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and that it was not till a somewhat late period of the world that
sent any idea, while we employ almost always more than one, and generally a considerable number. Thus, for example, we have five separate characters for the five letters of the word horse, for which only one would be necessary on the other system. But let us examine the matter a little more closely. As written characters would in the latter case be signs of ideas, not of sounds, it would be necessary that every different idea should be represented by a different character. Hence the number of characters might be infinite, and must be fearfully numerous. These must all be learned and imprinted on the memory before the language could be read without the aid of a dictionary. Now let us turn to our own written language. Instead of this vast number of signs we have but twenty-six to remember; and that because we have made our characters significant of sounds instead of ideas. On this account, though each particular idea is in general represented by a greater number of different characters than would be necessary on the other system, the whole language is represented by a comparatively insignificant few. Doubtless the perception of the radical difficulty in the plan of making characters to stand for ideas, viz. that their number would thus be unmanageable, led some ingenious individual to the expedient of representing the sounds of words. The distinction between the two systems is so broad that nothing but imperious necessity, perhaps, would have led to the discovery of that which, though least obvious, was in reality the simplest. As long as the ideas of men were few, it would be no incredible or perhaps great exertion of memory to remember a correspondent number of different signs, but the difficulty would be constantly increasing as the circle of ideas enlarged, so that in time an almost impossible effort of the mind would be requisite to imprint them on the memory. It is probable that the first analysis of words with a view to the representation of their elements in speech went no further than a division into syllables. Thus every different syllable was denoted by a different character ; and as the same syllable would occur in very many words, it will be seen that the number of characters must have been very much diminished. However strange it may appear, there are written languages of this nature at the present day. The Japanese, for instance, is a syllabic language as we are told by Kæmpfer in his History of Japan. The next and final step was analysis of words into letters, their owest elements. , This analysis is the basis of nearly all the systems of writing which exist at present, and of all without
exception which are practised by nations much advanced in
It is a necessary inference from what has been said, that in
Of late years the alphabetic system of writing has been applied to languages which before were only oral. Thus, for example, the missionaries to the South-Pacific ocean have applied it to the language of the Tahitians ; and not many years since a very intelligent Cherokee of the name of Guest invented an alphabet of the language of his countrymen, which is now in
This Indian's alphabet, it is said, was the fruit of his own unaided ingenuity, and as such is remarkable, although it consists of a greater number of characters than are absolutely necessary or even convenient. There are eighty-five different signs, many of which however are syllabic. All the elementary sounds or letters of the language might be represented by a much smaller number of characters. This alphabet, however, has come to constitute the fixed written language of the Cherokees, and a newspaper called the Cherokee Phenix has been periodically printed from types of these characters cast in Boston.
From these remarks on writing, we will now turn to the consideration of voice and gesture. And first of voice. Articulate language is a thing of art, not of nature. It is so, whether it be of man's invention or of divine origin. It is learned like other arts by imitation, and is not born with us. The tones which accompany articulate language, however, are natural, do or at least should spring directly and spontaneously from feeling. No emotion could lead us to articulate, not having learned to do so; but, when we have learned to articulate, no instruction is necessary to enable us to employ the tones which indicate
particular emotions. All natural oral la
All natural oral language consists of inarticulate cries and tones. These the brutes share with us, though not equally. Their cries are to a considerable extent intelligi
ble to each other; and they even comprehend the meaning of the tones of the human voice. A dog readily understands that his master is enraged, when his voice takes the loud and vehement tone of anger. The tones of the voice are, likewise, perfectly intelligible to the human race, even though the articulate language uttered is unknown. Thus, were a foreigner, with whose tongue we were totally unacquainted, to address us in a beseeching or an angry tone, we should be at no loss as to the tenor of his words; and if he accompanied them with some significant gesture, we might perhaps comprehend his meaning perfectly. It will be found that tones are signs of emotion only. They express nothing but feelings. The voice can express other ideas than emotions only by means of artificial or articulate language. Every passion has a peculiar tone of voice suited to it by nature, and hence this natural language is understood by all. These tones always accompany artificial language, when it is expressive of emotion and is sincere; and though, when the language is insincere, the tones may be counterfeited, yet, if suitable tones are wanting, we have proof positive of insincerity. Thus, were a man to utter in a quiet tone such language as the following: “I burn with rage, I am tempted to tear you in pieces,” we should be tempted to laugh at him. An anecdote which Plutarch relates of Demosthenes is not inapposite here. He was visited one day by a person who wished him to advocate his cause against another from whom he had suffered gross personal injury. He related the circumstances of the case in a calm, equable tone and manner; and when he had concluded, Demosthenes exclaimed: No such thing: you have not suffered the insults of which you speak.- What do you say ? replied the man, raising his voice ; was I not struck? was I not —? Enough, said Demosthenes; you do speak now like an injured person.
Articulate language is supposed by many to have been an immediate gift of God to man. The main reason of this supposition has been the great difficulty of inventing it, particularly in the early uncultivated times in which we find it existing. That it is a hard thing even to learn to articulate a language, when invented, we know from observing the slow progress made by children in its acquisition. It is perhaps harder still for a person who has reached the maturity of life to learn to pronounce a strange language correctly, even with the advantage of having practised the pronunciation of his own; and we may
hence estimate the difficulty which one would experience in learning to articulate at all, were he to delay commencing till his arrival at manhood. What are we to think, then, of the difficulty of inventing a system of articulate language? Still, if we consider attentively, we shall perceive that such an invention is not more improbable than that of written signs to represent the elements of words; and yet no one to my knowledge has ever alleged that written language was of divine origin. It is related in classic fable that in the happy reign of Saturn men and animals spoke the same language. May not this account have reference to the ages preceding the discovery of artificial speech, when inarticulate cries were the only vocal language possessed by man, and this was shared in common with him by other animals ? But, whether articulate speech be of human or divine institution, certain it is that it is an art, and is acquired like other arts by imitation. Nor is it confined to man. Crows and parrots may be taught to articulate with considerable accuracy. A dissection of the orang-outang has proved that his organs of speech are as perfect as our own; and it was the opinion of that whimsical philosopher, lord Monboddo, that if a beginning were made early in the animal's life he might be taught to speak as well as ourselves. This was but a corollary from his favorite tenet, that men are but civilized monkeys. Indeed, he plainly considers the orang-outang as somewhat in advance of the primeval condition of human society ; he having improved upon the genuine state of nature at least so far as to walk erect. Monboddo belonged to the class of philosophers ridiculed by Butler as follows:
“For soine philosophers of late here
Hudibras, Part II. Cant. I. 1. 725-33.
We have no reason to suppose that any animal ever affixed an idea to a word which it was taught to articulate ; and the fact before alluded to, that no difference can be discovered by the most skilful anatomists between the organs of speech posVOL. X. No. 27.