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122                The Loom of Language
with no existence HI the spoken language We might almost say the
same about the gender and case flexions of the German adjective,
because they do not sack out m quick conversation The mere fact that
proof readers oveilook wtong flexsonal endings far more often than
incorrect spelling oi the loot itself shows how little they contribute to
understanding of the written word.
In Teutonic languages such as Dutch, Noiwegian, or German,
and in Romance languages such as Spanish or French,, many ilexions
for which English has no equivalent contribute nothing to the meaning
of a statement, and therefore little to the ease with which we can learn
to read quickly 01 write without being quite unintelligible. So we can
make rapid progress in doing cither of these, if we concentrate our
attention first on the rules of grammar which tell us something about
the meaning of a statement* This is the part of grammar called syntax,
We are going to look at it m the next chapter*
Syntax is the most important part of grammar. The rules of syntax
are the only general rules of a monosyllabic language such as Chinese
Since Chinese monosyllables have no internal ilexion, e g change from
man to men or moi&e to mtcey all Chinese root words are particles.
Because rules of syntax aic also the most essential lulcs of Knghsh,
it is helpful to rcco^m/e how English;, more pamcularly Anglo-
Americans has come to icsemble Chinese through decay of the
flexional system. Three ieaturcs of this change cmpha>i/c their simi-
larities The first is that English is very rich in monosyllables, The
second is the great importance of certain types of monosyllables*
The third is that we can no longer draw a clear-cut line between the
parts of speech,* In other words, the vocabulary of English is also
becoming a vocabulary of particles.
To say that English is nch in monosyllables in this context docs not
mean that an Englishman necessarily uses a higher proportion of mono-
syllables than a Frenchman or a German. It means that in speaking or
in writing English, we can rely on monosyllables more than we can when
We write or speak French or German, The following passage illustrates
how the translators of the authorized version of the English Bible drew
on their native stock of monosyllables. It is the first ten verses of the
fourth Gospel, and the only words made up of more than one syllable
are in italics:
* Jagger (Bngluh in the Future) boldly wet the two Chinese categories in
the forthright statement: "English words may be classified into what ar$
known as full or empty worcte **