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part in every course of education. All educated men, of whatever profession, have been, as a matter of course, Latin scholars. The language of Cicero and Virgil has been as familiar to Englishmen of education, as that of Chaucer and Spenser. Indeed, as to a critical knowledge, either of authors or of language, Englishmen have been far more proficient in the Latin, than in their native English. The mother tongue has been left to take its chance in the nursery and the playground, while Latin has been interwoven with every element of their intellectual cultivation.
The effect of such a system must be obvious. The wall of partition between native words and foreign having been broken down by the Norman conqnest, scholars have completed what warriors, traders, and artists began. Hence the strange anomaly, that, with us, learned men have been the chief corruptors of the language. The Germans, and other Teutonic nations, have been, perhaps, as much addicted to the cultivation of classical scholarship, as we have. But with them the national instinct has never been readily blunted, and has resisted, with a great measure of success, the Latinizing tendency which has so marked all classical studies with us. Our scholars have found, not only no resistance, but every facility which the established habits of the people could afford, for the introduction of Latin words. Out of this abund. ance of their hearts, therefore, they have freely spoken. Steeped from boyhood in the diction of the most polished nations of antiquity, they have but followed a natural impulse, when they have used “dictionary” for “word-book," "science” for “knowledge," "fraternal” for “brotherly” “maternal” for “motherly," “ paternal ” for “fatherly," “felicity” for “happiness," and so on, to an extent which may be already counted by tens of thousands, and which is constantly increasing
If, now, from a review of the whole subject, the question be asked, what are the main elements of the English language, the answer will be obvious. There are, indeed, as we have seen, a few old Celtic words, which have come down to us directly from the ancient Britons. Among the thousands of words, also, that have come to us from France, Spain, and perhaps Italy, there are doubtless some few of Celtic origin, because the original population of all those countries was Celtic, before they were overrun by the Romans. We have also some few Scandinavian words introduced by the Danes during their invasions of England in the ninth and tenth centuries. There, are too, no doubt, not a few Scandinavian words brought by the “Northmen” into France, and thence by their descendants, the Normans, into England after the conquest. We have, also, as every nation has, occasional words derived from every country, no matter how remote, with which we have had commercial intercourse, or with whose literature our soldiers have been conversant; e. g. TARIFF--Tarifa, a town near the Straits DAMASK, Damas
of Gibraltar, where duties DAMASCENE,
this species of dog was derived. TAMARIND—Heb. Tamar + ind-us. RATAN.-A Malay word.
But all these together are few and inconsiderable, in comparison with
the whole number of our words, and they do not affect its organic character. The overwhelming majority of our words are still of two classes. They are either Saxon or Latin. These are the two main elements which constitute the language.
No mention has been made thus far of Greek words, of which we have a large number in the language. The omission has been intentional, and for the purpose of simplifying the historical survey of the subject. The Greek language is so nearly allied to the Latin, that in a discussion like this, they may be considered as one. It is only necessary to remark, that very few Greek words have been introduced by mixture of race or by commercial intercourse, The Greek words which we have, have been introduced almost entirely by selections and books. Nearly all of them are scientific terms. Indeed, nine-tenths of all the scientific terms that we have are Greek.
Of the relative numbers of these two classes of words (Saxon and Latin), it is impossible to speak with certainty. If we exclude all compound and obsolete words, and all words introduced by the arts and sciences during the last hundred years, the ratio of Anglo-Saxon words to the whole body of the language, would probably be about five-eighths. If we examine, however, the page of any ordinary English book, the Saxon words will be found to bear even a larger preponderance than this. The reason is, that all the small connecting words, the articles, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and most of the adverbs, are Saxon. These small words occur at least ten times as often as any other class of words in the language ; e. g. “wickedness,” which is Saxon, perhaps may not occur more frequently than “malice,” which is Latin. But " the ” will be found a hundred times where either of them will be found once. Again, some writers are noted for their partiality to the Latin vocables, others for their partiality to the Saxon. But taking the average of different writers, and excluding works of science, in which, sometimes, the words are almost entirely Latin and Greek, I suppose that the Saxon and the Latin words on any page of ordinary English will be found as five, perhaps as six, to one.
The Latin words that have found their way into the English, may be again divided into two well-defined classes, viz., those that have come to us by national intercourse and admixture, and those that have come through learned men and education. The former have come from languages that are not pure Latin, but are the modern representatives and descendants of that tongue ; viz., the French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. The others have come from the fountain head, the Latin itself. Words of the former class are all more or less corrupted, either in those modern languages in which the English found them, or in the transition from those languages into the English. Words of the latter class, taken from the Latin directly, are changed very little, or not at all.
The difference between these two classes can be best illustrated by a few examples. It exists mainly in the stem, or root, of the word. Both classes are obliged to conform to the English idiom as to the termination. But in the stem, while those coming from the Latin directly are with little or no change, those from the other languages, particularly those from the French, are almost invariably changed in the spelling :
| Words coming from the
Words coming from the
French, or some other modern descendant of the Latin.
curs-ive ..... course. Cur(r)o .........
cur(r)ent ..... cour-ier. Reg-is.... reg-al
Diurn-us......... diurn-al .......... | journ-al. It is the common opinion, that the language has deteriorated in consequence of this multitude of foreign admixtures. Some purists in style have gone so far as to recommend and attempt an entire disuse of words of Latin origin, to put upon them the ban of public odium, and to stigmatize them as intruders and foreigners. It cannot be doubted, indeed, that many writers have carried to a ridiculous extent their partiality for the Latin vocables. No writer, perhaps, has made himself more notorious in this respect than Dr. Johnson. No book in the language, on the contrary, is more free from this Latinism, or is in purer English in all respects, than the English translation of the Bible. You will find sometimes, in whole pages, scarcely one word in ten that is not pure Saxon. In the Lord's prayer, for instance, the only Latin words are debts, debtors, deliver, temptation, and glory. Among the writers who come nearest to the translators of the English Bible, in the purity of their English, are Shakspeare and Addison. If, in any of these writers, we were to substitute for the Saxon words the corresponding Latin synonyms, we should instantly perceive a falling off in expressiveness. “Our Father, who art in Heaven,” for iustance, translated into Johnsonese, would be some such vapid trash as this,—“Paternal Being, who existest in the celestial regions !”
That part of the domain of English letters in which words of Latin origin most abound, is in the field of science. With the exception of a few Arabic terms, almost our entire scientific nomenclature is derived from the Latin and the Greek, particularly from the latter. I suppose that at least nine-tenths of our scientific terms are Greek. Geology, botany, mineralogy, grammar, logic, mathematics, physics, and metaphysics, are all in a state of utter dependence upon languages with which none but the learned are familiar. This has been, and it is, undoubtedly a hindrance to the communication of knowledge. To any one acquainted with the Greek and Latin, the terms used in the different sciences almost of themselves describe the objects to whieh they are applied, without further study. If, now, these terms, instead of being taken from a dead language, were drawn from the resources of the mother tongue, the very structure of the word would show its meaning even to the unlettered, and with the meaning of the word would be conveyed a knowledge of the thing.
When, for instance, the anatomist speaks of the “systole” and
“ diastole” of the heart, he talks Greek. He must consequently explain himself. He must give, in different words, a description of the thing meant, and after you have learned from these other sources the nature of the subject, you infer vaguely what must be the meaning of the words. Now, suppose the anatomist had been called to explain the same point to a native Greek ; the words themselves convey the idea which is meant, and nothing more is necessary to convey this idea, even to an unlettered man, than a mere enunciation of the terms. To a native Greek, systole and diastole, apogee and perigee, hydraulics, hydronamics, clepsydra, chreosote, isomeric, isomorphic, metamorphic, and all the other thousands upon thousands of scientific terms, which so puzzle the mere English student, are just as intelligible and expressive in themselves, as to the native Englishmen are our homespun compounds, inkstand, pen-handle, note-book, sunrise, woodland, hill-top, cornfield, snow-flake, pitchfork, daylight, forenoon, afternoon, and so on to any extent. I cannot doubt, therefore, if the terms of science had been from the first, and throughout, carefully elaborated out of our own native materials, the difficulties in the communication of science would have been much lessened.
(To be continued.)
LOCAL WORDS. TO THE EDITOR OF THE ENGLISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATION. DEAR SIR, I am much obliged for your kindness in forwarding to me two numbers of THE ENGLISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATION. The notice, which you have kindly inserted in one of these numbers, of my English Past and Present, will, I doubt not, be of material service in getting it into the hands of teachers,—a class whom, above all, I desire it should reach. I hope, also, hereafter to profit by the suggestion which you have made a very valuable one, as it seems to me that your readers should forward to you lists of local words and local usages.--Believe me, yours very faithful and obliged,
H. C. TRENCH. Ichenstoke, Alresford, November 28th, 1855. i [We again earnestly invite clergymen and teachers to abet this
wish, and aid this useful collection.—ED. E. J. E.]
HOW TO PRESERVE OUR BEST INHERITANCE OF THE PURITY OF FAITH. -"By restraining the wrath of man, forbearing threatening, striving to show them in all our conduct the more excellent way of charity : by remembering and feeling the exceeding evil of those sore divisions which have now, for so many years, disgraced and weakened Christendom :......by striving to remove, so far as may be, all the angry feelings, mutual misunderstandings, and hard judgments, which widen our present separation, and yet by maintaining, with this longing for unity, a spirit of unswerving truth ;. .....and lastly, by evermore watching, lest, in our zeal for truth on one side, we be led haply to undervalue it on the other."--Sermon on the Principles of the English Reformation, by the Bishop of Oxford.
MARTIAL. A WRITER in a recent number of this Journal well observes, that A he should like to see Catullus more appreciated in English schools, and accordingly he wishes for “a good expurgated edition of the poet, with notes, for school use.” If we value the Roman writers according to their antiquity, i.e. if we desire to study the Latin language in its more truly Italian and less Grecised forms of expression, we shall naturally have recourse to Catullus, Lucretius, Terence, and Plautus; and indeed it is to be regretted that the older poets should be so much neglected, not only in the majority of schools, but also, we fear, in the universities. Catullus appears to have been held in the highest esteem by the Romans themselves of a later period; and, though his works are defiled by much that is coarse and indecorous, there is a freshness and an originality about his style, and a tenderness and prettiness in some of his minor pieces, which has caused them to be ranked among the best productions of the Roman muse. His elegiac verses are, however, rough almost to uncouthness, and are certainly very inferior in rhythm and elegance to the later writers, Tibullus, Propertius, and Ovid.
There is another, though among the latest, of the Roman poets, whose brilliant wit, pointed and terse style, and generally exquisite versification, are but too little known among ordinary students of the Latin language. We allude to Martial, an excellent and critical edition of whose works has rather recently appeared in Germany.* What Aristophanes was to Greek literature, that was Marcus Valerius Martialis to the Romans. A native of Spain, he lived as late as the reigns of Claudius, Nero, and their imperial successors, as far as Nerva. At once a poet, a satirist, a servile flatterer, and an unblushing sensualist, he combines the bad with the good in a degree which renders expurgation imperatively necessary for school purposes. But selections might be made, and ought to be made, for there is no writer, not excepting Juvenal, from whom so exact a knowledge of Roman life, manners, and customs is to be derived, and certainly there is none who carried elegiac versification, considered as an art, to such consummate excellence. Indeed, one might venture to say, that as regards cleverness, Martial is the very first of the Roman poets; and he moreover exhibits in a remarkable degree the versatility of the Latin language for expressing every kind of theme, from the minutest details of a Roman dinner-table to the highest standard of pathos and sentiment. No one of taste can rise fron the pages of Martial without admiration, albeit there is but too graphic and naked a description of Roman depravity in many of his epigrams. It is one thing to expose viciousness, and another thing to take pleasure in it; and it cannot be denied that Martial was one of the latter class. However, an instructive and fascinating little book might easily be compiled for schools, containing some of the best gems picked from his miscellaneous poems. Let the reader say, if he knows anything surpassing the elegance of two little epigrams, on the insects inclosed in amber (lib. iv., ep. 32 and 59):
* F. G. Schneidewin. 1842. London: Black & Armstrong.