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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

The Latin Legacy                   323
and we can classify Latin verbs in families as we can classify English
verbs in weak* like love or shove, and strong types such as the sing and
drink class, bind and find> bring or think classes3 according to the way
they form past tense-forms or participles (love-loved^ sing-sang~sungy
dnnk-drank-drunk> fond-bound, find-found, think-thought, bnng-broughf)
School-books arrange Latin verbs in four mam families, the ainare>
rtwnere^ legere> and audire types, according to the practice of Priscian, a
grammarian who lived in the sixth century A D.
A considerable class of Latin verbs are excluded from the four so-
called regular conjugations of the school-books as irregular verbs. These
include some which have tenses formed from different roots, such as
fero—I carry, I bring—tuli> I earned, I brought This suggests that the
uniformity of the regular verb-type is greater than it is The formal
similarity of so many Latin verbs placed in the same conjugation is not
greater than that of the present tense-forms (catch and bnng) correspond-
ing to caught and brought Analogy is as bad a guide to Latin conjugation
as to Latin declension, particularly as regards the perfect Of deleo (I
destroy) the perfect is delevi3 but of moneo (I warn) which appears in the
same class, it is monm> of audio (I hear) it is audivi, but of apeno (I open)
it is ape-rut The third conjugation includes as many different beasts as
a Zoo, cf. the following list of perfect-formations.—
PRESENT         PERFECT                          PRESENT            PERFECT
colligo (I gather)   collegi                 ago (I do, drive)   egi
carpo (I pick)       carpsi                  frango (I break)    fregt
pono (I put)         posui                    rumpo (I break)     ? upi
mitto (I send)       rmsi                     curro (I run)         cucurn
ludo (I play)         lust                      tango (I touch)      tettgt
An account of the essential peculiarities of Latin would be incom-
plete if we left out one of the greatest of all difficulties which confront
the translator. Orthodox linguists sometimes tell a story which runs as
follows. Relations between Latin words were clearly indicated by
fiexional marks, and there was therefore no need for fixed word-order
Thus the statement the fanner leads the goat could be made in six dif-
ferent ways, for instance^ capram agiicola ducit—agricola capram ducit—
duett capram agncola, etc Which one you chose was largely a question
of emphasis It did not vitally affect the meaning Such freedom was
possible because subject (agncold) and object (capram) were labelled as
such by their affixes Once the unstressed endings were ruined through
phonetic decay, Latin developed auxiliaries and a fixed word-order.
Thus fai the dominie Nobody who has wasted a painful youth in
bringing together what Latin authors had torn asunder, or in separating