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it may have come from Mexico. There was a number of tribes in Central America and just north of it, who made far greater advances in civilization than most of their brethren. Whether their dominion was once more extensive than we know it now to have been, and whether the more northern ruins should be ascribed to some of them, we do not presume to say. To this group of tribes the Mexican tribes, after their mythical emigration, belonged; and, as neighbors are wont to do, borrowed from them and gave to them in return.

Into the proofs of the common origin of the Indian race in both Americas, we do not mean to enter; still less do we propose to trace out their affinities with the nations of the rest of the world. In regard to this latter point we must refer our readers to Bradford's American Antiquities, a work in which nearly all the facts known and results reached before 1840 are assembled, and in which it is maintained that the red race has had a very wide diffusion over Etruria, Egypt, Madagascar, ancient Scythia, eastern Asia, and through the islands of Polynesia. In regard to the former point we will only say here, that ancient skele. tons recently examined, among the rest one of a female brought from Yucatan by Mr. Stephens, add their weight to that of the many other convincing arguments in favor of referring all the tribes of the conti

nent to one source.

Mr. Stephens gives us numerous sketches of the present condition of the Indians. The picture is by no means a pleasing one, although it reveals mild traits of character and a capacity for improvement. They live in general on the plantations of Spanish proprietors, and occupy their patches of ground on condition of performing a certain amount of work for the landlord. The treatment of them differs not essentially from that of serfs. In some few cases they are independent landowners. At Zayi Mr. Stephens found a village where the Indians form a peculiar society: the lands are owned in common; their cookery is done by wholesale at one hut; and they are expected to marry within the village. We recommend to Mr. Greeley and others who are visited with new illuminations about socialism to make a pilgrimage to this fraternity. The Indians of Yucatan are now free and independent, but their freedom bodes little good. An age of disquiet seems to lie before them. It is apprehended in the country itself, that they may imitate the Indians of Central America, and form a native party opposed to the Spaniards. Meanwhile the priests, to whom certainly the praise of kindness and humanity towards them is due, seem to be attempting nothing, and we know not what the government will dare to attempt, in order to make them fit for liberty.


THE Vocalism of the English language has the appearance of great irregularity. The vowel sound, whether we compare different words from the same root, or present forms with ancient ones, or analogous forms in co-existing dialects, is lia

ble to great fluctuation. Some have supposed that little or no regard is to be had to the vowels in ascertaining the origin and affinity of languages. Anomaly, however, is often obedience to a higher law, or at most a conflict of different laws.

To investigate the nature of these phonetic changes, has been an important object with modern philologists.

In the present state of philolog. ical science we are able to reduce many of these fluctuations of vowel sounds under general heads, and to give a philosophical, or at least a plausible explanation. These explanations, it ought to be observed, often refer to an earlier, and not to the present state of the language.

We hope to show that something has been done in this important branch of human learning, and to awaken a degree of interest in more intelligent minds to the general subject.

As the Anglo-Saxon is the foundation of the English tongue, we shall commence with the vowel changes in the Anglo-Saxon or Teu tonic part of our language, pursuing the natural order in which our present language has been built up. I. There is a play of vowels in collateral Teutonic roots, especially in those which are formed by onomatopeia; as, gloom and gleam; jug. gle, gaggle, and giggle; cluck, clack, and click; croak, crack, and creak. We hold that u, the lowest sound in the scale of vowels, and its modification o, are naturally adapted to express low and obscure sounds, and what is dull in appearance; that i, the highest in the scale of vowels, and its modification e, are adapted to express clear and shrill sounds, and what is bright in appearance; and that the vowel a is intermediate in its character. It is evident, as we think, in the examples quoted above, that the vowel is significant, or that the meaning of Goth. pres. brika, Anglo-Sax. pres. brece, Germ. pres. breche. pres. break,


the words is affected in a way corresponding with the nature of the vowel.

II. There is a play of vowels in Teutonic words formed by reduplication, one of the more simple and mechanical processes in the forma tion of language; as, chit-chat; ding-dong; zig-zag; whim-wham;


These forms are produced by iterating or repeating the same word. The shortening of the vowel in the first part of the compound is merely a preparation for the fuller sound in the second. It is a euphonic process, which renders the whole word melodious and expressive. This mode of forming words, consisting in a mechanical repetition of the same sound, is naturally adapted to express (1.) the continuous flow of conversation; as, chit-chat ; tittle-tattle; (2.) other constant and repeated sounds; as, ding-dong; tick-tack; (3.) certain oscillatory motions; as, zig-zag; see-saw; (4.) certain mental fluctuations or oscillations; as, whim-wham; knickknacks; (5.) some miscellaneous things involving the idea of repetition; as mish-mash; slip-slop.

III. There is a play of vowels and diphthongs in the formation of the past tense and of the past participle, in the ancient and strong inflection of Teutonic verbs; which is seen, however, to much better advantage in the kindred dialects than in the English language. Thus,

Conjug. I. includes verbs which have, or rather originally had, ior its modification e before a single consonant in the present tense, a in the past tense, and u or its modification o in the past participle ; as,

past brak,

past brac,

past brach, past brake, (obs.)

Conjug. II. includes verbs which have, or rather originally had, i or its modification e before two conso

part. brukans. part. brocen. part. gebrochen. part. broken.

nants in the present tense, a in the past tense, and u or its modification o in the past participle ; as,

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The radical vowel a in this conjugation is lengthened or doubled in

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The radical vowel i in this conjugation is made a diphthong by vriddhi,

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The radical vowel u in this conjugation is made a diphthong by vriddhi,

i. e. by prefixing a or i.

IV. There is a play of vowels in the derivation of nouns from Teutonic verbs; as, band and bond from to bind; bat and bate from to beat; cake from to cook; dole from to deal; doom from to deem; share

and shire from to shear.

These forms evidently originate from, and are dependent on, the internal inflection of verbs, which has been noticed under number III.

V. There is an attenuation or precession of vowel in certain formative processes of Teutonic words.

1. In the formation of verbs from nouns; as, to bleed from blood, (comp. Anglo-Sax. bledan from blod ;) to breed from brood, (comp. Germ. brüten from brut ;) to feed from food, (comp. Anglo-Sax. fedan from fod ;) to fill from full, (comp. Anglo-Sax. fyllan from full;) to gild from gold, (comp. Anglo-Sax. gildan from gold;) to heal from hale or whole, (comp. Anglo-Sax. hælan from hal.)

2. In the formation of verbs from other verbs, and having a factitive

or causative sense; as, to bait from to bite, (comp. Anglo-Sax. batan, from bitan, past bat ;) to fell from to fall, (comp. Germ. fällen, from fallen;) to float from to flow, (comp. Germ. flössen, from fliessen, past floss;) to lay from to lie, (comp. Anglo-Sax. lecgan, from licgan, past lag;) to set from to sit, (comp. Anglo-Sax. settan, from sittan, past sæt ;) to wend from to wind, (comp. Anglo-Sax. wendan, from windan, past wand.)

In the older Teutonic dialects, and in some of the more modern, this change of the radical vowel, in the formation of causative verbs, is subject to definite rules; although in our language it has the appearance of being arbitrary. In German, for example, the change consists in an attenuation or precession of the original vowel; as, drängen, to press, from dringen, (past drang,) to rush in; tränken, to give to drink, from trinken, (past trank,) to drink; zwängen, to force together, from zwingen, (past zwang,) to force; schwemmen, to cause to swim, from schwimmen, (past schwamm,) to swim; senken, to let down, from sinkan, (past sank,) to sink; sprengen, to cause to fly, from springen, (past sprang,) to fly off; schellen,

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to cause to sound, from schallen, to sound; flössen, to float, from fliessen, (past floss,) to flow.

3. In the formation of adjectives from substantives; as, any (pronounced enny) from an, (comp. Anglo-Sax. anig from an ;) English from Angle, (comp. Anglo-Sax. Englisc from Angle.)

4. In the formation of abstract substantives from adjectives, by means of the suffix th; as, breadth from broad; length from long; strength from strong.

5. In the formation of certain diminutives; as, bundle from bond, (comp. Anglo-Sax. byndel from bund;) chicken or chickling from cock, (comp. Anglo-Sax. cicen from cocc;) gosling from goose; kitten from cat; (comp. Germ. kätzchen from katze ;) tip, with loss of termination, from top, (comp. Germ. zippel from zopf.)

This attenuation or precession of vowel, is a process found very extensively in language; see Prof. A. Crosby's Grammar of the Greek Language, Bost. 1842. p. 17.

VI. There is an attenuation or precession of vowel in certain inflectionary processes.

1. In the formation of some plural nouns; as,

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plur. teeth;

comp. Anglo-Sax. toth,

plur. teth.


plur. mice; plur. lice;

comp. Anglo-Sax. mus,

plur. mys.

comp. Anglo-Sax. lus, comp. Anglo-Sax. brothor,

Louse, Brother, plur. brethren; Besides the attenuation in the formation of the plural, the singular has also suffered changes; as, gos, by attenuation goose; mus, by vriddhi


2. In the comparison of adjec


plur. lys. plur. brothra.

tives; as, old, elder, eldest; comp. Anglo-Sax. eald, yldre, yldest.

This change is exhibited to greater advantage in the kindred dialects;


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VII. In the formation of the past tense and the past participle of some weakly inflected verbs, there is not only a shortening of the quantity of the vowel, but sometimes also a restoration of the vowel sound, which had been attenuated; as, meet, met; lose, lost; leave, left. The vowel in the present tense standing, or having stood originally, in an open syllable, suffers attenuation, while the vowel of the past tense and past participle being in a close syllable, is retained.

VIII. There are certain vowel changes in the transition from Gothic or Anglo-Saxon to English; (1.) the attenuation or precession of the vowel sound ah to eh; as, to make from Anglo-Sax. macian; (2.) the attenuation or precession of eh to ih; as, to steal from Anglo-Sax. stelan; (3.) the strengthening of ih to ai (the Eng. diphthong i,) by vriddhi, as, to bite from Anglo-Sax. bitan; (4.) the strengthening of uh to au by vriddhi; as, thou from Anglo-Sax. thu.

IX. We come now to words derived from the Latin. Among these we find some vowel changes, which are found in the ancient Latin, and are to be explained by a reference to that language, and others, which exhibit themselves in the transition of Latin words into English.

Among the former is a play of vowels in words compounded with prepositions; (1.) the change of radical a into i in an open, and into e in a close syllable; as, facile, deficient, defect; (2.) the change of radical a into u; as, capable, occupant; (3.) the change of radical e into i in an open syllable; as, legible, intelligible; (4.) the change of au into u; as, claudent, include. This change of vowel, which modern philologists have investigated with great care, is to be regarded as an attenuation or lightening of the vowel sound, as an offset to the weight of the preceding prefix.

Among the latter are the follow

ing; (1.) the attenuation or preces. sion of the vowel sound ah to eh; as, Lat. papyrus, Eng. paper; (2.) the attenuation or precession of the vowel sound eh to ih; as, Lat. Stephanus, Eng. Stephen; (3.) the change of the vowel sound ih by vriddhi to ai (= the English diph thong i;) as, Lat. libellus, Eng. libel. These changes are to be regarded as a strengthening of the several vowel sounds, on occasion of the accent which had been disturbed by cutting off the final sylla ble; connected in the two former cases with a subsequent attenuation.

X. In words derived from the Greek, we have some vowel changes, which are found in the ancient Greek, and are to be explained by a reference to that language, and others, which exhibit themselves in the transition of Greek words into English.

Among the former we may reckon (1.) the play of vowels in collateral roots, closely connected in signification; as, chro in chrome,

chra in catachresis, and chri in chrism, all signifying primarily to touch the surface. This process in the formation of collateral roots, is a part of the great system of the nat ural development of roots, as ex hibited by Becker. It is distinct from the formation of words from roots. The different use and appli cation of these roots depended without doubt on the appropriate import supposed to inhere in each vowel. (2.) The attenuation or precession of the vowel a to e; as, system from

sta; lemma for lebma from✅lab; tmesis from tam, by transposition tma. (3.) The strengthening of u by vriddhi, or the change of u into eu; as, zeugma from zug or zyg. (4.) The change of vowel by internal inflection; as, tome from tam.

Among the latter, besides those common to Latin and Greek derivatives, are the following; (1.) the attenuation or precession of ai to e; as, phenomenon, from pha,

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