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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Introduction                           39
the spelling or pronunciation of a word in one of them differs from the
spelling or pronunciation of a corresponding word in another. For
example, the SH m the English ship becomes SK in the Swedish skepp,
which means the same thing Similarly the Swedish for to shine is att
skina. The vowel symbol JU in Swedish generally becomes / in
corresponding English words Thus att sjunga, with the ending -a
common to all Swedish verbs, preceded by att (to) means to sing.
In English, all verbs which change as sing to sang and sung are old
Teutonic words So we expect to find them in Swedish, which is also
a Teutonic language, and can guess correctly that the Swedish equivalent
of to sink would be att sjunka.
It is essential to know one thing about the use of words before we
can begin to make a basic word-list Correspondence between the use
of words m different languages is never perfect It is moie or less
complete according to the grammatical class to which words are
assigned Thus numerals and name-words or nouns such as father, bird,
or ship, offer little difficulty when we consult a dictionary The greatest
trouble arises with particles,, especially directives^ i e. such words as m,
on, to, at There is never absolute correspondence between such words
in any two languages, even when they are very closely related as are
Swedish and Danish. The English word in usually corresponds to the
Swedish t, and the English on to Swedish pd, but the British expres-
sion, in the street, is translated by pd gatan. A Swede might get into
difficulties if he gave bis English hostess a word-for-word translation of
en kvinnajag traffade (a lady I met) pd gatan,
The dictionary usually gives several synonyms for each foreign
equivalent of any directive, and leaves us to find out for ourselves when
to use one or the other. To tell us how to do so is one of the most
important tasks of practical grammar. Thus it is quite useless to have
a list of basic particles unless we know the distinctive use of each. If we
are clear about this, we can recognize them when we are using a par-
ticle of our own language in ail idiomatic sense If we do not know the
correct idiomatic equivalent in another language, we can paraphrase
the expression in which it occurs without using it (see p. 139)
When making our word-list for another language, we have also to
be wary about one of the defects of English overcome by the small
number of verbs in Ogdcn's Basic. Idiomatic English, as usually
spoken and written, has a large number of very common verbs which
we should not include m the English column of our word-lists. Try,
which is one of them, means in different contexts the same as (a)