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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

326               The Loom of Language
rege, equivalent to the French U fils du roi (king's son) By the beginning
of the third century, the noun genitive survived only in set expressions
such as lunae dies, which is the French lundi, our Monday or lunar day
The dative., or case of giving, though more resistant had a rival at an
early date The accusative had long been used with the preposition ad
(to) Thus Plautus writes ad carnuficem dabo (I shall give to the execu-
tioner)., where Cicero would have written carnifia dabo if he had been
discussing so familiar a Roman figure 3 and a temple regulation of
57 B c 31 e during the Golden Era of Latinity, contains sz pecuma ad id
templum data erit (if money should be given to this temple) Eventually
a separate dative (as opposed to ablative) flexional form of the noun
disappeared with the genitive, except in Dacia (Rumania)^ where traces
of it survive to-day So popular Latin may be said to have taken the same
road as Teutonic languages such as English and Dutch3 which have of
and to, or van and aan, for de and ad (French de and a) of Vulgar Laun
In me later days of the Roman Empire* phonetic decay of the ter-
minals led to further changes A final -m which was the accusative
trade-mark of feminine and masculine nouns^ had disappeared at an
earlier date The unstressed vowels -u and -* of the affixes gave place
to -o and -e So the distinction between accusative and ablative case-
forms faded out Thus canem (accus), cam (dat), and cane (ablat) of
cams (nomin) merged in the single oblique (p 116) case-form cane (dog)
Since the first century A D the ablative had been confused with the
accusative of plural nouns In an inscription from Pompeii, cum discentes
(with the pupils) is used for the classical cum discentibus
Before the fall of the Empue the five declensions of our Latin gram-
mar-books had dwindled to three The fifth noun-family had joined
the first (Latin/sa^ figuie, Vulgar Latin facia, French face), and
the fourth had joined the second (Latin fmet us, fruit 3 Vulgar Latin
fructu3 Italian frutto], as brother which had joined the oxen class
(pi brethren) in Mayflower times has now joined the same class as mother
(pi mothers) When the Latin dialects began lo diverge after the fall
of Rome., Laun declension was probably reduced to the forms as
shown in the table on the opposite page
In the spoken Laan of Italy a final f, li&e a final t had ceased to be
heard long before Cicero's umCj and no efforts of the grammarian could
oring it back Hence the bracketed ~s of lunas and caballos in our table
Partly under the influence of the school, the West preserved it. In spoken
French it became silent before the end of the Middle Ages In Spanish
it survives till this day and is now the characteristic mark of the plural.