« PreviousContinue »
with regard to a common origin of the Aryan and Semitic dialects; while on the contrary the analysis of the grammatical forms in either family has removed many difficulties, and made it at least intelligible how, with materials identical or very similar, two individuals, or two families, or two nations, could in the course of time have produced languages so different in form as Hebrew and Sanskrit.
But still greater light was thrown on the formative and metamorphic process of language by the study of other dialects unconnected with Sanskrit or Hebrew,
and exhibiting before our eyes the growth of those - grammatical forms (grammatical in the widest sense
of the word) which in the Aryan and Semitic families we know only as formed, not as forming; as decaying, not as living ; as traditional, not as understood and intentional : I mean the Turanian languages. The traces by which these languages attest their original relationship are much fainter than in the Semitic and Aryan families, but they are so of necessity. In the Aryan and Semitic families, the agglutinative process, by which alone grammatical forms can be obtained, has been arrested at some time, and this could only have been through religious or political influences. By the same power through which an advancing civilization absorbs the manifold dialects in which every spoken idiom naturally represents itself, the first political or religious centralization must necessarily have put a check on the exuberance of an agglutinative speech. Out of many possible forms one became popular, fixed, and technical for each word, for each grammatical category; and by means of poetry, law, and religion, a literary or po
litical language was produced to which thenceforth nothing had to be added; which in a short time, after becoming unintelligible in its formal elements, was liable to phonetic corruption only, but incapable of internal resuscitation. It is necessary to admit a primitive concentration of this kind for the Aryan and Semitic families, for it is thus only that we can account for coincidences between Sanskrit and Greek terminations, which were formed neither from Greek nor from Sanskrit materials, but which are still identically the same in both. It is in this sense that I call these languages political or state languages, and it has been truly said that languages belonging to these families must be able to prove their relationship by sharing in common not only what is regular and intelligible, but what is anomalous, unintelligible, and dead.
If no such concentration takes place, languages, though formed of the same materials and originally identical, must necessarily diverge in what we may call dialects, but in a very different sense from the dialects such as we find in the later periods of political languages. The process of agglutination will continue in each clan, and forms becoming unintelligible will be easily replaced by new and more intelligible compounds. If the cases are formed by postpositions, new postpositions can be used as soon as the old ones become obsolete. If the conjugation is formed by pronouns, new pronouns can be used if the old ones are no longer sufficiently distinct.
Let us ask then, what coincidences we are likely to find in agglutinative dialects which have become separated, and which gradually approach to a more settled
state? It seems to me that we can only expect to find in them such coincidences as Castrén and Schott have succeeded in discovering in the Finnic, Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, and Samoyedic languages; and such as Hodgson, Caldwell, Logan, and myself have pointed out in the Tamulic, Gangetic, Lohitic, Taïc, and Malaïc lan
guages. They must refer chiefly to the radical mate• rials of language, or to those parts of speech which it
is most difficult to reproduce, I mean pronouns, numerals, and prepositions. These languages will hardly ever agree in what is anomalous or inorganic, because their organism repels continually what begins to be formal and unintelligible. It is astonishing rather, that any words of a conventional meaning should have been discovered as the common property of the Turanian languages, than that most of their words and forms should be peculiar to each. These coincidences must, however, be accounted for by those who deny the common origin of the Turanian languages; they must be accounted for, either as the result of accident, or of an imitative instinct which led the human mind everywhere to the same onomatopoëtic formations. This has never been done, and it will require great efforts to achieve it.
To myself the study of the Turanian family was interesting particularly because it offered an opportunity of learning how far languages, supposed to be of a common origin, might diverge and become dissimilar by the unrestrained operation of dialectic regeneration.
In a letter which I addressed to my friend, the late Baron Bunsen, and which was published by him in his “ Outlines of the Philosophy of Universal History”1 1 These “Outlines” form vols. ii. and iv. of Bunsen's work, “ Chris
(vol. i. pp. 263–521), it had been my object to trace, as far as I was able, the principles which guided the formation of agglutinative languages, and to show how far languages may become dissimilar in their grammar and dictionary, and yet allow us to treat them as cognate dialects. In answer to the assertion that it was impossible, I tried, in the fourth, fifth, and sixth sections of that Essay, to show how it was possible, that, starting from a common ground, languages as different as Mandshu and Finnish, Malay and Siamese, should have arrived at their present state, and might still be treated as cognate tongues. And as I look upon this process of agglutination as the only intelligible means
by which language can acquire a grammatical organi7 zation, and clear the barrier which has arrested the
growth of the Chinese idiom, I felt justified in applying the principles derived from the formation of the Turanian languages to the Aryan and Semitic families. They also must have passed through an agglutinative stage, and it is during that period alone that we can account for the gradual divergence and individualization of what we afterwards call the Aryan and Semitic forms of speech.
If we can account for the different appearance of Mandshu and Finnish, we can also account for the distance between Hebrew and Sanskrit. It is true that we do not know the Aryan speech during its agglutinative period, but we can infer what it was when we see languages like Finnish and Turkish approaching more and more to an Aryan type. Such has been the advance which Turkish has made towards inflectional forms, that Professor Ewald claims for it tianity and Mankind,” in seven vols. (London, 1854: Longman), and are sold separately.
the title of a synthetic language, a title which he gives to the Aryan and Semitic dialects after they have left the agglutinative stage, and entered into a process of phonetic corruption and dissolution. “Many of its component parts," he says, “though they were no doubt originally, as in every language, independent words, have been reduced to mere vowels, or have been lost altogether, so that we must infer their former presence by the changes which they have wrought in the body of the word. Göz means eye, and gör, to see; ish, deed, and ir, to do; itsh, the interior, gir, to enter.”ı Nay, he goes so far as to admit some formal elements which Turkish shares in common with the Aryan family, and which therefore could only date from a period when both were still in their agglutina
tive infancy. For instance, di, as exponent of a past " action; ta, as the sign of the past participle of the pas
sive; lu, as a suffix to form adjectives, &c. This is more than I should venture to assert.
Taking this view of the gradual formation of language by agglutination, as opposed to intussusception, it is hardly necessary to say that, if I speak of a Turanian family of speech, I use the word family in a different sense from that which it has with regard to the Aryan and Semitic languages. In my Letter on the Turanian languages, which has been the subject of such fierce attacks from those who believe in different beginnings of language and mankind, I had explained this repeatedly, and I had preferred the term of group for the Turanian languages, in order to express as clearly as possible that the relation between Turkish
i Göttingische Gelehrte Anzeigen, 1855, p. 298.