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taken as the master-key. Moreover, some special points which have come under consideration in these chapters tend to show the positive necessity of such caution in theorizing. Too narrow a theory of the application of sound to sense may fail to include the varied devices which the languages of different regions turn to account. It is thus with the distinction in meaning of a word by its musical accent, and the distinction of distance by graduated vowels. These are ingenious and intelligible contrivances, but they hardly seem directly emotional or imitative in origin. A safer way of putting the theory of a natural origin of language is to postulate the original utterance of ideas in what may be called self-expressive sounds, without defining closely whether their expression lay in emotional tone, imitative noise, contrast of accent or vowel or consonant, or other phonetic quality. Even here, exception of unknown and perhaps enormous extent must be made for sounds chosen by individuals to express some notion, from motives which even their own minds failed to discern, but which sounds nevertheless made good their footing in the language of the family, the tribe, and the nation. There may be many modes even of recognizable phonetic expression, unknown to us as yet. So far, however, as I have been able to trace them here, such modes have in common a claim to belong not exclusively to the scheme of this or that particular dialect, but to wide-ranging principles of formation of language. Their examples are to be drawn with equal cogency from Sanskrit or Hebrew, from the nursery-language of Lombardy, or the half-Indian, half-European jargon of Vancouver's Island; and wherever they are found, they help to furnish groups of sound-words-words which have not lost the traces of their first expressive origin, but still carry their direct significance plainly stamped upon them. In fact, the time has now come for a substantial basis to be laid for Generative Philology. A classified collection of words with any strong claim to be self-expressive should be brought together out of the thousand or so of recognized
languages and dialects of the world. In such a Dictionary of Sound-Words, half the cases cited might very likely be worthless, but the collection would afford the practical means of expurgating itself; for it would show on a large scale what particular sounds have manifested their fitness to convey particular ideas, by having been repeatedly chosen among different races to convey them.
Attempts to explain as far as may be the primary formation of speech, by tracing out in detail such processes as have been here described, are likely to increase our knowledge by sure and steady steps wherever imagination does not get the better of sober comparison of facts. But there is one side of this problem of the Origin of Language on which such studies have by no means an encouraging effect. Much of the popular interest in such matters is centred in the question, whether the known languages of the world have their source in one or many primæval tongues. this subject the opinions of the philologists who have compared the greatest number of languages are utterly at variance, nor has any one brought forward a body of philological evidence strong and direct enough to make anything beyond mere vague opinion justifiable. Now such processes as the growth of imitative or symbolic words form a part, be it small or large, of the Origin of Language, but they are by no means restricted to any particular place or period, and are indeed more or less in activity now. Their operation on any two dialects of one language will be to introduce in each a number of new and independent words, and words even suspected of having been formed in this direct way become valueless as proof of genealogical connexion between the languages in which they are found. The test of such genealogical connexion must, in fact, be generally narrowed to such words or grammatical forms as have become so far conventional in sound and sense, that we cannot suppose two tribes to have arrived at them independently, and therefore consider that both must. have inherited them from a common source. Thus the
introduction of new sound-words tends to make it practically of less and less consequence to a language what its original stock of words at starting may have been; and the philologist's extension of his knowledge of such direct formations must compel him to strip off more and more of any language, as being possibly of later growth, before he can set himself to argue upon such a residuum as may have come by direct inheritance from times of primæval speech.
In concluding this survey, some general considerations suggest themselves as to the nature and first beginnings of language. In studying the means of expression among men in stages of mental culture far below our own, one of our first needs is to clear our minds of the kind of superstitious veneration with which articulate speech has so commonly been treated, as though it were not merely the principal but the sole means of uttering thought. We must cease to measure the historical importance of emotional exclamations, of gesture-signs, and of picture-writing, by their comparative insignificance in modern civilized life, but must bring ourselves to associate the articulate words of the dictionary in one group with cries and gestures and pictures, as being all of them means of manifesting outwardly the inward workings of the mind. Such an admission, it must be observed, is far from being a mere detail of scientific classification. It has really a most important bearing on the problem of the Origin of Language. For as the reasons are mostly dark to us, why particular words are currently used to express particular ideas, language has come to be looked upon as a mystery, and either occult philosophical causes have been called in to explain its phenomena, or else the endowment of man with the faculties of thought and utterance has been deemed insufficient, and a special revelation has been demanded to put into his mouth the vocabulary of a particular language. In the debate which has been carried on for ages over this muchvexed problem, the saying in the 'Kratylos' comes back to
our minds again and again, where Sokrates describes the etymologists who release themselves from their difficulties as to the origin of words by saying that the first words were divinely made, and therefore right, just as the tragedians, when they are in perplexity, fly to their machinery and bring in the gods.1 Now I think that those who soberly contemplate the operation of cries, groans, laughs, and other emotional utterances, as to which some considerations have been here brought forward, will admit that, at least, our present crude understanding of this kind of expression would lead us to class it among the natural actions of man's body and mind. Certainly, no one who understands anything of the gesture-language or of picture-writing would be justified in regarding either as due to occult causes, or to any supernatural interference with the course of man's intellectual development. Their cause evidently lies in natural operations of the human mind, not such as were effective in some long-past condition of humanity and have since disappeared, but in processes existing amongst us, which we can understand and even practise for ourselves. When we study the pictures and gestures with which savages and the deaf-and-dumb express their minds, we can mostly see at a glance the direct relation between the outward sign and the inward thought which it makes manifest. We may see the idea of 'sleep' shown in gesture by the head with shut eyes, leant heavily against the open hand; or the idea of 'running' by the attitude of the runner, with chest forward, mouth half open, elbows and shoulders well back; or 'candle' by the straight forefinger held up, and as it were blown out; or 'salt' by the imitated act of sprinkling it with thumb and finger. The figures of the child's picture-book, the sleeper and the runner, the candle and the salt-cellar, show their purport by the same sort of evident relation between thought and sign. We so far understand the nature of these modes of utterance, that we are ready ourselves to express thought after thought by such
1 Plato, Cratylus' 90.
means, so that those who see our signs shall perceive our meaning.
When, however, encouraged by our ready success in making out the nature and action of these ruder methods, we turn to the higher art of speech, and ask how such and such words have come to express such and such thoughts, we find ourselves face to face with an immense problem, as yet but in small part solved. The success of investigation has indeed been enough to encourage us to push vigorously forward in the research, but the present explorations have not extended beyond corners and patches of an elsewhere unknown field. Still the results go far to warrant us in associating expression by gestures and pictures with articulate language as to principles of original formation, much as men associate them in actual life by using gesture and word at once. Of course, articulate speech, in its far more complex and elaborate development, has taken up devices to which the more simple and rude means of communication offer nothing comparable. Still, language, so far as its constitution is understood, seems to have been developed like writing or music, like hunting or fire-making, by the exercise of purely human faculties in purely human ways. This state of things by no means belongs exclusively to rudimentary philological operations, such as the choosing expressive sounds to name corresponding ideas by. In the higher departments of speech, where words already existing are turned to account to express new meanings and shade off new distinctions, we find these ends attained by contrivances ranging from extreme dexterity down to utter clumsiness. For a single instance, one great means of giving new meaning to old sound is metaphor, which transfers ideas from hearing to seeing, from touching to thinking, from the concrete of one kind to the abstract of another, and can thus make almost anything in the world help to describe or suggest anything else. What the German philosopher described as the relation of a cow to a comet, that both have tails, is enough and more than