Skip to main content

Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

See other formats

Accidence—The Table Manners of Language   115
without saying that gender concord, like number concord, adds to the
labour of learning a language without contributing anything to the
danty of a statement. If every adjective has three gender forms (mas-
culine, feminine, and neuter) corresponding to each of three numbers
(singular, plural, and dual), we have to choose between nine different
ways of spelling or pronouncing it whenever we use it; and if there are
no certain rules to help us to decide to what gender-class nouns belong,
correct judgment demands memorizing many exceptions.
The pathology of adjectives does not end here. When nouns have
case flexion, which we shall come to next, adjectives may have corre-
sponding case forms If there are eight cases, as in Sanskrit, which is
fortunately a dead language, case concord implies that an adjective-root
may have as many as seventy-two derivatives. The entire battery is
called the declension of the adjective In the old Teutonic languages,
including modern Icelandic, one and the same adjective has two
declensions, i e. alternative forms for the same number,gender,and case;
and it is necessary to learn when to use one or the other (see p 269)
The word declension stands for all the flexions of the adjective, noun,
or pronoun, as the word conjugation stands for all the flexions of a verb.
The declension of an adjective, noun, or pronoun includes this third
class of flexions which must now be discussed. Enghsh pronouns have
two or three case-forms listed below
I, we, you, he, she, it, they, who, which.
my,       our,      your,     jh       jher,     j       ^       wfaose
mine,     ours,     yours,    J           J hers,    J
me, us, you, him, her, it, them, whoma which.
Of these three case-forms one, the genitive, sometimes fulfils a use
denoted by its alternative name, the possessive. The English genitives
of the personal pronouns other than he and it b#ve two forms, one used
in front of the possessed (wy, your., etc), the other (mine,, yours, eta)
by itself Grammarians usually call the first the possessive adjective In
Enghsh as in modern Scandinavian languages the genitive ~s flexion
is all that remains of four case-forms (angular and plural} for each noun,
as for each pronoun and adjective m Old Enghsh, Old Norse, or in