Immagini della pagina
PDF

proceed to compare the

same member in French and

Italian.
FRENCH ITALIAN ENGLISH
Singular.
Nom. Je Io I
Gen. de moi di me of me
Dat. a moi a me to me
Acc. me me me
Plural.
Nom. nous noi We
Gen. de nous di noi of us
Dat. a nous a noi to us
Acc. nous noi us

It is plain that our language has retained its native material throughout this pronoun, but that the shaping of that material is almost entirely copied from the Romance languages. It will not be necessary to take up space with displaying the same fact throughout the pronouns of the second and third person, as it is obvious that the example applies to them

equally.

467.
MoEsogorhic IcELANDic
Singular.
Nom. thu thu
Gen. theina thin
Dat, thus ther
Acc. thuk thik
Dual.
Nom. jut (?) (it) thit
Gen. inkwara ykkar
Dat. inkwis ykkr
Acc. inkwis ykkr
Plural.
Nom. jus (er) ther
Gen. izwara ythar
Dat. izwis ythr
Acc. izwis ythr

The Pronoun of the Second Person.

ANGLosAxon ENGLISH
thu thou
thin - - -
the } thee
(thec) the

git

incer

inc

(incit) inc -

ge (ye) you
eOWer - - -
eoW

you

[ocr errors]

The form thee is both Dative and Accusative, and in both aspects it is frequent in the Bible of 1611. In the following quotation it appears three times in the Dative case:

The field giue I thee, and the caue that is therein, I giue it thee, in the presence of the sonnes of my people giue I it thee.—Genesis xxiii. II.

The observations which have been made upon the previous group apply again. The paucity of the modern forms is even more remarkable here, because three out of the four, namely shou, thee, ye, are restricted in use, and you alone remains in the ordinary practice of the language. Here again, as in the case of the first pronoun, the blanks of the English column are supplied by a method of expression which we have learned from the French.

468. The Pronoun of the Third Person.

The pronoun of the third person is of three genders, and this distinguishes it not only from all other pronouns, but from all the rest of the language. For this, and the few relics of feminine substantives noticed in 383, 384, are all the Gender that remains in the English language. These remnants of the ancient accidence are so pared down, that they rather indicate the two sexes and non-personality than that traditional and inherited mysterious thing which is called grammatical Gender. Almost the only instances of masculine and feminine that the grammarians can muster (beyond sex) are these, “The sun he is getting,' and “The ship she sails well.'

This pronoun was in Saxon declined as follows:–

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Plural (of all genders).

N. and A. hie (hi, hig, heo)

Gen. hiera (heora, hira)

Dat. him (heom)

If we go through this old declension word by word,

seeking in each case the modern equivalent, we find that only three of its members are still perfectly living. They are those which are marked with an asterisk. I call a given word living, not when the mere form is extant, but when that forms retains its old animating function. In such a comparison we need not notice the changes of shape, when a word is known to be the same. Thus the difference of spelling between hire and her is insignificant. But the difference of function must be rigorously weighed, or we shall let the most important distinctions slip unvalued through our fingers. For this reason I have excluded the genitive case singular, both feminine and neuter, as being now dead to us. The neuter his no longer exists except in old literature. It has entirely disappeared, and does not even remain in the discharge of any partial or local function. Instances of its use are abundant in Shakspeare (412) and our Bible:—

They came vnto the yron gate that leadeth vnto the citie, which opened to them of his owne accord.—Acts xii. Io. Equally extinct is him, the dative neuter. I have marked those words with a dagger in the declension, which have a partial continuity with the present English. The his of the genitive masculine is superseded by of him except in emphatic positions. The his and her with which we are most familiar are no longer genitive cases of a substantival pronoun; they have long ago become adjectival words, and they are called Possessives. As to the two dative forms, which are marked as partially surviving in our modern speech, their thread of identical vitality is very attenuated. Not once in a thousand times when him or her appear as substantivepronouns, are they to be identified with this dative. We have it in such a rare instance as this:—

So they sadled him the asse.—I Kings xiii. 13.

And this is not modern English: we should now say “they saddled for him.’ The sort of instance in which the dative him or her is still in familiar use, is such as this: ‘I gave him or her sixpence.” Here, as in other cases, the influence of the little words of and to have come in, through imitation of the French, to give quite a new character to our declension of the pronoun.

469. The Reflexive Pronoun.

There was an old Reflexive Pronoun which in Moesogothic was sik and sis; in Icelandic is sik and ser; both radically identical with the Latin se, sui, sibi. This pronoun remains in full activity in German in the form sidy; and yet it is almost entirely lost on the Low Dutch side of the Teutonic family. There is no relic of it in Anglo-Saxon", nor has it ever cropped up at any later stage of our language, as it has,

rather remarkably, in the modern Dutch zich.

We now supply the place of it by self, selves; as, myself, . thyself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves. This has the advantage of being equally applicable to all varieties of person, whereas sid) is of the third person only.

Şefuð ías, 9tathamuel su fid femmen.—Luther's Version.
Jesus saw Nathaneel comming to him.—john i, 47.

* Although this reflex Personal pronoun is not found at any stage of our insular branch, yet its possessive sin, equivalent to the Latin suus, is found in the early Saxon poetry.

Here we have to call attention to the fact that the Objective Case of the pronoun performed for a long period the double office of direct and reflex pronoun for all the three Persons. We have now lost this faculty: and we can no longer say, ‘Ye clothe you, as in Haggai i. 6, but “you clothe yourselves.’

And Elisha said vnto him, Take bowe and arrowes. And he tooke vnto him bowe and arrowes.—2 Kings xiii. 15. If we compare the Dutch version we shall find a distinction where our version has unto him in different senses :—

Ende Elisa seyde tot hem: Neemt eenen boge ende pijlen: ende hy nam tot sich eenen boge ende pijlen.

In the following verses we have them reflexively:—

And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.

And they set them vp images and groues in euery high hill, and vnder euery greene tree.—2 Kings xvii. 9, Io.

Later in the same chapter we find themselves:–

So they feared the Lord, and made vnto themselues of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.—ver. 32. Thus, in the sermon preached at the funeral of Bishop Andrewes, we read—

The unjust judge righted the importunate widow but out of compassion to relieve him.—Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology, Andrewes, v. 274. The last word corresponds, not to the Latin eum, but to se, and the modern rendering of the passage would be “The unjust judge righted the importunate widow only out of compassion to (relieve) himself.'

The -self form has gradually gained upon the reflex usage of him, her, them, and the next quotation exhibits a practical reason why it should have done so, for we see it was found necessary to distinguish by a variation of type the reflex

« IndietroContinua »