Зображення сторінки

between the most uninformed mind of the system which we call the human mind, human species and the most sagacious of would have remained in inactivity, its faculthe brutes, than between the brightest orna. ties torpid, its energies unexcited, and that ments of our race and those whose minds capacity of progressive improvement which have received the least culture from natural forms so important a part in the mental or artificial education. We gain greater constitution would have been unknown exactness by making the capacity of speech and given in vain. But in every part of the criterion of distinction between man the creation we discern an unity of design and the brute creation. Many animals are which equally proves the wisdom and benecapable of acquainting others of the same, volence of the great First Cause. The and even of a different species, with the feel- means of bringing his powers into activity ings of their minds; but man alone has the are bestowed upon man, as well as the powpower of expressing a train of ideas, and of ers themselves, and it is a position which stating the causes of those feelings. will bear a rigorous examination, that the

2. Articulation furnishes the most conve- accuracy of human thought, and the extent nient and extensive method of communica- of human intellect, generally proceed in tion. It would be possible to form a lan- equal steps with the accuracy and extent of guage of signs, and in many instances this is language. When we consider the influence done ; but human thought would never of language upon intellect, it will not aphave acquired any high degree of accuracy pear too much to affirm that, if those whose and extent, if there had been no other lan- genius has dazzled the world with its splenguage. The most perfect language of signs dour and extent, had been from the first is merely a representative of the language destitute of the power of communication, of speech. What are called the natural they would not have risen above the level signs of feeling are very similar to the lan- of the least cultivated of their fellow more guage of brutes, and not more extensive. tals. “Conceive such a one (to use the To give speech all the energy of thought, ideas of Condillac) berest of the use of visithe language of tone and gesture must be ble signs, how much knowledge would be joined to it; but it will generally be found concealed from him, attainable even by an that those who have words for all their ideas, ordinary capacity. Take away from him seldom have recourse to gesticulation, the nse of speech, the lot of the dumb except when the warmth of feeling calls it teaches you in wbat narrow bounds you forth. Where speech is defective in ener.enclose him. Finally, deprive him of the gy, it is usually enforced by looks, gestures, use of all kinds of signs, let him not know and tones: these powerfully appeal to the how to make with propriety any gesture, feelings, because they are considered as an you would have in him a mere idiot.” indication that certain feelings exist in the 4. We are far, however, from believing, mind of the speaker, and feeling is contagi- with Lord Monboddo, that the human race ous ; but our limits will not allow us to have actually risen from the very lowest enter into the consideration of this species stage--that of mere brutality. His lord. of language, and we shall confine ourselves ship supposes, on the authority of several to that of speech, at the same time begging travellers whom he quotes, (and of whose our readers to refer to the article Voice for passion for the marvellous his quotations an account of the mechanism by which leave no room to doubt), that there have speech is effected, and to WRITING, origin been nations without laws or any of the arts of, alphabetical, for the methods which men of civilized life, without even language ; and have adopted for a permanent visible de. that some of them (to complete their resemnotement of speech, which latter we wish blance to the monkey tribe) had actnally to be considered as forming one with the tails. This, with other opinions which dispresent article.

play rather the credulity of the man of 3. Whatever be our opinion respecting system, than the sober and cool judgment of the progressive melioration of brutes, if the philosopher, has exposed his lordship to the capacity of language were commu- the lively ridicule of Mr. Horne Tooke ; and nicated to them, there can be no hesitation thongh ridicule is no test of trath, we must in admitting that there would be a progres- adınit that this is one of those dogmata sive deterioration of the human species, if which it is below the dignity of reason to they were deprived of it. Had not man refute. possessed this, or some other extensive 5. We see in language a complicated power of communication, that astonishing whole, which we are usually accustomed to consider as it is, without attempting to grees they proceeded from inarticulate to ascertain what it has been. We see all articulate sounds, these writers do not atregularity and beauty, and we do not often tempt to point out, and unless we admit ask ourselves the question, has language that those articulate sounds were connected always been thus regular and beautiful? with certain feelings, in the same manner When we look back into the earlier periods as what are called the natural signs, or, of human nature, we find that this which that they were easily produced, (which will now wears so much the appearance of art, not be allowed by any who have attended was originally the invention of necessity, to the structure of the organs of speech) gradually perfected and brought into a the account we have received from a better systematic form by causes which have ope. informed historian will not lose its ground. rated generally, but have received modifiMoses leads ns to understand that the rudication from the influence of local or temments of language were given to man by porary circumstances. A complete history his Maker. Here was the first step, and of the origin and progress of language, here it is reasonable to believe the divine would be a history of the human mind. communications ceased, and that man was Our direct evidence is not very extensive, left to complete what he had been taught and indeed we are too much obliged to to begin. Let us then suppose the use of have recourse to hypothesis in tracing the articulation given, and its application in progress of improvement in any depart some instances pointed out, in the invention ment of science. We are unable always to of the names of animals; which, we may ascertain (as Mr. Stewart observes) how observe, is in fact the first step which men have actually conducted themselves on would probably have been taken, presupparticular occasions, and we are then led posing the use of articulation, if no divine to inquire in what manner they are likely interposition had taken place. to have proceeded, from the principle of. 7. Words would originally be simply the their nature, and the circumstances of their signs of things, and further, of individuals. external situation. In such inquiries the New objects, for which necessity required detached facts which the remains of anti- a name, would receive different names quity, or the narrations of travellers, or from those already given; but if there were the actual appearances of language at pre- a striking similarity between a new object, sent, afford us, serve as landmarks for our and one which had already received a name, speculations. “ In examining the history the old name would be transferred. One of of mankind, as well as in examining the the principles of association is similarity, phenomena of the material world, when we and the new impression would recal the cannot trace the process by which an event idea of a former object which it resembled, has been produced, it is often of importance and consequently the word with which that to be able to show how it may have been object was connected; and thus, what oriproduced by natural causes. The steps in ginally was a name for an individual only, the formation of language cannot probably would gradually become the name of a be determined with certainty ; yet if we multitude. Thus Lee Boo, who had been can show from the known principles of hu- taught by his fellow voyagers to call a great man nature, how all its various parts might Newfoundland dog by the name of Sailor, gradually bave arisen, the mind is not only used to call every dog he saw Sailor. There to a certain degree satisfied, but a check is is little or no difficulty attending the appelgiven to that indolent philosophy which lation and classification of sensible objects : refers to a miracle whatever appearances it is an operation simple and easy, if some both in the natural and moral worlds it is articulate sounds were known. unable to explain."

8. When several objects had received 6. Diodorus Siculus and Vitruvius sup- the same name, it would sometimes be posed, that the first men lived for some necessary to distinguish them. Our procetime in the woods and caves, like the beasts, dure in such cases is to connect with the uttering only confused and inarticulate name of the object the name of a distinguishsounds; till, associating for mutual assist- ing quality, or some word of a restrictive ance, they came by degrees to use articu- force, or to specify some relation which it late sounds, mutually agreed upon, for arbi- has with other objects; but this supposes trary signs or marks of those ideas in the that to be already done, which we must mind of the speaker, which he wanted to suppose is to be done. Now we must communicate to the hearer. By what de. bear in mind that similarity (sensible, ex: ternal similarity) and local connection, are designate those names which were emthose principles of association which are ployed in connection with other names to known to be most active in the minds of point out some quality or restricting cirthe illiterate and uncultivated, and that cumstance of the thing signified, by some they must also have been the most active note that they were so employed. They in the minds of all men in the rode states of might without any disadvantage have left the society. A peculiar colour (which would inference to simple juxta-position ; but this furnish une criterion of distinction) would, appears to have been done in few languages therefore, suggest the idea of some object after improvements began to take place : remarkable for that colour; and the name and to effect such designation, words (in of this second object, joined with the name some cases denoting add, join, &c.) were which the first had in common with others, subjoined to the particularizing names, and would confine this general term to the par- they then became adjectives. (See GRAMticular object which it was intended to spe. MAR, $ 22.) The Chinese, however, make city. This is a procedure so simple, that no distinction between words when emwe may expect to find some traces of it ployed as nouns and as adnouns; the same still remaining to us; and accordingly, word when placed first being an adjective, among others, we have the expression, an and when placed last, a substantive. We orange ribbon, which will exemplify what do the same in many instances; but a large has been said : if we wish to distinguish a proportion of our simple adjectives are ribbon by its colour, we are in this case formed as above, and are never employed able, agreeably to the custom of our lan- as substantives: the Chinese, on the other guage, to connect with the word ribbon, the hand, when a substantive is not to be used pame of an object remarkable for that co- adjectively, add a designating syllable to it. lour. It must however be observed, when 9. As far as respects sensible objects and tracing out other examples of this contrive their connections, all seems very plain : in ance, and the application of it to other qua- order to express objects which were not lities, that sensible qualities were those, sensible, so as to convey to others the feel. and those only, which would be first noticed ings which existed in the mind of the and most requisite to be noticed. Local speaker, words were used which had presituation, or vicinity to some object, would viously been appropriated to objects, to furnish another ground for distinction; the which those objects of the mind's eye apfountain near the cave, for instance. Now peared to have some resemblance or other to express this, the procedure would be connection. This resemblance or connecsimple and intelligible if, immediately pre- tion was frequently forced, and to those ceding or following the term denoting foun- whose sitnation was different would not be tain, the term denoting cave were added; at all striking: in other cases it was corin like manner as we at present use the ex. rect, and the justness of the application is pressions, barn-yard, &c. This juxta-posi. proved by a similar procedure of uncontion of the signs to signify the contiguity or nected inventors. We may derive great similarity of the objects which they denote, light here from the hieroglyphics; for there is natural, and, in a language little extend cannot be a doubt that where the visible ed, sufficiently adequate for all the pur- sign, which originally represented only a senposes of common lite: but it is obvious sible object, was applied to denote some that it would allow of great titude of quality discovered by reasoning and obser. interpretation ; and hence as languages be- vation, that the audible sign or word was ap. came more copious, contrivances were plied in like manner. Several instances will used to denote the nature of the connec- be adduced when we come to consider the tion which existed between objects de- hieroglyphical mode of communication: at noted by the signs employed. The chief present we shall adduce one or two exam. of these is the employment of preposi. ples as illustrations of the principles here tions; and these, in the outset, furnish stated. The term used to denote the additional proof that the procedures we mouth would also denote speech; this conhave spoken of were in reality those of the nected with the word dog, would signify early framers of language, see GRAMMAR, the dog's voice ; and this compound the $ 41, particularly respecting from); but Egyptians employed to signify lamentation, these were contrivances of a later date than aud the sorroro which produced it. In the those of which we here speak. By degrees incultivated periods of society grief is I was by some tribes found convenient to loud and clamorous; and we need not be surprised to find the term howl employed the root (which does not, like every part of to denote the exclamations of pain, and the indicative in the Greek and Latin even of sorrow. By a simiar, but more verbs, incinde a pronoun) is a simple name, obvious procedure, the words dog, field, and is in many cases used as a noun; and placed together, denoted hunting. Our in our own language many names are used eireaders will be able, even in ihe present ther as nouns or as verbs. When we have ad. refined period of our language, to tract vanced to the frequent use and gradual apnumerous instances in which the names of propriation of some names to convey the intellectual things have been obviously info-rence of affirmation, the rest is easy transferred from sensible things ; and to and almost certain. With respect to the those who have attended to the subject it simple affirmation, the subject of it would, will not appear too much to affirm, that in in the case of the first and second persons, every instance where a word is not the always be a pronoun, and, in the same disname of a sensible object, it has acqnired trict, the same pronoun. This, where spoits present force by a gradual transition ken language made material progress, would from its primary application to sensible ob- gradually coalesce with the verb; and the jects. In every known language the tran- word so formed would be completely insition has been begun ; but it is only among vested with the verbal character, and never the inore refined that it has been complete : be employed but with the inference of in our own, we find abundance of instances affirmation. The same might also be the in almost every intermediate stage of the case respecting the third person, but the progress, as well as in its termination. coalescence would in this instance be more

10. Language would proceed but awk. slowiy formed, and in some languages where wardly without those wheels wbich have the coalescence took place in the other been gradually made for it; but all which persons it did not in this : it must however can be thought necessary for communica be admitted that in others the contrary is tion, are the poun and the verb; and even the fact. But we have already enlarged on of the latter the necessity may be justly these points as much as our limits will perdoubted. We think it next to certain that mit; and we therefore beg our readers to the whole of what is now (by association) refer to GRAMMAR, $ 29, 33, for some adimplied or denoted by the verb, beyond ditional remarks respecting those changes what is denoted by the acknowledged which the verb has undergone in order to noun, was originally mere inference from make it more expressive. the juxta position of the verb-noun with 10. We do not think it necessary to enter another noun. Men fight are names, and any farther into the subject of the origin are still acknowledged as such ; placed of oral language. It can scarcely be doubt. together, especially if accompanied by dis- ed by those who have studied the nature tingnishing tones of voice, it would be natu- of the other parts of speech by means of rally inferred that the speaker intended to the light which the researches of Mr. raise in his hearer's niind that belief which Tooke have afforded, that all have been exists in his own; in other words, to direct derived from the noun and the verb : and his hearer to make a connection which cir- admitting this, all that is incumbent upon cumstances has formed in his own mind. those who profess to show the original By degrees, at least in some nations, some of causes of language is to presept a probable those names which were trequently thns em- origin of those classes of words. In those ployed with the interence of affirmation, be. procedures which have been here stated, came somewhat appropriated to convey this there is nothing which supposes metaphy. inference, and the inference wonld then be sical research or much observation; and to inade whenever such a word was employed; render any procedure probable, it must but in the earliest stages of language, the great wear the marks of simplicity. In the pre. body of verbs must have been merely noups, sent period of the language, we see the and in the more simple languages many of grammarian pointing out the analogies those words which are employed as verbs which are found to exist in language, and (i. e. conveying the inference of affirmation) thence proceeding to the formation of new are still immediately recognised as nouns. words upon those analogies: this is art; In the Chinese very few names are appro- but the early formers of language, in their priated as verbs, but are used indiscrimi. inventions followed only the dictates of nately, and without any change of forin, circumstances, and whatever regularity we either as nouns or as verbs; in the Hebrew, may perceive in their inventions, must be

attributed to the similarity of those cir- adopted; but we can by no means admit cumstances. We see the philosopher invent the opinion of those who think it necessary ing a new term, agreeably to prevailing to a perfect language. That language is analogies, to express some power of the not the most perfect, which enables us to mind, or some emotion which had not re- express one thought in a great variety of ceived any denomination; but those who ways, but that which enables us to express originally gave names to mental feelings any thought with precision and perspicuity : derived them simply from some analogy, and contemptible as our own uninfected fancied or real, between the internal and language may appear to those who can an external object; and those names which think nothing good but what accords with now suggest to us ideas the most subtle the objects of their early taste, we are disand refined, were originally only the names posed to believe that in its real powers it of objects obvious to the senses. The rises beyond all the ancient languages, and reasoner when he uses a word whose mean- beyond most of the moderns. ing has not been accurately ascertained, 12. Before we leave the subject of oral defines the ideas which he intends to attach language, we shall pay some attention to to it, and uses it accordingly: in the early, the three following inquiries; whether and even in the more refined periods of words were originally imitative; whether language, the ideas connected with words they were long; and of what kind of arti. have been the result of casual associations, culations they were composed. The latter produced by local circumstances, by the of these are of importance in tracing the customs of the age, or the appearances of gradation from hieroghyphical to alphabetinature in particular situations.

cal writing. Words, in their present state, 11. In languages in which the coales- are simply arbitrary marks. The sound of cence between the verb and its adjuncts some appears to be an echo of the sense;" has taken place, and also the coalescence but in the greater number of instances in between nouns and its connective words, which there is supposed to be this resem(GRAMMAR, 19), much greater liberty of blance, very much may be attributed to inversion is practicable than in those in the fancy of the observer. It is obvious, which such coalescence has not at all oc- however, that some words are truly imitacurred, or but incompletely. In other tive, such e. g. as denote the various sounds words, where the noun, adnoun, and verb, of animals. When we carry our inquiries admit of flexion, there the arrangement farther back, we are led to suppose that depends in many instances more upon the the original words would be forined upon sound than upon the sense; and pearly in some resemblance, real or supposed, be. all cases may be made subservient to the tween their sound and the thing signified. former. This gives such languages con- What else, at first, could induce men to siderable advantage over those which admit fix upon one sound ratier than another? of but few changes, so far as respects their Sensible objects were the first which obmodalation; and further the coalescence tained names; and of these the number renders them much more forcible where is considerable which either emit some emphasis on any of the fractional parts is imitable sound, or perform such motions as not required. Whenever flexion increases are generally accompanied with sound. perspicuity, the advantage is decisive and These would probably be denoted by words obvious: with respect to modulation, though imitative of the sound, in the same manner an object of some conscquence, (since we as the Otaheitans gave to the gun the apmay sometimes find the way to the head pellation of tick-lick-bno, evidently imitating and heart by pleasing the ear) yet all cul- the cocking and report of the gun, and as tivated languages will be found to possess we give the cuckow its name from its note. sufficient power of pleasing the native ear; With respect to qualities totally unconnect. and among those who made sound so much ed with sound, particularly mental qualities, an object, sense was often sacrificed to it: this principle of imitation is not directly with respect to force, it may fairly be applicable: we immediately see the indoubted whether the advantage of greater congruity of sound and colour, for instance, precision by means of more accurate em- when we call to mind the idea of the blind phasis, does not counterbalance it. We man, that a scarlet colour was very much are willing to admit on the whole, that the like the sound of a trumpet. Yet there advantage is somewhat in favour of those can scarcely be a doubt that fancied resemlanguages in which flexion is extensively - blances would as much as real ones, direct

« НазадПродовжити »