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This happens frequently, but by no means always. We see this process in English words like knight, (h)ring, &c.; we likewise observe it in Latin natus instead of gnatus, nodus instead of gnodus, English knot. We know that the old Latin form of locus was stlocus, thus pointing to root stâ, whence the German Stelle; we know that instead of lis, litis, quarrel, litigation, the ancient Romans pronounced stlis, which points to German Streit. In all these cases the first consonant or consonants were simply dropt. But it also happens that the double consonant, which was tolerated at first, only because it was the saving of a syllable, is lengthened again into two syllables, the two syllables seeming to require less effort than the double consonant. The Semitic languages are quite free from words beginning with two consonants without an intermediate vowel or shewa. This is, in fact, considered by Ewald as one of the prominent characters of the Semitic family;2 and if foreign words like Plato have to be naturalized in Arabic, the p has to be changed to f, for Arabic, as we saw, has no p, and an initial vowel must be added, thus changing Plato into Iflatún. We saw that the Hawaians, in adopting a word like steel, had to give up the initial s before the t, pronouncing tila or kiln. We saw that the West-African languages met the same difficulty by making two syllables instead of one, and saying suku instead of school. The Chinese, in order to pronounce Christ, have to change that name into K-lisse-tu,3 four syllables instead of one.
There are 1 Quintil. i. 4, 16. 2 Ewald, Gramm. Arabicn, i. p. 23; Pott, Elym. Forsch. ii. 66 8 Endlicher, Chinesische Grammatik, p. 22.
analogous cases nearer home. Many words in Latin begin with sc, st, sp. Some of these are found in Latin inscriptions of the fourth century after Christ spelt with an initial i : e. g. in istatuam (Orelli, 1120, A. D. 375); Ispiritus (Mai, Coll. Vat., t. v. p. 446, 8). It seems that the Celtic nations were unable to pronounce an initial s before a consonant, or at least that they disliked it. The Spaniards in Peru, even when reading Latin, pronounce estudium for studium, eschola for schola.3 Hence the constant addition of the initial vowel in the Western or chiefly Celtic branch of the Romance family; French escabeau, instead of Latin scabellum ; estame (étaim), Latin stamen; espérer, instead of Latin sperare. Then again, as it were to revenge itself for the additional trouble caused by the initial double consonant, the French language throws away the s which had occasioned the addition of the initial e, but keeps the vowel which, after the loss of the s, would no longer be wanted. Thus spada became espée, lastly épée; scala became eschelle, lastly échelle. Stabilire became establir, lastly établir, to stablish.
Now it must be clear that all these changes rest 1 See Crecelius, in Hoefer's Zeitschrift, iv. 166.
2 Richards, Antique Linguos Britannice Thesaurus (Bristol, 1753), as quoted by l'ott, E. F. ii. 67, says (after letter S): “No British word begins with , when a consonant or w follows, without setting y before it; for we do not say Syubor, snoden, &c., but Ysgubor, ysnoden. And when we borrow any words from another language which begin with an s and a consonant immediately following it, we prefix a y before such words, as from the Latin schola, ysgol; spiritus, yspryd; scutum, ysgwyd."
8 Tschudi, Peru, i. 176. Caldwell, Dravidian Comparatice Grammar, p. 170: “How perfectly in accordance with Tamil this is, is known to every European resident in Southern India, who has heard the natives speak of establishing an English iskool.” This iskool is as good as establishing for stabilire; or the Italian expressions, con istudio, per istrada, &c. • Diez, Grammatik, i. p. 224.
on principles totally distinct from those which made the Romans pronounce the same word as quatuor which we pronounce four.
The transition from Gothic fulvor to English four may properly be ascribed to phonetic corruption, but quatuor and fidvor together can only be explained as the result of dialectic variation. If we compare quatuor, téssares, písyres, and fidvor, we find a change of guttural, dental, and labial contact in one and the same word. There is nothing to show that the Greek changed the guttural into the dental contact, or that the Teutonic nations considered the labial contact less difficult than the guttural and dental. We cannot show that in Greece the guttural dwindles down to a dental, or that in German the labial is later, in chronological order, than the guttural. We must look upon guttural, dental, and labial as three different phonetic expressions of the same general conception, not as corruptions of one definite original type. The guttural tenuis once fixed in any language or dialect does not in that dialect slowly dwindle down to a dental tenuis; a dental tenuis once clearly pronounced as a dental does not in the mouth of the same speaker glide into a labial tenuis. That which is not yet individualized may grow and break forth in many different forms; that which has become individual and definite loses its capability of unbounded development, and its changes assume a downward tendency and must be considered as decay. To say wh
where growth ends and decay begins is as difficult in living languages as in living bodies; but we have in the science of language this test, that changes produced by phonetic decay must admit of a simple physio
logical explanation — they must be referable to a relaxation of muscular energy in the organs of speech. Not so the dialectic varieties. Their causes, if they can be traced at all, are special, not general, and in many cases they baffle all attempts at physiological elucidation.
I INTEND to devote to-day's Lecture to the consideration of one phonetic law, commonly called Grimm's Law, a law of great importance and very wide application, affecting nearly the whole consonantal structure of the Aryan languages. The law may be stated as follows:
There are in the Aryan languages three principal points of consonantal contact, the guttural, the den. tal, and the labial, k, t, p.
At each of these three points there are two modes of utterance, the hard and the soft; each in turn is liable to aspiration, though only in certain languages.
In Sanskrit the system is complete; we have the hard checks, k, t, p; the soft checks, c, d, b; the hard aspirated checks, kh, th, ph; and the soft aspirated checks, gh, dh, bh. The soft aspirated checks are, however, in Sanskrit of far greater frequency and importance than the hard aspirates.
In Greek we find, besides the usual hard and soft checks, one set of aspirates, X, 0, $, which are hard, and which in later Greek dwindled away into the corresponding breathings.
In Latin there are no real aspirates; their place having been taken by the corresponding breathings. The dental breathing, however, the s, is never found