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one word from another likely to do so! Hence at this stage free play is given to unbounded license of etymology; where scepticism is general as to any principle of formation in languages, etymology may serve as an idle amusement, displaying more or less of ingenuity, but can yield no result, nor even produce conviction in the mind of the etymologist himself. It is, moreover, a sort of ingenuity which, as it rests upon no basis of objective truth, may quite as pleasantly be exercised in the comparison of languages known from the evidence of history and geography to be utterly unconnected, as in that of cognate dialects. When we consider that all our standard dictionaries up to the most recent times, — Forcellini, Freund, Leverett, Damm, Bailey, Johnson, Webster,– whatever be their merits in other respects, stand upon this sceptical and trifling stage in etymology, how can we wonder if etymology has received a bad name, and if an argument based on etymology would be, by nine educated persons out of ten, conceived to rest on shifting sand ?
This prejudice against the etymological comparison of languages rests on so long an experience, and has taken such firm root, that it will probably take a very long time to eradicate it, although the altered method which has produced what we are justified in calling with Dr. Max Müller a Science of Language is not a creation of yesterday. But this we may very safely assert, that no event has yet occurred in this country so calculated to induce a juster view of linguistic studies than the delivery by Dr. Max Müller, before the Royal Institution, of the series of Lectures on the Science of Language which we have put at the head of our Paper. The combination of profound learning on the subject in hand, remarkable dexterity in seizing on the aptest illustrations from every department of the wide field he surveys, a well-stored mind on other subjects of human learning, a masterly intellect trained to sift evidence and trace effects to their causes, and withal an enthusiasm that would carry the reader lightly over the driest flats, and a geniality and sprightliness truly surprising, - this combination not only makes Dr. Max Müller a delightful lecturer and writer, but ensures for the science to which he chiefly devotes his great powers an acknowledgment and an interest for which it might have had long to wait. An Englishman, moreover, will willingly allow a foreigner to be an authority on the subject of language in general who has given such practical proof of his linguistic talent by the wonderful facility with which he wields the English tongue. His style is remarkable not only for its pleasant perspicuity, but for its racy English character and its freedom from even any suspicion of foreign idiom.
It was, however, this very etymological comparison of languages, the abuse of which by the empirical and sceptical school had brought etymology into contempt, which gave birth to the new Science of Language. A principle had been established which threw a new light on the subject, and gave a direction to the researches of linguists which led them to ever-expanding discoveries. This was the separation of the two elements of words, root and inflexion, and the discovery consequent thereupon that it is the inflexional system which stamps upon a language its peculiar character, and therefore determines its affinities. To the study of the Semitic dialects we doubtless owe this most fruitful discovery; for in them the identity of the inflexions, and of the whole grammatical system, is far more striking than the affinity of the roots, which, indeed, in many instances diverge very remarkably between the more distant members of the family. And Hervas (in his Catalogo, 1800) “proved, by a comparative list of declensions and conjugations, that Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, and Amharic, are all but dialects of one original language, and constitute one family of speech, the Semitic.” Having once convinced himself of this principle on the field of the Semitic languages, he proceeded to apply it with success to other languages; and so we are told “he even pointed out that the terminations of the three genders in Greek os, ē, on, are the same as the Sanskrit us, a, am.
This seems to us the life-giving principle of the modern science of language; and to the collection of vocabularies of all attainable languages of the world, for the purpose of comparison, suggested by Leibniz, and realised in the Vocabulary of the Empress Catherine, and the Mithridates of Adelung, we should assign a very secondary importance. Those vocabularies, indeed, give a most valuable, nay indispensable, store of subject-matter; but the larger the matter to be analysed, the more pressing is the need of a principle to guide the analysis. That Leibniz had discovered the principle which Hervas uses, does not appear; and we therefore, differing from Müller, prefer to regard Hervas as the father of comparative grammar. Yet in the works of Hervas, the Empress Catherine, and Adelung,
• Languages seemed to float about like islands on the ocean of human speech; they did not shoot together to form themselves into larger continents. This is a most critical period in the history of every science, and if it had not been for a happy accident, which, like an electric spark, caused the floating elements to crystallize into regular forms, it is more than doubtful whether the long list of languages and dialects enumerated and described in the works of Hervas and Adelung could long have sustained the interest of the student of languages. This electric spark was the discovery of Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the ancient
language of the Hindus. It had ceased to be a spoken language at least 300 B.C.”
That which gave to Sanskrit this high importance was mainly the fact that the languages of Europe, whose relation to one another had either never been perceived or not thoroughly comprehended, stood at once in an intelligible relation to Sanskrit: the latter was the missing link which united them all. Consequently Sir William Jones, who died in 1794, writes: “No philologer could examine the Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which perhaps no longer exists. There is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and Celtic had the same origin with the Sanskrit. The old Persian may be added to the same family.” The Sanskrit scholars have often been accused of exalting unduly the importance of Sanskrit by treating it as the primitive language of the Aryan family, rather than as collateral with the Greek, Latin, Gothic, and Slavonic. The accusation appears to us eminently unjust : Bopp and Pott generally, indeed, use the Sanskrit form of root as the oldest attainable, but frequently show reason for believing the Sanskrit form to be a corrupted one, and for adopting a Zend or a Greek form as more primitive. We notice the point here for the purpose of calling attention to the surprising correctness of the position assigned by Sir W. Jones, at a period when Sanskrit was not yet known in Europe at all, to the Sanskrit in reference to the languages of Europe. But in Europe scholars were puzzled and unwilling to accept the newly-discovered language.
“No doubt it must have required a considerable effort for a man brought up in the belief that Greek and Latin were either aboriginal languages or modifications of Hebrew, to bring himself to acquiesce in the revolutionary doctrine that the classical languages were intimately related to a jargon of mere savages; for such all the subjects of the Great Mogul were then supposed to be. .... The most absurd arguments found favour for a time, if they could only furnish a loophole by which to escape from the unpleasant conclusion that Greek and Latin were of the same kith and kin as the language of the black inhabitants of India. The first who dared boldly to face both the facts and the conclusions of Sanskrit scholarship was the German poet, Frederick Schlegel. .... He published in 1808 his work on the Language and Wisdom of the Indians. ...... Schlegel was not a great scholar. Many of his statements have proved erroneous; and nothing would be easier than to dissect his essay and hold it up to ridicule. But Schlegel was a man of genius; and when a new science is to be created, the imagination of the poet is wanted even more than the accuracy of the scholar. It surely required somewhat of poetic vision to embrace with one glance the languages of India, Persia, Greece, Italy, and Germany, and to rivet them together by the simple name of Indo-Germanic.
This was Schlegel's work ; and in the history of the intellect it has truly been called the discovery of a new world.'”.
A“poetic vision,” however, such as that ascribed to Schlegel, may just as easily behold a scheme which is the creation of its own imagination as a real prospect; and, by enduing the former with all the appearance and the charm of nature, may become the source of error and wasted labour to future scientific inquirers. It was Schlegel's good fortune, quite as much as his intellectual merit, that he was here striking out a path of truth; but this was first proved by subsequent scientific inquirers : by Grimm in his German Grammar; Pott in his Etymological Researches on the Domain of the Indo-Germanic Languages; Pritchard On the Eastern Origin of the Celtic Nations; and Bopp in his Comparative Grammar. It is the combined result of these inquirers which enables us to speak of a science of language in a higher and a stricter sense than the term could have been used in earlier days. Let us endeavour to indicate how the study of languages has become scientific.
The Aryan family of languages (formerly called Indo-Germanic) is the most important family of inflecting languages. By this is meant that the various modifications of time, person, number, gender, fact or potentiality, or degree of comparison, which may attach to the various notions of which speech is composed, are expressed by modifications of the notional words themselves, not by distinct words; and these modifications, generally consisting of syllables or letters added at the end, have no acknowledged separate existence, nor any signification apart from the root, which likewise lives only in union with them. Thus in Latin ama-t, ama-vi-t, ama-vera-t, ama-t-ur, duru-s, dur-ior. As the purpose for which languages are compared is to discover the mode of their formation, it is obviously essential that the oldest attainable form of each should be used; and hence the Gothic may stand as the representative (in most respects) of the whole Germanic family, the Old Norse as that of the Scandinavian family, the Church Slavonic as that of the modern Slavonic dialects, the Russian, Polish, Bohemian, and Illyrian. The modern languages which have but little of this inflexional character, as the English, have reached this stage from a previous stage of inflexion, as can in every instance be proved. The older languages of this family-Sanskrit, Zend, Old Persian, Greek, Latin, Gothic, Old Norse, Church Slavonic, and Armenian-are, without exception, highly inflecting languages; and, indeed, it is only very few even of the modern to which, if studied entirely apart from their historical development, we could possibly have hesitated to apply the same epithet-to wit, chiefly the English, Dutch, Celtic, and New Persian. The Aryan languages, then,
he modern tot we could pthe English,
being obviously inflecting languages, there are two elements to be compared by the comparative grammarian,—the root and the inflexion. The pioneers of the science, Bopp and Pott, found the surest term of comparison to be the inflexion. It very soon became a received axiom that the unity of inflexional system presents the true evidence of the unity of origin of what we now call the Aryan family.
The stock of roots possessed by the various languages of the family is by no means identical; many original roots, found in the older languages, have become obsolete in the later ones; and many, of which there are only slight traces in the earlier, have become important and prolific in the later. Thus, as the répertoire of roots in no one language is absolutely coextensive with that in another, the extreme case is at least conceivable in which, despite the common origin, two languages should possess no roots in common. Yet the similarity of the inflexional system would prove the common origin of even two such languages as these ; for although words may be imported from a foreign tongue in any numbers, yet as soon as they become naturalised they are compelled to submit to the inflexional system of the language that borrows them: thus we form the plural of portico porticoes, not portici; and we say oration, orations, not oratio, orationes. There is no example of the transference of a system of inflexions, and only very rare and peculiar cases of that of a few isolated inflexions from one language into another. To the inflexions, then, as affording the most reliable means of comparison between languages, the most scrupulous attention was directed. The following are the most important results obtained from the study of them. Anomalies of inflexions, and plurality of declensions or conjugations, are greatly reduced, and tend ultimately to disappear through the comparison of the various related languages. Our grammars tell us of three declensions in Greek and five in Latin, and we are left to wonder why the one language has thus split itself into three or five, adopting a plurality of methods for the expression of one relation. As this appearance of eccentricity or diversity encourages the ever-ready conception of the caprice of language, so the discovery that this diversity is the product of an earlier unity contributes a most important element towards the establishment of a science of language. This discovery is entirely the work of comparative grammar: until comparative grammar teaches us that déyw, Xényeus, Véyel, stands for Mér-wue, Méry-col, déry-eti, we shall never think of regarding that conjugation as identical with that of ļo-uí, eis (for ļo-ov), éo-tí; and when the inflexion of the Latin dative singular is discovered to be i, ulli ceases to be a merc uninstructive anomaly, and becomes as genuine a repre