wheat, by what process could men name it, but b varying some articulate sounds already used as a name, and applying the new variety of sound to the object to be named ! If they had already called something bi-bo, they must call this other thing bo-bi or Jo-fi. This operation appears improbable to us only from its great simplicity, and because it is an operation we can scarce be called upon to perform: we coin words from other words, guided entirely by the meaning of those other words; but there must surely have been a time when men coined new words, after the pattern of other words, by altering, transposing, combining the syllables of which they were composed.
We shall all agree with Max Müller in discarding the idea of a solemn convention, at which it was agreed that certain chosen sounds should be used as signs for certain objects or actions. Before such a convention could take place, language must already have advanced to such a stage as not to need it. If we really wish to form a conception how language might have arisen, we must transport ourselves to the family group, or the tribe consisting of several family groups. The intimate nature of the union of such groups, and the comparatively few objects, and the often-repeated