Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885, October 01, 1879, Page 175, Image 7

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NO. 8.
not say to one another, "Ilero is a paiticlo
Utnt corresponds to the forms or such a
dialect, and here is another thai corres
ponds to the forms of such another dialect;
let us employ them both and be odd and
irregular in our speech." The forming
of their language is as thoughtless, unin
tcnUonal, and unphilosophicnl as is possi
ble, as near the natural process, seeming
ly, as was that of the first beings who had
need of communication, and if the natur
al growth, so almost entirely uninterfercd
with, produces such a mongrel type, it i3
a marked exception to the rule that na
ture abhors monstrosities.
The most formidable argument in favor
of the "Physical" theory is that furnished
by the curious relation of certain Ian
guages, which is set forth in "Grimm's
Law." It would be scarcely feasible to
hold that this is the result of deliberate
agreement on the part of tribes or nations,
but it is a well known fact that to-day
certain consonant combinations of some
languages arc unpronounceable by people
who arc bred in the use of another: for
instance, the universal inability of the
Germans to master the u( h" of English, itis
always "rf" in their moulhs: and the gnitcr
al "eA" of the German is commonly passed
as "&" on the English tongue.
The occasional isolated cases of lispcrs
and stammerers cf every description, who
are unable to pronounce certain sounds,
hint, at least, that these ma' be remnants
of ancient tribes whose "Shibboleth" that
betrayed them, has not yet become entire
ly lost in the onward march of time, but
now and then comes to the surface on the
tongue of some unwitting descendant.
In view of theso facts it is easy to see how
historical circumstances should have
caused tribes to adopt the languages of
other tribes, with the exception of
those necessary consonant changes, and
now the two divisions from the want of
kindred affinity, have drifted far asm dcr
in their speech by the process of phonetic
change which all'ects all tongues, and
chiefly the vowel elements, until the two
dialects have become unrecognizable as
bearing any relation to one another,
with the exception of that curious one
previously mentioned.
Whitney, who maintains that compara
live philology is a moral science, uses
these words: "Language has, in fact, no
existence save in 'he minds and mouths
of those who use it; il is made up of scp.
arate articulated signs of thought, each of
which is attached by a mental association
to the idea it represents, is uttered by a
voluntary eflbrt, and has its value and
currency only by the agreement of speak,
ers and hearers. It is only in the power,
subject to their will, as it is kepi up, so is
it modified and altered, so may it be
abandoned, by their joint and consenting
action, and in no other way." J. P. P,
JjluIE "fonctic" craze is again exhibit
J ing restive symptoms. Away down
East they have been holding meetings
and resolving that English orthography
is a humbug and a swindle. It seems to
bother the reformers that we do not spell
as we pronounce. It seems to trouble
them that our language is so prolific of
sound that our children do not learn to
spell naturally, as they learn to speak.
They want us to remodel our dictionaries,
to spell "wife" if, for instance, to drop all
double letters, and use but the single one
unless the sound of the word demands il)
Now, when you inaugurate a reform, it is
well to begin at the beginning. Suppose
these anxious gentlemen first secure a un
iform system of pronunciation. Possibly
il lias never occurred to them that in the
United Sutes there are local forms of pro
nunciation, wide and various; that many
people say "keers," while some of us call
it " cars," that what is "chair" to some is
"cheer" to others. Would they have us
saj' "culcher" or "culchaw ?" And then
the one who says "hyar" and "thar" could
establish his claims to recognizance. Of
am w