Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/449

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AUGUST, 1893.


By Prof. E. P. EVANS.

THE enthusiasm with which Mr. Garner has devoted himself to the study of simian speech, and the general interest excited by his discoveries, naturally suggest a comparison of his investigations with those of his predecessors in this department of linguistic research. Perhaps the most serious and scientific attempt of this kind was made nearly a century ago by Gottfried Immanuel Wenzel, who published at Vienna, in 1808, a volume of 216 pages entitled Neue auf Vernunft und Erfahrung gegründete Entdeckungen über die Sprache der Thiere (New Discoveries concerning the Language of Animals, based on Reason and Experience), in which he maintained that the lower animals are capable of expressing their thoughts and emotions by means of articulate sounds, and that these utterances are not only intelligible to their kind, but may also be understood by man, indicated by alphabetical signs, and thus reduced to writing. He made a list of the sounds uttered by thirty different birds and beasts, and prepared a dictionary of more than twenty pages, to which he added a number of translations from animal into human speech. These so-called translations are very free, and give merely a paraphrastic statement of what he supposes to be the significance of certain canine and feline tones, the versions being confined to his interpretations of the colloquies of cats and dogs. As an illustration of his proficiency in this language and the practical value of such

I knowledge, he relates an incident, which sounds as though it might belong to the ancient and fabulous literature known to the Germans as Jãgerlatein, or hunters' Latin. He once went to visit a friend, who was a great huntsman, but on learning that he