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But it is not merely in writing our own language that an acquaintance with the general principles of grammar is useful;—the study of foreign languages is greatly facilitated by it; for having laid down certain distinctions which exist in the very nature of things, we need not go over them any more, and have therefore only to apply ourselves to the peculiarities of the tongue we wotild learn, which in general are but few, and are easily remembered from their paucity: whereas, if we have to go over the whole system of grammar with every fresh language, it becomes a labour of no ordinary kind.
Let us suppose on the contrary that we have taken the Greek grammar as a sort of general type of that of the European languages :—when we would acquire one of these, we shall have to ask ourselves first a few general questions, as, Has it, besides the two necessary numbers of singular and plural, also a dual? No. Has it, besides the requisite active and passive voice of the verb, also a middle? No. Has it-a distinct termination to mark the cases, &c.? The peculiarity of each language in these respects will be a thing to be examined and remembered; and thus by questioning ourselves through the various parts of grammatical construction, we shall easily detect those which require especial attention, and by fixing them in our minds, find that we have mastered at once the most difficult part of all foreign languages—namely, the idiom.
I will now endeavour to show what are those great distinctions which may be said to form a system of universal grammar, and whereon they are based.
I. r I ''HE different words used between man -*- and man for the communication of ideas necessarily divide themselves into different classes, called technically "parts of speech," which must exist in all languages; for there must be
1. The name imposed on the thing we mean to designate, or Noun Substantive.
2. The action by which that thing is in some way connected with ourselves or others, or Verb.
And these two great classes must find place in every language, for they are the foundation of all speech: but as soon as more precision of language is required, other classes of words must come into use, for
3. The thing will have some quality or appearance by which it is to be distinguished from other things of a like kind; and the word expressing this quality or appearance is called a Noun Adjective.
4. We seek to shorten the sentence and avoid repetition, by substituting some smaller word instead of constantly using the noun; and this substitute we call a Pronoun.
5. The Verb will have some limitation or modification of its action; and this is an AdVerb.
6. The thing will stand in some relation to something else; for all that has material form must have a place as regards some other material object, and if this be not expressed by an especial inflection in the word, (which is technically called a case,) it is signified by some separate word, which, from its usual place as regards the substantive,* is called a Preposition.
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 plural. Even in the Latin, which is only a few removes from the Greek, the dual is already dropped.
* As, After the king—Before man—Under restraint. D
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 Masculine, 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