« PreviousContinue »
7. As language becomes more complicated, particles which may connect one limb of a sentence with another become needful, and these are termed from their office Conjunctions. 8. Passion will be expressed by exclamation, and this is called an INTERJECTION. II. All things must be either one or more; hence the distinction in grammar of SINGULAR and PLURAL as regards number. A few languages have a further distinction of a dual number, but this cannot be considered as a part of universal grammar, and must remain one of the peculiarities of the Greek, and perhaps of earlier tongues: for as families must consist in the first place of two only, it would seem as if the dual number must be the more ancient. A single human pair would have an expression for what was done separately or what was done in conjunction: the plural number would not be called for till society became more complex:-thus in all modern languages which serve the uses of men who are wont to carry on their affairs in relation to many, the dual is to be found no longer, being entirely superseded by the lural. Even in the Latin, which is only a few removes rom the Greek, the dual is already dropped. III. As all things must be one or more, so in the order of creation are they also male, or female, or devoid of sex altogether; and these distinctions of gender are termed MAsculin E, FEMININE and NEUTER. By what would seem an odd caprice, most nations, ancient and modern, have chosen to bestow a gender on things which in reality possess none: the English alone herein follow nature, and make all inanimate things and abstract ideas of the neuter gender. IV. Whatever action is performed must be either done or suffered by some individual; unless indeed by a metaphor we attribute agency to an inanimate object: for we say that the knife cuts, although we very well know that if left untouched it can do nothing of the kind. This difference of action makes what is technically called a voice— that is, what the man does is expressed by the Active Voice; what he suffers by the PAssive Voice; a distinction retained in all languages: in many, other voices are added, implying not only doing and suffering, but causing to do or suffer, &c., as in the Hebrew; or as sometimes in the Middle Voice of the Greek, and in the reflected verb of the French, signifying an action of the individual on himself. W. Whatever action is performed must be performed in some time, and as relates to the speaker it must be either past, present, or future: and this distinction is universally found in the times or tenses of the verb, which are more or less complicated according to the genius of the different nations; but the broad distinction exists everywhere, with this slight variation, that some few do not acknowledge the present as a sufficiently durable time to be worthy of an especial expression. The Hebrew has only a past and a future time. VI. As action cannot take place without an agent and o i.e., a person or thing undergoing the action, so y virtue of that action, the person or thing is placed in some peculiar relation to the other. Thus a thing belongs to, or is given to, or is taken from, a person, or it is subject to some action, or it is simply named as the agent; or it is called to; and if these varieties of situation are implied in the word itself, it is said to be in such and such a case; and this relation of things must always exist, though in some modern languages the distinction by an especial inflection is abandoned. For it is clear that when I say I have sold my horse, I mean to imply a different relation between myself and the animal from that implied in, my horse has thrown me:—in the Latin, in the first example, the word horse would be in the accusative case with a distinct termination:—in the English and many modern languages the termination is the same; but as the relation between the man and the animal is still understood to be expressed in the substantive, without the aid of any preposition, it must be considered to be in the accusative case, albeit the inflection be wanting. In the second example, the horse is the agent, or nominative case, and the man is in the accusative; but here, even in the English, the csse has its peculiar form, for me is the accusative case of 1. VII. As all qualities are found to exist in more or less intensity, so adjectives and adverbs admit of what are called degrees of comparison, namely, the Positive, as wise, far; the CoMPARATIVE, as wiser, further; the suPERLATIVE, as wisest, farthest. Such are the fundamental distinctions of universal grammar, or to speak technically, such is its accidence. It has also its Syntax, or mode of putting words together, and here again the rules are broad and comprehensive. The three concords, as they are termed by grammarians, are well known : and with a few modifications are universally applicable. They are 1. That of the nominative and verb; namely the agreement of the verb, or action, in number and person with the agent. Thus, if the nominative or agent be l, the verb must agree with it by being in the singular number, and the first person; or if the agent be some person or thing which is addressed, it is in the second person ; or if it be some person or thing which is spoken of, and not addressed, it is in the third person. One remarkable exception to this rule exists in the Greek, where a neuter noun plural requires the verb to be in the singular number; a peculiarity not easily to be accounted for, unless the Greeks perhaps considered that there could be no individuality where there was no gender, and that therefore these things could only be spoken of collectively. 2. That of the substantive with its adjective, namely the agreement of the adjective in gender, number, and case with the noun, or which is the same thing, with the pronoun to which it belongs; and here there appears to be an exception in the English where the adjective is universally indeclinable, yet this is but an apparent exception, for though the adjective admits of no inflection, nobody doubts that a perfect agreement with the substantive is implied. The strong men, implies that all the men are strong, and therefore the adjective is in fact plural:—the good father's kindness implies that the kindness is a quality belonging to a father in so far as he is good; therefore good is here in the same case as father. 3. That of the relative with the antecedent; namely, the agreement of the relative pronoun,” with the person or thing which it refers to, in gender, number, and person; though here the English relative being alike in both numbers, appears, at first sight, to be anomalous. As universal is the rule that the verb substantivet shall have the same case after as before it: for this is a rule originating in the very nature of things, since simple existence terminates in the individual, and has no relation to any other being. Verbs transitive, on the contrary, i. e., actions which have relation to other persons or things, are universally followed by an accusative case, and this whether it be marked by any inflection or not. For the thing acted upon cannot be in the same condition as the actor; and the same great distinction which, we have already seen, exists between the active and passive voice of verbs, exists as naturally and necessarily in nouns. All external actions require an agent and a patient; that is, in other words, must be accompanied by a nominative case or agent, and an accusative or patient. A verb which implies any particular relation of things necessarily governs the case which implies that relation; thus, verbs of giving govern the dative case, for that implies an act of gift, and though in many modern languages, the defective state of the inflections make this obscure, yet it will be seen that verbs of giving, require mo following preposition to place the substantive or pronoun in the due relation.f A verb in the infinitive mode can never be accompanied by a nominative; for it is the abstract idea of action unaccompanied by any agent. To speak conveys no impression but that of speech generally, and in order to connect it with any individual a verb transitive, which will govern an accusative, must precede it, or at least be understood: thus the sentence I consider him to be a fit person to speak to the people, contains two accusatives, i. e., him and a fit person, as would immediately be seen on rendering the phrase into Latin; and thus it becomes a general and short rule, that an infinitive must be accompanied by an accusative. Prepositions universally govern a case, for they imply some peculiar relation of place or time, and it has been explained already that cases are but the expression of the relation in which persons or things stand to each other. I stood BESIDE her; I went AFTER him, may exemplify this rule, which is without an exception. Conjunctions which join different limbs of a sentence, will require to be followed by the same cases, modes, and tenses as preceded them.
* Englished by who or which. t In English, to be.
f In English we say give the man his due—not give to the man, &c., or give him his due, where the dative inflection again makes itself evident.
By fixing the above simple rules well in the memory, much difficulty in learning a new language will be avoided; for it will be needless to go over afresh any of those parts which have the character of universality, and a new grammar will be much less formidable than its bulk might otherwise make it appear.