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enough for the language-maker. It struck the Australians, when they saw a European book, that it opened and shut like a mussel-shell, and they began accordingly to call books'mussels' (māyām). The sight of a steam engine may suggest a whole group of such transitions in our own language; the steam passes along 'fifes' or 'trumpets,' that is, pipes or tubes, and enters by ‘folding-doors' or valves, to push a 'pestle' or piston up and down in a roller' or cylinder, while the light pours from the furnace in 'staves' or 'poles,' that is, in rays or beams. The dictionaries are full of cases compared with which such as these are plain and straightforward. Indeed, the processes by which words have really come into existence may often enough remind us of the game of 'What is my thought like?' When one knows the answer, it is easy enough to see what junketting and cathedral canons have to do with reeds; Latin juncus 'a reed,' Low Latin juncata, cheese made in a reed-basket,' Italian giuncata 'cream cheese in a rush frail,' French joncade and English junket, which are preparations of cream, and lastly junketting parties where such delicacies are eaten; Greek kávn, 'reed, cane,' Kavwv, 'measure, rule,' thence canonicus, 'a clerk under the ecclesiastical rule or canon. But who could guess the history of these words, who did not happen to know these intermediate links?
Yet there is about this process of derivation a thoroughly human artificial character. When we know the whole facts of any case, we can generally understand it at once, and see that we might have done the same ourselves had it come in our way. And the same thing is true of the processes of making sound-words detailed in these chapters. Such a view is, however, in no way inconsistent with the attempt to generalize upon these processes, and to state them as phases of the development of language among mankind. If certain men under certain circumstances produce certain results, then we may at least expect that other men much resembling these and placed under roughly similar circum
EMOTIONAL AND IMITATIVE LANGUAGE.
stances will produce more or less like results; and this has been shown over and over again in these pages to be what really happens. Now Wilhelm von Humboldt's view that language is an organism' has been considered a great step in philological speculation; and so far as it has led students to turn their minds to the search after general laws, no doubt it has been so. But it has also caused an increase of vague thinking and talking, and thereby no small darkening of counsel. Had it been meant to say that human thought, language, and action generally, are organic in their nature, and work under fixed laws, this would be a very different matter; but this is distinctly not what is meant, and the very object of calling language an organism is to keep it apart from mere human arts and contrivances. It was a hateful thing to Humboldt's mind to bring down speech to a mere operation of the understanding.' 'Man,' he says, does not so much form language, as discern with a kind of joyous wonder its developments, coming forth as of themselves. Yet, if the practical shifts by which words are shaped or applied to fit new meanings are not devised by an operation of the understanding, we ought consistently to carry the stratagems of the soldier in the field, or the contrivances of the workman at his bench, back into the dark regions of instinct and involuntary action. That the actions of individual men combine to produce results which may be set down in those general statements of fact which we call laws, may be stated once again as one of the main propositions of the Science of Culture. But the nature of a fact is not altered by its being classed in common with others of the same kind, and a man is not less the intelligent inventor of a new word or a new metaphor, because twenty other intelligent inventors elsewhere may have fallen on a similar expedient.
The theory that the original forms of language are to be referred to a low or savage condition of culture among the remotely ancient human race, stands in general consistency with the known facts of philology. The causes which have
produced language, so far as they are understood, are notable for that childlike simplicity of operation which befits the infancy of human civilization. The ways in which sounds are in the first instance chosen and arranged to express ideas, are practical expedients at the level of nursery philosophy. A child of five years old could catch the meaning of imitative sounds, interjectional words, symbolism of sex or distance by contrast of vowels. as no one is likely to enter into the real nature of mythology who has not the keenest appreciation of nursery tales, so the spirit in which we guess riddles and play at children's games is needed to appreciate the lower phases of language. Such a state of things agrees with the opinion that such rudimentary speech had its origin among men while in a childlike intellectual condition, and thus the selfexpresssive branch of savage language affords valuable materials for the problem of primitive speech. If we look back in imagination to an early period of human intercourse, where gesture and self-expressive utterance may have had a far greater comparative importance than among ourselves, such a conception introduces no new element into the problem, for a state of things more or less answering to this is described among certain low savage tribes. If we turn from such self-expressive utterance, to that part of articulate language which carries its sense only by traditional and seemingly arbitrary custom, we shall find no contradiction to the hypothesis. Sound carrying direct meaning may be taken up as an element of language, keeping its first significance recognizable to nations yet unborn. But it may far more probably become by wear of sound and shift of sense an expressionless symbol, such as might have been chosen in pure arbitrariness—a philological process to which the vocabularies of savage dialects bear full witness. In the course of the development of language, such traditional words with merely an inherited meaning have in no small measure driven into the background the self-expressive words, just as the Eastern figures 2, 3, 4, which are not self-expressive, have driven into the background the Roman numerals II, III, IIII, which are—this, again, is an operation which has its place in savage as in cultivated speech. Moreover, to look closely at language as a practical means of expressing thought, is to face evidence of no slight bearing on the history of civilization. We come back to the fact, so full of suggestion, that the languages of the world represent substantially the same intellectual art, the higher nations indeed gaining more expressive power than the lowest tribes, yet doing this not by introducing new and more effective central principles, but by mere addition and improvement in detail. The two great methods of naming thoughts and stating their relation to one another, viz., metaphor and syntax, belong to the infancy of human expression, and are as thoroughly at home in the language of savages as of philosophers. If it be argued that this similarity in principles of language is due to savage tribes having descended from higher culture, carrying down with them in their speech the relics of their former excellence, the answer is that linguistic expedients are actually worked out with as much originality, and more extensively if not more profitably, among savages than among cultured men. Take for example the Algonquin system of compounding words, and the vast Esquimaux scheme of grammatical inflexion. Language belongs in essential principle both to low grades and high of civilization; to which should its origin be attributed? An answer may be had by comparing the methods of language with the work it has to do. Take language all in all over the world, it is obvious that the processes by which words are made and adapted have far less to do with systematic arrangement and scientific classification, than with mere rough and ready ingenuity and the great rule of thumb. Let any one whose vocation it is to realize philosophical or scientific conceptions and to express them in words, ask himself whether ordinary language is an instrument planned for such purposes. Of course it is not.
It is hard to say which is the more striking, the want of scientific system in the expression of thought by words, or the infinite cleverness of detail by which this imperfection is got over, so that he who has an idea does somehow make shift to get it clearly in words before his own and other minds. The language by which a nation with highly developed art and knowledge and sentiment must express its thoughts on these subjects, is no apt machine devised for such special work, but an old barbaric engine added to and altered, patched and tinkered into some sort of capability. Ethnography reasonably accounts at once for the immense power and the manifest weakness of language as a means of expressing modern educated thought, by treating it as an original product of low culture, gradually adapted by ages of evolution and selection, to answer more or less sufficiently the requirements of modern civilization.