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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

The Classification of Languages         179
outcome of a project of Leibniz, the mathematician, who was assisted
by Catherine II of Russia The material was handed over to the Ger-
man traveller, Pallas, for classification. The results of his labour ap-
peared in 1787 under the title, Linguamm Totius Orbis Vocdbulana
Gvmparativa (Comparative Vocabularies of all the Languages of the
World). The number of words on the list circulated was 285, and the
number of languages covered was 200, of which 149 were Asiatic and
51 European, In a later edition, this number was considerably
increased by the addition of African and of Amer-Indian dialects from
the New World. Pallas's compilation was of little use. He had put it
together hastily on the basis of superficial study of his materials. Its
merit was that it stimulated others to undertake something more
ambitious and more reliable One of them was the Spaniard, Hervas>
another the German, Adelung Leibniz's suggestions influenced both of
them.
Lorenzo Hervas (1735-1809) had lived for many years among the
American Indians, and published the enormous number of forty
grammars, based upon his contact with their languages. Between 1800
and 1805 he also published a collected woik with the tide: Catdlogo de
las lenguas de las naaones conocidas y numeraciony division y closes de
estas segun la diversidad de sus idiomasy dtalectos (Catalogue of the
languages of all the known nations with the enumeration, division, and
classes of these nations according to their languages and dialects) This
linguistic museum contained three hundred exhibits It would have
been more useful if the author's arrangement of the specimens had not
been based on the delusion that there is a necessary connection between
race and language. A second encyclopaedic attempt to bring all lan-
guages together, as duly labelled exhibits, Was that of the German
grammarian and popular philosopher, Adelung It bears the tide*
MithndateSy or General Science of Languages, with the Lord's Prayer in
nearly 500 Languages and Dialects, published in four volumes between
1806 and 1817. When the fourth volume appeared* Adelung's com-
v pilation had become entirely obsolete. In the meantime, Bopp had
published his revolutionary treatise on the conjugation^ system of
Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Persian, and German
Previously, there had been htde curiosity about the way in which
language grows In the introduction to "Mithndates" Adelung makes
a suggestion* put forward earlier by Home Tooke* without any attempt
to check or explore its implications This remarkable Englishman was
one of the first Europeans to conceive a plausible hypothesis to account