« PreviousContinue »
not to make God willing or able to forgive, but to make man capable of being forgiven. “God, having raised up his son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away, every one of you from his iniquities.” Christ “died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again."
ART. II. - Manual Hebrew Grammar. For the Use of Be
ginners. By J. Seixas. Second Edition.
We recently invited the attention of our readers to some remarks on the classical instruction of boys; and we embrace this occasion to continue the subject, in connexion with the book, the title of which we have given above. We take this method, because the principles on which Mr. Seixas's Grammar is made deserve an attentive examination, and will serve to introduce some remarks on the study of the elements of Latin and Greek grammar. No apology is necessary for bringing the subject of classical instruction repeatedly before our readers. The amount of time wasted by the young in this department of study ought to awaken the attention of all who have ability and opportunity to examine the subject. Every step in the course of classical instruction should be investigated, till the faults of the prevailing system are discovered and corrected.
A favorable opinion of Mr. Seixas's Grammar was expressed in our pages on the appearance of the first edition of the work. The commendations then given need not be here repeated. — Preparatory to the remarks which follow, however, we would say, that the method pursued in this Grammar, and the principles on which the method is founded, are widely different from those of most grammars, and are, we believe, demonstrably correct.
We proceed to exhibit the method employed in this Grammar, compared with the method of grammars in general use; and then, to examine the principles on which these methods respectively are based.
The first peculiarity noticeable, on opening the Hebrew Grammar before us, is the absence of paradigms. This pecu
liarity constitutes the leading characteristic of the work, and to this our attention will be principally directed. For the convenience of our readers, as well as to subserve the main object of our remarks, we shall take our illustrations of Mr. Seixas's method and principles from the Latin Grammar.
We will suppose, then, a Latin Grammar put in our hands, made on the same principles as the Hebrew Grammar before
Its chief peculiarity, at first view, is that it has no paradigms. Before judging of the expediency of an omission apparently so important, it is proper to inquire, what substitute is provided to answer the same end?
Instead of paradigms, we find tables of terminations, indicative of the relations and circumstances of the words to which they are attached. To illustrate: in nouns of the first declension, instead of repeating the series, penna, penna, &c., through all the cases and both numbers, the terminations simply are given, as, a, a, am, arum, as, &c., to indicate respectively the relation in which the thing expressed stands in different places. Thus, arum signifies of, and also expresses the plural number. When this is understood by the pupil, the word pennarum is instantly rendered of pens, without going through the process of declension from the nominative singular, till he comes to the given form. The association is direct between arum the termination, and of, which it always indicates. It is not the least of the advantages of this method that it leaves the teacher at liberty to bring before his pupil only one or two of the most common terminations, and those expressive of the simplest relations, at first, leaving the more difficult ones to be learned, after practice has made the easier ones perfectly familiar. But on this point we shall speak more particularly in another place. Let us pursue the illustration we had begun, by means of the verb.
The paradigm, which in the Latin verb contains near two hundred forms, is omitted. Its place is supplied by a table,
a giving the various terminations which indicate the circumstances of the action. Thus the pupil, when he meets with a verb, the number, person, &c. of which he does not instantly recognise; instead of being sent to hunt through the labyrinth of hundreds of forms, till, haply, he lights on the form corresponding to the one in his lesson, is taught to look directly at the termination, and to associate, directly with it, its proper signification. Thus in legimus, for example, the termination
is mus; and this at the end of a Latin verb always means we. Let curantur be the given word. The pupil has learned that the termination nt, or ntur, means they, and the translation is done. Legit means he, or she reads, because from the table the pupil has learned that the termination t, or tur, signifies he, or she. The application of this method in determining the number and person of verbs is obviously very easy. An objection to the system, as a whole, may, perhaps, be stated in the form of an inquiry, how the mode and tense are to be determined.
We answer, In the same manner as the number and person; by knowing what is the appropriate sign of each mode and tense, and where these signs are to be found. The pupil is taught that the letters and syllables, which indicate the mode and tense, immediately precede the termination which indicates the number and person. Thus ba, preceding the termination, indicates the imperfect tense: ama-t, he loves; ama-ta-t, he was loving. Docebant is analyzed into three parts: doce-ba-nt, each of which parts has its appropriate signification ; and if the pupil has learned the forms in the appropriate table, his eye no sooner rests on the word than the analysis is made, and the meaning of the whole word given. We do not here enter into the question, whether the parts into which the verb is divided, in this analysis, were originally distinct words. This question, however interesting in a philosophical study of etymology, has no connexion with our present design.
We have pursued the analysis of verbs sufficiently to point out the track which we follow. Every variety of circumstance and relation has its appropriate indication, and this indication occupies its own place in the verb, which it never changes. — The system under review teaches the pupil to look for each element in its appropriate place, and to associate directly with it the English word, or syllable, which expresses its meaning.
We have already sufficiently expressed our approbation of the method sketched above; and we now proceed to an examination of the principles on which it is founded. We enter on this part of the subject with an earnestness, we beg leave to say, which has been awakened by some toil and experience in classical instruction, and with a confidence resulting from a successful application of the principles we advocate.
What is requisite, then, in order to learn a foreign language ? First, to know the words of the language to be learned; and
then, to associate, with each word, the vernacular word, or words expressing the same meaning. This is the whole process, so far as the subject before us is concerned.
The translation of idioms belongs to a higher department of grammar than is embraced in this discussion. Let it be distinctly kept in mind that the process of learning a language is simply that of associating, with the successive words of the language to be acquired, the vernacular words expressing the same meaning. It need not be said that the more direct and unincumbered the association is, the more rapid and pleasant will be the acquisition.
The method detailed above is an application of these principles in their simplest form. The association is direct, between each element of the foreign language and the corresponding word in the vernacular.
The correctness of this principle might be shown, if necessary, by reference to other branches of study. Every art and science, if taught rightly, must be taught in its simplest elements, We should hardly be excusable for dwelling on a point so plain, were it not for its great importance. To make it, however, as clear as possible, we beg leave to draw an illustration from the same department of study in which we now are. Every one, in any degree acquainted with the Greek or German language, knows the great advantage to be derived, in acquiring these languages, from analyzing compound and derivative words into their first elements, and arriving at the meaning of the words through the medium of this analysis. The method of teaching grammatical forms, exhibited above, is only a further application of the same principle. Objections are sometimes made to this method of teaching grammatical forms, under the impression that boys cannot be made to remember the forms without the supposed aid of paradigms. The objection would not deserve serious notice, were it not that intelligent men, and experienced teachers even, have proposed it. Of what possible use, we ask, is the association which connects words in the order in which they are given in a paradigm, an order in which they never occur in reading the language. That a boy may remember that amamus means we love, must he be made to think of amo, amas, amat, first? On this system the first person singular is made a talisman to call up a whole series, only one of which has any duty to perform on the occasion. They wake at the watch-word, troop through the brain in regular file, and depart. Such a habit is formed in the first stage of study, and is continued, till long practice in reading the language has worn it away. Why is such a habit formed? we ask. Is the mind a machine, and that so ill constructed that, in order to perform a certain amount of work, it must perform as much more besides, losing half its power from friction, and from the luggage of useless wheels ? Why, we ask again, is the habit of which we have spoken ever formed at all ?
It is said that, in every branch of learning, elements must be committed to memory, which, in more advanced stages, may be forgotten.
We answer, that what we speak of is no element of the Latin language. The connexion of the first person singular with the second person singular, as amo with amas, never occurred since the days of Romulus. To impose on the pupil the task of committing to memory a series of words which have no natural connexion, is as absurd as to require him to commit the columos of a dictionary.
The error here pointed out lies at the foundation of much of the disgust at the ancient languages felt by boys in their early studies; a disgust, which, in its remote effects, will, to a great extent, explain the almost total neglect of these languages by our educated men after leaving college.
We might here close our remarks, did not justice require a statement of some further advantages connected with the system of which we have spoken. We said a few words on this point, in the early part of our remarks, and promised to speak more fully in another place. A leading defect in the usual method of instruction is, that the pupil is obliged, at the commencement of his studies, to learn much that he has no occasion to apply in practice, till he is somewhat advanced in his course. In the simple narratives first put into his hands, almost all the verbs are in the third person. Common sense would direct that this termination should be first taught him, leaving the terminations of the other persons, till practice has made him perfectly familiar with that which is most common. The same remarks may be made respecting the modes. Simple sentences exhibit only the indicative mode. This mode, then, should be first taught, and its forms made perfectly familiar. The usual method, however, instead of conducting the pupil step by step, and giving him time to dwell on each till