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discord of thought, across which the mind has to scramble after the sense.
Sometimes in language, as in music, such a discord may be entertaining :—
Some girls were asked by one of our inspectors of schools, whether they knew what was the meaning of the word scandal. One little girl stepped vigorously forward, and throwing her hand up in that semaphore fashion by which children indicate the possession of knowledge, attracted the notice of the inspector. He desired her to answer the question, upon which she uttered these memorable words: 'Nobody does nothing, and everybody goes on telling of it everywhere.* . . . Listen to it again. • Nobody does nothing (regard the force of that double negative), and everybody goes on (note the continuity of slander) telling of it everywhere.'—Good Words, August 1872: * A Conversation of Certain Friends in Council.*
695. We have shewn abundant readiness to do justice to the claims of the logical sense. Our dismissal of the elder negative, and our rule that two negatives are equal to an affirmative, are an instance in which logical sense rather than speech-instinct has had the sway. In the latter part of last century we had reached a sort of culminating point in the matter of logical syntax, and since that time there has been a relaxation and some little disposition to admit structures that are expressive or pleasing, though they cannot quite give a logical account of themselves. Nothing is plainer, for example, than this, that two or more subjects united by 'and' form plurality, and should logically have a plural verb; and therefore the following is logically right:—
Mr. Jenkins's house was about a mile from Mr. Benson's: it was delightfully situated; there were a beautiful lawn and canal before it, and a charming garden behind; Mrs. Trimmer, Fabulous Histories, ch. x.
No one hardly would write so now-a-days: it offends from excess of logic.
Here is another instance in which the logic is too rigid :—
A very small number of similar reminiscences of my own is also added.— Sir George Henry Rose, Marchmont Papers; Preface.
And here is an example of the freedom resulting from watching the thought rather than the words:
Parliament were more particular about their sport than about the object of it.—J. B. Mozley, Essays, 'Archbishop Laud,' p. 137.
596. Nouns of multitude enjoy the privilege of construing
either as singulars or as plurals: but if within the same
sentence they take both constructions, there arises the sense
of illogicality, as in this:—
Samaria for their sinnes, is captiuated.—2 Kings xvii; Contents.
The logical quality of speech is contingent on a variety of attendant circumstances. What has been logical once is not logical always.
In Exodus iv. Contents, we read, 'The people beleeueth them,' where we should now say 'The people believe them.' There is here a double adjustment, first as concerns the grammatical Number of this collective noun, and secondly as to that of the termination -eth, which was once a plural termination. Not however to analyze all this, it suffices for the present to observe that while the two forms of this sentence above given have been equally logical each in its day, the latter only seems logical now.
By universal assent the French is reputed the most logical of languages. This is not due to any special sensitiveness which the nation has displayed upon this subject: on the contrary, they have followed the natural speech-instinct with greater simplicity than we have, as is witnessed by the different conduct of the two nations in the matter of the Double Negative. Nor is there any language which is fuller of idioms defying logical analysis. But the meaning upon the French page is transparent, and the mind follows the language not only without impediment, but also with the enjoyment of a perceptible concord between the structure and the sense.
597. In a general way of speaking, compounds are merely morsels of syntax which from being often together have become adherent, and have grown into something between phrases and words. A mature language makes fresh compounds after the pattern established; but the origin of the pattern is to be sought in the habits, often the earlier habits, of the syntactical structure.
Accordingly some of our compounds do and others do not represent the present order of syntax. Since income was formed, we have changed the syntax of the verb, and we say come in; but the modern compound Ireak-water is in harmony with present syntax.
Compounds vary extremely as regards laxity or compactness of fabric. When first made they are very lax, and hardly to be distinguished as compounds from words in syntax. Such loose compounds are daily made by little more than the trick of inserting hyphens. In the Cornhill Magazine a writer upon rhetoric designates a certain style of diction as the alludc-io-an-individual style. In those languages which have a ready faculty for compound-making, this son of off-hand compound has always been one of the recog nised means of being humorous.
How Index-learning turns no student pale,
Alexander Pope, Dunciad, i. 279. house-and-village-sprinkled.
Rough hills descend, and mingle with the wide
William Allingham, Laurence Bloomfield, c. v. 291.
Passing over this sort, which are hardly to be ranged as compounds at all, we have such loose examples as forgetme-not, and such compact examples as mankind, nostril. boatswain, which through long use are so well knit as to be more like simple words than compounds. The compound state, properly so called, is an intermediate, condition between the phrase and the word; a transition which the phrase passes through in order to become gradually condensed into a simple word. We are of old familiar with the grammatical idea that phrases are made out of words, but here we recognise that the reverse of this is also true, and that words are made out of phrases.
598. The distinctive condition which marks that a compound has been formed, is the change of accent. The difference between 'black bird' and 'blackbird' is one of accent. Or, when it is stated of a horse that he is 'two years old,' each of these words has its own several tone; but make a trisyllable of it, and say ' a two-year-old,' and the sound is greatly altered. The second and third words lean enclitically upon the first, while the first has gathered up all the smartness of tone into itself, and goes off almost like the snap of a trigger. The written sign which is used to signify that a compound is intended, is the hyphen; which may therefore be regarded as being indirectly a note of accent. This is the reason why the hyphen is so much more used in poetry than in prose. The poet is attending to his cadences, and therefore he appreciates the accentual value of the hyphen.
Our prose (on the other hand) is sprinkled with compounds which are written as if they were in construction. There is no need to search for examples, they offer themselves on the page of the moment. On the page that happens to be under my eye, I find two compounds, both without hyphens :—
Indeed these old coal layers call to mind our peat bogs. We find a layer of peat nearly everywhere on our coast line between high and low water mark.
I think most people would read coal layers and peal 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
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.
599. 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 part of speech will assume in compounding the substantive character, and will pluralise as such. Thus forget-me-not, plural forget-me-nots. I remember a quaker