Immagini della pagina
PDF

their flat compounds. Examples are such as Šumb-ithub (hand-shoe) glove, Šinger-Üut (finger-hat) thimble, Grofumbe (earth-knowledge) geography, 3prad}=lebre 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 Éambmerf suggests a truer etymology. It consists, in fact, of two substantives, namely hand and geweorc, or (mediaevally) ywork; so that it would be more correctly written thus hand-ywork. But if this looks too archaic, it should be spelt handiwork. The Saxon original is found in Deuteronomy iv. 28:— And ge peowiap fremdum godum, And ye (shall) serve foreign gods, manna hand geweorc, treowene and men's handiwork, tree-en and stonen, stacnene, ba ne geseop, ne ne gehirap, that see not, nor hear; and they eat ne hig ne etap, ne hig me drincap. not, and drink not. 603. Other Saxon compounds there are of the same mould, but none that have so nearly preserved their original form as handiwork has. There is no hyphen in Saxon manuscripts, but words that have an accentual attraction were often written somewhat nearer to one another". Some words were thus divided in two, which have coalesced since.

[ocr errors]

* In the text of my Saxon Chronicles this is represented by a halfdistance.

755. god sunu godson

832. Sceap ige Sheppey

833. wal stow battle-field

855. ham weard homeward f

866. winter setl winter-quarters

871. warl sliht battle-slaughter

878. mor faesten moor-fastness

882. scip hlaestas ship-loads

891. boc lacden book-Latin

896. staclwyröe stalworth

933. land here land-army
scip here ship-army

937. beah gifa badge-giver

604. 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 specific of the two :—

blood-thirsty heart-whole
fancy-free (Shakspeare) life-long
full-blown rathe-ripe
foot-sore thunder-struck
heart-sick weather-wise

This is expressed by an accentual elevation, whereby the specific word is raised into a sharp prominence, while the generic word is let down to a low tone. There are some exceptions, as in the word mankind; but the general rule is that the accent strikes the first or specific part of the compound. This is not the place to speak of accents, any further than just to notice that the accent indicates where is the stress of thought. This will be found to explain the occasional exception.

605. Out of this kind of composition has grown by insensible modifications a large part of that phenomenon so

interesting to the philologer, and so frequent in his discourse, namely, FLEXION. A slight indication of the process is all that can be attempted in this place. The chief attention being usually fixed on the fore-part of the compound, the after-part is left free to undergo alteration. This has been attended with remarkable consequences, in certain instances, where the termination was already of a widely generic character. The slighting of the tone and the generalisation of the sense, go on together and favour one another. At length the termination reaches a symbolic value, and we obtain those forms in which the after-part is merely an abstract or collective sign to the forepart; as childhood, sriendship, happiness, kingdom, kindred, warfare, wedlock. Other cases there are in which the second part passes into a sort of adjectival or adverbial termination; as graceful, careless, froward, contrariwise. So far we can still regard these as a sort of compounds. But the symbolising process goes on, and with it the waning of the form of the second part, until we are landed in Flexion: thus from good-like we at length get goodly. 254(2). A very large majority of the words of a mature language, if we could analyse them correctly, would be found to dissolve into Compounds, and these again into phrases. So that we may reverse the ordinary grammatical view whereby words are regarded as the material of sentences; and we should be philologically justified in this seeming paradox:The Sentence is the raw material of the Word.

Of Particle-Composition.

606. The class of Compounds to which this name is given belongs to the First Order, and they are the relics of a symphytism between verbs or adjectives and their prepositive adverbs. Other combinations have grown out of these ; but where the relation is other than adverbial, it is not a case of Particle-Composition: as in sorehead, where the first part is adjectival; or in asternoon, because, contraband, post-obit, where it is a preposition.

606 a. First in order we will take the Saxon group, once large, now much reduced in numbers. a-. A very influential Saxon prefix, of which few examples now survive:—abide, ago, alight, arise, awake. after-:—a/Zermash, asser/houghs, afterward. all- :--almigh/y, alone, all-power/u/, already, all-sufficient, all-wise. For the adverbial use of all see 208 and 500. This prefix has attached itself in a special manner to another prefix lower down in this Saxon list, viz. to ; so that we get the compound prefix all-to.

And a certaine woman cast a piece of a milstone vpon Abimelechs head, and all to brake his scull—judges iz. 53.

This composite prefix appears at its sullest in the fourteenth century, and a long list of its combinations may be seen in the Glossary to the Wycliffite Versions'.

* It has recently been contended that all is a separate adverb here, that to goes strictly with brake, and that there is no sort of symphytism between all and to. The ground of this contention is the close attachment of to in to brecan and other like compounds in Saxon, a fact which cannot be disputed. The issue is a fine and delicate one, and it is very little helped by evidence from books or manuscripts. At the time in question there were no hyphens, and the spacing of words in writing was much guided by tradition. It is almost wholly a matter for the ear to decide, helped however by the sort of combinations with all to. It will be interesting to those

and-, an-:—andiron, answer (A.S. andswaru); corrupted to hand-:—handloom (A.S. andloma), handicap, handron. at. The Saxon AET made many compounds, of which one only remains, and that as a fragment hardly recognisable, in swil, which is A.S. aet-witan to upbraid, rebuke. be-, by-:—become, behalf, behest, behoof, belief, belong ; byword, by-lane, by-path, by-stander, by-way, by-work 306. for-, fore-:—forbid, forebode, foreclose, forget, forgive, sorego, forlorn, foreright, foreshorten, forestall, forward.

fore-right.

If well thou hast begun, go on fore-right.” Robert Herrick. forth-:—forthcoming.

fro-:—froward.

gain-:—gainsay, gain-giving Shakspeare.

ge-. A participial and generalising prefix, which once was rife in our language, and which still flourishes with a fine effect in German. With us it has dwindled into a rare poetical curiosity, and it has taken the form of y- or other forms still less recognisable.

ychain'd.
Yet first to those yohain'd in sleep,
The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through the deep.
John Milton, On the Morning of Christ's Nativity, xvi.

who have followed this discussion to know what a foreigner—C. Friedrich Koch, who is one of the most eminent of English philologers—has long ago written upon this point. He was not aware of any controversy, nor at the time of his writing had there been any, I suppose. But as one who is alive to the possibility of the doubt, he reasons from the nature of the combinations in which it is found, that alto had coalesced. Wie man al und to als zusammengehörig betrachete und an ags. to (zer-) of gar nicht mehr dachte, erhellt aus: al-to-foule (gänzlich faulen), al-to-feblid (ganz geschwächt); auch al-to-streit (allzu enge)—Historische Grammatik der Englischen Sprache, 1868, Band iii. § 160. [Note to Third Edition, 1879.]

« IndietroContinua »