Page:The Religion of Ancient Egypt.djvu/71

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able number of words have certainly passed from one language into another, but all these have to be deducted. Those who talk of Egyptian having its root in Semitic, or say that its grammar is Semitic, must mean something quite different from what these words imply in the mouth of some one well versed in the science of Language. I once heard a learned Jew compare Hebrew with Portuguese. All that he meant to say was, that it preferred the letter m where the kindred languages took n, as the Portuguese language often does in contrast with its sister languages, the Spanish, French and Italian. And those who speak of Egyptian grammar as being Semitic are clearly thinking of some peculiarities of it, in forgetfulness of very much more important ones. It would be quite easy, under such conditions, to discover Finnish or Polynesian affinities.

The Egyptian and the Semitic languages belong to quite different stages of language, the former to what Professor Max Müller calls the second or Terminational, the latter to the third or Inflexional stage. In the Terminational stage, two or more roots may coalesce to form a word, the one retaining its radical independence, the other sinking down to a mere termination. The languages belonging to this stage have generally been called agglutinative. Now the Egyptian language has indeed reached this stage as regards the pronominal and one or two other suffixes. But in all other respects it most nearly resembles the languages of the first or