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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

The Diseases of Language

427

South Chinese dialects (Foochow, Anioy-Swatow, Cantonese-Hakka)
The dialects north of the Yang-tse-kiang are remarkably homogeneous
sf we take into consideration their geographical range; but it is mis-
leading to speak of the vernaculars of all China as dialects of a single
language The Southerner who knows only his own vernacular cannot
converse with the Northerner. China has no common medium of
speech in the sense that Britain, France., or Germany have one, but is

CompouzuL
Character-

to run

flood

fazig*

o call &

V     dza*

K
/ Pv

wafer



'.Sbuni'

square,

FIG. 43—COMPOUND CHCNESB CHARACTERS WITH MEANING AND
PHONEHC COMPONENT
(Adapted from Firth's 77z0 Tongues of Men}
now in the process of evolving a common language based on the
northern dialects, more especially Pekingese *
There are very few exceptions to the rule that all Chinese words
are monosyllabic Such as they are, some are repetitive or onoma-
topoeic, e.g KO-KO (Brother) or HA-HA (laughter), and others
would probably prove to be compounds, if we were able to delve back
into the past Our own language has moved far in the same direction.
In the course of a thousand years there has been wholesale denudation,
of final vowels and assimilation of terminal syllables The result has
been a large increase of our stock-in-trade of monosyllabic words.
Though it is far from true to say that all our words are now of this class*
it is ly no means hard to spin out a long strip of them In fact, you have
one in front of your eyes as you read this. If you try to do the same., yow
will find out that the ones you choose are the words you use> or at lea&
* The examples given in what follows represent Pekingese