Skip to main content

Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

See other formats

The Diseases oj Language              429
tion, or action depends in part on context, in part on word-order, as
illustrated above by MA SHANG and SHANG MA In everyday
speech there is an incipient tendency to mark such distinction by
affixation as we distinguish the noun singer from the verb sing or by
pronunciation, as we distinguish between the noun present and the
verb present (i e make a present) For example, the toneless TZU
(pronounced dze\ a literary word for child, attaches itself to other
words, forming couplets which stand for things, eg PEN-TZU
(exercise book) So TZU is now the signpost of a concrete object in
the spoken language, as -ly (originally meaning like) is now a signpost
of an English qualifier (adjective or adverb) In the fourth tone (p 433)
PEI means the back, and in the first tone it means to carry on one's
back Difference of tone also distinguishes CETANG (long) from
CHANG (to get long., le. to grow) A strong aspiration after the
initial CH further distinguishes the first from the second number of
the couplet
There is no trace of gender in Chinese vernaculars Thus a single
pronoun of the third person does service (Tú A in Pekingese) for male
or female, thing or person alike. By recourse to separate particles
such as our words few, many, several, plurality becomes explicit for
emphasis or when confusion might arise To express totality Chinese
resorts to the age-old and widespread trick of duplication Thus
JEN-JEN means all men and T'lEN-T'IEN means everyday One
plural particle MfiN (class) attaches itself to names for persons, e g
HSIEN SHENG MEN (teacJiers) or to personal pronouns Thus
we have
WO     I, me                                   WO-MfiN    we, us
NI       thou, thee                            NI-M&N      you
T'A     he, she, it, him, her               T'A-MfiN     they, them
Like the noun, the Chinese pronoun has no case forms. Before the
indirect object the particle KEI which means give does the work of
to in English or of the dative terminal in German Thus WO CHIE
KEI LAO-JE LA means / lend give gentleman finished, i e / have lent
it to the gentleman In hteiary Chinese juxtaposition does the work of
the genitive terminal, e g MIN LI (people power] means the power
of the people, as money power means power of money and mother love
means love of a mother Colloquial Chinese inserts a particle TI
between MIN (people) and LI (power), as we can preposit of in the
preceding The postposited particle TI may also attach itself to a