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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Syntax—The Traffic Rules of Language   131
First English gentleman (looking at the setting sun) Not so dusty*
what?
Second English gentleman No need to rave about it like a damned
poet> old man
Though it is quite true that the absence of a perceived situation
makes it necessary to be more explicit in writing than in speech, there
are no sufficient reasons for believing that addition of verbs would
improve the proverbial. one man., one vote> more speed, less haste, or
much cry, little wool Most of us use telegrams only on occasions when
it is specially important to be rather thrifty with words. When we
have to pay for the use of words, we get down to essentials Even
those who can afford to dine habitually in costumes designed to inhibit
excessive cerebration do not spend an extra cent for a verb in dinner
seven-thirty black tie If a sentence is a word sequence with a "verb"
and a "subject^5 any issue of a daily paper shows that a complete state-
ment, request, direction, or question, sufficiently explicit for rapid
reading, need not be a sentence The following examples from the
headlines are in the lineage of the Chartist plea more pigs> less pat sons
CONTROL THREAT TO EXPORT COTTON TRADE. BUSINESS AS USUAL IN SPUE
OF WAR CITY CHOIR OF SIRENS ALL IN HARMONY NOW. CHINESE APPROVAL
FOR U S CONGRESS MOTION VIOLENT DEMAND FOR VICE PURGE IN VALE-
DICTORY SERMON WHITES IN CONGO WITHOUT MORAL SENSE NO NEW
OFFER FROM NAZI NAPOLEON MOKE PROSPERITY LESS PETTING PLEA FROM
LOCAL PULPIT' SHOP WINDOW SILK UNDIES PROTEST FROM PRELATE,
PERUVIAN WOOLS TRANSFER TO WHITEHALL POOL FREEDOM RADIO FORE-
CAST OF FIRTH OF FORTH RAID ALIENIST ATTACK ON PENITENTIARY FOR
PANSY BOY PLAIN WORDS TO ANTI-PANTIE PARSON *
If we have to translate a language, such as Chinese, with no formal
distinction between words we classify as nouns, verbs, pionouns,
* In his book. The Study of Language,, Hans Oertel draws attention to the
absence of any pretence at a subject-predicate form in advertisements which
are also composed with due regard for economical use of words, e g FOR SALE
A LARGE HOUSE WITH GARDEN ALL MODERN IMPROVEMENTS SANITARY PLUMBING
SET TUBS A significant comment on the dead hand of classical paradigms
follows this example
"Many instances of this kind can be found they seem to be absent xn
the literary remains of the classical languages^ or at least excessively rare
I do not recall a single instance excepting list of names . . or super-
scriptions         or headings implying dates. . . Perhaps the reason is
that the nominative endtngs (of which the modern languages have largely
rid themselves) were too strongly charged with the 'functional9 meaning
of the subject relation that therefore they could not well appear outside
the sentence without the retinue of a verb,"