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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Accidence—The Table Manners of Language   123

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and
the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God All things
were made by him^ and without him was not any thing made that was
made In him was life, and the life was the light of men And the light
shmeth in darkness and the datkness comprehended it not There was a
man sent from God whose name was John The same came for a witness
to bear witness of the Light that all men through him might believe He
was not that Light but was sent to bear witness of that Light That was
the true Light winch lighteth every man that cometh into the world He
was in the world, and the world was made by him,, and the world knew
him not.

A woid-count of the corresponding passage in some other European
languages (British and Foreign Bible Society editions) gives these
figures.


	
	NO   OF
	

LANGUAGE
	NO   OB WORDS
	MONOSYLLABLES
	PERCENTAGE

INGUSH
	139
	124
	90

ICELANDIC
	I38
	100
	73

GERMAN
	135
	100
	74

FRENCH
	121
	78
	64 5

LATIN
	9?
	26
	28

A comparison between the figures for French and its highly syn-
thetic parent Latin, or between Bible English and German or Icelandic,
which are nearer to the English of the Venerable Bede, shows that this
feature of English is not an accident of birth. It is a product of evolu-
tion due to the disappearance of affixes, Decay of these affixes has gone
with the introduction of roundabout expressions involving the use of
particles such as of, to, more than, most, or of a special class of verbs
some of which (e,g. will, shall) can, way) have more or less completely
lost any meaning unless associated with another verb. These helper
verbs have few if any of the trade-marks of their class. None of them
has the one surviving English flexion -s of the third person singulars
and their alternative forms (would, should, could, might} would be diffi-
cult to recognize as such unless we know their history. Three of them
(shall, can, may) never had the -wg derivative charactenstic of other
English verbs; and one helper, not included among the examples cited,
has no single distinctive feature of its class. The helper must has no
flexion of person or tense, and we cannot say mustmg. Called a verb by
courtesy in recognition of its versatile past, it is now a particle.
In other Indo-European languages, including the modern Scandi-