« IndietroContinua »
As far as observation reaches, the symbolic element is everywhere sustained by new accessions from the presentive, and it is worthy of note that the extreme symbolic word, the conjunction, which is chiefly supplied from groups of words previously symbolic, seems to be the one which most eagerly welcomes presentive material, as if desirous to recruit itself after its too great attenuation through successive stages of symbolic refinement.
549. The employment of conjunctions has greatly diminished from what it once was, as the reader may readily ascertain if he will only look into the prose of three centuries back. The writings of Hooker, for example, bristle with conjunctions, many of which we have now learned to dispense with. The conjunction being a comparatively late development, and being moreover a thing of literature to a greater extent than any other part of speech, was petted by writers and scholars into a fantastic luxuriance. It connected itself intimately with that technical logic which was the favourite study of the middle ages. Logic formed the base of the higher region of learning, and was the acquirement that popularly stamped a man as one of the learned, and hence it came that men prided themselves on their wherefores and therefores, and all the rest of that apparatus which lent to their discourse the prestige of ratiocination.
But this is now much abated, and the connection of sentences is to a large extent left to the intelligence of the reader. Two or three very undemonstrative conjunctions, such as if, but, for, that, will suffice for all the conjunctional appliances of page after page in a well - reasoned book. Often the word and is enough, even where more than mere concatenation is intended, and this colourless link-word
1 As above, 544: 'howbeit ... even when ... notwithstanding.'
seems invested with a meaning which recalls to mind what the and of the Hebrew is able to do in the subtle department of the conjunction. Indeed, we may say that we are coming back in regard to our conjunctions to a simplicity such as that from which the Hebrew language never departed. The Book of Proverbs abounds in examples of the versatility of the Hebrew and. Our but, as a conjunction, covers the ground of two German conjunctions, sondern and aber. If we look at Proverbs x. there is a but in the middle of nearly every verse, equivalent to fondern. These are all expressed in Hebrew by and. If we look at i. 25, 33; ii. 22; iv. 18, we see but in the weightier sense of aber, and here again the simple and in the Hebrew.
550. In the close of the following quotation, the and is equivalent to and yet' or 'and nevertheless.'
In Mecklenburg, Pommern, Pommerellen, are still to be seen physiognomies of a Wendish or Vandalic type (more of cheek than there ought to be, and less of brow; otherwise good enough physiognomies of their kind): but the general mass, tempered with such admixtures, is of the PlattDeutsch, Saxon, or even Anglish character we are familiar with here at home. A patient stout people; meaning considerable things, and very incapable of speaking what it means.—Thomas Carlyle, Frederick the Great, Bk. II. ch. iv.
In conversation we omit the relative conjunction very usually; and poetry often does the same with great gain to its freedom of movement:For I am he am born to tame you, Kate.
Taming of the Shrew, ii. 1. Where is it mothers learn their love ? John Keble.
551. When the bulkier conjunctions are used in the present day, or when ordinary.conjunctions are accumulated, an effect is produced as of documentary solemnity. Thus Now therefore (Acts xxiii. 15), Now whereas (Richard Hooker, Of the Laws, v. 76.5), notwithstanding however, &c.
This closes the analysis of the Parts of Speech, and prepares the way for the structural analysis. Hitherto the elements of speech have been classified; remains to treat of their grouping. The task falls into the same two parts, whenever an elaborate plan has to be analysed with a view to production or reproduction. I witnessed the arrival of a pavement at the spot where it was to be laid down, and as it was unloaded I saw that it was packed in sorts and sizes, like with like. But as the work proceeded, the men took a piece from this lot and a piece from that lot, and shewed them out on the ground near their work, so as to compose partial groups in the order of the design. To some such a grouped analysis do we now proceed.
552. SYNTAX is a Greek word, signifying the order or array
of words in a sentence. But the term signifies something beyond its etymological contents. It signifies that nexus between words which constitutes them Sense; a web of delicate functional relations, apprehended not by the eye but by the mind.
Syntax will accordingly mean the presentation of the sentence in its constituent parts, and the enquiry by what contrivances these parts are made to produce a continuous and consistent signification. We shall find that there are three kinds of instrumentality which are the most active in the production of this effect.
553. The first of these is collocation, or the relative position of words. So far as this agency is exerted, the parts of a sentence tell their function by the mere order of their arrangement. This sort of syntax we call Flat.
The second is where the functions of the members of the sentence are shewn by modifications in the forms of words. This is the Flexional Syntax.
The third is where the same relations are expressed by symbolic words. This is the Phrasal Syntax.
The analytical action of syntax resolves the sentence not into words, but into parts of speech. The term Syntax is a necessary correlative of the term Parts of Speech, inasmuch as the things represented by these several terms have no existence apart from each other;—there is no Syntax but by combination of Parts of Speech, and there is no Speechpart-ship but by the analysis of Syntax. And for this reason many of the details which are ordinarily comprised under the head of Syntax have already been disposed of in the foregoing chapters on the Parts of Speech. Accordingly, we have in the present chapter only to consider the salient points, and such as are of the most essential value in the mechanism of the sentence; and these are comprised in the above division, which will therefore constitute the plan of this Chapter.
1. OF FLAT OR COLLOCATIVE SYNTAX.
554. How important an element mere position is in the structure of the English sentence, may readily be seen by the contrast which appears if we consider how unimportant, or at least secondary, the same element is in Latin. If we have to say that men seek victual, the words by which this would be expressed in Latin are so unaffected by the order of their arrangement that it is impossible to dislocate the sentence. It is good in any order :
Homines quaerunt victum.
All these variations are possible, because each word has its inflection, and that inflection determines the relative office of