Page:Essays on the Chinese Language (1889).djvu/144

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On the Interjectional and Imitative Elements.

nature-sounds and vocal gestures vary greatly from time to time and from place to place, and, moreover, they are often unnoticed in dictionaries and other works bearing on the language. Consequently we cannotbeasily gain a just conception of their number, the extent to which they are used, and the precise mode of their application. Many of them, however, are apparently of little or no importance, and can scarcely be said to enter into the composition of the language, using this word with a liberal interpretation. Others are interesting to the Western student from their use, their form, the relation they bear to other elements of Chinese speech, or on account of the analogy they have to the resources of other tongues for performing like functions. A brief and necessarily very imperfect review of some of the most common and some of the most important or interesting of these Chinese nature-sounds is attempted in this chapter. The examples given have been culled from the speech of the people at various places and from a few books by native authors. Some of the Vocabularies and Dictionaries compiled by foreigners have also been laid under contribution.

Describing the material or "elements of articulate speech," Canon Farrar writes — "Now, the natural sensuous life expresses itself in three kinds of natural sound, viz., Interjections, Imitations, and those sounds, expressive of some desire, which in

imitation of the German Lautgeberden we may roughly designate as vocal gestures. Aspirates and vowels are generally sufficient to express the mere passing emotions of the natural life; consonants are more the expression of the free intelligence. Interjections are the arbitrary expression of subjective impressions; Imitations advance a step further, spontaneously reproducing something which has influenced the senses from without; Lautgeberden, though, like interjections, they have their source in the subject, are not a mere utterance of passive sensation, but an energetic expression of will, though as yet only in the form of desire." Long before Farrar wrote the above, Endlicher in his Chinese Grammar had devoted a section to the Interjections. Under this head he includes Sensation-sounds and Exclamations