Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/751

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review of the history and institutions of the Chinese as will indicate the genius of their civilization.

In that period of the existence of the human species when all races were occupied with the common struggle with the elements and with their four-footed rivals, the ancestors of the Aryan and Mongolian, perhaps, possessed no distinguishing characters. If they have descended from a common stock, they separated at a period before the present races of the world had yet become differentiated. There is no evidence which indicates a later connection between our race and the Chinese. Language, the most certain guide to prehistoric history, affords decided testimony to this conclusion. The study of the Aryan family of languages has shown that the complicated forms our words now have in their divisions into parts of speech, in their inflections, in their prefixes and suffixes qualifying the roots, and in the general prevalence of polysyllabic words, are but a development from a form of language in which all words were simple sounds for simple things or thoughts—were monosyllabic.

Long before our Aryan ancestors left their early home in Central Asia and commenced their great Western emigration, our language had passed out of the monosyllabic stage. But the Chinese may be said still to retain its simple monosyllabic form; from which fact it has been thought by some to be "the primitive language." Whitney tells us that "it is a language which possesses neither inflections nor parts of speech, and it has changed less in four thousand years than most others in four hundred, or than many another in a single century. . . . It is, in certain respects of fundamental importance, the most rudimentary and scanty of all known languages."[1]

The testimony thus afforded by these languages proves, beyond a doubt, that the Aryan race could have had no union with the ancestors of the Chinese later than that remote past when our language was in a like state of monosyllabic simplicity. From that remote time, when the savage ancestors of our race shaped their rude weapons of stone, the Chinese have been developing upon one small portion of the earth—we have spread over much of the rest. They have been comparatively isolated, and their growth has been therefore more homogeneous, constant, and persistent in one type. From the earliest time to the present, the same people, guided by the same impulses and controlled by the same surroundings, have developed in an unbroken course.

As some of the characteristics of families of languages are found to be less variable than many of the physical characteristics of races, the former is a better guide in classifying the human races than the latter. A comparison of the language of the Indo-European peoples with the language of the Chinese affords the strongest reason for classifying them as different races. This conclusion receives constant

  1. "Language and the Study of Language," p. 334.