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CL A S SI CAL AND POLITE CRITICIS M.

Of the INVENTION of LANGUAGE.

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[From Mr. GREGORY'S Essays, Historical and Moral.) HILOSOPHERS, whose cu- less and absurd undertaking: and riotity has not been active it is more natural to suppole,

that enough to overcome their aversion the consequent difperfion of manto labour, have been fond of attri- kind was the effect of diffenfions buting to a Divine revelation the occasioned by having misunderitood invention of language. This, it each other, than that they could must be confeffed, is a very concise not live together, because they did method of getting rid of the diffi- not all continue to speak the lame culty ; but fince it can only serve language. to repress the free spirit of inquiry, " The origin of language, as I hope to ttand excused if I profefs well as of mankind, is a subject nemyself discontented with this pious cessarily involved in much obscusolution, and, with no ill intention, rity. The most ancient traditions presume to extend a little farther favour the hypothesis, which demy researches.

rives languages as well as nations " It is not enough to say, that from an original or primitive stock. we have no authority from Scrip. A whimsical experiment was made ture for ascribing the invention of in Egypt, by which it was thought language directly to the Supreme to be determined, that the Phry: Being; we have its authority to gians were the most ancient people. assert, that at leait a considerable Two infants were taken from sopart of the first language was of ciety, before they had an opportuhuman production, for « Adam nity of learning any articulate gave names to the different crea- found : they were carefully obterre tures. Should the miraculous con- ed, in order to tind in what lanfusion of language at Babel be guage they would begin to exprefs adverted to, 1 reply, that it is themselves; and the first word that impossible to say what was the they pronounced was Bezos (bekos) nature of that confufion; whether the Phrygian word for bread. The it consisted in the invention of experiment was absurd, the refula new terms, or in the improper use was probably accidental, and the of the old. The miracle at Babel fact only serves to prove what were might be only a temporary confu- the opinions of the Egyptians upon tion, fufficient to let alide that use these subjects, and that they favour

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ed the hypothetis of a primitive that to force a language on a peo. language. A more decisive argu- ple, or to alter entirely, and at ment is deduced from the very once, the dialect of a country, has striking analogy that has been trac- generally been considered as a vied between the languages of na- fionary project; that the many ations the most remote from each nomalies of the Greek language, other. Herodotus, indeed, relates, though confessedly the most beauthat even at a very early period, tiful and most perfect extant, and the Scythians and the other na- the number of words which are tions of the North with the utmost evidently derived from other landifficulty understood each other, guages, make directly againtt such and that the language of one of an opinion; that, in fine, the great those nations could only be made number of particles and conjuncintelligible to another through feventions, and the variety in the ininterpreters. It is certain, notwith- flexions of the verbs, of which the standing, that many languages ap- second aorist and second future are pear almost totally different, the certainly redundancies, argue, that radicals of which are, for the most the Greek is in reality a composition part, the fame ; and, as there is no of several different dialects. reason to suppose the original lan- “ But though it be not admitted guage very copious at the first dif- that an united body of philosophers pertion of mankind, the different could, in the early stages of fcdialects would be diverging from it, ciety, meet and adapt a language in proportion as 'new inventions or to common use; there is a certain improvements demanded an aug- uniformity in the operations of the mentation of each national vocabu- human mind, which affords an aplary.

pearance of art, where nature, or “ The hypothesis, however, of oecasional convenience, have acted a primitive language will not be without regard to system. It is re. found inconlistent with the theory, marked that, in those languages which I shall endeavour to estab- which have been least corrupted by lith ; since it is my intention to de- 2 communication with others, the montirate, not only how such a radical founds are few, and the bulk language might be at first invented, of the language is plainly formed but by what means successive alte- by composition : there is an appearrations might be introduced, both ance of art, because there is an apto augment and disguise it. pearance of regularity ; but it is

“ It is the opinion of a modern the regularity of nature. The author, that a perfect language muit means which the philofopher prebe the effect of art, conitructed fers for ease, the savage adopts upon certain principles, and a pri- through the weakness of his reasonori reasoning. The Greek he af: ing powers. As ingenious proferts to be this perfect language, ječtor publiflred a plan, not many aud labours with much ingenuity to years ago, for a philosophical lanprove that it was framed by rule, guage. His plan wać, to adopt a and delivered by its inventors at few vowel sounds to denote the geonce complete for popular use. To nera, and the different species were such a conjecture (for the total to be distinguished by different want of evidence to the fact leaves modes of compofition. Who would i barely such), it may be replied ; look for the execution of this inger

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nious and systematic process at Ota- firong passion or émotion; and le heite ? Yersuch has been in a great condly, imitative sounds. measure undefigncdly the case. In « The primitive parts of speech the language of Otaheite ai ligni- appear to be, 1. Noun.

2. Verb. hes to eat, or to satisfy the first ap- 3. Interjection. The derivative, petite of human nature ; ea: ligni- 4. the adjective, 5; the pronouni, fies to copulate, or to satisfy another 6. the adverh, 7. the conjunction, appetite ; eiya signifies to catch fisk, 8. the preposition, 9. the artiaiya, to steal or rob-all of thein al. cle. luding to the fatisfaction of wants “ I, The names of sensible ob and appetites. In the fame lan- jects are derived, first, from those guage e-wai signifies water ; avai; emotions, which the perception of the foot: whence we may venture them excites, whether painful or to conclude, that the radical quaior pleasant, and the natural cries corvai fignifies fomething beneath or refpondent to them.

Secondly, under us. This kind of regularity from those founds, which accomin composition, notwithitanding the pany certain actions of nature, and variety introduced from the differ- which men, endeavouring to de ent diale&ts, is very obfervable in the scribe, would be induced to imitate; Greek, and undoubtedly induced such are buzz, murmur; of which lord Monboddo to suppose it a lan- there are numberless intances in all

languages, and particularly in the " In pursuance of what has been Greek. Thirdly, from a certain premised, and confiftently with what analogy between objects of fight is to follow, I will venture to pro- and of hearing. A craggy rock, or pose it as the basis of my theory, a rapid torrent (considered as an that language is altogether a hu- obječt of fight) affociate naturally man invention; and that the pro- with a broken and harsh found. gress of the mind, in the invention Quick and violent motion affects and improvement of language, is, the fenfes in a correspondent manby certain natural gradations, plain. ner; and, in describing it, men inly discernible in the compotition of voluntarily adopt a hasty and viowords. The first men would pro- lent enunciation, often accompanied bably make known their wants and with much action. Fourthly, (in defires, in a great measure, by in- process of time, and when language articulate founds, actions, and get- is considerably improved) from comtures ; in process of time, particu- pofition, as daily (the flower) from lar founds would be usually annex. day's eye ; nigbtingale from night, ed to particular ideas; and these and galan (to sing); with many sounds would become articulate, by more obvious, Fifthly, from conuniting two or more of them to tractions of participles, &c. as slawe gether, for instance, the thing or from daying. action with the inanner or the time “ It is highly probable, that, in in which it existed or was perform- many cases, common names have ed–Thus Do (I give) Do-di or been adopted from proper names ; Dedi (I have given).

or, in other words, the names di. “ The fources of language are, flinguishing the relations of civil first, those natural cries, which serve life, were probably at first the names to express pain or pleature, aud of individuals. Thus, in the first which gene::ly accompany, any language, the word answerable to

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our word father, was perhaps de- small difficulty in the researches of rived from the name of one of the the learned. first fathers of the tribe or family. “ The words expressing the faAcą (Anax) Bzcedeus (balileus) culties of the mind are all of them &c. were perhaps the proper names

taken from fenfible images, as dien of the founders of monarchies, as (dikê) judgment, from dis (dis) and Ptolemy and Cæfar. In a more ad- (keo) to clave in tivo. Fancy, vanced state of language, these from Partache (phantasma) &c. nouns are formed from the verbs The words applicable to bodily inodenoting the office or employment, tion also, have generally been apas rex from rexi, imperator from im- plied to the acts of the mind. A

way has always been used to ex“ The proper names of men an- press the mode of attaining one's ciently related to some peculiarity end or desire ; 79395 (poros) and us in their persons or manners, or the endos (methodos) were used in this place where they dwelt, as aceiwi sente by the Greeks. In Otaheite, (Plato) to Tatus (platus), broad, they call the thoughts, the words of from being broad - shouldered. the belly : a coveous man is called Names are common, in most parts tabata-p:rrepirre; and it should seem of Europe, originally derived from they had in their minds the idea of trees, as Joze de Perreira, i. e. fo- narrownels, or gluing and sticking to. Jeph who lives near the peir-tree. gether, when they formed the word; Men afterwards acquired names for e-pirre, we are informed, has from fome notable action or occur- that signification. rence ; such was the agnomen and

JI. After giving names to sen. frequently the cognomen of the Ro- fible objects, words were necessary

What Herodotus relates of to signify the itate in which things a people, who were without proper exist, whether as agent or patient, names, is utterly improbable. and how they act or are acted upon, “ Proper name of countries are

“ Verbs were, I doubt not, incommonly derived from the fituation vented entirely in the same manner or the productions of the foil, as as nouns, and most of them, I apa Europe from Evqus (Eurús, broad or prehend, were imitations of the extended) and art (ops, the face or founds that particular actions of naaspect).

ture produce. This analogy is still “ The names of months in Lap- retained in many languages, under land are taken from the plants or innumerable corruptions and varia. animals that appear in them, In tions in orthography and pronune Otaheite, they are derived from the ciation. characteristics of the season. The “ In the maturity of language, name of the first month (March) verbs, like nouns, are formed by means hunger and want; that of the composition. as gain-fay, i. e. to say fourth month (June) relates to an- against. gling; the eighth month (October) so III, The interjection is plainly is named from the young cocoa-nuts,

no other than the fimple inarticu. 66 The ancients used sometimes to late expression of a passion. Intertranflate proper names into their jections were more numerous in the own language ; and hence that di. Greek and most of the ancient lana verlity of names for the same place guages than they are in the mo. or perfon, which has proved no dern; and I believe they are fill

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more numerous in the very barba: ed its state into that of an adverb, rous languages. Their lignitica- as great-ly, manifef-ly, &c.

Noc tion, while they remain as pure in- that we are to suppose, that the terjections, is indefinite; but if I am augmentative fyllable was originally not mistaken, during the progress without meaning ; on the contrary, sive state of language, many words, I am of opinion, that in all lanwhich were originally mere inter- guages it is a contraction of some jections, assume a definite fignifica- word that denoted funilitude or parsion; and they prove a fruitful ticipation. Our adverbial augment fource for the augmentation of lan- ly was originally like ; as great', guage, by thus becoming in time i.e. great-like. The most common clatled among the other parts of augment in Greek ws, has a fimilar speech.

meaniny. “ ÍV. The first adjectives were 6 Potlibly what are called the probably the names of substances, primitive adverbs, and which I in which the qualities denoted by have supposed originally interjecthe adjectives were predominant; or tions, might be traced into other fome flight alteration of the name parts of speech. Certain words, might take place for distinction's which, in the French language, are fake : specimens of this kind of com- mistaken for negative particles, are polition we have in many adjectives not properly fo; nor is the rule of of modern invention, luch as beae'n universal gramm:r, that two negais, roguis, &c.

tives make an affirmatire, departed “ V. The personal and demon- from in this instance. Pas and ítrative pronouns, and particularly point have originally the sense of that of the second person, seem to nouns, and were used only to have been, in inoft languages, a strengthen the negative, as J x'irai kind of interjeétional words, possi- pas, I qvill not go a fiep. bly used by lavages even before " VII. There are some barba. proper names, It is evident, that rous languages almost without conusing the proper name would not junctions. Indeed it is plain that explain their meaning to strangers, they must have been a very late inat least mult render it very ambigu- vention, for a living author has ous. We may therefore conclude, traced mot of the English conjuncthat these interjectional expressions tions into the pronoun and the verb. ufually accompanied fome gesture, He demonstrates that the coniuncsuch as pointing to the object. tion that is no other than the neu

" The relative pronoun is de- ter article Wat of the Saxons, or rived from the demonstrative. indced our relative neuter that. If

“ VI. Adverbs fecm to be prin- is the imperative gif of the Saxon cipaily produced trom three sources. verb giran (to give). In like manFirst, from a species of interjection, ner he derives an from an, the imdenoting an impulie of the mind, as perative of anan (anan) to zraut; noce, then, l:crea net, &c. Secondly; yrt from get, the imperative of ge. from a composition of two or three tan (getan) to get; though (more words into onc, as always, evithout, properly pronounced by our clowas together, &c. Thirdly, from adjec. iba or thauf) from Sar (thaf) or tives, by adding a syllable void of dafig, the imperative of dapian or fignification itself, but which serves afgan, to allow. Lest is the particito denote that the word has chang- ple leged of lesan (leian) to dismiss

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