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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

212               The Loom of Language

ment officials (= five officials) The analogy should not be pushed too
far, because Bantu classifiers no longer possess a clear-cut meaning., nor
do they survive as independent words

Particles 01 affixes used as classifiers aic not confined to the Bantu
languages Capell* writes as follows about one of the Papuan dialects

"In the languages ol Southern Bougainville nouns axe divided ijito
upwards of twenty classes, and the adjectives and numcrah vary in
agreement with the class to which the noun belongs One gets something
of the same effect as in the Bantu languages, except that m the Papuan
languages it is the end of the wend, not the beginning, that changes."

In Kinwiman, a language of the Trobnand Islands, demonstratives
as well as adjectives and numerals aie coupled with characteristic
particles which are common to all members of a particular class of
noun, and each noun belongs to such a class Professor Mahnowski,
who has given an illuminating account}* of H, describes its essential
peculiarities m the following passage

"Let us transpose this peculiarity oi Kinwiman into hnghsh, following
the native prototype very closely, and imagine that no adjective, no
numeral, no demonstrative, may be used without a particle denoting
the nature oi the object referred, to All names oi human beings would
take the prefix 'human J Instead ol saying 'one soldier* we would have
to say 'human-one soldier walks m rhe street/ Instead oi ^how many
passengers were m the accident ?% 'how human-many passengers weie
m the accident?' Answer, *human-seventeen.' Or again, m leply to
*Are the Smiths human-nice people?' we should say, *No, they are
human-dull1* Again, nouns denoting persons belonging to the female
sex would be numbered, pointed at, and qualified with the aid oi the
prefix 'female', wooden objects with the parucle *woodcn% flat or thin
things with the particle leafy,' following in all this the precedent of
Kiriwma Thus, pointing at a table, we would say, 'Look at wooden-
tins*, describing a landscape, leaiy-brown leaves on the wooden-large
trees', speaking of a book, leafy-hundred pages in it*; 'the women oi
Spain arc female-beautiful*; 'human-this boy is very naughty, but
female-this girl is good* "

Thus the habit of labelling aU name-words with one of a lirruted
number of affixes is not confined to the Bantu family. It is widely
distributed among unrelated languages spoken by static and backward
communities throughout the world, The number of such classes may

1937
t Classificatory Particles in Kmwina (Bulletin of the School of Oriental
Studies, vol. i, 1917-20).