Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/239

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221
GRADUATION OF VOWELS.

Yoruba . . . na, this; ni, that. Fernandian . . olo, this; ole, that. Tumale . . . re, this; ri, that. ngi, I; ngo, thou; ngu, he.

Greenlandish . . uv, here, there (where one points to) ; iv, there, up there [found in comp.]. Sujelpa (Coleville Ind.), a-^a, this ; t^t, that. Sahaptin . . kina, here ; n<z, there. Mutsun . . . ne, here ; nu, there. Tarahumara . . ibe, here ; abe, there. Guarani . . . tide, ne, thou ; ndi, ni, he. Botocudo . . ati, I ; oti, thou, you, (prep.) to. Carib . . . ne, thou ; ni, he. Chilian . . . tva, vacbi, this ; tvey, veycbi, that.

It is obvious on inspection of this list of pronouns and adverbs that they have in some way come to have their vowels contrasted to match the contrast of here and there, this and that. Accident may sometimes account for such cases. For instance it is well known to philologists that our own this and that are pronouns partly distinct in their formation, thi-s being probably two pronouns run together, but yet the Dutch neuters dit 'this,' and dat 'that,' have taken the appearance of a single form with contrasted vowels.[1] But accident cannot account for the frequency of such words in pairs, and even in sets of three, in so many different languages. There must have been some common intention at work, and there is evidence that some of these languages do resort to a change of sound as a means of expressing change of distance. Thus the language of Fernando Po can not only express 'this' and 'that' by olo, ole, but it can even make a change of the pronunciation of the vowel distinguish between o boehe 'this month,' and oh boehe, 'that month.' In the same way the Grebo can make the difference between 'I' and 'thou,' 'we,' and 'you,' 'solely by the intonation of the voice, which the final h of the second persons mâh and ăh is intended to express.'

mâ di, I eat; mâh di, thou eatest; ă di, we eat; ăh di, ye eat.

  1. Also Old High German diz and daz.