Imágenes de página

various members or stocks of the great Indo-European family are represented below.

LANGUAGES OF THE INDO-EUROPEAN FAMILY. 1. Sanskrit, no longer living, but mother of Hindustani, Ben

gali, &c. 2. Ancient Persian, Zend or Parsee, mother of modern Persian. 3. Celtic, i.e. Irish, Gaelic, Manks, Welsh, and Breton. 4. Classical, i.e. Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, Portu

guese, Wallachian. 5. Gothic, i.e. German, Dutch, Flemish, English, Icelandic,

Danish, and Swedish. 6. Slavonic, i.e. Polish, Russian, Bohemian, Lithuanian.

3. With two of these stocks or groups, the Celtic and Classical, the English is incidentally, with one of them, the Gothic, esgentially, connected. A Celtic and a Classical language, i.e., Welsh and Latin, have both been spoken very extensively in England, but neither can be called in any sense English; and with regard to the former especially it may be asserted that it had no influence whatever in the formation of the English language, though it may have contributed a few words to its vocabulary. 66 There has been,” says Dr. Craik, “no chemical combination between the Gothic and the Celtic elements, but only more or less of a mechanical intermixture.” 1 Neither in the common speech nor in local names can any important Celtic influence be traced. The names of towns and villages all over England are, for the most part, either Anglo-Saxon or Danish. Some of the great physical features indeed, such as rivers, mountains, and lakes, have Celtic names, but whether Cymric or Gaelic is still a matter of controversy; for as it is now generally believed that the Cymric Celts (or Welsh) were preceded in their occupation of England by the Gadhelic Celts (or Irish), the names in question were probably bestowed by the latter and adopted by the former.

4. The mutual relations of the two great divisions of the Celtic stock will be seen below. Whatever connection English has with this stock, is with the Cymric rather than the Gaelic division, as must be evident from the historical fact

(1) “ History of the English Language and Literature," i. 34.

(2) As the Avons and Ouses, as well as Esk, Exe, Usk, Wisk, Mendip, Hel. vellyn, &c.

that the English nation succeeded the Cymric in the occupation of the soil.?


a Irish or Erse.
b Gaelic of the Highlands of Scotland.

c Manx of the Isle of Man. 2. Cymric, i.e. :

a Welsh as still spoken in Wales.
b Cornish, extinct since the reign of Elizabeth.

c Breton of Britanny, called also Armorican. 5. It is remarkable that the residence of the Romans in England for upwards of 300 years, and that too as the governors and civilisers of the British people, has left traces so few and insignificant. The Roman element, in fact, contributed to early English, through the Celtic inhabitants with whom the Saxon invaders came in contact, is seep only in the proper names of places connected with the military establishments of the legionaries. No single Latin word, as far as is known, found its way at this time into the common tongue, unless it be street (from Latin strata, paved roads), and even this is doubtful. The introduction of Christianity, however, by Augustine, in A.D. 596, brought in a great number of Latin ecclesiastical terms, many of which, with certain modifications of form, became permanently established. The writings also of the monks in Latin gradually introduced, during the Anglo-Saxon period, many other words expressive of social institutions and natural productions. But by far the most important infusion of the Latin element took place when the Normans, speaking a language derived immediately from Latin, invaded England and imposed

(1) The English words basket, cabin, gown, garter, funnel, flannel, also bogie, hoyden, fudge, tuaddle, balderdash, bother, crowder (fiddler), are among those bequeathed to us by the Britons, together with many other low and burlesque words ; but none, it has been remarked, “ connected with law, or government, or the luxuries of life."

(2) Hence we have Chester (from castra, a camp), Colchester, Lancaster, Lincoln (from colonia, a colony), Portchester (from portus, a harbour). These are styled Anglo-Latin words of the first or Celtic period.

(3) They are such as monk (from monachus), priest (from presbyter), bishop (from episcopus), minster (from monasterium), shrine (from scrinium), creed (from credo), cowl (from cucullus), &c. These are Anglo-Latin words of the second or Saxon period.

their rule on the native population. As this Norman-French was the language of the Court, of the Norman ecclesiastics, of the judges in the law-courts, of teachers in noble families and schools, its influence could not but be great.? For nearly four hundred years, until the middle of the sixteenth century, words of Latin origin were thus very largely introduced into our language. At and after the revival of classical learning, and as a consequence of it, Latin words, very slightly modified, were forced upon the language to a large extent, until a reaction took place, and in modern times, what may be called a reasonable compromise was arrived at. These considerations, showing the importance of this Romance element, serve to introduce


1. Greek, i.e. :-

a Ancient Greek.
6 Modern Greek or Romaic.

c Albanian.
2. Latin, i.e.:-

a Ancient Latin.
6 Italian.
c French.
d Spanish.
e Portuguese.
f Provençal of the South of France.

g Rouman of Wallachia and Moldavia. 6. Having referred generally to the pedigree of the English tongue, and shown some of its relations to others which preceded it on the English soil, we arrive at the consideration of the English language itself, as introduced and established in our island by tribes of the Gothic stock. The name Gothic is applied generally to all the members of the great German or Teutonic family. They seem to have been characterised, when we find them first in history, by a restless energy of temperament, an instinct for plunder, dauntless courage, loyalty to their chiefs, and fidelity to their causewhatever it might be-great intelligence, and a disposition to appreciate and cultivate art. The epithet Gothic has been fre

(1) The class of words introduced by the Normans indicates, in some degree, their own relative position to the native population; baron, captain, esquire, homage,

, scutcheon, vassal; assize, paramount, sentence, statute ; chase, falconer, venison, &c.,-terms of lordship, chivalry, war, law, and the chase.

quently, but unjustly, used as synonymous with barbarous. Gothic or German art, however, whether displayed in architecture, music, or painting, can well defend itself, and Gothic institutions, political or social, may claim in their development to have conduced to a large amount of good citizenship and domestic happiness.

7. In the earliest historic times various Gothic tribes are found settled in the neighbourhood of the Baltic, stretching westward to the North Sea, and southward to the Rhine, and occupying the entire sea-coast and a considerable portion of inland territory, eastward within those limits. After a time the restless element, for awhile repressed, begins to ferment again, and we see them leave their own settlements and make themselves masters of kome, of Italy generally, of the south of France, and of the greater part of Spain. The energies of those tribes which had settled on the shores of the North Sea, and with whom this sketch is mainly concerned, found scope in maritime adventure-probably in piracy on the main sea, certainly in the invasion of other coasts. To this aggressive disposition, which brought them in the fifth and sixth centuries to Britain, we owe the foundation of the English name and nation.

8. These colonists, though called Jutes, Saxons, Angles, and Frisians, from their supposed local origin, seem to have been substantially one people. This supposition is confirmed by the apparent ease with which, although still retaining their distinctive names, they coalesced into one nation—the nation of the Angles or English. In their original settlements in South Schleswig, Holstein, North Hanover, Westphalia, and Friesland in Holland, they doubtless spoke dialects of the same language. The dialects thus introduced into our country for awhile maintained their peculiarities, but at last became merged in the common speech, though some of their most prominent features are at this moment traceable in the provincial utterances of Somersetshire, Lincolnshire, Westmoreland, and Northumberland. The rustics of England have with more or less fidelity conserved unto the present day many of the oldest forms of the English language.

9. The language thus formed about A.D. 600, may be considered as having reached the perfection of its first stage about A.D. 1000, but for two or three centuries previously had begun to be in some degree affected by foreign influence. The Danes, as we know, for a long course of years, harassed and at last conquered the entire English nation, and established their power as supreme for about a century. During a considerable portion of this period they had complete possession of the country from the Wash to the Forth, formed a main element of the population, and left permanent traces of their occupancy both in the local names and dialects of the north of England.'

Some slight but not easily appreciable Danish element must likewise have entered subsequently with the Normans, whose immediate ancestors, the Northmen, were also Danes.

The relations between the different Gothic dialects will be seen in the subjoined table :LANGUAGES OF THE GOTHIC STOCK.

1. Moeso-Gothic, as seen in the Gospels of Ulphilas.
2. High German, (i.e. of the river-founts) i.e. :--

a Old High German of the 7th-llth centuries.
6 Middle , , 12th-15th ,
c New

, 16th century downwards. 3. Low German (i.e. of the river-mouths) :

a Old Saxon of the Continent.
b Anglo-Saxon or ENGLISH, Lowland Scotch.
c Frisian of North Holland.
d Dutch.
e Flemish.
f Dialects of Hanover, Holstein, and Schleswig.

1. Old Scandinavian, i.e. :-

a Old Norse or Old Icelandic.

6 Ferroic of the Faro, or Ferro Islands.
2. Modern Scandinavian, i.e. :-

a Modern Icelandic.
6 Danish.
c Swedish.

d Norwegian. (1) The terminations by, town, fell, rocky hill, thorpe, village, kirk, church, &c., as in Whitby, Scafell, Grimsthorp, Ormskirk; the provincial words eldin, firing, gar, make, and many others, testify to Danish influence; but a more remarkable instance is the substitution of the Danish ere or are for the Anglo-Saxon both or synd in the verb to be. In Westmoreland they say, “Mudder sent me at larn at knit." This at for to is a Danish usage. It may be added, that the patronymic ending son, in Anderson, Johnson, Nelson, &c., is also a mark of original Danish descent. Twenty distinct varieties of such patronymics may be seen at this moment on the sign-boards of one street in Kendal,

« AnteriorContinuar »