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England. Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Celtic, Saxon, Danish, French, Spanish, Italian, German — nay, even Hindustani, Malay, and Chinese words, lie mixed together in the English dictionary. On the evidence of words alone it would be impossible to classify English with any other of the established stocks and stems of human speech. Leaving out of consideration the smaller ingredients, we find, on comparing the Teutonic with the Latin, or Neo-Latin or Norman elements in English, that the latter have a decided majority over the home-grown Saxon terms. This may seem incredible; and if we simply took a page of any English book, and counted therein the words of purely Saxon and Latin origin, the majority would be no doubt on the Saxon side. The articles, pronouns, prepositions, and auxiliary verbs, all of which are of Saxon growth, occur over and over again in one and the same page. Thus, Hickes maintained that nine tenths of the English dictionary were Saxon, because there were only three words of Latin origin in the Lord's prayer.
Sharon Turner, who extended his observations over a larger field, came to the conclusion that the relation of Norman to Saxon was as four to six. Another writer, who estimates the whole number of English words at 38,000, assigns 23,000 to a Saxon, and 15,000 to a classical source. On taking, however, a more accurate inventory, and counting every word in the dictionaries of Robertson and Webster, M. Thommerel has established the fact that of the sum total of 43,566 words, 29,853 came from classical, 13,230 from Teutonic, and the rest from miscellaneous sources. On the
1 Some excellent statistics on the exact proportion of Saxon and Latin in various English writers, are to be found in Marsh's Lectures on the Eng. lish Language, p. 120, seq. and 181, seq.
evidence of its dictionary, therefore, and treating English as a mixed language, it would have to be classified together with French, Italian, and Spanish, as one of
the Romance or Neo-Latin dialects. Languages, howe ever, though mixed in their dictionary, can never be
mixed in their grammar. 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. This is the reason why grammar is made the criterion of the relationship and the base of the classification in almost all languages; and it follows, therefore, as a matter of course, that in the classification and in the science of language, it is impossible to admit the existence of a mixed idiom. We may form whole sentences in English consisting entirely of Latin or Romance words ; yet whatever there is left of grammar in English bears unmistakable traces of Teutonic workmanship. What may now be called grammar in English is little more than the terminations of the genitive singular, and nominative plural of nouns, the degrees of comparison, and a few of the persons and tenses of the verb. Yet the single s, used as the exponent of the third person singular of the indicative present, is irrefragable evidence that in a scientific classification of languages, English, though it did not retain a single word of Saxon origin, would have
1 “En este estado, que es el primer paso que las naciones dan para mudar de lengua, estaba quarenta años ha la araucana en las islas de Chiloue (como he oido á los jesuitas sus misioneros), en donde los araucanos apenas proerian palabra que no fuese española; mas la proferian con el artificio y órden de su lengua nativa, llamada araucana." - Hervas, Catalogo, t. i. p. 16. "Este artificio ha sido en mi observacion el principal medio de que me he valido para conocer la afinidad ó diferencia de las lenguas conocidas, y reducirlas á determinadas classes.”—Ibid., p. 23.
86 THE SCIENCE OF LANGUAGE A PHYSICAL SCIENCE.
to be classed as Saxon, and as a branch of the great Teutonic stem of the Aryan family of speech. In ancient and less matured languages, grammar, or the formal part of human speech, is far more abundantly developed than in English ; and it is, therefore, a much safer guide for discovering a family likeness in scattered members of the same family. There are languages in which there is no trace of what we are accustomed to call grammar; for instance, ancient Chinese ; there are others in which we can still watch the growth of grammar, or, more correctly, the gradual lapse of material : into merely formal elements. In these languages new principles of classification will have to be applied, such as are suggested by the study of natural history; and we shall have to be satisfied with the criteria of a morphological affinity, instead of those of a genealogical relationship.
I have thus answered, I hope, some of the objections which threatened to deprive the science of language of that place which she claims in the circle of the physical sciences. We shall see in our next lecture what the history of our science has been from its beginning to the present day, and how far it may be said to have passed through the three stages, the empirical, the classificatory, and the theoretical, which mark the childhood, the youth, and the manhood of every one of the natural sciences.
THE EMPIRICAL STAGE.
We begin to-day to trace the historical progress of the science of language in its three stages, the Empirical, the Classificatory, and the Theoretical. As a general rule each physical science begins with analysis, proceeds to classification, and ends with theory ; but, as I pointed out in my first lecture, there are frequent exceptions to this rule, and it is by no means uncommon to find that philosophical speculations, which properly belong to the last or theoretical stage, were attempted in physical sciences long before the necessary evidence had been collected or arranged. Thus, we find that the science of language, in the only two countries where we can watch its origin and history — in India and Greece — rushes at once into theories about the mysterious nature of speech, and cares as little for facts as the man who wrote an account of the camel with
out ever having seen the animal or the desert. The , Brahmans, in the hymns of the Veda, raised language
to the rank of a deity, as they did with all things of which they. knew not what they were. They addressed hymns to her in which she is said to have been with the gods from the beginning, achieving wondrous things, and never revealed to man except in part. In the Brahmaņas, language is called the
cow, breath the bull, and their young is said to be the mind of man.1 Brahman, the highest being, is said to be known through speech, nay, speech herself is called the Supreme Brahman. At a very early period, however, the Brahmans recovered from their raptures about language, and set to work with won
derful skill dissecting her sacred body. Their achieve • ments in grammatical analysis, which date from the
sixth century, B. C., are still unsurpassed in the grammatical literature of any nation. The idea of reducing a whole language to a small number of roots, which in Europe was not attempted before the sixteenth century by Henry Estienne,2 was perfectly familiar to the Brahmans, at least 500 B. C.
The Greeks, though they did not raise language to the rank of a deity, paid her, nevertheless, the greatest honors in their ancient schools of philosophy. There is hardly one of their representative philosophers who has not left some saying on the nature of language. The world without, or nature, and the world within, or mind, did not excite more wonder and elicit deeper oracles of wisdom from the ancient sages of Greece than language, the image of both, of nature and of
i Colebrooke, Miscellaneous Essays, i. 32. The following verses are pronounced by Vâch, the goddess of speech, in the 125th hymn of the 10th book of the Rig Veda: “Even I myself say this (what is) welcome to Gods and to men: “Whom I love, him I make strong, him I make a Brahman, him a great prophet, him I make wise. For Rudra (the god of thunder) I bend the bow, to slay the enemy, the hater of the Brahmans. For the people I make war; I pervade heaven and earth. I bear the father on the summit of this world; my origin is in the water in the sea; from thence 1 go forth among all beings, and touch this heaven with my height. I myself breathe forth like the wind, embracing all beings; above this heaven, beyond this earth, such am I in greatness.'' See also Atharva-Veda, iv. 30; xix. 9, 3. Muir, Sanskrit Texts, part iii. pp. 108, 150.
2 Sir John Stoddart, Glossology, p. 276.