(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

204                 The Loom of Language
battery of new agglutinative contractions for the definite article (p 361)
accompanied by a preposition
Like other formative processes, levelling or regulan/ation by analogy
waxes m periods of illiteracy and culture contact, waning under the
discipline of script The part it has played m the evolution of our
remaining flexions will come up for further discussion m Chapter VI
What applies to flexions, or to derivative affixes such as the -cr in baker^
applies equally to pronunciation, to word order and to syntax m general
Habit, local or personal limitations of vocabulary and human la/iness
continually conspire to impose the pattern of the more familiar word or
phrase on those we use less often To the extent that grammarians have
set themselves against the populai drift towards (pp 168 and 267)
regularity, their influence has been retrograde Analogical extension is
the process by which natural languages are always striving to assume
the orderliness of a constructed auxiliary
To get rid of the disorder inherent m natural languages was the
cardinal motif of language planning m the lattei half oi the nineteenth
century The issue was not entirely novel The grammarians of antiquity
had discussed it and were of two minds One party, the wioniah\U9 took
the conservative view The other, the analogies swam with the stream,
and even practised revision of texts to prune away grammatical irregu-
lanties The contioversy went on for several centuries Among others.*
Julius Caesar took a hand in it, As a general he favoured regimentation
So he naturally took the side of the analogies,
The fact that isolation is tJhe predominant feature of some languages
(e g. Chinese dialects or Malay), regularity of affixes the outstanding
characteristics of others (c,g, Finno-Ugnan dialects, Japanese, Turkish)
and chaotic irregularity of suffixes the prevailing grammatical pattern of
a thiid group (e g Sanskrit, Greek, Laim or Old English) has prompted
speculations which take us into the twilight of human speech, without
much hope of reaching certainty. Some linguists believe that primitive
speech was a sing-song matrix from which words emerged with the
frayed edges of a Sanskrit noun or verb, According to this view there
has been a steady progress from amalgamation, through agglutinative
regularity to isolation. Others favour the opposite view. They believe
that the speech of our primitive ancestors once consisted of separate
root^words which were probably monosyllabic, like those of Chinese
dialects* If so* words which carried less emphasis than others beqaxae
attached as modifiers to more meaningful ones. Finally, these accretions
got intimately fused, and forfeited their former independence.