Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (Jan. 1, 1879)
spunk is in tliis sense our own work, llie
remaining twentieth should ho thought to
ho otherwise. Fnrrar endeavors to show,
mid it must he admitted, with much suc
cess, that almost all -words may ho thus
explained. It is granted, however, that
some words expressive of our moral con
victions and psycholgical slates cannot
thus he explained. The remaining twen
tieth, as Prof. Whitney states it, is to ho
accounted for. It is essential to a true
theory in science that it include all the
facts; and as this does not, it is still to ho
regarded as hut tentative.
It is conceded that there are certain elc.
nients of speech out of which all languag
es have come; that the changes have been
simply of form. The nuinher of these
elemenls appears to remain constant, be
ing nciiher increased nor diminished.
No new radical hus hecn added, so far as
we can perceive, any more than new mat
tor has heon added to the universe. Lan
gunge in its perfected product is wrought
out of these elemental forms When Prof.
Whitney says that " the power to develop
is one in essential nature with tho power
to originate," his critics reply Hint tho
power is not the same. To mould and
form material is one thing, hut to create
the matter is quite another.
The bow-wow theory, like the ding
(long, does not meet tho requirinonts of
science. Men come into the world in'
fanta speechless. A child speaks only
as it is .taught. A French child reared in
an English family speaks English, nut
French. .Language is acquired when
taught. This is the only method of which
we have any knowlege. "What reason
have wo for thinking thai there was over
any other method? It is only upon the
assumption that there was no one to leach
uiu nisi imam, was mere no Doing cap
able of leaching primitive man?
It is unscientific to believe that man
was once in possession of the faculty
of speech creation, but lias now lost it;
and it is equally unscientific to believe
that man, as ho now is, untaught by a su.
perior intelligence, learned of himself by
his own unaided efforts to frame words
Science takes the facts as they are. She
asks, how did man learn to speak so far
as known. The answer is, only as taught
by a superior. Una any one ever been
known to begin in any other way ? No.
The inference, then, is that the first man
Now it has been urged by some schol
ars that, as there was no superior man,
God took it upon himself to be his teach
er. This, is supernatural; hut the difficul
ty is digitus vindicc nodus. If baldy stated,
they say, that God revealed language, that
in a voice from heaven ho told man what
to say, there would he reluctance to as
sent to tho theory thus expressed; but if
put in another form it may be true. God
made man capable of speech, and placed
him amid sights and sounds designed to
furnish the materials of speech. Ho
taught man to use his faculty, gave him
the genius of language and assisted him
to connect words and things, as a father
assists his child.
In this brief discussion we have en.
deavored to indicate the present state of
the question of the origin of language. In
the recent advancement made in the.
science of philology, we may hope that a
closer approximation to the solution of
this most important problem may yet be
attained. There are, however, eminent
philologists who frankly admit that ling
uistic research can never reveal the actual
beginings of speech. So competent an au
tliority as Ernest Reiiau places it among
tho things auto-historical, and he afllrms
thai it must over remain so. All philolo.
gists, of whatever school, confess that the
origin of language has not yet been dis
covered. G. M.
Perhaps the statesman has to deal wltii
I'dw problems more important than that of
personal liberty in its relation to the gen-
Powered by Open ONI