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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Introduction                           35
arrangement of words, and rules about which of several related words
we have to use in a particular situation Closely allied European languages
differ very much with respect to the relative importance of such rules,
the difficulties which they put m the way of a beginner,, and how far
they are essential to a reading, writing, or speaking knowledge Bible
English has very simple and very rigid rules about arranging words,
and these rules, which are nearly the same as those of Scandinavian
languages, are totally different from the less simple but rigid rules of
German or Dutch Word order does not count for so much in the
study of Latin and Greek authors Latin and Greek writing abounds
with derivatives comparable to loves or loved, from love, or father's
from father in English. The connexion between words of a statement
depends less on arrangement than on the idiomatic (p. 201) use of
derivatives Thus it is impossible to read these languages without an
immense number of rules about derivative words
If we aim at learning a language with as little effort as possible, rules
of one kind or another may be more or less important from another
point of view In English we use the derivative speaks after he, she, or it,
instead of speak after /, you, we, or they. Since we pronounce the final
~s, it is important for a foreigner, who wishes to conform to our customs,
to know how to use this rule in speaking as well as in writing When
we use he, she, or it, we do not add an ~s to spoke So the -s is not really
essential to the meaning of a statement, and a foreigner would still be
able to understand a written sentence if he did not know the rule.
French has more complicated rules about these endings Their useful-
ness depends on whether we are talking, writing or reading If a
Frenchman wants to write J speak, you speak, we speak, they speak, he
uses different endings for each The French equivalents of what is called
the "present tense" (p. 103) of speak, arc
Je park       I speak                   Nous parlous        we speak
Tu parlei    you speak                Vous parlez          you speak
II parle       lie speaks.                Ils parlor            they speak.
None of these endings adds anything to the meaning of a statement.
They are just there as vestiges from the time when Romans did not use
words such as /, we, they, in front of a verb, but indicated them by the
ending. As such they are not relevant to a reading knowledge of French.
Four of the six, italicized because they are vestiges in another sense,
are not audibly distinct They have no real existence in the spoken
language Thus some rules about derivative words are important only