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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Syntax—The Traffic Rules of Language   139
are content to wait until we have got used to them by meeting them
often in books, we have to seek for another solution of our difficulty.
The most effortless solution emerges fiom Mr. C. K. Ogden's work
on the simplification of English for international use. The basic rule is:
always try to be as explicit as possible. This means that when you are
going to use a particle, you must first decide whether you are using it
with its characteristic meaning If the answer is yes, your word-list can
supply its correct equivalent. If the answer is no* the thing to do is to
recast the statement without the use of the idiom in which it occurs.
You can best see what this means with the help of an illustration. Let
us suppose that we want to say in French or in German* I take no
pleasure in skating. The word in has one characteristic meaning, and
only one. In English, we say that A is in B, if B surrounds, encloses, or
contains A. Since skating does not surround, enclose, or contain
pleasure, we have got to ask ourselves whether we can say the same
thing in other words
We can get rid of the offending directive by putting this in the form:
skating does not please me This is not quite satisfactory, because the
English use of the -ing derivative of the verb is peculiar; and it is
important to understand its peculiarities, if we want to become pro-
fiaent in a foreign language. We use the -ing derivative of the English
verb in three ways for which other European languages require at least
two and usually three different words. One which corresponds with the
so-called present participle in other European languages is its use as an
epithet in such expression as an emng child A second is its use as a
name for a process in the first of the three following equivalent expres-
sions :
Erring is human:    forgiving is divine
To err is human,    to forgive divine
Error is human       forgiveness divine.
When so used, grammar books call it a verbal noun. If it takes an object
it is call^fl a g&undy as in the difficulties of learning Dutch* or the dangers
of eating doughnuts * To this use as a name-word we have to add the
duratwe construction with the verb "to be," as in / am walking, you
* The Old English present participle ended in -ende> e g dbidende The -ing
(-ung or -ing) terminal originally belonged to nouns, as in schooling Later it
tacked itself on to verbs, as in beginning. So the same verb might have an, abstract
noun derivative and an adjectival one or true participle, e g, abidung and ahdende
Eventually the former absorbed the latter. That is why the modern -ing form
does the work of a participle and a verb noun (gerund).