« IndietroContinua »
“Reducing the abject one to a choice between captivity and starvation.'— Anthony Trollope, The Last Chronicle of Barset, ch. ix. A variety of other pronouns belong to this set, which we have only space just to hint at. Such are thing, something, everything, nothing ; wight, whil, deal. There was, towards the close of the Saxon period, an imitation from the Latin, by which the word hwa = ‘who’ was adopted as an indefinite pronoun. The Latin si quis was the model, after which was made the Saxon gif hwa = if who, Thus, in the Saxon Chronicle, 1086, ‘Gif hwa gewilnigeo, &c. = Si quis optaverit, &c. This is one of the cases already touched upon, in which imitations prove to be short-lived. We have thus reached the natural termination of this section. Having started from the pronouns which were most nearly associated with substantival ideas, we have reached those whose characteristic it is (as their name conveys) to be indefinite, to shun fixed associations, and thus to be ever ready for a latitude of application as wide as the widest imaginable sweep of the mental horizon.
II. ADJECTIVAL PRONoUNs.
The adjectival character of some pronouns is very apparent; others which are classed with them will be found less manifestly adjectival. We will begin the section with some of the plainest.
Such is a composite word, made up of so and like. The Saxon form was swile, from swa and lic. In the German form sold the original elements are very traceable: in Danish it is slig, and in Scottish sic. It is curious how words rediscover the elements of their composition after they have become obscure, by a tendency to symphytise again
once more with the word which they have already absorbed. Hence we get such-like, and still more usual in Scotland is sic-like. This such is a highly pronominal word.
• In such matters a little evidence goes a long way.”—Archaeological journal, No. 104, p. 331.
The pronominal character of such is here apparent from the fact that the reader must refer to the page quoted in order to recover the presentive idea towards which it pointed in this passage.
This adjective reverts, like other adjectives, to substantival habits, and it sometimes fills the place which has been left vacant by the ancient substantive-pronoun so described in the former section. In its substantive and adjective function alike, it is often the antecedent to a relative pronoun, and there has been a good deal of fastidiousness about this relative pronoun, as to which is the right one to come after such. We have now decided (it seems) that such can have no relative after it but as. And as a proof of the Sort of affection that words bear to kindred, it may be noticed that as is a composite word made up of all and so. However, our literature abounds with instances of other relatives after such.
such which. “Of such characters which combined the species best, I selected the most remarkable.”—John Lindley, A Monograph of Roses, 1820, p. xx. such zwho.
‘It is very natural for such who are treated ill and upbraided falsely, to find out an intimate friend that will hear their complaints,’ &c.—Addison (1711), Spectator, No. 170.
Same. This word is not found (as a pronoun) in AngloSaxon literature, and the question arises whence it came to be so familiar in English. Jacob Grimm thinks it was acquired through the Norsk language, in which samr is a prevalent pronoun. The Saxon word in its place was ilk, which is so well known to us through Scottish literature. But, as there are traces of its having existed at an earlier stage of Saxon, it is possible that it had never died out, but that, having been superseded by ilk in the written language, it had fallen into temporary obscurity. Many genuinely native elements are found in modern English which are unknown in Saxon literature, and it is only reasonable to conclude that the vocabulary of the Saxon literature imperfectly represented the word-store of the nation.
Sundry is an adjectival pronoun formed upon an old Saxon adverb sundor, which we still retain in the compound asunder.
Each is from the Saxon alc, having lost its l, just as which and such have. This alc was equivalent to our present every, so that the word for “everybody’ was alcman, and for “everything' it was alobing. The spelling each is a modernism ; in Chaucer it is ech and eche. This is quite a distinct word from the ilk mentioned above.
Every grew out of the habit of strengthening alc by prefixing afre, whence arose the composite pronoun auer-sele or euer-elc, which means ever-each, and which occurs under a variety of orthographic forms in Layamon. It had become everych by Chaucer's time, and then it had attracted to itself another pronoun, namely one, and so we get the oft-recurring mediaeval form everychon. To go no further than the Prologue, l. 3.1 :—
“So hadde I spoken with hem euerichoon
We find this form in Miles Coverdale's Bible, 1535:—
‘Idols and abhominacions of ye house off Israel paynted euerychone rounde aboute the wall.’—Ezechiel viii. Io.
Very has retained so much of its old presentive character that it has brought over with it all the degrees of comparison, and we have in the ranks of the pronouns very, verier, veriest.
‘The very presence of a true-hearted friend yields often ease to our grief.”—Richard Sibbes, Soul's Conflict, 14.
“In the very centre or focus of the great curve of volcanoes is placed the large island of Borneo.'—Alfred Russel Wallace, The Malay Archipelago, ch. i.
Both verter and veriest occur in Shakspeare. A choice illustration may be had from a letter written in 1666 by the wife of the English ambassador at Constantinople to her daughter Poll in England, which Poll has been adopted by a rich relative, and is inclining to vanity':—
‘Whereas if it were not a piece of pride to have ye name of keeping yr maide, she yo waits on yr good grandmother might easily doe as formerly you know she hath done, all ye business you have for a maide, unless as you grow old you grow a veryer Foole, which God forbid!’
Certain is an adjective which has been presentive not long ago, but it is now completely pronominalised:—
“At Clondilever, a farmer was returning from his usual attendance at the Roman Catholic Chapel on Sunday, when he was stopped by five men with revolvers, who warned him that if he interfered any further with a certain person as to possession of a certain field,’ &c.—April 30, 1870.
The demonstrative pronouns this and that were thus declined in Saxon —
Neut. Masc. Fem. Neut. Masc. Fem. Nom. that se seo this thes theos Acc. that thone thä this thisne thäs - \——wSisguiar 3 Abl. thy thatre thise thisse Dat. tham thatre thisum thisse UGen. tha’s thatre thises thisse \-y—’ \——o-—/ Nom. r No thá thás PLURAL Abl. §. } tham thissum Gen. thara thissa
* Of this vain Poll, the great granddaughter was Jane Austen, and it is in the Memoir of the latter, by the Rev. J. E. Austen-Leigh (Bentley, 1870), that this admirable letter has been published.
Of these two words, the former was in Saxon the more prominent by far, and we should in reference to that stage of the language not say “this and that,' but rather ‘that and this.’
It was that, se, seo, which supplied the definite article, and therefore it was current in some one or other of its cases in almost every phrase that was spoken or written. This will make it easier to understand how it should have come about that that, the plural of this demonstrative, took the place of Ai as personal pronoun of the third person plural. And, to pursue this transition to its consequences; a place was now vacant, the demonstrative required a plural of its own. Here we have a beautiful example of the innate resource of language, which often is most admirable in this, that a new want is supplied out of a mere nothing. The sister demonstrative this had a plural which was grammatically written tha's, and with this full 6 it was pronounced so as to be very like our those, which is indeed its modern form. But people whose education had been neglected were apt to make a plural in their own way by just adding on a little vague e to the singular this, and so they (the ungrammatical people) made a plural this-e. After a certain period of confusion, during which both demonstratives admitted a great variety of shapes", they at last settled down to this, that the word those which was the original old plural of this, should pass over to the other side and be the plural of that, while this should make its plural these according to the later popular invention.
What was at the root of all this stir appears to have been the newly-felt insufficiency of the distinction between the singular he and the plural hi. And perhaps it should be added
* For which see Mr. Morris's Specimens of Early English, pp. xxvii. sq.