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Even the numerals, nine and hundred, are used for the same purpose. And here again, as long as these words are fully understood and kept alive, they resist phonetic corruption ; but the moment they lose, so to say, their presence of mind, phonetic corruption sets in, and as soon as phonetic corruption has commenced its ravages, those portions of a word which it affects retain a merely artificial or conventional existence, and dwindle down to grammatical terminations.
I am afraid I should tax your patience too much were I to enter here on an analysis of the grammatical terminations in Sanskrit, Greek, or Latin, in order to show how these terminations arose out of independent words, which were slowly reduced to mere dust by the constant wear and tear of speech. But in order to explain how the principle of phonetic decay leads to the formation of grammatical terminations, let us look to languages with which we are more familiar. take the French adverb. We are told by French grammarians 1 that in order to form adverbs we have to add the termination ment. Thus from bon, good, we form bonnement, from vrai, true, vraiment. This termination does not exist in Latin. But we meet in Latin 2 with expressions such as bonâ mente, in good faith. We read in Ovid, “Insistam forti mente,” I shall insist with a strong mind or will, I shall insist strongly ; in French, “ J'insisterai fortement." Therefore, what has happened in the growth of Latin, or in the change of Latin into French, is simply this : in phrases such as forti mente, the last word was no longer felt as a dis
i Fuchs, Romanische Sprachen, s. 355.
2 Quint., v. 10, 52. Bonâ mente factum, ideo palam; malâ, ideo ex insidiis.
tinct word, and it lost at the same time its distinct pronunciation. Mente, the ablative of mens, was changed into ment, and was preserved as a merely formal element, as the termination of adverbs, even in cases where a recollection of the original meaning of mente (with a mind), would have rendered its employment perfectly impossible. If we say in French that a hammer falls lourdement, we little suspect that we ascribe to a piece of iron a heavy mind. In Italian, though the adverbial termination mente in claramente is no longer felt as a distinct word, it has not as yet been affected by phonetic corruption; and in Spanish it is sometimes used as a distinct word, though even then it cannot be said to have retained its distinct meaning. Thus, instead of saying, “ claramente, concisamente y elegantemente,” it is more elegant to say in Spanish, “ clara, concisa y elegante mente."
It is difficult to form any conception of the extent to which the whole surface of a language may be altered by what we have just described as phonetic change. Think that in the French vingt you have the same elements as in deux and dix; that the second part of the French douze, twelve, represents the Latin decim in duodecim ; that the final te of trente was originally the Latin ginta in triginta, which ginta was again a derivation and abbreviation of the Sanskrit da'sa or dasati, ten. Then consider how early this phonetic disease must have broken out. For in the same manner as vingt in French, veinte in Spanish, and venti in Italian presuppose the more primitive viginti which we find in Latin, so this Latin viginti, together with the Greek eikati, and the Sanskrit vin'sati presuppose an earlier language from which they are in turn
derived, and in which, previous to viginti, there must have been a more primitive form dvi-ginti, and previous to this again, another compound as clear and intelligible as the Chinese eúl-shi, consisting of the ancient Aryan names for two, dvi, and ten, dasati. Such is the virulence of this phonetic change, that it will sometimes eat away the whole body of a word, and leave nothing behind but decayed fragments. Thus, sister, which in Sanskrit is svasar, appears in Pehlvi and in Ossetian as cho. Daughter, which in Sanskrit is duhitar, has dwindled down in Bohemian to dci (pronounced tsi). Who would believe that tear and larme are derived from the same source; that the French même contains the Latin semetipsissimus ; that in aujourd'hui we have the Latin word dies twice! 3 Who would recognize the Latin pater in the Armenian hayr? Yet we make no difficulty about identifying père and pater ; and as several initial h's in Armenian correspond to an original p (het = pes, pedis; hing = Tévte; hour = müp, it follows that hayr is pater.4
We are accustomed to call these changes the growth of language, but it would be more appropriate to call this process of phonetic change decay, and thus to distinguish it from the second or dialectical process which we must now examine, and which involves, as you will see, a more real principle of growth.
In order to understand the meaning of dialectical
i Sanskrit s = Persian h; therefore svasar = hvahar. This becomes chohar, chor, and cho. Zend, qanha, acc. qanharem, Persian, kháher. Bopp, Comp. Gram. $ 35.
2 Schleicher, Beiträge, b. ii. s. 392: dci = dúgti; gen. dcere = dugtere. 3 Hui= hodie, Ital. oggi and oggidi ; jour = diurnum, from dies. 4 See M. M.'s Letter to Chevalier Bunsen, On the Turanian Languages,
regeneration we must first see clearly what we mean by dialect. We saw before that language has no independent substantial existence. Language exists in man, it lives in being spoken, it dies with each word that is pronounced, and is no longer heard. It is a mere accident that language should ever have been reduced to writing, and have been made the vehicle of a written literature. Even now the largest number of languages have produced no literature. Among the numerous tribes of Central Asia, Africa, America, and Polynesia, language still lives in its natural state, in a state of continual combustion ; and it is there that we must go if we wish to gain an insight into the growth of human speech previous to its being arrested by any literary interference. What we are accustomed to call languages, the literary idioms of Greece, and Rome, and India, of Italy, France, and Spain, must be considered as artificial, rather than as natural forms of speech. The real and natural life of language is in its dialects, and in spite of the tyranny exercised by the classical or literary idioms, the day is still very
far off which is to see the dialects, even of such classical languages as Italian and French, entirely eradicated. About twenty of the Italian dialects have been reduced to writing, and made known by the press. Champollion-Figeac reckons the most distinguishable dialects of France at fourteen.2 The number of modern Greek dialects 3 is carried by some as high as seventy, and though many of these are hardly more than local varieties, yet some, like the Tzaconic, differ from the literary language as much as Doric differed from Attic.
1 See Marsh, p. 678; Sir John Stoddart's Glossology, s. 31. 2 Glossology, p. 33.
3 Ibid., p. 29.
In the island of Lesbos, villages distant from each other not more than two or three hours have frequently peculiar words of their own, and their own peculiar pronunciation. But let us take a language which, though not without a literature, has been less under the influence of classical writers than Italian or French, and we shall then see at once how abundant the growth of dialects ! The Friesian, which is spoken on a small area on the north-western coast of Germany, between the Scheldt and Jutland, and on the islands near the shore, which has been spoken there for at least two thousand years, and which possesses literary documents as old as the twelfth century, is broken up into endless local dialects. I quote from Kohl's Travels.
66 The commonest things,” he writes, " which are named almost alike all over Europe, receive quite different names in the different Friesian Islands. Thus, in Amrum, father is called aatj; on the Halligs, baba or babe; in Sylt, foder or vaar; in many districts on the main-land, täte; in the eastern part of Föhr, oti or ohiti. Although these people live within a couple of German miles from each other, these words differ more than the Italian padre and the English father. Even the names of their districts and islands are totally different in different dialects. The island of Sylt is called Söl, Sol, and Sal.” Each of these dialects, though it might be made out by a Friesian scholar, is unintelligible except to the peasants of each narrow district in which it prevails. What is therefore generally called the Friesian language, and described as such in Friesian grammars, is in reality
1 Nea Pandora, 1859, Nos. 227,
Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Sprachforschung, x. s. 190. 2 Grimm, Geschichte der Deutschen Sprache, p. 668: Marsh, p. 379.