Page images

The same elements e, i, produce f[w, w, to dispose, to place, sitting down ; z 2014an, iLouw, I sit down.*

It cannot be a matter of surprise to find the same element retaining four different significations, viz. to send, to hurl, to place, to put sitting down : these different actions are the effect of mouvements, which bear to each other some resemblance, although such mouvements may partake of more or less velocity. So in like manner from the Latin verb mittere, (to send) the French have formed their verb mettre, which signifies to place, to deposit.

From the sound i, followed by a another vowel, the Greeks formed a great number of exclamations, which expressed grief, joy, indignation, contempt, veneration : ix, in, izū, izū, i. From the latter exclamation, inn, voice clamour, was derived; the exclamation is being inade a noun substantive, possessed the saine signification.

Since the exclamation in expresses joy, as joy is usually the concomitant of strength, and requires the degree of strength necessary to health, ix, also signified energy or power. Hence the obsolete verb izw, the ancient usage of which, is proved by that of the verbs iaivw, I exhilirate, I make warm, I am cheerful and blooming icouat, I heal.

The exclamation is léin, has produced ixú, the ancient name for God, more particularly, as this exclamation appears to have been a religious term, which is manifest by the expression in Ilav, ejaculated in the worship of Apollo.

The exclamation is produced the verb iáxw, no longer employed except in its derivative iwxuos, tumult.

O and oi, expressed, an action, a mouvement, which is attended with difficulty, which creates pain, as the action of carrying, of pushing forward. The verb ow is no longer in use, but we meet with its derivative 89w, oléw, I remove something, I repel with effort. From the preterite of this verb, was formed åxw, which is met with in the compound verb, daxw, I chase, Í pursue.

From the exclamation o1, comes oiw, I carry, which signifies also I think, because we carry nothing so constantly with us, as thought.

The ancient Greeks expressed by the sound v the mouvement of a fluid, and created from it the verb verv, to rain. Hence, udas idos, üdwg, water and the verb üdw, I sing appear to have been derived, because harmonic strains, seem to glide like a fluid.

* It would be a rather tedious employment, to collect and describe every word, what in the Creek tongue is derived from the two sounds & and".

Independently of the pure sounds, the signs whereof, bear the name of vowels. There are combinations of vowels, and consonants so natural to man, that he must have pronounced them without having recourse to imitation, and of his own accord. It is unnecessary therefore to seek for onomatopice, in words derived from combinations so easily formed.

The two syllables of this kind which should obtain the precedence, are those which we hear children pronounce of their own accord the first, viz. ma and pa.

Pa, in the language of many nations signifies father. As men are strongly attached to their peculiar habits and ideas, this syllable being pronounced with facility is the same that they employed in expression : ta, tw, signified I possess ; it also signified I press, zoow being derived from IIxw, because we compress, we accumulate, we arrange close together what we possess. The same verb moreover expressed the action of grazing, in consequence of herds being one of the primitive possessions and property of man. Hence Ilzouz, I feed myself, I nourish myself, I eat, and tdoogu.zo the derivative of Iliouxs. From the third person of the preterite passive Teretan, and without augment nára, the word nating, father was formed, an idea which the syllable az or this same syllable reiterated bad originally expressed. With the (Eolic termination oxw, na produced 720xwi, I supply with nutriment, &c.

Although the syllable 12, had the signification of father, it appears to have reciprocally signified child, and to have produced the word to cīs, since the father might have employed, in order to discriminate the child, the first syllable, which his child was in the habit of pronouncing, or perhaps because the father presses his child to his bosom in his tender caresses, or rather because his child is, what he holds most dear. I wish it to be understood, that in treating of a subject of this nature, I sometimes advance what appears to me susceptible of probability, without presuming to give it for a fixed rule.

The syllable ux, signified the mother, and grandmother, hence μάμμη, μάμμα, it also represented the verb μαμμάν, to speak like a child. Míw expressed like aw, the action of eating, of supporting oneself; this is indicated by the verb, meowhai or μασσάμαι, formed from the future of μάω. It expresses also a feeling of solicitude, and the action of seeking with assiduity. This acceptation has been imparted to it, from the idea of a mother's solicitude for her child, and her anxiety to obtain whatever can please him, and mitigate his pain.

* As children frequently,pronounce Ba Ba the verb Bağw has had the same acceptation.

From μάω, proceeded the substantive μαζος and μαστος, the mother's breast, and uāša, a sort of nutricious paste.

From the syllable vov varn, aunt was derived. From the same syllable the verbs viw, vaiw, I flow, I swim, I inhabit, and the substantive vžus, fluid liquor, were deduced.

The syllable to seems to be pronounced with the same facility, as the syllable πα.

Our children iterate it, in order to express a natural want; it was also employed in the same sense by the Greeks : hence , I drink. The syllable to was used in the like sense,

as we see by the words πόσις, ποιος, πώμα, drink. The syllables té, and 7, expressed moreover ideas relative to generation, thus néos, nós. The signification of the syllable ? terminates with its application to any work whatever, because we produce and engender in a manner, whatever we execute : hence row, Troiew, I do, &c.

I shall proceed to speak of primitive words of another order, the origin of which it is unnecessary to seek in the onomatopice, and which owed their formation to the nature of our organization. It will suffice to mention a few of them.

A substance in a state of putrefaction, fills the mouth with its infectious exhalations, and compels us to reject this impure air, so that we are induced to pronounce the sound tu. From this syllables comes the verb tiw, to putrefy. From the verb ruw, Thow was formed, more frequently used, and retains the same signification.

If we only salivate, which happens in disgust, in contempt, we utter the sound πυ, οι πτυ, from which πτυω, Ieject saliva, was derived: but if we expectorate forcibly a thick mucus, we render audible the sound xpete from which the Greeks formed xpéut Touan, I salivate. In a similar instance, a Frenchman utters the sound cra, from which our ancestors formed the verb cracher (to salivate).

In order to avoid the disgust of catching a fetid air, and the difficulty of expelling it, we remove it from the mouth, by breathing strongly, by which means, we pronounce 01, CEU, Qu. The verb Quw formed from this strong effusion of air, originally signified I breathe, as may be seen by Quouw, deduced from the future of this verb. It afterwards became of more extensive signification, as in the expressions, I dissipate, I make public, I produce, 1 engender ; nature, the grand generatrix, has been nominated Quais. For this reason, namely, that in putting forth her productions, she seems, as it were, to breathe them from her bosom. From qiw were formed citus, father ; citu, grain

[ocr errors]

* We find the future of the verb now in the Iliad. liv. 4. v. 174. Xéo è'ooría πύσει άρρα Κειμένα έν Τροίη

germe ; Q.TÚw, I engender, I produce. I am of opinion, that the word allpūs, father, proceeds also from Quw, allpüs for allá Qúws or Quotwy, he who breathes from him.*

I have only mentioned some of the expressions, which appertain to what I call language natural, and I have already discovered more than were necessary for forming the vocabulary of uncivilized men, whose wants are very circumscribed, and in whom, there is a total absence of every species of industry.

I proceed to that part of primitive language, which I have denominated language acquired, because the race of men from whom the Greeks received their origin, formed the words of it by imitating the different sounds in nature. Nations have so much varied among themselves, in the manner of understanding and imitating these sounds, and frequently also these sounds have been subject with time to such changes, that we cannot flatter ourselves of being able to discover ail the onomatopice. I shall content myself with relating some of them.t

* Anpūs (Theoc. Idyl. 15. v. 13.) 'AQ' oŰ TIS TÉOUKEV (Schol.)

† The Greeks represent the noise of thunder by Bpov (povrń) the Slaves by grom ; (Sclavonians) the Latins, by ton (tonitru.) The French express the noise of large flies by bour (Buz) (bourdon bourdonner) Anglice buz ; The Greeks expressed it by βομ (βομβεω). They interpreted the neighing of the lorse by χρεμίχρεμετίζω) the Latins rendered it by hin (to neigh) (hinnire) and we in imitation use hen (hennir.)

Our organization does not permit us to imitate successsfully, the different sounds which pature present to us. We but faintly imitate them and there is some difference in the manner, whereby they are heard, and imitated by different individuals. The organs yet inexperienced of uncivilized men, who undertook to create for themselves a language, by imitating sounds in nature must have produced an imitation much more imperfect. These men had not their organs better exercised, than those of children, who just begin to speak. The manner in which, children imitate what they hear, can instruct us of the method, which was adopted by savages. I shall insert here my observations, regarding an infant of fifteen months old, whom I have watched since the first moments of his birth.

In the course of five or six months, he pronounced of his own accord boubou, abou ; which accounts for abou signifying father in the Arabic. As the child did not hear any person around him make use of this word, he abstained from using it, and forgot it.

Sometime after, he pronounced the syllables ma and pa, which he frequently reiterated. I believe he uttered the syllable ma, the first I have not heard bim pronounce the syllables ata which signify father, in many parts of the globe.

He often heard the name of the porter's wife mentioned who was called David; he formed from it, the word tai, and he bestowed this appellation on every female, who was habited in any manner like her.

A servant named Claudine was called by him Didi, and he gave this appellation to every woman, in whom he discovered the least resemblance to this Claudine. He applied it particularly to a milkmaid, to whom he was carried every evening, to receive sweet milk, warm from the cow Didi siguified in his elliptic language, let us go to the milk maid.

of the word bonne he made bo: he employed ma for ma bonne ; bo maman for bonne maman.

Many animals have received their appellation from the nature of their cries: thus in the name of the ox, Rõs, the Greeks have but imitated the bellowing of this quadruped.

Kça, upe, xgt, xp, have become by imitation, the expression for different species of sound : hence rezyw I make a crackling noise, xsexw, I cause a disagreeable and unpleasant sound, xgetw, I make a noise like that of an axle-tree wanting grease ; ugasw, I croak like a raven. The name also of the raven xoçak, is derived from the imitation of its cry. Keauna a disagreeable clamour, violent vociferation, agailw, I vociferate.

He had a great wish for sugar: he called for it frequently, and from this word he formed ut.

Having heard some carters pronounce hue he gave the appellation of kue to horses, and every species of carriage. Certain females taught him to call the horse dada ; but carriages retained the name of hue.

In the word cerise he was only incommodied by the letter s, which he pronouneed scule, by resting the tongue against the upper teeth, without aflixing the sound of a vowel.' In sometime after, as persons addressed to him the phrase, qu'est ce que c'est que cela? on presenting him cherries, he called them quessissa. This observation proves, how a series of words. having undergone a change, forms sometimes a single expression by translation into a foreign tongue. Thus the Turks have framed the word Stamboul an appellation, which they give to the City of Cop. stantinople, from hearing the Greeks frequently use the expression és Tav TOWY to the city. The expression, Prends garde a ta tete, was frequently mentioned to this child, and from it, he formed the word atele for tête.

of the word vache, he has formed iaia. This example suffices to shew, how he changes the words, with which he is acquainted, and frequently retrenches their consonants. There are some words he makes aspirate, cochon he has nained hohon.

As yet he is acquainted with no verb, except boire, which he pronounces bere, and of which, it is very probable, he makes a substantire. Every verb forms elipses in bis dialect. Nanan papa signifies I have eaten nanan which papa has giren me, or I wish to be carried to papa's room, in order to ask him for nanan.

Hue mamun with him signifies I hare been, or I shall go in a carriage with maman.

In order to understand how very difficult it is, to recognise the onomatopire or names borrowed from a language by strangers, and especially by uncivilized men, we must recollect that the name of Bougsainville was changed into Pataveri by the natives of Otaheite.

A language therefore might be composed entirely of onomatopic, without a possibility of recognizing any of them. A language could also be formed from that of another people, without this people being able to comprehend a single word of it. This last proposition is proved by the word quessissa signifying cherries in the dialect of the child of 15 months old. This proposition is also demonstrated by another expression of the child, not in his fifteenth, but sixteenth month. He has frequently observed the gendarmerie d'elite passing, and bas heard it called Buo. naparte's troop: since that time, he calls every soldier Boapate. He was often told, that soldiers make pon pon and when he hears thunder, and is questioned regarding this noise, he answers that it is Baapate. This form of language is in barmony with the connexiun of ideas: for it is an established truth, that ideas, which are not primitive, bear affinity to o hers, from which they result. However, let us suppose a nation in the place of the child. Who could ever discover the concatenation, by means of which such nation might have taken from the Frencb langauge, the name which it would give the thunder, and that which, it would give to cherries?

« EelmineJätka »