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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

214                The Loom of Language
language of Hawaii,, of which the familiar place-names (eg Honolulu)
recall the same characteristics as the Japanese Yokohama^ Fujiyama^
etc / kona hiki ana aku ilaila va hoolnpa la mai la ota me ke aloha
pumehana ha.
The syllable in this sample consists of a vowel or of a vowel preceded
by a simple consonant That is to say (p. 63) the syllable is like a
typical Chinese word Aryan languages are rich m consonant clusters
In languages as far apart as Norwegian, Welsh, and Greek, we may
meet at the beginning of many words any o( the consonants 6, d, fy g,
k> p;, followed by Z or r, / followed by r, s by /, /, or tr For this reason
alone such words as spnnklcy uprightly ? expression, blaspheme,, decimal^
or the German Zwctschge (prune)., are quite foreign to die pattern of
sounds to which many peoples of the world are attuned They also
illustrate another characteristic of the Aryan family Aryan words are
comparatively rich in do^cd (p 63) syllables; and., if monosyllabic, are
commonly of the closed type illustrated by God and mun^ or cat and
dog. We have many English monosyllables winch illustrate both these
trade-marks of Aryan word-structure, eg irm/s, i/ra/n, ptowlcd^
plump? framed) w^'/A, WttrfA, s/zw/tis, floaty pwi\d, \nuigcd
Firth* points out that certain combinations of initial consonants,
illustrated by word-counts m dictionaries, are characteristic oi particu-
lar groups withm the Aryan family We shall find that some clusters,
e,g. the Greek PS-? Latin -CIS and Teutonic SN- or SK- are sign-
posts of word origin Some clusters or elements of a cltistei may convey
a common thread of meaning m groups of words which exist m closely
related languages In English there are about a hundred and twenty
verbs in which a final / suggests repetitive action-, as in wobble* wangle,
riddle^ coddle^ bungle., handle, nestle, snaffle, tipple, sprinkle
Among modern Aryan languages Italian has moved furthest from
the Aryan pattern, owing to elimination of some Latin, medial con-
sonant combinations, eg. -GT- to -IT- (p. 242), and through the
decay of the final consonant of the Latin terminals* Hence almost all
Italian words end IB a vowel Conversely English is very rich in words
which end with a consonant cluster owing to the decay of the vowel of
a terminal syllable, e.g the short e still fairly audible in the plural IJcxion
of houses or pnnces, and in the past suiftx of a learned woman. So it may
be no accident that a wealth of compound consonants and closed
syllabks go with a family whose other diagnostic characteristic (at
least that of all its earhest representatives Sanskrit, Old Persian, Greek,
* Speech (Bonn's Library)*