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De Quincey, I homas
A.S. = Anglo-Saxon.
1,-SKETCH OF THE HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
II.-ESSENTIALS OF ANGLO-SAXON GRAMMAR.
Sketch of tậe History of the English Language.
1.-ANCESTRY AND PEDIGREE OF THE ENGLISH
1. VARIOUS circumstances have of late years tended to establish as a fact, what was once regarded only as a plausible conjecture—the Eastern origin of the nations of Europe. The earliest light we have on the origin of nations is furnished us by the Old Testament. In that ancient record we have a clear reference to a westward movement of tribes and peoples, though the information given on their settlements is necessarily vague and uncertain. The convictions, therefore, on this point have, in the absence of authentic native records, until comparatively late years, had no established basis. About eighty years ago, however, Sir William Jones suggested the idea which has been subsequently so ardently cultivated, that the great resemblance in some points between the Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, and Greek, Latin, German, and other European tongues, pointed clearly back to some common cradle of these languages. In recent times this conjecture has been embodied in expression, and the term Indo-European languages implies a definite belief with regard to the origin of
those who speak them. It is believed, then, that ages long past, before the records of history, moved by what impulse we know not, vast bodies of the teeming population of the East left their sunny skies to settle in various parts of Europe, and therefore that the races of modern Europe, whether called Celtic, Pelasgian (i.e. Greek and Latin), Gothic, or Slavonic, are in fact transformed Orientals.. The present position, moreover, on the map of Europe of these races, as represented respectively by the Irish and Welsh, Spanish, French, and Italian, German and Russian peoples, is thought to indicate the actual order of the respective waves of progress; the Celtic tribes, as the first to migrate, having been forced onward, from settlement to settlement, by the impulses which followed, and taking therefore the most westward position.
2. Leaving, however, these inquiries or speculations, it is important to notice that this theory connects English as spoken now on the banks of the Thames, with Sanskrit as spoken three thousand years ago on the banks of the Ganges, and brings English, therefore, into the great family of Indo-European tongues. On closer examination of the various groups or stocks which constitute this family, we perceive that English is much more closely allied to German than to Irish or Russian, and that it belongs, therefore, to the Gothic stock. Then, again, of the two branches into which that stock is divided, the Teutonic and the Scandinavian, English is more like German than Swedish, and belongs, therefore, to the former, and of the two divisions of the Teutonic branch-those of the river-mouths and those of the river-founts—as resembling the Dutch of Friesland more than the German of Dresden, belongs rather to the Low German than to the High German dialects.
English then may be defined as a member of the Low German division of the Teutonic branch of the Gothic stock of the Indo-European family of languages.”.
For the sake of clearness the mutual relations of the
(1) Many words denoting family relationship, parts of the body, numerals, &c. are substantially the same in nearly all the Indo-European languages, and indicate a common origin, as e.g.: