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Italian, Sanskrit and Greek, Hebrew and Arabic. This will be more clearly seen after we have examined the principles of what I call the Morphological Classification of human speech.
Morphological Classification. As all languages, so far as we can judge at present, can be reduced in the end to roots, predicative and demonstrative, it is clear that, according to the manner in which roots are put together, we may expect to find three kinds of languages, or three stages in the gradual formation of speech.
1. Roots may be used as words, each root preserving its full independence.
2. Two roots may be joined together to form words, and in these compounds one root may lose its independence.
3. Two roots may be joined together to form words, and in these compounds both roots may lose their independence.
What applies to two roots, applies to three or four or more. The principle is the same, though it would lead to a more varied subdivision.
Radical Stage. The first stage, in which each root preserves its independence, and in which there is no formal distinction between a root and a word, I call the Radical Stage. Languages while belonging to this first or Radical Stage have sometimes been called Monosyllabic or Isolating.
Terminational Stage, The second stage, in which two or more roots coalesce to form a word, the one retaining its radical independence, the other sinking down to a mere termination, I call the Terminational Stage. The languages belonging to it have generally been called agglutinative, from gluten, glue.
Inflectional Stage. The third stage, in which roots coalesce so that neither the one nor the other retains its substantive independence, I call the Inflectional Stage. The languages belonging to it have sometimes been distinguished by the name of amalgamating or organic.
The first stage excludes phonetic corruption altogether.
The second stage excludes phonetic corruption in the principal root, but allows it in the secondary or determinative elements.
The third stage allows phonetic corruption both in the principal root and in the terminations.
Transitions from one stage to another. It is perfectly true that few languages only, if we can trace their history during any length of time, remain stationary in one of these stages. Even Chinese, as has been shown by Dr. Edkins, exhibits in its modern dialects traces of incipient agglutination, if not of inflection. The Ugric languages show the most decided traces of phonetic corruption, and in consequence clear tendencies toward inflexion, while the modern Aryan languages, such as French and English, avail themselves of agglutinative expedients for contriving
i Thus, to quote Professor Hunfalvy, sydäm, heart, in Finnish has been changed to syöm, in Vogul, to sim, in Hungarian to szüv and szü. The Ostjak. jāgot, bow, is jaut and jajt in Vogul., jout-se in Finnish, ij and iv in Hungarian. The Ostjak. kauh, kouh or keu, stone, is kav or kär in Vogul., kivi in Finnish, kö in Hungarian.
new grammatical forms. So far I quite agree with Professor Hunfalvy, who has so strongly protested against substituting a morphological for a genealogical classification of languages. Such a substitution is impossible, and was never contemplated. The two classifications are both useful, each for its own purposes, but the genealogical classification should always be considered the more important.
Nor was it even supposed that the two classifications could run parallel. We saw how an isolating language, like Chinese, might in the end produce inflectional forms, and I hold as strongly as ever that every inflectional language must have passed through an agglutinative stage, and that this agglutination is always preceded by the isolating stage.
It should be quite clearly understood therefore that morphological similarity is no proof whatever of real historical relationship. It may indicate such relationship, but a very different kind of evidence is required in addition, to establish the common descent of languages standing on the same morphological stage. This may require some further illustration.
Chinese. In the first morphological stage every word can be called a root, before it is used as part of a sentence. This stage is best represented by Chinese, and to a certain extent by ancient Egyptian. There is no formal distinction in ancient Chinese between a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb, and a preposition. The same root, according to its position in a sentence, may be employed to convey the meaning of great, greatness, greatly, to grow, and to be great. All depends on
position, not on grammatical terminations. Thus ngờ td ni means 'I beat thee,' and ni tà ngò would mean thou beatest me.' Ngo ĝin means'a bad man;' ĝin ng would mean the man is bad.'
When we say in Latin baculo, with a stick, we should have to say in Chinese ỳ cáng?. Here might be taken for a mere preposition, like the English with. But in Chinese this ŷ is a root; it is the same word which, if used as a verb, would mean 'to employ.' Therefore in Chinese û táng means literally employ stick. Or again, where we say in English at home, or in Latin domi, the Chinese say ůd-li, úð meaning house, and li originally inside. The name for day in modern Chinese is ĝi-tse, which meant originally son of the sun 3, or, connected with the sun.
As long as every word, or part of a word, is felt to express its own radical meaning, a language belongs to the first or radical stage. As soon as such words as tse in ģi-tse, day, li in ůd-li, at home, or û in y-ćang, with the stick, lose their etymological meaning and become mere signs of derivation or of case, language enters into the second or terminational stage. And this transition from one class into another does not, as Professor Hunfalvy supposes, vitiate our division. On the contrary, it confirms it from an historical point of view.
In some respects the ancient language of Egypt, as revealed to us in the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions, may be classed with Chinese. But the points of şimilarity are chiefly negative. They arise from the absence of grammatical differentiation and articulation, and from the possibility in consequence of the same word or root being used as a substantive, adjective, verb, or adverb. But there is no trace of any material relationship between the two languages.
1 Endlicher, Chinesische Grammatik, s. 223.
Ibid., s. 339. 3 In this word tse (tseu) does not signify son; it is an addition of frequent occurrence after nouns, adjectives, and verbs. Thus, lao, old, + tser is father; neî, the interior, + tseu is wife; hiang, scent,
+ tseu is clove; hoa, to beg, + tseu, a mendicant; hi, to act, + tser, an actor.-Stanislas Julien.
Chinese stands by itself as a language which has changed very little since we know it in its most ancient literary records. Some scholars maintain that even in its earliest stage it shows signs of previous phonetic corruption. This may be so, and it seems confirmed by the evidence of local dialects. But we can hardly imagine that its grammatical simplicity, or rather its freedom from all grammar, in our sense of the word, could be due, as in the case of English, to a long-continued process of elimination of useless elements. Here we must wait for the results of further researches. The age claimed for the ancient Chinese literature seems to me as yet unsupported by any such evidence as would carry conviction to a student of Greek, Latin, or Sanskrit literature. Even if we admit that much of the ancient literature which was systematically destroyed by the Emperor of Khin, B.C. 213, may have been recovered from oral tradition and scattered MSS., we cannot claim for the works of Confucius and Lao-zze an earlier date than that of their compilers. They may contain much older materials, but they give them to us as understood in the sixth century B.C., and they too may not altogether have escaped the effects of the burning of books under the Emperor of Khin.