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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

2jo               The Loom of Language
languages (excluding Icelandic), the distinction between masculine and
feminine, together with all case differences, has been dropped The
weak plural has merged with a single strong form for use with singular
or plural nouns (see p. 279).
To write German correctly we have to choose the right case-form of
the adjective The rule usually given in grammar books is that the
adjective has to have the same case, number, and gender as the noun
with which it goes Since the strong adjective has more distinct case-
forms than the German noun, we cannot always recognize the case of the
noun by its form What we mean by the case of the noun is the case of
the pronoun which can take its place The pronoun has retained the four
case-forms of the adjective
During the three centimes after the Norrnan Conquest grammatical
simplification of English went on apace. By A D 1400 English had out-
stripped Dutch, and we might now call Anglo-American an isolating^ as
opposed to zfle&onal language What flexions now persist are shared by
some or all of the surviving Teutonic dialects So it is true to say that
Anglo-American grammar is essentially a Teutonic language We have
already met three features common to all Teutonic dialects, including
English (p 187) Of these the behaviour of the verb is the most impor-
tant. The Teutonic verb has only two tense forms, of which the so-
called present often expresses future time (e g I go to London to-morrow)
There are two ways of making the simple past Some verbs (strong
class) undergo internal vowel change Others (weak class) add a suffix
with the d or t sound to the root The existence of a compact class of
verbs which undergo comparable stem vowel changes, and the weak
suffix with the d or t sound, are two trade-marks of the Teutonic group
In connexion with verb irregularities which confuse a beginner three
facts are helpful One is that all strong verbs are old, and all newer ones
belong to the weak class, which has now incorporated many verbs
which were once strong This has gone furthest in English So it is
usually safe to bet that if an English verb is strong, its etymological
equivalent in another Teutonic language will also be strong It is often
safe to make another assumption If two verbs undergo the same vowel
change in English, equivalent verbs in another Teutonic language
undergo a corresponding change Thus the German verbs fmden and
fanden> equivalent to our worda find and fanJ, have similar past tense
forms fond and band with corresponding past participles gefunden and
gebunden So also the Danish vexbsfinde and hnde form their past tense
forms (fandt and bandf) and past participles (fimdet and bundef) in the