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For Is looking for the origin of language, we naturally
mankind; but you will see, upon reflection, that a guage, by referring to Babel and the dispersion of sibly have had any connection with the Tower of Babel and the dispersion of mankind, because they have orignated so very recently, in comparison with that
event. The English, French, Spanish, and Italian Slanguages have existed only a few hundred years,
ORIGIN OF LANGUAGE.
Author of "Life;" "The Manchester Flora,” &c.
as the source of the human family
, and thus the source of languages. People are very ready to account for the diversity of lan
now spoken cannot posas well as for the beginning
tuin our eyes to the East,
vást number of languages
stopertain specially to Europe, and to those Asiatic
ad cant therefore have originated, as such, at Babel. We naturally turn, then, to the East for the of the human race, and we find that the great famiKies uz stocks of languages, as they are termed, may be referred to those parts of Asia which are generally believed to have been the first inhabited by our species. It is better in an inquiry of this kind, which is so vast, to take some limited area that we can travel over with comfort and satisfaction in the Course of one evening, such as the languages which nations with which we are ethnologically allied,
beginning of language,
-the group called the Indo-Germanic, which comprises five great families or sub-divisions, riz: the family of languages, of which the Sanscrit is the type; that of which the Græco-Latin is the type; the ancient Celtic, now extinct except in the Highlands, in Wales, in Brittany, and in some parts of Ireland; the great family known as the Gothic, comprehending all the truly Germanic languages; and lastly the Sclavonic. All these families of languages hare a number of features in common, yet they have very marked differences; but the affinities quite outnumber the dissimilarities, and thus they are all brought together under this one name of the Indo-Germanie stock of languages.
The word stock is a kind of generic term, including all these various families. We will assume, then, that we want to ascertain the origin of the various languk
comprised in this Indo-Germanic stock, and how it is that they have divaricated, or spread abroad one from another in so wonderful a way as to have given us Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, English, and so forth. We must not, in speaking of tribes and languages coming from the East, consider that they came from the East as languages and as tribes. These languages were not framed in the East any more than the tribes were born and brought up in the East, and sent forth collectively from the East. The tribes were developed into tribes in their gra, dual progress in the course of migration farther and farther westward or northward; and the languages grew up in course of time as the various peoples with whom they originated travelled farther and farther. Every language was many years, probably many centuries, in growing. Languages and tribes of people are like trees, originating in little germs, and gradually developing stems, branches, and leaves, and the other parts of the tree; all of which have their representatives in language. The most ancient family of the Indo-Germanic stock appears
vel and the
to be that of which the Sanscrit is the type; a language as ancient that exquisite compositions were produced in it of the very highest class of literature, as far back as the time of the Emperor Augustus. Calidasa, the Shakspere of India, who flourished about the time of Augustus, shows in his poems, as did all his contemporaries, that the language was then in perfection. There were earlier and less perfect forms, but the most finished specimens that have been preserved belong to that period. The affinities between the ancient Sanscrit, which has long since ceased to be a spoken language, and the English
language, are extensive and remarkable; there are affinities both in the structure of the words and even in the sense of particular terms. English word to kiss is properly the Sanscrit word for to embrace, spelt certainly
with different vowels, but the same word essentially. With this ancient language are included, as derivatives, many of those now spoken in India, and the adjacent countries. Intimately connected with them was the basis of Latin, including the Greek language primarily, and the Latin or Roman language, the latter not to be but as growing up simultaneously in the mouths of
as commonly a derivative from the Greek, farther westward, and took possession of the peninsome great company of emigrants who moved appear to have grown up at the same time; the lanmained in India; Greek with those who emigrated guage becoming Sanscrit with those people who reinto the Hellenic peninsula; and Latin with those who removed still farther to the west. Why should it become these three separate languages? Why did the same original form become developed into three such very different complexions, as we have in those three great classes of languages ? or, to restrict ourselves even to the Greek and Latin forms,
why should the same original people, merely thronga having moved into the Italian peninsula, originate so different a language ? If we can ascertain this, it will give us the key to why the descendants of those people should have developed in subsequent ages French, Italian, Spanish, English, &c. The grounds of the difference in language, although brought from one spot by one people, may be referred to the influence of climate, to congenital differences in the structure of the organs of speech, to the influences of commerce and conquest, to progress in science and philosophy, to the influence of theological views, and in fact to all that large variety of external influences which we find causing changes in everything else belonging to the human mind. Perhaps in the history simply of the organs of speech, we shall find one chief clue, and possibly the most interesting. We must remember that words are sounds; we must disabuse our minds of the idea of words being marks written down with a pen or pencil, or as certain combinations of alphabetic symbols. Words are sounds, and all words and all languages existed for very long periods before any attempt was made to write them down. All words and all languages at first, were of a purely phonetic character. Let two or three persons using the same words move into different parts of the country, and be subjected to different climatic influences, and they will find that after a separation of 15 or 20 years, little differences in the mode of pronunciation have grown up they know not how or why; but the fact is plain enough. We have it illustrated in the provincialisms of our own country. We are all descended from the same old Saxon and British families, with an admixture of Norman; and yet what different dialects we have in Somersetshire, Lancashire, and Yorkshire. Carry out that idea on a grand scale, and you see why the Greeks and Romans should speak different lanla
guages, and why a Frenchman, a Spaniard, and an Italian, should speak differently. The organs of speech are the tongue, lips, teeth, palate, and part of the throat; and each of these parts has its own particular sounds; hence the distinction of letters into linguals, labials, dentals, palatals, and gutturals, the letters being nained from the organs specially concerned in pronouncing them. Now although our monehs may appear to be shaped in the same way, we sirall find that owing to differences not appreciable by the anatomist, there are differences in our mode of articulating different sounds. How marked this is in children ! In the attempts of little childten to talk, we have the clue to a great deal of the diversity of language.
Listen to a little child atterupting to speak; if it tries to say good boy it will say dood boy: the power of articulating the g comes later. Every one will have observed in these simple utterances of the infantine mouth, how imperfect is the attempt to pronounce very many consonants. These differences continue with certain men as they grow up, and become infixed so completely that, after a while, all the words in which particular letters exist are changed, and other letters become substituted. In the Bible history of the Gileadites, and the Ephraimites (JUDGEs xii., 5, 6), it is recorded that the Ephraimites could not pronounce the password for the passage of the river Jordan—" And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Letme
that the men of Gilead said unto hin-Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay; then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth; for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him and slew him at the passage of Jordan.” We may be sure that if their vocal organs had allowed, they would have said Shibboleth, and thus have saved