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About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (Jan. 1, 1879)
Till. OttMIN OP LANGUAGE.
main the sum total of what wo know of
the laws ol iiuturc, docs not reveal her
secrets by a voice from henven, but she
yields them only to the patient imd labor
ious investigutor. Language wus a dis
covery, not u gift4: But while these wri.
ters deny the divine origin of language
in any spccinl sense, most of them admit
divine supervision and providence in en
dowing man with the needful faculties,
and surrounding him with the needful
tnuterials and motives for speech. In a
word, as man provided himself wi'h shcl.
ter, food and clothing, so he provided
himself with language.
To account for the beginnings of speech
from an exclusively liumrn source, there
are two received theories, in fact three, if
we include that of Farrar which attempts
a reconciliation of these two. They have
respectively received, each from the op.
ponents of the other, the somewhat felici.
tious nick-names, the " ding (long" and
"pooh pooh" or " bow-wow" theory. One
theory holds that speech is the result of a
spontaneous and unconscious eil'ort, the
other, just the opposite, that speech is a
voluntary conscious contrivance, a means
to an end. One holds that man was never
in a euvugn stale of mutism, the other
that he slowly, after a long pupilage,
emerged from such a state. The ding,
dong theory denies that lucre was any
conversation or argument among vn
whereby certain sounds were accepted as
the signs of thoughts and tilings; and it
afllrms that thoughts and things echoed
in sounds distinctively intelligible to
primeval man. The bow-wow theory re
jects this notion, that sounds of them,
selves express sense, and maintains that
by hearing and imitating sounds in na
ture, and by instinctive cries, men came
to a mutual understaullng by which they
accepted certain sounds as signs for pur.
poses of communication.
The ding-dong theory owes its present
form to Prof. Iloyso of Berlin, as published
since his deatli by Dr. Stointhal. It has
been elaborated in the works of Dr. Stein-
thai and warmly defended by him. This
is essentially the theory of Max Mullcr,
Bunsen, and appears in the speculations
of Dr. Bushncl, and others.
The theory is stated thus by Max Mul
ler in his Science of Language, first series.
"There is a law which runs through
nearly the whole of Nature that every
thing which is struck rings. We can tell
the more or less perfect structure of met
als by their vibrations by the answers
which they give. Gold rings diiTorently
from tin, wood rings dill'erently from
stone; and dillcront sounds arc produced
according to the nature of each percus
sion. It was the same with man, the
most highly oiginized of nature's works.
Man in the primitive and perfect state
was endowed not only, like the brute,
with the power of expressing his sensa
tions and his perceptions by onomato
pcula; but he possessed likewise the fac
ulty of giving more articulate expression
to the rational conceptions of his mind.
This facultv gave to each conception as
it thrilled for the first time through the
brain a phonetic expression." Farrar ex.
presses the theory more literally as fol
lows. "At the origin of humanity the
soul and body were in such natural do
pendance that all the emotions of the
soul had their echo in the bod, princi
pally in the organs of respiration and in
the voice. This sympathy of soul and
body, still lound in the infant and in the
savage was intimate and fruitful in the
primitive man. Such an intuition awoke
an accent or a sound." As thus staled it
will lie seen how aptly the theory is
styled tho ding-dong theory. It reprc
aunts man as originally a bell, and when
an idea struck him he naturally rang.
"We wonder," says Prof. Whitney, "it
was not. added that, like other bells, he
naturally rang by the tongue."
When carefully examined, this is but
tile old Plutonic theory in a new dress.
Words are regarded as types of objective
realities ; not only as signs of things, but
aa in 6omo way partaking the nature and
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