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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

132                The Loom of Language

adjectives, and particles, we have to forget everything we may have
learned about the models of European grammar In English we can
keep close to the pattern of Chinese without using any verbs at all. The
following specimens of Chinese poetry (adapted from Waley's delight-
ful translations) show that the eflect is not unpleasmg^ and the meaning
does not suffer 3 when we retain the telegraphic or headline idiom of the

Wedding party on both river banks
Coming of hour    No boat
Heart lust    Hope loss.
No view of desire
Marriage by parent choice
Afar in Earth corner.
Long journey to strange land,
To King of Wu Sun-
Tent for house, walls of felt.
Raw flesh for food,
For drmk milk oi: the mare
Always home hunger.,
Envy of yellow stork
In flight for old home
Some of the difficulties of grammar arc due to the survival of a
pretentious belief that accepted habits of expression among Euro-
pean nations are connected with universal principles of reasoning, and
that it is the business of grammatical definitions to disclose them* A
complete system of logic which carried on its back the disputes of the
medieval schoolmen started off with a grammatical misconception about
the simplest form of statement. The schoolmen believed that the
simplest form of assertion is one which contains the verb to be* and that
the verb to be in this context has some necessary connexion with real
existence. They therefore had to have a substance called falsity in a
supposititious Realm of Ideas to accommodate the existence implied in
the statement* such views are false.
So the type specimen of argument reduced to its simplest terms, as
given in tibe old text-books of logic, was : All men are mortal, Socrates is
a man. Therefore Socrates is mortaL In similar situations the translators
of the Authorized Version of the Old Testament comdentioiisly put
such words as is or are in italics* The Hebrew language has no equi-