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WE WILL SUPPOSE that two persons are about to dispute, and that they lay down a certain book upon the table. One says,
The book is good ;' the other says, “The book is not good ;' and they proceed to argue the question.
The book is the subject, that which is laid down for discussion; and the term is derived from the Latin subjectum, literally meaning, that which is laid down.'
Concerning this subject, the quality of goodness is affirmed by one disputant, and denied by the other; and this quality of goodness is said to be predicated, that is stated' (either affirmed or denied) of the subject.
The word predicate is derived from the Latin prae-dicare, ? to show forth, proclaim, declare,' a word not to be confounded by young pupils with prae-dīcere, ' to foretell, prophesy. Hence the predicate means that which is stated,' the thing or notion affirmed or denied.'
Now the book and the quality of goodness are the things signified. One disputant says, that the book belongs to the class of things called good; the other says, that the book does not so belong. But the word "book,' and the word 'good' are signs or sounds, which, in our language, represent the thing or notion in question.
The written word is a 'sign;' the spoken word is a 'sound;' but both the sign and the sound are marks or tokens of the things signified.
In Metaphysics, this distinction is most important. For our purpose, it will be sufficient merely to indicate the distinction, and to observe that the terms subject and predicate
are, in Grammar, applied to the words themselves as they stand in a proposition.
In this sentence, The book is good,' we have a 'proposition, that is an indicative or declaratory sentence;' and it is also called an affirmative proposition,' because it affirms or says yes.'
But in the sentence, The book is not good,' we have a negative proposition ;' that is, a declaratory sentence which denies, or says no.'
In both these sentences, Logicians call the book' the subiect of the proposition, and 'good' the predicate; and they term 'is' the copula, that is the link' or 'tie' which joins the subject and the predicate together. In negative sentences, they attach the negation to the copula; thus, in the sentence The book is not good,' they make is not the copula.
In such propositions as, “The sun shines,' the Logicians say that both predicate and copula are contained in the word
shines ;' for shines' is equivalent to is shining ;' and so they analyse
Subject. Copula. Predicate.
shining Of those writers who have applied logical analysis to the grammar of a modern language, one of the most distinguished is Dr. Karl Ferdinand Becker, whose Grammar of the German Language enjoys a high reputation. In our own country, Dr. Latham has written on 'Logic in its application to Language;' but his treatise on that subject is not so extensively known as his works on the English Language.'
The principal followers of Becker, in England, are Dr. Morell and Mr. Mason ; to each of whom I have to acknowledge many obligations, though I am often at variance with both, in theory and in detail. Where I am obliged to differ from them, I have endeavoured to state my views with moderation and candour.
More recently, Professor Bain, of Aberdeen, has published an English Grammar founded upon the Analysis of Sentences. This work I have consulted with advantage from time to time. Now the application of Logic to Grammar is attended with considerable difficulty. If, indeed, the logical subject and predicate were always represented, each by a single word, the application of logical terms to Grammar would be comparatively easy. But in Logic, the subject and the predicate may each be represented by several words ; thus
Subject. Copula. Predicate.
is brightly shining
.is utterly defeated. Those writers who apply Logic to Grammar have generally retained the terms subject and predicate, but with a distinction. Thus, in the sentences just given, sun '(the old-fashioned
nominative to the verb ') is called the grammatical subject ; the words the early' are then an enlargement of the grammatical subject; and so the early sun' is termed the enlarged subject. Hence it follows that 'the early sun,' which is the logical subject, is the enlarged grammatical subject. In like manner, 'army' is the grammatical subject; and 'the royal army' (the subject in Logic) is the enlarged subject in Grammar.
First, they restrict the term, and then they enlarge it; with the additional disadvantage of employing the same term (subject), in one sense in Logic, and in another in Grammar.
Similarly the grammatical predicate does not always coincide with the logical predicate; for, in some instances, the logical predicate is, in a grammatical point of view, the extended predicate.' Dr. Morell says (Grammar, p. 66), 'In grammatical analysis, it is more convenient to regard the copula as belonging to the predicate; so that, instead of having three essential elements to every sentence, as is the case in Logic, we shall have only two, namely (1) the Subject, which expresses the thing about which we are speaking; and (2) the Predicate, which contains what we affirm of the subject.' According to this view, we have, in the examples given, 'is shining,' and 'is defeated,' for the grammatical predicates; but we are further informed that the adverbs brightly' and
utterly,' are extensions of the predicate ; whence 'is brightly shining and is utterly defeated' are extended predicates.
Here, again, we observe a restriction followed by an extension,
But the difficulties presented by the Copula are not so easily surmounted. According to the more recent works on Logic, the copula is explained as merely indicating the agreement or disagreement of two terms. But in the system hitherto received, Logicians reduce every proposition to the form 'A is B' or 'A is not B;' and accordingly the verb of the predicate (or the predicate-verb, as we shall term it) is resolved into is with a participle; for example, "The sun shines' is resolved, The sun is shining.' . Further, as they maintain that an adjective or participle is not significant by itself, they tell us that some substantive must be supplied to complete the sense. Thus, ‘Thomas is wise' is explained to be Thomas is a wise man.' So, “The sun is shining' is 'The sun is a shining body,' or 'a shining substance. Hence the sentence John walks' is resolved into
John is walking,' and this is explained. John is a walking man.'
They are not, however, all agreed as to the exact form of the copula. Some of them say, that any finite part of the. verb be may be so used; others restrict the copula to the present tense indicative of that verb. According to the view taken by the latter, this sentence, 'The way of the wicked, shall be darkness,' must be resolved, The way of the wicked
is a way which shall be darkness,
(See Hill's Aldrich, p. 18.) All this seems very artificial. But further, it gives rise to numerous ambiguities; and we shall see that the word is,
innocent as it looks, is one of the most deceptive little words in the language.
First of all, the word is, apart from its use as a copula, may be employed by itself as a predicate-verb, denoting existence; for example, "God is,' that is, 'God exists. And so here :
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
Macbeth, i. 3. We find an emphatic use of is in a remarkable passage in the Winter's Tale, iv. 3, touching upon the relation of art to nature :
This is an art
The art itself is nature. Shakespeare often dwells upon the distinction between being' and seeming;' as in the dialogue between the Queen and Hamlet :
Queen. Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
Hamlet. Ay, madam, it is common.
If it be,
Hamlet, i. 2. Compare the assertion of Iago :