Chips from a German Workshop - Volume IV - Essays chiefly on the Science of Language
by Max Muller
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The simplest dative is that in _e_, after verbal bases ending in consonants or _, e.g., d{ri}{s}, for the sake of seeing, to see; vid-, to know, paribhve,[33] to overcome; {s}raddh km, to believe.


After some verbs ending in _, the dative is irregularly (Grammar, 239, 240) formed in _ai_; Rv. VII. 19, 7, pardi, to surrender. III. 60, 4, pratimi, to compare, and the important form vayodhi, of which more by and by.


By the side of these datives we have analogous accusatives in am, genitives and ablatives in as, locatives in i.

Accusative: I. 73, 10, {s}akma ymam, May we be able to get. I.94, 3, {s}akma tv samdhan, May we be able to light thee. This may be the Oscan and Umbrian infinitive in um, om (u, o), if we take yama as a base in a, and m as the sign of the accusative. In Sanskrit it is impossible to determine this question, for that bases in a also are used for similar purposes is clearly seen in datives like dbhya; e.g., Rv. V. 44, 2, n dbhya, not to conquer; VIII. 96, 1, n{r}bhy{h} trya sndhava{h} su-pr{h}, the rivers easy to cross for men. Whether the Vedic imperatives in ya ({s}yac) admit of a similar explanation is doubtful on account of the accent.

Genitive: vilikha{h}, in {s}varo vilikha{h}, cognizant of drawing; and possibly X. 108, 2, atiskda{h} bhiys, from fear of crossing.

Ablative: Rv. VIII. 1, 12, pur t{r}da{h}, before striking.

Locative: Rv. V. 52, 12, d{ri}{s} tvish, to shine in glancing(?)


The same termination of the dative is added to verbal bases which have taken the increment of the aorist, thes. Thus from ji, to conquer, we have ji-sh, and je-sh, and from both datival forms with infinitival function. I.111, 4, t na{h} hinvantu stye dhiy jish, May they bring us to wealth, wisdom, victory!

I. 100, 11, apm toksya tnayasya jesh, May Indra help us for getting water, children, and descendants. Cf. VI. 44, 18.

Or, after bases ending in consonants, upapraksh; V. 47, 6, upa-praksh v{r}sha{n}a{h} —- vadhv{h} yanti ccha, the men go towards their wives to embrace.

These forms correspond to Greek infinitives like lusai and tupsai, possibly to Latin infinitives like ferre, for fer-se, velle for vel-se, and voluis-se; for se, following immediately on a consonant, can never represent the Sanskrit ase. With regard to infinitives like fac-se, dic-se, I do not venture to decide whether they are primitive forms, or contracted, though fac-se could hardly be called a contraction of fecisse. The 2d pers. sing. of the imperative of the 1st aorist middle, lusai, is identical with the infinitive in form, and the transition of meaning from the infinitive to the imperative is well known in Greek and other languages. (Paida d' emoi lusai te philn ta t' apoina dechesthai, Deliver up my dear child and accept the ransom). Several of these aoristic forms are sometimes very perplexing in Sanskrit. If we find, for instance, stush, we cannot always tell whether it is the infinitive (lusai); or the 1st pers. sing. of the aor. tmanep. in the subjunctive (for stushai), Let me praise (lusmai); or lastly, the 2d pers. sing. tmanep. in the indicative (lui). If stushe has no accent, we know, of course, that it cannot be the infinitive, as in X. 93, 9; but when it has the accent on the last, it may, in certain constructions, be either infinitive, or 1st pers. sing. aor. tm. subj. Here we want far more careful grammatical studies on the language of the Veda, before we can venture to translate with certainty. In places, for instance, where as in I.122, 7we have a nominative with stush, it is clear that it must be taken as an infinitive, stush s vm —- rt{h}, your gift, Varu{n}a and Mitra, is to be praised; but in other places, such as VIII. 5, 4, the choice is difficult. In VIII. 65, 5, ndra gri{n}sh u stush, Ishould propose to translate, Indra, thou longest for praising, thou desirest to be praised, cf. VIII. 71, 15; while in II. 20, 4, tm u stushe ndram tm g{ri}{n}she, Itranslate, Let me praise Indra, let me laud him, admitting here, the irregular retention of Vikara{n}a in the aorist, which can be defended by analogous forms such as g{r}-{n}-sh-{n}i, st{r}-{n}-sh-{n}i, of which more hereafter. However, all these translations, as every real scholar knows, are, and can be tentative only. Nothing but a complete Vedic grammar, such as we may soon expect from Professor Benfey, will give us safe ground to stand on.


Feminine bases in _ form their dative in yai, and thus we find caryai used in the Veda, VII. 77, 1, as what we should call an infinitive, in the sense of to go. No other cases of car have as yet been met with. Asimilar form is jryai, to praise, I.38, 13.


We have next to consider bases in i, forming their dative in ye. Here, whenever we are acquainted with the word in other cases, we naturally take aye as a simple dative of a noun. Thus in I.31, 8, we should translate sanye dhnnm, for the acquisition of treasures, because we are accustomed to other cases, such as I.100, 13, sanyas, acquisitions, V. 27, 3, sanm, wealth. But if we find, V. 80, 5, d{ri}{s}ye na{h} astht, she stood to be seen by us, lit., for our seeing, then we prefer, though wrongly, to look upon such datives as infinitives, simply because we have not met with other cases of d{ri}{s}i-s.


What applies to datives of nouns in i, applies with still greater force to datives of nouns in ti. There is no reason why in IX. 96, 4we should call hataye, to be without hurt, an infinitive, simply because no other case of hati-s occurs in the Rig-Veda; while jtaye, not to fail, in the same line, is called a dative of jti-s, because it occurs again in the accusative jti-m.


In ityi, to go, I. 113, 6; 124, 1, we have a dative of iti-s, the act of going, of which the instrumental ity occurs likewise, I.167, 5. This ty, shortened to tya, became afterwards the regular termination of the gerund of compound verbs in tya (Grammar 446), while ya (445) points to an original ya or yai.


Next follow datives from bases in as, partly with accent on the first syllable, like neuter nouns in as, partly with the accent on as; partly with Gu{n}a, partly without. With regard to them it becomes still clearer how impossible it would be to distinguish between datives of abstract nouns, and other grammatical forms, to be called infinitives. Thus Rv. I.7, 3we read drghya ckshase, Indra made the sun rise for long glancing, i.e., that it might glance far and wide. It is quite true that no other cases of ckshas, seeing, occur, on which ground modern grammarians would probably class it as an infinitive; but the qualifying dative drghya, clearly shows that the poet felt ckshase as the dative of a noun, and did not trouble himself, whether that noun was defective in other cases or not.

These datives of verbal nouns in as, correspond exactly to Latin infinitives in ĕre, like vivere (jvse), and explain likewise infinitives in re, re, and re, forms which cannot be separated. It has been thought that the nearest approach to an infinitive is to be found in such forms as jvse, bhiyse, to fear (V.29,4), because in such cases the ordinary nominal form would be bhyas-e. There is, however, the instrumental bhiysa, X. 108, 2.


Next follow datives from nouns in man, van, and an. The suffix man is very common in Sanskrit, for forming verbal nouns, such as kar-man, doing, deed, from kar. Van is almost restricted to forming nomina agentis, such as druh-van, hating; but we find also substantives like pat-van, still used in the sense of flying. An also is generally used like van, but we can see traces of its employment to form nomina actionis in Greek agn, Lat. turbo, etc.

Datives of nouns in man, used with infinitival functions, are very common in the Veda; e.g. I.164, 6, p{ri}ccmi vidmane, Iask to know; VIII. 93, 8, dmane k{ri}t{h}, made to give. We find also the instrumental case vidmn, e.g., VI. 14, 5, vidmn urushyti, he protects by his knowledge. These correspond to Homeric infinitives, like idmenai, domenai, etc., old datives and not locatives, as Schleicher and Curtius supposed; while forms like domen are to be explained either as abbreviated, or as obsolete accusatives.


Of datives in vne I only know dⱥvne, amost valuable grammatical relic, by which Professor Benfey was enabled to explain the Greek dounai, i.e., dowenai.[34]


Of datives in ne I pointed out (l.c.) dhrv-ane and vibhv-ne, VI. 61, 13, taking the latter as synonymous with vibhv, and translating, Sarasvat, the great, made to conquer, like a chariot. Professor Roth, s.v. vibhvn, takes the dative for an instrumental, and translates "made by an artificer." It is, however, not the chariot that is spoken of, but Sarasvat, and of her it could hardly be said that she was made either by or for an artificer.


As we saw before that aoristic bases in s take the datival e, so that we had prk-sh-e by the side of p{r}c-e, we shall have to consider here aoristic bases in s, taking the suffix an, not however with the termination of the dative, but with that of the locative i. Thus we read X. 126, 3, nyish{t}h{h} u na{h} nesh{n}i prshish{t}h{h} u na{h} parsh{n}i ti dvsha{h}, they who are the best leaders to lead us, the best helpers to help us to overcome our enemies, lit. in leading us, in helping us. In VIII. 12, 19, g{ri}{n}shni, i.e. g{ri}-{n}-sh{n}-i stands parallel with turv-n-e, thus showing how both cases can answer nearly the same purpose. If these forms existed in Greek, they would, after consonantal bases, be identical with the infinitives of the future.


We next come to a large number of datives, ablatives, or genitives, and accusatives of verbal nouns in tu. This tu occurs in Sanskrit in abstract nouns such as gt, going, way, etc., in Latin in adven-tus, etc. As these forms have been often treated, and as some of them occur frequently in later Sanskrit also, it will suffice to give one example of each:—

Dative in tave: gntave, to go, I. 46, 7.

Old form in ai: gntavi, X. 95, 14.

Genitive in to{h}: dto{h}, governed by {s}e, VII. 4, 6.

Ablative in to{h}: gnto{h}, I. 89, 9.

Accusative in tum: gntum. This is the supine in tum in Latin.


Next follow cases of verbal nouns in tv, the accent being on the suffix.

Datives in tvya: hatvya, X. 84, 2.

Instrumental in tv: hatv, I. 100, 18.

Older form in tv: hatv, II. 17, 6; gatv, IV. 41, 5.


I have left to the end datives in dhai and dhyai, which properly belong to the datives in ai, treated before, but differ from them as being datives of compound nouns. As from mya{h}, delight, we have mayaskar, delight-making, mayobh, delight-causing, and constructions like myo ddhe, so from vyas, life, vigor, we have vyask{r}t, life-giving, and constructions like vyo dht. From dh we can frame two substantival frame, dh and dhi-s, _e.g._ puro-dh, and puro-dhis, like vi-dhi-s. As an ordinary substantive, purodh takes the feminine termination _, and is declined like {s}iv. But if the verbal base remains at the end of a compound without the feminine suffix, acompound like vayodh would form its dative vayodhe (Grammar, 239); and as in analogous cases we found old datives in ai, instead of _e_, e.g. pardai, nothing can be said against vayodhai, as a Vedic dative of vayodh. The dative of purodhi would be purodhaye, but here again, as, besides forms like d{ri}{s}aye, we met with datives, such as ityai, rohishyai, there is no difficulty in admitting an analogous dative of purodhi, viz., purodhyai.

The old dative dhai has been preserved to us in one form only, which for that reason is all the more valuable and important, offering the key to the mysterious Greek infinitives in thai, Imean vayodhi, which occurs twice in the Rig-Veda, X. 55, 1, and X. 67, 11. The importance of this relic would have been perceived long ago, if there had not been some uncertainty as to whether such a form really existed in the Veda. By some accident or other, Professor Aufrecht had printed in both passages vayodhai{h}, instead of vayodhai. But for this, no one, Ibelieve, would have doubted that in this form vayodhai we have not only the most valuable prototype of the Greek infinitives in (s)thai, but at the same time their full explanation. Vayodhai stands for vayas-dhai, in which composition the first part vayas is a neuter base in as, the second a dative of the auxiliary verb dh, used as a substantive. If, therefore, we find corresponding to vayodhai a Greek infinitive beesthai, we must divide it into bees-thai, as we divide pseudesthai into pseudes-thai, and translate it literally by "to do lying."

It has been common to identify Greek infinitives in sthai with corresponding Sanskrit forms ending in dhyai. No doubt these forms in dhyai are much more frequent than forms in dhai, but as we can only take them as old datives of substantives in dhi, it would be difficult to identify the two. The Sanskrit dhy appears, no doubt, in Greek, as ss, dh being represented by the surd th, and then assibilated by y; but we could hardly attempt to explain sth = #th#y, because sd = z = #d#y. Therefore, unless we are prepared to see with Bopp in the s before th, in this and similar forms, aremnant of the reflexive pronoun, nothing remains but to accept the explanation offered by the Vedic vayodhai, and to separate pseudesthai into pseudes-thai lying to do. That this grammatical compound, if once found successful, should have been repeated in other tenses, giving us not only graphes-thai, but grapses-thai, grapsas-thai, and even graphthses-thai, is no more than what we may see again and again in the grammatical development of ancient and modern languages. Some scholars have objected on the same ground to Bopp's explanation of ama-mini, as the nom. plur. of a participle, because they think it impossible to look upon amemini, amabmini, amaremini, amabimini as participial formations. But if a mould is once made in language, it is used again and again, and little account is taken of its original intention. If we object to grapses-thai, why not to keleu-se-menai or tethna-menai or michth-menai? In Sanskrit, too, we should hesitate to form a compound of a modified verbal base, such as p{ri}{n}a, with dhi, doing; yet as the Sanskrit ear was accustomed to yajadhyai from yaja, gamadhyai from gama, it did not protest against p{ri}{n}adhyai, vv{ri}dhadhyai, etc.


And while these ancient grammatical forms which supply the foundation of what in Greek, Latin, and other languages we are accustomed to call infinitives are of the highest interest to the grammarian and the logician, their importance is hardly less in the eyes of the historian. Every honest student of antiquity, whether his special field be India, Persia, Assyria, or Egypt, knows how often he is filled with fear and trembling when he meets with thoughts and expressions which, as he is apt to say, cannot be ancient. Ihave frequently confessed to that feeling with regard to some of the hymns of the Rig-Veda, and I well remember the time when I felt inclined to throw up the whole work as modern and unworthy of the time and labor bestowed upon it. At that time I was always comforted by these so-called infinitives and other relics of ancient language. They could not have been fabricated in India. They are unknown in ordinary Sanskrit, they are unintelligible as far as their origin is concerned in Greek and Latin, and yet in the Vedic language we find these forms, not only identical with Greek and Latin forms, but furnishing the key to their formation in Greece and Italy. The Vedic vayas-dhi compared with Greek bees-thai, the Vedic stushe compared with lusai are to my mind evidence in support of the antiquity and genuineness of the Veda that cannot be shaken by any arguments.


I add a few words on the infinitive in English, though it has been well treated by Dr. March in his "Grammar of the Anglo-Saxon Language," by Dr. Morris, and others. We find in Anglo-Saxon two forms, one generally called the infinitive, nim-an, to take, the other the gerund, to nim-anne, to take. Dr. March explains the first as identical with Greek nem-ein and nem-en-ai, i.e., as an oblique case, probably the dative, of a verbal noun in an. He himself quotes only the dative of nominal bases in a, e.g. namanya, because he was probably unacquainted with the nearer forms in an-e supplied by the Veda. This infinitive exists in Gothic as nim-an, in Old Saxon as nim-an, in Old Norse as nem-a, in Old High German as nem-an. The so-called gerund, to nimanne, is rightly traced back by Dr. March to Old Saxon nim-annia, but he can hardly be right in identifying these old datival forms with the Sanskrit base nam-anya. In the Second Period of English (1100-1250)[35] the termination of the infinitive became en, and frequently dropped the final n, as smelle = smellen; while the termination of the gerund at the same time became enne, (ende), ene, en, or e, so that outwardly the two forms appear to be identical, as early as the 12th century.[36] Still later, towards the end of the 14th century, the terminations were entirely lost, though Spenser and Shakespeare have occasionally to killen, passen, delven, when they wished to impart an archaic character to their language. In modern English the infinitive with to is used as a verbal substantive. When we say, "Iwish you to do this," "you are able to do this," we can still perceive the datival function of the infinitive. Likewise in such phrases, "it is time," "it is proper," "it is wrong to do that," to do may still be felt as an oblique case. But we have only to invert these sentences, and say, "to do this is wrong," and we have a new substantive in the nom. sing., just as in the Greek to legein. Expressions like for to do, show that the simple to was not always felt to be sufficiently expressive to convey the meaning of an original dative.


The infinitive has formed the subject of many learned treatises. Idivide them into two classes, those which appeared before and after Wilhelm's excellent essay, written in Latin, "De Infinitivi Vi et Natura," 1868; and in a new and improved edition, "De Infinitivo Linguarum Sanscrit, Bactric, Persic, Grc, Osc, Umbric, Latin, Gotic, forma et usu," Isenaci, 1873. In this essay the evidence supplied by the Veda was for the first time fully collected, and the whole question of the nature of the infinitive placed in its true historical light. Before Wilhelm the more important works were Hofer's book, "Vom Infinitiv, besonders im Sanskrit," Berlin, 1840; Bopp's paragraphs in his "Comparative Grammar;" Humboldt's paper, in Schlegel's "Indische Bibliothek" (II.74), 1824; and his posthumous paper in Kuhn's "Zeitschrift" (II.245), 1853; some dissertations by L.Meyer, Merguet, and Golenski. Benfey's "Sanskrit Grammar" (1852), too, ought to be mentioned, as having laid the first solid foundations for this and all other branches of grammatical research, as far as Sanskrit is concerned. After Wilhelm the same subject has been treated with great independence by Ludwig, "Der Infinitif im Veda," 1871, and again "Agglutination oder Adaptation," 1873; and also by Jolly, "Geschichte des Infinitivs," 1873.

I had myself discussed some questions connected with the nature of the infinitive in my "Lectures on the Science of Language," vol. ii. p.15 seq., and I had pointed out in Kuhn's "Zeitschrift," XV. 215 (1866) the great importance of the Vedic vayodhai for unraveling the formation of Greek infinitives in s-thai.


At a still earlier time, in 1847, in my "Essay on Bengali," Isaid: "As the infinitives of the Indo-Germanic languages must be regarded as the absolute cases of a verbal noun, it is probable that in Bengali the infinitive in ite was also originally a locative, which expressed not only local situation, but also movement towards some object, as an end, whether real or imaginary. Thus the Bengali infinitive corresponds exactly with the English, where the relation of case is expressed by the preposition to. Ex. thke mrite mi siychi, means, Icame to the state of beating him, or, Icame to beat him; mke mrite deo, give me (permission), let me (go) to the action of beating, i.e., allow me to beat. Now as the form of the participle is the same as that of the infinitive, it may be doubted if there is really a distinction between these two forms as to their origin. For instance, the phrase pan putrake mrite mi thka dekhilm, can be translated, Isaw him beating his own son; but it can be explained also as, what they nonsensically call in Latin grammar accusativus cum infinitivo, that is to say, the infinitive can be taken for a locative of the verbal noun, and the whole phrase be translated, Isaw him in the action of beating his own son, (vidi patrem cdere ipsius filium). As in every Bengali phrase the participle in ite can be understood in this manner, Ithink it admissible to ascribe this origin to it, and instead of taking it for a nominative of a verbal adjective, to consider it as a locative of a verbal noun."


I also tried to show that the infinitive in the Dravidian languages is a verbal noun with or without a case suffix. This view has been confirmed by Dr. Caldwell, but, in deference to him, Igladly withdraw the explanation which I proposed in reference to the infinitive in Tamil. Iquote from Dr. Caldwell's "Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Languages," 2d ed. p.423: "Professor Max Mller, noticing that the majority of Tamil infinitives terminate in ka, supposed this ka to be identical in origin with k, the dative-accusative case-sign of the Hindi, and concluded that the Dravidian infinitive was the accusative of a verbal noun. It is true that the Sanskrit infinitive and Latin supine in tum is correctly regarded as an accusative, and that our English infinitive to do, is the dative of a verbal noun; it is also true that the Dravidian infinitive is a verbal noun in origin, and never altogether loses that character; nevertheless, the supposition that the final ka of most Tamil infinitives is in any manner connected with ku, the sign of the Dravidian dative, or of k, the Hindi dative-accusative, is inadmissible. Acomparison of various classes of verbs and of the various dialects shows that the k in question proceeds from a totally different source."

[Transcriber's Note:

In the following section the Devanagari letters have been transliterated as printed, with inherent vowel, but they should be read as the consonant alone.]


As in my article on Vayodhai, published in Kuhn's "Zeitschrift," 1866, p.215, Ihad entered a caveat against identifying Greek b with Sanskrit ja, Itake this opportunity of frankly withdrawing it. Phonetically, no doubt, these two letters represent totally distinct powers, and to say that Sanskrit ja ever became Greek b is as irrational to-day as it was ten years ago. But historically I was entirely wrong, as will be seen from the last edition of Curtius' "Grundzge." The guttural sonant check was palatalized in the Southeastern Branch, and there became j and z, while in the Northwestern Branch the same g was frequently labialized and became gv, v, andb. Hence, where we have ja in Sanskrit, we may and do fin b in Greek.

But after withdrawing my former caveat, I make bold to propose another, namely, that the original palatal sonant flatus, which in Sanskrit is graphically represented by j, can never be represented in Greek by b. Whether j in Sanskrit represents an original palatal sonant check or an original palatal sonant flatus can generally be determined by a reference to Zend, which represents the former by j, the latter by z. We may therefore formulate this phonetic law:—

"When Sanskrit j is represented by Zend z, it cannot be represented by Greek b."

In this manner it is possible, I believe, to utilize Ascoli's and Fick's brilliant discovery as to a twofold, or even threefold, distinction of the Aryan k, as applied to the Aryang. They have proved that all Aryan languages show traces of an original distinction between a guttural surd check, k, frequently palatalized in the Southeastern Branch (Sk.c, Zendc) and liable to labialization, in Latin, Greek, Cymric, and Gothic; and another k, never liable to labialization, but changed into a flatus, palatal or otherwise, in Sanskrit, Lithuanian, and Old Slavonic. They showed, in fact,—

[Transcriber's Note: The following list has been rotated 90 for space.]

Sanskrit. ka (ca) {s}a Lith. k sz Slav. k, č, c s Gadh. c c & Cym. p Lat. c, qu, v c Greek. #k, kw, kk, #k# p, pp, t, tt#, Gothic. hv, h h

In the same manner we ought in future to distinguish between a guttural sonant check, g, frequently palatalized in the Southeastern Branch (Sk.j, Zendj), and liable to labialization, like k; and another g, never liable to labialization, but changed into a flatus, palatal or otherwise, in Zend, Lithuanian, and Old Slavonic. As we never have p = {s}a we never have b = ja, if ja in Zend is z.

The evidence will be found under Sk. jan, jabh, jar (to decay, and to praise), jush, j, ju, jmtar; aj, bhrj, marj, yaj, raj(atam).

Gothic quin, Gadh. ben, Boeot. bana depend on Zend jeni; Gadh. baith-is on Zend jaf-ra. It is wrong to connect sbes with jas, on account of Zend zas, and gy-ni with bia, on account of Zend zy-ni.

[Footnote 1: The following statute was approved by the University of Oxford in 1868 (Statuta Universitatis Oxoniensis, iv., i., 37. 1-3):—

"1. Professor philologi comparativ a Vice-Cancellario, et professoribus linguarum Hebraic, Sanskritic, Grc, Latin, et Anglo-Saxonic eligatur. In qualitate suffragantium rem decidat Vice-Cancellarius.

"Proviso tamen ut si vir cl. M. Mller, M.A., hodie linguarum modernarum Europ professor Taylorianus, eam professionem intra mensem post hoc statutum sancitum resignaverit, seque professoris philologi comparativ munus suscipere paratum esse scripto Vice-Cancellarium certiorem fecerit, is primus admittatur professor.

"2. Professor quotannis per sex menses in Universitate incolat et commoretur inter decimum diem Octobris et primum diem Julii sequentis.

"3. Professor duas lectionum series in duobus discretis terminis legat, terminis Paschatis et S.Trinitatis pro uno reputatis; scilicet per sex septimanas in utroque termino, et bis ad minimum in unaquaque septimana: atque insuper per sex septimanas unius alicujus termini bis ad minimum in unaquaque septimana per unius hor spatium vacet instruendis auditoribus in iis qu melius sine solennitate tradi possunt. Unam porro ad minimum lectionem quotannis publice habeat ab academicis quibuscunque sine mercede audiendam. De die hora et loco quibus hc lectio solennis habenda sit academiam modo consueto certiorem faciat."]

[Footnote 2: An offer to found a professorship of Chinese, to be held by an Englishman whom even Stanislas Julien recognized as the best Chinese scholar of the day, has lately been received very coldly by the Hebdomadal Council of the University.]

[Footnote 3: Liber Sextus Decretalium (Lugduni, 1572), p.1027: "Ut igitur peritia linguarum hujusmodi possit habiliter per instructionem efficaciam obtinere, hoc sacro approbante concilio scholas in subscriptarum linguarum generibus ubicunque Romanam curiam residere contigerit, necnon in Parisiensi, et Oxoniensi, Bononiensi, et Salmantino studiis providimus erigendas; statuentes ut in quolibet locorum ipsorum teneantur viri catholici, sufficienter habentes Hebraic, Arabic, et Chald linguarum notitiam."]

[Footnote 4: Greaves, Oratio Oxonii habita, 1637, p. 19: "Paucos ultra centum annos numeramus ex quo Grc primum liter oras hasce appulerunt, antea ignot prorsus, nonnullis exos etiam et invis, indoctissimis scilicet fraterculis, quibus religio erat graece scire, et levissimus Attic eruditionis gustus hresin sapiebat."]

[Footnote 5: See Biographia Britannica Literaria, vol.i. p.110.]

[Footnote 6: M. M.'s Lectures on the Science of Language, vol.i. p.171.]

[Footnote 7: Ibid., p. 176.]

[Footnote 8: See Notes A and B, pp. 43, 45.]

[Footnote 9: See M. M., Science of Religion, 1873, p. 293.]

[Footnote 10: See Weber, Indische Studien, vol. i. p. 38.]

[Footnote 11: See Haug, in Ewald's Biblische Jahrbcher, vol. vi. p.162.]

[Footnote 12: Anab., i. 2, 7: Entautha Kur Basileia n kai paradeisos megas, agrin thrin plrs, ha ekeinos ethreuen apo hippou, hopote gumnasai bouloito heauton te kai tous hippous. Dia mesou de tou paradeisou rhei ho Maiandros potamos k.t.l. Hell., iv. 1, 15: En perieirgmenois paradeisois k.t.l.]

[Footnote 13: See Indian Antiquary, 1874, p. 332.]

[Footnote 14: Grassmann, Kuhn's Zeitschrift, vol. ix. p.23.]

[Footnote 15: Ebel, Kuhn's Zeitschrift, vol. viii. p. 242.]

[Footnote 16: Schleicher, Compendium, 112.]

[Footnote 17: Lottner, Kuhn's Zeitschrift, vol. ix. p. 319.]

[Footnote 18: Leo Meyer, Die Gothische Sprache, 31.]

[Footnote 19: Choeroboscus, B. A., p. 1274, 29: Ta aparemphata amphiballetai ei ara eisi rhmata ouchi. Schoemann, Rede-theile, p.49.]

[Footnote 20: Apollonius, De Constr., i. c. 8, p. 32: Dunamei auto to rhma oute prospa epidechetai oute arithmous, alla engenomenon en prospois tote kai ta prospa diesteilen .... kai psuchikn diathesin. Schoemann, l.c. p.19.]

[Footnote 21: Note C, p. 47.]

[Footnote 22: Benfey, Orient und Occident, vol. i. p. 606; vol. ii. pp. 97, 132.]

[Footnote 23: Chips, vol. iii. p. 134.]

[Footnote 24: Dr. Kielhorn in his grammar gives correctly tad as base, tat as nom. and acc. sing., because in the latter case phonetic rules either require or allow the change of d into t. Boehtlingk, Roth, and Benfey also give the right forms. Curtius, like Bopp, gives yat, Schleicher tat, which he supposes to have been changed at an early time into tad (203).]

[Footnote 25: Weich ist es ({t} oder {d}) wohl im abl. sing., gafn{t} (gafndha). Justi, Handbuch der Zendsprache, p.362.]

[Footnote 26: Orient und Occident, vol. i. p. 298.]

[Footnote 27: Entwickelung der Lateinischen Formenlehre, 1870, p.20.]

[Footnote 28: Grundriss der Lateinischen Declination, 1866, p.9.]

[Footnote 29: See Benfey, l.c. p. 298.]

[Footnote 30: In the dictionary of Boehtlingk and Roth we read s.v. gn, "scarce in the singular; nom. sing. seems to be gns, according to the passage Rv. IV. 9, 4, and Naigh. I.11, in one text, while the other text gives the form gn." Against this, it should be remarked, that it would make no difference whether the MSS. of the Naigha{n}{t}uka give gn or gns. Gn would be the nom. sing., gns would be the form in which the word occurs most frequently in the Veda. It is easy to see that the collector of the Naigha{n}{t}uka allowed himself to quote words according to either principle.

Devarja, in his commentary on gn, explains it: "Gamer dhtor dhp{r}vasyajyatibhyo na{h} (U.S. III.6) iti bahulakn napratyayo bhavati {t}ilopa{s} ca; {t}ap. Gatyarth buddhyarth{h} jnanti karmeti gn{h}. Yadv gacchati yajeshu; abh yajm g{ri}{n}hi no gnva{h} (patnva{h}) Rv. I.15, 3. Chand{m}si vai gn iti brhma{n}am iti Mdhava{h}. Asm d u gn{s} cid (Rv.I.61,8) ity api; gyatrydy devapatnya iti sa eva. Tasmc chandasm gyatrydnm vgrpatvd gnvyapade{s}a{h}."

In his remarks on Nigh. III. 29, it is quite clear that Devarja takes gn{h} as a nom. plur., not as a nom. sing. He says: Men gn iti str{n}m; ubhv api {s}abdau vykhytau vnnmasu. Mnayanti hi t{h} pati{s}va{s}uramtuldaya{h}, pjy bhshayitavy{s} ceti smara{n}t. Gacchanty en{h} patayo patyrthina{h}. The passage quoted in the Nirukta III. 29, gns tvk{ri}ntann apaso 'tanvata vayitryo 'vayan, is taken from the T{n}{d}yabrhma{n}a I.8, 9. "Odress! the women cut thee out, the workers stretched thee out, the weavers wove thee."

Thus every support which the Nigha{n}{t}u or the Nirukta was supposed to give to the form gn{h} as a nom. sing. vanishes. And if it is said s.v. gnspati, that in this compound gn{h} might be taken as a nom. sing., and that the Pada-text separates gn{h}-pati{h}, it has been overlooked that the separation in Rv. II. 38, 10, is a mere misprint. See Prti{s}khya, 738. The compound gnspati{h} has been correctly explained as standing for gnyspati{h}, and the same old genitive is also found in jspati{h} and jspatyam. See also Vjasan. Prti{s}khya, IV. 39. It is important to observe that the metre requires us to pronounce gnspati either as gnăⱥspătĭ{h} or as gănⱥspătĭ{h}. There is, as far as I know, no passage where gn{h} in the Veda can be taken as a nom. sing., and it should be observed that gn{h} as nom. plur. is almost always disyllabic in the Rig-veda, excepting the tenth Ma{n}{d}ala; that the acc. sing. (V.43,6) is, however, disyllabic, but the acc. plur. monosyllabic (I.22,10). In V. 43, 13, we must either read gnⱥ{h} or øshădh[)-i]{h}.]

[Footnote 31: Sth, svbhipryabodhannuklasthiti, to reveal by gestures, ameaning not found in our dictionaries. Wilson renders it wrongly by to stay with, which would govern the instrumental. {S}ap, cursing, means to use curses in order to convey some meaning or intention to another person.]

[Footnote 32: Wilson's Sanskrit Grammar, p. 390.]

[Footnote 33: In verbs compounded with prepositions the accent is on the penultimate: e.g., samdhe, atikrme, etc.]

[Footnote 34: See M. M.'s Translation of the Rig-Veda, I. p.34.]

[Footnote 35: Morris, Historic Outlines of English Accidence, p.52.]

[Footnote 36: Morris, l.c. p. 177.]




Part I.


There are few sensations more pleasant than that of wondering. We have all experienced it in childhood, in youth, and in our manhood, and we may hope that even in our old age this affection of the mind will not entirely pass away. If we analyze this feeling of wonder carefully, we shall find that it consists of two elements. What we mean by wondering is not only that we are startled or stunned,—that I should call the merely passive element of wonder. When we say "Iwonder," we confess that we are taken aback, but there is a secret satisfaction mixed up with our feeling of surprise, akind of hope, nay, almost of certainty, that sooner or later the wonder will cease, that our senses or our mind will recover, will grapple with these novel impressions or experiences, grasp them, it may be, throw them, and finally triumph over them. In fact we wonder at the riddles of nature, whether animate or inanimate, with a firm conviction that there is a solution to them all, even though we ourselves may not be able to find it.

Wonder, no doubt, arises from ignorance, but from a peculiar kind of ignorance; from what might be called a fertile ignorance: an ignorance which, if we look back at the history of most of our sciences, will be found to have been the mother of all human knowledge. For thousands of years men have looked at the earth with its stratifications, in some places so clearly mapped out; for thousands of years they must have seen in their quarries and mines, as well as we ourselves, the imbedded petrifications of organic creatures: yet they looked and passed on without thinking more about it—they did not wonder. Not even an Aristotle had eyes to see; and the conception of a science of the earth, of Geology, was reserved for the eighteenth century.

Still more extraordinary is the listlessness with which during all the centuries that have elapsed since the first names were given to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field, men have passed by what was much nearer to them than even the gravel on which they trod, namely, the words of their own language. Here, too, the clearly marked lines of different strata seemed almost to challenge attention, and the pulses of former life were still throbbing in the petrified forms imbedded in grammars and dictionaries. Yet not even a Plato had eyes to see, or ears to hear, and the conception of a science of language, of Glottology, was reserved for the nineteenth century.

I am far from saying that Plato and Aristotle knew nothing of the nature, the origin, and the purpose of language, or that we have nothing to learn from their works. They, and their successors, and their predecessors too, beginning with Herakleitos and Demokritos, were startled and almost fascinated by the mysteries of human speech as much as by the mysteries of human thought; and what we call grammar and the laws of language, nay, all the technical terms which are still current in our schools, such as noun and verb, case and number, infinitive and participle, all this was first discovered and named by the philosophers and grammarians of Greece, to whom, in spite of all our new discoveries, Ibelieve we are still beholden, whether consciously or unconsciously, for more than half of our intellectual life.

But the interest which those ancient Greek philosophers took in language was purely philosophical. It was the form, far more than the matter of speech which seemed to them a subject worthy of philosophical speculation. The idea that there was, even in their days, an immense mass of accumulated speech to be sifted, to be analyzed, and to be accounted for somehow, before any theories on the nature of language could be safely started, hardly ever entered their minds; or when it did, as we see here and there in Plato's "Kratylos," it soon vanished, without leaving any permanent impression. Each people and each generation has its own problems to solve. The problem that occupied Plato in his "Kratylos" was, if I understand him rightly, the possibility of a perfect language, acorrect, true, or ideal language, alanguage founded on his own philosophy, his own system of types or ideas. He was too wise a man to attempt, like Bishop Wilkins, the actual construction of a philosophical language. But, like Leibniz, he just lets us see that a perfect language is conceivable, and that the chief reason of the imperfections of real language must be found in the fact that its original framers were ignorant of the true nature of things, ignorant of dialectic philosophy, and therefore incapable of naming rightly what they had failed to apprehend correctly. Plato's view of actual language, as far as it can be made out from the critical and negative rather than didactic and positive dialogue of "Kratylos," seems to have been very much the same as his view of actual government. Both fall short of the ideal, and both are to be tolerated only in so far as they participate in the perfections of an ideal state and an ideal language.[2] Plato's "Kratylos" is full of suggestive wisdom. It is one of those books which, as we read them again from time to time, seem every time like new books: so little do we perceive at first all that is pre-supposed in them,—the accumulated mould of thought, if I may say so, in which alone a philosophy like that of Plato could strike its roots and draw its support.

But while Plato shows a deeper insight into the mysteries of language than almost any philosopher that has come after him, he has no eyes for that marvelous harvest of words garnered up in our dictionaries, and in the dictionaries of all the races of the earth. With him language is almost synonymous with Greek, and though in one passage of the "Kratylos" he suggests that certain Greek words might have been borrowed from the Barbarians, and, more particularly from the Phrygians, yet that remark, as coming from Plato, seems to be purely ironical, and though it contains, as we know, agerm of truth that has proved most fruitful in our modern science of language, it struck no roots in the minds of Greek philosophers. How much our new science of language differs from the linguistic studies of the Greeks; how entirely the interest which Plato took in language is now supplanted by new interests, is strikingly brought home to us when we see how the Socit de Linguistique, lately founded at Paris, and including the names of the most distinguished scholars of France, declares in one of its first statutes that "it will receive no communication concerning the origin of language or the formation of a universal language," the very subjects which, in the time of Herakleitos and Plato, rendered linguistic studies worthy of the consideration of a philosopher.

It may be that the world was too young in the days of Plato, and that the means of communication were wanting to enable the ancient philosopher to see very far beyond the narrow horizon of Greece. With us it is different. The world has grown older, and has left to us in the annals of its various literatures the monuments of growing and decaying speech. The world has grown larger, and we have before us, not only the relics of ancient civilization in Asia, Africa, and America, but living languages in such number and variety that we draw back almost aghast at the mere list of their names. The world has grown wiser too, and where Plato could only see imperfections, the failures of the founders of human speech, we see, as everywhere else in human life, anatural progress from the imperfect towards the perfect, unceasing attempts at realizing the ideal, and the frequent triumphs of the human mind over the inevitable difficulties of this earthly condition,—difficulties, not of man's own making, but, as I firmly believe, prepared for him, and not without a purpose, as toils and tasks, by a higher Power and by the highest Wisdom.

Let us look then abroad and behold the materials which the student of language has now to face. Beginning with the language of the Western Isles, we have at the present day, at least 100,000 words, arranged as on the shelves of a Museum, in the pages of Johnson and Webster. But these 100,000 words represent only the best grains that have remained in the sieve, while clouds of chaff have been winnowed off, and while many a valuable grain too has been lost by mere carelessness. If we counted the wealth of English dialects, and if we added the treasures of the ancient language from Alfred to Wycliffe, we should easily double the herbarium of the linguistic flora of England. And what are these Western Isles as compared to Europe; and what is Europe, amere promontory, as compared to the vast continent of Asia; and what again is Asia, as compared to the whole inhabitable world? But there is no corner of that world that is not full of language: the very desert and the isles of the sea teem with dialects, and the more we recede from the centres of civilization, the larger the number of independent languages, springing up in every valley, and overshadowing the smallest island.

Idan es poludendron anr hulatomos enthn Paptainei, pareontos adn, pothen arxetai erg.[3]

We are bewildered by the variety of plants, of birds, and fishes, and insects, scattered with lavish prodigality over land and sea;—but what is the living wealth of that Fauna as compared to the winged words which fill the air with unceasing music! What are the scanty relics of fossil plants and animals, compared to the storehouse of what we call the dead languages! How then can we explain it that for centuries and centuries, while collecting beasts, and birds, and fishes, and insects, while studying their forms, from the largest down to the smallest and almost invisible creatures, man has passed by this forest of speech, without seeing the forest, as we say in German, for the very number of its trees (Man sah den Wald vor lauter Bumen nicht), without once asking how this vast currency could have been coined, what inexhaustible mines could have supplied the metal, what cunning hands could have devised the image and superscription,—without once wondering at the countless treasure inherited by him from the fathers of the human race?

Let us now turn our attention in a different direction. After it had been discovered that there was this great mass of material to be collected, to be classified, to be explained, what has the Science of Language, as yet, really accomplished? It has achieved much, considering that real work only began about fifty years ago; it has achieved little, if we look at what still remains to be done.

The first discovery was that languages admit of classification. Now this was a very great discovery, and it at once changed and raised the whole character of linguistic studies. Languages might have been, for all we know, the result of individual fancy or poetry; words might have been created here and there at random, or been fixed by a convention, more or less arbitrary. In that case a scientific classification would have been as impossible as it is if applied to the changing fashions of the day. Nothing can be classified, nothing can be scientifically ruled and ordered, except what has grown up in natural order and according to rational rule.

Out of the great mass of speech that is now accessible to the student of language, anumber of so-called families have been separated, such as the Aryan, the Semitic, the Ural-Altaic, the Indo-Chinese, the Dravidian, the Malayo-Polynesian, the Kafir or B-ntu in Africa, and the Polysynthetic dialects of America. The only classes, however, which have been carefully examined, and which alone have hitherto supplied the materials for what we might call the Philosophy of Language, are the Aryan and the Semitic, the former comprising the languages of India, Persia, Armenia, Greece and Italy, and of the Celtic, Teutonic, and Slavonic races; the latter consisting of the languages of the Babylonians, the Syrians, the Jews, the Ethiopians, the Arabs.

These two classes include, no doubt, the most important languages of the world, if we measure the importance of languages by the amount of influence exercised on the political and literary history of the world by those who speak them. But considered by themselves, and placed in their proper place in the vast realm of human speech, they describe but a very small segment of the entire circle. The completeness of the evidence which they place before us in the long series of their literary treasures, points them out in an eminent degree as the most useful subjects on which to study the anatomy of speech, and nearly all the discoveries that have been made as to the laws of language, the process of composition, derivation, and inflexion, have been gained by Aryan and Semitic scholars.

Far be it from me, therefore, to underrate the value of Aryan and Semitic scholarship for a successful prosecution of the Science of Language. But while doing full justice to the method adopted by Semitic and Aryan scholars in the discovery of the laws that regulate the growth and decay of language, we must not shut our eyes to the fact that our field of observation has been thus far extremely limited, and that we should act in defiance of the simplest rules of sound induction, were we to generalize on such scanty evidence. Let us but clearly see what place these two so-called families, the Aryan and Semitic, occupy in the great kingdom of speech. They are in reality but two centres, two small settlements of speech, and all we know of them is their period of decay, not their period of growth, their descending, not their ascending career, their Being, as we say in German, not their Becoming (Ihr Gewordensein, nicht ihr Werden). Even in the earliest literary documents both the Aryan and Semitic speech appear before us as fixed and petrified. They had left forever that stage during which language grows and expands, before it is arrested in its exuberant fertility by means of religious or political concentration, by means of oral tradition, or finally by means of a written literature. In the natural history of speech, writing, or, what in early times takes the place of writing, oral tradition, is something merely accidental. It represents a foreign influence which, in natural history, can only be compared to the influence exercised by domestication on plants and animals. Language would be language still, nay, would be more truly language, if the idea of a literature, whether oral or written, had never entered men's minds; and however important the effects produced by this artificial domestication of language may be, it is clear that our ideas of what language is in a natural state, and therefore what Sanskrit and Hebrew, too, must have been before they were tamed and fixed by literary cultivation, ought not to be formed from an exclusive study of Aryan and Semitic speech. Imaintain that all that we call Aryan and Semitic speech, wonderful as its literary representatives may be, consists of neither more or less than so many varieties which all owe their origin to only two historical concentrations of wild unbounded speech; nay, however perfect, however powerful, however glorious in the history of the world,—in the eyes of the student of language, Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac, are what a student of natural history would not hesitate to call "monstra," unnatural, exceptional formations which can never disclose to us the real character of language left to itself to follow out its own laws without let or hindrance.

For that purpose a study of Chinese and the Turanian dialects, astudy even of the jargons of the savages of Africa, Polynesia, and Melanesia is far more instructive than the most minute analysis of Sanskrit and Hebrew. The impression which a study of Greek and Latin and Sanskrit leaves on our minds is, that language is a work of art, most complicated, most wonderful, most perfect. We have given so many names to its outward features, its genders and cases, its tenses and moods, its participles, gerunds, and supines, that at last we are frightened at our own devices. Who can read through all the so-called irregular verbs, or look at the thousands and thousands of words in a Greek Dictionary without feeling that he moves about in a perfect labyrinth? How then, we ask, was this labyrinth erected? How did all this come to be? We ourselves, speaking the language which we speak, move about, as it were, in the innermost chambers, in the darkest recesses of that primeval palace, but we cannot tell by what steps and through what passages we arrived there, and we look in vain for the thread of Ariadne which in leading us out of the enchanted castle of our language, would disclose to us the way by which we ourselves, or our fathers and forefathers before us, entered into it.

The question how language came to be what it is has been asked again and again. Even a school-boy, if he possesses but a grain of the gift of wondering must ask himself why mensa means one table, and mens many tables; why I love should be amo, I am loved amor, I shall love amabo, I have loved amavi, I should have loved amavissem. Until very lately two answers only could have been given to such questions. Both sound to us almost absurd, yet in their time they were supported by the highest authorities. Either, it was said, language, and particularly the grammatical framework of language was made by convention, by agreeing to call one table mensa, and many tables mens; or, and this was Schlegel's view, language was declared to possess an organic life, and its terminations, prefixes, and suffixes were supposed to have sprouted forth from the radicals and stems and branches of language, like so many buds and flowers. To us it seems almost incredible that such theories should have been seriously maintained, and maintained by men of learning and genius. But what better answer could they have given? What better answer has been given even now? We have learnt something, chiefly from a study of the modern dialects, which often repeat the processes of ancient speech, and thus betray the secrets of the family. We have learnt that in some of the dialects of modern Sanskrit, in Bengali for instance,[4] the plural is formed, as it is in Chinese, Mongolian, Turkish, Finnish, Burmese, and Siamese, also in the Dravidian and Malayo-Polynesian dialects, by adding a word expressive of plurality, and then appending again the terminations of the singular. We have learnt from French how a future, je parlerai, can be formed by an auxiliary verb: "Ito speak have" coming to mean, Ishall speak. We have learnt from our own language, whether English or German, that suffixes, such as head in godhead, ship in ladyship, dom in kingdom were originally substantives, having the meaning of quality, shape, and state. But I doubt whether even thus we should have arrived at a thorough understanding of the real antecedents of language, unless, what happened in the study of the stratification of the earth, had happened in the study of language. If the formation of the crust of the earth had been throughout regular and uniform, and if none of the lower strata had been tilted up, so that even those who run might read, no shaft from the surface could have been sunk deep enough to bring the geologist from the tertiary strata down to the Silurian rocks. The same in language. Unless some languages had been arrested in their growth during their earlier stages, and had remained on the surface in this primitive state exposed only to the decomposing influence of atmospheric action, and to the ill-treatment of literary cultivation, Idoubt whether any scholar would have had the courage to say that at one time Sanskrit was like unto Chinese, and Hebrew no better than Malay. In the successive strata of language thus exposed to our view, we have in fact, as in Geology, the very thread of Ariadne, which, if we will but trust to it, will lead us out of the dark labyrinth of language in which we live, by the same road by which we and those who came before us, first entered into it. The more we retrace our steps, the more we advance from stratum to stratum, from story to story, the more shall we feel almost dazzled by the daylight that breaks in upon us; the more shall we be struck, no longer by the intricacy of Greek or Sanskrit grammar, but by the marvelous simplicity of the original warp of human speech, as preserved, for instance, in Chinese; by the child-like contrivances, that are at the bottom of Paulo-post Futures and Conditional Moods.

Let no one be frightened at the idea of studying a Chinese grammar. Those who can take an interest in the secret springs of the mind, in the elements of pure reason, in the laws of thought, will find a Chinese grammar most instructive, most fascinating. It is the faithful photograph of man in his leading-strings, trying the muscles of his mind, groping his way, and so delighted with his first successful grasps that he repeats them again and again. It is child's play, if you like, but it displays, like all child's play, that wisdom and strength which are perfect in the mouth of babes and sucklings. Every shade of thought that finds expression in the highly finished and nicely balanced system of Greek tenses, moods, and particles can be expressed, and has been expressed, in that infant language by words that have neither prefix nor suffix, no terminations to indicate number, case, tense, mood, or person. Every word in Chinese is monosyllabic, and the same word, without any change of form, may be used as a noun, averb, an adjective, an adverb, or a particle. Thus ta, according to its position in a sentence, may mean great, greatness, to grow, very much, very.[5]

And here a very important observation has been made by Chinese grammarians, an observation which, after a very slight modification and expansion, contains indeed the secret of the whole growth of language from Chinese to English. If a word in Chinese is used with the bon fide signification of a noun or a verb, it is called a full word (shi-ts); if it is used as a particle or with a merely determinative or formal character, it is called an empty word (hiu-ts[6]). There is as yet no outward difference between full and empty words in Chinese, and this renders it all the more creditable to the grammarians of China that they should have perceived the inward distinction, even in the absence of any outward signs.

Let us learn then from Chinese grammarians this great lesson, that words may become empty, and without restricting the meaning of empty words as they do, let us use that term in the most general sense, as expressive of the fact that words may lose something of their full original meaning.

Let us add to this another observation, which the Chinese could not well have made, but which we shall see confirmed again and again in the history of language, viz.: that empty words, or, as we may also call them, dead words, are most exposed to phonetic decay.

It is clear then that, with these two preliminary observations, we can imagine three conditions of language:—

1. There may be languages in which all words, both empty and full, retain their independent form. Even words which are used when we should use mere suffixes or terminations, retain their outward integrity in Chinese. Thus, in Chinese, jin means man, tu means crowd, jin-tu, man-crowd. In this compound both jin and tu continue to be felt as independent words, more so than in our own compound man-kind; but nevertheless tu has become empty, it only serves to determine the preceding word jin, man, and tells us the quantity or number in which jin shall be taken. The compound answers in intention to our plural, but in form it is wide apart from men, the plural of man.

2. Empty words may lose their independence, may suffer phonetic decay, and dwindle down to mere suffixes and terminations. Thus in Burmese the plural is formed by to, in Finnish, Mordvinian, and Ostiakian by t. As soon as to ceases to be used as an independent word in the sense of number, it becomes an empty, or if you like, an obsolete word, that has no meaning except as the exponent of plurality; nay, at last, it may dwindle down to a mere letter, which is then called by grammarians the termination of the plural. In this second stage phonetic decay may well-nigh destroy the whole body of an empty word, but—and this is important—no full words, no radicals are as yet attacked by that disintegrating process.

3. Phonetic decay may advance, and does advance still further. Full words also may lose their independence, and be attacked by the same disease that had destroyed the original features of suffixes and prefixes. In this state it is frequently impossible to distinguish any longer between the radical and formative elements of words.

If we wished to represent these three stages of language algebraically, we might represent the first by RR, using R as the symbol of a root which has suffered no phonetic decay; the second, by R + r or r + R, or r + R + r representing by r an empty word that has suffered phonetic change; the third, by r#r#, or #r#r, or #r#r#r#, when both full and empty words have been changed, and have become welded together into one indistinguishable mass through the intense heat of thought, and by the constant hammering of the tongue.

Those who are acquainted with the works of Humboldt will easily recognize, in these three stages or strata, aclassification of language first suggested by that eminent philosopher. According to him languages can be classified as isolating, agglutinative,[7] and inflectional, and his definition of these three classes agrees in the main with the description just given of the three strata or stages of language.

But what is curious is that this threefold classification, and the consequences to which it leads, should not at once have been fully reasoned out, nay, that a system most palpably erroneous should have been founded upon it. We find it repeated again and again in most works on Comparative Philology, that Chinese belongs to the isolating class, the Turanian languages to the combinatory, the Aryan and Semitic to the inflectional; nay, Professor Pott[8] and his school seem convinced that no evolution can ever take place from isolating to combinatory and from combinatory to inflectional speech. We should thus be forced to believe that by some inexplicable grammatical instinct, or by some kind of inherent necessity, languages were from the beginning created as isolating or combinatory, or inflectional, and must remain so to the end.

It is strange that those scholars who hold that no transition is possible from one form of language to another, should not have seen that there is really no language that can be strictly called either isolating, or combinatory, or inflectional, and that the transition from one stage to another is in fact constantly taking place under our very noses. Even Chinese is not free from combinatory forms, and the more highly developed among the combinatory languages show the clearest traces of incipient inflection. The difficulty is not to show the transition of one stratum of speech into another, but rather to draw a sharp line between the different strata. The same difficulty was felt in Geology, and led Sir Charles Lyell to invent such pliant names as Eocene, Meiocene, and Pleiocene, names which indicate a mere dawn, aminority, or a majority of new formations, but do not draw a fast and hard line, cutting off one stratum from the other. Natural growth, and even merely mechanical accumulation and accretion, here as elsewhere, are so minute and almost imperceptible that they defy all strict scientific terminology, and force upon us the lesson that we must be satisfied with an approximate accuracy. For practical purposes Humboldt's classification of languages may be quite sufficient, and we have no difficulty in classing any given language, according to the prevailing character of its formation, as either isolating, or combinatory, or inflectional. But when we analyze each language more carefully we find there is not one exclusively isolating, or exclusively combinatory, or exclusively inflectional. The power of composition, which is retained unimpaired through every stratum, can at any moment place an inflectional on a level with an isolating and a combinatory language. Acompound such as the Sanskrit go-duh, cow-milking, differs little, if at all, from the Chinese nieou-jou, vacc lac, or in the patois of Canton, ngau , cow-milk, before it takes the terminations of the nominative, which is, of course, impossible in Chinese.

So again in English New-town, in Greek Nea-polis, would be simply combinatory compounds. Even Newton would still belong to the combinatory stratum; but Naples would have to be classed as belonging to the inflectional stage.

Finnish, Hungarian, Turkish, and the Dravidian languages belong in the main to the combinatory stratum; but having received a considerable amount of literary cultivation, they all alike exhibit forms which in every sense of the word are inflectional. If in Finnish, for instance, we find ksi, in the singular, hand, and kdet, in the plural, hands, we see that phonetic corruption has clearly reached the very core of the noun, and given rise to a plural more decidedly inflectional than the Greek cheir-es, or the English hand-s. In Tamil, where the suffix of the plural is ga{l}, we have indeed a regular combinatory form in kei-ga{l}, hands; but if the same plural suffix ga{l} is added to kal, stone, the euphonic rules of Tamil require not only a change in the suffix, which becomes ka{l}, but likewise a modification in the body of the word, kal being changed to kar. We thus get the plural karka{l} which in every sense of the word is an inflectional form. In this plural suffix ga{l}, Dr. Caldwell has recognized the Dravidian ta{l}a or da{l}a, a host, acrowd; and though, as he admits himself in the second edition (p.143), the evidence in support of this etymology may not be entirely satisfactory, the steps by which the learned author of the Grammar of the Dravidian languages has traced the plural termination lu in Telugu back to the same original suffix ka{l} admit of little doubt.

Evidence of a similar kind may easily be found in any grammar, whether of an isolating, combinatory, or inflectional language, wherever there is evidence as to the ascending or descending progress of any particular form of speech. Everywhere amalgamation points back to combination, and combination back to juxtaposition, everywhere isolating speech tends towards terminational forms, and terminational forms become inflectional.

I may best be able to explain the view commonly held with regard to the strata of language by a reference to the strata of the earth. Here, too, where different strata have been tilted up, it might seem at first sight as if they were arranged perpendicularly and side by side, none underlying the other, none presupposing the other. But as the geologist, on the strength of more general evidence, has to reverse this perpendicular position, and to re-arrange his strata in their natural order, and as they followed each other horizontally, the student of language too is irresistibly driven to the same conclusion. No language can by any possibility be inflectional without having passed through the combinatory and isolating stratum; no language can by any possibility be combinatory without clinging with its roots to the underlying stratum of isolation. Unless Sanskrit and Greek and Hebrew had passed through the combinatory stratum, nay, unless, at some time or other, they had been no better than Chinese, their present form would be as great a miracle as the existence of chalk (and the strata associated withit) without an underlying stratum of oolite (and the strata associated withit;) or a stratum of oolite unsupported by the trias or system of new red sandstone. Bunsen's dictum, that "the question whether a language can begin with inflections, implies an absurdity," may have seemed too strongly worded: but if he took inflections in the commonly received meaning, in the sense of something that may be added or removed from a base in order to define or to modify its meaning, then surely the simple argument ex nihilo nihil fit is sufficient to prove that the inflections must have been something by themselves, before they became inflections relatively to the base, and that the base too must have existed by itself, before it could be defined and modified by the addition of such inflections.

But we need not depend on purely logical arguments, when we have historical evidence to appeal to. As far as we know the history of language, we see it everywhere confined within those three great strata or zones which we have just described. There are inflectional changes, no doubt, which cannot as yet be explained, such as the m in the accusative singular of masculine, feminine, and in the nominative and accusative of neuter nouns; or the change of vowels between the Hebrew Piel and Pual, Hiphil and Hophal, where we might feel tempted to admit formative agencies different from juxtaposition and combination. But if we consider how in Sanskrit the Vedic instrumental plural, a{s}vebhis (Lat. equobus), becomes before our very eyes a{s}vais (Lat. equis), and how such changes as Bruder, brother, and Brder, brethren, Ich weiss, I know, A.S. wt, and Wir wissen, we know, A.S. wit-on, have been explained as the results of purely mechanical, i.e., combinatory proceedings, we need not despair of further progress in the same direction. One thing is certain, that, wherever inflection has yielded to a rational analysis, it has invariably been recognized as the result of a previous combination, and wherever combination has been traced back to an earlier stage, that earlier stage has been simple juxtaposition. The primitive blocks of Chinese and the most perplexing agglomerates of Greek can be explained as the result of one continuous formative process, whatever the material elements may be on which it was exercised; nor is it possible even to imagine in the formation of language more than these three strata through which hitherto all human speech has passed.

All we can do is to subdivide each stratum, and thus, for instance, distinguish in the second stratum the suffixing (R+ r) from the prefixing (r +R), and from the affixing (r + R + r) languages.

A fourth class, the infixing or incapsulating languages, are but a variety of the affixing class, for what in Bask or in the polysynthetic dialects of America has the appearance of actual insertion of formative elements into the body of a base can be explained more rationally by the former existence of simpler bases to which modifying suffixes or prefixes have once been added, but not so firmly as to exclude the addition of new suffixes at the end of the base, instead of, as with us, at the end of the compound. If we could say in Greek deik-mi-nu, instead of deik-nu-mi, or in Sanskrit yu-mi-na-j, instead of yu-na-j-mi, we should have a real beginning of so-called incapsulating formations.[9]

A few instances will place the normal progress of language from stratum to stratum more clearly before our eyes. We have seen that in Chinese every word is monosyllabic, every word tells, and there are, as yet, no suffixes by which one word is derived from another, no case-terminations by which the relation of one word to another could be indicated. How, then, does Chinese distinguish between the son of the father, and the father of the son? Simply by position. F is father, tz, son; therefore f tz is son of the father, tz f, father of the son. This rule admits of no exception but one. If a Chinese wants to say a wine-glass, he puts wine first and glass last, as in English. If he wants to say a glass of wine, he puts glass first and wine last. Thus i-pei thsieou, a cup of wine; thsieou pei, a wine-cup. If, however, it seems desirable to mark the word which is in the genitive more distinctly, the word tchi may be placed after it, and we may say, f tchi tz, the son of the father. In the Mandarin dialect this tchi has become ti, and is added so constantly to the governed word, that, to all intents and purposes, it may be treated as what we call the termination of the genitive. Originally this tchi was a relative, or rather a demonstrative, pronoun, and it continues to be used as such in the ancient Chinese.[10]

It is perfectly true that Chinese possesses no derivative suffixes; that it cannot derive, for instance, kingly from a noun, such as king, or adjectives like visible and invisible from a verb videre, to see. Yet the same idea which we express by invisible, is expressed without difficulty in Chinese, only in a different way. They say khan-pu-kien, "I-behold-and-do-not-see," and this to them conveys the same idea as the English invisible, though more exactly invisible might be rendered by kien, to see, pou-te, one cannot, t, which.

We cannot in Chinese derive from ferrum, iron, a new substantive ferrarius, a man who works in iron, ablacksmith; ferraria, an iron mine, and again ferrariarius, a man who works in an iron mine. All this is possible in an inflectional language only. But it is not to be supposed that in Chinese there is an independent expression for every single conception, even for those which are clearly secondary and derivative. If an arrow in Chinese is shi, then a maker of arrows (inold French flchier, in English fletcher) is called an arrow-man, shi-jin. Shui means water, fu, man; hence shui-fu, a water man, awater carrier. The same word shui, water, if followed by sheu, hand, stands for steersman, literally, water-hand. Kin means gold, tsiang, maker; hence kin-tsiang, agoldsmith. Shou means writing, sheu, hand; hence shou-sheu, a writer, acopyist, literally, awriting-hand.

A transition from such compounds to really combinatory speech is extremely easy. Let sheu, in the sense of hand, become obsolete, and be replaced in the ordinary language by another word for hand; and let such names as shu-sheu, author, shui-sheu, boatsman, be retained, and the people who speak this language will soon accustom themselves to look upon sheu as a mere derivative, and use it by a kind of false analogy, even where the original meaning of sheu, hand, would not have been applicable.[11]

We can watch the same process even in comparatively modern languages. In Anglo-Saxon, for instance, hd means state, order. It is used as an independent word, and continued to be so used as late as Spenser, who wrote:—

"Cuddie, I wote thou kenst little good, So vainly t' advaunce thy headlesse hood."

After a time, however, hd, as an independent word, was lost, and its place taken by more classical expressions, such as habit, nature, or disposition. But there remained such compounds as man-hd, the state of man, God-hd, the nature of God; and in these words the last element, being an empty word and no longer understood, was soon looked upon as a mere suffix. Having lost its vitality, it was all the more exposed to phonetic decay, and became both hood and head.

Or, let us take another instance, The name given to the fox in ancient German poetry was Regin-hart. Regin in Old High German means thought or cunning, hart, the Gothic hardu, means strong. This hart[12] corresponds to the Greek kratos, which, in its adjectival form of krats, forms as many proper names in Greek as hart in German. In Sanskrit the same word exists as kratu, meaning intellectual rather than bodily strength, ashade of meaning which is still perceivable even in the German hart, and in the English hard and hardy. Reginhart, therefore, was originally a compound, meaning "thought-strong," strong in cunning. Other words formed in the same or a very similar manner are: Peranhart and Bernhart, literally, bear-minded, or bold like a bear; Eburhart, boar-minded; Engil-hart, angel-minded; Gothart, god-minded; Egin-hart, fierce-minded; Hugihart, wise-minded or strong in thought, the English Hogarth. In Low German the second element, hart, lost its h and became ard. This ard ceased to convey any definite meaning, and though in some words which are formed by ard we may still discover its original power, it soon became a mere derivative, and was added promiscuously to form new words. In the Low German name for the fox, Reinaert, neither the first nor the second word tells us any longer anything, and the two words together have become a mere proper name. In other words the first portion retains its meaning, but the second, ard, is nothing but a suffix. Thus we find the Low German dronk-ard, a drunkard; dick-ard, a thick fellow; rik-ard, a rich fellow; grard, a miser. In English sweet-ard, originally a very sweet person, has been changed and resuscitated as sweet-heart,[13] by the same process which changed shamefast into shamefaced. But, still more curious, this suffix ard, which had lost all life and meaning in Low German, was taken over as a convenient derivative by the Romance languages. After having borrowed a number of words such as renard, fox, and proper names like Bernard, Richard, Gerard, the framers of the new Romance dialects used the same termination even at the end of Latin words. Thus they formed not only many proper names, like Abeillard, Bayard, Brossard, but appellatives like leccardo, a gourmand, linguardo, a talker, criard, a crier, codardo, Prov. coart, Fr. couard, a coward.[14] That a German word hart, meaning strong, and originally strength, should become a Roman suffix may seem strange; yet we no longer hesitate to use even Hindustani words as English suffixes. In Hindustani vl is used to form many substantives. If Dilli is Delhi, then Dill-vll is a man of Delhi. Go is cow, go-vl a cow-herd, contracted into gvl. Innumerable words can thus be formed, and as the derivative seemed handy and useful, it was at last added even to English words, for instance in "Competition wallah."

These may seem isolated cases, but the principles on which they rest pervade the whole structure of language. It is surprising to see how much may be achieved by an application of those principles, how large results may be obtained by the smallest and simplest means. By means of the single radical or y (originally ya), which in the Aryan languages means to go or to send, the almost unconscious framers of Aryan grammar formed not only their neuter, denominative, and causative verbs, but their passives, their optatives, their futures, and a considerable number of substantives and adjectives. Every one of these formations, in Sanskrit as well as in Greek, can be explained, and has been explained, as the result of a combination between any given verbal root and the radical _ or y.

There is, for instance, a root nak, expressive of perishing or destruction. We have it in nak, night; Latin nox, Greek nux, meaning originally the waning, the disappearing, the death of day. We have the same root in composition, as, for instance, jva-nak, life-destroying; and by means of suffixes Greek has formed from it nek-ros, adead body, nek-us, dead, and nek-u-es in the plural, the departed. In Sanskrit this root is turned into a simple verb, na{s}-a-ti, he perishes. But in order to give to it a more distinctly neuter meaning, anew verbal base is formed by composition with ya, na{s}-ya-ti, he goes to destruction, he perishes.

By the same or a very similar process denominative verbs are formed in Sanskrit to a very large extent. From rjan, king, we form rj-ya-te, he behaves like a king, literally, he goes the king, he acts the king, il a l'allure d'un roi. From kumr, girl, kmr-ya-te, he behaves like a girl, etc.[15]

After raising na{s} to n{s}a, and adding the same radical ya, Sanskrit produces a causative verb, n{s}a-ya-ti, he sends to destruction, the Latin ncare.

In close analogy to the neuter verb na{s}yati, the regular passive is formed in Sanskrit by composition with ya, but by adding, at the same time, adifferent set of personal terminations. Thus n{s}-y-ti means he perishes, while na{s}-y-te means he is destroyed.

The usual terminations of the Optative in Sanskrit are:—

ym, ys, yt, yma, yta, yus,

or, after bases ending in vowels:—

iyam, is, it, ima, ita, iyus.

In Greek:—

in, is, i, imen, ite, ien,

or, after bases ending in o:—

imi, is, i, imen, ite, ien.

In Latin:—

im is iet —— —— ient, m, s, it, mus, tis, int.

If we add these terminations to the root AS, to be, we get the Sanskrit s-ym for as-ym:—

sym, sys, syt, syma, syta, syus.

Greek es-in, contracted to ein:—

ein, eis, ei, eimen, eite, eien.

Latin es-iem, changed to sim, sm, and erm:—

sim, sis, siet,[16] —— —— sient. sim, ss, sit,[17] smus, sitis, sint. erm, ers, erit, ermus, ertis, erint.

If we add the other termination to a verbal base ending in certain vowels, we get the Sanskrit bhara-iyam, contracted to bhreyam:—

bharyam, bhars, bhart, bharma, bharta, bharyus.

in Greek phero-imi:—

phero-imi, phero-is, phero-i, phero-imen, phero-ite, phero-ien.

in Latin fere-im, changed to ferem, used in the sense of a future, but replaced[18] in the first person by feram, the subjunctive of the present:—

feram, fers, feret, fermus, fertis, ferent.

Perfect Subjunctive:—

tul-erm, tul-ers, tul-erit, tul-erimus, tul-eritis,[19] tul-erint.

Here we have clearly the same auxiliary verb, i or ya, again, and we are driven to admit that what we now call an optative or potential mood, was originally a kind of future, formed by ya, to go, very much like the French je vais dire, I am going to say, Ishall say, or like the Zulu 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 ngi-ya-ku-tanda, I go to love, Ishall love.[20] The future would afterwards assume the character of a civil command, as "thou wilt go" may be used even by us in the sense of "go;" and the imperative would dwindle away into a potential, as we may say: "Go and you will see," in the same sense as, If you go, you will see.

The terminations of the future are:—


symi, syasi, syati, symas, sytha, syanti.


s, seis, sei, somen, sete, sonti.


ero, erĭs, erĭt, erĭmus, erĭtis, erunt.

In these terminations we have really two auxiliary verbs, the verb as, to be, and ya, to go, and by adding them to any given root, as, for instance, DA, to give, we have the Sanskrit (d-as-y-mi):—

d-s-y-mi, d-s-ya-si, d-s-ya-ti, d-s-y-mas, d-s-ya-tha, d-s-ya-nti,

Greek (d-es-i):—

ds-,[21] d-s-eis, d-s-ei, d-s-omen, d-s-ete, d-s-ousi.


pot-ero, pot-erĭs, pot-erit, pot-erĭmus, pot-erĭtis, pot-erunt.

A verbal form of very frequent occurrence in Sanskrit is the so-called gerundive participle which signifies that a thing is necessary or proper to be done. Thus from budh, to know, is formed bodh-ya-s, one who is to be known, cognoscendus; from guh, to hide, gh-ya-s, or goh-ya-s, one who is to be hidden, literally, one who goes to a state of hiding or being hidden; from yaj, to sacrifice, yj-ya-s, one who is or ought to be worshipped. Here, again, what is going to be becomes gradually what will be, and lastly, what shall be. In Greek we find but few analogous forms, such as hagios, holy, stug-i-os, to be hated; in Latin ex-im-i-us, to be taken out; in Gothic anda-nm-ja, to be taken on, to be accepted, agreeable, German angenehm.[22]

While the gerundive participles in ya are formed on the same principle as the verbal bases in ya of the passive, anumber of substantives in ya seem to have been formed in close analogy to the bases of denominative verbs, or the bases of neuter verbs, in all of which the derivative ya expresses originally the act of going, behaving, and at last of simple being. Thus from vid, to know, we find in Sanskrit vid-y, knowing, knowledge; from {s}i, to lie down, {s}ayy; resting. Analogous forms in Latin are gaud-i-um, stud-i-um, or with feminine terminations, in-ed-i-a, in-vid-i-a, per-nic-i-es, scab-i-es; in Greek, man-i-a, hamart-i-a, or hamart-i-on; in German, numerous abstract nouns in i and e.[23]

This shows how much can be achieved, and has been achieved, in language with the simplest materials. Neuter, denominative, causative, passive verbs, optatives and futures, gerundives, adjectives, and substantives, all are formed by one and the same process, by means of one and the same root. It is no inconsiderable portion of grammar which has thus been explained by this one root ya, to go, and we learn again and again how simple and yet how wonderful are the ways of language, if we follow them up from stratum to stratum to their original starting-point.

Now what has happened in these cases, has happened over and over again in the history of language. Everything that is now formal, not only derivative suffixes, but everything that constitutes the grammatical framework and articulation of language, was originally material. What we now call the terminations of cases were mostly local adverbs; what we call the personal endings of verbs were personal pronouns. Suffixes and affixes were mostly independent words, nominal, verbal, or pronominal; there is, in fact, nothing in language that is now empty, or dead, or formal, that was not originally full, and alive, and material. It is the object of Comparative Grammar to trace every formal or dead element back to its life-like form; and though this resuscitating process is by no means complete, nay, though in several cases it seems hopeless to try to discover the living type from which proceeded the petrified fragments which we call terminations or suffixes, enough evidence has been brought together to establish on the firmest basis this general maxim, that Nothing is dead in any language that was not originally alive; that nothing exists in a tertiary stratum that does not find its antecedents and its explanation in the secondary or primary stratum of human speech.

After having explained, as far as it was possible in so short a time, what I consider to be the right view of the stratification of human speech, Ishould have wished to be able to show to you how the aspect of some of the most difficult and most interesting problems of our science is changed, if we look at them again with the new light which we have gained regarding the necessary antecedents of all language. Let me only call your attention to one of the most contested points in the Science of Language. The question whether we may assign a common origin to the Aryan and Semitic languages has been discussed over and over again. No one thinks now of deriving Sanskrit from Hebrew, or Hebrew from Sanskrit; the only question is whether at some time or other the two languages could ever have formed part of one and the same body of speech. There are scholars, and very eminent scholars, who deny all similarity between the two, while others have collected materials that would seem to make it difficult to assign such numerous coincidences to mere chance. Nowhere, in fact, has Bacon's observation on this radical distinction between different men's dispositions for philosophy and the sciences been more fully verified than among the students of the Science of Language:—Maximum et velut radicale discrimen ingeniorum, quoad philosophiam et scientias, illud est, quod alia ingenia sint fortiora et aptiora ad notandas rerum differentias; alia ad notandas rerum similitudines. ..... Utrumque autem ingenium facile labitur in excessum, prensando aut gradus rerum, aut umbras.[24] Before, however, we enter upon an examination of the evidence brought forward by different scholars in support of their conflicting theories, it is our first duty to ask a preliminary question, viz.: What kind of evidence have we any right to expect, considering that both Sanskrit and Hebrew belong, in the state in which we know them, to the inflectional stratum of speech?

Now it is quite true that Sanskrit and Hebrew had a separate existence long before they reached the tertiary stratum, before they became thoroughly inflectional; and that consequently they can share nothing in common that is peculiar to the inflectional stratum in each, nothing that is the result of phonetic decay, which sets in after combinatory formations have become unintelligible and traditional. Imean, supposing that the pronoun of the first person had been originally the same in the Semitic and Aryan languages, supposing that in the Hebrew an-oki (Assyrian an-aku, Phen. anak) the last portion, oki, was originally identical with the Sanskrit ah in aham, the Greek eg in eg-, it would still be useless to attempt to derive the termination of the first person singular, whether in ktal-ti or in ektl, from the same type which in Sanskrit appears as mi or am or a, in tud-mi, atud-am, tutod-a. There cannot be between Hebrew and Sanskrit the same relationship as between Sanskrit and Greek, if indeed the term of relationship is applicable even to Sanskrit and Greek, which are really mere dialectic varieties of one and the same type of speech.

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