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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

i8o                The Loom of Language
for the origin of flexion In a book called Diversions of Purhy> published
m 17863 Tooke anticipates the central theme of the task which Bopp
carried out with greater knowledge and success during the first half of
the nineteenth century Thus he writes.
"All those common teimmations, in any lar^uuge, of which all Nouns
or Verbs in that language equally partake (under the notion of declension
or conjugation) are t hcmselves separate words with distinct meanings
these terminations aie explicable, and ought to be explained "
The woik of Bopp and other pioneers of comparative grammar
received a powerful impetus from the study of Sanskrit Though
Sassetti, an Italian of the sixteenth century, had called Sanskrit a
pleasant^ Musical language, and had united Dio (God) wuh Dwa> it had
remained a sealed book ioi almost two hundred years Now and then
some missionary, like Robertus Nobihbus, or Ilemrich Roth, a German
who was anxious to be able to dispute with Brahrnamt priests, made
himself acquainted with it, but this did not touch the world at large
After Sassetu, the first European to point out the sUggenng similarities
between Sanskrit and the European languages was the CJcrman mis-
sionary, Benjamin Schultze For years he had preached the Gospel to
the Indian heathen, and had helped m the translation oJ the Bible into
Tamil On August 19,17255 he sent to Professor Franken an interesting
letter in which he emphasised the similarity between the numerals of
Sanskrit, German, and Latin
When English mercantile imperialism was firmly grounded in India,
avil servants began to establish contact with the present and past
of the country An Asiatic Society got started at Calcutta m 1784
Four years later, a much-quoted letter of William Jones, Chief*]ustice
at Fort William in Bcngd, was made public In it the author demon-
strated the genealogical connexion between Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin,
between Sanskrit and German, and between Sanskrit, Celtic, and
Persian:
"The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonder-
ful structure, more perieet than the Greek, more copious than the
Latin, and more exquisitely refined than cither; yet bearing to both of
them a stronger affinity, both in the roots ol verbs and in the forms
of grammar, than could have been produced by accident; so strong
indeed, that no philologer could possibly examine all the tluce without
believing them to have sprung from some common source which, per-
haps, no longer exists Ihcie is a similar reason, though not quite so
forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and Celtic, though blended
with a different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanskrit/*