Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/31

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Presidential Address. 19

education, for which parents ought to be compelled to pay, and refuse all help to disinterested research, which the public is too ignorant to value at its true worth, or to any kind of study which is not supposed to have a direct commercial price. But we cannot expect enlightened aid to research and experiment from a government, which in a certain school in the north, refused to give a grant for the study of Shakespeare, until an ingenious inspector dubbed it " Commercial English."

The study of modern Greek is complicated by the strange perversity of the Greeks themselves. Intoxicated with the pride of their ancient lineage and heroic past, they have ever since the War of Independence set themselves arti- ficially to revive all they can of the ancient language. Words which have not been spoken for a thousand years are dug out of ancient books and put over their shops ; extinct inflexions, and tags of syntax misunderstood, are foisted in between genuine modern idioms and literal translation of French phrases. It is as if we were to use heafod in place of head, and every now and then to drop into an Anglo-Saxon dative or infinitive inflexion. But, apart from parliament and professorial lectures and the range of artificial education, these vagaries are no part of the spoken language at all. Go into a shop with the sign oivo-K(xi\eiov and ask for oho';, and you will be met with a blank stare. I once tried the experiment of speaking to a Greek member of parliament in the official dialect, and he did not understand me, until I repeated my sentence in the popular form. In the family, the most rigorous of " purists " — so they have the effrontery to call themselves — will speak pure " dialect," as he would call it to you or me. The student then must avoid all newspapers, and all self-conscious literary works, which are written in the most astonishing jargon that ever was heard of