Page:Notes and Queries - Series 11 - Volume 9.djvu/245

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ii s. ix. MAR. 21, i9i4.] NOTES AND QUERIES.


attempt an explanation on scientific grounds. In Rawlinson's translation of Herodotus is a note by Sir Gardner Wilkinson on the passage, stating an explanation attempted by Poole, ' Horse JEgypticse,' p. 94 (ap- parently about 1851). JOSEPH A.

SchivierigJfciten des Englischen. Von Dr. G-ustav Kriiger. II. Teil. Syntax. I. Abteilung. Hauptivort. (Dresden and Leipzig, C. A. Kochs, 4m. 40.)

THE difficulties of our language, even after long study and constant attention to the best models, are considerable to a native. He must largely depend on his taste and instinct in deciding what is English and what is not. To a foreigner the task of grasping such niceties, and even the multi- tude of idioms in ordinary use, must be a work demanding intense application or a high degree of aptitude for linguistic study. Germans should, then, be grateful to Dr. Kriiger, as we are, for the patience and research he has Jbrought to bear on the intricacies of English in this revision of his book. He is clearly, well acquainted with the theories and results of our native grammarians, and he knows English so well that he has avoided the absurdities into which some foreign guides fall (in print as well as actual practice) when they try to be idiomatic.

Our main criticism of Dr. Kriiger's thorough work is, indeed, that it attempts too much. It includes the English of past days, the English of poetry, the English of commerce, the English of dialect and slang, and even the English which is American. " Them 's the lads to make her go," said a golf professional, returning a valued club to the reviewer. The remark was picturesque and thoroughly appreciated, but it would hardly lead, if the present writer penned a manual of English, to a suggestion as to the sex of a golf ball or a discourse on dialectal variances from common constructions. It would surely be better to restrict such an inquiry to good English, since grammar is an ideal for instruction- which nobody follows exactly. Lapses to-day into slovenly talk and writing are becoming commoner than ever, and, while we are grateful to Dr. Kriiger for his abundant store of examples, we note that some of them hardly represent the English we should care to copy. The average novelist takes little thought about his style, and has, in our experience, little knowledge of the scholarly sort concerning the language he uses. We are in favour of reasonable freedom the world of language belongs to citizens of the world, not to professors and philologists but we are strongly of opinion that classic authors, or authors ap- proaching that standard in their grace of style and the seriousness of their work, should have the monopoly of supplying examples of English, current or obsolete. Even so, in the English of the past we should make our selections carefully. A late play of Shakespeare, like ' The Tempest,' has often a broken utterance, broken in bearing the strain of quickcoming thought, which no one to-day would venture to copy. We should not,

then, give the first word in " Me, poor man, my library | was dukedom large enough," as a typical dative. It might be an accusative by a natural anacoluthon, for the " me " is repeated and pro- perly governed by a verb in the next sentence, as in the well-known Virgilian example, Me, me adsum qui feci in me convertite ferrum.

Dr. Kriiger begins with ' Sex,' which has largely disappeared from our language, and shows at once the peculiarities of English usage. A "he-cat" will hardly do ; it falls under the rule mentioned directly afterwards " wo die Sprache andere Verbindungen geheiligt hat," for we speak of a " Tom cat." We doubt " jenny " for the female bird at any rate in present usage except in " Jenny -wren." Our own columns are, we noticed, cited for the swan, male and female.

The sections which follow on difficulties of the Anglo-Saxon genitive, the dative, plurals, and nouns are full of interest, raising many questions which are a perpetual subject of debate between the purist and the average man who goes by no rule, and so is obstinate in maintaining the idiom that pleases him. Dr. Kriiger's view in such cases strikes us as eminently sensible, and is not seldom fortified by the support of good English manuals such as the ' Authors' and Printers' Dictionary ' of F. Howard Collins.

We mention a few further points which have struck us in our perusal. In " You promised to your parents that such a thing should .... " omit " to " (p. 57). On the next page, " I will abate you a shilling " would hardly be understood to-day. The list of plurals of foreign words is good (p. 102). It would have saved an author of repute from " gnoma " as the plural of " gnomon," which is yvib/^uv. A few pages further on plurals posing as singulars and vice versa are worth attention. To " (golf) links " it might be added that the plural is correct, and " a links " slack English. " A bleach-works " (p. 149) is similarly commercial English. The frequent use of a noun of multitude with a plural verb (even after a singular in the preceding sentence) is the subject of an interesting section on p. 169. Dr. Kriiger thinks it betrays " a want of close thinking," but his further deduc- tions as to the quality of English thought strike us as rather fanciful. This idiom is, of course, known in Latin and French, as his quotations show. On the similar use of a plural verb with such words as " each " and " everyone " he has a judicious note, and a reference to our columns. He may like to add to his examples one from a modern stylist of a high order. Stevenson, in ' Some Portraits by Baeburn ' (' Virginibus Puerisque '), has : " And so each of his portraits are. . . .a piece of history."

" A do-everything pirate " (p. 195) does not sound a natural phrase to-day. We notice on p. 208 " Do you take single (railway ticket) ? " We think " take a single " is more usual. On the same page the English habit of shortening words where the context is understood, or supposed to be understood, is well illustrated.

Among the examples is " [gun-] powder, which reminds us of a pleasant American story. A youth went into a store, and asked for some powder. The weary shopkeeper murmured the question, ' Face, tooth, egg, stomach, or gun ? ' '