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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

448                The Loom of Language
Having completed his hierarchy of knowledge, Wilkins now gets to
grips with symbols for visual or auditory recognition He begins with
the Real Character, or written language, which everybody will be able
to understand without learning how to speak the Philosophical language
itself The real character is to be like Chinese Each word signifies a
notion, not a sound. Wiltons is confident that about 2,000 symbols will
cover all requirements The form of this new ideographic writing and
its relation to the catalogue is best illustrated by the commentar which
Wilkins appends to the woid father in his attempted translation of the
Lord's Prayer into Real Character
" S    \        J This next character being of a bigger proportion, must
therefore represent some Integral Notion  The genius of it, viz  -^- is
appointed to sigmfie Oeconomical Relation And whereas the transverse
Line at the end towards the left hand hath an affix making the acute
angle with the upper side of the Line, therefore doth it refer to the first
difference of that Genus, which according to the Tables, is relation of
Consanguinity And there being an affix making a Right Angle at the
other end of the same line, therefore doth it sigmfie the second species
under this Difference, by which the notion of Parent is defined. ... If it
were to be rendered Father in the strictest sense, it would be necessary
that the Transcendental Note of male should be joyned to it, being a
little hook on the top over the middle of the Character after this manner *
And because the word Parent is not here used according to the strictest
sense but Metaphorically, therefore might the Transcendental Note of
Metaphor be put over the head of it after this manner ^   ^        J .**
So far the Bishop's catalogue and its wntten form To use words in
rational discourse a grammar is necessary The minimum requirements
of communication must be fixed It would be an exaggeration to say
that Wilkins made any outstanding contribution to grammatical
analysis. He was still far too much under the spell of Greek, Latin, and
Hebrew. Indeed, he held that flexion is "founded upon the philosophy
of speech and such natural grounds3 as do necessarily belong to Lan-
guage " None the less, he recognized that classical languages were not
the last word, and Latin came in for a veritable trommelfeuer of criti-
cism. He criticized its abundance of .different flexions for one and the
same function, the ambiguities and obscurities of its prefixes, the
intrusion of grammatical gender into sex relations, its welter of excep-
tions to all rules of conjugation and declension^ the difficulties of
concord, and so forth.
Wilkins keeps his own grammatical apparatus within the limits set