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but morphologically also, and that a morphological similarity between certain languages, though it does in no way prove their common descent, indicates a common bent in the thoughts of those who speak them. I have already mentioned the grammatical distinction of gender as an important element in the formation of mythology and religion. Other elements of the same kind are the manner in which certain languages keep the radical portion of every word from phonetic corruption, while others allow it to become absorbed and almost lost. Words which display their radical elements retain a certain perspicuity, and are less liable therefore to mythological misunderstandings. Thus the Semitic languages in which the triliteral skeleton is generally clearly discernible in every word have produced less of poetical mythology than the Aryan languages. The power of forming abstract nouns, of employing compound words, of using impersonal verbs, has often to be appealed to in the interpretation of mythological and religious modes of expression.
I saw a curious instance of the almost unconscious influence which peculiarities of language may exercise on the expression of religious dogma in the case of a Mohawk who came to Oxford to study medicine, and who gave me lessons in his native language. In that language it is impossible to say the father, or the son; we must always say my, thy, or his father or son. Thus we cannot say “I believe in God, the father,' but we must say, 'I believe in God, our father.' Again, instead of saying 'I believe in God, the son,' we have to say, 'I believe in God, his son. But when we come to say “I believe in God, the Holy Ghost,' we cannot, as in English, leave the question of the procession of the Spirit from the father, or from the father and the son, an open one. We must say, either “his Holy Ghost,' or 'their Holy Ghost. That is to say, language would force a Mohawk to declare himself for the single or double procession, a question which most of us may leave to be settled by theologians by profession.
Genealogical as different from Morphological Classification.
The Aryan and Semitic languages are held together, as we saw, by the closest ties of a real genealogical relationship. They both presuppose the existence of a finished system of grammar, previous to the first divergence of their dialects. Their history is from the very beginning a history of decay rather than of growth, and hence the unmistakeable family-likeness which pervades every one even of their latest descendants. The languages of the Sepoy and that of the English soldier are, in one sense, one and the same language. They are both built up of materials which were definitely shaped before the Teutonic and Indic branches separated. No new root has been added to either since their first separation ; and the grammatical forms which are of more modern growth in English or Hindustani are, if closely examined, new combinations only of elements which existed from the beginning in all the Aryan dialects. In the termination of the English he is, and in the inaudible termination of the French il est, we recognise the result of an act performed before the first separation of the Aryan family, the combination of the predicative root AS with the demonstrative element ta, or ti; an act performed once for all, and continuing to be felt to the present day.
It was the custom of Nebuchadnezzar to have his name stamped on every brick that was used during his reign in erecting his colossal palaces. Those palaces fell to ruins, but from the ruins the ancient materials were carried away for building new cities; and, on examining the bricks in the walls of the modern city of Bagdad on the borders of the Tigris, travellers have discovered on every one the clear traces of that royal signature. It is the same if we examine the structure of modern languages. They too were built up with the materials taken from the ruins of the ancient languages, and every word, if properly examined, displays the royal stamp impressed upon it from the first by the founders of the Aryan and the Semitic empires of speech.
Degrees of Relationship. The relationship of languages, however, is not always so close. Languages may diverge before their grammatical system has become fixed and hardened by tradition or literary culture ; and in that case they cannot be expected to show the same marked features of a common descent, as, for instance, the Neo-Latin dialects, French, Italian, and Spanish.
They may have much in common, but they will likewise display an aftergrowth in words and grammatical forms peculiar to each dialect. With regard to words, for instance, we see that even languages so intimately related to each other as the six Romanic dialects, diverged in some of the commonest expressions. Instead of the Latin word frater, the French
frère, we find in Spanish hermano. There was a very good reason for this change. The Latin word frater, changed into fray and frayle, had been applied to express a brother, in the sense of a friar. It was felt inconvenient that the same word should express two ideas which it was sometimes necessary to distinguish, and therefore, by a kind of natural elimination, frater was given up as the name of brother in Spanish, and replaced from the dialectical stores of Latin by germanus. In the same manner the Latin word for shepherd, pastor, was so constantly applied to the shepherd of the souls, or the clergyman, le pasteur, that a new word was wanted for the real shepherd. Thus berbicarius, from berbex or vervex, a wether, was used instead of pastor, and changed into the French berger. Instead of the Spanish enfermo, ill, we find in French malade, in Italian malato. Languages so closely related as Greek and Latin have fixed on different expressions for son, daughter, brother, woman, man, sky, earth, moon, hand, mouth, tree, bird, &c. That is to say, out of a large number of synonymes which were supplied by the numerous dialects of the Aryan family, the Greeks perpetuated one, the Romans another. It is clear that when the working of this principle of natural selection is allowed to extend more widely, languages, though proceeding from the same source, may in time acquire a totally different. nomenclature for the commonest objects. The number of real synonymes is frequently exaggerated, and if we are told that in Icelandic, for instance, there are 120 names for island, or in Arabic 500 names for lion?,
See Letter on the Turanian Languages, p. 62.
and 1000 names for sword?, many of these are no doubt purely poetical. But even where there are in a language only four or five names for the same objects, it is clear that four languages might be derived from it, each in appearance quite distinct from the resta.
The same applies to grammar. When the Romanic languages, for instance, formed their new future by placing the auxiliary verb habere, to have, after the infinitive, it was quite open to any one of them to fix upon some other expedient for expressing the future. The French might have chosen je vais dire or je dirvais (I wade to say) instead of je dir-ai, and in this case the future in French would have been totally distinct from the future in Italian. If such changes are possible in literary languages of such long standing as French and Italian, we must be prepared for a great deal more in languages which, as I said, diverged before any definite settlement had taken place, either in their grammar or their dictionary. If we were to expect in them the definite criteria of a genealogical relationship which unites the members of the Aryan and Semitic families of speech, we should necessarily be disappointed. Such criteria could hardly be expected to exist in these languages.
But there are criteria for determining even these more distant degrees of relationship in the vast realm of speech; and they are sufficient at least to arrest for the present the hasty conclusions of those who would deny the possibility of a common origin of any languages more removed from each other than French and
i Pococke, Notes to Abulfaragius, p. 153 ; Stoddart, Glossology, p. 352. See infra, p. 438.
? See Terrien Poncel, Du Language, p. 213.