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FUTURE AUXILIARY VERBS:
TO WHICH ARE ADDED,
1. AN ESSAY ON CERTAIN AFFIRMATIVE AND NEGATIVE
PARTICLES IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
2, AN ESSAY ON THE PROVINCIAL WORD “ SONGLE."
BY THE RIGHT HON.
SIR EDMUND W. HEAD, BART.
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
The right of Translation is reserved.
301. c. 5
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
SOME years ago I found myself discussing with an accomplished French lady the various intricacies of 6 shall” and “ will.” The result of that conversation was, that I amused myself by putting together the remarks which I had met with, or which suggested themselves, on the subject of these puzzling auxiliaries. The two chapters now laid before the reader make no pretension to originality or profound research; they owe their origin to the discussion mentioned above, and they might have been better worth reading if I had, whilst writing them, had constant access to a large philological library. For the speculations in some of the notes I must ask indulgence.
E, W. H.
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION. I DID not think it probable that this little bock would reach a second edition, for I acknowledge myself obnoxious to the spirit of the reproach, which Jack Cade addresses to Lord Say before he cuts his head off:
“ It will be proved to thy face that thou hast
men about thee that usually talk of a noun and a “ verb, and such abominable words as no Christian
can endure to hear” (Henry IV. pt. 2, act iv. “ sc. 7.) In short, I knew that minute details of verbal criticism must necessarily be tiresome and uninteresting. As it is however I have felt it my duty to do what I can to improve the work. The reader will find that the present edition is copiously illustrated by examples from Shakspere, to whose use of the future auxiliaries I have paid special attention.
I confess that I have been surprised to find how very few passages in that writer are really at variance with modern usage in the employment of “shall” and “ will;” I think that it would be difficult to select half a dozen such in the whole of the plays. Besides the quotations incorporated in the text, I have printed in an appendix (G) some few longer extracts from our great poet, which serve to show in the strongest manner the mode in which he
applied these words.
I may add that Shakspere's language has an important bearing on the question of the time when the current idiom became established in English. If Shakspere's use of “ shall” and “will” is similar to our own, then the modern usage of these verbs cannot, as Archdeacon Hare seems to have supposed, have grown up since the date of the authorised version of
the Bible. The two essays reprinted in this volume were originally published in periodicals: the first in the Cambridge Philological Museum (1833); the second in the Classical Museum (1840).
E. W. H. Toronto, Canada West,
• SHALL” AND “ WILL.”
“ They may talk as they will of the dead languages. “ Our auxiliary verbs give us a power which the “ ancients, with all their varieties of mood and “ inflection of tense, never could attain.” 1 Such are Southey's words, and I believe them to be true. The observations of a more distinguished philologist, William von Humboldt, may be quoted in confirmation of these views. Speaking of the transition from a synthetic to an analytic structure in language, he says, “ The practical convenience of ex
pressing the sense supersedes the fanciful pleasure “ originally felt in combining elementary sounds “ with their full-toned syllables, each pregnant with “ meaning. The inflected forms are broken up into “ prepositions and auxiliaries. Men sacrifice other
advantages to that of ready understanding; for “ without doubt this analytic system not only “ diminishes the labour of the intellect, but in par
The Doctor, p. 1. What may be called our “continuous present,” “I am reading,” like the Spanish “estoy leyendo,'' affords a good instance of this greater precision.
2 Verschiedenheit des Menschlichen Sprachbaues, s. 284.