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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Philology

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The generally accepted comprehensive name for the study of the word (Gr. Xoyos), or languages; it designates that branch of knowledge which deals with human speech, and with all that speech discloses as to the nature and history of man. Philology has two principal divisions, corresponding to the two uses of "word" or "speech," as signifying either what is said or the language in which it is said, as either the thought expressed - which, when recorded, takes the form of literature - or the instrumentality of its expression: these divisions are the literary and the linguistic. Not all study of literature, indeed, is philological: as when, for example, the records of the ancient Chinese are ransacked for notices of astronomical or meteorological phenomena, or the principles of geometry are learned from the textbook of a Greek sage; while, on the other hand, to study Ptolemy and Euclid for the history of the sciences represented by them is philological more than scientific. Again, the study of language itself has its literary side: as when the vocabulary of a community (say of the ancient Indo-Europeans or Aryans) is taken as a document from which to infer the range and grade of knowledge of its speakers, their circumstances and their institutions: The two divisions thus do not admit of absolute distinction and separation, though for some time past tending toward greater independence. The literary is the older of the two; it even occupied until recently the whole field, since the scientific study of language itself has arisen only within the 19th century. Till then, literary philology included linguistic, as a merely subordinate and auxiliary part, the knowledge of a language being the necessary key to a knowledge of the literature written in that language. When, therefore, instead of studying each language by itself for the sake of its own literature men began to compare one language with another, in order to bring to light their relationships, their structures, their histories, the name "comparative philology" naturally enough suggested itself and came into use for the new method; and this name, awkward and trivial though it may be, has become so firmly fixed in English usage that it can be only slowly, if at all, displaced. European usage (especially German) tends more strongly than English to restrict the name philology to its older office, and to employ for the recent branch of knowledge a specific term, like those that have gained more or less currency with us also; a's glottic, glossology, linguistics, linguistic science, science of language, and the like. It is not a question of absolute propriety or correctness, since the word philology is in its nature wide enough to imply all language-study of whatever kind; it is one, rather, of the convenient distinction of methods that have grown too independent and important to be any longer well included under a common name.

1 I

2 3. Hamitic Family

3 5. Ural-Altaic (Scythian, Turanian) Family

4 6. Dravidian or South Indian Family

5 7. Malay-Polynesian Family

6 8. Other Oceanic Families

7 9. Caucasian Languages

8 11. South African or Bantu Family

9 12. Central African Languages

10 13. American Languages

11 Literature

12 2. Semitic Languages

13 3. Hamitic Languages

14 12. Intermediate African Languages

15 13. America

I

The Science of Language in general. Philology, in all its departments, began and grew up as classical; the history of our civilization made the study of Greek and Latin long the exclusive, still longer the predominant and regulating, occupation of secular scholarship. The Hebrew and its literature were held apart, as something of a different order, as sacred. It was not imagined that any tongue to which culture and literature did not lend importance was worthy of serious attention from scholars. The first essays in comparison, likewise, were made upon the classical tongues, and were as erroneous in method and fertile in false conclusions as was to be expected, considering the narrowness of view and the controlling prejudices of those who made them; and the admission of Hebrew to the comparison only added to the confusion. The change which the past century has seen has been a part of the general scientific movement of the age, which has brought about the establishment of so many new branches of knowledge, both historical and physical, by the abandonment of shackling prejudices, the freedom of inquiry, the recognition of the dignity of all knowledge, the wide-reaching assemblage of facts and their objective comparison, and the resulting constant improvement of method. Literary philology has had its full share of advantage from this movement; but linguistic philology has been actually created by it out of the crude observations and wild deductions of earlier times, as truly as chemistry out of alchemy, or geology out of diluvianism. It is unnecessary here to follow out the details of the development; but we may well refer to the decisive influence of one discovery, the decisive action of one scholar. It was the discovery of the special relationship of the Aryan or Indo-European languages, depending in great measure upon the introduction of the Sanskrit as a term in their comparison, and demonstrated and worked out by the German scholar Bopp, that founded the science of linguistic philology. While there is abundant room for further improvement, it yet appears that the grand features of philologic study, in all its departments, are now so distinctly drawn that no revolution of its methods, but only their modification in minor respects, is henceforth probable. How and for what purposes to investigate the literature of any people (philology in the more proper sense), combining the knowledge thus obtained with that derived from other sources; how to study and set forth the material and structure and combinations of a language (grammar), or of a body of related languages (comparative grammar); how to co-ordinate and interpret the general phenomena of language, as variously illustrated in the infinitely varying facts of different tongues, so as to exhibit its nature as a factor in human history and its methods of life and growth (linguistic science) - these are what philology teaches.

The study of language is a division of the general science of anthropology, and is akin to all the rest in respect to its to objects and its methods. Man as we now see him is a twofold being: in part the child of nature, as logy to his capacities and desires, his endowments of mind and body; in part the creature of education, by training in the knowledge, the arts, the social conduct, of which his predecessors have gained possession. And the problem of anthropology is this: how natural man has become cultivated man; how a being thus endowed by nature should have begun and carried on the processes of acquisition which have brought him to his present state. The results of his predecessors' labours are not transmuted for his benefit into natural instincts, in language or in anything else. The child of the most civilized race, if isolated and left wholly to his own resources, aided by neither the example nor the instruction of his fellows, would no more speak the speech of his ancestors than he would build their houses, fashion their clothes, practise any of their arts, inherit their knowledge or wealth. In fact, he would possess no language, no arts, no wealth, but would have to go to work to acquire them, by the same processes which began to win them for the first human beings. One advantage he would doubtless enjoy: the descendant of a cultivated race has an enhanced aptitude for the reception of cultivation; he is more cultivable; and this is an element that has to be allowed for ip comparing present conditions with past, as influencing the rate of progress, but nothing more. In all other respects it is man with the endowments which we now find him possessed of, but destitute of the gradually accumulated results of the exercise of his faculties, whose progress we have to explain. And it is, as a matter of necessity, by studying recent observable modes of acquisition, and transferring them, with due allowance for different circumstances, to the more primitive periods, that the question of first acquisition or origin is. to be solved, for language as for tools, for arts, for family and social organization, and the rest. There is just as much and just as little reason for assuming miraculous interference and aid in one of these departments as in another. If men have been left to themselves to make and improve instruments, to form and perfect modes of social organization, by implanted powers directed by natural desires, and under the pressure of circumstances, then also to make and change the signs that constitute their speech. All expressions, as all instruments, are at present, and have been through the known past, made and changed by the men who use them; the same will have been the case in the unknown or prehistoric past. And we command now enough of the history of language, with the processes of its life and growth, to determine with confidence its mode of origin - within certain limits, as will appear below.

It is beyond all question, in the first place, that the desire of communication was the only force directly impelling men to the production of language. Man's sociality, Cause his disposition to band together with his fellows, for lower and for higher purposes, for mutual help making

and for sympathy, is one of his most fundamental characteristics. To understand those about one and to be understood by them is now, and must have been from the very beginning, a prime necessity of human existence; we cannot conceive of man, even in his most undeveloped state, as without the recognition of it. Communication is still the universally recognized office of speech, and to the immense majority of speakers the only one; the common man knows no other, and can only with difficulty and imperfectly be brought to see that there is any other; of the added distinctness and reach of mental action which the possession of such an instrumentality gives him he is wholly unconscious: and it is obvious that what the comparatively cultivated being of to-day can hardly be made to realize can never have acted upon the first men as a motive to action. It may perhaps be made a question which of the two uses of speech, communication or the facilitation of thought is the higher; there can be no question, at any rate, that the former is the broader and the more fundamental. That the kind and degree of thinking which we do nowadays would be impossible without language-signs is true enough; but so also it would be impossible without written signs. That there was a time when men had to do what mental work they could without the help of writing, as an art not yet devised, we have no difficulty in realizing, because the art is of comparatively recent device, and there are still communities enough that are working without it; it is much harder to realize that there was a time when speaking also was an art not yet attained, and that men had to carry on their rude and rudimentary thinking without it. Writing too was devised for conscious purposes of communication only; its esoteric uses, like those of speech, were at first unsuspected, and incapable of acting as an inducement; they were not noticed until made experience of, and then only by those who look beneath the surface of things. There is no analogy closer and more instructive than this between speech and writing. But analogies are abundant elsewhere in the history of human development. Everywhere it is the lower and more obvious inducements that are first effective, and that lead gradually to the possession of what serves and stimulates higher wants. All the arts and industries have grown out of men's effort to get enough to eat and protection against cold and heat - just as language, with all its uses, out of men's effort to communicate with their fellows. As a solitary man now would never form even the beginnings of speech, as one separated from society unlearns his speech by disuse and becomes virtually dumb, so early man, with all his powers, would never have acquired speech, save as to those powers was added sociality with the needs it brought. We might conceive of a solitary man as housing and dressing himself, devising rude tools, and thus lifting himself a step from wildness toward cultivation; but we cannot conceive of him as ever learning to talk. Recognition of the impulse to communication as the efficient cause of language-making is an element of primary importance in the theory of the origin of language. No one who either leaves it out of account or denies it will, however ingenious and entertaining his speculations, cast any real light on the earliest history of speech. To inquire under what peculiar circumstances, in connexion with what mode of individual or combined action, a first outburst of oral expression may have taken place, is, on the other hand, quite futile. The needed circumstances were always present when human beings were in one another's society; there was an incessant drawing-on to attempts at mutual understanding which met with occasional, and then ever more frequent and complete success. There inheres in most reasoning upon this subject the rooted assumption, governing opinion even when not openly upheld or consciously made, that conceptions have real natural names, and that in a state of nature these will somehow break forth and reveal themselves under favouring circumstances. The falsity of such a view is shown by our whole further discussion.

The character of the motive force to speech determined the character of the beginnings of speech. That was first signified which was most capable of intelligible signification, of Speech not that which was first in order of importance, and writing. as judged by any standard which we can apply to it, or first in order of conceptional development. All attempts to determine the first spoken signs by asking what should have most impressed the mind of primitive man are and must be failures. It was the exigencies and possibilities of practical life, in conditions quite out of reach of our distinct conception, that prescribed the earliest signs of communication. So, by a true and instructive analogy, the beginnings of writing are rude depictions of visible objects; it is now thoroughly recognized that no alphabet, of whatever present character, can have originated in any other way; everything else is gradually arrived at from that - as, indeed, in the ingeniously shaping hands of man, from any central body of signs, though but of small extent, all else is attainable by processes of analogy and adaptation and transfer. Now what is it that is directly signifiable in the world about us ? Evidently the separate acts and qualities of sensible objects, and nothing else. In writing, or signification to the eye, the first element is the rude depiction of the outline of an object, or of that one of the sum of its characteristic qualities which the eye takes note of and the hand is capable of intelligibly reproducing; from that the mind understands the whole complex object itself, and then whatever further may in the circumstances of its use be suggested by it. So, for example, the picture of a tree signifies primarily a tree, then perhaps wood, something made of wood, and so on; that of a pair of outstretched wings signifies secondarily flight, then soaring, height, and whatever else these may lead to. No concrete thing is signifiable in its totality or otherwise than by a facile analysis of its constituent qualities and a selection of the one which is both sufficiently characteristic in itself and capable of being called up by a sign before the mind addressed.

And what quality shall be selected depends in great measure upon the instrumentality used for its signification. Of such instrumentalities men possess a considerable variety. taiities of We must leave out of account that of depiction, as Expression. just instanced, because its employment belongs to a much more advanced state of cultivation, and leads the way to the invention not of speech but of the analogous and auxiliary art of writing. There remain gesture, or changes of position of the various parts of the body, especially of the most mobile parts, the arms and hands; grimace, or the changes of expression of the features of the countenance (in strictness, a variety of the preceding); and utterance, or the production of audible sound. It cannot be doubted that, in the first stages of communicative expression, all these three were used together, each for the particular purposes which it was best calculated to serve. The nearest approach to such action that is now possible is when two persons, wholly ignorant of one another's speech, meet and need to communicate - an imperfect correspondence, because each is trained to habits of expression and works consciously, and with the advantage of long experience, towards making himself understood; yet it is good for its main purpose. What they do, to reach mutual comprehension, is like what the first speechless men, unconsciously and infinitely more slowly, learned to do: face, hands, body, voice, are all put to use. It is altogether probable that gesture at first performed the principal part, even to such extent that the earliest human language may be said to have been a language of gesture signs; indeed, there exist at the present day such gesture-languages as those in use between roving tribes of different speech that from time to time meet one another (the most noted example is that of the gesture-language, of a very considerable degree of development, of the prairie tribes of American Indians); or such signs as are the natural resort of those who by deafness are cut off from ordinary spoken intercourse with their fellows. Yet there never can have been a stage or period in which all the three instrumentalities were not put to use together. In fact, they are still all used together; that is even now an ineffective speaking to which grimace and gesture ("action," as Demosthenes called them) are not added as enforcers; and the lower the grade of development and culture of a language, the more important, even for intelligibility, is their addition. But voice has won to itself the chief and almost exclusive part in communication, insomuch that we call all communication "language" (i.e. "tonguiness") just as a race of mutes might call it "handiness" and talk (by gesture) of a handiness of grimace. This is not in the least because of any closer connexion of the thinking apparatus with the muscles that act to produce audible sounds than with those that act to produce visible motions; not because there are natural uttered names for conceptions any more than natural gestured names. It is simply a case of "survival of the fittest," or analogous to the process by which iron has become the exclusive material of swords, and gold and silver of money: because, namely, experience has shown this to be the material best adapted to this special use. The advantages of voice are numerous and obvious. There is first its economy, as employing a mechanism that is available for little else, and leaving free for other purposes those indispensable instruments the hands. Then there is its superior perceptibleness: its nice differences impress themselves upon the sense at a distance at which visible motions become indistinct; they are not hidden by intervening objects; they allow the eyes of the listener as well as the hands of the speaker to be employed in other useful work; they are as plain in the dark as in the light; and they are able to catch and command the attention of one who is not to be reached in any other way. We might add as the third advantage a superior capability of variation and combination on the part of spoken sounds; but this is not to be insisted on, inasmuch as we hardly know what a gesture-language might have become if men's ingenuity in expression had been expended through all time upon its elaboration; and the superiority, however real, can hardly have been obvious enough to serve as a motive: certainly, there are spoken languages now existing whose abundance of resources falls short of what is attainable by gesture. Oral utterance is the form which expression has inevitably taken, the sum of man's endowments being what it is; but it would be a mistake to suppose that a necessity of any other kind is involved in their relation. The fundamental conditions of speech are man's grade of intellectual power and his social instinct; these being given, his expression follows, availing itself of what means it finds best suited to its purpose; if voice had been wanting it would have taken the next best. So, in certain well-known cases, a marked artistic gift on the part of individuals deprived of the use of hands has found means of exercise in the feet instead. But men in general have hands, instruments of exquisite tact and power, to serve the needs of their intellect; and so voice also, to provide and use the tools of thought; there is no error in maintaining that the voice is given us for speech, if only we do not proceed to draw from such a dictum false conclusions as to the relation between thought and utterance. Man is created with bodily instruments suited to do the work prescribed by his mental capacities; therein lies the harmony of his endowment.

It is through imitation that all signification becomes directly suggestive. The first written signs are (as already noticed) the depictions of visible objects, and could be nothing else; and, by the same necessity, the first uttered signs were the imitations of audible sounds. To reproduce any sound of which the originating cause or the circumstances of production are known, brings up of course before the conception that sound, along with the originator, or circumstances of origination, or whatever else may be naturally associated with it. There are two special directions in which this mode of signmaking is fruitful: imitation of the sounds of external nature (as the cries of animals and the noises of inanimate objects when in motion or acted on by other objects) and imitation of human sounds. The two are essentially one in principle, although by some held apart, or even opposed to each other, as respectively the imitative or onomatopoetic and the exclamatory or interjectional beginnings of speech; they differ only in their spheres of significance, the one being especially suggestive of external objects, the other of inward feelings. There are natural human tones, indicative of feeling, as there are natural gestures, poses, modes of facial expression, which either are immediately intelligible to us (as is the warning cry of the hen to the dayold chicken), or have their value taught us by our earliest experiences. If we hear a cry of joy or a shriek of pain, a laugh or a groan, we need no explanation in words to tell us what it signifies any more than when we see a sad face or a drooping attitude. So also the characteristic cry or act of anything outside ourselves, if even rudely imitated, is to us an effective reminder and awakener of conception. We have no reason to question that such were the suggestions of the beginnings of uttered expression. The same means have made their contributions to language even down to our own day; we call words so produced "onomatopoetic" (i.e. "name-making"), after the example of the Greeks, who could not conceive that actually new additions to language should be made in any other way. What and how wide the range of the imitative principle, and what amount of language-signs it was capable of yielding, is a subject for special investigation - or rather, of speculation, since anything like exact knowledge in regard to it will never be attained; and the matter is one of altogether secondary consequence; it is sufficient for our purpose that enough could certainly be won in this way to serve as the effective germs of speech.

All the natural means of expression are still at our command, and are put to more or less use by us, and their products are as. intelligible to us as they have been to any generation of our ancestors, back to the very first. They are analogous also to the means of communication of the lower animals; this, so far as we know, consists in observing and interpreting one another's movements and natural sounds (where there are such). But language is a step beyond this, and different from it. To make language, the intent to signify must be present. A cry wrung out by pain, or a laugh of amusement, though intelligible, is not language; either of them, if consciously reproduced in order to signify to another pain or pleasure, is language. So a cough within hearing of any one attracts his attention; but to cough, or to produce any other sound, articulate or inarticulate, for the purpose of attracting another's attention, is to commit an act of language-making, such as in human history preceded in abundance the establishment of definite traditional signs for conceptions. Here begins to appear the division between human language and all brute expression; since we do not know that any animal but man ever definitely took this step. It would be highly interesting to find out just how near any come to it; and to this point ought to be especially directed the attention of those who are investigating the communication of the lower animals in its relation to human communication. Among the animals of highest intelligence that associate with man and learn something of his ways, a certain amount of sign-making expressly for communication is not to be denied; the dog that barks at a door because he knows that somebody will come and let him in is an instance of it; perhaps, in wild life, the throwing out of sentinel birds from a flock, whose warning cry shall advertise their fellows of the threat of danger, is as near an approach to it as is anywhere made.

But the actual permanent beginnings of speech are only reached when the natural basis is still further abandoned, and signs begin to be used, not because their natural suggestiveness is seen in them, but by imitation, from the example of others who have been observed to use conventhe same sign for the same purpose. Then for the first time the means of communication becomes something to be handed down, rather than made anew by each individual; it takes on that traditional character which is the essential character of all human institutions, which appears not less in the forms of social organization, the details of religious ceremonial, the methods of art and the arts, than in language. That all existing speech, and all known recorded speech, is purely traditional, cannot at all he questioned. It is proved even by the single fact that for any given conception there are as many different spoken signs as there are languages - say a thousand (this number is rather far within than beyond the truth), each of them intelligible to him who has learned to use it and to associate it with the conception to which it belongs, but unintelligible to the users of the nine hundred and ninetynine other signs, as these are all unintelligible to him; unless, indeed, he learn a few of them also, even as at the beginning he learned the one that he calls his own. What single sign, and what set of signs, any individual shall use, depends upon the community into the midst of which he is cast, by birth or other circumstances, during his first years. That it does not depend upon his race is demonstrated by facts the most numerous and various; the African whose purity of descent is attested by every feature is found all over the world speaking just that language, or jargon, into the midst of which the fates of present or former slavery have brought his parents; every civilized community contains elements of various lineage, combined into one by unity of speech; and instances are frequent enough where whole nations speak a tongue of which their ancestors knew nothing; for example, the Celtic Gauls and the Germanic Normans of France speak the dialect of a geographically insignificant district in central Italy, while we ourselves can hardly utter a sentence or write a line without bringing in more or less of that same dialect. There is not an item of any tongue of which we know anything that is " natural" expression, or to the possession of which its speaker is brought by birth instead of by education; there is even very little that is traceably founded on such natural expression; everywhere No-ts or human attribution reigns supreme, and the original 41uocs or natural significance has disappeared and is only to be found by theoretic induction (as we have found it above). It seems to some as if a name like cuckoo (one of the most striking available cases of onomatopoeia) were a "natural" one; but there is just as much Nuts in it as in any other name; it implies the observation of an aggregate of qualities in a certain bird, and the selection of one among them as the convenient basis of a mutual understanding when the bird is in question; every animal conspicuous to us must have its designation, won in one way or another; and in this case to imitate the characteristic cry is the most available way. If anything but convenience and availability were involved, all our names for animals would have to be and to remain imitations of the sounds they make. That the name of cuckoo is applied also to the female and young, and at other than the singing season, and then to related species which do not make the same sound - all helps to show the essentially conventional character of even this name. An analogous process of elimination of original meaning, and reduction to the value of conventional designation merely, is to be seen in every part of language throughout its whole history. Since men ceased to derive their names from signs having a natural suggestiveness, and began to make them from other names already in use with an understood value, every new name has had its etymology and its historical occasion - as, for example, the name quarantine from the two-score ( quarantaine ) of days of precautionary confinement, or volume from its being rolled up, or book from a beechwood staff, or copper from Cyprus, or lunacy from a fancied influence of the moon, or priest from being an older Orpeo(15 mpos) person, or butterfly from the butter-yellow colour of a certain XXI. 14 common species: every part of our language, as of every other, is full of such examples - but, when once the name is applied, it belongs to that to which it is applied, and no longer to its relatives by etymology; its origin is neglected, and its form may be gradually changed beyond recognition, or its meaning so far altered that comparison with the original shall seem a joke or an absurdity. This is a regular and essential part of the process of name-making in all human speech, and from the very beginning of the history of speech: in fact (as pointed out above), the latter can only be said to have begun when this process was successfully initiated, when uttered signs began to be, what they have ever since continued to be, conventional, or dependent only on a mutual understanding. Thus alone did language gain the capacity of unlimited growth and development. The sphere and scope of natural expression are narrowly bounded; but there is no end to the resources of conventional sign-making.

It is well to point out here that this change of t he basis of men's communication from natural suggestiveness to mutual understanding, and the consequent purely conven Speech tional character of all human language, in its every part and particle, puts an absolute line of demarca tion between the latter and the means of communication of all the lower animals. The two are not of the same kind, any more than human society in its variety of organization is of the same kind with the instinctive herding of wild cattle or swarming of insects, any more than human architecture with the instinctive burrowing of the fox and nestbuilding of the bird, any more than human industry and accumulation of capital with the instinctive hoarding of bees and beavers. In all these cases alike the action of men is a result of the adaptation of means at hand to the satisfaction of felt needs, or of purposes dimly perceived at first, but growing clearer with gradually acquired experience. Man is the only being that has established institutions - gradually accumulated and perfected results of the exercise of powers analogous in kind to, but greatly differing in degree from, those of the lower animals. The difference in degree of endowment. does not constitute the difference in language, it only leads to it. There was a time when all existing human beings were as destitute of language as the dog; and that time would come again for any number of human beings who should be cut off (if that were practicable) from all instruction by their fellows: only they would at once proceed to recreate language, society and arts by the same steps by which their own remote ancestors created those which we now possess; while the dog would remain what he and his ancestors have always been, a creature of very superior intelligence, indeed, as compared with most, of infinite intelligence as compared with many, yet incapable of rising by the acquisition of culture through the formation and development of traditional institutions. There is just the same saltus existent in the difference between man's conventional speech and the natural communication of the lower races as in that between men's forms of society and the instinctive associations of the lower races; but it is no greater and no other; it is neither more absolute and characteristic nor more difficult to explain. Hence those who put forward language as the distinction between man and the lower animals, and those who look upon our language as the same in kind with the means of communication of the lower animals, only much more complete and perfect, fail alike to comprehend the true nature of language, and are alike wrong in their arguments and conclusions. No addition to or multiplication of brute speech would make anything like human speech; the two are separated by a step which no animal below man has ever taken; and, on the other hand, language is only the most conspicuous among those institutions the development of which has constituted human progress, while their possession constitutes human culture.

With the question of the origin of man, whether or not developed out of lower animal forms, intermediate to the anthropoid apes, language has nothing to do, nor can its study ever be made to contribute anything to the solution of that question. If there once existed creatures above the apes and below man, who were extirpated by primitive man as his especial rivals in the struggle for existence, or became extinct in any other way, there is no difficulty in supposing them to have possessed forms of speech, more rudimentary and imperfect than ours. At any rate, all existing human speech is one in the essential characteristics which we have thus far noted or shall hereafter have to consider, even as humanity is one in its distinction from the lower animals; the differences are in nonessentials. All speech is one in the sense that every human being, of whatever race he may be, is capable of acquiring any existing tongue, and of using it for the same purposes for which its present possessors Culture. use it, with such power and effect as his individual capacity allows, and without any essential change in the mental operations carried on by means of speech - even as he may acquire any other of the items of culture belonging to a race not his own. The difference between employing one language and another is like that between employing one instrument and another in mechanical arts; one instrument may be better than another, and may enable its user to turn out better work, but the human ingenuity behind both is the same, and works in the same way. Nor has the making of language anything whatever to do with making man what he is, as an animal species having a certain physical form and intellectual endowment. Being what he is by nature, man has by the development of language and other institutions become what he is by culture. His acquired culture is the necessary result of his native endowment, not the contrary. The acquisition of the first stumbling beginnings of a superior means of communication had no more influence to raise him from a simian to a human being than the present high culture and perfected speech of certain races has to lift them up to something more than human and specifically different from the races of inferior culture. It cannot be too absolutely laid down that differences of language, down to the possession of language at all, are differences only in respect to education and culture.

How long man, after he came into such being as he now is, physically and intellectually, continued to communicate with imitative signs of direct significance, when the production of traditional signs began, how rapidly they were accumulated, and how long any traces of - their imitative origin clave to them - these and the signs. like questions it is at present idle to try to answer even conjecturally: just as it is to seek to determine when the first instruments were used, how soon they were shaped instead of being left crude, at what epoch fire was reduced to service, and so on. The stages of development and their succession are clear enough; to fix their chronology will doubtless never be found practicable. There is much reason for holding, as some do, that the very first items of culture were hardest to win and cost most time, the rate of accumulation (as in the case of capital) increasing with the amount accumulated. Beyond all reasonable question, however, there was a positively long period of purely imitative signs, and a longer one of mixed imitative and traditional ones, the latter gradually gaining upon the former, before the present condition of things was reached, when the production of new signs by imitation is only sporadic and of the utmost rarity, and all language-signs besides are traditional, their increase in any community being solely by variation and combination, and by borrowing from other communities. Of what nature, in various respects, this earliest languagematerial was is sufficiently clear. The signs, in the first place, were of the sort that we call "roots." By this is only meant that they were integral signs, significant s in their entirety, not divisible into parts, of which ge. one signified one thing and another another thing, or of which one gave the main significance, while another was an added sign of kind or relation. In a language of developed structure like our own, we arrive at such "roots" mainly by an artificial strippingoff of the signs of relation which almost every word still has, or can be shown to have once had. In un-cost-li-ness, for example, cost is the centrally significant element; so far as English is concerned it is a root, about which cluster a whole body of forms and derivatives; if we could follow its history no farther it would be to us an ultimate root, as much so as bind or sing or mean. But we can follow it up, to the Latin compound con-sta, a root sta with a prefixed formative element con. Then sta, which in slightly varied forms we find in a whole body of related tongues called "Indo-European," having in them all the same significance "stand," is an Indo-European root, and to us an ultimate one, because we can follow its history no farther; but there always remains the possibility that it is as far from being actually original as is the English root cost: that is to say, it is not within our power ever to get back to the really primitive elements of speech and to demonstrate their character by positive evidence. The reason for accepting a primitive root-stage of language is in great part theoretical: because nothing else is reconcilable with any acceptable view of the origin of language. The law of the simplicity of beginnings is an absolute one for everything of the nature of an institution, for every gradually developed product of the exercise of human faculties. That an original speech-sign should be of double character, one part of it meaning this and another part that, or one part radical and the other formative, is as inconceivable as that the first instruments should have had handles, or the first shelters a front room and a back one. But this theoretical reason finds all the historical support which it needs in the fact that, through all the observable periods of language-history we see formative elements coming from words originally independent, and not from anything else. Thus, in the example just taken, the -li- of costliness is a suffix of so recent growth that its whole history is distinctly traceable; it is simply our adjective like, worn down in both form and meaning to a subordinate value in combination with certain words to which it was appended, and then added freely as a suffix to any word from which it was desired to make a derivative adjective - or, later but more often, a derivative adverb. The ness is much older (though only Germanic), and its history obscurer; it contains, in fact, two parts, neither of them of demonstrable origin; but there are equivalent later suffixes, as ship in hardship and dom in wisdom, whose derivation from independent words ( shape, doom ) is beyond question. The un- of uncostliness is still more ancient (being Indo-European), and its probably pronominal origin hardly available as an illustration; but the comparatively modern prefix be-, of become, belie, &c., comes from the independent preposition by, by the same process as -ly or -li- from like. And the con which has contributed its part to the making of the quasi-root cost is also in origin identical with the Latin preposition cum, " with." By all the known facts of later language-growth we are driven to the opinion that every formative element goes back to some previously existing independent word; and hence that in analysing our present words we are retracing the steps of an earlier synthesis, or following up the history of our formed words toward the unformed roots out of which they have grown. The doctrine of the historical growth of language-structure leads by a logical necessity to that of a root-stage in the history of all language; the only means of avoiding the latter is the assumption of a miraculous element in the former.

Of what phonetic form were the earliest traditional speechsigns is, so far as essentials are concerned, to be inferred with Earliest reasonable certainty. They were doubtless articu- Phonetic late: that is to say, composed of alternating conso Forms. nant and vowel sounds, like our present speech; and they probably contained a part of the same sounds which we now use. All human language is of this character; there are no sounds in any tongue which are not learned and reproduced as easily by children of one race as of another; all dialects admit a like phonetic analysis, and are representable by alphabetic signs; and the leading

sounds, consonant and vowel, are even practically the same in all; though every dialect has its own (for the most part, readily definable and imitable) niceties of their pronunciation, while certain sounds are rare, or even met with only in a single group of languages or in a single language. Articulate sounds are such as are capable of being combined with others into that succession of distinct yet connectable syllables which is the characteristic of human speech-utterance. The name "articulate" belongs to this utterance, as distinguished from inarticulate human sounds and cries and from the sounds made by the lower animals. The word itself is Latin, by translation from the Greek, and, though very widely misunderstood, and even deliberately misapplied in some languages to designate all sound, of whatever kind, uttered by any living creature, is a most happily chosen and truly descriptive term. It signifies "jointed," or broken up into successive parts, like a limb or stem; the joints are the syllables; and the syllabic structure is mainly effected by the alternation of closer or consonant sounds with opener or vowel sounds. The simplest syllabic combination (as the facts of language show) is that of a single consonant with a following vowel; and there are languages even now existing which reject any other. Hence there is much plausibility in the view that the first speech-signs will have had this phonetic form and been monosyllabic, or dissyllabic only by repetition (reduplication) of one syllable, such as the speech of very young children shows to have a peculiar ease and naturalness. The point, however, is one of only secondary importance, and may be left to the further progress of phonetic study to settle, if it can; the root-theory, at any rate, is not bound to any definite form or extent of root, but only denies that there can have been any grammatical structure in language except by development in connexion with experience in the use of language. What particular sounds, and how many, made up the first spoken alphabet is also a matter of conjecture merely; they are likely to have been the closest consonants and the openest vowels, medial utterances being of later development.

As regards their significant value, the first language-signs must have denoted those physical acts and qualities which are directly apprehensible by the senses; both because Character these alone are directly signifiable, and because it of Early was only they that untrained human beings had Speech. the power to deal with or the occasion to use. Such signs would then be applied to more intellectual uses as fast as there was occasion for it. The whole history of language, down to our own day, is full of examples of the reduction of physical terms and phrases to the expression of non-physical conceptions and relations; we can hardly write a line without giving illustrations of this kind of linguistic growth. So pervading is it, that we never regard ourselves as having read the history of any intellectual or moral term till we have traced it back to a physical origin. And we are still all the time drawing figurative comparisons between material and moral things and processes, and calling the latter by the names of the former. There has never been any difficulty in providing for new knowledge and more refined thought by putting to new uses the earlier and grosser materials of speech.

As a matter of course, whatever we now signify by our simple expressions for simple acts, wants, and the like, was intended to be signified through the first speech-signs by the users of them. But to us, with our elaborated apparatus of speech, the sentence, composed of subject and predicate, with a verb or special predicative word to signify the predication, is established as the norm of expression, and we regard everything else as an abbreviated sentence, or as involving a virtual sentence. With a view to this we must have "parts of speech": that is, words held apart in office from one another, each usable for such and such a purpose and no other, and answering a due variety of purposes, so that when they are combined they fit together, as parts composing a whole, and the desired meaning is made clear. Inflexions, too, lend their aid; or else auxiliary words of various kinds answering the same purpose - namely, of determining the relations of the members of the sentence. But all our success in understanding the earliest stages of language depends upon our power to conceive a state of things where none of these distinctions were established, where one speech-sign was like another, calling up a conception in its indefinite entirety, and leaving the circumstances of the case to limit its application.

Such a language is far below ours in explicitness; but it would suffice for a great deal of successful communication; indeed (as will be shown farther on) there are many languages even now in existence which are little better off. So a look of approval or disgust, a gesture of beckoning or repulsion, a grunt of assent or inquiry, is as significant as a sentence, means a sentence, is translatable into a sentence, and hence may even in a certain way be called a sentence; and in the same way, but only so, the original roots of language may be said to have been sentences. In point of fact, between the holophrastic gesture or uttered sign and the sentence which we can now substitute for it - for example between the sign of beckoning and the equivalent sentence, "I want you to come here" - lies the whole history of development of inflective speech.

What has been this history of development, how the first scanty and formless signs have been changed into the immense variety and fullness of existing speech, it is of course went of impossible to point out in detail, or by demonstration of facts, because nearly the whole process is hidden in the darkness of an impenetrable past. The only way to cast any light upon it is by careful, induction from the change and growth which are seen to have been going on in the recent periods for which we have recorded evidence, or which are going on at the present time. Of some groups of related languages we can read the life for three or four thousand years back, and by comparison can infer it much farther; and the knowledge thus won is what we have to apply to the explanation of periods and languages otherwise unknown. Nothing has a right to be admitted as a factor in language-growth of which the action is not demonstrable in recorded language. Our own family of languages is the one of whose development most is known, by observation and well-warranted inference; and it may be well here to sketch the most important features of its history, by way of general illustration.

Apparently the earliest class-distinction traceable in IndoEuropean speech is that of pronominal roots, or signs of position, from the more general mass of roots. It is not a formal distinction, marked by a structural difference, but, so far as can be seen, is founded only on the assignment by usage of certain elements to certain offices. Formal distinction began with combination, the addition of one element to another, their fusion into a single word, and the reduction of the one part to a subordinate value, as sign of a certain modification of meaning of the other. Thus, doubtless by endings of pronominal origin, were made the first verbforms, or words used only when predication was intended (since that is all that makes a verb), conveying at first a distinction of persons only, then of persons and numbers, while the further distinctions of tense and mode were by degrees added. To the nouns, which became nouns by the setting up of the separate and special class of verbs, were added in like manner distinctions of case, of number, and of gender. With the separation of noun and verb, and the establishment of their respective inflexion, the creative work of language-making is virtually done; the rest is a matter of differentiation of uses. For the noun (noun substantive) and the adjective (noun adjective) become two parts of speech only by a gradually deepened separation of use; there is no original or formal distinction between them; the pronouns as a rule merely add the noun-inflexion to a special set of stems; adverbs are a part of the same formation as nouncases; prepositions are adverbs with a specialized construction, of secondary growth; conjunctions are the products of a like specialization; articles, where found at all, are merely weakened demonstratives and numerals.

To the process of form-making, as exhibited in this history, belong two parts: the one external, consisting in the addition of one existing element of speech to another and their combination into a single word; the other internal, consisting in the adaptation of the compound to its special use and involving the subordination of one element to the other. Both parts appear also abundantly in other departments of language-change, and throughout the whole history of our languages; nothing has to be assumed for the earliest formations which is not plainly illustrated in the latest. For example, the last important addition to the formative apparatus of English is the common adverb-making suffix -ly, coming, as already pointed out, from the independent adjective like. There was nothing at first to distinguish a compound like godly (godlike ) from one like storm-tossed, save that the former was more adaptable than the other to wider uses; resemblance is an idea easily generalized into appurtenance and the like, and the conversion of godlike to godly is a simple result of the processes of phonetic change described farther on. The extension of the same element to combination with adjectives instead of nouns, and its conversion to adverbmaking value, is a much more striking case of adaptation, and is nearly limited to English among the Germanic languages that have turned like into a suffix. A similar striking case of combination and adaptation is seen in the Romanic adverb-making suffix mente or ment, coming from the Latin ablative mente, " with mind." So, to make a Romanic future like donnerai, " I shall give," there was needed in the first place the preexisting elements, donner, " to give," and ai, " I have," and their combination; but this is only a part; the other indispensable part is the gradual adaptation of a phrase meaning "I have [something before me] for giving" to the expression of simple futurity, donabo. So far as the adaptation is concerned the case is quite parallel to that of j'ai donne, " I have given," &c. (equivalent phrases or combinations are found in many languages), where the expression of possession of something that is acted on has been in like manner modified into the expression of past action. Parallel in both combination and adaptation is the past tense loved, according to a widely accepted theory, from love-did, while we have again the same adaptation without combination in the equivalent phrase did love. That these are examples of the process by which the whole inflective structure of Ind.-European language was built up admits of no reasonable question. Our belief that it is so rests upon the solid foundation that we can demonstrate no other process, and that this one is sufficient. It is true that we can prove such an origin for our formative elements in only a small minority of instances; but this is just what was to be expected, considering what we know of the disguising processes of language-growth. No one would guess in the mere y of ably (for able-ly ) the presence of the adjective like, any more than in the altered final of sent and the shortened vowel of led the effect of a did once added to send and lead. The true history of these forms can be shown, because there happen to be other facts left in existence to show it; where such facts are not within reach we are left to infer by analogy from the known to the unknown. The validity of our inference can only be shaken by showing that there are forms incapable of having been made in this way, or that there are and have been other ways of making forms. Of the former there is evidently but small chance; if a noun-form meaning, "with mind" can become the means of conversion of all the adjectives of a language into adverbs, and a verb meaning "have" (and, yet earlier, "seize") of signifying both future and past time, there is obviously nothing that is impossible of attainment by such means. As regards the latter, no one appears to have even attempted to demonstrate the genesis of formative elements in any other way during the historical periods of language; it is simply assumed that the early methods of language-making will have been something different from and superior in spontaneity and fruitfulness to the later ones; that certain forms, or forms at certain periods, were made out-and-out, as forms; that signs of formal distinction somehow exuded from roots and stems; that original words were many-membered, and that a formative value settled in some member of them - and the like. Such doctrines are purely fanciful, and so opposed to the teachings both of observation and of sound theory that the epithet absurd is hardly too strong to apply to them. If the later races, of developed intelligence, and trained in the methods of a fuller expression, can only win a new form by a long and gradual process of combination and adaptation, why should the earlier and comparatively untrained generations have been able to do any better ? The advantage ought to be, if anywhere, on our side. The progress of language in every department, accompanying and representing the advance of the race, on the whole, in the art of speaking as in other arts, is from the grosser to the more refined, from the physical to the moral and intellectual, from the material to the formal. The conversion of compounds into forms, by the reduction of one of their elements to formative value, is simply a part of the general process which also creates auxiliaries and form-words and connectives, all the vocabulary of mind, and all the figurative phraseology that gives life and vigour to our speech. If a copula, expressive of the grammatical relation of predication, could be won only by attenuation of the meaning of verbs signifying "grow," "breathe," "stand," and the like; if our auxiliaries of tense and mode all go traceably back to words of physical meaning (as have to "seize," may to "be great or strong," shall to "be under penalty," and so on); if of comes from the comparatively physical off, and for from " before, forward"; if relative pronouns are specialized demonstratives and interrogatives; if right means etymologically "straight," and wrong means "twisted"; if spirit is "blowing," and intellect a "picking out among," and understanding a "getting beneath," and development an "unfolding"; if an event takes place or comes to pass, and then drops out of mind and is forgotten (oppcsite of gotten) - then it is of no avail to object to the grossness of any of the processes by which, in earlier language or in l&ter, the expression of formal relations is won. The mental sense of the relation expressed is entirely superior to and independent of the means of its expression. He who, to express the plural of man, says what is equivalent to man-man or heap-man (devices which are met with in not a few languages) has just as good a sense of plurality as he who says men or homines; that sense is no more degraded in him by the coarseness of the phrase he uses to signify it than is our own sense of eventuality and of pastness by the undisguised coarseness of take place and have been. In short, it is to be laid down with the utmost distinctness and confidence, as a law of language-growth, that there is nothing formal anywhere in language which was not once material; that the formal is made out of the material, by processes which began in the earliest history of language and are still in action.

We have dropped here the restriction to our own or IndoEuropean language with which we began, because it is evident Laws of that what is true of this family of speech, one of the Change most highly organized that exist, may also be true of Growth. the rest - must be true of them, unless some valid evidence be found to the contrary. The unity of human nature makes human speech alike in the character of its beginnings and in the general features of its after-history. Everywhere among men a certain store of expression, body of traditional signs of thought, being given, as used by a certain community, it is capable of increase on certain accordant lines, and only on them. In some languages, and under peculiar circumstances, borrowing is a great means of increase; but it is the most external and least organically important of all. Out-and-out invention (which, so far as we can see, must be of the kind called by us onomatopoetic) is found to play only a very insignificant part in the historical periods of language - clearly because there are other and easier modes of gaining new expression for what needs to be expressed. In the course of phonetic change a word sometimes varies into two (or more) forms, and makes so many words, which are differently turned to account. Everything beyond this must be the product of combination; there is no other way, so far as concerns the externals of speech. Then, partly as accompanying and aiding this external growth, partly as separate from and supplementing it, there is in all language an internal growth, making no appearance in the audible part of speech, consisting in multiplication of meanings, 'their modification in the way of precision or comprehension or correctness, the restriction of words to certain uses, and so on. Along with these, too, a constant change of phonetic form constitutes an inseparable part of the life of language. Speech is no more stable with respect to the sounds of which it is composed than with respect to its grammatical forms, its vocabulary, or the body of conceptions signified by it. Even nearly related languages differ as much in their spoken alphabets and the combinations of sounds they admit, and in their uttered forms of words historically the same, as in any other part; and the same is true of local dialects and of class dialects within the same community. Phonetic change has nothing whatever to do with change of meaning; the two are the product of wholly independent tendencies. Sometimes, indeed, they chance to coincide, as in the distinction of minute " small," and minute " moment"; but it is only by chance, as the spoken accordance of second in its two meanings ("next" and "sixtieth of a minute") shows; words that maintain their identity of value most obstinately, like the numerals, are liable to vary indefinitely in form (so four, fidvor, quatuor, TEaaap -ES, &c., from an original kwetwor-; five, quinque, coic, &c., from penkwe - while, on the other hand, two and three show as striking an accordance of form as of meaning through all the same languages); what is far the most common is that the word becomes very unlike its former self in both respects, like priest from the Greek 7rpca/v ' epos (presbyter), literally "older man." Human convenience is, to be sure, the governing motive in both changes; but it is convenience of two different kinds: the one mental, depending on the fact (pointed out above) that a name when once applied belongs to the thing to which it is applied, to the disregard of its etymological connexions, does not need to be changed when the thing changes, and is ready for new application to anything that can be brought into one class with the latter; and the other physical, depending on the organs of speech and their successive movements, by which the sounds that make up the word are produced. Phonetic convenience is economy of effort on the part of those organs; and to no other law than that of economy of utterance have any of the phenomena of phonetic change been


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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Philology'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/bri/p/philology.html. 1910.


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Wednesday, November 21st, 2018
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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