« IndietroContinua »
prophet with the wishful meaning only, while there is an Ominous reserve of assent. In the Commination Service, the Amens to the denunciations are not expressions of desire that evil may overtake the wicked, but the solemn acknowledgment of a liability to which they are subject; as the preliminary instruction sets forth the intent wherefore “ye should answer to every sentence, Amen.' In this place Amen cannot be rendered by So be it; and the attempt to substitute for it any grammatical phrase must rob it of some of its symbolic freedom. This is the case with all interjections, and it is of the essence of an interjection that it should be so,
CHA PTE R IV.
OF THE PARTS OF SPEECH.
211. PHILoLogy seeks to penetrate into the Nature of language: Grammar is concerned only with its literary Habits. Grammatical analysis is the dissection of speech as the instrument of literature. The student may help himself to remember this by observing that Grammar Grammatice (ypapparukh) is derived from the Greek word for literature, ypáppara. The chief result of grammar, and the exponent of grammatical analysis, is the doctrine of the Parts of Speech. All the words which combine to make up structural language are classified in this systematic division. But the philologer should observe that the quality of words, whereby they are so distinguished and divided into Parts of Speech, is a habit, and not anything innate or grounded in the nature of the words. We shall endeavour to make this plain. Grammar analyzes language in order to ascertain the conditions on which the faculty of expression is dependent, and also to gain more control over that faculty. This object limits the range of grammatical enquiry. The grammarian makes a certain number of groups to which he can refer any word, and then he forms rules in which he legislates class-wise for the words so grouped. We must here assume that the ordinary grammatical knowledge is already in the possession of the reader. To be able to designate each word as such or such a part of speech, and to practise the rules for combining parts of speech together, is the ordinary task of grammar. The determination of the part of speech is the barrier beyond which grammar does not (generally speaking) pursue the analysis. Although what is called Parsing, or assigning words to their parts, is a juvenile exercise, yet it is nevertheless the surest test of a person's having learnt that which grammar has to teach; especially if he can do it in the English sentence. For it is easier. to do in Latin. A boy may be quite ignorant of the meaning of a Latin sentence, and of each word in it; and yet he may be able to answer that navabat, for example, is a verb in the active voice, imperfect tense, indicative mood. He knows this from having learnt the forms of the Latin verb, and he knows the ending -abal for the verbal form of that voice, tense, and mood. Such knowledge is but formal and mechanical. If, however, in parsing English, he meets the verb loved, he cannot venture to pronounce what part of the verb it is by a mere look at the form. It may be the indicative, or the subjunctive, or it may be the participle. Which it is he can only tell by understanding the phrase in which it stands. 212. Throughout the Latin language the words are to a very great extent grammatically ticketed. In the English language the same thing exists, but in a very slight degree. In Latin, the part of speech is most readily determined by mere regard to the form, and it is only occasionally that attention 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. Parsing in English is an exercise in Syntax. 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 carilas 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. This is the cause why it is easier to catch the first 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. Through such a medium we learn to see in language a reflex of mind, and to analyze it by reference not to the outward forms but to the inward intelligence. 213. 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 substantive, 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 I 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 has contracted its use to certain special positions. The inflected word carries both position and habit about with it, in that very inflection by which its function is limited because its grammatical relations are determined. 214. Before we proceed to the examples which will illustrate these 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,