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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

The Classification of Languages         185

as German did with ~ei (Liebelet, "flirtation"), which is the French -le
(as in la mlenie" villainy") , but we know of no language which has incor-
porated a whole set of alien endings like those of the Latin verb (p 107)
Absence of grammatical resemblance does not invariably mean that
two or more languages are unrelated Once a parent language has split
into several new species, the different fragments may move more or less
swiftly along similar or different paths. For example, French has dis-
carded more of the luxuriant system of Latin verb flexions than its
Itahan sister. English has experienced catastrophic denudation of its
Teutonic flexions Consequently its grammar is now more like that of
Chinese than like that of Sanskrit Grammatical comparison may
therefore mislead us, and when the evidence of word-similarity does not
point to the same conclusion as the evidence from grammatical peculiari-
ties, the latter is of little value

A third clue which reinforces the testimony of recognizable word-
sinuJanties arises from consistent differences between words of corre-
sponding meaning We can easily spot such a consistent difference
by comparing the English words to, tongue and tin with their German
equivalents zu> Zunge and Zinn The resemblance between members
of the same pair is not striking if we confine our attention to one pair
at a time, but when we look at the very large number of such pairs
in which the initial German Z (pronounced ti) takes the place of our
English T, we discover an immense stock of new word-similarities
The fact that changes affecting most words with a particular sound have
taken place in one or both of two languages since they began to divtrge
conceals many word similarities from immediate recognition This
inference is not mere speculation It is directly supported by what
has happened in the recorded history of the Romance group, as illus-
trated in the following examples showing a vowel and a consonant shift
characteristic of French, Spanish and Italian.

LAHN                        FRENCH             SPANISH            ITALIAN

ovum, (egg)                    cewf                hz^vo             uovo

novum, (new)               neui              nuevo            nuovo

mont, (he dies)             meutt            mwore            mwore

factum, (fact)                 i&it                 hec/zo              farro

toc(~w), (milk)             to                lec&e              lazre

o9 (eight)                   huzt                ocho               otto

If we observe correspondence of this type when we investigate two
other languages, such as Finnish and Magyar (Hungarian), we have to