[5] Renan, De l’Origine du Langage. Deux. éd. p. 69.

[6] Bunsen, On the Philosophy of Universal History, ii. 126.

[7] Humboldt’s Cosmos, ii. 107-109, ed. Sabine.

[8] Philology has been well defined as the cognitio cogniti, and Comparative Grammar, (the branch of Philology which occupies itself with the study of the birth, the development, and the decadence of various languages, together with their divergences and affinities), has deserved the title of Θριγκὸς μαθημάτων φιλολογικῶν, “the coping-stone of philological inquiries.” See Science Comparative des Langues, par Louis Benloew. Paris, 1858.

[9] Thus, though Zend and Sanskrit are the oldest languages of the Indo-European family, they are offsets of an older primitive one. “Among other evidences of this, may be mentioned the changes that words had already undergone in Zend and Sanscrit from the original form they had in the parent tongue; as in the number ‘twenty,’ which being in the Zend ‘visaiti,’ and in Sanscrit ‘vinsaiti,’ shews that they have thrown off the ‘d’ of the original ‘dva,’ two.”—Sir G. Wilkinson in Rawlinson’s Herod. i. p. 280.

[10]Charma, Essai sur le Langage, p. 60.

[11] “Ici comme ailleurs on a commencé par bâtir des systèmes, au lieu de se borner à l’observation de faits.”—Abel Rémusat.

[12] Bunsen, Phil. of Un. Hist. i. 40. The philosophers who held these views were called “Analogists,” while those who leaned to the conventional origin of language were styled “Anomalists.” But Plato and Aristotle admit the existence of both principles, and have written on the subject with a depth of philosophical insight, which, in spite of their defective knowledge, has never been surpassed. See Humboldt’s Cosmos, i. 41, ii. 261.

[13] Plato’s Cratylus, p. 423, et passim; and Schleiermacher’s Introduction. The great authority on the ancient views of philology is Lersch, Sprachphilosophie der Alten. (Bonn, 1838-1841.) The question which agitated the schools was, φύσει τὰ ὀνόματα ἢ θέσει; it was generally decided in favour of the “Analogists,” though often for frivolous reasons. See Aul. Gell. Noct. Att. x. 4. (Renan, p. 137.) Cf. Xen. Mem. iv. 6. 1. Arrian, Epict. i. 17, ii. 10. Marc. Aur. iii. 2; v. 8; x. 8. These views of the mimetic character of words (Arist. Rhet. iii. 1, 2), and their intrinsic connection with things, did not seem to be much disturbed by the fact of the multiplicity of languages, although this fact led Aristotle to place the conventional element first. The very word βάρβαρος implies a lofty contempt for all languages except Greek, and traces of a similar contempt may be found in the vocabulary of many nations. Cf. Timtim, Zamzummim, &c., Renan, p. 178. Pictet’s Origines Indo-Eur. p. 56, seqq. (1 Cor. xiv. 11.)

[14] ὃς ἂν τὰ ὀνόματα ἐπίστηται ἐπίστασθαι καὶ τὰ πράγματα. Plato, Crat. 435, c. In proof that Plato did recognise both elements of language—the absolute and the conventional, see Crat. 435, c., and Philol. Trans. iii. 137. For an able exposition of the Cratylus, see Dr. Donaldson’s New Crat. p. 93, seqq.

[15] Herodot. ii. 2.

[16] Raumer, Gesch. der Hohenstaufen, iii. 491, quoted by Baehr, Herod. l. c. For some other theories on the primitive language, see Cardinal Wiseman’s Lectures on Science, i. 19. Becanus supposed seriously that Low Dutch was spoken in Paradise. Hermathena, lib. ix. p. 204. “That children naturally speak Hebrew,” is one of the vulgar errors which had to be exploded even in the time of Sir T. Browne. Vulg. Err. v. ch. 26. When James IV. of Scotland repeated the experiment of Psammetichus, the infants were shut up with a dumb man, and spoke Hebrew spontaneously! Basque, Swedish, Russ, &c., have all had their advocates. Charma, Essai sur le Langage, p. 242, seqq. Leibnitz, Lettre à M. de Sparvenfeld, § 8.

[17] Renan, p. 147.

[18] There are some noble remarks to this effect in Schlegel’s Philosophische Vorlesungen. Wien. 1830. Hebrew scholars will readily remember cases of the importance attached by the sacred writers to the mere sound of words; a remarkable instance may be seen in Jer. i. 11, 12, and a curious play on sounds occurs in the second verse of Genesis.

[19] Grimm, s. 12.

[20] “I am by no means clear that the dog may not have an analogon of words.”—Coleridge. Similarly Plato attributes a διάλεκτος to animals, adducing some very interesting proofs. See Clemens Alexandr. Strom. i. 21, § 413. See, too, Thomson’s Passions of Animals. “They also know, and reason not contemptibly.”—Milton.

[21] μέροπες βροτοί.—Homer, passim.

[22] As in the instance of Balaam.—Numb. 22. Cf. Tibull. ii. v. 78. Hom. Il. τ. 407, &c.

[23] Dr. Latham points out that this statement requires modification; e.g., it is doubtful whether a howl, and not a bark, is not the organic and instinctive sound uttered by dogs. (Encycl. Brit. Art. Language.) Still we do not anticipate that any one will dispute the general proposition. See Heyse, System der Sprachwissenschaft, § 25.

[24] Grimm, 13, 14. “Language,” he adds (p. 17), “can only be compared to the cries of animals, in respect that both are subjected to certain physical conditions of organism.”

[25] “On a très judicieusement remarqué sur celle-ci,” says M. Nodier, “que la seule induction qui en résultât naturellement, fort concluante pour la langue primitive et immodifiable des chèvres ne prouvoit rien en faveur de la première langue de l’homme; puisque les chèvres formoient elles-mêmes d’une manière très-distincte les deux articulations dont ces enfants avoient composé leur étroit vocabulaire.” Sir Gardner Wilkinson discredits the whole story, and supposes that it originated among the Greek ciceroni in Egypt, because he thinks that children, unless artificially instructed, would not have been able to get beyond the labial sound “be.” (Rawlinson’s Herodotus, i. 251.) Surely this is merely a begging of the question. The fact that the inference from the experiment was one unfavourable to the national vanity of the Egyptians, is only one of the reasons which induce us to credit its reality. Larcher (ad loc.) rightly regards the ος as merely the Greek termination.

[26] “Mutum et turpe pecus.”—Hor. Sat. i. 3. 99. Similar views are to be found in Diod. Sic. i. 1; Vitruv. Archit. ii. 1. “Thrown as it were by chance on a confused and savage land, an orphan abandoned by the unknown hand that had produced him.”—Volney. Epicurus thought that men spoke just as dogs bark, φυσικῶς κινούμενοι.

[27] Lucret. v. 1027-1089. The whole passage is one of remarkable beauty and ingenuity. Neither Epicurus nor Lucretius excluded altogether the innate element; v. Diog. Laert. x. 75, sq. Lucretius rightly regards language as no less natural than gesticulation, and so might have taught a lesson to Reid and Dugald Stewart. See Fleming’s Vocab. of Philosophy, s. v. Language. The whole theory is stated and ridiculed by Lactantius, Institt. Divv. vi. 10.

[28] He began

“In murmurs which his first endeavoring tongue

Caught infant-like from the far-foamèd sands.”

An extremely curious Esthonian legend (the only one which Grimm has discovered bearing any resemblance to the Babel-dispersion) seems to involve the same conception. God, seeing that population was too crowded, determined to disperse men, by giving to each nation a distinct tongue. Accordingly, he placed on the fire a caldron full of water, and made the different races successively approach, who appropriated respectively the various sounds of the hissing and singing water.—Grimm, p. 28. Others have compared with it the Mexican legend about the doves. See Winer, Biblisches Realwörterb. s. v. Sprache.

[29] Spenser’s Faërie Queen.

[30] For assertions of the conventional character of language, see Arist. περὶ Ἑρμηνείας, ii. 1. Plato, Crat. ad in. Harris, Hermes, iii. 1. Locke, iii. 1-8. Fénelon, Lettre sur les occupations de l’Acad. § 3. (These are quoted at length by Charma, p. 208.) Smith, Theory of the Moral Sentiments, ii. 364. Grimm, 39, 40. Lersch, passim.

[31] Renan, p. 78.

[32] See Wiseman, p. 54. This theory of the development of human language required the supposition of an indefinite period of human existence; but even if this be freely admitted, it is impossible to prove the first step by which unarticulated sounds, the merely passive echoes of blind instincts or outward phenomena, could develop into the expression of thought. See Bunsen, ii. 76. It would have been marvellous indeed, if man had by the mere possession of vocal cries, not differing from those of animals, been able to raise himself from the utterances of instinct and appetite to express the emotions of admiration, hope, and love. See Nodier, Notions, p. 14.

[33] Bunsen, ii. 130.

[34] Thus words and phrases repeatedly acquire a conventional meaning for a generation, and then recur to their old sense. Almost every sect, every profession, and even every family, have certain words in use to which they attach a peculiar and special meaning, which is sometimes unintelligible to others. M. Cousin has been unable to discover the meaning which the Port-Royalists attached to the word “machine.” See Charma, p. 209.

[35] Wilhelm von Humboldt, Lettre à M. Abel Rémusat. Paris, 1827.

[36] Grimm, § 28.

[37] In the following observations, I quote the thoughts of M. Renan, pp. 81-83. I have not used inverted commas, because I have often transposed and abbreviated his actual words. Very similar are the excellent remarks of Nodier, which are too apposite to be omitted. “On ne me soupçonnera pas d’être d’assez mauvais goût pour avoir attendu à substituer mes théories aux faits de révélation.... Je crois fermement que la parole a été donnée à l’homme, comme je le crois de toutes les facultés que la création a réparti entre les créatures. Le seul point sur lequel j’ose différer des casuistes du son littéral, c’est que ce don ne me paroît pas avoir consisté dans la communication d’un système lexicologique tout fait, &c.”—Notions de Linguistique, p. 9.

[38] A beautiful illustration of Herder’s will help to show our meaning. “Observe,” he says, “this tree with its vigorous trunk, its magnificent crown of verdure, its branches, its foliage, its flowers, its fruits, raising itself upon its roots as on a throne. Seized with admiration and astonishment, you exclaim, ‘It is divine, divine!’ Now observe this little seed; see it hidden in the earth, then pushing out a feeble germ, covering itself with buds, clothing itself with leaves; you will again exclaim, ‘It is divine!’ but in a manner more worthy and more intelligent.”

[39] Nothing has been more fatally prejudicial to the progress of science than a theological bias in its votaries; and nothing more fatal to the peace of true discoverers than its ignorant tyranny. Adelung shows true wisdom in prefacing his Mithridates with the statement, “Ich habe keine Lieblingsmeinung, keine Hypothese zum Grunde zu legen. Noah’s Arche ist mir eine Verschlossene Burg, und Babylon’s Schutt bleibt vor mir völlig in seiner Ruhe.”

[40] It seems to me, however, that Grimm’s special arguments on this subject are weak (p. 26); he is clearly right in pointing out the futility of such conjectures as those of Lessing, that language was made known to man by intercourse with intermediate spirits. (Lessing, Sämmtl. Schriften, Bd. 10.)

[41] Préface aux Œuvres Philos. de Maine de Biran, iv. p. xv.

[42] Charma, Essai sur le Langage, p. 129.

[43] Dr. Whewell, Hist. of Ind. Science, iii. 504. A host of eminent authorities, from Bacon down to Sir John Herschel, have said the same thing;—hitherto, alas, in vain! See Herschel’s Letter to Dr. Pye Smith. Mill’s Dissert. i. 435-461. Renan, Hist. Rel. xxvii. Charma, p. 248.

[44] St. Gregory of Nyssa has expressed himself on this subject with startling freedom of thought. He alludes with ironic pity to those who speak of the Deity as the fabricator of Adam’s language, an opinion which he expressly calls a sottish and ridiculous vanity, quite worthy of the extravagant presumption of the Jews. And on the subject of Babel, he says, “The confusion of tongues must be necessarily attributed to the will of God according to the theologic point of view, but according to the truth of history it is the work of man.”—Contra Eunomium, Or. xii. p. 782. Nodier, p. 56. St. Augustin distinctly implies the same thing.—De Ord. ii. 12.

[45] Since writing the above, I have met with another Biblical argument in favour of the Revelation of Language, drawn from Gen. i. 5. καὶ τὸ μὲν φῶς ἐκάλεσεν ὀ Θεὸς ἡμέραν, τὸ δὲ σκότος νύκτα· ἐπεί τοι γε ἄνθρωπος οὐκ ἂν ᾔδει καλεῖν τὸ φῶς ἡμέραν ἢ τὸ σκότος νύκτα. ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ μὲν τὰ λοιπὰ, εἰ μὴ τὴν ὀνομασίαν εἰλήφει ἀπὸ τοῦ ποιήσαντος ἀυτὰ Θεοῦ.—Theophil. ad Autolyc. ii. 18. ed. Wolf. p. 140. I present this argument without reply to any one who is convinced by it.

[46] Stewart, Phil. of the Mind, iii. 1.

[47] “This method of referring words immediately to God as their framer, is a short cut to escape inquiry and explanation. It saves the philosopher much trouble, but leaves mankind in great ignorance, and leads to great error. Non dignus vindice nodus. God having furnished man with senses, and with organs of articulation, as he has also with water, lime, and sand, it should seem no more necessary to form the words for man, than to temper the mortar.”—Divers. of Purley, Pt. i. ch. 2.

[48] Gen. ii. 19, 20.

[49] e.g. There is no hint of grammar, the very blood of language. “Une Langue n’est pas une seule collection des mots.”—Cousin, Cours de 1829, iii. 212.

[50] Renan, p. 85. See an eloquent passage of Schlegel’s to the same effect, quoted in Wiseman’s Lect. i. 108. Pythagoras probably had some vague sentiment of the kind when he said that “the name-giver” was both the most ancient and the most rational of men. The Egyptians worshipped Theuth as the Regulator of Language; and the Chinese referred its origin to their great mysterious King Fohi. See Cic. Tusc. Disp. i. 28. Lersch, die Sprachphilos. der Alten. Bonn, 1838, i. 23-29.

[51] Bunsen, i. 49.

[52] The fact that man is a social animal (ζῶον πολιτικὸν) which has been so strangely urged by the advocates of a revealed language, from Lactantius down to M. de Bonald and the Abbé Combalot, in no way militates against this conclusion.

[53] Heyse, System der Sprachwissenschaft, § 50.

[54] Schlegel.

[55] Wil. von Humboldt.

[56] Grimm.

[57] Renan.

[58] The Revelation of Language is supported in a book by J. S. Süssmilch, Berlin, 1766. An excellent review of the main opinions is given by R. W. Zobel, Gedanken über die verschiedenen Meinungen der Gelehrnten von Ursprunge der Sprachen. Magdeb. 1733.

[59] See Franck’s Dictionnaire des Sciences Philosophiques, Art. Signes. I must here again caution the reader that the view here supported is not the conventional theory of language condemned in the last chapter, although it might easily become so in the hands of a person inclined to look at the physiological rather than the psychological aspects of the question.

[60] This is an expression of F. Schlegel’s (Philos. Vorlesungen, p. 78-80). Renan also quotes the authority of Humboldt and Goethe.

[61] “Seht, es ist schwer zu denken auf welche Art man denkt.... Ich denke, und mit dem Zeuge, womit ich denke, soll ich denken wie dieses Zeug beschaffen sei,” &c.—Tieck, Blaubart, act. ii. sc. 1.

[62] We are, for instance, obliged entirely to pass over the question as to the Primum Cognitum, on which see Sir W. Hamilton’s Lectures, ii. 319-331.

[63] “One might be tempted to call Language a kind of Picture of the Universe, where the words are as the figures and images of all particulars.”—Harris’s Hermes, p. 330. This is something like Plato’s curious notion that words are a μίμησις of external things.—Heyse, System, s. 24. ἐοικέναι γὰρ τὰ ὀνόματα ... εἰκόσι τῶν ὁρατῶν.—Heraclitus, ap. Ammonium ad Arist. de Interp. p. 24. Democritus called them ἀγάλματα φωνήεντα.

[64] Garnett’s Essays, p. 281-341.

[65] Quoted by Mr. Garnett, p. 283.

[66] Grimm, 29-31. Compare Heyse, System, s. 28. “Nur was gedacht ist, kann gesprochen werden; und das klar gedachte ist nothwendig auch ansprechbar.” What St. Paul saw in his rapture was only unutterable because it recalled no human analogon. (2 Cor. xii. 4.)

[67] Manudscha, Goth. Manniska, Germ. Mensch; from the root man, “to think.” Compare φράζειν, “to speak,” and φράζεσθαι, “to think.”—Heyse, s. 40. Turner ad Herod, ii. 7.

[68] “Speech,” says Humboldt, “is the necessary condition of the thought of the individual.” The statement should at least be qualified by the word “now.” For some allusions to this interesting discussion, see Archbishop Whately’s Logic, ch. ii. M. de Bonald assumed the reverse: “L’homme pense sa parole avant de parler sa pensée.” See, too, Mill’s Logic, ii. 201. Charma, p. 134. Of course the short-hand of human intelligence is too infinitely rapid and abbreviated for us to be always able to read it off with facility; or, as Mr. Tennyson expresses it,

“Thought leapt out to wed with thought,

Ere thought could wed itself to speech;”

but we are inclined to believe that without some signs (not necessarily words—see Charma, Essai sur le Langage, p. 50) thought could not exist. When we cannot express what we mean, the reason probably is that we have no clear meaning. “Die Sprache ist nichts anderes als der in die Erscheinung tretende Gedanke, und beide sind innerlich nur eins und das selbe.”—Becker, Organism. der Sprache, p. 2. “Sans signes nous ne penserions presque pas.”—Destutt de Tracy, Idéologie, pt. xvii. Plotinus distinctly asserts the contrary. Τὸ δὴ λογιζόμενον τῆς ψυχῆς οὐδένος πρὸς τὸ λογίζεσθαι δεόμενον σωματικοῦ ὀργάνου.—Ennead, v. 1, ch. 10.

[69] In Memoriam.

[70] See Harper, on the Force of the Greek Tenses.

[71] Der Ursprung der Sprache. Berlin, 1851. We closely follow M. Renan’s exposition as given in his preface, pp. 31, sq. Heyse sums it up in one sentence, “Man kann mithin in dem Worte ein dreifaches Moment unterscheiden: 1. die Lautform; 2. das dadurch bezeichnete in Sprachbewusstsein liegende Merkmal der Vorstellung; 3. den reinen Begriff, welchen der denkende Geist in seiner Erhebung über die Individuelle Vorstellungsweise bildet, und als dessen Zeichen ihm gleichfalls das Wort dienen muss.”—Heyse, System, s. 160.

[72] Garnier, Traité des facultés de l’Ame. Renan, p. 90.

[73] Motus animi. In the origin of language, the spontaneous awakening of a sense of the possibility of expressing thought by speech, was in point of fact simultaneous with the production of an objective Language as the material in which the awakened intelligence could find expression. Heyse, s. 47.

[74] See ante.

[75] On this law of association, see Sir W. Hamilton’s Lectures, i. 366.

[76] Exclamations, natural interjections would probably be the first to acquire significance.

[77] In some savage languages abstraction is at the lowest ebb. Thus, in Iroquois, there is no word for “good” in the abstract, but only words for “a good man,” &c.; and in Mohican there is no verb for “I love,” independent of the forms which involve the object of the affection, as “I love him,” “I love you.”—Adelung’s Mithrid. iii. b. p. 397. So again the Chinese in many cases cannot express the simple conception without a periphrasis, and have words for “elder brother” and “younger brother,” but not for “brother.”—Humboldt.

[78] See Gesenius, Lehrgebäude, p. 479. Ewald’s Hebrew Grammar, § 201. “The Mandschou is most like the Semitic here; in it the origin is still plainer, since ama means father, eme mother, according to the uniform distinction of a as the stronger, and e as the weaker vowel.”—Renan, Hist. des Langues Sémitiques, p. 452. Rawlinson’s Herodotus, i. 481.

[79] Similarly it has been observed by M. Nodier that the most ancient names of God are composed only of the softest and simplest vowels (Notions, p. 15). This reminds us of the famous oracle, φράζεο τὸν πάντων ὕπατον θεὸν ἔμμεν’ Ιάω.

[80] Über den Ursprung, &c., p. 35.

[81] It is strange that the French language should not have adopted the same course as the English, in discarding this useless rag of antiquity. The influences which led to the decision of genders in any particular case were purely fanciful.

[82] Renan, p. 28.

[83] Rousseau, Essai sur l’Origine des Langues.

[84] Notions, p. 24 sqq. The remarks on the labials are too amusing to be omitted. “Le bambin, le poupon, le marmot a trouvé les trois labiales; il bée, il baye, il balbutie, il bégaye, il babille, il blatère, il bêle, il bavarde, il braille, il boude, il bouque, il bougonne sur une babiole, sur une bagatelle, sur une billevesée, sur une bêtise, sur un bébé, sur un bonbon, sur un bobo, sur le bilboquet pendu à l’étalage du bimbelotier. Il nomme sa mère et son père avec des mimologismes caressants, et quoiqu’il n’ait encore découvert que la simple touche des lèvres, l’âme se meut déjà dans les mots qu’il module au hasard. Ce Cadmus au maillot vient d’entrevoir un mystère aussi grand à lui seul que tout le reste de la création. Il parle sa pensée.” Want of space alone compels us to refrain from transcribing the remarks on the progress of infants and of society to the dentals. We must say, however, that such speculations must be very sparingly indulged by sober philologists. Many of them, at first sight plausible, were refuted by Plato long ago in the Cratylus, and they lead to a grammatical mysticism which has been well exposed by M. Charma, Essai, p. 213.

[85] By roots we do not mean words used in the primitive language, but rather “skeletons of articulate sound.” “They are merely the fictions of grammarians to indicate the core of a group of related words.”—Hensleigh Wedgwood’s Etymolog. Dict. p. iii. For some remarks on the nature of roots, see Donaldson’s New Cratyl. bk. iii. ch. 1. Ewald’s Hebrew Gram. § 202. This naked kernel of a family of words is often best found in the youngest dialects, e.g. kind (child) from γίγνομαι, genitum, &c. Grimm, Deutsche Gramm. ii. 5. 3. Bopp. Vgl. Gramm. s. 131.

[86] One or two philosophers (e.g. Kircher, Becher, Dalgarno, Bp. Wilkins, Descartes, Leibnitz) have amused themselves with the invention of languages quite arbitrary, in which every word was to be accurately determined; but no artificial language actually used has ever thus arisen. The German rothwelsch, the Italian gergo, the French narquois, the English “thieves’ language,” the lingua franca which serves for commercial purposes on the shores of the Mediterranean, the strange jargon spoken by the Chinese and English at Hong Kong, &c., have all arisen from a corruption of existing languages by metaphors, new words, new meanings, derivation, composition, &c. See Leibnitz, Nouv. Essai sur l’Entendement Humain, iii. I. 2.

[87] Mr. Garnett, Essays, p. 105. Latham, Lect. on Language.

[88] What, for instance, is the origin of the initial σ in such words as σμικρὸς, σφάλλω, or of the initial vowels in ὄνομα, ὀδοὺς, ἀμέλγω, &c.?—Garnett, p. 107.

[89] When a boy answers a lady in the words “Yes, ’m,” he is not aware that his “’m” is a fragment of the five syllables mea domina (madonna, madame, madam, ma’am, ’m.) “Letters, like soldiers, being very apt to desert and drop off in a long march.”—Divers. of Purley, pt. i. ch. vi. “Les noms des saints et les noms des baptêmes les plus communs en sont un exemple.”—De Brosses.

[90] See Philological Transactions, v. 133 sq.

[91] Phil. Trans. v. 133 sq. “The facility with which unusual or difficult words are corrupted is being at this moment strikingly illustrated in the numerous Spanish words introduced into our language through the American conquests in Mexico; cañon, estancia, stampedo, &c., are already altered in form.”—R.G.

[92] Engl. Lang. i. p. 356, 4th ed. St. Aldhelm’s Head, in Dorsetshire, is always pronounced and generally written St. Alban’s Head, although St. Alban had no connection with it. Penny-come-quick was a very natural corruption of Pen, Coombe, and Ick, the former name for Falmouth. These words form a curious chapter in the history of language. There is no doubt that the mythological legends of a later period are largely suggested by the corruption of names, as in the case of Aphrodite, Dionysus, &c. The fiction of an Oriental nation provided with a two-fold tongue (Diod. Sic. ii.) might easily spring from the word δίγλωσσος. See many such instances in Lersch. iii. 6 fg. The Greek Ἱεροσόλυμα presents a double instance of this, being corrupted from יְרוּשָּׁלַיִם, which is itself probably a corruption of the old Canaanite name for Jerusalem. Dict. of Bibl. Ant. s. v.

[93] The instance is a pure supposition, for sherbet, syrup, and shrub are from the same Arabic root, coming to us from three different sources.—Latham.

[94] We know of very few words invented on simply arbitrary grounds. “Sepals” was devised by Neckar to express each division of the calyx (Whewell, Hist. Ind. Sc. ii. 535), and yet we see at once that it is only a very slight alteration of the word “petals,” and this no doubt was the reason, not only for the choice of it, but also for the ready currency which it obtained. The term “Od force” is another instance. Chemistry at one period affected to give to simple bodies only such names as were destitute of all significance; but it abandoned this practice in consequence of the absurdities and impossibilities which it involved. (v. Renan, p. 148.) Thus, “sulfite” and “sulfate” are due to Guyton de Morveau. (Charma, p. 66.) “Ellagic” acid is the name given by M. Braconnot to the substance left in the process of making pyrogallic acid, and it is derived from Galle read backwards (Hist. Ind. Sc. ii. 547); but such terms are justly reprobated by men of science. Even proper names, which some have supposed to be often arbitrary, are in almost every case found capable of a real etymology. “Ils n’ont pas, plus que les autres mots, été imposés sans cause, ni fabriqués au hasard, seulement pour produire une bruit vague.”—De Brosses. This was noticed very early; see Schol. ad Hom. Od. xix. 406.

[95] Renan, p. 122.

[96] Nodier, p. 39. See, too, Garnett’s Essays, p. 89.

[97] Bunsen, Outlines, s. ii. 84. 78.

[98] Essais de Phil. Morale, p. 344. (The word שָׁמַיִם comes from a root signifying height.) Several of the instances in this paragraph are from M. Vinet.

[99] “Augustus himself, in the possession of that power which ruled the world, acknowledged that he could not make a new Latin word.”—Locke, iii. 2. 8.

[100] Renan, p. 143. “Though the origin of most of our words is forgotten, each word was at first a stroke of genius, and obtained currency, because for the moment it symbolised the world to the speaker and the hearer.... As the limestone of the Continent consists of infinite masses of the shells of animalcules, so language is made up of images and tropes, which now in their secondary use have long ceased to remind us of their poetic origin.”—Emerson, Ess. on the Poet.

[101] Take, for instance, the word “fal-lals,” borrowed from the burden of a song, and often used to describe female vanities. Does not this word afford a curious analogy to the word “falbala,” the origin of which (to express similar articles) has occupied the attention of distinguished philosophers? It has been explained as follows. It is said that a witty prince of the eighteenth century once entered an elegant shop, and determined to try to the utmost the assurance of the (probably pretty) milliner. He therefore asked for a falbala, inventing the oddest vocable he could think of. With admirable but unconscious insight into the principle of language, the undisturbed female at once brought him the garniture de robe called volant, which ended in light floating points. She instinctively caught the notion involved in flabella, flammula, &c.—Nodier, p. 211. The story is told differently by De Brosses, Form Méch. ch. xvi. § 14. The word has excited much discussion. Leibnitz connects it with fald-plat, and Hoffman with furbelow. Charma, p. 306. The murderer, Pierre Rivière, invented the word ennepharer for the torture to which he used, when a boy, to subject frogs; and the word calibène for the instrument which he constructed to kill birds. Charma, p. 66. Du Mérit notices the purely musical names which children instinctively give to those who inspire them with strongly marked feelings of love. “Rumpelstiltskin,” the name of the imp in the fairy tale, is a good instance of the reverse.

[102] It is mainly among the people, rather than with philosophers, that the power of inventing names has lingered. Some write the name Plonplon, and make it a familiar abbreviation of Napoleon; but accomplished Frenchmen give differing accounts of the word.

[103] “Ὄνομα ποίεω. Ὀνοματοποιΐα est dictio ad imitandum sonum vocis conficta, ut cum dicimus hinnire equos, balare oves, stridere valvas.” Charis. iv. p. 245. Lersch, i. 129-232. The Latins call it “fictio nominis.”

[104] Renan, p. 136. We have already endeavoured to guard against the misconception that language is in any sense a result of imitation: a mere power of imitating the sounds of nature belongs to animals as well as to man.—Heyse, s. 91, and supra ch. i.

[105] Wedgwood’s Etym. Dict. p. v. It is necessary to be cautious, of course, in deducing the processes of language from the observation of children. See Heyse, s. 47. The word moo-cow is a mixture of pure onomatopœia, and onomatopœia after it has become conventional.

[106] See the lists of such vocabularies in the Transactions of the Philol. Soc.

[107] Wedgwood, p. v.

[108] L. 45. “Proprium tigridis, a sono. Alii leg. raucant.”—Forcellini, Lex.

[109] Wedgwood, p. vi. The name is not native probably, for the native tribe-names mostly end in qua; as Griqua, Namaqua, &c.

[110] Nodier, p. 79 seq. Dr. Pickering quotes an account of the original people of Malay, in which it is said that “their language is not understood by any one: they lisp their words, the sound of which is like the noise of birds.” (Races of Man. Bohn ed. p. 305.)

[111] Bunsen, Outlines, ii. 82. The poet Shelley implied the same thought in Alastor:

“I wait breath, Great Parent, that my song

May modulate with motions of the air,

And murmurs of the forest and the sea,

And voice of living beings, and woven hymns

Of night and day, and the deep heart of man.”

[112] Locke on the Human Understanding, iii. I. § 1, 2.

[113] Harris’s Hermes, bk. ii. ch. 2, 3rd ed. p. 325.

[114] Renan, p. 139, quoting Adelung, Mithrid. i. p. xiv. Grimm, Über die Namen des Donners. (Berlin, 1855.) If the words “tonitru,” “donner,” &c., be not originally onomatopœian, as some assert (who derive them from tan, Gr. τείνειν), they became so from a feeling of the need that they should be.—Heyse, s. 93.

[115] Wedgwood, p. 5. The word “pouf” is also used of falling bodies, as in the Macaronic verse, “De brancha in brancham degringolat atque facit ‘pouf.’” It would be interesting to trace the causes for the divergencies in sound of obvious onomatopœian words in various languages: e.g. it is clear that “ding-dong” could only be used to denote the sound of a bell in a country possessing large heavy bells, and therefore churches. The sound bil or bell (Cf. tintinnabulum), expressive of a clear sharp tinkle, would naturally be used by a people, like the Galla, only accustomed to the small bells sold as trinkets by foreign traders. Among the Suaheli languages (out of five words given in Krapf’s vocabulary), no word for a bell at all resembles the sound. I am indebted to my friend, Mr. Garnett, for these remarks, as well as for other ingenious suggestions.

[116] Wedgwood, Etymol. Dict.

[117] Nodier, p. 41. Even when the sound is no guide, different characteristics are chosen by different nations to furnish a name. The names “fledermaus,” “flittermouse,” are suggested like “chauve souris,” by the structure of the bat; νυκτερὶς and vespertilio by its habits; if the differentia of the animal be very marked, its name will probably be derived from it in all languages, as noctiluca, glow-worm, lucciolato, ver luisant, &c.; yet even then not in all, as Johannis-wurm. Compare again σεισιπυγὶς, motacilla, cutretta, wagtail, with Bachstelze, hoche-queue, &c. If the bird be rare, it is much more likely to have numerous names, because the observation of each casual observer as to its chief attribute is not liable to so much revision. Take as an instance the night-jar, which is also called fern-owl, churn-owl, goat-sucker, wheel-bird, dorhawk, &c. See, too, Garnett’s Essays, pp. 88, 89.

[118] “The physiognomy, however, of a group of languages remains unaffected by the divergency of their vocabularies; e.g. almost every word in the Ethiopic family of languages contains a liquid generally in connection with a mute as its most prominent and essential feature.”—R. G.

[119] It is represented as a punishment in some legends, as in the fragment of Abydenus, &c., quoted by Euseb. Præp. Ev. ix. 14. Joseph. Antt. I. iv. 3. Plat. Polit. p. 272. Plin. vii. 1. xi. 112. But see Abbt’s Dissertation, “Confusionem linguarum non fuisse pœnam humano generi inflictam.” Hal. 1758.

[120] καὶ περιΐστα δὲ κατ’ ὄλιγον εἰς τυραννίδα τὰ πράγματα.—Joseph. Antt. I. iv. 2.

[121] 1 Cor. xiii. 8; Rev. vii. 9; Zach. viii. 23; Zeph. 9, &c.

[122] “Trotz alle dem,” is Freiligrath’s rendering of Burns’ “for a’ that.” I may remark here, that many of these instances are borrowed from Mr. Wedgwood’s Etymol. Dictionary, of which the first part only is yet printed. This work, although not free from errors, has the merit of having put forward some very clear and original views on this subject.

[123] Abridged from Mr. Wedgwood in the Phil. Transac. ii. 118.

[124] Latham on the Engl. Lang. 4th ed. p. xlix. Heyse, System, s. 73 fg.

[125] Traces of this feeling are found in Quinctilian (Instt. Orr. i. 5). “Sed minime nobis concessa est ὀνοματοποιία.... Jamne hinnire et balare fortiter diceremus, nisi judicio vetustatis niterentur?” See, too, viii. 6. Other passages quoted by Lersch (Sprachphilosophie, i. s. 130), are Varro (L. L. v. p. 69); Diomed. iii. p. 453, &c. Plato calls it ἀπείκασμα, and the Grammarians ἀπὸ ἤχους.


“La gentile alouette avec son tire lire,

Tire l’ire aux fachez, et tire-lirant tire

Vers la route du ciel: puis son vol vers ce lieu

Vire, et désire dire à dieu Dieu, à dieu Dieu.”

The verse seems to me too laboured and unnatural.

[127] “Many at least of the celebrated passages that are cited as imitative in sound, were, on the one hand, not the result of accident, nor yet on the other hand of study; but the idea (?) in the author’s mind spontaneously suggested appropriate sounds.”—Archbp. Whately’s Rhetoric, iii. s. 2.

[128] Essai sur les fondements de la psychologie. The same psychologist in his Essay on the Origin of Language says of those who maintain a revealed language, that they give us “comme article de foi une hypothèse arbitraire et amphibologique.”—Œuvres Inéd. de Maine de Biran, iii. pp. 229-278.

[129] See some admirable remarks to this effect in Mr. F. Whalley Harper’s excellent book on the Power of Greek Tenses.

[130] Donaldson’s New Cratylus, p. 220, 4th ed.

[131] Donaldson’s Greek Grammar, s. 67-79.

[132] For the development and more clear enunciation of these views, we must refer to the works quoted.

[133] Donaldson’s New Crat. ch. ii. Plato (Crat. p. 435) thought the numerals offered a proof that at least some part of language must be the result of convention and custom (συνθήκη καὶ ἔθος).

[134] Bopp’s Comparative Grammar, § 311.

[135] Dr. Donaldson aptly compares (New Crat. § 154) the vulgarism “number one” as a synonym for the first person, and “proximus sum egomet mihi.”

[136] Bopp’s Comparative Grammar, §§ 309, 323. Donaldson’s New Crat. ch. ii.; Greek Gram. § 246. For the Hebrew numerals see Maskil-le Sophir. pp. 41 sq. by the same author. Other works are Pott, Die quinäre und vigesimale Zählmethode. Halle, 1847. Mommsen, in Höfer’s Zeitschr. für die Wiss. der Spr. Heft 2, 1846. In Greenland the word for 20 is “a man,” (i.e. fingers + toes = 20); and for 100 the word is five men, &c.! It might have been thought that particles were eminently (what Aristotle calls them) φωναὶ ἄσημοι, and yet even their pedigree may be traced; and in fact no clear line of distinction can be drawn between them and the φωναὶ σημαντικαί.—Heyse, s. 108 ff.

[137] For instance, we find M. A. Vinet (Essais de Philos. Morale, p. 323) speaking of the verb as the word which founds, or, so to speak, creates an ideal world side by side with the real world, and of which the real world is either the expression or the type. The word “verb” has often been dwelt on as showing the importance attached to this part of speech; the German “zeitwort” is more to the purpose. The Chinese call it ho-tseu, or the living word (Silvestre de Sacy, Principes de Gram. Gén. i. ch. 1.)

[138] Compare the Italian stare, Spanish estar. Prof. Key (Trans. of Phil. Soc. vol. iv.) quotes an anecdote of a lady who had to tell her African servant, “Go and fetch big teacup, he live in pantry.” We cannot, however, accept his derivations of “esse” from “edo,” and “vivo” from “bibo.”

[139] See Renan, p. 129. Becker, Organism der Sprache, p. 58. In point of fact, the conception of existence in untaught minds is generally concrete, and often grossly material. Vico mentions the fact, that peasants often say of a sick person “he still eats,” for “he still lives.” “In the Lingua Franca the more abstract verbs have disappeared altogether; ‘to be’ is always expressed by ‘to stand,’ and ‘to have’ by ‘to hold.’

‘Non tener honta

Questo star la ultima affronta.’

This shows the tendency of language to degradation when not upheld by literary culture and elevated thought. Barbarism proved as efficacious in materialising the conception of the Latin races, as in sweeping away the niceties of their grammar. To this day the Spaniards say, tengo hambre, for esurio.”—R. G.

[140] See Wedgwood, p. xvii.

[141] Who would have thought à priori that the word “stranger” has its root in the single vowel e, the Latin preposition for “from”? Yet we see it to be so, “the moment that the intermediate links of the chain are submitted to our examination,—e, ex, extra, extraneus, étranger, stranger.”—Dugald Stewart, Philos. Es. p. 217, 4th ed.

[142] Adelung, Mithridates, iii. 6, p. 325.

[143] Benloew, De la Science Comp. des Langues, p. 22.

[144] Essay on English Dialects, p. 64.

[145] Still more strange are the variations presented by the root ἄω. See Leibnitz, Nouv. Ess. sur l’Entendement Humain, iii. 2. 2; and Donaldson’s New Crat. p. 476.

[146] New Crat. p. 80.

[147] The “lucus à non lucendo” principle, which explained various positive words as though they were derived from the absence of the quality they attributed, has long been given up by all sound scholars. Of course such names as Euxinus, Beneventum, Εὐμενίδες, “good folk,” “crétin,” “natural,” &c., arise in a totally different manner, as well as the name Parcæ, absurdly derived “a non parcendo.” The supposed instances of “Antiphrasis,” as the grammarians called it, are eminently absurd, e.g. Varro, L. L. iv. 8: “Cœlum, contrario nomine celatum, quod apertum est.” Donat. de Trop. p. 1778: “Bellum, hoc est minimè bellum.” They confused it with irony and euphemism. See Lersch, i. s. 132, 133.

[148] Essays, p. 284 sq.

[149] Dict. des Sciences Philosoph. p. 646. Locke on the Under. III. ii. 6.

[150] Thus the long opposition to the Newtonian theory in France rose mainly from the influence of the word “attraction.” See Comte’s Pos. Philos. (Martineau’s ed.) i. p. 182. For the tremendous consequences of the introduction of the term “landed proprietor” into Bengal, see Mill’s Logic, ii. 232. It caused “a disorganisation of society which had not been introduced into that country by the most ruthless of its barbarian invaders.” “Fetish,” as adopted by the negroes from the Portuguese, “feitição” (sorcery), is an instance of a word changing meaning with the feeling of the speakers.

[151] ἤθους χαρακτήρ ἐστι τ’ ἀνθρώπου λόγος.—Stob. The language of a people expresses its genius and its character.—Bacon, De Augm. Scient. vi. i. Cf. Diog. Laert. p. 58. Quinct. xi. p. 675. Cic. Tusc. Disp. v. 16.

[152] Ἔστι μὲν οὖν τὰ ἐν τῇ φωνῇ τῶν ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ παθημάτων σύμβολα.—Arist. De Interp. I. i.

[153] Nodier, p. 65.

[154] Victor Cousin, Cours de Phil. iii. Leçon Vingtième.

[155] Φύσικα, i. 1. The name alligator (Spanish, el lagarto, the lizard) is another instance of the same kind of thing, as indeed is the Greek κροκόδειλος.

[156] See Renan, 120 sqq. Theocrit. ii. 18. The French word colère is from χόλος, bile; our word anger, from the root “ang” (ἄγχι, ἀγχονὴ, angle, angina, angustus, &c.) implying compression. The Greek στόμαχος explains itself.

[157] πρὸ ὀμμάτων ποιεῖν. For abundant instances of Hebrew metaphors see Glassii Philologia Sacra, where there is a long chapter on the subject.

[158] Emerson’s Nature.

[159] Compare ἐφιέμαι, ὀρέγομαι.

[160] Three derivations have been proposed: re-lego, Cic. de Nat. Deor. ii. 28; re-ligo, Lact. Div. Inst. 4; re-eligo, Augustin, de Civ. Dei, x. 3. See Fleming’s Vocabulary of Philosophy.

[161] See Bunsen’s Outlines, ii. 142 seqq. Dyaus, θεὸς, deus, &c., from the root div, to shine. The derivation of our English word “God” is doubtful; but I fear the beautiful belief that it is deduced from “good” must be abandoned. Grimm (Deutsch Myth. p. 12) shows that there is a grammatical difference between the words in the Teutonic language signifying “God” and “good;” if the Persian “Khoda” can be derived from the Zend “qvadáta,” Sanskrit “svadata,” à se datus, increatus, a very appropriate etymology would be given.

[162] See Dugald Stewart’s Philosoph. Essays, p. 217, 4th ed. Compare the widely different conceptions of happiness involved in the derivations of two such words as “beatus” and “selig.” Or take the word “poet;” if in these days of wider knowledge and shallower thought, we find it nearly impossible to frame a satisfactory definition of poetry, how should we have been able to invent the word itself, which goes to the very root of the matter, by at once attributing to “the maker” that divine creative faculty whereby he is enabled “to give airy nothing a local habitation and a name?”

[163] χαλκαίνω, πορφύρω.

[164] “Une lumière éclate, des couleurs crient, des idées se heurtent, la mémoire bronche, le cœur murmure, l’obstination se cabre contre les difficultés.”—Nodier, p. 45.

[165] For the facts alluded to in this passage, see Herod. iii. 46, iv. 132. Liv. i. 54. Jerem. xix. 10, &c.

[166] Arist. Rhet. iii. 10.

[167] ἤστραπτ’, ἐβρόντα, κἀνεκύκα τὴν Ἑλλάδα.—Aristoph. “Proinde tona eloquio.”—Virg. Æn. xi.

[168] Sartor Resartus, ch. x. Compare Heyse, s. 97. “Die ganze Sprache ist durch und durch bildlich. Wir sprechen in lauter Bildern ohne uns dessen bewusst zu sein.” He gives abundant instances, classified with German accuracy. See, too, Grimm, Gesch. d. d. Sprache, s. 56 ff. Pott, Metaphern vom Leben, &c. Zeitschr. für Vergleich. Sprachf. Jahrg. ii. Heft 2.

[169] Luke, xii. 27.

[170] Mr. Kingsley has compared the ancient ballad,

“Could harp a fish out of the water,

Or music out of the stane,

Or the milk out of a maiden’s breast

That bairns had never nane,”

with the modern adaptation,

“O there was magic in his voice,

And witchcraft in his string!”

The expression of Herodotus about the Libyan wild asses, ἄποτοι, οὐ γὰρ δὴ πίνουσι, contrasts forcibly the two styles.—R. G.

[171] “Verborum translatio instituta est inopiæ causâ.”—De Orator. iii. 39.

[172] Dr. Whewell’s Philos. of the Inductive Sciences, ii. 460. Mill’s Logic, ii. ch. iv. p. 205.

[173] Take, for instance, the botanical description of the Hymenophyllum Wilsoni; “fronds rigid, pinnate, pinnæ recurved subunilateral, pinnatifid; the segments linear undivided, or bifid spinulososerrate.”—Philosophy of Ind. Sci. i. 165. This is the perfection of scientific terminology, but how would it answer the purposes of common life? And how would poetry be possible with such clumsy terms as these? At the same time, in Science, dry precision of nomenclature is better than poetical terms like the mediæval “flowers of sulphur.” Fancy would only mislead in terminology which requires accuracy; e.g. δίπους, the Greek name for jerboa might easily have led to mistakes.

[174] Sir Thos. Browne, Christian Morals, ii.

[175] Berkeley, Principles of Hum. Knowledge, xxxv.

[176] “It is remarked by a great metaphysician, that abstract ideas are, in one point of view, the highest and most philosophical of all our ideas, while in another they are the shallowest and most meagre. They have the advantage of clearness and definiteness; they enable us to conceive and, as it were, to span the infinity of things; they arrange, as it might be in the divisions of a glass, the many-coloured world of phenomena. And yet they are ‘mere’ abstractions, removed from sense, removed from experience, and detached from the mind in which they arose. Their perfection consists, as their very name implies, in their idealism; that is, in their negative nature.”—Jowett on Romans, &c., ii. 88.

[177] Ecclus. xlii. 23.

[178] Nodier, p. 58 sqq.

[179] Ἔοικεν ὁ τὴν Ἴριν Θαύμαντος ἔκγονον φήσας οὐ κακῶς γενεαλογεῖν.—Plato, Theæt. p. 155.

“La maraviglia

Dell’ ignoranza e la figlia

E del sapere

La madre.”

[180] Mr. Mill was the first to point out the soliloquising character of poetry.—Essays and Dissertations.

[181] Coleridge, Aids to Reflection.

[182] Nodier.

[183] See Précieux et Précieuses par Ch. L. Livet. 12o, 1860. Masson’s Introduction to French Literature, ch. iv.

[184] “And the regeneration of a people is always accompanied by a rekindled interest in its early literature.” We can hardly overrate the effect produced by the publication of Bishop Percy’s Reliques, and much may be hoped from the reproduction of the old romancers, &c., in Spanish, of late years.

[185] Essay on Human Understanding, III. i. 5.

[186] Horne Tooke, Part I. ch. ii.

[187] Dr. Whewell, Hist. of New Phil. in Eng. p. 72.

[188] We consider this on the whole a less objectionable term than “sensualist” or “sensuist;” the latter word is uncouth, and the former, from the things which it connotes, is hardly fair.

[189] See V. Cousin, Cours d’Histoire de la Phil. Morale.

[190] οὔτε τῆς ψυχῆς ἴδιον τὸ αἰσθάνεσθαι οὔτε τοῦ σώματος.—Arist. de Somno, i. 5. “Sensation is not an affection of mind alone, nor of matter alone, but of an animated organism, i.e. of mind and matter united.”—Mansell’s Metaphysics, p. 92.

[191] “Il n’y a rien dans l’intelligence qui ait passé par les sens; rien, pas même l’idée des sens!”—Charma, Essai sur le Langage, p. 34. This is far truer than the assertion of D’Alembert, that “the object of Metaphysics is to examine the origin of ideas, and to prove that they all come from our sensations.”—Elém. de Philos. p. 143.

[192] Ἡ μνήμη ταῖς αἰσθήσεσι συμπίπτουσα εἰς ταὐτόν ... φαίνονταί μοι σχεδὸν οἷον γράφειν ἡμῶν ἐν ταῖς ψυχαῖς τότε λόγους.—Plat. Philebus, p. 192.

[193] Penser c’est sentir.

[194] πάντων μέτρον ἄνθρωπος.—Protagoras.

[195] We allude to his monstrous hyperbole “that it would be our duty to hate God if bidden to do so by Him,” which is merely equivalent to the sycophant’s excuse, πᾶν τὸ πραχθὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ κρατοῦντος δίκαιον.

[196] On the title of Horne Tooke’s treatise, “Winged Words, or Language not only the Vehicle of Thought, but the Wheels,” see Coleridge, Aids to Refl. p. xv.

[197] Leibnitz, Nouv. Ess. The passage is quoted by Dr. Donaldson, New Crat. ch. iii., where the reader will find some admirable remarks on the subject of this chapter.

[198] Mr. Wedgwood’s Etym. Dict. p. ii.

[199] Essays, p. 18 seqq.

[200] Diversions of Purley, Part II. ch. v.

[201] Essays, p. 28.

[202] See Vinet, Essais, p. 349.

[203] Kant, quoted by Chalybäus, Speculative Philosophy, Tr. Tulk. p. 31.

[204] “There still remains the question, ‘Do things as they are resemble things as they are conceived by us?’—a question which we cannot answer either in the affirmative or in the negative; for the denial, as much as the assertion, implies a comparison of the two,” (which is impossible, if they are absolutely unknown). Mansell’s Metaphysics, p. 354.

[205] Act I. sc. iv.

[206] This was the ground taken both by Plato and Aristotle in refuting the Sophists. See Theætet. p. 176. Arist. Eth. Nic. v. 7. Aristoph. Nub. 902 (quoted by Mr. Mansell, Metaphysics, p. 387).

[207] See Proverbs, ch. viii. 22. Jewish philosophy reaches its most passionate and eloquent strains in the expansion and inculcation of this belief. Ecclus. passim.

[208] See Victor Cousin, Cours de l’Hist. de la Phil. Mor. iii. p. 214 seqq.

[209] Dr. Donaldson, ubi sup.

[210] Vinet, p. 349.

[211] See Harris, Hermes, iii. 4.

[212] Charma, p. 64.

[213] Bunsen’s Outlines, ii. 146. The whole chapter is well worthy of attentive study, for the profound and noble thoughts which it contains.

[214] Renan, p. 108. Grimm, 37.

[215] Renan, p. 185.

[216] Cf. 2 Kings, xix. 35. Such expressions as “a bullock that hath horns and hoofs” belong not so much to this tendency to avoid all possibility of mistake, as to the desire for something graphic—the πρὸ ὀμμάτων ποιεῖν.

[217] “L’opium endormit parce qu’il a une vertu soporifique.” e.g. “When the essence of gold and its substantial form was said to consist in its aureity, the attempt at philosophic explanation was no whit superior to those quoted in the text.” The word “aureity” was merely an effort of abstraction, but it was supposed to answer all questions and solve all doubts.

[218] First used by M. Duponceau in his English translation of the German Grammar of Zeisberger. Charma, p. 266. Schleicher called these languages “Holophrastic.”

[219] Humboldt, quoted by Charma, p. 222.

[220] Max Müller, p. 113. Compare Molière, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, iv. 4. “Mons. Jourdain: Tant de choses en deux mots?—Cov.: Oui, la langue turque est comme cela, elle dit beaucoup en peu de paroles.”

[221] Ampère, Rev. des Deux Mondes. Fevrier, 1853, p. 572.

[222] Also called “incorporant.”

[223] Charma, p. 223.

[224] Grimm, ss. 37-47.

[225] Renan, p. 160 seqq. It is doubtful whether the Pali was anything more than an artificial language. If so, however, it is an unique phenomenon, and it must not be forgotten that a similar opinion was once entertained respecting the Sanskrit and Zend.

[226] Precisely the same change takes place in the growth of English from Saxon, and Danish from Icelandic.

[227] Hist. des Langues Sém. v. 1, 2, and 3.

[228] Über den Urspr. d. Sprache, p. 50. Another weighty testimony to the splendour of the English language may be found in Adelung’s Mithridates.

[229] See Benloew, p. 15 sqq. Humboldt, Über die Verschiedenheit des menschlichen Sprachbaues, ad finem.

[230] The Chinese ‘l’ is pronounced like ‘r.’

[231] Many readers may recall the story of the late Mr. Albert Smith about the Bishop being described in the mixed jargon of Hong Kong as the “A-one-heaven-business-man.”

[232] Adelung, Mithridates, i. p. 412. Some deny the monosyllabic character of Chinese. (Prof. Key, Art. Language, Engl. Cycl.)

[233] It should be observed that triliteralism is not necessarily incompatible with monosyllabism. See Hist. des Langues Sémitiques, p. 94, 2nde ed.

[234] As אָב father, אֵם mother, אָח brother, הר mountain, יָד hand, יוֹם day, &c.

[235] Renan, p. 168. I must content myself here with a general reference to M. Renan, to whose works I have been very greatly indebted throughout the chapter, and indeed, as I have repeatedly observed, throughout the book.

[236] Pott’s formula for the morphological classification of languages was that they are “isolating,” “agglutinative,” and “inflectional.” Professor Müller and Baron Bunsen have shown that these divisions nearly correspond with three stages of political development—“Family,” “Nomad,” and “State.”

[237] Encycl. Brit. Art. Language. (Dr. Latham.)

[238] “On l’a désignée par les noms de famille Indo-Germanique ou Indo-Européenne, lesquels ne sont ni logiques ni harmonieux, car ils n’expriment qu’imparfaitement le sens qui leur est attribué, et leur longueur démesurée en rend l’emploi fort peu commode.”—Pictet’s Origines Indo-Eur. p. 28. They have, however, the advantage of explaining themselves.

[239] Burnouf, Commentaire sur le Yaçna, p. xciii. See also Bunsen’s Outlines, i. 281.

[240] These traces are most ably pointed out in the Edinburgh Review for October, 1851, quoted in an interesting note by Prof. Max Müller, Survey of Languages, p. 28, 2nd ed. See, too, Pictet, pp. 27-34, who connects the root ar with the words Erin, Elam, Ariovistus, Arminius, oriri, &c. If this be a right derivation of Erin, the fact is important, as showing that some memory of the old name was preserved in the extreme West as well as in the East.

[241] By a writer in the Saturday Review for Nov. 19, 1859.

[242] P. 49.

[243] For a graphic sketch of early Arian life as deduced from the records of language, see Weber’s Indische Skizzen, pp. 9, 10; Pictet’s Origines Indo-Européennes; Müller’s Ess. on Comp. Mythology.

[244] Müller, p. 28 sqq.

[245] Except some popular modern divines.

[246] Lassen, Indische Alterthumskunde. Renan, 219 seqq. Klaproth builds an argument for the Northern origin of the Arians on the word “birch,” which bears an analogous name “not only in the German and Slavonic tongues, but also in the Sanskrit—b’hurjja.... It seems birch was the only tree the invaders recognised, and could name, on the south side of the Himalaya; all others being new to them. The inference may be right or wrong—it is, at all events, ingenious.” Garnett’s Essays, p. 33. See Klaproth, Nouv. J. Asiat. v. 112. Pictet, Orig. Ind. i. 217. The fact that the words for oyster are derived from the same root in the European languages (Gk. ὄστρεον, Ang.-Sax. ostra, Irish oisridh, Cymr. œstren, Russ. üstersü, French huître, Germ. Auster, &c.), but not in the Sanskrit or Indian branch of the Arian family,—would seem to show that there was a great separation of Eastern and Western Arians before the family had reached the shores of the Caspian. A similar fact is observed in the name for flax, (Gr. λίνον, Lat. linum, Goth. lein, Ang.-Sax. lîn, Cym. llin, Russ. lenû, &c.), and shows that the Western Arians were the first of the family to desert pastoral for agricultural pursuits. Id. pp. 320, 516. Few studies are more interesting than the “linguistic palæontology,” which thus enables us to revive the form of an extinct language and civilisation.

[247] Renan, p. 235.

[248] Histoire des Langues Sém. pp. 1, 2.

[249] Müller’s Survey, p. 23 seqq.

[250] Hist. des Langues Sémitiques, pp. 70-90.

[251] The name was suggested by Baron Bunsen in 1847. Outlines, i. 64. He even argues for the Turanian character of the Chinese; “although it is certain that the same opposition exists between the two as there is between inorganic and organic life.” General laws, operative in the formation of all languages, ought not to be taken for indications of special affinity; who would maintain the identity of quadrupeds and birds from the analogy of their respiratory and digestive systems? In the formation of languages certain first principles were necessarily observed by all, and this of course leads to some general resemblances.

[252] “Turanian speech is rather a stage than a form of language; it seems to be the form into which human discourse, naturally, and, as it were, spontaneously throws itself.... The principle of agglutination, as it is called, which is its most marked characteristic, seems almost a necessary feature of any language in a constant state of flux and change, absolutely devoid of a literature, and maintaining itself in existence by means of the scanty conversation of Nomades.”—Rawlinson’s Herodotus, i. p. 645.

[253] It is rather strange that this name, so peculiarly appropriate, and so much preferable to the other, has not met with wider acceptation. It was suggested by Dr. Prichard, “the greatest of English ethnologists.”

[254] Dolly Pentreath, the last person who could speak Cornish, died in 1770.

[255] Bunsen, Outlines, ii. 92.

[256] Ferrier’s Institutes of Metaphysics, p. 13.

[257] Adr. Balbi, Atlas ethnographique. Disc. prélim. lxxv-lxxix.

[258] Garnett’s Philol. Essays, p. 85, &c., where the supposed instances are examined. Most of them are, as might have been expected, simple onomatopœias of the most obvious kind. See Renan, Hist. des Langues Sém. p. 450 seqq. Nothing requires more care than an inquiry of this kind;—often two words which have identically the same letters have no connection with each other, while two others derived from a common source have not one letter in common. As an instance of the former case, take the French souris “a smile,” and souris “a mouse,” (from subridere and sorex respectively); as an instance of the latter, take the word cousin, derived from soror through consobrinus.

[259] Outlines, i. 476.

[260] Outlines, i. 143, 165 seqq.

[261] A very curious instance of this is the word שווין shoes, found in a Syro-Chaldaic Lectionarium in the Vatican. We may here remark that Dr. Young’s celebrated calculation—that, if eight words are identical in two languages, the chances of a direct relation between the languages are 100,000 to one—is very exceptionable. See Dr. Latham, in the Encycl. Brit. Art. Language. The greatest care is necessary to distinguish between words really cognate, and accidental isolated resemblances. See Pictet, Orig. Ind. p. 13, 17.

[262] Survey of Lang. p. 11.

[263] Renan, p. 216.

[264] Hist. des Langues Sém. p. 84 seqq.

[265] Renan quotes Mövers, Die Phœnizien, i. 33.

[266] Hist. des Langues Sém. 490, 491. Whenever passages are in semi-inverted commas, it will be understood that they are almost directly translated from the author referred to.

[267] The accounts of various missionaries among the New Zealanders, American Indians, and aboriginal Australians, give a strange and mournful confirmation of these assertions.

[269] Benloew, Aperçu Général, p. 91.

[270] Aids to Reflection, p. 1.

[271] Mill’s Logic, ii. 221.

[272] These thoughts are admirably developed in a beautiful Essay on the Abstract Idea of the New Testament, by Mr. Jowett (ii. 90). See, too, W. von Humboldt’s tract Ueber d. Entstehen d. grammat. Formen und ihren Einfluss auf die Ideenentwickelung, as well as the chapter Ueber die Verschiedenheit des Menschlichen Sprachbaues, which forms the introduction to the treatise on the Kawi language.

[273] “Q. Ennius tria corda se habere dicebat, quod loqui Græce et Latine et Osce sciret.”—A. Gell.

[274] Rückert.

[275] “Il disoit et répétoit souvent, quand il tomboit sur la beauté des langues, ... qu’autant de langues que l’homme sçait parler, autant de fois est il homme.”—Brantôme.

[276] See Destutt de Tracy, Grammaire Or. vi.


Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within the text and consultation of external sources.

Except for those changes noted below, all misspellings in the text, and inconsistent or archaic usage, have been retained: for example, humankind, human kind; Thibetian, Tibetian; incognisable; endued; analagon; cumbrous; acceptation.

Pg xiii: missing ‘—’ inserted in front of ‘The root’.
Pg 7: ‘so irreconcileably’ replaced by ‘so irreconcilably’.
Pg 14: ‘of Nüremburg’ replaced by ‘of Nuremberg’.
Pg 44: missing anchor for Footnote [72] inserted after ‘into ideas.’.
Pg 66: ‘Schephifoun (שְׁפִיפוֹךּ)’ replaced by ‘Schephifoun (שְׁפִיפוֹן)’.
Pg 84: ‘Hebrew לָהֵדּ’ replaced by ‘Hebrew לָחַךְ’.
Pg 93: ‘recal the manner’ replaced by ‘recall the manner’.
Pg 101: ‘Π, Φ, Τ’ replaced by ‘Π, Ϙ, Τ’ (the archaic letter qoppa).
Pg 105: ‘הָוַה (houa)’ replaced by ‘הָוָה (houa)’.
Pg 110: missing anchor for Footnote [145] inserted after ‘to sit.’.
Pg 146: ‘Skakspeare spoke’ replaced by ‘Shakespeare spake’.
Pg 146: ‘That Milton held!’ replaced by ‘Which Milton held.’.
Pg 147: missing anchor for Footnote [185] inserted after ‘our senses.’.
Pg 159: missing anchor for Footnote [203] inserted after ‘of things.’.
Pg 175: ‘the deal level’ replaced by ‘the dead level’.
Pg 184: ‘rom the earliest’ replaced by ‘from the earliest’.
Pg 184: ‘to h is day’ replaced by ‘to this day’.
Pg 199: ‘Eugène Bornon’ replaced by ‘Eugène Burnouf’.
Pg 210: ‘so irreconcileably’ replaced by ‘so irreconcilably’.
Pg 212: ‘of course, develope’ replaced by ‘of course, develop’.
Pg 223: ‘the most depised’ replaced by ‘the most despised’.
Pg 230: ‘De signes et’ replaced by ‘Des signes et’.
Pg 230: ‘de la Litérature’ replaced by ‘de la Littérature’.

Pg 5 Footnote [9]: this page has two anchors for this Footnote.
Pg 11 Footnote [18]: ‘Wiem. 1830.’ replaced by ‘Wien. 1830.’.
Pg 16 Footnote [27]: this page has two anchors for this Footnote.
Pg 21 Footnote [37]: ‘lexicologique t fait’ replaced by ‘lexicologique tout fait’.
Pg 56 Footnote [89]: ‘apt tod desert an’ replaced by ‘apt to desert and’.
Pg 58 Footnote [91]: ‘cañon, stancia’ replaced by ‘cañon, estancia’.
Pg 59 Footnote [92]: ‘from יְדושָּׁלַיִמ’ replaced by ‘from יְרוּשָּׁלַיִם’.
Pg 72 Footnote [103]: ‘Ὄνοματοπαΐα’ replaced by ‘Ὀνοματοποιΐα’.
Pg 74 Footnote [106]: this page has two anchors for this Footnote.
Pg 98 Footnote [128]: ‘les fondements de’ replaced by ‘les fondements de la’.
Pg 108 Footnote [143]: ‘Beuloew’ replaced by ‘Benloew’.
Pg 114 Footnote [150]: ‘See Coulte’ replaced by ‘See Comte’.
Pg 126 Footnote [164]: ‘se cadre contre’ replaced by ‘se cabre contre’.
Pg 130 Footnote [168]: ‘Die gauze Sprache’ replaced by ‘Die ganze Sprache’.
Pg 145 Footnote [183]: ‘Précieuse and Précieuses’ replaced by ‘Précieux et Précieuses’.
Pg 162 Footnote [208]: ‘l’Hist. de’ replaced by ‘l’Hist. de la’.
Pg 183 Footnote [234]: ‘אַמ mother’ replaced by ‘אֵם mother’.
Pg 188 Footnote [239]: ‘sur le Yaçua’ replaced by ‘sur le Yaçna’.


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