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Marathi, Colebrooke asserts that nine-tenths of the Hindi may be traced back to Sanskrit.
But though the vocabularies of the northern languages are mainly Sanskrit, the structure is in some important points Turanian. Dr. Caldwell thus enumerates the principal particulars in which the grammar of the North Indian idioms accords with that of the Dravidian languages :
(1.) The inflexion of nouns by means of separate post-fixed particles ; (?), the inflexion of the plural by annexing to the unvarying sign of plurality the same suffixes of case as those by which the singular is inflected ; (3), the use of a dative or dative accusative in Ko' or 'Ku :' (4), the use in several of the northern idioms of two pronouns of the first person plural, the one including, the other excluding the party addressed ; (5) the use of postpositions, instead of prepositions ; (6), the formation of verbal tenses by means of participles ; (7), the position of the governing word after the governed.'
The Turanian element in the northern languages has not yet been sufficiently investigated. Max Mul
“ Hervas was told by Missionaries that in the middle of the eighteenth century the Araucans used hardly a single word which was not Spanish, though they preserved both the grammar and the syntax of their own native speech.” † Part Second of Muir’s Sanskrit Texts contains much interesting information on the changes which Sanskrit passed through. But a complete history of the Turanian element seems still wanting. Unquestionably North India was occupied by Turanian tribes before the Aryan invasions. Dr. Caldwell seems inclined to believe that they belonged to a later immigration. « The differences which appear to exist between the Dravidian languages and the Scythian under-stratum of the northern vernaculars induce to incline to the sup
* Dravidian Comparative Grammar, p. 40. + Science of Language, p. 77.
position that the Dravidian idioms belong to an older period of the Scythian speech.” * Dr. Wilson of Bombay considers that this is certainly the case with regard to the Marathi.
The whole subject presents an interesting field of inquiry.
Aim at accurate Pronunciation.—It is very undesirable that the Cockney, the Scot, or the Irishman, should be distinctly apparent in the language used. The natives attach great importance to pronunciation; in poetry they look more to the sound than the sense. In general they are too polite to laugh at a Missionary's foreign accent in his presence ; but occasionally they amuse themselves by mimicking him when they leave. This must be destructive of serious impression. On the other hand, as Arthur remarks, correct pronunciation will command such respect that sometimes it will be whispered, “ he has a Brahman's mouth.”
The pronunciation first acquired is of vast importance, for generally it sticks to a man for life. This is the grand objection to studying the vernacular in England or during the voyage, except under a first-rate native teacher. There is scarcely a single European Missionary, except perhaps some who acquired the vernaculars in their childhood, who pronounces every word with perfect accuracy. To learn from a European is to copy from a copy. Hindus studying English under Germans are doubly liable to mistakes. Till he arrives in India, the young Missionary had better confine himself to theology and works bearing on the history, customs, religion, &c., of the country.
Get a munshi whose own pronunciation is accurate. There are differences in this respect.
Distinguish carefully the various classes of letters, labials, dentals, cerebrals, &c. Ascertain exactly the position of the tongue, &c., in pronouncing them. This often makes all the difference. Consult a European who knows the language well ; he will frequently be of more help than the munshi, as most men of his class are very indifferent teachers. It would be well to have a series of easy lessons, beginning with short words in which the letters sound exactly as in English, then words with labials, next dentals, &c.
* Dravidian Comparative Grammar, p. 70.
Make the munshi repeat the sounds again and again, before your pronounce them. Learn the pronunciation from him; do not attempt to combine the letters yourself. When your ear has become familiar to the sound, try to imitate it.
For a little at first, study only with the munshi. Cotton remarks, “If a man reads for an hour with a teacher and then goes on attempting to pronounce the words by himself for the rest of the day, he will invariably acquire a false pronunciation, unless he is so throughly established in a correct pronunciation that there is no danger of his losing it, and then indeed abundant exercise of his tongue, when alone, will be of the utmost use, but this at first is ruinous."
Learn much by the ear. - Persons who spend most of their time in reading, recognise words more by their looks than their sounds. They are unable often to make out what is said to them, and complain that the people speak too fast. By learning by the ear, not only is this difficulty overcome, but often the words are impressed upon the memory by association with some circumstance.
Master thoroughly whatever you learn.-It is a common but injurious mistake to go over the ground too rapidly. By the help of a dictionary a person reads perhaps several hundred pages in a few months; but the words are forgotten almost immediately. If a Missionary IMITATE A CHILD, he will progress rapidly, with satisfaction to himself. With industry, this is perhaps the great secret of success.
A child first acquires two or three words, most in requisition, and uses them. His vocabulary very gradually extends with his wants. It has been found on enquiry that an uneducated English peasant does not use more than 300 words. But however limited his stock, it is under perfect command. Let the Missionary first learn to pronounce correctly three or four words, as water, salt, bring, take, which he can turn to daily account, and let him invariably use them when he can. Every new word and idiom should be entered on a List and revised continually. Each should come as freely as an English term, and be instantly recognised when heard.
Guard against unidiomatic sentences -- Each single word may be accurate in itself, but the whole sentence, a close rendering of the English, may be unintelligible. A Tamil boy who has learnt a little English will say, “ If you see this, that's good.” Even when the meaning may be made out, the form will be distasteful to a native. Europeans are so apt to fall into this mistake, that Missionary Bengali or Tamil has become proverbial. Translations made from the English by natives are, to a large extent, faulty in the same manner. Avoid at first, therefore, all books translated from the English. It is best, on the whole, to get a munshi acquainted only with the vernacular. He will speak more idiomatically, and be better able to correct your mistakes. You will also be compelled to speak to him in the language you are acquiring. Do not attempt at first to construct sentences yourself
. Collect short idiomatic sentences, framed entirely by natives, containing the words you have acquired. After a time you can form new combinations yourself.
Test your progress from the commencement.-Put little or no trust in what your munshi tells you about the accuracy of your pronunciation. In many cases he will allow you to commit numberless mistakes to save himself the trouble of correcting you, and to keep you in good humour. That your servants can make out your meaning, is no satisfactory proof that you speak correctly. The negro English of the West Indies can be understood. A native of average intelligence, who is an entire stranger to you, is the best test. If he stare inquiringly when you speak, do not accuse him of not knowing his own language ; if you cannot make him out, do not say that he speaks too fast. Your vanity will be less wounded at first by experimenting upon a child. But you must try strangers, for those around you will get accustomed to your mode of speech. Consult your native assistants and European brethren about the mistakes you are most apt to commit; the words you chiefly mispronounce. Receive their criticism in a kindly spirit, and you may profit much by their advice.
Aim first at the acquisition of the spoken language.-A Missionary might as well address unlettered English peasants in the language of the “ Rambler” as make use of the usual book style in India in speaking to the people. A Civilian, weil known in North India, wrote as follows :
“ Missionaries lose a fearful amount of time and energy in what they call studying the language, instead of almost from the beginning mixing freely with the people, and the vernacular classes of their schools, and picking up the language virâ voce, as spoken by those around thein. How many Missionaries are there who after two or three years of this book labour know in reality hardly anything of the idiomatic colloquial, which, after all, is nearly all that most of them will want, and without which they can hardly expect to do any good !!! *
It is necessary to mix much with the people, because if you hear only the munshi talk, you may understand him, while you cannot make out others.
Study the laws of Derivation. The Indian languages are in general copious; but the number of roots is not very large. Carefully ascertain how compounds
* Calcutta Christian Observer for 1858, p. 88.