Page:Essays on the Chinese Language (1889).djvu/18

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Some Western Opinions.

ings of the people. This arrangement, it will be seen, corresponds somewhat, but not precisely, to the three systems of classifying languages, the genealogical, the morphological, and that which proceeds according to the general value of languages when compared among themselves as instruments of expression.[1]

Beginning, then, with Western theories as to the origin and family relationship of Chinese, we find them to contain many and widely-differing opinions. Some great authorities have even harshly ousted this language from the great clan of human tongues, and left it a lonely, kinless stranger on the cold heights of isolation. Thus it was the opinion of the celebrated Golius, "a man of divine candour and a thorough Orientalist if ever there was such," that "the Chinese language was not derived from the old speech of mortals, but was constructed by the skill and genius of some philosopher"—"invented all at once by some clever man to establish oral intercourse among the many different nations who inhabited that great country which we call China." It seems strange to us now that a man like Leibniz should have given his assent to so wayward a fancy, and perpetuated it in one of his best philosophical works. Within our own time, also, the eloquent and accomplished Farrar has refused Chinese all family relationship, saying that it "differs from other languages as much as if it were spoken by the inhabitants of another planet." He puts it in the miscellaneous gathering of languages "(perhaps a thousand) which are not Aryan, and not Semitic, and which have not yet been grouped together by mutual affinities." To these languages he applies the "excellent, easy, and perfectly unobjectionable terms" "Sporadic, i.e., scattered, and Allophylian, i.e., spoken by other different tribes of the human family."[2]

Very few, however, have clung to the heresy of the special creation of Chinese, though many have held it to be a language by itself without parent and without offspring. In direct oppo-

  1. On this subject see Whitney's "Language and the Study of Language," p. 356 et sec. (5th Ed.).
  2. Fourmont, "Med. Sin." p. xiii.; Bayer's " Mus. Sin. Præf." p. 103; Leibniz "Op. Phil.," p. 297 et sec. (Ed. Erdmann); Farrar, "Language and Languages," p. 376.