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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

488                The Loom of Language
successors. The history of case illustrates their difficulties. Since the
Reformation., generations of schoolboys have been drilled to submit to
instruction which assumes a universal subject-order distinction faith-
fully reflecting something in the real world Since the grammatical sub-
ject is often the actor or agent which initiates the process specified by
the verbs and the grammatical object is often the victim or goal, a judi-
cious choice of illustrations (e g. the teacher punishes the boy\ presented
at an impressionable age makes it easy to implant the suggestion that
this is always so If the teacher acts in accordance with the last example,
this bestows the reassuring conviction that there is a simple rule
for choice of the nominative or accusative case-form of a Latin or
Greek noun The pupil in whom,the teacher has firmly implanted
this suggestion will overlook the fact that the grammatical subject
is not the agent which initiates the seeing process in / see him, and
is not likely to worry about the fact that the grammatical object is
what really does so. In such situations the pupil still applies the rule
correctly, because the nominative-accusative forms of the Latin noun
tally with our own use of Ióme and heóhim In this way we come to accept
local likeness of speech habits as a universal necessity of discourse.
Interlinguists started, like the comparative philologists, with the
handicap of a load of misconceptions inherent in traditional methods
of teaching Greek or Latin It has taken us long to recognize that
case can be as useless as gender, and we are only beginning to see that
>no flexional device is an* essential vehicle of lucid expression. While
everyone concedes that a roundabout turn is preferable to passive
flexion, most interhnguists still cling to the flexional plural and the
flexional past Thus it is common ground that a world-auxiliary must
be at least as isolating as English Indeed, there is a close family like-
ness between Novial and English, each with a hybrid vocabulary of
Romance and Teutonic roots
In short., what has happened to the flexional systems of the Aryan
family during the past 2500 years of its known history has happened to
the accepted pattern of an artificial inter-language during the past
half-century There has been a drift towards isolation Jespersen
recognizes the parallel He bans the noun accusative terminal of
Esperanto or Ido, as Zamenhof vetoed the dative of Volapuk, on the
ground that it is out of step with linguistic evolution , and cites the fact
that Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, English, Dutch, and Scandi-
navian languages have scrapped it By the same token we may be
sceptical about the possessive case terminal which turns up in NovtaL