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tended to be read by all those who read the English language. It would not convey a right meaning, or be intelligible to any, excepting those of a single town or village in the country.

The case would be similar, supposing my opponent should assert, that lawyers, or those of any particular profession, are wont to use the word in the sense for which he contends. I might allow that the word occupy is thus correctly used, and at the same time contend, that this professional usage does not authorize its introduction with the same signification into works addressed to all who read the English language. Lawyers, and those of other professions, have many terms in use, which are peculiar to the profession, and which are not expected to be understood by those unacquainted with its mysteries.

From these statements, we learn in what manner each word in a language becomes the symbol of a particular object. It is by conventional agreement. All who speak the language, are supposed to have entered into an agreement, to use and understand the word in this sense, When therefore we would know, in respect to any particular word, whether it belongs to a language, we are to inquire, if it is found in the writings and heard in the conversation of those who write and speak the language. If it is not thus found, the use of it is called a Barbarism, and should be avoided.

We further learn from the views now given, in what manner we may ascertain the proper use of those words which belong to the language. It is by an appeal to Good Usage. We are first to inquire, how the word in question is used by those who are generally reputed good writers. This is called reputable usage, and is opposed to vulgar usage on the one hand, and to partial or limited usage on the other. We are in the next place to ask, whether the writings to which we look as autho

rities, are reputed to be good by those who at the present time speak and write the language. This is present usage, and is opposed to ancient or obsolete usage. The inquiry further arises, whether the word in question is used in the sense ascribed to it, wherever the language to which it belongs, is spoken; and this is nationa. usage as opposed to foreign, provincial or professional usage. Thus Good Usage includes reputable, national, and present usage: and when a word is found in a sense which is not supported by good usage, as thus explained, it is called an impropriety, and is to be shunned.

Nature and design of a Dictionary.

From this view of the standard in verbal criticism, may be learned the nature and design of a Dictionary. When wishing to show my opponent, that the word occupy is used by authors of reputation in a different sense from that which he defends, instead of seeking for passages, in which the word is used by different authors, I should have turned to the word in a Dictionary, and there have found the result, to which the compiler of the Dictionary had been led from an examination, such as I proposed. Hence it may be seen, why Johnson's Dictionary is sometimes called the standard of the English language. He has carefully investigated the meaning of words, as used by authors of reputation, and has given us the results to which he has been led from these investigations; and confiding in his fidelity and good judgment, we appeal to him as to a standard.

Manner in which changes in a language are effected.

From this view also, may be learned the manner in which old and long established words become obsolete, and new ones introduced. When a word, from the harshness of its sound, from any indefiniteness in its incaning, from its being no longer needed, or from any

other cause, ceases to be used by writers of reputation, for a considerable time, it is said to become obsolete, and is no longer considered a part of the language.

On the other hand, every new word that is introduced into a language must be first proposed by some author of reputation. If it is thought necessary-if it expresses the meaning attached to it better than any other word, or is more harmonious than another word previously used in the same sense, it is adopted by other writers of reputation, and thus becomes a part of the language. If it is thought unnecessary, it is not adopted, and the attempt to introduce it, fails. While then inconvenience is experienced from the changes of language, and the authors of one period thus rendered unintelligible at another, the evil is balanced by the introduction of more significant and harmonious words.

It may here be asked,-for how long a period must a word have been disused by reputable writers in a language, to make it obsolete? To this inquiry, no definite answer has been given. Campbell has proposed, that a generation, or age of human existence, should be considered a limit, and this rule is generally adopted.

Greater liberty, however, is given to poetical writers in the use of ancient words, and to scientific writers in the invention of new terms, than to those who are authors in other kinds of writing. The same word, which in a prose writer would be objected to as an obsolete term, might in poetry be received, as supported by good authority. This indulgence is granted to poetry, in consideration of the embarrassments of rhyme and of measure, which require a copiousness of language. On the other hand, science is progressive. New terms must be found to express modern discoveries and inventions. The use of old words in new significations, would obviously create obscurity and mistake, and it is thought better, that new words should be introduced when new

objects are to be represented. It is also common for writers on scientific subjects, to define the most important words in their works, especially those which are new or peculiar to the science. This liberty is given them, and it is expected in return, that they will uniformly use the word in the sense defined.

In connexion with these remarks, the influence of criticism on language may be mentioned. Its object is the improvement of the language-the avoiding of all harsh, unharmonious words, and of those also, which, from their etymology or any other cause, are peculiarly liable to be misunderstood. This object is effected, not by the exercise of any authority, but by pointing out the offensive word to notice, and dissuading the public from its


Good usage not always uniform in her decisions; rules which should guide us where these decisions are at variance with each other.

Suppose that I should meet with the following sentence:-"Beside he was a cotemporary writer of great delicateness of expression, and highly approved of." I might object to it, and say that besides would be better than beside-contemporary than cotemporary-delicacy than delicateness, and approved than approved of. Should I, in support of my criticisms, appeal to good usage, and mention several authors of reputation, in whose writings the forms of these words which I prefer, are uniformly used, it might be said in reply, that those forms which I condemn, are also found in the writings of authors of equally good reputation; and this could not be denied. In these instances, good usage is not uniform in her decisions; and it is necessary that some other principles should be referred to, in determining which of these forms of words is preferable. I might say then, that the word beside is often used as a preposition, and that

where there are two forms of a word, each of which is supported by the authority of good authors, one of these forms which is sometimes differently used, should be restricted to this particular use, and the other form used only in that sense, which has hitherto been common to both. Both perspicuity and variety evidently require


In preferring contemporary to cotemporary, I might plead the analogy of the language. Whenever the inseparable preposition con precedes a consonant in composition, the n is retained; we say, conglomerate, conglutinate, concomitant. To this, copartner is the only exception. But if this particle in composition precedes a vowel, we use the form co; as coequal, coeternal Hence, in the present case, the analogy of the language requires that we say contemporary.*

I can give no other reason for preferring delicacy to delicateness, supposing the authorities on either side equal, than that the sound is more agreeable to the ear. Here then harmony of sound is the principle on which a decision is made.

In the other instance of criticism, where I prefer approved to approved of, simplicity of expression is the ground of choice. It is well known, that the use of numerous particles is a defect in our language. It

* Appeals are so often made to the analogy of the language, in determining questions which appertain to the use of words, that it is important the student should rightly understand the meaning of this phrase. In reasoning from the analogy of the language, we first assign a word to a class of words, to which, from some similarity in its form, its derivation, its composition, or some other circumstance, it bears a close resemblance. We then apply the rules and principles of this class of words to the individual word. Thus we assign the word contemporary to a class of compound words having the inseparable particle con as a prefix. We then, as in the text, apply a rule of the class to the individual word. Departures from the analogy of the language are called Anomalies.

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