Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/35

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

child. The Malays, says St. John, have "the same custom as the Dyaks of taking the name of their first-born, as Pa Sipi, the father of Sipi." Marsden names the usage as common in Sumatra; and Ellis illustrates it from Madagascar. It is so too among some Indian hill tribes: the Kasias "address each other by the names of their children, as Pabobon, father of Bobon!" Africa also furnishes instances. Bechuanas addressing Mr. Moffat used to say, "I speak to the father of Mary;" and in the Pacific States of North America there are people so solicitous to bear this primitive name of honor that, until a young man has children, his dog stands to him in the position of a son, and he is known as the father of his dog.


The supremacy associated with age in patriarchal groups and in societies derived by composition from patriarchal groups, shown primarily in that honoring of parents which, as in the Jewish commandments, is put next to the worship of God, and secondarily in the honoring of old men in general, gives rise to a kindred but divergent group of titles. Age being dignified, words indicating seniority become names of dignity.

The beginnings may be discerned among the uncivilized: councils being formed of the older men, there arises a connection between the local name for an older man and an office of power and therefore of honor. Merely noting this, it will suffice if we trace among European peoples the growth of titles hence resulting. Among the Romans, senator, or member of the senatus, words having the same root with senex, was the name for a member of the assembly of elders; and in early times these senators or elders, otherwise called patres, represented the component tribes: father and elder being thus used as equivalents. From the further cognate word senior, we have, in derived languages, signore, seigneur, senhor; first applied to head-men, rulers, or lords, and then by diffusion becoming names of honor for those of inferior rank. The same thing has happened with ealdor or aldor. This, says Max Müller, "like many other titles of rank in the various Teutonic tongues, is derived from an adjective implying age;" so that "earl" and "alderman," both diverging from this root, are names of honor, similarly resulting from that social superiority which went along with age.

Whether or not the German title Graf should be added, is a moot point. If Max Müller is right in considering the objections of Grimm to the current interpretation inadequate, then the word originally means gray; that is, gray-headed.


We may deal briefly with the remaining titles which re illustrate, in their respective ways, the general principle set forth.

Like other names of honor that grew up in very early times, the name "king" is one concerning the formation of which there are differences of opinion. By general agreement, however, its remote source