Skip to main content

Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

See other formats

36                  The Loom of Language

for writing, some for writing and speaking, others for reading as well
That many rules about correct writing deal with vestiges which have
ceased to have any function in the living language does not mean that
writing demands a knowledge of more grammar than reading, It
signifies that it calls for more knowledge of a particular type Compli-
cated rules for the use of many French derivatives are not essential for
self-expression because we can dispense with them as we dispense with
the English derivative day's For reading we need a nodding acquaintance
with many rules which we are not compelled to use when writing
or speaking

The difficulties of learning the essential minimum of rules which are
helpful from any point of view have been multiplied a thousandfold

The Hittite language was probably Aryan The seal shows cuneiform syllabic
signs round the margin and pictograms m the centre. (See also Fig 9 )
by a practice which has its roots in the Latin scholarship of the human-
ists, and in the teaching of Greek in schools of the Reformation. As
explained in Chapter III, Latin and Greek form large classes of derivative
words of two main types called conjugations (p. 107) and declensions
(p 115), The rules embodied m these conjugations and declensions tell
you much you need to know in order to translate classical authors with
the help of a dictionary. Grammarians who had spent their lives in
learning them, and using them, carried over the same tnck into the
teaching of languages of a different type. They ransacked the literature
of living languages to find examples of similarities which they could
also arrange in systems of declensions and conjugations, and they did
so without regard to whether we really need to know them, or if so,
in what circumstances. The words which do not form such derivatives,