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42. Remarks on the above Table.—The word benison, a blessing, may be contrasted with its opposite, malison, a curse. -Cadence is the falling of sounds; chance the befalling of events.—A caitiff was at first a captive-then a person who made no proper defence, but allowed himself to be taken captive. -A corps is a body of troops.-The word sample is found, in older English, in the form of ensample.—A feat of arms is a deed or fact of arms, par excellence.-To understand how fragile became frail, we must pronounce the g hard, and notice how the hard guttural falls easily away—as in our own native words flail and hail, which formerly contained a hard g.—A major is a greater captain; a mayor is a greater magistrate.-A magister means a bigger man-as opposed to a minister (from minus), a smaller man. Moneta was the name given to a stamped coin, because these coins were first struck in the temple of Juno Moneta, Juno the Adviser or the Warner. (From the same root-mon-come monition, admonition; monitor; admonish.) -Shakespeare uses the word orison freely for prayer, as in the address of Hamlet to Ophelia, where he says, "Nymph, in thy orisons, be all my sins remembered!"-Poor comes to us from an Old French word poure; the newer French is pauvre.-To understand the vanishing of the g sound in poignant, we must remember that the Romans sounded it always hard.—Sever we get through separate, because p and v are both labials, and therefore easily interchangeable.-Treason-with its s instead of ti-may be compared with benison, malison, orison, poison, and reason.
43. Conclusions from the above Table.-If we examine the table on page 231 with care, we shall come to several undeniable conclusions. (i) First, the words which come to us direct from Latin are found more in books than in everyday speech. (ii) Secondly, they are longer. The reason is th The reason is that the words that have come through French have been worn down by the careless pronunciation of many generations-by that desire for ease in the pronouncing of words which characterises all languages, and have at last been compelled to take that form which was least difficult to pronounce. (iii) Thirdly, the two
sets of words have, in each case, either (a) very different meanings, or (b) different shades of meaning. There is no likeness of meaning in cadence and chance, except the common meaning of fall which belongs to the root from which they both spring. And the different shades of meaning between history and story, between regal and royal, between persecute and pursue, are also quite plainly marked, and are of the greatest use in composition.
44. Latin Triplets.-Still more remarkable is the fact that there are in our language words that have made three appearances-one through Latin, one through Norman-French, and one through ordinary French. These seem to live quietly side by side in the language; and no one asks by what claim they are here. They are useful: that is enough. These triplets are— regal, royal, and real; legal, loyal, and leal; fidelity, faithfulness, and fealty. The adjective real we no longer possess in the sense of royal, but Chaucer uses it; and it still exists in the noun real-m. Leal is most used in Scotland, where it has a settled abode in the well-known phrase "the land o' the leal."
45. Greek Doublets.-The same double introduction, which we noticed in the case of Latin words, takes place in regard to Greek words. It seems to have been forgotten that our English forms of them had been already given us by St Augustine and the Church, and a newer form of each was reintroduced. The following are a few examples:
Adamanta 2 (the untameable)
Blasphemein (to speak ill of)
1 The word faith is a true French word with an English ending-the ending th. Hence it is a hybrid. The old French word was fei-from the Latin fidem; and the ending th was added to make it look more like truth, wealth, health, and other purely English words.
2 The accusative or objective case is given in all these words,
Dactulon (a finger)
Phantasma (an appearance)
Date (the fruit)
It may be remarked of the word fancy, that, in Shakespeare's time, it meant love or imagination
"Tell me, where is fancy bred,
It is now restricted to mean a lighter and less serious kind of imagination. Thus we say that Milton's 'Paradise Lost' is a work of imagination; but that Moore's 'Lalla Rookh' is a product of the poet's fancy.
46. Characteristics of the Two Elements of English.—If we keep our attention fixed on the two chief elements in our language-the English element and the Latin element-the Teutonic and the Romance-we shall find some striking qualities manifest themselves. We have already said that whole sentences can be made containing only English words, while it is impossible to do this with Latin or other foreign words. Let us take two passages one from a daily newspaper, and the other from Shakespeare:
(i) "We find the functions of such an official defined in the Act. He is to be a legally qualified medical practitioner of skill and experience, to inspect and report periodically on the sanitary condition of town or district; to ascertain the existence of diseases, more especially epidemics increasing the rates of mortality, and to point out the existence of any nuisances or other local causes, which are likely to originate and maintain such diseases, and injuriously affect the health of the inhabitants of such town or district; to take cognisance of the existence of any contagious disease, and to point out the most efficacious means for the ventilation of chapels, schools, registered lodging-houses, and other public buildings."
In this passage, all the words in italics are either Latin or Greek. But, if the purely English words were left out, the sentence would fall into ruins-would become a mere rubbishheap of words. It is the small particles that give life and
motion to each sentence. They are the joints and hinges on which the whole sentence moves.-Let us now look at a passage from Shakespeare. It is from the speech of Macbeth, after he has made up his mind to murder Duncan :—
(ii) "Go bid thy mistress, when my drink is ready,
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come! let me clutch thee!
In this passage there is only one Latin (or French) word—the word mistress. If Shakespeare had used the word lady, the passage would have been entirely English.—The passage from the newspaper deals with large generalisations; that from Shakespeare with individual acts and feelings-with things that come home "to the business and bosom " of man as man. Every master of the English language understands well the art of mingling the two elements-so as to obtain a fine effect; and none better than writers like Shakespeare, Milton, Gray, and Tennyson. Shakespeare makes Antony say of Cleopatra :
Here the French (or Latin) words custom and variety form a vivid contrast to the English verb stale, throw up its meaning and colour, and give it greater prominence.-Milton makes Eve say :
"I thither went
With inexperienc'd thought, and laid me down
Smooth lake, that to me seem'd another sky."
Here the words inexperienced and clear give variety to the sameness of the English words.-Gray, in the Elegy, has this verse:
"The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed."