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I think most people would read coal layers and peat bogs as compounds also; but on these there might be a difference of opinion. The same may be said of millstone grit in the next quotation. But there can be no doubt as to
coal-producing *You know that if you heat a poker, it expands; the heat making it longer. The earth is in the same state as a hot poker, and parts of it expand or contract as the heat within it ebbs and flows. I have here a section of the coal measures of Lancashire. Upon a thick base of millstone grit, of which most of our hills are composed, you have the coal producing rocks, which, instead of being horizontal as they were originally, have been tilted up.'W. Boyd Dawkins, On Coal.
An incident which attends upon the act of compounding is this,—that the old grammatical habit of the final member is subjected to the grammatical idea of the new compound. Any parts of speech will assume in compounding the substantive character, and will pluralise as such. Thus forgetme-not, plural forget-me-nots. I remember a quaker lady, who, with the grave and gentle dignity that formed part of her beautiful character, disapproved of chimney-ornaments, on the ground that they were need-nots. A plural form, on entering into composition, takes a new character as a singular, and withal a new power of receiving a new plurality. Thus, sixpence, plural sixpences.
Inasmuch then as compounds are in their nature and origin nothing but fragments of structure in a state of cohesion, it follows that they will most naturally be classified according to the divisions of syntax. And although a precise classification may hardly be practicable, owing to the vast play of fancy, and the consequent inter-crossing of the kinds of compounds, yet we shall experience in following such a division some of that practical convenience which attends a method that is substantially true to nature. The relation between the parts of a compound is expressed either by the
relative position of the parts, as in the difference between pathfield, racehorse, and fieldpath, horserace; or by an inflection of one of the parts, as in subtle-cadenced; or by the intervention of a symbolic word, as in man-of-war; breadand-cheese. We will speak of these three as Compounds of the First Order, Compounds of the Second Order, and Compounds of the Third Order.
I. COMPOUNDS OF THE FIRST ORDER.
The most prevalent means by which compounds are made is by mere juxtaposition. This is the case in many important languages besides English. In Hebrew for example, Beer signifies a well, and Sheba signifies an oath; and when these two are put together, we have the name Beersheba, which means the well of the oath. But in the true English analogue the positions of the parts would be reversed, and it would stand as Oath-well. In Welsh the order is the same as in Hebrew, and the reverse of the English order. Thus Llan is church, and Fair is an altered form of Mair, which is Mary, and the Welsh express Mary-church in the reverse order, Llanfair. In all these instances the compound follows the order usual in the syntactical construction of each language.
But our English order of juxtaposition is the most widely adopted, and it may be regarded as the most natural. The famous collection of ancient Sanskrit hymns is called the Rig-Veda, and this title answers part for part to our ‘Hymnbook.'
The general principle of the compounds of the first order is this,—that two words are united, with the understanding
that the first is adjectival or adverbial to the second; in other words, the second is principal and the first modificatory. The simplest examples are those which are made of an adjective and a substantive, as blackbird. The most characteristic are those which are made of two nouns, the first acting as an adjective. Such are the following :
packe-horse (Shakspeare) clock-work
sail-yard girl-graduates (Tennyson) ship-mate goat-herd
water-hole (Australia) lamp-oil
yoke-fellow This is the sort of compound for which the German language is so distinguished. The flat syntax has disappeared from that language, and it has gone to swell the numbers of their flat compounds. Examples are such as Hand-schuh (hand-shoe), glove; Finger-hut (finger-hat), thimble; Erd-funde (earth-knowledge), geography; Sprach-lehre, speech-lore.
There is so close an affinity between the German and English compounds of the first order, that the one will occasionally supply a comment on the other.
Handywork affords an example of this. As we find it
printed, it has the appearance of our adjective handy combined with a substantive work. But the German Handwerk suggests a truer etymology. It consists, in fact, of two substantives, namely hand and geweorc, or (mediævally) ywork; so that it would be more correctly written thus, hand-ywork. But if this looks too archaic, it should be spelt handiwork, as indeed it is given in Dr. Latham's edition of Johnson's Dictionary. The Saxon original is found in Deuteronomy iv. 28:
* And ge peowiaþ fremdum godum, And ye (shall) serve foreign gods, manna hand geweorc, treowene and men's handiwork, tree-en and stonen, stænene, pa ne geseoj, ne ne gehiraḥ, that see not, nor hear; and they eat ne hig ne etab, ne hig ne drincaþ.' not, and drink not.
Other Saxon compounds there are of the same mould, but none that have so nearly preserved their original form as handiwork has. One of these was hand gewrit, which has been turned into handwriting. There is no hyphen in Saxon manuscripts, but words that have an accentual attraction were often written somewhat nearer to one another. In the text of my Saxon Chronicles, this is represented by a half-distance, where the originals justify it. Some words were thus divided in two, which have coalesced since.
The following have an adjective (or participle) in the second place, and the same relation holds good between the parts; for the first part, whatever its habit as a part of speech, is still the subordinate and modificatory of the two:
William Cowper, The Timepiece.
heart-whole fancy-free (Shakspeare)
weather-wise heart-weary The following are Tennysonian :five-words-long
maiden-meek In these compounds each part retains its presentive signification, although the one part is subordinated to the other