Page:Language and the Study of Language.djvu/132

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110
[LECT.
SYNONYMS.

cisely in their phraseology; nor can any one's doctrine upon recondite points be fully understood save by those who have studied longest and most thoroughly the entirety of his system—nor always even by them.

As the significant changes of language thus bring the same word to the office of designating things widely different, so they also bring different words to the office of designating the same or nearly the same thing. Thus the resources of expression are enriched in another way, by the production of synonyms, names partly accordant, partly otherwise, distinguishing different shades and aspects of the same general idea. I will refer to but a single instance. The feeling of shrinking anticipation of imminent danger, in its most general manifestation, is called fear: but for various degrees and manifestations of fear we have also the names fright, terror, dread, alarm, apprehension, panic, tremor, timidity, fearfulness, and perhaps others. Each of these has its own relations and associations; there is hardly a case where any one of them is employed that one or other of the rest might not be put in its place; and yet, there are also situations where only one of them is the best term to use—though the selection can only be made, or appreciated when made, by those who are nicest in their treatment of language, and though no one who does not possess unusual acuteness and critical judgment can duly describe and illustrate the special significance of each term. We are not to suppose, however, that our synonymy covers all the distinctions, in this or in any other case, that might be drawn, and drawn advantageously. On learning another language, we may find in its vocabulary a richer store of expressions for the varieties of this emotion, or a notation of certain forms of it which we do not heed. Hardly any word in one tongue precisely fills the domain appropriated to the word most nearly corresponding with it in another, so that the former may be invariably translated by the latter. The same territory of significance is differently parcelled out in different tongues among the designations which occupy it; nor is it ever completely covered by them all. The varying shades of fear are practically infinite, depending on differences of constitutional impressi-