Page:Compendious Syriac Grammar.djvu/15

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XI
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.

As I wished to avoid extreme prolixity, I was obliged to seek for some adjustment between the two systems of vowel-marking. Whoever weighs the practical difficulties, and particularly the typographical difficulties, will, I trust, find the plan which I have adopted here, to be fairly suitable, although I cannot myself regard it as entirely satisfactory. In the latter part of the Syntax I have made an attempt to employ the One-point System, occasionally introducing the Two-point System, and applying proper Vowel-signs only where they seemed to be required in order to ensure clearness. That attempt was bound to show a certain amount of arbitrariness and vacillation. The reader may always reflect, that in many cases different ways of marking have prevailed according to place and time, and that very seldom indeed does an old manuscript, which employs the points with any degree of fulness, continue to be perfectly consistent in this matter. As regards the carrying-out of this marking, I must apologise for the circumstance that the points are not of the same size throughout: distance from the place of printing made it difficult to correct this slight inequality.

The division into paragraphs aims in nowise at logical consistency: still less is this to be looked for in the process of subdivision which has been applied to not a few of the paragraphs. In every case my sole concern was to break up the subject-matter into comparatively small sections, so as to facilitate the survey and the reference from one passage to another.

I take for granted in those who mean to use this Grammar some acquaintance at least with Hebrew. Whoever desires to learn Syriac from it, without the help of a teacher, will do well to impress upon his memory at first merely the fundamental characteristics of the Orthography, the Pronouns, something of the Flexion of the Nouns, the Paradigm of the Strong Verb, and the most important deviations of the Weak Verbs,—as also to acquire some acquaintance with the attachment of the Pronominal Suffixes. Then let him read easy, vocalised texts, next, extracts from the Bible, as they are to be found, for example, in Rödiger's "Chrestomathia"—a compilation to be highly commended even on other grounds. The learner may at first pass many difficulties