Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/243

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225
CHILDREN'S LANGUAGE.

such notions as 'protector' or 'producer.' Nor can it be supposed that it was by mere accident that the root-words thus chosen happened to be the very sounds pa and ma, whose types so often occur in the remotest parts of the world as names for 'father' and 'mother.' Prof. Adolphe Pictet makes shift to account for the coincidence thus: he postulates first the pair of forms and as Aryan verb-roots of unknown origin, meaning 'to protect' and 'to create,' next another pair of forms pa and ma, children's words commonly used to denote father and mother, and lastly he combines the two by supposing that the root-verbs and were chosen to form the Indo-European words for parents, because of their resemblance to the familiar baby-words already in use. This circuitous process at any rate saves those sacred monosyllables, the Sanskrit verb-roots, from the disgrace of an assignable origin. Yet those who remember that these verb-roots are only a set of crude forms in use in one particular language of the world at one particular period of its development, may account for the facts more simply and more thoroughly. It is a fair guess that the ubiquitous pa and ma of the children's language were the original forms; that they were used in an early period of Aryan speech as indiscriminately substantive and verb, just as our modern English, which so often reproduces the most rudimentary linguistic processes, can form from the noun 'father' a verb 'to father;' and that lastly they became verb-roots, whence the words patar and matar were formed by the addition of the suffix.[1]

The baby-names for parents must not be studied as though they stood alone in language. They are only important members of a great class of words, belonging to all times and countries within our experience, and forming a children's language, whose common character is due to its con-

  1. See Pott, 'Indo-Ger. Wurzelwörterb.' s.v. 'pâ'; Böhtlingk and Roth, 'Sanskrit-Wörterb.' s.v. mâtar; Pictet, 'Origines Indo-Europ.,' part ii. p. 349; Max Müller, 'Lectures,' 2nd series, p. 212.