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to the structure becomes necessary. Parsing in Latin is therefore mainly an exercise in what is called the Accidence, that is the grammatical inflections of words. In English, on the contrary, there is so little to be gathered by looking at the mere form, that the exercise of parsing trains the mind to a habit of judging each word's value by reference to its yoke-fellows in the sentence. A single example will make this plain. It would be a foolish question to ask, without reference to a context, What part of speech is love 2 because it may stand either for a verb or for a noun. But if you ask in Latin, What part of speech is amare or caritas P the question can be answered as well without a context as with. Each word has in fact a bit of context attached to it, for an inflection is simply a fragment of context, and a nominative is as much an inflection as a genitive. And this is the cause why it is easier to catch the elements of grammatical ideas through the medium of a highly inflected language like Latin. On the other hand, those ideas can best be perfected through the medium of a language with few inflections, like English, For in studying grammar through the English language, we purge our minds of the wooden notion that it is an inherent quality in a word to be of this or that part of speech. To be a noun, or a verb, or an adjective, is a function which the word discharges in such and such a context, and not a character innate in the word or inseparable from it. Thus the word save is a verb, whether infinitive to save, or indicative / save, or imperative save me : but it is the selfsame word when it stands as a preposition, “forty stripes save one.’ The force of these observations is not lessened by the fact that there are many words in English that discharge but one function, and are of one part of speech only. In such cases the habit of the word has become fixed, it has lost the plastic state which is the original and natural condition of every word, and it has contracted a rigid and invariable character. The bulk of Latin words are in this state, simply because they are not pure words at all, but fragments of a phrase. Each Latin word has its function as noun or verb or adverb ticketed upon it. But in English the words of fixed habit are comparatively few. In a general way it may be said that the pronouns are so in all languages. Yet even this group, of all groups the most habit-bound, is not without its occasional assertions of natural freedom. The prepositions are many of them in the fixed state, but the researches of the philologer tend to set many of them in a freer light. We must not therefore regard the parts of speech as if they were like the parts of a dissected map, where each piece is unfit to stand in any place but one. Each part of speech is what it is, either by virtue of the place it now occupies in the present sentence; or else, by virtue of an old habit which contracted its use to certain special positions; or thirdly, by reason of its carrying about with it a fragment of another word under the form of an inflection, by which its grammatical relations are limited and determined. And as the second and third of these cases will be found to melt into one, the result is that all words are induced to be of such and such a part of speech, either by the manner of their present employment, or else by inveterate habit. Before we proceed to the examples which will illustrate the above remarks, we must make a clearance of one thing which else might cause confusion. There is a sense in which every word in the world is a noun. When we speak of the word have, or the word marry, these words are regarded as objects of sense, and are mere nouns. Just in the same way in the expression ‘the letter A, this alphabetic symbol becomes a noun. In this aspect each item in the whole catalogue of letters and words in a dictionary is presented to our minds as a noun. And beyond the pages of the dictionary, there are situations in the course of conversation and of literature in which this is the case. Thus, in Shakspeare, King John, i. 1, ‘Have is have ;’ and in Longfellow's
‘Mother, what does marry mean?'
In these cases the word is (as one may say) taken up between the finger and thumb, and looked at, and made an object of. It is no longer, as words commonly are, a mere presentive of some object or a mere symbol of some relation between objects, but it enters for the moment into an objective position of its own. And there are many instances of this.
Must is a verb. But when we hear the popular saying, ‘Oh! you must, must you? Must is made for the Queen: ’ here must is a noun.
To the same category may be most suitably referred those instances in which interjections make their appearance as nouns. Thus, in Sir Charles Grandison, Letter xvi.,
‘Many hems passed between them, now the uncle looking on the nephew, now the nephew on the uncle.’
Or, as in the following from Cowper,
‘Where thou art gone,
Or, in more familiar style,
‘I took it in without another bum and ba. Mrs. Prosser, Quality Fogg's Old Ledger, ch. v. This “objective ’ citation of words being cleared away, it remains now to consider how words may change their *
subjective condition, that is to say, their relation to the
thinking mind, and vary their characters as parts of speech
‘To err is human, to forgive divine.’
“To live in hearts we leave behind,
But the true substantival form of the verb is that in -ing, as the following passages will exemplify:—
‘It was not the not knowing, but the not approving, which was the cause of their not using it.’ John Milton, Areopagitica.
“But if the purchase costs so dear a price
Alexander Pope, Temple of Fame, 515.
“Disbanded legions freely might depart,
In all these instances the -ing form represents the ancient infinitive in -an, and is in fact the verb turned through its infinitive form into the grammatical noun. A more complete explanation of this frequent stumblingblock will be found in its right place in the Syntax.
2. Next, the noun may become a verb. The interjection pooh-pooh becomes a noun when we say, ‘He cried poohpooh ;’ and this noun becomes a verb when we use the expression ‘to pooh-pooh a question.’
The word handicap is an old Saxon noun meaning a compromise or bargain, and in this character, I suppose, it figures in the technical language of horse-racing. It is odd that this notorious expression has never been included in our dictionaries. I have searched Richardson, Webster, and
Latham, in vain. My notion is that the racing term refers to the practice of making horses carry weight as a compensation for any advantage they might have in respect of age. If I am wrong, my ignorance would only be a natural consequence of my aversion to the turf as a national evil. All I am here concerned with is the fact that the sporting world employs the word nounally. But it frequently stands for a verb, as in the following from a contemporary journal.
“The legitimate objects of the Trades' Unions are overlaid by elaborate attempts to bandicap ability and industry, and to exclude competition.’
Further examples in which a word usually regarded as a noun makes its appearance as a verb:
“With all good grace to grace a gentleman.’
“Psalm us no psalms.”
“In 1811 the Swedes, though not yet actually at war with England, were making active preparations for defence by sea and land, “in case,” says Parry, “we should be inclined to Copenhagen them.” Memoirs of Sir W. E. Parry, by his son, ch. ii.
“I’ll prose it here, I'll verse it there,
William Combe, Doctor Syntax in search of the Picturesque, Canto i.
“Them as goes away to better themselves, often worses themselves, as I call it.' Anthony Trollope, The Last Chronicle of Barset, ch. xlii.
Passing to more familiar and trivial instances, such as are (be it remembered) the best examples of the unfettered and natural action of a language, we hear such expressions as ‘to cable a message;’ and again, “If such a thing happens, zeyire me.’
I do not say that these expressions have become an acknowledged part of the language. If we confined our attention solely to that which is mature and established, we should