Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

duce a coincidence in three or four expressions, but never in three or four hundred.

Or does he wish to ascertain from what quarter a people may have derived the germs of civilization? He examines the words in their vocabulary which refer to domestic animals, to metals, instruments of agriculture, the productions of the earth, and other objects of a similar nature, and compares these terms with the corresponding expressions in other languages. If they be the same, or bear a close resemblance to each other, he infers that the people in question have derived their civilization from such or such a race, and he relies on this inference with the most perfect conviction of its truth. Again: terms which have reference to government, war, or legislation, and all titles of official dignity, when traced to an earlier language, indicate conquest or foreign control, and the submission in a greater or less degree of the people who have received them to those from whom they have been obtained. So, also, religious terms, the names of deities, of festivals and sacrifices, are valuable to prove, not a community of origin indeed, but the fact of intercourse between two nations, either by colony or otherwise, at some early period of their history.

It will readily be perceived, from what is here stated, how powerful an auxiliary the science of linguistic must prove, in enabling us to fill many a gap in the annals of nations, and even to carry back our investigations far beyond the period when their earliest traditions commence. As we have mentioned several of the glaring errors into which an ignorance of this science has led the unwary theorist, it may not be improper to enumerate here some of the more important discoveries, that have arisen from a correct application of its principles. The most beautiful and striking illustration of the truth of the system is found in the case of what are called the Indo-Germanic nations. Linguistic science clearly establishes the remarkable fact, that these communities are all component parts of one great race, and that the languages spoken by them are all daughters of one common parent. The Indo-Germanic stem may be traced throughout the greater part of Asia and the whole of Europe, from the island of Ceylon to the North Cape and Iceland; and under it are to be ranked the Hindoos, Persians, Afghans, Kurds, the ancient Medes, the Ossetes of Caucasus, Armenians, Slavi, Celts, Germans, Danes, Swedes, Normans, English, Greeks, Latins, and all the nations of Europe that have a Latin origin. The basis on which this affinity of nations, so widely spread, and many of them so remote from each other, is made to depend, should be regarded as any thing else but

visionary speculation. A community of origin is indicated, in the most unerring manner, as well by the primary roots as by the general structure of the languages of the different communities, and the inference which linguistic science deduces from these premises cannot by any possibility be impugned.

After establishing the point of identity of origin, linguistic science next proceeds to ascertain the order of migration, on the part of several of these communities, from a common home. Taking the Sanscrit for our standard, not because it is to be regarded as the earliest of languages, since the Zend in this respect prefers higher claims, but because our acquaintance with it is more accurate, and because the perfection of its forms affords us a surer means of judging; and comparing with this the grammatical structure and primitive roots of the earlier European tongues, we shall obtain some of the most important and interesting results. The Celts, whose language retains the rudest traces of resemblance to an Asiatic original, which, at the period of their departure from home, seems to have been itself only partially developed, will be found to have been the earliest settlers that came into Europe from central Asia, and to have been gradually driven, by successive migrations of other communities from the great eastern hive, to the remotest quarters of the west. Next in order come the German tribes; for in their early language the roots are more complete, their connection is more logical, the grammatical forms are more marked and definite; but still there is an imprint of rudeness on the latter, which plainly indicates, that, at the period of their migration, the language of their mother country was still in its infancy. Following out this principle of a gradual developement in the forms and structure of the parent tongue at home, we shall find the Slavonic tribes to have separated from the parent stem, at a still later day than the German, and to have been followed by the progenitors of the Latin race, who were themselves succeeded by those of the Greek. It is in this way that linguistic science is enabled to penetrate the darkness of distant ages, and to point out with the utmost accuracy the movements of nations long before the time of positive history.

Another remarkable illustration of the value of this science is found in the case of the Latin tongue. Almost all the terms in this language that have reference to agricultural operations and products, as well as the names of domestic animals and those in any way connected with husbandry, are plainly derived from the Greek; whereas nearly all the words that designate arms of any kind, whether defensive or offensive, or that relate in any degree to the movements of the forum and the administration

of the state, are found to be not of Greek but of foreign origin. The inference which linguistic deduces from this, is striking but undeniable; that an agricultural and peaceful race, of kindred origin with the Hellenic tribes, had spread themselves, at an early period, over the country of Latium, and were subsequently conquered by a foreign race, who established a permanent dominion over them. This agricultural community appear to have been the ancient Siculi, who colonised, at a later period, the island of Sicily, and Rome would seem to have been the early capital of this people, long before the time of its fabled foundation by Romulus.

Again; the prevalence of Semitic roots in the language of Abyssinia, clearly indicates the invasion of Africa, at a period antecedent to history, by Asiatic tribes of Semitic origin, a fact of no small importance as regards the origin of Ethiopian civilization, since it is well ascertained that the germs of improvement descended into Egypt from this latter country, along the valley of the Nile.

We have in the Russian language names for the elephant, camel, and ape, that are formed from genuine Slavonic roots. Now, as these animals do not exist in Europe, this must of itself furnish us with a strong argument in favor of the sojourn of the ancient Slavi, at an early period, in some portion of the continent of Asia. We find also, according to Remusat, Chinese words in the dialect of Constantinople, a proof, in addition to many others, of the eastern origin of the Turks, and of the long continuance, at various times, of Chinese armies in the interior of Asia. Still farther: the large number of names of places, from Ceylon as far as the Himmalayan range, which contain more or less allusion to the worship of Buddha, and the comparatively small number that refer to the religion of Brahma, prove conclusively how false is the statement of the Brahmins, when they make the system of Buddha to have been taken from their own. In like manner, an examination of the planispheres adopted by the Monguls has shown, that, of 366 constellations marked upon the same, a part have been borrowed from the Chinese, and the remainder from the Hindoos. Now, as the Monguls were among the first Tatar tribes that attained to any degree of civilization, we have here a conclusive answer to those theorists, who pretend that upper Asia was originally the seat of an early empire, where the sciences were invented, more particularly that of astronomy.

The researches made by Klaproth into the respective languages of the Monguls and Calmucs, have led to the conclusion that, as late as the ninth century of our era, these nomadic races

had no other domestic animal but the horse, and were acquainted with no other metal but copper, and that they owe their semi-civilization to the Turks, from whose language they have borrowed the names of the other domestic animals, of the other metals, as well as of the objects most necessary for the purposes of social life.

No traveller has employed with more success the principles of linguistic science, than Crawford in his History of the Indian Archipelago. By comparing the different languages of Western Oceanica with one another, and with those of India and Poly- · nesia, this skillful philologist has proved, with as much certainty as can be expected in such a case, that the maritime world of which we have just been speaking, had also its focus of civilization, in an unknown race, who would appear to have been of the same stock with the people of Java. By examining the Javanese words corresponding to objects the most indispensable to man in the first developement of the social state, he finds that this unknown people had made great progress in navigation and agriculture. They had extended, for example, the influence of their language from Easter Island, in the South Pacific ocean, as far as Madagascar. They cultivated rice and other vegetables. They had domesticated the cow and the buffalo, the hog, the common fowl and the duck; all of which served them for food, while the two former aided them, also, in their labors. He shows, that this same people were acquainted with the art of working in gold, tin, and iron, and with the process of weaving various stuffs. That they had a week and calendar of their own. That on certain days of the week they held regular markets, and that in all probability they had even invented an alphabet. Comparing, next, the language of this people with the idioms of Southern India, he shows that this unknown race were indebted to the Hindoos for the knowledge of copper and silver, and perhaps also for the horse and elephant, since the names for these animals, in common use throughout the whole of the Great Archipelago, are of Sanscrit origin. From the Hindoos they likewise derived the knowledge and culture of cotton, pepper, the mango and other fruits, as well as the art of making indigo and sugar, and the fishing for and wearing of pearls; in fine, these same inhabitants of India appear to have modified their system of writing and arithmetic, and to have introduced among them the literature and religious dogmas of their own country. All these inferences acquire additional strength, from a very curious fact relative to the numbers above one thousand, in the different languages of Western Oceanica. In all these, the higher numbers are borrowed from the Sanscrit ; but all, with a single exception, employ the term which in

VOL. I.-NO. I.

16

Sanscrit denotes 100,000, for 10,000; that which indicates 10,000,000, for 100,000; and that which signifies 10,000, for a million. Now, whatever may have been the source of this error, its general adoption throughout the Indian Archipelago is a manifest proof, that this could only have emanated from one particular race.

Linguistic science is also a valuable auxiliary in zoological investigations. The single-hump camel, for example, in all the countries of Asia and Africa, bears a name in which we may easily trace the gamal, or gemel of the Arabians. Its native country then is Arabia, and the species have diverged from this as from a common centre. The tiger is called, in all the languages of Europe, by a name the root of which (tigr, or tijr, "an arrow,") is found in the Zend, the Pehlvi, and the Persian of the present day; whereas this animal has a different and specific name in each of the countries of the East, where it happens to be indigeThe western nations then obtained their knowledge of the tiger from Media and Persia. So also, the name of the lion comes into the European languages from the Greek, and it is entirely different from any of the oriental appellations of this animal. The lion then must have existed at one time in Greece; and we find, on consulting ancient authorities,† that this was actually the case.

nous.

Again; the dog has different names in most of the Malay dialects, and, generally speaking, in the various languages of Oceanica; such as poull in New Ireland, and nafe in New Guinea. This circumstance shows the animal to be indigenous in these quarters. In New Zealand, however, he is termed pero, a word entirely Spanish, and which clearly indicates his foreign origin. The hog, in like manner, bears various names in various islands, as, for example, kiwou in Sumbava, bourė in New Ireland, poua in Tahiti ; the inference from which is, that this useful animal is here indigenous. In New Zealand, however, it is termed porka, which shows its foreign, or European origin. The cat also, which is called by numerous and very different appellations in other parts of the great maritime world, receives throughout all the languages of Western Oceanica names either identical, or nearly so. The knowledge of this animal therefore, was brought into this latter quarter of the world by one and the same people, to whom these regions also owed their primitive civilization. In the same way we trace the sheep through the chain of Indo-Germanic languages; in Sanscrit avis,

* In Pehlvi, tagur is "swift." Compare the root tadjed, "he runs," or "hastens," whence comes Tedjera, or Tedjerem, "a rapid stream," or "torrent," + Herodol. 7. 127, compare Aristot. Hist. An. 6, 31. p. 884. D.

« ÎnapoiContinuă »