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of no importance whatever. Sound etymology has nothing to do with sound. We know words to be of the same origin which have not a single letter in common, and which differ in meaning as much as black and white. Mere guesses, however plausible, are completely discarded from the province of scientific etymology. What etymology professes to teach is no longer merely that one word is derived from another, but how to prove, step by step, that one word was regularly and necessarily changed into another. As in geometry it is of very little use to know that the squares of the two sides of a rectangular triangle are equal to the square of the hypotenuse, it is of little value in etymology to know, for instance, that the French larme is the same word as the English tear. Geometry professes to teach the process by which to prove that which seems at first sight so incredible; and etymology professes to do the same. A derivation, even though it be true is of no real value if it cannot be proved, which happens not unfrequently, particularly with regard to ancient languages, where we must often rest satisfied with refuting fanciful etymologies, without being able to give anything better in their place. It requires an effort before we pletely free ourselves from the idea that etymology must chiefly depend on similarity of sound and meaning; and in order to dispose of this prejudice effectually, it may be useful to examine this subject in full detail.
If we wish to establish our thesis that sound etymology has nothing to do with sound, we must prove four points:
1. That the same word takes different forms in different languages.
2. That the same word takes different forms in one and the same language.
3. That different words take the same form in different languages.
4. That different words take the same form in one and the same language.
In order to establish these four points, we should at first confine our attention to the history of modern languages, or, as we should say more correctly, to the modern history of language. The importance of the modern languages for a true insight into the nature of language, and for a true appreciation of the principles which govern the growth of ancient languages, has never been sufficiently appreciated. Because a study of the ancient languages has always been confined to a small minority, and because it is generally supposed that it is easier to learn a modern than an ancient tongue, people have become accustorned to look upon the so-called classical languages
Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin - as vehicles of thought more pure and perfect than the spoken or so-called vulgar dialects of Europe.
We are not speaking at present of the literature of Greece or Rome or ancient India, as compared with the literature of England, France, Germany, and Italy. We speak only of language, of the roots and words, the declensions, conjugations, and constructions peculiar to each dialect; and with regard to these, it must be admitted that the modern stand on a perfect equality with the ancient languages. Can it be supposed that we, who are always advancing in art, in science,
in philosophy, and religion, should have allowed language, the most powerful instrument of the mind, to fall froin its pristine purity, to lose its vigor and nobility, and to become a mere jargon ? Language, though it changes continually, does by no means continually decay; or, at all events, what we are wont to call decay and corruption in the history of language is in truth nothing but the necessary condition of its life. Before the tribunal of the Science of Language, the difference between ancient and modern languages vanishes. As in botany aged trees are not placed in a different class from young trees, it would be against all the principles of scientific classification to distinguish between old and young languages. We must study the tree as a whole, from the time when the seed is placed in the soil to the time when it bears fruit; and we must study language in the same manner as a whole, tracing its life uninterruptedly from the simplest roots to the most complex derivatives. He who can see in modern languages nothing but corruption or anomaly, understands but little of the true nature of language. If the ancient languages throw light on the origin of the modern dialects, many secrets in the nature of the dead languages can only be explained by the evidence of the living dialects. Apart from all other considerations, modern languages help us to establish by evidence which cannot be questioned the leading principles of the science of language.
They are to the student of language what the tertiary, or even more recent formations, are to the geologist. The works of Diez, his “ Comparative Grammar of the Romanic
Languages" and his “ Lexicon Comparativum Linguarum Romanarum,” are as valuable in every respect as the labors of Bopp, Grimm, Zeuss, and Miklosich; nay, they form the best introduction to the study of the more ancient periods of Aryan speech.. Many points which, with regard to Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, can only be proved by inductive reasoning, can here be, settled by historical evidence.
In the modern Romance dialects we have before our eyes a more complete and distinct picture or repetition of the origin and growth of language than anywhere else in the whole history of human speech. We can watch the Latin from the time of the first Scipionic inscription (283 B. c.) to the time when we meet with the first traces of Neo-Latin speech in Italy, Spain, and France. We can then follow for a thousand years the later history of modern Latin, in its six distinct dialects, all possessing a rich and well-authenticated literature. If certain forins of grammar are doubtful in French, they receive light from the collateral evidence which is to be found in Italian or Spanish. If the origin of a word is obscure in Italian, we have only to look to French and Spanish, and we shall generally receive some useful hints to guide us in our researches. Where, except in these modern dialects, can we expect to find a perfectly certain standard by which to measure the possible changes which words may undergo both in form and meaning without losing their identity ? We can here silence all objections by facts, and we can force conviction by tracing, step by step, every change of sound and sense from Latin to French;
whereas when we have to deal with Greek and Latin and Sanskrit, we can only use the soft pressure of inductive reasoning.
If we wish to prove that the Latin coquo is the same word as the Greek pépto, I cook, we have to establish the fact that the guttural and labial tenues, k and p, are interchangeable in Greek and Latin. No doubt there is sufficient evidence in the ancient languages to prove this. Few would deny the identity of pénte and quinque, and if they did, a reference to the Oscan dialect of Italy, where five is not quinque but pomtis, would suffice to show that the two forms differed from each other by dialectic pronunciation only. Yet it strengthens the hands of the etymologist considerably if he can point to living languages and trace in these exactly the same phonetic influences. Thus the Gaelic dialect shows the guttural where the Welsh shows the labial tenuis. Five in Irish is coic, in Welsh pimp. Four in Irish is cethir, in Welsh petwar. Again, in Wallachian, a Latin qu followed by a is changed into p. Thus, aqua becomes in Wallachian apà ;ew, épi; quatuor, patru. It is easier to prove that the French même is the Latin semet ipsissimus, than to convince the incredulous that the Latin sed is a reflective pronoun, and meant originally by itself.
Where, again, except in the modern languages, can we watch the secret growth of new forms, and so understand the resources which are given for the formation of the gramınatical articulation of language ? Everything that is now merely formal in the grammatical system of French can easily be proved to have been originally substantial; and after