Imatges de pÓgina

There is therefore, already, a return to a prescribed and uniform course of instruction, in which classical study is insisted on, as that with which liberal culture must stand or fall.

Another plan recommended by distinguished writers, and adopted in part, is, by a reconstruction of the whole course of study, to provide equally for the ancient languages and for the modern sciences in the same school. Theoretically, this plan seems to be justified, inasmuch as it furnishes the training and the knowledge which the present age demands. Without the study of the ancient classics, the mind of the pupil will be imperfectly trained; without a knowledge of modern science, it will be uninformed. The only difficulty is in practice. How is all this to be accomplished in the time now allotted to our courses of study? Shall the students be “put through" all these studies? That will produce habits of haste and superficiality. Shall the courses all be commenced, but left unfinished? That will leave the student without a firm footing anywhere, a condition which is most unfriendly to literary enthusiasm and sound scholarship. Such a plan, though supported by an abstract view of the studies themselves, falls through, the moment we attempt to apply it to the nature and capacities of the youthful mind. It imposes upon the young much work which can be well performed only in maturer years.

Concentration and limitation of study only remain; and this is the theory most in favor at the present time. But who shall have the courage to proscribe any one of the studies that have been generally introduced? Our author proposes to drop the writing of Latin and Greek, and apply the time thus saved to modern science and the modern languages. Does he suppose that he can persuade the professors of the ancient languages to teach after his method? Will they not say that it is best to teach thoroughly, or not teach at all? Where is there an example of a thorough Latin scholar, who never learned to write Latin? No sensible man will advocate devoting less attention to the study of our native language. In the German gymnasia, general history might, perhaps, be more restricted. In most American colleges, little would be left, if the course of history were to be materially abridged. Others propose to drop all the modern languages but one, leaving them for private or future study. This may be necessary; but many men, in and out of the schools, will acquiesce in such a view very reluctantly. To attempt to make inroads upon the mathematics would be about as hopeless an undertaking as to set aside the classics. Indeed, there is now a pretty general agreement that the ancient languages and mathematics are the two main pillars of a liberal education. This is the view of the best German educators of the present day. Physics are considered as a counterpart of mathematics, or to hold to that study the same relation that literature does to language. Therefore there can be no retrenchment here. Which, then, of the children of the family shall be the victim? We will not venture to decide; but there are in Germany, just at this time, men not a few in number, nor inconsiderable in influence, who apply the knife somewhat unsparingly to the several branches of natural history. Let the indignation of the naturalists, therefore, be directed against them.

We have been thus full (comparatively) in respect to the Article on the gymnasia, partly in order to indicate what kind of questions are discussed in this profound and elaborate work, and partly on account of the interest which it is believed will be felt in the topics themselves. We have followed rather the spirit than the form of the Article, and have omitted much more than we have presented. Is it too much to say that we have no work in the English language which treats of the whole subject of education with such fulness, such power, and such judgment?


A COURSE of lectures on the science of language, by the author of the 'History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature," and of the "Languages of the Seat of the War," could scarcely fail of exciting great expectations in the minds of scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. These expectations have not been disappointed. With learning worthy of a German professor holding a fellowship at Oxford, the author has successfully combined a correct and clear English style quite remarkable for a foreigner, and a popular mode of treatment, which renders a somewhat dry and difficult subject intelligible and attractive even to a miscellaneous audience.

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There are nine lectures, each treating a topic sufficiently distinct and important, though, at the same time, admitting, of necessity, more or less of miscellaneous matter. We propose to sketch a brief outline of the leading doctrines, without marking carefully the division of the lectures, expressing them in the language of the author, or our own, as we may find most and convenient.

The Science of language (for this is our author's theme) scarcely dates further back than the beginning of the present century. Its very name is still unsettled. The French call it Linguistique. The English have been wont to speak of it as Comparative Philology. But philology treats language only as a means to an understanding of the literature and history of nations, and ultimately to tracing the social, moral, intellectual, and religious progress of the human race. In the science of Language, on the contrary, language is the end. Language itself is the object of inquiry. We do not want to know languages, but language, its origin, its nature, its laws. Moreover, philology is a historical science, like the history of art, of law, of poetry and philosophy, of politics and religion. But the science of language is a physical and an inductive science, like botany, geology, anatomy, and other branches of the study of nature. Language is continually changing, but these changes are as entirely beyond the control of man as the changes in his own physical system, or the phenomena of the material universe. We

1 Lectures on the Science of Language, delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in April, May, and June, 1861. By Max Müller, M. A., Fellow of All Soul's College, Oxford, etc. London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts. 1861. pp. 399.

might as well think of changing the laws which control the circulation of our blood, or of adding an inch to our height, as of altering the laws of speech, or inventing new words according to our own pleasure. Language is a growth, and has a continuous life, like a tree. Or more exactly, it is a deposit, and has its periods of deposition, of upheaval and subsidence, and then of attrition, abrasion, and degradation, like the crust of the earth. In all these respects, it clearly resembles the works of God rather than the productions of men; and thus it proves itself to be one of the physical rather than the historical sciences.

What we call growth in language comprises two processes (analogous to the two processes just alluded to in the growth of the crust of the earth), which Müller calls phonetic decay, and dialectical regeneration. So soon as a language becomes fixed by writing and the usage of scholars, its words begin to wear away, and lose more or less of their original elements, especially their terminations. Compare the Attic with the Ionic dialect in the Greek language, and the earlier with the later forms of French or English. This is phonetic decay. But in the course of ages there comes a revolution which sweeps away the established language and literature, and brings in, or brings up, some one or more of the popular dialects, which seem to be a new creation, but which, in fact, have been growing and forming for a long time beneath the surface. Thus Latin was the dialect of Latium, in Latium the dialect of Rome, in Rome the dialect of the patricians. The sources of Italian are to be found in the popular dialects of Italy. This is dialectical regeneration. Phonetic decay, as well as dialectical regeneration, is subject to laws, which distinguish one language from another, and enable the scholar who knows them, to predict in what form any Latin word, for instance, will appear, if it appears at all, in any one of the six Romance languages.

Like the other physical and inductive sciences, the science of language through three stages, the

The formation of gram-
Of these, grammars are

must pass — has, in fact, passed, or is passing empirical, the classificatory, and the theoretical. mars and lexicons belongs to the empirical stage. by far the most important; for the grammar of a language is its vital element and its essential characteristic. The principles and very much of the terminology of modern grammar may be traced back through the Roman and Greek grammarians to Alexandria and Athens. Beginning with the schools of philosophy at Athens, and greatly enlarged and improved by the Alexandrian critics and the scholars of Pergamus, grammar attained its greatest growth and importance at Rome, as a means of teaching Roman youth the Greek language; for at Rome, to know Greek was the same as to be a gentleman; Roman youth read Greek books, they conversed in Greek, they even wrote in Greek. The first real Greek grammar was that of Dionysius Thrax, a pupil of the Alexandrian critic Aristarchus, who settled in Rome, and wrote a practical grammar of the Greek language for his Roman pupils; and that grammar is still in existence, and we see in it manifestly the basis and framework of the grammar of the modern European languages.

The science of language never reached its classificatory stage among the

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Greeks. The only classification they condescended to make was that of Greek and barbarian. It was Christianity which first broke down the barrier between Jew and Gentile, Greek and barbarian, black and white. Humanity is a word which you look for in vain in Plato or Aristotle. The idea of mankind as one family, as the children of one God, is an idea of Christian growth. And the science of mankind, and of the languages of mankind, is a science which, without Christianity, would never have sprung into life. The real beginning of the science of language, therefore, dates from the day of Pentecost. But Christian philologists were long kept on a wrong track by the idea, universal among the Christian Fathers, that Hebrew was undoubtedly the mother of all languages. Leibnitz was the first to explode this idea. He declared that there was just as much reason to believe that Hebrew was the primitive language, as there was to suppose that Dutch was the language spoken in Paradise; and, as the first step in an inductive process, this philosopher set all the kings and princes in Europe to work, through their ambassadors, travellers, and missionaries, in collecting words and facts. Christian missionaries were among the earliest, as they have ever been among the most efficient, agents in this work. Hervas, a Jesuit missionary, collected himself and from other missionaries at Rome, specimens of 300 languages, and composed grammars of more than forty. Then follows the well-known work, Adelung's Mithridates, which represents the science of language at the beginning of the present century.

But the study of the Sanskrit language and literature, and the discovery of the close resemblance of the language to the Greek and Latin, and thus its connection with the modern European languages, by Sir William Jones, Carey, Wilkins, Forster, Colebrooke, and other members of the Asiatic Society, founded at Calcutta in 1784, was the dawn of a new day upon the science of language. In the hands of Bopp, Schlegel, Humboldt, Grimm, Pott, and other German scholars, the study of the Sanskrit, coupled with the study of the Zend by Rask and Burnouf, and the comparison of the principal languages of Europe and Asia, ancient and modern, soon led to the discovery of the threefold classification, designated by different names (Müller calls the classes Semitic, Aryan, and Turanian), but now received by scholars as an established fact in the science of language, and an invaluable key to the history of our race. The standard of classification is furnished by Comparative Grammar. The grammatical articulation of the several branches of the same family of languages (of Sanskrit, Zend, Greek, Latin, Celtic, Teutonic, and Sclavonic, for example, in the Aryan family), is radically the same, and seems to have been produced, once and for all, previous to their separation; and the apparent differences in the terminations of Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, etc., must be explained by laws of phonetic decay, peculiar to each dialect, which modified the original Aryan stock, and changed it into so many national languages.

All the words of the most copious language are reducible by analysis to a few roots. In the Chinese language, where the roots remain unchanged and may be easily traced, a dictionary of 50,000 words is built up from 450

roots. Hebrew and Sanskrit may be reduced to about 500 roots each. The number of words in common use by any writer or speaker is but a small part of the whole vocabulary of the language. The Old Testament uses only 5642; Milton, 8000; and Shakespeare, with all his affluence, only 15,000; whereas the number of words in the language is variously estimated from 50,000 to 100,000. It is very instructive and entertaining to take a root in one of the earlier languages (Müller takes the roots AR, and SPAC, in the Sanskrit), and follow their derivatives through all their changes of form and signification in the various branches of the same family, and see what a number of words and what a variety of meanings are the result.

Without dwelling on the author's distinction between predicative and demonstrative roots (more frequently distinguished as the radical and formal elements of speech), which he makes the basis of a morphological classification, quite independent of genealogical classification, and passing by his copious illustrations of both these classifications, we come to his concluding chapter, which is on the Theoretical Stage and the Origin of Language. Two theories have been started to explain the origin of roots. According to one, they are imitations of sounds; according to the other, they are involuntary interjections. The former he calls the Bow-wow theory; the latter the Pooh-pooh theory. After showing the inadequacy of these theories, maintaining that a great part even of the words which seem to be onomatopoetic are found not to be so when traced to their source, he propounds his own theory, in substance as follows: Roots are not imitations nor interjections, but phonetic types produced by a power inherent in human nature. Each substance in nature, when struck, has its peculiar ring. Gold rings differently from tin, wood differently from stone. It was the same with man, the most highly organized of nature's works. Man, in his primitive and perfect state, was endowed not only, like the brute, with the power of expressing his sensations by interjections, and his perceptions by onomatopoea; he possessed likewise, the faculty of giving more articulate expression to the rational conceptions of his mind. That faculty was not of his own making. It was an instinct, an instinct of the mind as irresistible as any other instinct. So far as language is the production of that instinct, it belongs to the realm of nature. Man loses his instincts as he ceases to want them. Thus the creative faculty, which gave to each conception, as it thrilled for the first time through the brain, a phonetic expression, became instinct when its object was fulfilled.

Müller's theory is, doubtless, preferable to the imitation and interjection theories, which no one now defends. But we think he goes too far in denying the reality of the greater part of acknowledged onomatopoeas. At least, he is not successful in disproving them. It is no proof that the names of certain sounds are not imitations of the sounds, because they are different in different languages. No two children would imitate thunder, or the cry of the whip-poor-will, just alike; and yet both would give approximate imitations. We do not admit that the English word thunder is no imitation

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