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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

400                The Loom of Language
obligatory method of interrogation Each offers several ways of putting
a question A Latin question to which the answer was yea, yea or nay,
nay, was marked as such by one of several particles (ne, num., nonne)
equivalent to eh? None of these has survived. In spoken French or
Spanish a question can be distinguished from an assertion by a device
which is both primitive and well-nigh universal, i e. by change of tone
without change of word-order, e g French tu ne viens pas* (you are
not Doming?) As in Teutonic languages, verb-subject inversion also
labels a question, e g French Vas-tu vu? (have you seen him?), Spanish
time el tren un sleeper? (has the train got a sleeper*) Such inversion is
not invariably interrogative. The Spanish verb often comes before its
subject in constructions analogous to came the dawn, e g dijo la madre
a su hija (said the mother to her daughter)
French interrogation has several peculiarities not shared by Spanish
(a) If the subject is a personal pronoun, it is joined to the verb by a
hyphen, e g n'en desirez-vous pas* (don't you want any?) If the third
person of the verb ends in a vowel, a r is inserted between verb and
pronoun, e g chante-t-ette* (does she sing^) () If the subject is a noun,
it remains at the beginning of the sentence, while the interrogative
character of the sentence is indicated by the addition of a pleonastic
pronoun, eg French la sceur> est-elle manee* (Is your sister married^),
an arrangement not unknown to Spanish French has yet a third way of
expressing a question It is by the use of est-ce que (is it that), an inversion
of c9est que The method began to emerge in the sixteenth century, and
is still gaining ground at the expense of simple inversion, e g est-ce que
nous sommes loin de Londres? (Are we far from London?) The beginner
should use this interrogative form freely because, apart from its popu-
larity, it has the advantage of making inversion unnecessary
The reader who is learning French may one day meet the common
people of France in the flesh So it is useful to know beforehand that
popular speech is amazingly rich in complicated interrogative turns, e g
oil c'est-tl qtfil est* for oft est-iP (where is he>), qu'est que c*e$t que vous
voulez? for que voulez-vous* Fortunately3 this goes hand in hand with a
tendency of popular French to avoid or to straighten out the irregular
verb and regularize it on the pattern of the first conjugation In this and
many other ways3 common people French speak what their descendants
may write
ROMANCE AFFIXES
No account of the grammar of a language is complete without
reference to affixes other than those of the sort usually called flexions
People who speak Romance languages resort little to noun couplets
such as water power or compounds such as rubberneck cxgumboots. The
French chou~fleur (cauliflower) is a representative of a small class