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Genealogical Classification.


We saw that it consists of two parts, now reduced to one syllable. The first part, bear, is essentially the same as the Sanskrit bhar, which finds its exact counterpart in the other languages of this family. We saw also that s is only an altered form of ta, which is employed in Sanskrit as a demonstrative pronoun. The former is often called the root of the word, and the latter the ending or formative. More properly they are both regarded as roots; and Professor Max Müller divides the entire body of a language into Roots Predicative, like bhar, and Roots Demonstrative, like ta. Predicative Roots may, in a general way, be described as those which are capable of predicating; i.e., of applying a fact or a phenomenon to a subject; as, 'they bear;' and Demonstrative Roots as those which point out (demonstrant) the subject referred to; as, they bear.' All words, when fully understood, are capable of being reduced to one or other or both of these elements.

The order in which they are combined is generally this; that a predicative root stands first, and is followed by a demonstrative root. Another circumstance of great moment, and which distinguishes all these languages, is, that in pronouncing the elements thus combined together, a greater stress is laid upon one syllable than upon the rest, which gives unity to the word. The accent which thus constitutes the unity of the word is placed, at least in the earlier history of each language, upon the predicative root. By this means that syllable is preserved as nearly as possible in its original state for thousands of years, whilst the other syllables, thus rendered subordinate by the very way in which they are pronounced, and exposed to a variety of destructive influences, after passing through various phases of phonetic decay, at last utterly perish. The third person plural of the verb already employed in illustration clearly shows this fact. In Sanskrit it is bhár-anti, in Greek pép-ovo (fer-ousi), in Latin fer-unt, in Gothic bair-and, in Old English bear-en, and in Modern English bear. The predicative root has the accent in all these languages, and is preserved almost intact to the present day; whilst the demonstrative root is gradually weakened, until it finally disappears, and a separate pronoun has to be prefixed to the verb in order to supply its place. Bopp has shown, in his 'Accentuations-System,' how two languages which have had so entirely separate an existence as Sanskrit and Greek, nevertheless agree in the principle on which the accent is employed. This unity of words constitutes one of the most essential features of the Indo-European family of languages.

The most important service rendered by scientific classification is in comparative grammar; that is, grammar applied not



to one language exclusively, but to several at the same time. Such works have hitherto been confined to scholars, but are daily assuming a more popular shape, and will doubtless before long acquire considerable prominence in educational systems. It becomes increasingly felt that the classical languages at least cannot be properly taught or learnt without some knowledge of comparative grammar.

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The first great work of the kind, though without the name, was Jacob Grimm's Deutsche Grammatik.' It is called a 'German Grammar,' but is applied in reality to ten different languages. Even our English is called German.' German.' These languages all appear to have once been one and the same, though the peoples by whom they are now spoken are unintelligible to each other.

Let us take a brief survey of them in the order in which their literature begins.

The Gothic stands first. Its alphabet was made by Bishop Ulfilas, in the fourth century A.D. He was desirous of converting the people to Christianity, and translated for them the Scriptures from Greek into Gothic. Those who cultivated literature amongst the Goths, were probably more disposed to destroy than to preserve the ballads and other popular compositions which used to be recited, or we might now have known more about the previous history and condition of the Goths than we can gather from Procopius and Jordanes (Jornandes). They acquired but little political consolidation; and after terrifying the western world for a while, they became almost like water spilt upon the ground.' What literature they had has perished, except little more than a few remains of the translation of the Bible. But this is of great value, and deserves the purple parchment and silver letters, and even the massive silver binding, in which it is preserved at Upsala. The language has left no descendant or representative, unless there lingers, on the banks of the Danube, or in the south of Italy, or amongst the mountains of Spain, some lonely Goth who speaks a language unintelligible to all besides, like the old woman who years ago was the only one able to speak the ancient Cornish dialect.

We next come to the Anglo-Saxon; for the oldest poem in that language seems to have been composed as early as the sixth century, though not written down in its present form until much later. There is thus preserved a picture of the social life of the race before they came under the influence of Christianity; nay, even of the life which they led before they invaded England, and made this island their home. The

Comparative Grammar.


English is clearly descended from the Anglo-Saxon; but the hard bondage to which it was subjected by the Norman conquerors has left its mark in the present character of the language.

The Old Norsk or Icelandic has the next claim to our attention. It was a near neighbour to the Angles and Saxons on the continent; and some part of the poetic 'Edda' was evidently composed almost as early as the 'Beowulf.' The poems of the Edda' were perhaps long recited or sung by the people before they were reduced to writing; and it was only after the migration to Iceland, and in the twelfth or thirteenth century, that they were collected in their present form. The gods and heroes who were worshipped in Norway before the light of Christianity broke upon their heathen darkness, are the subjects of the poetic' Edda.' The old language was long preserved in the new country, but the present Icelandic differs greatly from that which was first brought to the island. Swedish and Danish are in a great measure derived from Icelandic, but with many peculiarities which have no direct genealogical connection with the old literary dialect.

Between the Rhine and the Elbe, especially in the Prussian provinces of Westphalia and Saxony, together with the smaller states which lie between them, the Old Saxon language was spoken. In Old Saxon the Heljand' ('Saviour'), a considerable poem belonging to the ninth century, has been preserved. There is a great difference between this and the Anglo-Saxon; sufficient to constitute them distinct languages; and yet the resemblances are such as to show that they are much more closely related than either of them is with the Icelandic. What are called Low German dialects, spoken at the present day, are more or less faithful representatives of the Old Saxon.

The Friesian language was spoken by a numerous population, in the middle ages, between the mouth of the Rhine and that of the Elbe. Important works upon jurisprudence of the thirteenth century are preserved, the language of which bears a striking resemblance to the Anglo-Saxon. The peoples by whom both were spoken must have been immediate neighbours in the first centuries of the Christian era, and their speech was probably as nearly identical then as that of any numerous population ever is. We have already given an illustration of the number of dialects by which this mediæval language is now represented.

In close proximity to the Friesian, and partly in the same districts, was spoken what Grimm calls the Netherland language. It is known from literary records of the thirteenth century, and appears to have been produced by the combined action of the

older Franconian and Saxon, and stands therefore in close relation to the Low German and the Friesian. Its descendants now are the Flemish in Belgium and Dutch in Holland.

Grimm's Grammar includes all these distinct languages; but the older ones enumerated above have all a similar relationship to each other. Not one of them, however, is derived from the other. The Gothic, Anglo-Saxon, Old Saxon, Icelandic, Friesian, and Netherlandish, have the relation of sisters. The results of investigation thus far have established the fact, and almost defined when and where they were so much alike as to be properly called one language. On the other hand, it is clear that English is derived from Anglo-Saxon, Flemish and Dutch from the Netherlandish, Swedish and Danish from the Icelandic. And yet it does not follow that all the phenomena of a modern language can be traced to its progenitor. There is always a great variety of words and expressions floating about in the spoken language which are never used in writing; but when the written language has become 'dead,' and a fresh one arises in its place, many of these hitherto neglected forms assume a classical character. It thus happens that although English is undoubtedly derived from Anglo-Saxon, yet the former has old words which are not to be found in the dictionary of the latter. It is the same with all modern languages.

Along the course of the Upper Rhine and of the Upper Danube, another language was spoken in the early centuries of our era, with dialectic varieties which may be called Franconian, Alamanian, Thuringian, and Bavarian. No connected record of any of these has been preserved; but out of them has grown the High German language, which Grimm traces through three principal periods: the old, the middle, and the new. The literature, with little exception, does not begin before the ninth century. The language, even from the earliest time, differs from the rest of the so-called German languages by a very singular characteristic, which may be illustrated in the word deep. In Gothic it is diup, Anglo-Saxon diop, Icelandic diup, Old Saxon diop, Friesian depa, but in High German tief: there is t in place of d, and ƒ in place of p in the former languages. A similar difference affects all the mute and aspirated consonants, and is of some importance in determining the relation of this language to the others. It seems probable that it was derived from a language whose consonants resembled the other languages above named, though none of them is its progenitor. But the d and p in those other languages are also in place of th (or dh) and b in Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, and so of the rest of the consonants. The Gothic, and others like it, seem therefore to have

Elucidation of Individual Languages.


sprung from an original which resembled Greek in regard to its consonants. These facts suggest interesting inquiries, both in regard to the Science of Language and also as affecting early historical investigations.

But the most comprehensive work upon comparative grammar is that published by Professor Bopp, 1833-1849, and again in a second edition, 1856-1861. It embraces all the principal branches of the Indo-European family except the Celtic. The languages of India as represented by the Sanskrit, the languages spoken between the Indus and Asia Minor as represented by the ancient Zend and the modern Armenian, the Greek and Latin, the Slavonian languages in their oldest form and the Teutonic as represented by the Gothic and High German, are all comprised in this masterly work. As the Deutsche Grammatik' of Jacob Grimm makes it manifest that the Teutonic languages at a remote period were all one and the same, so the Vergleichende 'Grammatik' of Franz Bopp makes it equally clear that at a still remoter period all the Indo-European languages, now spoken by about a quarter of the human race, sprung from one source; and considerable progress is therefore made towards proving by an induction of facts that once all the earth was of one language 'and of one speech.'

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Another advantage resulting from the employment of a proper system of classification is, that the difficulties of each language are elucidated as they could not have been by the examination of that language alone. It was seen, for instance, that neuter nouns in Greek differed from masculine nouns in not having the nominative sign s affixed; but when such a word as yévos (genos) occurred with the genitive yévous (genous) for yévε-oc (gene-os), it was supposed that the neuter nouns sometimes had the nominative sign which properly belongs to the masculine. Comparison with other languages has shown that s in the first instance is not the nominative sign, but belongs to the stem of the word, whilst the genitive yέvove is for yéveo-oc (genes-os); so that these words form no exception to the rule. In Latin again, when d was found at the end of nouns, as in facillumed, or even pronouns, as med, ted, resort was had to the 'paragogicum' system; i.e., employing a learned word which conveys no explanation. Comparison with other languages removes the difficulty in this case also, by showing that the d is the sign of the ablative singular.

The different nations which form the Indo-European family have always employed the same words to denote the simpler operations of husbandry. These are words which they cannot have borrowed from one another. They therefore do their part

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