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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Syntax—The Traffic Rules of Language   149
One English verb is tncky for a special reason. Where we use know
we have the choice of two different verbs in any other Teutonic, or in a
Romance, language In French they are savotr and conncfitre> in German
wissen and kennen The distinction has scarcely any semantic value
Correct use depends on a syntactical custom. Broadly speaking the rule
is as follows We have to use connattre or kennen (Span conocer> Swed.
kannd) when the object is a thing, person, or pronoun equivalent We
have to use savoir or wissen (Span saber, Swed veto) when the object
is a phrase, clause, or pronoun equivalent Thus the Frenchman saysjtf
le sais (I know it), if le is a statement previously made or some general
proposition If he says je le connais the object le is a person, book, or
other concrete object
A second difficulty in connexion with choice of appropriate equiva-
lents for an Enghsh verb is due to the trick mentioned abo\*e Some
English verbs such as design nearly always precede, and a few such
as sleep or come never take, an object (p. 117), It is immaterial whether
the object is present, if the Enghsh verb can take one The same verb
of other Aryan languages cannot be used in situations where it de-
mands, and in situations where it cannot have, an object There are
still traces of this distinction between the objectless or intransitive
(neuter) Enghsh verb (e g. he) and the transitive (active) verb (e g lay)
which must have an object Distinctions such as between lie and lay
(== make to he) are generally established by the context, which tells us
whether cabbages grow (without our help) or whether we arrange for
them to do so, as when we say that we grow cabbages Similarly we say
that something increases or that we increase it (i e make it increase) A
Frenchman or a German cannot do so. The latter has to use different
words, where we use the same verb transitively and intransitively as
below
The management will increase his wages next month
Die Leitung wird nachsten Monat semen Lohn erhohen
The length of the day will increase next month
Die Lange des Tages wird nachsten Monat zunehmen
In looking up a foreign equivalent for an English verb in a dictionary,
it is therefore essential to pay careful attention to the abbreviations
(trans, or v a) and (intrans orvn) which may stand after one or other
of the words given In Anglo-American usage almost any verb which
used to be ^transitive has acquired a more or less metaphorical transi-