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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

226                The Loom of Language

lighten the effort of memorising the latter by fishing up a related word
which does contain it In the table on p 249 there are twenty-two
English words of which six, 01 one-fouith of the total, recall the
Romance equivalent English words of related meaning at once suggest
the Romance root in most of the others Thus oui Teutonic hunger
pairs oif with famine and famished which suggest the French word
faim* The French woid ftl lor our Teutonic thicad turns up in
filament Similarly we associate fumes with smoke, fugitive with flee,
foliage with leaves, factory production with making things, filial piety
with son and daughter (more particularly the latter), or fcirous metals
with iron That leaves us with a few Italian and French words which
are self-explanatory to a naturalist, chemist, or anatomist Thus formic
acid is an irritant emitted by ants, sainfoin is a leguminous hay
substitute, and Viaafaba is the botanical name lor the common bean.

SOUND-SHIFTS IN 1HE IMJ IONIC IANGUAOLS
Before studying further examples of the way in wluch the hybrid
chaiacter ol English word-equipment helps anyone who is beginning
to learn a Teutonic or Romance language, we need to know more about
sound-changes such as those mentioned in the preceding paragraphs.
The neglect of an enormous volume of relevant research in text-books
for beginners shows how little education is enlightened by Bacon's
counsel; "we do ill to exalt the power** of the human mind, when we
should seek out its proper helps "*
Let us start with the Teutonic group We have no direct knowledge
of the single ancestor of all Teutonic languages, but our earliest records
lead us to infer that it underwent a drastic change some time before
the beginning of the Christian era. This changc> which involved several
consonants, may have come about because tribes speakmg an Indo~
European language came into contact with people who spoke non-
Aryan languages such as the peculiar speech still extant among the
Basques, Five of these consonant changes appear below, and we can
recogni/c them m the difference between the hnghsh form of an
Indo-European word and its Latin or Greek equivalent* Thus the first
and second are recognisable m comparison oi the Greek or I Mm pater
* English Pnmeib of German—perhaps because philology has been culti-
vated m Germany—rcler to j>uch sou ad changes, but do nor duidose equally
relevant information of the way m which English piouunuation has changed
since it parted company with what is now German Otherwise it is> tiue to say
that the topic u» still taboo m elementary teaching*