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means resorted to for this end was repetition. Early languages bear about them traces of this contrivance. The Hebrew is remarkable for this. The following little specimen may serve as an indication. In Mark vi. 39, 40, there occurs a Hebraism in the Greek text which is not rendered, and indeed hardly could be rendered, in English. The Hebrew (we will call it) says ‘companies companies, and “ranks ranks.” The English says “by companies’ and ‘in ranks.” Here we have a certain idea expressed in the one by a syntax of collocation—for repetition is a form of collocation, and in the other by a syntax of symbolism—namely, by the intervention of prepositions. Here then we have the most ancient form of expressing this idea, contrasted with the most modern. Between these two lies the flexional way of saying the same thing. The true Greek idiom or the Latin gives it to us flexionally in the forms eièmèów and catervatim, which we cannot match by any extant expression in English. It seldom happens that means which have once been largely used, even though they should be superseded by other contrivances, are entirely abolished. We still have recourse to mere repetition for heightening an effect; as–
“A lesson too too hard for living clay.”
“Oh that this too too solid flesh would melt l’
But we proceed to notice a feature of flat syntax which is peculiarly English. This is the transformation of a substantive into an adjective by position alone. I doubt whether there is anything that is so characteristic of our language as this particular faculty.
“What sages would have died to learn,
Christian Pear, ‘Catechism.’
In the region of pre-historic archaeology alone we hear of the stone period, a copper period, the bronze period, and the iron period. In all these expressions the epithets are substantives converted into adjectives by position alone. There are three examples of this in the following short quotation from Sir John Lubbock:—
“Stone weapons of many kinds were still in use during the age of bronze, and even during that of iron, so that the mere presence of a few stone implements is not in itself sufficient evidence that any given “find * belongs to the stone age.”—Pre-Historic Times, 2nd ed. 1869, p. 3.
vine disease, cattle disease, potato disease.
“In Hungary there has been no vine disease, no cattle disease, and no potato disease.’
In Hebrews x. Contents, we find an instance which amounts to a solecism : ‘the law sacrifices.’
This constructive juxtaposition of two nouns stands in an intimate relation with that great body of English compounds which will be treated of in the first section of the next chapter. But nearly related as these two features are, they must be carefully distinguished from one another, as their very tendency to blend makes it the more necessary to keep them well apart. Just as the lowest stage of organised existence is that in which we are met by the difficulty of distinguishing between animal and vegetable life, so here, in the most elementary region of syntax, we are hardly able to keep the organism of the sentence distinct from that of the word. In many instances there is fair room for doubt whether two words are in the compound or the construct state. Perhaps some of the following may be so-regarded: —race horse, horse race ; field path, path field; herb garden, garden herb. These may be written either with or without the hyphen, that is to say, either as compound words or as words in construction. In such cases it is not to be supposed that principle is wanting, but that through the fineness of the difference our discernment is at fault in the application of the principle. The following from a first-class print is a clear instance of a misplaced hyphen; it ought to be written thus:—
“The Married Women's Property Act, 1870, was intended to prevent the personal property of a woman, her wages and earnings, being at the absolute mercy and control of her husband's creditors. It was supposed that it would be an especial protection to that poorer class of women whose property before marriage was too small to be worth the expense and life-long trouble of marriage-settlements.’
There are in English two great formulas for the construction of substantival phrases, and there is perhaps no more convenient, as there certainly cannot be a more national medium of exhibiting these, than through the long and short titles of our Acts of Parliament. According to one of these formulas, the words and phrases which constitute a substantival whole, are concatenated by means of prepositions thus:— “An Act further to amend the Laws relating to the Representation of the People in England and Wales.’ “An Act for the Abolition of Compulsory Church Rates.’
“An Act to make further Amendments in the Laws for the Relief of the Poor in England and Wales.’
The other formula merely collocates some of the more substantival words in juxtaposition, and that in a reversed order; as—
“The Representation of the People Act.'
Our speech has acquired this faculty and range of variation by its historical combination of the two great linguistic elements of Western civilization, the Roman and the Gothic. The long style of structure is that which we have learned from the French: the short and reversed style is our own native Saxon. We will close this section with the flat infinitive, or infinitive expressed by position alone. The most peculiarly English use is that of the infinitive after the verb do, as I do think, I did expect. In order to understand the original action of the auxiliary do, we must remember that it has been symbolised into its present function from a state in which it meant make to with an infinitive of the act. In the Ordinance of the Guild of St. Katherine at Stamford (1494) we may see an instance of do followed by a flat infinitive, and in the course of the same sentence a second instance where do has the phrasal infinitive after it, and the power of do is the same in the one case as in the other:— • Also it is ordeyned, that when any Broder or Suster of this gilde is decessed oute off this worlde, then, withyn the xxx. dayes of that Broder or Suster, in the Chirch of Seynt Poules, ye Steward of this Gilde shall doo
Ringe for hym, and do to say a placebo and dirige, wi a masse on ye morowe of Requiem, as ye comoun use is.'
But the construction is precisely similar in such cases as the following:— I will hope. I shall go. You cannot think.
You may try,
You might get.
They would have.
They shall smart.
In all these the final word is an infinitive by position. In Saxon it would have been expressed by a flectional
Our present flat infinitive cannot therefore be derived from Saxon, but must be regarded as an example in language of a tendency to reversion from the more advanced and developed to the more primitive and archetypal forms of speech.
The positional stage of syntax is most highly displayed in the Chinese language. This is in itself a confirmation of the claim which Chinese literature makes to an exceedingly high antiquity. Speaking generally, it may be said that the whole of Chinese grammar depends upon position. Chinese words change their grammatical character as substantives, adjectives, verbs, according to their relative positions in the collocation of the sentence. M. Julien has published a Chinese syntax with a title in which this principle is conspicuously displayed". From a notice of this
Syntaxe Nouvelle de la Langue Chinoise, fondée sur la Position des Mots, suivie de deux Traités sur les Particules, et les principaux Termes de Grammaire, d'une Table des Idiotismes, de Fables, de Légendes et d'Apologues traduits mot à mot. Par M. Stanislas Julien. Paris: Librairie de Maisonneuve. London: Trübner and Co. 1869.