Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/361

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347
RACE AND LANGUAGE.

a common origin, and must have been for a considerable time isolated from all other tribes. During this long period of early isolation, not only was a language formed distinct in vocabulary and grammar from all others, but a peculiar mental and moral character was developed. Each stock had also its special religion, a fact, in America, now recognized by the most experienced observers. Of course, there has been a great mixture of religions, as there has been a great mixture of languages. Most of the Aryan nations, outside of Hindostan, have adopted some form of the Semitic religion; and most of the Dravidian tribes in the south of India have adopted an Aryan religion; but these changes do not prevent us from recognizing the fact that the Aryan, Semitic, and Dravidian religions were originally distinct.

Language, character, and religion do not alone distinguish an original stock. While these characteristics were forming, others not less important were developed. In ea-'-h stock there was a peculiar social organization, suited to the character and circumstances of the people. Each stock had its own frame of society and government, its own modes of life, and its own industrial and decorative arts. It will, of course, be understood that along with the differences arising from this separate origin there would be resemblances, springing from similarity of circumstances and from the common principles of the human character and intellect. This truth has been well expressed by Professor Putnam, in his recent essay on "Conventionalism in Ancient American Art." "There is now," he remarks, "sufficient evidence to show that the artistic powers of man, like the languages, were developed in distinct centers, from primitive forms of expression, which had necessarily principles in common." We know, also, that arts and institutions are much more readily adopted from other communities than languages; but skilled and scientific observers, like Putnam, Brinton. Mason, Gushing, Dall, Boas, and the many other able investigators who, on our continent, are now engaged in this research, will usually be able to detect these transferences, and to trace back each invention to its peculiar center.

The assertion which is often made, that language is more variable than physical traits, does not stand the test of facts. Language varies little, if at all, through the influences of climate, while physical characteristics—color, hair, stature, and the like—vary widely and rapidly from this cause. The Aryan languages, from Hindostan to Iceland, are radically the same; but the physical differences in the people who speak them are very great. It may be said that these differences are due to minglings with other races, which to a certain extent is doubtless true; but the striking and significant fact remains that the complexion varies throughout very closely in accordance with the climate. The physical differences among the widely-scattered tribes of the Malayo-Polynesian family, from Madagascar to Hawaii, are far more strongly marked than the differences in their dialects. In Africa, the