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Latin grammars.

Will the reader de literary use. In the last century French sire a specimen of this odious jargon? held this place as the language of diploI loved


macy in the courts of Europe, and even Thou lovest


now, though French influence is mani. He loved


festly decaying throughout the world, She loved .


though French commerce is waning,1

we often hear claims of the old supremIt loved


асу, älöfon

and at · Athens or We loved.

even at Thou lovest thyself


Alexandria (to our shame be it spoken), You loved


French is a more frequent medium of

communication than English. But in Which of the two systems is the easier spite of the stupid indifference of our to learn? Obviously, that in which the rulers, who will not see that language persons are made distinct and are con- is one of the great sources of a nation's scious subjects, not hidden in senseless influence, English enterprise and Enterminations only to be distinguished glish trade make it perfectly impossible by dead memory. What shall we say for any other nation to impose its lanof the invention of new roots (appear guage on the world. From this aspect ing in the above suffixes) for the we may include under English the great ordinary pronouns, when so iugny and Republic of the West, which not only such ancient languages had already speaks English all over North America, come into accord upon these perpetually but which leavens the cargoes of forrecurring ideas?

eigners that arrive daily at her ports, In the face of these grotesque absurd. and insists that, whatever may be their ities, only saved from the charge of nationality speech, they shall lunacy by the orderly and systematic accommodate themselves to the condiarrangement of nonsense words and tion of understanding and speaking forms, - the wonder is, not why such a English. If we add to the influence of system should have promptly died, but the United States that of the English why it ever has shown active signs of colonies all over the world, the prelife and progress. Its advocates tell us ponderance of English is so great that that there have been forty attempts at we only wonder why our language has various times to invent a non-national not long since become not only the crad. language. No wonder they are all dead ing language (Handelsprache), but the and buried, when this, the latest and language of common intercourse probably the most ingenious, offends so throughout the nations of the world. egregiously against common sense, That it will become so in time is very against the present conditions of the probable, if English commerce and En. world, against that fundamental law of glish wealth continue to expand at their progress—to make the best of what we present rate. If the number of persons have. In the cemetery of buried proj. who expect to receive money from the ects which this century has to show, it English, and to whom therefore a occupies the newest grave, and on the knowledge of our language is profitable, fresh tombstone we may write its keeps continually increasing, the epitaph: Fad of fads.

growth of English influence and EnIt remains for us to try the only other glish speech is a matter of certainty. solution. As the savages of the world The great obstacle at present lies in have modified English to suit their pur- that international jealousy of which I poses, adopting this one foreign lan- have recently spoken in this review. guage for international communication That “jealous female” France is furious in addition to their own, so we must at the wane of her old supremacy in lanendeavor to persuade civilized men to

1 This is freely admitted by French observers ; be content to adopt one common lan

cf. the instructive article of the Vicomte G. guage for the same purpose, while they d'Avenel in the Rerne des deux Mondes for the 1st cherish their own for national and for of March, 1896.



guage. The French are, moreover, most damaging concession to his very bad linguists, worse even than the suavity and sympathetic tact, and not English, and very naturally strive to a fear of French threats? And yet, against the necessity of a new burden owing to this want of proper selfupon their education. The Germans, assertion in England, the noble Amerwho learn languages easily (though not ican schools in Egypt, and all the other well), feel bound to assert the nation- influences in the country that had wellality of their new empire against all nigh Anglicized it a few years ago, haye foreign influences, fortunately against been allowed to make way for the French above all, thus putting obstacles teaching of French, and the consequent far more than we do in the way of the spread of the influence of a local French diffusion of that language. The Hun- press bitterly hostile to England, and garians and Czechs, however, are spreading every sort of calumny against limiting, on their side, the spread of us among the natives. This blunder German, and Italian officers are even reacts upon neighboring nations. longer required to know French for Is it likely that the Greeks, a most intheir competitive examinations. All telligent nation, would now be teaching these mutual jealousies are important their children French as their European factors in the problem; they give un- language, if they had seen that English willing aid to the final predominance of was becoming the leading speech of English.

Alexandria, and thus of the Levant? Probably the main obstacles in the way They are indeed shortsighted in not of this most desirable end come from perceiving the steady and inevitable ourselves. Two classes are specially to decay of French influence in Europe; in blame: our diplomats and our pedants. fifty years they will see it plainly The former allow every opportunity to enough. What I here complain of is pass where the use of English might that our politicians, who could by fairly be asserted-sometimes from steady pressure accelerate the progress mere stupidity in not estimating its im- of English speaking in the world, only portance, or from pride in the assertion interfere to delay it. Have they ever of mere military or naval preponder- conciliated one solitary foreigner by ance; sometimes (though rarely) from these ignorances or negligences? the vanity of airing their own pro- The other great impediment to the ficiency in a foreign language; some- rapid and certain spread of English times out of that insane folly which speaking and writing comes from consists in humoring the sensibilities of the pedants, who find bad argujealous neighbors; from these causes, oi ments to support the conservative from sheer indifference, there is no spirit of the vulgar, and protest steady assertion of the English tongue against any step which may remove in our colonial or foreign diplomacy. the great difficulty in the way of Of these reasons the policy of considera- foreigners' learning English. Our tion for foreign sensibilities is not only grammar is very easy, our grammatical the most utterly foolish, but the most ri- forms very few and simple; our spelling d.culous, for it makes concessions with- is the great obstacle. For a long time it out the smallest chance of their motive has not represented our pronunciation being appreciated. To postulate dell- with any approach to consistency or cate tact and tender sympathy for the accuracy. Yet the pedants, as well as feelings of others as the mainspring of the public, insist upon maintaining oui any English surrender must seem per- often irrational spelling as not only an fectly grotesque to any foreign observer essential of the language, but as the even when the facts are so. If, for ex. main test whether an Englishman is ample, Lord Cromer concedes that educated or not. It is, of course, the French (beside Arabic) shall be the easiest test for slave driven examiners official language of Egypt, is it likely to use in making artificial differences that any Frenchman will attribute this among their myriad candidates. Three



or four mistakes in our absurd spelling English public to a certain indulgence will exclude from the army a young or laxity in spelling, so that gradually man who has every natural quality to we may approach-I will not say a be a good soldier. Even the few little phonetic, but-a reasonably consistent timid changes made by American use, orthography. For then every foreigner in the direction of omitting useless will find his task lightened; he will have letters, are regarded with dislike, and some chance of learning English from accounted vulgarisms, by our purists. books; any violations of use he commits Truly, if they set before their minds, by over-phonetic spelling will not be not the convenience of Civil Service ex- counted to him a deadly crime aminers, not the stupid adherence to an against our language. And then in a irrational and artificial orthography, short time, in spite of the jealousies that not the isolation of England, but the will arise, the British tongue, like great future which her language might British gold, will probably pervade the have in traversing the whole world, world. they could see that some concessions at The reader will give me credit, I hope, allevents might be made to the wants of for opposing all wild and sudden expe. all the foreign world, some release from dients. The examples of Volapük and the enormous tax of time upon our own of phonetic spelling are sufficient warnchildren in having to spell contrary to ings that any such policy only retards their utterance.

the great object which every promoter Am I then a disciple of Mr. Pitman, of imperial British interests should and do I actually advocate the horrors have in view. But adopting as our of phonetic spelling? As a new system, motto Festina lente, I have yet one sug. no. A page of the Fonetic Nuz is to me gestion to offer. which may probably, as disgusting as to any purist in spell. like all such suggestions, however moding. The advocates of that system erate, be regarded at first with scorn, have gone too fast and too far. They ultimately with interest and approval. were, like the advocates of Volapük, It is based upon the historic parallel of too rash in offending popular prejudices, what was done by the Greeks when and they have met with their punish- they stood in face of a problem analo. ment. They did not realize that a lan- gous to ours. There came a period guage is not an invention but a growth, about the time that Rome absorbed and so spelling is a growth, and will not be unified the kingdoms about the eastern reformed by a revolution, but by a

Mediterranean, when Greek became quiet and rational pressure in a proper the language of commerce, and even of direction. If every literary man would polite intercourse, from the Tigris to do but a little in that way, even our the Atlantic Ocean, from the Red Sea generation would see a great change. to the British Channel. It was the in. But we must emancipate ourselves terest of both Greeks and barbarians from the tyranny of printers as well as that many should learn to use Greek. pedants. I found that it required some

How did the Greeks, a clever people, little persuasion to make the former meet this demand? for their language print, rime, rythm, sovran, and a few one of exceeding richness and other such reforms, and I should cer- complexity of forms, of literary diatainly have réverted to the eighteenth- lects, of constructions. In the first century tho', were it not that I could place the varieties of spelling produced not face do' (dough). But these faint by writing the dialects were abolished. and insignificant beginnings should be All the Greek intended for common in. followed up by many others, especially tercourse was written in a common diawarning the reformers that they need lect, though, of course, great varieties of not expect, or even aim at, uniformity pronunciation must have remained. So in the earlier stages of the campaign. far modern English is agreed with The real and only object for the present them. Though we may speak, we do generation is to accustom the vulgar not write, dialects in the books intended



for business, for science, or for inter- gards English? I have known many a national use. The Greeks had this ad. British traveller puzzled in Ireland vantage over us, that their spelling of because he was ignorant of the accents this common dialect was, if not pho- on our proper names. Why not there. netic, at least rational and consistent, fore write Drogheda, Athenry, Achónry, except in one particular. But in this Athy, etc., and save trouble? And then lay a great difficulty for foreigners. why not gradually and tentatively disThe Greek accent was not at all deter- tinguish by accents though and tough, mined by the quantity of the vowels, plágue and ágúe, according to any sysand so a foreigner reading out a manu- tem which may be found most simple script of the second century B.C. would and convenient? A paragraph at the make such mistakes as to render him opening of the grammar would be suffiunintelligible to Greek natives who cient to explain it. Whether we should heard him. That is not a matter of con.

ever require the elaborate distinctions jecture or probability; it may be tested of the Greeks, whether a rude unscienby any one to-day in Greece. If an tific attempt might not be more effective Oxford or Cambridge scholar carries than the systems of grammarians, these his "quantities” with him to the are questions which need not be disPeloponnesus, he will find himself cussed till some trial has been made. hopelessly unintelligible, and he will Here, then, is the sum of the whole hardly understand one word of what matter. The civilized world is underthe people say, even when the words going a terrible waste of time and labor are good classical Greek.1 English in the now compulsory acquiring of people do not, I believe, realize how many languages, and in the main even completely useless it is to speak any this labor is thrown away, because most language with wrong accent. Let us people do not advance far enough to read out the following example quickly use any foreign language. Moreover to ordinary hearers, and how many will the great porportion of such students understand it? “He was mísled up to want foreign languages not to study his démise by mendacious evidence and their literature a high and refined purillusóry promises. The interpréter in- suit—but for practical purposes, in order térposed so that the juror éscaped unin. to communicate with various natives, jured."

and in order to learn what they have to How, then, did the Greeks meet this say on scientific or practical subjects. difficulty, and help the Romans and it is obvious that the use of one comOrientals who desired to learn their

mon language in addition to the mother language? They put accents on theii tongue of each people would produce an words, a perfect novelty, and very prob- enormous saving of time, and tend to ably one which the purists of the day the nearer and better knowledge of the beheld with disgust.? But by this world's progress among them all. This means, and without altering their spell- position of the common language was ing, they gave a practical guide to for- once attained by Greek, then in a wider eigners and greatly facilitated the

sense by Latin, both of which comspread of Greek throughout the world. manded not only the business transacWhy not adopt the same device as re- tions, but even the literature of the 1 In the simplest words this curious difficulty world for some centuries. Since the

Η πάρθενος βιβλιον έχει, pro abandonment of Latin in favor of the our classical people barbarously pro. tongue of each European nation within nounce it, has no meaning whatever to a Greek,

ats own area, confusion has prevailed, To the correct Η παρθένος βιβλίον είχει, he might

until the political predominance of answer Mállota, but would not recognize our

France for a time imposed French as Modiota. For with him, as with us, quantity and

the language of diplomacy upon Europe, accent are nearly identical.

and more recently until the mercantile ? There is, moreover, clear evidence that this novelty was gradually introduced, and took some predominance of England and America time to prevail.

has imposed English as the language of


occurs. For e nounced



commerce upon the trading routes of the Compare but the northern poets—and they world. Nevertheless the other civilized were all improvisers—with the lamentable nations of Europe hold fast to their re- poetastery of the Roman emperors which spective tongues as a matter of jealous Suetonius quotes, or with the Emperor patriotism, and have even broken down Hadrian's verse-making, among which the

disgusting "animula vagula blandula" is the primacy of French in the field of

known to all.1 diplomacy. Moreover France is wan. ing in population and in power, while The other runs:the English-speaking races are waxing.

If make distinction between The attempt to settle the problem by in- Eddaic and Skaldic poetry, "grand and venting an arbitrary tongue has been sublime” are epithets quite inapplicable to ineffectual, and will never succeed in the latter, by far the greater part of which the face of practical languages, which is mere bombast, "tumid and obscure" are the natural growth of the human enough to be utterly worthless.“ mind, spoken and understood already There are reasons for both of these by many millions of men. Nor will a opinions, and it may be worth while common system of signs like the Chi- to make some attempt to disentangle nese be of much avail in trade, where them. The Old North has so muchi speaking is far more important even poetry in its history, that one is loath among the educated minority than writ- to dismiss its poets as the Muse's charing, an art which the majority of the latans. To judge them aright, sone world has never yet acquired. In spite, account must be taken of their own therefore, of many serious obstacles, aims and poetic ideals; and if their English will gain the victory and be work is to be presented in a tongue come the world-language. Some of not their own, this must be done in tuese obstacles, such as the jealousy of forms which do not entirely omit all neighboring nations, we cannot obviate; that they considered essential to it. others, which consist certain The common conception of a skald anomalies affecting our orthography seems to be that of a poetic berserk, and hindering the quick acquisition of who hurled himself into the midst of English by foreigners, we should en- battle, shouting rude snatches of aldeavor to diminish by practical common literative verse to cheer the hearts of sense, by disregarding the pedant and his fellow-warriors. The picture is the purist, and by encouraging such not unnatural, but is nevertheless ingradual and moderate licenses as may correct. It has, however, the merit of make English easier, without violating being a shade nearer reality than the the traditions or the spirit of our great belief that the skalds were we authors heritage.

of the sagas.

No doubt Snorri and J. P. MAHAFFY.

Sturla were good skalds, but that is not what is meant by the belief.

The skald is primarily neither fighter nor historian, but a poet, and this is

all that his name in itself implies. In From The Scottish Review. THE POETRY OF THE SKALDS.

respect of worldly position, he might The Old Northern poets were liberal be either king or cottar, earl or hench: in praise, and they have not lacked man, so long as he had in him the gift pens to commend them; they were

of verse. The shepherd who lay on sometimes bitter in satire, and they the old poet's grave-mound, and wres

tled in vain with have not escaped the contempt of

the making of

came by others. Two quotations will give in verse, until the dead man brief compass the attitudes of their night and helped him, became, we are admirers and detractors. The one is:- told, “a great skald,” and made his

fortune at the courts of foreign princes. Such an inspired and improvised poet

i Benedict Gröndal. izing occurs nowhere else in history.

2 J. A. Blackwell,


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