Page:Democracy in America (Reeve, v. 1).djvu/313

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is very small, a fact which tends to prove that the nations of the New World had not a very remote origin.

Moreover, the languages of America have a great degree of regularity; from which it seems probable that the tribes which employ them had not undergone any great revolutions, or been incorporated, voluntarily or by constraint, with foreign nations. For it is generally the union of several languages into one which produces grammatical irregularities.

It is not long since the American languages, especially those of the North, first attracted the serious attention of philologists, when the discovery was made, that this idiom of a barbarous people was the product of a complicated system of ideas and very learned combinations. These languages were found to be very rich, and great pains had been taken at their formation to render them agreeable to the ear.

The grammatical system of the Americans differs from all others in several points, but especially in the following:

Some nations of Europe, amongst others the Germans, have the power of combining at pleasure different expressions, and thus giving a complex sense to certain words. The Indians have given a most surprising extension to this power, so as to arrive at the means of connecting a great number of ideas with a single term. This will be easily understood with the help of an example quoted by Mr. Duponceau, in the Memoirs of the Philosophical Society of America.

“A Delaware woman playing with a cat or a young dog,” says this writer, “is heard to pronounce the word kuligatschis; which is thus composed: k is the sign of the second person, and signifies ‘thou’ or ‘thy’; uli is a part of the word wulit, which signifies ‘beautiful’, ‘pretty’; gat is another fragment of the word wichgat, which means