« НазадПродовжити »
proved to their own satisfaction the right mode of pronouncing the letters of a given Greek word, from the Latin word corresponding with it ; though this reasoning assumes, not only a general analogy between the two words, but also, that each letter of each must have had the same sound as the corresponding letter in the other word; and further that we know exactly what was the sound of each in the Latin. Those who have made the deepest researches into the origin of the Latin language and its connexion with the Greek, will, perhaps, end as the Bishop of St. Davids has done, in concluding that, “we must be content with knowing, both as to the lan. guage and the race, that no notion of them, which either confounds or rigidly separates thein, will bear the test of historical criticism."
-Thirlwall's Hist. of Greece, vol. i. p. 56. How entirely fallacious then must be any reasoning from analogy on so nice a subject as the pronunciation of letters ! To give an instance: that the Latin word fur is derived from the Greek pwp seems very probable from the meaning being the same, and from the general similarity of the words; nor is there anything in the judicious scepticism of the bishop to prevent our supposing the Latin word to be so derived: but how does this assist us in the pronunciation of the particular letters? Is the Greek 12 to be pronounced like the Latin U? This would be a conclusion, which, to say the least of it, is so
improbable as to require strong confirmation. But perhaps it will be said, that, admitting a doubt about the sound of the corresponding vowels in these two words, at any rate the consonants have the same sound, the F, for instance, the same as the O. So far from it, that we shall find that the sound of the Roman F was so different from any in the Greek language, that a Greek was unable to pronounce it. Again, what sound has the Greek B? Analogy would give it three or four, namely
Pin papæ, from Baßai.
B in superbus, from útépßio.. Sus is probably derived from úc, septem from Éta, serpo from éprw, satio from allouai. Was then the Greek aspirate sounded like the Latin S? Numerous other instances will occur to every reader, sufficient to convince him, that such general analogy affords no light to the niceties of the subject under examination, and ought either to be rejected altogether, or admitted with the utmost caution. Indeed, the degree of similarity which subsists between the two languages as to their structure, and particularly that of their poetry, is sufficient to mislead us into an assumption, that the pronunciation may have been similar. We have high author. ity the other way. Quinctilian says, “Latina mihi facundia, ut inventione, dispositione, con
silio, cæteris hujus generis artibus, similis Græcæ, ac prorsus discipula ejus videtur ; ita circa rationem eloquendi vix habere imitationis locum." -XII. 10. 27. It is obvious that in transplanting a word from one language to another it must be subject to modification :
“Et nova fictaque nuper habebunt verba fidem, si
Horat. Ars Poet. 52. In the case of English and German, supposing them to become dead languages, in such words as wagen and waggon, wein and wine, wunder and wonder ; how natural would be the assumption that the first letter of each was sounded alike, and yet how fallacious !
Another objection to this reasoning from the analogy between the two languages, is that it generally explains what is uncertain by what is more uncertain. Admitting that the 12 in owe is to be pronounced like the U in fur, how was this last pronounced ? Must we follow the Italians, the French, the English, or the modern Greeks ? for all these pronounce the U differently. The preference will probably be given, and rightly given, to the Italian. But why is the modern Italian's pronunciation of U better authority than the modern Greek's pronunciation of 12 ? If we are to go back to the authors on the subject, we have at least as good direction for the proper mode of pronouncing Greek as Latin, and I think in most cases better. But although we can derive little information from the form which an old Greek word assumes after migrating to Italy, we cannot refuse our attention to a species of evidence nearly akin to this, namely, the form which Greek writers give to Latin words, and especially names of men and places. Here we draw no conclusion from mere analogy of the two languages, or from a common root communicated in an imperfect state of the alphabet, or perhaps derived by each, without communication with each other, from an older language which has been the origin of both. A Greek writer, long after his own alphabet is complete, finds a Latin name, utterly unknown to his own countrymen, but which he wishes to communicate to them. It is probable that he will adopt those Greek letters which exactly represent the Latin sound, or in default of them, those which come nearest to it. Still, however, the knowledge we gain from such a translation is far from exact, from this reason, that we do not know what Latin letters had Greek letters of an equivalent sound; nor, if we did, could we predicate with certainty, though we are very apt to assume, what was the pronunciation of the Latin letter. Further, in the names, particularly of celebrated men and well-known places, the Greek, instead of representing the exact sound, may choose to hellenize the word to make it more familiar to his own countrymen, as we have anglicized Lyons, Naples, and Flo
rence. Besides, it is not unlikely that the names of well-known places in Italy, and of celebrated Roman men, particularly the emperors, would be pronounced according to the Latin manner, even by the Greeks, who in their inscriptions and coins might represent each single Latin letter by that Greek letter which had the same place in the alphabet, or the same shape with it, without consideration as to the way in which it would have been pronounced in any ordinary Greek word.
This mode, therefore, of proving the identity of sounds, though not rejected altogether, will be used sparingly, and in aid of direct authority, but never against it.
MISTAKES IN INSCRIPTIONS. 6. Another mode of proving the right pronun. ciation, namely the mistakes in ancient inscriptions, though very frequently appealed to, and particularly by the modern Greeks, must be adopted with great caution. The ancient marbles are of the utmost importance to us in tracing the history of the alphabet, and enabling us to judge of the period at which particular letters or combinations of letters came into use; but when they contain such mistakes as show them to have been the work of men ignorant of their own language, this, though it take away nothing from their historical authority, makes them much less conclusive upon the particular points which we are