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articulate sign-making," he tells us that in it this phase "does not appear to be either so marked, or important, or, comparatively speaking, of such prolonged duration as it was [!] in the development of speech in the race.” Yet he is really sustained by nothing but an à priori prejudice as to what he thus dogmatically says “was." His feeling is based on the notion that the ontogeny of the individual in zoology is a guide to the phylogeny
This zoological fact, however, if certainly a fact, is not at all a constant one. Often, e.g., in the metamorphoses of some insects, special adaptations are interposed, and often, e.g., in spiders, the process is an exceedingly direct one. We cannot, therefore, be sure that the development of the child is a contraction of that of the race. Mr. Romanes contends with much reason that infants who do not seem to use distinct parts of speech nevertheless mean them, and in their own way do virtually use them. He takes as instances * the before-cited childish expressions, “ Ot” = “ This milk is hot ;” “ Dow" = "My plaything is down ;” “Dit ki” = “ Sister is crying ;" “Dit dow ga”=“ Sister is down on the grass." He says, “In all these cases it is evident that the child is displaying a true perception of the different functions which severally belong to the different parts of speech” Of course Mr. Romanes means a practical perception, i.e. that the child consciously, but without reflex consciousness, tries to express meanings, the perfect expression of which would require parts of speech, and so instinctively and meaningly uses its imperfect terms as
* p. 328.
it does. Of course the child has no reflex perception of any function of any kind.
Our author continues, * “So far as psychological analysis alone could carry us, there would be nothing to show that the forcing of one part of speech into the office of another, which so frequently occurs at this age, is due to anything more than the exigencies of expression † where as yet there are scarcely any words for the conveyance of meaning of any kind. ... What may be termed this grammatical abuse of words becomes an absolute necessity where the vocabulary is small, as we well know when trying to express ourselves in a foreign language with which we are but slightly acquainted. And, of course, the smaller the vocabulary, the greater is such necessity; so that it is greatest of all when an infant is only just emerging from its infancy.” He adds, “ It is on account of the uncertainty which here obtains as between necessity and incapacity, that I reserved my consideration of 'sentence-words' for the independent light which has been thrown upon them by the science of comparative philology.”
The difference which he affirms between the infant of to-day and primitive man, as to the duration and importance of the use of terms not yet differentiated into parts of speech, he tries to explain as follows: I “An infant of to-day is born into the medium of alreadyspoken language ; and long before it is itself able to imitate the words which it hears, it is well able to understand a large number of them. Consequently, * pp. 328, 329.
† The italics are ours. # pp. 329–331.
while still literally an infant, the use of grammatical forms is being constantly borne in upon its mind; and, therefore, it is not at all surprising that, when it first begins to use articulate signs, it should already be in possession of some amount of knowledge of their distinctive meanings as names of objects, qualities, actions, states, or relations. Indeed, it is only as such that the infant has acquired its knowledge of these signs at all ; and hence, if there is any wonder in the matter, it is that the first-speaking child should exhibit so much vagueness as it does in the matter of grammatical distinction.
"But how vastly different must have been the case of primitive man! The infant, as a child of to-day, finds a grammar already made to its use, and one which it is bound to learn with the first learning of denotative names. But the infant, as an adult in primeval time, was under the necessity of slowly elaborating his grammar together with his denotative names; and this, as we have previously seen, he only could do by the aid of gesture and grimace. Therefore, while the acquisition of names and forms of speech by infantile man must have been thus in chief part dependent on gesture and grimace, the acquisition by the infantile child is now not only independent of gesture and grimace, but actively inimical to both. The alreadyconstructed grammar of speech is the evolutionary substitute of gesture, from which it originally arose ; and, hence, so soon as a child of to-day begins to speak, gesture-signs begin at once to be starved out by grammatical forms. But in the history of the race
gesture-signs were the nursing-mothers of grammatical forms; and the more that their progeny grew, the greater must have been the variety of functions which the parents were called upon to perform. In other words, during the infancy of our race the growth of articulate language must not only have depended, but also reacted upon that of gesture-signs—increasing their number, their intricacy, and their refinement, up to the time when grammatical forms were sufficiently far evolved to admit of the gesture-signs becoming gradually dispensed with. Then, of course, Saturn-like, gesticulation was devoured by its own offspring ; * the relations between signs appealing to the eye and to the ear became gradually reversed; and, as is now the case with every growing child, the language of formal utterance sapped the life of its more informal progenitor.”
We have thought it better to cite this passage entire, that Mr. Romanes's position and argument may be thoroughly well understood by our readers.
Now, we will put entirely on one side, for argument's sake, any notion of man having been created at once in the plenitude of his intellect, and bodily and mental activity. We will assume him to have had an origin, different indeed in kind from that of any other animal, but yet not such as to have placed him in a better position than the lowest we could assign to a mature rational being at all. Under such circumstances, need we assign to the earliest form of language the conditions which Mr. Romanes assign to it ?
* It had hitherto been our impression that Saturn devoured his children himself, not that he was devoured by them.
Clearly we need not. Primitive man must have felt, as Mr. Romanes says * the child did, “the exigencies of expression,” and if so, expressed himself as best he could, by combinations of bodily, facial, and oral movements. If he meant to express anything, that, as Mr. Romanes has allowed, † was the one thing necessary. A sign made up of an inarticulate sound accompanying motions of the hands and body and facial contortions, may be as truly the expression of conceptions (essentially intellectual language) as would be the utterance of a group of articulate sounds. No doubt such primitive men would have had difficulties to contend with which our children have not; but how does such a circumstance even tend to show that their intellectual nature was different from that of our own senior wranglers and cabinet ministers ?
Mr. Romanes next addresses himself to the consideration of “sentence-words,” and he asks f the strange question, “ Can anything in the shape of spoken language be more primitive than the very first words which are spoken by a child, or even by a parrot ?" He considers that sentence-words are more primitive still, because even a parrot may learn to use words by association, while primitive man could not have learned them thus, but must have invented them. But what a curious confusion is here! Because one man makes a machine, his action may be called less perfect and more primitive than the act of another man who uses it after it is made ; but the intelligence of the man who acts in the latter case need be very small compared with * p. 329. 7 p. 164.
I p. 331.