Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/734

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Labontan. Washington: Government Printing-office. Pp. 288.

Oliver, J. E., Wait, L. A., and Jones, G. W. Algebra. Ithaca, N.Y.: Dudley F. Finch. Pp. 412.

Jewett, Sarah Orne. The Normans. New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons. Pp. 813. $1.50.

Wilson, John. Thoughts on Science. Theology and Ethics. London: Trübner & Co. Pp. 197.

Hunt, T. Sterry. Mineral Physiology and Physiography. Boston: Cassino. Pp. 710.

Oswald, F. L. The Poison Problem. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 138. 75 cents.

Godoy, Adèle Josephine, translator. The Martyr of Golgotha. 2 vols. New York: William S. Gottsberger. Pp. 364. $1.50.

Cope, E. D. Origin of the Fittest. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 467. $3.

Warriner, E. A. I am that I am (poem). Boston: Cupples, Upham & Co. Pp. 167. $1.

Rodgers Locomotive Company. Locomotives and Locomotive-Building. New York: William S. Gottsberger. Pp. 193. $2.00.

 


POPULAR MISCELLANY.

The Origin of Languages.—Mr. Horatio Hale, in his address at the American Association, on "The Origin of Languages and the Antiquity of Speaking Man," reviewed the theories that have been offered on the former title of his subject, and declared them all unsatisfactory; for none of them can be made to account adequately and consistently for the number and diversities of the languages that prevail among men. And yet, he declares—and confirms his assertion with evidence that seems almost as clear as it is novel and interesting—that while some of the ablest reasoners have thus been groping vaguely and blindly, in wrong directions, for the solution of this problem, and while others have given it up in despair, "the simple and sufficient explanation has been lying close at hand, awaiting only, like many other discoveries in science, the observation of some facts of common occurrence to bring it to light." It is derived from two sets of observations, dating from nearly twenty years ago, which were published, one in 1868, and the other some ten years later, without attracting much attention. But they proved full of suggestion to the author, and led him to the conclusion, to which they seemed to point with irresistible force, "that the origin of linguistic stock is to be found in what may be termed the language-making instinct of very young children. From numerous cases, of which the history has been traced, it appears that, when two children, who are just beginning to speak, are left much together, they sometimes invent a complete language, sufficient for all purposes of mutual intercourse, and yet totally unintelligible to their parents and others about them." One of the observations was published by Miss E. H. Watson, of Boston, in 1878, and related to two children, twin-boys, in a suburb of Boston, who at the usual age, as she tells the story, "began to talk, but strange to say, not their 'mother-tongue.' They had a language of their own, and no pains could induce them to speak anything else. It was in vain that a little sister, five years older than they, tried to make them speak their native language as it would have been. They persistently refused to utter a syllable of English. Not even the usual first words, 'papa,' 'mamma,' 'father,' 'mother,' it is said, did they ever speak; and • • • they were never known during this interval to call their mother by that name. They had their own name for her, but never the English." While they had the usual affections for their parents, etc., they seemed to be otherwise completely taken up and absorbed with each other. "The children had not yet been to school; for, not being able to speak their 'own English,' it seemed impossible to send them from home. They thus passed the days, playing and talking together in their own speech, with all the liveliness and volubility of common children." They had regular words, and "even in that early stage, the language was complete and full; that is, it was all that was needed." Finally, there seeming to be no hope that they were going to learn "their own tongue," it was concluded, when they were six or seven years old, to send them to school. "For a week," as the lady teacher described, to whom they were sent, "they were perfectly mute; not a sound could be heard from them, but they sat with their eyes intently fixed upon the children, seeming to be watching their every motion—and, no doubt, listening to every sound. At the end of that time they were induced to utter some words, and gradually and naturally they began, for the first time, to learn their 'native English.' With this accomplishment, the other began, also naturally, to fade away, until the memory, with the use of it, passed from their minds."