Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

nally the case with all terms in the rude state of all languages. But this is only your supposition in order to support your own theory. Does there, from all antiquity, remain a single instance, or even the mention or suspicion of an instance, of any language altogether without adjectives?

H. Though nothing of the kind should remain, it will not in the least affect my explanation nor weaken my reasoning.

F. But, if there were such an instance; or even any traditional mention made of such a circum. stance; it would very much strengthen your argument in my opinion, and more readily induce

my assent.

H. I

suppose you are not so obstinately attached to antiquity, but that a modern instance would answer the

purpose as well. F. Any instance of the fact from sufficient authority.

H. Then I believe I can suit you.....Doctor Jonathan Edwards, D. D. Pastor of a church in New Haven, in “ observations on the language of “ the muhHEKANEEW Indians, communicated to “the Connecticut society of Arts and Sciences: “ published at the request of the society, and “ printed by Josiah Meigs, 1788.”

Gives us the following account.

“When I was but six years of age, my father “ removed with his family to Stockbridge, which “ at that time was inhabited by Indians almost “ solely. The Indians being the nearest neigh" bours, I constantly associated with them; their “ boys were my daily school-mates and play"feilows. Out of my father's house, I seldom “ heard any language spoken beside the Indian. · By these means I acquired the knowledge of that

language, and a great facility in speaking it: it “ became more familiar to me than my mother“ tongue. I knew the names of some things in “ Indian, which I did not know in English: eveni “all my thoughts ran in Indian; and though the “ true pronunciation of the language is extremely “ difficult to all but themselves, they acknowledg5 ed that I had acquired it perfectly; which, as " they said, never had been acquired before by

any Anglo-American."
After this account of himself, he proceeds,

" The language which is now the subject of - observation, is that of the Muhhekaneew, or “ Stockbridge Indians. They, as well as the tribe " at New London, are by the Anglo-Americans “ called Mohegans. This language is spoken by - all the Indians throughout New England. Every s tribe, as that of Stockbridge, of Farmington, of “ New London, &c. has a different dialect; but " the language is radically the same. Mr. Elliot's “ translation of the Bible is in a particular dialect " of this language. This language appears to be 6 much more extensive than any other language “ in North America. The languages of the Dela, “ wares in Pennsylvania; of the Penobscots, bor

dering on Nova Scotia ; of the Indians of St.

Francis, in Canada; of the Shawanese, on the “ Ohio; and of the Chippewaus, at the westward

[ocr errors]

" of Lake Huron; are all radically the same with the

Mohegan. The same is said concerning the “ languages of the Ottowaus, Nanticooks, Mun

sees, Menomonees Messisaugas, Saukies, Otta“ gaumies, Killistinoes, Nipegons, Algonkins, “ Winnebagoes, &c. That the languages of the “ several tribes in New England, of the Delawares, " and of Mr. Elliot's Bible, are radically the same “ with the Mohegan, I assert from my own know“ ledge.”

Having thus given an account of himself, and of his knowledge of the language ; of the extensiveness of this language; and of a translation of a Bible into this language; he proceeds (in page 10) to inform us, that

“ The Mohegans have no adjectives in all their language. Although it may at first seem not only singular and curious, but impossible, that a language should exist without adjectives, yet it is an indubitable fact."

[blocks in formation]

EFTEA ITEPOENTA, &c.

CHAP. VII.

OF PARTICIPLES.

F. LET us proceed, if you please, to the ParTICIPLE: which, you know, is so named because ....“ partem capit a nomine, partem a verbo.".... “ Ortum a verbo, says Scaliger, traxit secum “ tempora et significationem, adjunxitque generi " et casibus.”....“ Ut igitur mulus, says Vossius, “ asini et equæ, unde generatur, participat indolem ; “ ita hujus classis omnia, et nominis et verbi par

ticipant naturam: unde, et meritò, participia “ nominantur." I have a strong curiosity to know how

you

will dispose of this mule, (this tertium quid,) in English; where the participle has neither cases nor gender ; and which (if I understood you rightly some time since) you have stripped also of time. We certainly cannot say that it is, in English,...,“ Pars orationis “cum tempore et casu :" or,....“ Vox variabilis

per casus, significans rem cum tempore.” Indeed since, by your account, it takes nothing from the verb, any more than from the noun; its present name ought to be relinquished by us : for at all events it cannot be a PARTICIPLE in English. This however will not much trouble you : for, though Scaliger declares the PARTICIPLE to exist in language " necessitate quadam ac vi naturæ;" you by denying it a place amongst the parts of speech, have decided that it is not a necessary word, and perhaps imagine we may do as well without it.

H. I fear you have mistaken me. I did not mean to deny the adsignification of time to all the par-, ticiples; though I continue to withhold it from that which is called the participle present.

F. All the participles! Why, we have but two in our language.... The present and the past.

H. We had formerly but two. But so great is the convenience and importance of this useful abbreviation; that our authors have borrowed from other languages and incorporated with our own, four other participles of equal value. We are obliged to our old translators for these new participles. I wish they had understood what they were doing at the time: and had been taught by their wants, the nature of the advantages which the learned languages had over ours. They would then perhaps have adopted the contrivance itself into our own language : instead of contenting themselves with taking individually the terms which they found they could not translate. But they proceeded in the same manner with these new participles, as with the new adjectives I before mentioned to you: they did not abbreviate their own language in imitation of the others; but took from other languages their abbreviations ready made. And thus again the foreigner, after having learned all our English verbs, must again have recourse to other languages

« ZurückWeiter »