Skip to main content

Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

See other formats

412                The Loom of Language
it, by a population equivalent to that of France. The gap between the
written and the spoken word forces the foreigner to learn two different
languages This complete separation of the spoken from the written
medium is the work of the Pundits of Calcutta who recently borrowed
an enormous number of Sanskrit words with a spelling fashionable two
thousand years ago The Bengali verb has eight synthetic tenses There
are but three irregular, but only slightly irregular, verbs (give9 come, go)
Bengali developed a synthetic though as yet very rudimentary declen-
sion of the noun, e g ghar (house), genitive gharer, agent case ghare It
has gender-distinction, but Bengali gender is a paragon of orderly
behaviour in comparison with that of Sanskrit All male animals are
masculine, all female feminine All inanimate things are neuter Only
masculine and feminine nouns take the plural ending
Hindustani is a dialect of Western Hindi It is the daily speech of a
population slightly larger than that of England, but it is better known
as a lingua franca, current over all India According to the Linguistic
Sw vey, it developed as such in the bazaar attached to the Delhi Court
From there, officials of the Mogul Empire carried it everywhere One
form of Hindustani is Urdu. Its script is Persian, and it has a strong
admixture of Persian and Arabic words Owing to expansion over a
wide area and hence contact with peoples of diverse speech communities
Hindustani grammar has shed many irregularities and superfluities
With few exceptions the verb follows one and the same pattern. The
present and past forms of a single helper (hona> to be) combine with
two participles to do most of the daily work of a tense system Like
the Romance languages Hindustani has scrapped the neuter gender,
and the case system has completely disappeared Particles* placed after
the noun (postpositions) do the job of our prepositions, e g :
mardke   of man                            mardonke   of men
mard ko   to man                            mardon ko   to men
Among modern Indo-European languages, those of the Baltic and
Slavonic groups have almost entirely escaped this tendency towards
easing the flexional burden They still preserve a welter of flexional
forms The Baltic group survives in a region north-east of Germany. It
* In spite of this regularity of the Hindustani word, some Indian and Euro-
pean compilers of Hindustani grammar-books still stick to the Sanskrit or Latin
pattern and arrange nouns with their post-positions in seven cases East and
West meet in the scholarly tradition ot making difficult what is easy.