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The Loom of Language

The position of the epithet adjective in Romance languages is not as
ngidly fixed as in English As a rule (which allows for many exceptions)
the adjective comes after the noun This is nearly always so if the
adjective denotes colour, nationality, physical property, or if it is longer
than the noun The two ubiquitous Spanish adjectives bueno and mdlo
usually precede, and the masculine singular forms are then shortened
to buen and mal> e g un buen mno (a good wine), un mal escntor (a bad
writer). French adjectives usually placed before the noun are:

beau-belle (beautiful), job-yoke (pretty), vilam-vilaine (ugly), bon-bonne
(good), mauvais-mauvaise (bad), mechant-mechanle (wickedX meilleur-
meilleure (better) >grand-grande (great, tall), gros-grosse (big), petit-petite
(small), jeune (young), jwuveau-nouvelle (new), vieux-vmlle (old), long-
longue (long), court-courte (short)

Both in Spanish and French almost any adjective may be put before the
noun for the purpose of emphasis, e g une formidable explosion^ though
the same effect is achieved by leaving it at its customary place and stress-
ing it This shunting of the adjective is much less characteristic of every-
day language than of the literary medium which pays attention to such
niceties as rhythm, euphony, and length of words Sometimes a difference
of position goes with a very definite difference of meaning Where there
is such a distinction the adjective following the noun has a literal, the
adjective preceding it, a figurative meaning When gran appears before
the Spanish noun it signifies quality, e g un gran hombre, a great man,
when placed after> size, un hombre grande* a tall man The same is true
of French In French un brave homme is a decent chap> un homme brave
is a brave man, un lime tnstc is a sad sort of book) un tnste livre is a poor
sort of book


All forms of the Romance definite article (as also of the Romance
pronoun of the third person) come from the Latin demonstrative ILLE,
etc (p 329) The form of the definite article depends on the number
and gender of the noun, but the choice of the right form is complicated
by the initial sound of the noun itself, and by agglutination with pre-
positions When it is not accompanied by a preposition, the range of
choice is as follows


Masc Sing , Fern Sing
	EL LA (or EL)
	IL (or LO) \  ,
 LA         J

Masc Plui Fern Plur
	j-    LES
	i (or GLI-GL') LE or LS