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examples of virtue, and taught the inestimable lessons of science, of learning, and of revelation, to every people and to every age.
Various have been the modes of writing adopted by various nations. Some, like the Chinese, place their letters in perpendicular rows or columns, and write fron the top to the bottom of the page. Other eastern nations, as the Egyp:ians, the Arabians, the Phanicians, the Hebrews, followed a different practice, and wrote from the right hand to the left. In some very ancient Greek ir:scriptions the lines are by turns written from the left hand to the right, and from the right to the lett, the characters being reversed. This mode was called boustrophedon, because it resembled the progress of the ox when, in ploughing, he turns back at the end of the field, and proceeds in one furrow from left to right, and the next from right to left. The nations of Europe, however, have long taken an opposite course, and write from the left to the right. These various modes of arrangement of letters may give some plausibility to the opinion, that each people were the inventors of their own scheme of letters, or of their own alpha'et. Our European alpha
, bets, however, may be traced back successively to the Romans, the Greeks, the Phænicians, &c.
The effects produced by conquerors who settle in any particular country are in few respects more perceptible than in the change introduced by the conquest into the language of the original inhabitants. This observation is fully confumed by the history of England : for the Saxons, after they had subdued the native Britons, introduced into the country their own language, which was a dialect of the ancient Teutonic, the parent of the present languages of Germany and the Low Countries.
No alteration in the language of Englandi vecurred, after this event, for six bundred years, until the conquest in 1066 by William of Normandy, who promoted another change, by causing Norman French to be used, even in the courts of justice. The original British tongue, the Saxon, and the old French, are therefore the sources of the modern English ; but augmented, from time to time, by the influx of Latin and Greek terms, with which commerce, the cultivation of learning, and the progress of the arts, have made us familiar.
From the countries which have supplied us with improvements in knowledge and art, we have also drawn the terms belonging to them. Thus in music, sculpture, and painting, the terms are borrowed from Italy, where these arts have been carried to the highest perfection. The names and phrases employed in navigation were received from the inhabitants of Flanders and Holland. France has supplied us with the language of fortification and military affairs, which she herself originally borrowed froin Italy. The language of mathematics and philosophy is formed upon the Greek and Latin. The Saxon, and a few remains of the original British or Celtic, furnish most of the words in common use, as well as those employed in agriculture and in several mechanic arts.
The English language is now spoken or understood over a greater extent of the world than any other. Besides the British isles in Europe, it is the common tongue of the whole of the civilized parts of the United States of North America, besides many parts of Canada, and the British American islands. In Asia, English is the speech of the masters of India, ruling over a prodigious population exceeding fifty millions. In the newly formed settlements in the great Southern Ocean, in New Holland, &c. it is the only language in use. With French and German, however, a traveller will more commodiously make his way over the continent of Europe,
GRAMMAR IN GENERAL.
Grammar is the art of properly expressing our thoughts by words. The term is originally Greek, signifying a mark, character, or letter, written or engraved, to represent certain ideas or perceptions. Hence arises the impropriety of employing the term in any other sense, as in the expressions and titles of certain modern books, called Grammars of History, of Geography, of Chemistry, and the like.
Grammar in general, or, as it is usually styled, Universal Grammar, explains the principles which regulate, and are consequently common to all languages. Being founded on reason and the nature of things, these principles and the grammatical rules resulting from them, are susceptible of no variation, from any change of time or of place.
The grammar of the English, or any other particular tongue, applies these principles to that tongue, according to the custom and usage established in it, by the best practice.
Grammar treats of sentences, and of the several parts of which sentences are composed. Sentences consist of words: words are formed by one or more syllables ; syllables contain one letter or several letters. Hence letters, syllables, words, and sentences, make up the whole of the grammar of any language.
A letter or character is the expression of any simple sound or modification of sound, or of the articulate utterance of the human voice, regulated by the organs of speech.
Sounds, and consequently letters, are naturally divided into two classes"; the one produced by a simple emission of the voice, as a, 0, which may be lengthened or continued at pleasure. This class proceeding only from the voice, is therefore from the Latin term for voice called vowels. The other class of letters representing certain restraints or modifications of simple sounds, can be pronounced only by the help of some vowel before or after them, and are therefore called consonants, from two Latin words signifying to sound together. Thus the letter b represents in fact only
a suppression of all sound, and can be pronounced only by the means of a vowel before or after it, as ab, or be.
When the vowels are brought together, so that each is sounded so quickly that the two together seem to form but one sound, composed of the two in succession : or that out of the two is formed a third sound different from both, these combinations of vowels are termed diphthongs, from two Greek words, signifying a double sound. Thus in English, ou in the word bound is a diphthong in which both o and u are separately but rapidly pronounced; whereas in the word food the two vowels o, o, represent a sound totally different from their own proper soumd.
The letters or characters used to represent the most common simple sounds of a language compose its alphabet, a term consisting of the names of the first two letters in the Greek language, called alpha and beta, that is a and b. Had languages originally been constructed, and letters invented, upon certain fixed principles, every separate sound would have been expressed by a separate letter, or by the combination of two or more letters of invariable pronunciation. On the other hand, every separate letter or combination of letters would have been restricted to the expression of one particular sound, to the exclusion of all others. This, however, was not the case in the formation of any language or alphabet : and the consequence is, that in all we find one letter expressing various sounds, and one sound expressed by various letters. The English alphabet is therefore both redundant and deficient.
In the English alphabet are twenty-six letters, in the following order: A a, Bb, C, D, E, Ff, Gg, H h, Li, Ji, K k, L1, M m,
m N n, O 0, P p, Q q, R r, S s, Tt, U u, V v, ww, X x, Y y, Z z.
Of these, six are vowels, A, E, I, O, U, Y: the others are con sonants.
A syllable is one sound, either that of a simple vowel, as a in the word abound, or that of a combination of vowels and consonants, as bound in the same word. Syllable is a Greek term, signifying what things may be taken together.
Spelling is the art of reading, by naming the letters separately, putting them together, and rightly dividing words into their proper syllables. In writing, to spell is to express a word by its proper letters.
The mode of spelling words is termed orthography, a Greek expression equivalent to right writing. Not only in modern, but also in ancient languages, we find various modes of spelling in use; and at times without any appearance of rule or established practice. In some old English writers the same word occurs differently spelt even in the same page. Various attempts have been made by learned men, at different times, to ascertain and fix the orthography of the English language : but their success, however
rationally founded, has not been sufficient to establish beyond alteration any one mode of spelling. In orthography as in several other practices, founded perhaps as much upon caprice and fashion as upon reason, we must follow the old advice
Be not the first by whom the new are tried ;
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside. In dividing words into syllables the following directions are commonly given: A consonant coming between two vowels is to be joined to the last vowel, as in a-rise, i-muge. When two consonants are placed between two vowels, the first consonant is joined to the first vowel, and the last to the vowel following, as in ab-sent, ad-dress. But if the two consonants be such as easily to unite in pronunciation, particularly if they be found to begin a word, they are not to be separated, but to go with the last vowel, in the game way with a single consonant. Thus in the name A-drian the d and r go together to the iast vonel i, bet nuse dr unite with ease in sound; and many words begin with those con. | sonants, as draw, drown. In the same way when three consonants meet in the middle of a word, the first is generally joined to the furegoing vowel, and the two remaining consonants go to the following vowel, as in as-tray, ils-ti onomy. But as these three consonants are often found to begin a word, as in strange, sirength, some grammarians would divide the former words thus, a-stray, 4-stronomy. These general directions are, however, subject to so many exceptions, that the only method of attaining a proper mode of dividing words into syllables is carefully to observe and to imitate the practice of the best writers, and the examples laid before us in the most accurately printed books.
Grammar consists of four principal parts–Orthography, Etymology, Syntax, and Prosody.
1. Orthography is a Greek term, signifying strictly the art of rightly expressing words in writing; but under the same term is comprehended the sister art of reading and pronouncing with propriety. It is therefore the method of combining letters into sylTables, and syllables into words.
2. Etymology is that part of grammar which teaches the formation and derivation of one word from another, and the various methods by which the sense of any word may be changed, to suit the circumstances in which it is employed.
3. Syntax, or, as it is often called!, Construction, is the proper order and arrangement of words in a sentence, so as to make the meaning perfectly clear and distinct.
Syntax is subdivided into Concord and Regimen. Concord signifies the agreement in all circumstances, between two terms belonging to and expressive of one and the same object or idea. Regimen, or government, signifies the power which one word is supposed to possess of causing some other word, on which it acts, to be in certain fixed circumstances, according to the case.
4. Prosody is a part of gramınar employed in determining the true pronunciation of words, and the rules and practices of versification and poetry.
Of these four component parts of grammar, the first, or orthography, and the last, or prosody, particularly in the English, and enost other living languages, are liable to frequent and even capricious Auctuations, and consequently far less susceptible of fixed and determinate rules in practice than the other parts, etymology and syntax. The former parts can best be learned from the write ings of the most approved authors in prose and verse: the latter two parts, being governed by established regulations, require more par. ticular consideration and illustration.
The words of all languages may be arranged in different classes, according to their signification, as representing idcas or perceptions, and their connection the one with the other,
On the revival of literature and science in the 15th century, the Latin tongue, in which many important and excellent works had come down from antiquity, being also the common language of the Roman church, then established over the greatest part of Europe, it was naturally adopted as the common vehicle of intercourse and information among men of learning. Hence all works relative to the study, not of the Latin only, but of the Greek, the Hebrew, and other ancient tongues, were composed in Latin: and by a very obvious transition, the terms formed from that language were employed in works relating only to modern tongues. This was particularly the case in grammatical treatises, on the languages of the southern states of Europe, in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, and even in Britain, notwithstanding the close connection between the English language and those of Germany and the northern states of Europe, where a different system of grammatical expressions is adopted.
There are in English nine sorts of words, or, as they are commonly called, parts of speech.
1. The Article; prefixed to substantives, when they are common names of things, to point them out, and to show how far their signification extends.
2. T'he Substantive, or Noun; being the name of any thing conceived to subsist, or of which we have
notion. 3. The Pronoun; standing instead of the noun. 4. The Adjective; added to the noun to express the quality of it.
5. The Verb, or word, by way of eminence ; signifying to be, to do, or to suffer.
6. The Adverb; added to verbs, and also to adjectives and other adverbs, to express some circumstance belonging to them.
7. The Preposition ; put before nouns and pronouns chiefly, to connect them with other words, and to show their relation to those words.
8. The Conjunction ; connecting sentences together.
9. The Interjection ; thrown in to express the affection of the speaker, though unnecessary with respect to the construction of the sentence,