Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/303

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for oxen, a frontier fortress, or a community of monks; and christen a child George, Albert, or Alexander without intending him to be a tiller of the soil, or wishing to imply that he is of noble birth, or will distinguish himself as a defender of men. All such proper names denote particular places or persons, but have wholly ceased to connote, as the scholastic philosophers were wont to say, the qualities or attributes which were at first associated with them and brought them into use.

The Chinese call their country the middle realm (Chung-kuë) or the flower of the middle (Chang-hua), thus characterizing it as the central and choicest portion of the earth, in distinction from the savage wastes inhabited by savage men outside of the Great Wall (Wan-li-ch'ang-ch'ing). The Jews looked upon themselves as the chosen people, set apart as Yisráêl, or champions of the true God, and lumped all other tribes of men together as goïm, gentiles, poor pagan folks, who had no rights which a child of Abraham was bound to respect. The Greeks divided all mankind into two classes, Hellenes and barbarians; the latter were also called ἅγλωττοι—i. e., tongueless—because they did not speak Greek. Aristophanes applied the term βαρβαροι even to birds, on account of the inarticulateness and unintelligibleness of their chirpings and chatterings. It is from Greek usage that we have come to designate any corruption of our own language by the introduction of foreign or unfit words as a barbarism. The persistence of this primitive tribal conceit is shown by the fact that a people in many respects so cosmopolitan as the English can pronounce no severer censure and condemnation of the manners, customs, and opinions of other nations than to call them un-English, and really fancy that an indelible stigma attaches itself to this epithet. Not long since several British tourists in Italy actually protested against some foolish, perhaps, but otherwise harmless features of the Roman carnival, and demanded their suppression on the ground that they were "thoroughly un-English," thus virtually assuming that no amusements should be tolerated on the Tiber which were not customary on the Thames. It is due to the same feeling that the word "outlandish" has gradually grown obsolete in its original sense, and is now used exclusively as an expression of contempt. Slavonic (slovene) is derived from slovo (speech), and means people with articulate language; whereas the Slavic nations call the Germans Nĕmĭcĭ, which signifies speechless, dumb, and therefore barbarian.

Geocentric astronomy and ethnocentric geography have been relegated long ago to that "limbo large and broad" which is the predestined receptacle of all exploded errors and illusions engendered by human vanity and ignorance; but from the bondage of ethnocentric ethics, manifesting itself in national prejudices and