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It showed that the Sanskrit was intimately related to the Greek, Latin, and most of the European languages, not as their parent, but as a sister in the same family. And as the modern Italian, French, Spanish, and other Romance languages are sisters, derived from the Latin as their parent, so the Sanskrit, with its affiliated tongues, must have had a common parent. When this was ascertained, " all languages,” says Müller, "seemed to fall of themselves into their right position;" i. e., they all took their places as members of groups having natural relations to each other. The classification, however, is not complete, there being some languages, as, for instance, the Chinese, respecting which philologists differ in opinion as to the place they should occupy.
Languages are comprehended, as is well known, by philologists under three general families — the Aryan, the Semitic, and the Turanian. My limits do not permit, nor does my object require, more than a bare enumeration of the different branches of these several families, with a' mention of the geographical limits to which they properly belong.
1. The ARYAN * family, or, as it is frequently
* By some, Arian. Both forms are found in Muller's writings. The Sanskrit has Arya. It is the same as the Arioi of Herodotus and other Greek writers.
called, the INDO-EUROPEAN, the former * being the most ancient name by which the ancestors of this family distinguished themselves" (Müller), the latter indicating the geographical extent of the family in Asia and Europe. The former is the shortest, and contains a valuable historical reminiscence; the latter shows at a glance the localities where it is to be found. It is subdivided into two groups — the northern or European, and the southern or Asiatic.
At the head of the Asiatic group we, of course, place the Sanskrit with its dialects, the old Pali, and the Prakrit, ancient and modern, including the Bengali, the Hindi, the Punjaubi, and, according to some, the Urya, Marathi, and Guzerathi. Coming further west we find the languages of Afghanistan, Bokhara, Kurdistan, Media, Persia, Armenia, and some others, extending to the Black and Mediterranean Seas. The European group embraces the Greek, the Latin, the Sclavonic including the Lithuanian, the Germanic, and the Celtic, with the various dialects derived from them.
II. The SEMITIC family, so called because spoken mostly among the descendants of Shem. This has usually been subdivided into three branches — the Hebrew, the Aramaic, and the Arabic.
The Hebrew – now a dead language - was spoken in Palestine from or before the days of Moses to
the time of Nehemiah and the Maccabees, when it was replaced by the Chaldee or Aramaic. The language of the Phænicians and Carthaginians belonged to this branch.
The Aramaic consists of the Syrian (ancient and modern) and the Chaldean, the geographical limits of which are Syria, Mesopotamia, and part of Babylonia. Here are classed the dialects of the Assyrian and Babylonian ruins, written in the cuneiform or arrow-shaped characters. · The Arabic had for its original seat the Arabian
peninsula. Here it is still spoken by a compact mass of aboriginal inhabitants, and the ancient inscriptions there (Himyaritic) testify to its early presence. In its more modern form, it has spread over Egypt and the northern coast of Africa, and is largely spoken in Turkey and Persia — indeed, wherever the Mohammedan religion has extended.
There is a fourth group of languages, which by many are assigned a place in the Semitic family, but by others are established as a distinct family by themselves, called The HAMITIC, from the Egyptian, — its most important member, – supposed to
have been spoken by the descendants of Ham. ... This also is subdivided into three branches – the
Egyptian — which was an older form of the modern Coptic, — the Ethiopian, the Libyan, or Berber, exe tending along the northern coast of Africa, and the Hottentot, embracing the dialects of tribes at the southern extremity of the continent. This family of languages present many analogies with the Semitic. Both the Egyptian and Babylonian, says Müller, " though clearly marked with a Semitic stamp, represent two scions of the Semitic stem, which branched off at a period of history so early, or rather so long before the beginning of all history, that they may be considered as independent colonies, rather than as constituent parts of the kingdom of Shem. The same remark applies to Semitic tribes in the north of Africa, the number and extent of which is almost daily increased by the researches of African travelers and missionaries." * .
III. The third family of languages is the TURANIAN. The name is derived from Tur, who, in an old Persian legend, was one of the three brothers from whom, it is said, the races of mankind are descended. Irej, another brother, was the founder of the race of Iran, i. e., the native Persians; Tur, of the Turans, their neighbors on the north-east, between which two races was an incessant warfare.t It comprises all the languages of Asia and Europe not included in the two preceding families, except,
* Languages spoken at the Seat of War, p. 23. 1 Whitney, Language, etc., p. 325.
perhaps, the Chinese and its dialects. These are divided into two classes — the northern and southern. The first comprises the Tungusic, Mongolic, Turkic, Samoyedic, and Finnic, and occupies the regions to the north and west of China, as far as the Euxine and Mediterranean. To this division belong also the dialects of the Lapps and the Finns of Northern Europe, and the Magyars of Hungary. Its limits have been greatly extended in modern times by the conquests of the Turks, thus encroaching on the original territories of the Semites and the Aryans. The southern division comprises the Gangetic, i. e., the Thibetian and other dialects called Trans-Himmalayan and Sub-Himmalayan; the Taic, or the dialects of Siam ; the Lohitic, i. e., dialects of Assam, Arakan, Burmah, and some others; the Malayic, comprising the languages of the Malayan peninsula and the Polynesian Islands; and the Tamulic, or the languages of Southern India, as the Canarese, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and other minor dialects.*
* Müller, Sci. of Lang. vol. i. p. 398. For the last mentioned group, see likewise Caldwell's Comp. Grammar of the Dravidian Languages. But Professor Muller is the authority for the general classification and arrangement of this southern group, as well as for that of the northern. In regard to the last-mentioned group, the Tamulic, faithfulness to the subject requires me to add particularly, that the affiliation of those dialects with the Scythian or