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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

166                 The Loom of Language
logy, it is reassuring to bear this m mind When the English-speaking
reader meets a sentence like the preceding specimen, it is r,ome comfort
to know that German readers ako have to unrtwd us mramng for their
own benefit.
The fact that people often use a native word-order when trying to
speak a foreign language sometimes gives nse to comic effects in
drama or fiction It also suggests a useful device for the home student
When learning a language, we have to acquire several types of skill,
including the use of the right word and use of the right arrangement*
It is rarely good policy to learn two skills at the same time So the
student of a new language may find it helpful to practise the more
important tricks of syntax in a foreign language by separate exercises
m syntactical translations For instance if you arc starting Swedish, the
syntactical translation of didn't you come hereyest&day? is came you not
yesterday hither} If you are leaimng Geiman, .1 syntactical translation
of if I don't come wn> don't wattf is if I not soon come wait not Models
which make use of alliteration or convey novol information are easier
to remember than collections of words which have no emotive content,
For instance, one of the tucks of Swedish syntax can be mcmon/cd by
the syntactical translation ol the prophets oj flic Old T^tamcnt did not
often wash as the ptopheh of the Old Testament washed themselves not
often
WORD FORM AND CONTEXT
In Chapter III we learned that many liexional endings, like the -v
m he cat^ contribute nothing to the meaning of a statement. Context,
and context alone, dictates wliich we choose Thus we use euU m
preference to eat if the subject is he, she^ it> en any noun. In languages
which are rich in flexional derivatives, a large part of syntax, including
concord and the troublesome uses of the subjunctive mood of the verb
m subordinate clauses, is made up of rules of this sort.
At one time rules of concord (pp, 112-115) occupied many pages
of English grammar, because familiarity with the flexions of Latb and
Greek was the greater part of a gentleman's education. The wreckage
of the English personal pronouns helps us to get a different perspective
The accompanying table gives the Old English and modem Icelandic
equivalents to emphasize the progressive character of Anglo~Amen<m
It also shows our debt to Old Norse, from which we derived thtyť them*
theirs. The objective forms (me, theey him^ etc,) often called the acaj$ať
are really survivals of a dative. The table does riot show where she