« ÎnapoiContinuă »
tion of an idea formed by a compound sentence, he must be able to follow it out from its primitive element, through the several declarations, modifications, and restrictions made by its other members, to its completion; and to find out the share of each in the expression of the idea conveyed by the whole. He must also be able, on the other hand, to descend analytically from the complete sentence through all its branches, and, by determining the precise office of each of its members, to arrive at the simple idea which serves as a foundation to the whole. For language is properly to be regarded as a complete organic system, each part of which performs its prescribed function in connection with the rest: and the grammarian may be compared to the physiologist or the man of science, who undertakes to describe the organization of an animal or plant, or the construction of a complicated piece of machinery; such a one should not and cannot rest satisfied with a mere knowledge of the several parts and of the places they respectively occupy, but must also make himself acquainted with the peculiar powers of each, with the manner in which one operates upon another, and how they all work together to form a harmonious whole.
Thus at the very outset, and while forming the plan of his syntax, the grammarian cannot fail to discover that the task he has undertaken is one of much greater complexity and difficulty than the etymology. The latter indeed offers in itself the outlines of a plan, by means of the several parts of speech, which are to be considered and discussed independently of each other. In the syntax, on the contrary, the mechanism of language is to be viewed in operation, that is, each word must be considered with regard to the relations it bears to others and the means employed for their indication; but as these relations are of so diversified a character, and as the same form which denotes one of them is also used for many more, he finds that with whatever topic he may think to commence his exposition, the treatment of some other is necessarily presupposed, so that he is utterly at a loss where to begin and where to end. As, however, no scientific investigation can hope to be successful which is not conducted upon a plan derived from the subject itself and from the nature of the inquiry, he must settle his mode of treatment, notwithstanding these embarrassments, before proceeding further.
In the mental struggle which here ensues, and which no grammarian who seriously sets about the undertaking and is not content to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors can fail to experience, there are two opposite extremes into which he is in danger of falling. The one is, that despairing to find an internal clue to the mazy labyrinth of the various kinds of words and relations, he may content himself with some objective order presented by the etymology, and merely exhibit the relations of the several parts of speech in an unconnected manner according to their forms. The other danger he is exposed to is, that being convinced that the success and originality of his per
formance will in great measure depend on the theoretical views upon which it is based, he may adopt an arbitrary method of his own invention, one not founded on an accurate study of the organization of language, and into which the different parts of speech are introduced without regard to their classification. The former may appropriately be termed the objective, and the latter the subjective mode of
It is utterly impossible that either of these methods in the present state of philology should lead to satisfactory results. The first or objective plan will indeed facilitate the grammarian's progress by furnishing him with a regular series of topics for discussion, and will enable the learner to acquire by study a familiar acquaintance with a number of rules and facts, to which when needed he can readily refer; the student however cannot hope to obtain by it a comprehensive view of the whole language as an organic system, for such a view was not possessed by the author himself, Moreover, many important phenomena which can be brought to light by the synthetical mode of investigation alone, must thus necessarily escape the grammarian's attention, while many others must offer themselves to him in an erroneous point of view. This statement will be fully borne out by a close examination of the grammatical productions of GESENIUS, which are executed precisely on the plan here described.
The opposite method, being founded on the observation of some internal congruities, cannot fail to present many of the laws of syntactical construction in a novel, striking, and often accurate light; yet, as on the whole such a plan is rather an arbitrary creation of the author's mind than one lying in the nature of language itself, it tears many individuals of the several parts of speech from their proper connection, and thus causes him to overlook numerous important facts; at the same time it bewilders the student, who when desiring an explanation of some simple phenomenon finds himself compelled to search through the whole volume, with the doubtful expectation of meeting with it at last. The correctness of these remarks will at once be recognised by such as are acquainted with the peculiarities of EWALD'S grammatical treatises, in which these features predominate to a peculiar degree.
It became therefore perfectly evident to the author of this work, after having satisfied himself by due examination and reflection of what a truly philosophical treatment of the subject of syntax requires, that, in order to avoid the faults and imperfections of these two extremes, he must form his own plan, collect his own materials, and digest and reproduce them in such manner as to follow as closely as possible the simple and natural method pursued by language in its formation. He was convinced, moreover, that one who would succeed in discovering and expounding the laws on which the syntactical structure of a language like the Hebrew depends, must not conduct his inquiry according to preconceived notions derived from the study
of some other individual language, a source from which Hebrew grammar has already suffered so severely, nor should he even rest content with an examination merely of its cognate dialects, but must ground all his investigations on the broad principles of universal grammar. For the ideas conveyed in one language either actually are or may be expressed in another, and the same is true of the relations existing between them; so that each complete language possesses the same or similar means for denoting both these ideas and their modifications: that is, they all have notional words, consisting of names of existences concrete and abstract, of words denoting quality, quantity, action, states of being, &c.; and also relational words, or words used to signify the relations which the notional words bear to one another. The most important differences between languages arise from the variety of the modes in which these relations are indicated; but as the relations themselves are constantly the same, the modes employed in a given language for their designation must be regarded not as isolated peculiarities, but as the form under which the fundamental and all-pervading principles of human speech manifest themselves in a particular instance. Hence, after having settled his plan, the grammarian has chiefly to ascertain: 1st. what are the relations which the several parts of speech comprising the notional words may bear to each other; 2dly, in what manner are these relations indicated in the individual language under consideration; and, 3dly, what relations does each inflection or relational word denote.
The several modes employed for indicating relation may be thus described. Two or more words are used in connection which bear a certain relation to each other, and thus express an idea compounded with various modifications of those which the words separately signify, as follows: 1, the mutual relation of the words is left to be ascertained from their respective position, the genius of the language opposing the tendency to indicate each relation by a change of form or by a separate word; or, 2, the word becomes changed or inflected; or, 3, the form of the notional words is left unchanged, and their relation is pointed out by a particle consisting of a letter or word; or, 4, the desire for indicating relations with perspicuity is so great as to cause the employment of both an inflection and a particle for the purpose.
These four modes of designating relations are not employed in every language to an equal extent, neither are all or any of them confined to a single language; nor again is either of them applied exclusively to any one kind of relation or the relations of any one part of speech; on the contrary, they are all used alternately for every kind of relation in every language, although with different degrees of frequency, on which, as we have observed, the peculiar character of a language or class of languages chiefly depends. The manner of adopting these expedients in a given language has not resulted from chance or con⚫ventional agreement, but is to be ascribed to the peculiar mental and
physical conformation of the mass of the nation to whom it belongs; this being the original producing cause of all language, as well as its principal modifier after its production. And as the words themselves have an internal connection with the ideas they respectively convey, which causes such and such sounds to be chosen as the representatives of a certain idea rather than others, so too the changes or inflections which the words afterwards undergo owe their rise to a mental perception of their peculiar adaptedness for the purposes they fulfil.
But though the existence of a hidden analogy between an idea as perceived by the mind and its objective representation in sounds be acknowledged as indubitable, it is still difficult to describe precisely in what this consists; since in some instances it can only be felt or guessed at, and in others cannot be perceived at all. Notwithstanding this difficulty however, a difficulty which lies in the very nature of the subject, the connection between most ideas and the words denoting them may be reduced to the following general principles.
1. The words themselves bear an objective resemblance to the sounds produced by that which they denote, whether it be an object or an action; that is, they are produced by an endeavour to imitate inarticulate by means of articulate sounds. The number of such words in a language is much greater than would at first sight appear to be the case; because the difficulty and even impossibility frequently experienced in reproducing an articulate sound in the form of a word, causes it to be somewhat modified in the operation, and its origin thus rendered more difficult to trace. Words formed by this imitative process are called onomatopees: such are the English words rush, crash, dash; batter, clatter, bang, clang, slam; groan, growl, roar ; shriek, squeak, peep, chirp; hum, buz, mew, &c. &c.
2. Sometimes, when there can be no direct imitation as in the preceding cases, the mind still perceives an analogy between certain ideas and certain sounds, which render the latter the fit exponents of the former. This, which may be termed the symbolical mode of formation, being an entirely subjective one, can be more easily felt than described; the following examples of words thus produced will suffice: stop, stand, stay, steady, still; sleep, sloth, slow, sluggish, sly; hurry, drive, rage, tear; horror, terror, fright; ease, peace, quiet, calm, &c. &c.
To the above two principles, the imitative and symbolic, may be added two others equally productive in the creation of language: these are the analogical and synthetical.
1. The analogical principle is that by which the mind, after having arrived by one of the former methods at the representation of an idea, expresses such other ideas as are analogous thereto by similar sounds;
• See Pref. and Introd. to Vol. I., p. vii. et seqq.
and this without rendering it necessary for us to consider such words as immediately derived the one from the other in chronological order.
2. The synthetical principle, which is little more than a branch of the preceding, is that feeling which causes a compound idea to be represented by a combination either of the entire words denoting its constituent simple ideas or of the most important elements of such words: in the former case the origin of the compound may easily be traced; but in the latter it often becomes difficult and even impossible so to do. Here again it should be observed that, although this process of composition must be subsequent in point of time to the formation of the separate words, since a compound idea cannot be conceived by the mind before the simple ones of which it consists, wemust be careful not to consider this as a mere deliberate and mechanical conjunction of words; for in language every thing is an immediate emanation from the mind itself.
These four principles harmoniously coöperate in creating for every idea an external representation in the form of a word. But as ideas, and consequently the words expressing them, are not isolated existences, but are created with various relations to one another and are also constantly entering into new ones, it is necessary that there should be provided some means for indicating these relations, and among those actually employed are the grammatical inflections of words, as shown above. In endeavouring to ascertain the connection which exists between the grammatical relations of words and the means used for representing them, we find that the immediate origin of these inflections may also be referred to the three last principles which operate in the production of the words themselves, viz. the symbolical, the analogical, and the synthetical; the first or imitative process of course cannot here apply.
1. a. The effect of the symbolical principle, or that sentiment of the mind which perceives a connection to exist between ideas and sounds, although difficult to describe, may still be recognised in many instances of the inflection of nouns, attributives, &c. Thus,
a. It is clearly apparent in the manner of indicating the gender; the masculine for the most part ending in the hard sound of a consonant, and the feminine in the soft one of a vowel: compare for instance the Sanscrit feminine terminations à or ê, the Greek a or n, the Latin a, the German e, the Hebrew, the Chaldee,, the Syriac .
B. In the manner of indicating number, the extension of the idea in the plural being denoted by an increase in the length of the word, consisting of an added termination; compare the Sanscrit plural termination as, Greek es, Latin es, and the corresponding ones in the modern languages, as also the addition of the long vowel and liquid, Chaldee Arabic (Germ. en); feminine, Hebrew, Arabic. Or the symbolical increase is still more