Language and the Study of Language

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Language and the Study of Language  (1867) 
by William Dwight Whitney

LANGUAGE

AND

THE STUDY OF LANGUAGE:


TWELVE LECTURES

ON THE

PRINCIPLES OF LINGUISTIC SCIENCE.


BY

WILLIAM DWIGHT WHITNEY,

PROFESSOR OF SANSKRIT AND INSTRUCTOR IN MODERN LANGUAGES IN YALE COLLEGE.

TO

JAMES HADLEY,

PROFESSOR OF GREEK IN YALE COLLEGE,

THE FRUIT OF STUDIES WHICH HE HAS DONE MORE

THAN ANY ONE ELSE TO ENCOURAGE AND AID

IS AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED.

CONTENTS.

LECT. PAGE
Preface v
I. Introductory: history, material, objects of linguistic science; plan of these lectures. Fundamental inquiry. How we acquired our speech, and what it was; differences of individual speech. What is the English language; how kept in existence; its changes. Modes and causes of linguistic change. 1
II. Nature of the force which produces the changes of language; its modes of action. Language an institution, of historical growth; its study a moral science. Analogies of linguistic science with the physical sciences. Its methods historical. Etymology its foundation. Analysis of compound words. Genesis of affixes. Nature of all words as produced by actual composition. 34
III. Phonetic change; its ground, action on compound words, part in word-making, and destructive effects. Replacement of one mode of formal distinction by another. Extension of analogies. Abolition of valuable distinctions. Conversion of sounds into one another. Physical characters of alphabetic sounds; physical scheme of the English alphabet. Obsolescence and loss of words. Changes of meaning; their ground and methods. Variety of meanings of one word. Synonyms. Conversions of physical into spiritual meaning. Attenuation of meaning; production of form-words. Variety of derivatives from one root. Unreflectiveness of the process of making names and forms. Conceptions antedate their names. Reason of a name historical, and founded in convenience, not necessity. Insignificance of derivation in practical use of language. 68
IV. Varying rate and kind of linguistic growth, and causes affecting it. Modes of growth of the English language. Influences conservative of linguistic identity. Causes producing dialects; causes maintaining, producing, or extending homogeneity of speech. Illustrations: history of the German language; of the Latin; of the English. The English language in America. 136
V. Erroneous views of the relations of dialects. Dialectic variety implies original unity. Effect of cultivation on a language. Grouping of languages by relationship. Nearer and remoter relations of the English. Constitution of the Indo-European family. Proof of its unity. Impossibility of determining the place and time of its founders; their culture and customs, inferred from their restored vocabulary. 176
VI. Languages and literatures of the Germanic, Slavonic, Lithuanic, Celtic, Italic, Greek, Iranian, and Indian branches of Indo-European speech. Interest of the family and its study; historical importance of the Indo-European races; their languages the basis of linguistic science. Method of linguistic research. Comparative philology. Errors of linguistic method or its application. 209
VII. Beginnings of Indo-European language. Actuality of linguistic analysis. Roots, pronominal and verbal; their character as the historical germs of our language; development of inflective speech from them. Production of declensional, conjugational, and derivative apparatus, and of the parts of speech. Relation of synthetic and analytic forms. General character and course of inflective development. 249
VIII. Families of languages, how established. Characteristic features of Indo-European language. Semitic family: its constitution, historic value, literatures, and linguistic character. Relation of Semitic to Indo-European language. Scythian or Altaic family: its five branches: their history, literatures, and character. Unity of the family somewhat doubtful. 288
IX. Uncertainties of genetic classification of languages. "Turanian" family. Dravidian group. North-eastern Asiatic. Monosyllabic tongues: Chinese, Farther Indian, Tibetan, etc. Malay-Polynesian and Melanesian families. Egyptian language and its asserted kindred: Hamitic family. Languages of southern and central Africa. Languages of America: problem of derivation of American races. Isolated tongues: Basque, Caucasian, etc. 322
X. Classification of languages. Morphological classifications; their defects. Schleicher's morphological notation. Classification by general rank. Superior value of genetic division. Bearing of linguistic science on etymology. Comparative advantages and disadvantages of linguistic and physical evidence of race. Indo-European language and race mainly coincident. Difficulty of the ethnological problem. Inability of language to prove either unity or variety of human species. Accidental correspondences: futility of root comparisons. 356
XI. Origin of language. Conditions of the problem. In what sense language is of divine origin. Desire of communication the immediate impulse to its production. Language and thought not identical. Thought possible without language. Difference of mental action in man and lower animals. Language the result and means of analytic thought, the aid of higher thought. The voice as instrument of expression. Acts and qualities the first things named. The 'bow-wow,' 'pooh-pooh,' and 'ding-dong' theories. Onomatopœia the true source of first utterances. Its various modes and limitations. Its traces mainly obliterated. Remaining obscurities of the problem. 395
XII. Why men alone can speak. Value of speech to man. Training involved in the acquisition of language. Reflex influence of language on mind and history. Writing the natural aid and complement of speech. Fundamental idea of written speech. Its development. Symbolic and mnemonic objects. Picture writing. Egyptian hieroglyphs. Chinese writing. Cuneiform characters. Syllabic modes of writing. The Phenician alphabet and its descendants. Greek and Latin alphabets. English alphabet. English orthography. Rank of the English among languages. 436
Index 475
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.