Page:The Religion of Ancient Egypt.djvu/73

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58
LECTURE II.

be as impossible in Hebrew, or in any other Semitic language, to suppress the personal ending, which is an essential part of the word in which it occurs.

One of the chief differences between the Egyptian language on the one hand and the Indo-European and Semitic on the other, is, that the distinctions between roots, stems and words, can hardly be said to exist at all in the former. The bare root, which in the languages of the third stage lies, as it were, below the surface, and is only revealed by its developments to scientific inquiry, is almost invariably identical in Egyptian with the word in actual use. From one Aryan or Semitic root, which is itself no part of speech and has but an abstract existence, verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs and other parts of speech, are derived. The actual Egyptian word, taken by itself, is in very many instances no part of speech, but within the limits of the notion which it represents is potentially noun, verb, adjective, adverb, &c. The notion expressed by an Egyptian word is only determined, as that of a verb in the strict sense (verbum finitum), by the presence of a subject. When no subject (that is, noun or pronoun) is expressed, we may indeed have a "verbum infinitum," but this is grammatically a noun or an adjective. How can a language of this description be called Semitic in its grammar?

There are three different ways in which a verb may be connected with its subject, but these are wholly