Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/245

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227
CHILDREN'S LANGUAGE.

'little boy,' for dede 'to play.' These are words quoted by Pott, and for English examples nana 'nurse,' tata! 'good-bye!' may serve. But all baby-words, as this very name proves, do not stop short even at this stage of publicity. A small proportion of them establish themselves in the ordinary talk of grown-up men and women, and when they have once made good their place as constituents of general language, they may pass on by inheritance from age to age. Such examples as have been here quoted of nursery words give a clue to the origin of a mass of names in the most diverse languages, for father, mother, grandmother, aunt, child, breast, toy, doll, &c. The negro of Fernando Po who uses the word bubboh for 'a little boy,' is on equal terms with the German who uses bube; the Congo-man who uses tata for 'father' would understand how the same word could be used in classic Latin for 'father,' and in mediæval Latin for 'pedagogue;' the Carib and the Caroline Islander agree with the Englishman that papa is a suitable word to express 'father,' and then it only remains to carry on the word, and make the baby-language name the priests of the Eastern Church and the great Papa of the Western. At the same time the evidence explains the indifference with which, out of the small stock of available materials, the same sound does duty for the most different ideas; why mama means here 'mother,' there 'father,' there 'uncle,' maman here 'mother,' there 'father-in-law,' dada here 'father,' there 'nurse,' there 'breast,' tata here 'father,' there 'son.' A single group of words may serve to show the character of this peculiar region of language: Blackfoot Indian ninnah 'father;' Greek νέννος 'uncle,' νέννα 'aunt;' Zulu nina, Sangir nina, Malagasy nini 'mother;' Javan nini 'grandfather or grandmother;' Vayu nini 'paternal aunt;' Darien Indian ninah 'daughter;' Spanish niño, niña 'child;' Italian ninna 'little girl;' Milanese ninin 'bed;' Italian ninnare 'to rock the cradle.'

In this way a dozen easy child's articulations, ba's and