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ESSAY ON LANGUAGE; NOW FIRST PUBLISHED, FROM THE MANUSCRIPTS OF JEREMY BENTHAM. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 8 (Chrestomathia, Essays on Logic and Grammar, Tracts on Poor Laws, Tracts on Spanish Affairs) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). In 11 vols. Volume 8.
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ESSAY ON LANGUAGE; NOW FIRST PUBLISHED, FROM THE MANUSCRIPTS OF JEREMY BENTHAM.
NOTE BY THE EDITOR.
This Essay, as well as that on Grammar, which immediately follows it, are edited from the collection of MSS. on psychological subjects, mentioned in the editorial notice to the Essay on Logic, (supra, p. 212.) They will be found occasionally to embrace matter not generally included in the respective subjects by other authors, being by them usually referred to rhetoric or criticism. Both the works are in a fragmental state. The outlines seem not to have been fully developed, and many parts projected have not been completed. From the pencil-markings on the margin, the Author seems to have intended to include his observations on Grammar within an extensive work on Language, when the other departments should be completed on the same scale. In the state in which the MSS. were found, there was a convenience in presenting the portions more directly bearing on Grammar in a separate form, as they could not be symmetrically incorporated with the portions relating to the other departments of the subject of Language. To the reader, however, both tracts will naturally present themselves as disjecta membra of some greater work; and indeed the Author seems to have designed to incorporate them in his great treatise on Logic.
uses to which, in the character of ends, this essay is directed.
Practical, and speculative or theoretical, in both these points of view will the matter of Language be here considered—in a speculative point of view, to what end? Answer: to this end, viz. that the objects, for the accomplishment of which it is considered in the practical view, may be the more effectually attained. On this occasion, as on all others, suppose no practical good attainable, speculation is without use and without value.
It is, therefore, no otherwise than in virtue of its relation to practice, that the speculative survey proposed to be taken of the matter in question is of any use. But if, by its relation to practice, the speculative survey be subservient to practice, it is then itself of practical use, and the difference between the practical survey and the speculative vanishes; and so, in effect, it does, in respect of everything but vicinity to use, to actual and particular use. To particular use, that part which is distinguished by the name of practical is most immediately subservient; that which is termed speculative in a manner not quite so immediate, it being only through the medium of the practical part that it is so.
Thus much being premised, I proceed to bring to view the order in which the principal and most comprehensive topics, viz. those in which, taken together, all others will be included,—will follow one another in the ensuing pages.
I. Modes or forms of which discourse or language has been found susceptible, viz. audible, visible, and their respective substitutes.
II. Uses of language, 1. Primary or social, viz. communication of the matter of thought from mind to mind. 2. Secondary or solitary, viz. 1. Recordative of the matter of thought; 2. Improvement of the matter of thought and language,—improvement of thought, viz. always with a view to action, otherwise the improvement is but imaginary, not real.
III. Operations performable in relation to discourse or language, viz. 1. Employing in the ordinary manner; 2. Choosing for use; 3. Learning; 4. Teaching; 5. Improving.
IV. Different occasions on which it may be desirable that language should be respectively applied to the several sorts of uses to which it is applicable, viz. 1. Simple information, applying to the conception; 2. Probation, applying to the judgment; 3. Gratification, applying to the sensitive faculty; 4. Excitation, applying to the will through the medium of the affections and the passions.*
V. Properties desirable in the matter of which language is susceptible.
This will be determined by, and bear reference to, the several preceding topics, viz. 1. Modes or forms; 2. Uses; 3. Operations; 4. Occasions.
Of these properties, the following list will, it is hoped, be found not to want much of being a complete one:—1. Clearness; 2. Correctness; 3. Copiousness; 4. Completeness; 5. Non-Redundance; 6. Compressedness; 7. Pronunciability; 8. Melodiousness; 9. Discibility; 10. Docibility; 11. Decorability; 12. Meliorability; 13. Impressiveness; 14. Dignity; 15. Patheticalness.
VI. Different degrees in which these several desirable properties are possessed by the principal and best constructed languages in use.†
VII. Means by which, in so far as the particular language employed by him admits of the possession of them, these several desirable properties may, on each occasion, be secured by the individual by whom the matter of language is employed.
VIII. Explanation of the several parts of speech, i. e. of the different modifications of the matter of language corresponding to the several modifications of thought, for which,—as often as to any considerable extent, thought comes to be communicated, whatsoever be the subject and the occasion,—expression requires to be found, and for which signs must, in every language, be provided; and, accordingly,—whatsoever be the difference between the sign or signs employed for the designation of any given import in this or that language, and the sign or signs employed for the designation of that same import in this or that other particular language,—are accordingly furnished.*
MODES OR FORMS OF WHICH DISCOURSE OR LANGUAGE HAS BEEN FOUND SUSCEPTIBLE, VIZ. AUDIBLE, VISIBLE, AND THEIR RESPECTIVE SUBSTITUTES.
The word Language is wont to be regarded in three different senses.
I. As an instrument employed in and for the interchange, or say, communication of ideas between man and man; and this without distinction as between [different societies among men] or regard had to the particular occasion on which, or the particular purpose for which, it is employed,—call this the information-regarding sense.
II. As considered with a view to certain particular occasions, and to the several purposes for which it is employed or employable on these several occasions. Call this the occasion and purpose-regarding sense.
III. As employed to designate the different collections of signs which have been or are employed by different societies among men for giving expression to these same ideas. In this sense it is employed for the purpose of bringing to view the difference between languages ancient and modern, and the languages employed in and by the different nations by which the earth is inhabited, as, for instance, the English, the French, the German, and so on.
Language, considered in the most extensive sense of the word, is the aggregate of the matter of discourse actually employed, or capable of being employed, by all individuals of the human kind taken in the aggregate.
Considered in its next most extensive sense it is the aggregate of the matter of discourse actually employed by all the individuals of this or that portion of human kind taken in the aggregate. In this sense, when spoken of, it is spoken of by the name of a language.
To constitute a language, a portion of the matter of discourse must suffice for the purpose of whatsoever intercourse between individual and individual, is necessary for the continuance of the existence of each individual, and that of the species.
In general, language† is seldom considered in any other point of view than that of an instrument of communication,—an instrument employed by one mind in making communication of its contents to another mind.
But, upon an attentive view, it will be found that, when perception has been excepted, of all the several distinguishable faculties of the human mind there is scarcely one in the use of which it is not habitually employed,—scarcely one, which without it, would be exercised with any considerable advantage to any considerable extent.
Signs employed in Discourse—audible, visible, and their respective Substitutes.
At a stage a certain degree advanced in the career of civilisation, man has two perfectly distinct and different modes or instruments for the fixation of thought and the conveyance of it from mind to mind. The one, that in which,—on the part of him whose design it is to make the communication, the instruments employed are measured, or, as they are termed, articulate, sounds, produced by organs which, in man, are, in a peculiar degree, adapted to that purpose,—on the part of him by whose senses it is the intention of the utterer of these sounds that the communication so made of them should be received, and on his mind the requisite impression should be made, the corresponding organs of hearing: these, accordingly, may be termed audible signs. The other, that in which, on the part of the author of it, the instruments employed are perceptible characters, and, on the part of the intended receiver, (with the exception of the particular case in which the appropriate organ is deficient,) the instruments put in exercise are the organs of sight. These, accordingly, are termed visible signs.
That the signs which address themselves to the ear were the first in use, several considerations concur in rendering manifest.
One is, that the audible form is alike natural to mankind and to the inferior animals. The visible, though, as experience testifies, not altogether incapable of being employed by man in his intercourse with some of the most intelligent species of animals, is not, as far as appears, at any rate, in a degree approaching to that in which the audible is, natural to any of them. Another proof is, that of all the denominations by which, in any of the civilized languages, this mode of communication is designated, the organs of speech are the only ones by which it is ever, in any direct way, designated. Witness this very word language, derived, as it is, from the Latin name for a tongue, lingua. Witness, also, the other word, speech, by which, from what root soever derived, the audible form, and that to the exclusion of the visible, never fails to be presented.
True it is that, for the designation of both alike, there exists in the English the word discourse, which word is moreover derived from the Latin word discursus, having, for its logical conjugate, the verb discurro. But of the verb discurro, the original import is by far, more extensive, and, at the same time, less appropriate. By it is meant, to run over, or to run on, and, accordingly, so far is it from being, in any sufficient degree, on all occasions appropriate, that, on many occasions, notwithstanding the seeming contradiction, even in speaking of discourse in its visible form, it has been found necessary to put aside that appellation, and, instead of it, to employ the word speech or the word language.*
For two purposes, it was necessary that, at this early period, the distinction between these two forms should be brought to view.
One is, that of making out and rendering complete the list—that list so important in a practical point of view,—the list of the properties desirable in language. Among these some will be seen, or, at any rate, one, the application of which is confined to the audible signs of language.
Another is, that of being necessary to the purpose of forming and conveying a distinct conception of the solitary use of language, this being, as to a considerable portion of it, confined, as already intimated, to the visible signs of language.
Hence, in answer to the question,—what is meant by language?—necessarily included is the answer to the question, what is meant by signs?—for signs are the elements of which language is composed.
These signs, then, are, in the first place, either, 1. Evanescent, or, 2. Permanent. Into the two classes thus designated, may be divided the whole aggregate of these signs.
This is the primary distinction to which those others, which there will be occasion to bring to view, are subordinate.
Evanescent signs are those of which words pronounced by the mouth are composed, those which address themselves to the ear. Permanent, are those which address themselves to the eye.
For the most part, that is to say, in the language of most nations, the permanent visible signs are themselves but signs, as it were, of the second order,—signs of those same audible signs which, in the language of these countries at any rate, were the sole primary signs of which language, at its origin, and for an immeasureable extent of time thereafter, was composed.
I say in most languages, for an exception there is, viz. that which is consituted by the Chinese language.
Principal and subsidiary,—into the two classes thus designated, may be divided the whole aggregate of these signs. By principal, understand those which, in the ordinary state of the human senses, are employed; by subsidiary, those which, in the case of the extinction of any of those senses, are employed as substitutes to the above principal ones. Of the latter class, the signs chiefly in use, if not the only ones that have ever been in use, are those of which the finger language is composed.
Partly for their own sake, partly in respect of the light capable of being thrown thereby upon the field of language, considered as applied to ordinary purposes, three particular topics, which may be considered either as subordinate, or as collateral, with reference to that principal topic, present a claim to notice. These are, 1. short-hand; 2. signals; 3. cyphers; 4. signs,—employed, or employable, in the government of brutes.
Short-hand has for its object the reducing to such a degree the time necessary for the committing to written signs the words of an oral discourse, as to enable a man thus to give fixity to the whole of it without loss.
Signals, cyphers, and signs, have for their objects one or other, or more, of the following results, viz. 1. producing despatch; 2. surmounting distance; 3. preserving secrecy.
Subjects of Discourse.
Of discourse, the only immediate subject, is the state of the communicator’s mind; in other words, of some one or more of the faculties belonging to it. Of this proposition, the truth, it is believed, will presently be made apparent.
The faculty, the state of which is thus declared, may be either the active faculty, (to which belongs the volitional faculty,) or the passive faculty.
If it be the volitional branch of the active faculty, the discourse, in and by which expression is given to it, will be—a wish, a command, a request, or a petition.
If it be a branch of the passive faculty, that branch will be—the perceptive faculty, the retentive faculty or memory, or the judicial faculty or judgment.
If it be the perceptive faculty—(in every case except that of a sensation produced by an external body, by operating on the touch)—the object or subject by which the sensation is produced,—the object, the action of which is the exciting cause, cannot but be present and in action at the time of the expression, at the time of the declaration made; for if that object be not present, the faculty, the state of which is declared, cannot, if the declaration be true, be any other than the memory.
Of the cases in which the faculty, the state of which is declared, is the perceptive faculty, or of the case in which it is the retentive faculty, no separate consideration need be made; for seldom, indeed, is either the perceptive or the retentive faculty in exercise, or operated upon, but an act or exercise of the judicial faculty is mixed with it.
There remains for consideration the judicial faculty: when concerning the state of the judicial faculty, a declaration is expressed,—the existence of a persuasion in some shape or other,—an opinion, a belief in relation to some object or other, is thereby expressed.
This object, the declared subject of this persuasion, will be the state either of the communicator’s own mind, or of some exterior object or aggregate of exterior objects,—exterior, viz. in relation to his own mind.
The portion of time, in or in relation to which, the state of this exterior object, or aggregate of objects, is considered and declared, will, with reference to the portion of time in which the declaration is made, be either present, past, or future; or all those, or any two of those portions of relative time.
The exterior objects, concerning which such declaration is made, will belong either to the class of persons, or that of things, or to both these classes.
In regard to motion and rest, the state in which, at any such given point of time, they are thus considered as spoken of as existing, will be either a quiescent state, i. e. a state of rest, or a moving state, i. e. a state of motion.
The objects in question, any such as are considered as appertaining to the class of things, will either be such as are endowed with the volitional faculty, or such as are destitute of that faculty.
When considered as the result of motion, any state of things is termed an event.
Considered as having had for its cause an exertion of the volitional faculty, whether on the part of a person or of a thing, an event is itself termed an action, or is considered as having action,—an action for its cause.
It is only through some sense or senses, external or internal, i. e. physical or psychical, that anything can be known to a man; or, (to speak more correctly,) that, concerning any object, or aggregate of objects, any persuasion can be obtained.
In so far as it is from his own sense or senses, external or internal, that the persuasion which, on the occasion in question, is expressed by the communicator on the question, is represented by him as obtained, the persuasion is said to be indigenous; in so far as it is from a declaration made, or supposed to have been made, by any other person, that the persuasion so expressed is represented as being derived, it may be styled an adoptive persuasion.
The existence of any expressible state of things, or of persons, or of both, whether it be quiescent, or motional, or both, at any given point or portion of time, is what is called a fact, or a matter of fact.
In so far as the act of the perception, the memory, or the judgment, the existence of which is, in and by the discourse delivered by the communicator in question, represented as being the result of the exercise, not of his own faculties, but of the faculties of some other person, the declaration so made by the communicator in question, is termed a report,—a report made concerning the state of the things or persons which is therein and thereby averred and declared.
In this case, and thus far, the whole of the subject of the report as declared by the reporter,—the only matter of fact of the existence of which, by such his communication, the communicator as such declares the existence,—is the matter of fact that to the purport in question, at the time in question, (if mentioned,) a declaration was by this other person made.
At the time of the communication made, that which is declared as being present to the mind of the communicator, is neither more nor less than a recollection, or rather, more correctly, the persuasion of the existence of a recollection,—a work of the memory, by which, the fact of his having, at the time in question, by means of one or more of his senses, received and obtained a perception of the matter of fact so described as above, the description of which is,—the fact that at the time in question, by the person in question, a declaration to the purport or effect in question was made.
To the declaration of the existence of such recollection, or rather, of the existence of a persuasion of the existence of such recollection, may, or may not, be added as it may happen, a persuasion affirmative or disaffirmative of the supposed matter of fact, the existence of which was the subject of the report in question, supposing such report to have been made, as according to the recollection it was made.*
USES OF LANGUAGE.
When, in the state at which, in a civilized nation, as far back as history reaches, the subject of language is contemplated, two perfectly distinct, howsoever intimately connected, uses of it will be found observable; these may be termed the 1. purely self-regarding; 2. extra-regarding; the object of the latter, the communication of thought; the object of the other, the improvement of thought. The one whose object consists in communication, may be termed the social use: the other, for distinction’s sake, though not less than the former, capable of being ultimately subservient to social purposes, yet not being immediately so,—the solitary use.
The extra-regarding or social, and that alone, is the use to which language is indebted for its existence; it was, for a long time, not only the only use actually made, but the only one which was even so much as in contemplation. For the purpose of communicating ideas were the several portions of the matter of discourse first employed. Of the solitary use, even to this day, no instance is recollected, in which, in the character of a separate use, completely distinct in its nature from the former, any notice has in print been taken. The practice of applying the mind to look, as it were, into itself,—to look at its own ideas, by means of the words to which they stand associated, is the practice of man as he exists in a state of society comparatively mature. Meditation has not been among the purposes to which language, in the earliest state of society, has been applied.
As to the social use, it is, in its nature, already as familiar as it is in the power of words to make it.
By the self-regarding, or solitary, or say communication-not-regarding use of language, understand that use which the matter of discourse is of to the individual in question, relation had to his own ideas, independently of that use which supposes communication made, or about to be made, by one individual to another or others.
This use may be thus expressed—Serving, to the ideas associated with the several correspondent words or combinations, as so many anchors by which they are fastened in the mind.
In regard to these two uses, the first observation that occurs is, that of the two different instruments capable of being employed to the social purpose, viz. audible signs and visible signs, the visible signs are those which are in a pre-eminent degree better adapted and more subservient to the solitary purpose than the audible.
By means of these, the individual is able to record the ideas that arise in his mind, or that he gathers up in his communication with others, and is enabled, at any future time, to take them for the subjects of meditation or improvement.
In regard to language, two perfectly distinguishable functions may be observed—the intransitive and the transitive.*
In respect of its intransitive function, it, as it were, amalgamates itself with thought—it forms no more than a sort of clothing to thought.
In respect of its transitive function, it is the medium of communication between one mind and another, or others.
This communication may convey information purely, or information for the purpose of excitation, say—more simply, and, when as above explained, not less precisely—information or excitation: to one or other of these ends and purposes, or both, will language in every case be directed.
In so far as information is the end, the understanding is the faculty upon which, in the instance of the person by whom the import of the discourse is intended to be conceived, who is principally addressed, and intended to be operated upon,—in so far as excitation is the end, the will.
To the purpose of simple communication neither in act nor in wish need the philanthropist wish to apply any restriction to the powers of language. Of such communication, evil, it is true, may be the subject as well as good; but, in the mixed mass, good, upon the whole, predominates; and it cannot be rendered apt for the one purpose without being rendered proportionably apt for the other.
Considered as applied to the purpose of excitation, the case may at first sight present itself as being, in some respects, different. In regard to passion, and thence in regard to affection, which is but passion in an inferior degree, and always liable to be raised to higher degree, repression, not excitation, may appear to be the object to be wished for: passion being, in every part of the field, the everlasting enemy of reason, in other words, of sound judgment, alias correct and all-comprehensive judgment.
But even to the lover of mankind, an acquaintance with the powers of language, even when applied to this dangerous purpose, is not without its use: for by the same insight by which the mode of increasing its powers in this line is learned, the mode of repressing them when, and in so far as applied to pernicious purposes is learned along with it. In the case of moral, as in that of physical poison, an acquaintance with the nature and powers of the disease is commonly a necessary preliminary to an acquaintance with the proper nature and mode of applying the most efficient, and, upon the whole, the most benignant remedy.
OPERATIONS WHICH, IN THE CHARACTER OF AN ART, ARE PERFORMABLE IN RELATION TO DISCOURSE, OR LANGUAGE IN GENERAL.
1. Learning. 2. Using or employing. 3. Teaching. 4. Improving or ameliorating.—These are so many operations capable of being performed, and the three first at least actually and continually performed in relation to everything that bears the name of art.
The order in which these several operations are brought to view, or in which their names are made to precede each other, is (it will readily be observed) the order of priority in respect of performance. Whatsoever be the operation in question, a man must have learned to perform it before he can perform it; he must have known how to perform it before he can teach it, and thereby enable another to perform it; and unless it be by some extraordinary and extraordinarily felicitous accident, he must not only have learned it, but be in use to practise it, to practise it in the state in which he finds it, before he will be able to make improvements in it, i. e. to raise it up to a higher and better state than that in which it had happened to him to find it.
To a first glance, as applied to all these several operations, the observation seems to present the aspect of correctness. But upon a closer view, to confine it in every part within the pale of truth, it will be found to require sundry limitations, but for which it would be liable to give birth to errors of such a nature as to exercise or practise a pernicious influence.
1. The truth of it is throughout confined to the several operations taken singly, of which the vast aggregate called by the name of the art in question is comprised. Of those particular operations, it will, in almost every instance, happen that a number, more or less considerable, may be found, of which one and the same person may, in one and the same day, or even hour, while he is occupied in learning one, be occupied in practising, with advantage, a second, teaching a third, and making improvement in a fourth.
2. From a too extensive and unlimited adoption given to it as applied to learning and practising, has arisen that most pernicious and foolishly devised clog to productive industry, the English statute concerning apprenticeships.* Be the art what it may, how (it was asked) can a man practise it well unless he have learned to practise it? Therefore, be the art what it may, seven years shall he have been employed in learning it before he is allowed to practise it.
3. Applied to the art of teaching, considered in its relation to the operation of learning, and, at the same time, applied to language considered as the particular subject of these general operations, it has ever been pressing, and continues to press, as a dead weight upon the intellectual branch of education. To learn it, has been said, is the duty of the ignorant; to teach is the privilege of the knowing, the skilful, the learned, the advanced in age. Assign to those who are destitute of instruction the function of administering it; unite in the same individual the opposite and incompatible functions of scholar and master,—the consequence is too obvious to require mention, and almost two ridiculous to admit of it!
At length, by bold experience acting in despite of superficial wisdom, the discovery has been made that, for the function of teacher, he who, at the same time, and in the same seat of instruction, is acting in the character of learner, is not merely in as high degree adapted, but in a much superior degree.
Applied to the operation of making improvement, considered in its relation to that of learning, to that of practising, and even to that of teaching, this same effusion of superficial wisdom, is an instrument which, in the hands of envy, the offspring of imbecility and indolence, is never-failingly employed in the endeavour to nip in the bud the blossoms of active genius. Its language is—be the art what it may, not merely to teach it, but even to practise it in the perfection to which it has, in these times, been brought forward, (not to speak of merely learning it,) requires all the ability that a man of consummate talent can hope to possess. Who are you who pretend to improve it?—who are you, who, not content with equaling, pretend to have risen above those whom the whole world admires as seated on the highest pinnacle of eminence?
It is the same instrument which, in the hands of the ruling few, self-clothed in the robe of superior wisdom, is employed in covering with contempt the claims and exertions of the subject many.
Applying to art in general, these, same instructions would be found applicable, with indisputable propriety, to that master art, the art of discoursing, of which the product is discourse itself or language. To the art itself,—to the fruit or produce of it,—to the instrument of it,—to all these distinguishable, howsoever intimately connected, senses, are both these words, discourse and language, wont to be applied.
Teaching, learning, practising, or choosing for use, on the occasion of the use made of the names by which these several operations, considered as having language for their common subject, are designated, the state in which language is tacitly and impliedly considered as being taken in hand, and made the subject of the operation, is the exact state in which it happens to be at the time—by improvement, in so far as it is considered as taking place, the language is considered as being brought out of that state into a better.
A language like any other work or subject,—a language is good in proportion as the several qualities which, on any account, are desirable in it, are found to be in it.
In the instance of language, what those qualities are, it will be the business of the next chapter to endeavour to show.
As to improvement, it has two distinguishable subjects: 1. The work itself, language; 2. The several other operations, viz. teaching, learning, and employing, performable in relation to that work.
Of these operations, teaching and learning are correlative; and, for the reception of any improvement, of which the mode of performing them is susceptible, they must wait hand in hand. But, in both these instances, improvement considered as applied to the instrument itself, and improvement considered as applied to the mode of teaching and learning, are perfectly distinguishable.
In regard to employing, on the occasion of improvements, relative to the employing the work, improvements considered as made in the work itself, and improvements considered as made in relation to the mode of employing it in the character of an instrument of discourse, will be apt to coincide, and become difficultly, if at all distinguishable.
PROPERTIES DESIRABLE IN A LANGUAGE.
Division and Enumeration of Desirable Properties.
Of what use (it may be asked) is this topic language and languages, each particular language, and the aggregate mass of signs composed of all languages put together, are everywhere what they are. Every man must take them as he finds them. By no man, be his own language in particular, be all languages in general, ever so ill adapted to the ends of language, say, in one word, ever so bad, can any of them be made better than it is.
To a considerable extent these observations will be found no less just than obvious, not but that some points, however, will, it is supposed, be seen, in relation to which observations may be brought to view, such as will be found not altogether unproductive of, or incapable of being applied to, practical use.
1. Occasions are not altogether unexampled in which a man has the choice of the language he will make use of. On such occasions, if any doubt should arise which of them to employ, he will be able to satisfy himself which of them, on the occasion in question, is best adapted to his purpose.
2. Be the language, in the use of which he has been principally bred,—be, in a word, his native language, what it may, it may be of use to him to be apprized in what degree the qualities desirable in language are possessed by it. Why? That in respect to them he may employ it to the most advantage,—that he may, on every occasion, be able to endue his language with these several desirable properties, and that in the proportions which, on the occasion in question, are best adapted to use.
3. Wild as at first mention the notion may appear, upon the list of these qualities articles may be brought to view, in relation to which improvement may be seen to be a result, the contributing to which, in one way or other, is not altogether out of the reach of individual hands. In so far as, in the instance of this or that nation, the language in universal use shall have been recognised as labouring in a greater or lesser degree under this or that imperfection correspondent and opposite to any one or more of these desirable properties, it may be seen whether in any, and what degree, that imperfection may be susceptible of a remedy, and in what ways and degrees it may be in the power of any individual to contribute to the application of such remedy.
In a certain sense every man has power over his own style; at any rate, whatsoever be the language which he employs, his style is such as he has made it.
A language is the aggregate of the significant signs employed by all the several individuals that use that language.
To know what are the properties desirable in a language is, therefore, to know the properties desirable in the sum of the discourses used by all those several individuals on all the different purposes and occasions taken together, for and on which they can have need to use the language.
Some properties will be alike desirable, or, at any rate, desirable to all purposes and on all occasions without distinction; for other properties the demand applies not to all purposes and occasions without distinction, but principally and exclusively to certain purposes and occasions.
These properties are distinguishable into three different classes, viz. 1. The information-regarding; 2. The nation-regarding; 3. The purpose-regarding.
I. The information-regarding; i. e. properties desirable for the communication of the information, for which language is employed; that is to say, whatsoever be the language by means of which it is endeavoured to convey it, the persons by whom, the persons to whom, the occasions on which, and the purposes for which, it is endeavoured to be conveyed.
II. The nation-regarding class of properties, or,—properties desirable in a language in comparison with other languages,—meaning here, by a language, and the language, the aggregate composed of all the words habitually employed by a certain aggregate of persons, in whose instance this habit of employing the same aggregate of words for all purposes of social intercourse, causes them to be spoken of as having the same language.
III. The purpose-regarding class, i. e. properties desirable, this or that one of them, or this or that other of them, in the language, or say, discourse, employed according to the occasion on which, and purpose for which, it is employed.
1. Impressiveness, as opposed to feebleness.
3. Patheticalness, or say, aptitude for exciting tender emotions.
If the above qualities be termed desirable properties of the first order, those properties which are conducive to the investing a language with this or that property of the first order, may be termed desirable properties of the second order.
Subservient, or, say conducive, to the primary properties of discibility and docibility, are,—
1. Giving expression by means of a small as effectually as by means of a larger number of inflections to the idea in question.
2. Facility of admitting the junction of two or more words into one.
Considered as applied to language in general, that is, to every language without distinction, every one of these qualities is liable to have place in different degrees. Not, perhaps, in any one existing language is every one of these qualities possessed in a degree equal to the highest in which it could be conceived to be possessed of them respectively; at the same time, not, perhaps, in the instance of any one of them can it be said, with correctness, that there is any one of these qualities which is not, in any degree, to be found applicable to it.
With equal right, two distinguishable, though nearly related qualities may claim to be represented by this word, viz. exemption from ambiguity, and exemption from obscurity, both of them negative ones.
1. The case in which ambiguity has place, is where, after the discourse has presented itself to, and has been received by, sense, two distinguishable acceptations have presented themselves to the mind,—two distinguishable, and accordingly distinguished imports, between which the judgment hesitates, unable to determine which of the two it was that was intended should be presented and received.
By the strict and original import of the word ambiguity, the number of these imports is confined to two,—but in its application this explanation may be extended to any greater number of imports, so as they be determinate. In practice it is seldom between more than two that the mind will have to hesitate.
2. The case in which obscurity has place, is where, after the discourse has been received by sense, the mind, for a greater or less length of time, finds itself unable to fix upon any determinate import, as having been intended to be conveyed; and if, after continuing for a greater or less length of time, the endeavour is given up as hopeless, the obscurity of the discourse becomes, with relation to the individual in question, viz. the individual by whom it is thus taken in hand, converted for a time, at least, into unintelligibility.
Obscurity, so long as it lasts, may be considered as the superlative or highest point of ambiguity; ambiguity having place to the widest extent. It is not, as in the case of ambiguity in its stricter sense, between two, or some other small number of imports, and these determinate ones, that the mind hesitates, but between all, or rather among all, imaginable ones.
The greater the number is of the words that are employed in the expression of a given import, the less clear is the discourse which they compose. Take an entire paragraph, take any one of the sentences of which it is composed,—to whatsoever purpose the mass of discourse in question is considered as a whole, till the last word has been heard or read, and understood, obscurity, of a shade more or less deep, covers every part of it. Such being the case, the sooner the mind has gone over the whole, the sooner this obscurity is dispelled, and the less there is of it, the sooner it is gone through with.
The conciseness of an expression is inversely as the number of words employed in the conveyance of the idea intended to be conveyed by it.
The uses of this property are,—
I. When the signs employed are of the impermanent kind, such as words spoken,—saving in the article of time, of time employed in utterance and reception,—in speaking and hearing.
II. When they are of the permanent kind, 1, saving in the article of time employed in reading; 2, saving in the expense of giving birth and preservation to these same permanent signs; in the expense of the substraction and colouring matter for writing, printing, and engraving, or the like.
III. To a certain degree conciseness, as above expressed, is contributory to clearness; that is to say, the want of it is contributory to the absence of, or is opposite to, clearness,—is contributory, at any rate, to obscurity, and it may be to ambiguity.
IV. Conciseness is, in many instances, contributory to impressiveness.
V. To apprehensibility.
VI. To retainableness,—thus Horace,
Two branches of art and science, or say, two subject matters of knowledge there are, in its application to which, the usefulness and importance of conciseness is prodigious. These are, 1, Law; 2, Posology or (to employ the word which, unexpressive as it is, is the only one as yet in use) mathematics;—yet prodigious as is this importance, scarcely has it been taken for the subject of observation; and indeed as applied to posology, namely to the arithmetical branch of it, it seems to have hitherto altogether escaped notice.
Of the wonders performed by the means of algebra, abbreviation has been one main, not to say the principal, instrument. Abbreviation productive of conciseness,—the act of giving, in a degree more or less considerable, to the discourse in question, the property of conciseness.
That compressedness is of use not only immediately, and on its own account, but mediately and in the character of an instrument of clearness, has been already intimated;—in what way it is so, may now have been observed.
Facility of Utterance, or say Pronunciability.
Though in the field of causality intimately connected with melodiousness, this quality is in its nature, and thence in idea, sufficiently distinguishable from it. In proportion as, to produce it requires effort on the part of the speaker, and on that occasion effort is accordingly employed, the fact of its being employed naturally becomes perceptible, and the existence of it is actually perceived; and in proportion as in the bosom of the speaker uneasiness is, or by the hearer is supposed to have place, by the force of sympathy, the like effect is, in his own bosom, apt to take place.
That in the formation of language in general, melodiousness and facility of utterance, taken together, have actually, in the character of ends, been generally aimed at, is a matter of fact that may be stated as perceptible in the history of some languages, and it is supposed in a degree more or less considerable in the history of every language.
In every known language, in so far as it is known, changes in structure are observable; and in every instance these changes appear to have had for their cause, a general endeavour towards the giving to the instrument of discourse these agreeable qualities in a continually increasing degree.
Of Melodiousness, or say Harmoniousness.
By each of these terms is meant the property of producing, through the medium of the ear, a sensation of an agreeable cast in the mind.
Applied to different species of discourse, i. e. to discourse considered as employed for different purposes, melodiousness or harmoniousness,* whichsoever be the term, presents two ideas somewhat different, though differing rather in degree than in any other particular. In this point of view the opposite ends of the scale may be designated by the terms positive and negative. A sort of medium being assumed—any point being taken at pleasure, as and for the middle point,—positive melodiousness has place when the degree of that quality is considered as being above that middle point, negative melodiousness, when the situation of the degree in question is considered as being below that point.
In the discourse in question, what degree of this quality is required depends upon the nature of the discourse, i. e. upon the purpose and the occasion on which the discourse is employed.
1. In the case of poetry, in so far as rhythm, i. e. the succession of measured sounds, is considered as entering into the composition of it, melodiousness, on the positive side of the scale, is universally understood as essential and indispensable; in the case of the art and labour of the composer, one great object is the securing the undiscontinued existence of it.
2. In the case of that sort of poetry in which rhythm is not employed, and of which the agreeableness is understood to depend on the intercourse between the imagination of the author and the imagination of the reader, melodiousness, in the positive degree, is not of the essence of the discourse; but the quantum of the pleasure produced cannot but be more or less dependent on the degree in which this quality has been conferred on it; and, at any rate, by any positive degree of the opposite quality—unmelodiousness or unharmoniousness—the design cannot but be proportionally counteracted.
3. In the case of public speaking—of a speech delivered to or before a public assembly—though the melody or harmony is of a different cast from what it is of, in the case of vocal music, or even that of poetry, metrical or unmetrical; and though positive harmoniousness enter not here, as there, into the very essence of the purpose, yet to that purpose, as universally acknowledged, of this quality, in so far as obtainable, an extraordinary share, is, in proportion to the degree of it, conducive; and, at any rate, by any such deficiency as leaves the degree below the middle point, the purpose cannot but be, in a proportionate degree, counteracted.
4. In a word, there is not perhaps that imaginable occasion on which, by the degree of harmoniousness or unharmoniousness appertaining to the discourse, its efficiency, with relation to the design of it, be that design what it may, may not in some degree be influenced.
This connexion, viz. between the efficiency of a discourse and the harmoniousness of it, when indicated, howsoever clear and indisputable, is in no small degree apt to be unobserved.
Speaking of the admiration universally bestowed upon Shakspeare, it is to the harmony of his numbers as much as, if not more than, to any other feature of excellence in the works of that author, that Mrs Montague attributes the effect.* When this observation first made its appearance, the character of originality was, it is believed, very generally attributed to it; at any rate, the quality in question presented itself to the author of these pages in that same character, and the observation as one which, though, when once presented, the justice of it was felt, had not till then presented itself to his mind.
Of Ornability or Decorability.
Whatsoever be the import intended to be conveyed, by the mere conveyance of that import alone, nothing which can with propriety be termed ornament, (unless it be in so far as harmoniousness, and those other intrinsic qualities are considered in that light,) can be given to the discourse by which that import is endeavoured to be conveyed.
Saving the above exceptions, whatsoever therefore of ornament can be given to a discourse, will be given by the conveyance of some ideas which are not essential to the main or direct purpose, in addition to those which are essential to it. Of some ideas, not essential to the main purpose, will the matter of ornament be composed.
Of that matter of ornament, the exhibition and conveyance may be performed either by and with, or even without, addition to the number of the words which, if nothing in the way of ornament were conveyed, or intended to be conveyed, would have been employed.
In what manner matter of ornament, as expressed by additional words designed for that purpose, may be added to discourse, is a topic that belongs not to the design of this work. According to the general nature of the end proposed by the discourse, it belongs to the head of Rhetoric or Poetry.
The case which alone belongs in any way to the present design, is that in which, in and for the conveyance of the ornament, no greater number of words is employed than would or might have been employed, had no such design been entertained, nor any such effect been produced.
Under the present head, one very general observation may have its use.
This is,—that so long as no addition is made to the number of the words that would otherwise have been employed, the addition of any ideas, the effect of which is not in some particular and assignable way of a positively displeasing nature, the effect of which is not to produce uneasiness in some positive and assignable shape, will operate as ornament, and have the effect of producing, i. e. at any rate a tendency to produce, pleasure.
Of this pleasure the cause has been already brought to view. Among the qualities desirable in language, that of compressedness has in its place been brought to view. Communication of ideas being the benefit which it is the nature and design of discourse to confer, and the time and labour employed (on the one hand in the utterance, on the other hand in the hearing or reading, and, in both cases, in the considering the discourse) not being increased, the consequence is, that the price remaining the same, whatsoever ideas can, without any addition to that price, be imparted and received, are, with relation to the mind of the receiver, so much clear gain.
The mind is thus led to the subject of association—of the associations that have place among ideas.
1. What are the sorts of ideas which, in the character of main or principal ideas, are wont to have others associated with them in the character of accessory ones?
2. What are the ideas which, in the character of accessory ones, are respectively wont to be associated with these principal ones?
3. In what cases association is wont to be productive of an immediately pleasant or otherwise beneficial effect.
4. In what cases, if any, of a pernicious effect?
5. By what means any unpleasant, or in any other way pernicious effect, produced or producible by such association, may be put an end to or prevented?
Of Impressiveness or Force.
By the word impressiveness is meant to be brought to view the degree in which, so far as depends upon the general structure of it,—and not upon any particular talent of the individual by whom, on the occasion in question, it happens to be employed, nor yet upon the particular purpose for which, on that occasion, it is employed,—the nature of the language in question affords, on the occasion in question, be it what it may, and, with relation to the purpose in question, be it what it may, the means and probability of accomplishing that purpose.
In the nature of the purpose may be seen a circumstance, on which the form in which this quality presents itself cannot but be more or less dependent.
The time at which the purpose is designed to be accomplished, what is it with reference to the time at which the discourse is uttered? Is it present or future? If future, more or less near or remote? The faculty proposed to be operated upon, what is it?—the intellectual alone, or the volitional also? And if the volitional, by what means?—by the affections in a temperate state, or by the affections operating in a warm or in an inflamed state? In a word, by the passions? On the modifications brought to view by these questions, will depend, in some measure, not only the degree, but the mode, of the sort of impressiveness best adapted to the nature of the purpose.
In so far as time future, is the time at which the purpose is to be accomplished, and the portion in question of that time is remote, the memory is the subject on which the impression requires to be made; and thus far, as applied to a portion of discourse, impressiveness coincides with fitness for being held in remembrance.
If it be on the passions that the impression is proposed to be made, the present will be the portion of time, more particularly looked to for making it.
Be the purpose what it may, of which of these sorts it may, how it is that the strength, and thence the depth of the impression is influenced by the structure of the language, is an inquiry that will call for consideration as we advance.*
At present, all that seems suited to this place is,—that in most cases impressiveness depends upon, or is promoted by, clearness, in so far as clearness stands opposed to ambiguity, and likewise, in all cases, by compressedness.
By dignity, is here to be understood, that quality or character in a man’s style, which is the result of its being such as to convey to the hearer or reader the idea of self-possession on the part of the speaker or writer; the idea of his having acquired a mastery over the subject which he has taken in hand, whatsoever it be, or at the least, of his having settled and arranged his thoughts concerning it.
This quality may be termed a secondary one, as being a quality, which is, as it were, a collateral result, produced without any separate and additional causes, by virtue of some of those which are requisite for securing to the style the qualities of clearness and impressiveness.
Of strength of mind on the part of the speaker or writer, dignity of style is a natural consequence, and by that means a sign.
The signs of strength of mind are exhibited in a man’s style in greater or less perfection, in proportion as it is clear of certain marks, which may be considered as symptoms of weakness.
Under one or other of two denominations, viz. 1. laxity; and, 2. fumbling; the principal symptoms of weakness may, it is believed, be found comprehended.
1.Laxity.—In what improprieties in the choice and arrangement of words ambiguity and obscurity take their rise, have been shown in the several preceding sections. But, as it is with the several other imperfections, which stand opposed to the several qualities desirable in language, so is it with these,—no man, who, with equal facility, could exclude them from his discourse, would leave the marks of them to appear in it and deface it. In proportion, therefore, to the degree in which it is seen to be defaced by these imperfections, is the degree of weakness under which his mind is seen to labour.
In the constitution of the mind, ambiguity and obscurity of style are symptoms of laxity and weakness; clearness and impressiveness are signs of strength.
2.Fumbling.—This is the natural result, and by that means a symptom of want of preparation.
When the field which a man has to travel over is new to him, he finds himself under the necessity of picking up as he goes the opinions which he sees reason to deliver, and the expressions which, in the delivering of them, he employs. The consequence is, that no sooner has he pitched upon one opinion, and clothed it in such expressions as at the moment have presented themselves, than he finds that, in some way or other, they are deficient in respect of correctness or completeness. Hence come clause after clause, having for their objects the producing the effects of ampliation, restriction, or modification, or, in one word, amendment.
Besides, and again, and this too, and moreover, it is by words of this sort that the symptom of weakness, here called fumbling, is betrayed.
In some cases, the seat of this disease may be found in single terms; in other cases, the whole proposition, or the whole paragraph, or in a word the whole argument, must be examined before the nature of the disease becomes apparent, and thence before the proper mode of cure can be ascertained.
Instances of fumbling, as perceptible in the character of single terms, are,—species of things picked up on the spot, and brought to view, one after another, in the order in which they have happened to present themselves. If a correct and comprehensive view of the subject had been taken, some generic term, in the import of which, the import of all these several specific terms, or at least of such of them as belonged properly to the occasion, would have been included, would have been employed. By this means, a number of repetitions, equal to the whole number of these specific terms, minus one, would have been spared; and if, for greater clearness, it had been deemed advisable to present separately to view the idea designated by these specific terms, or any of them, for producing that effect, so many single words, with the requisite small assortment of connectives for stringing them together, might have sufficed; and instead of being weakened by correction after correction, the first impression would, by so many exemplifications, illustrations, and corroberations, have been rendered stronger and stronger.
Proportioned to the difficulty of adequate preparation, is the degree in which want of preparation is apt to be unavoidable, and thence where it betrays itself, the degree in which it appears excusable. And conversely.—Proportioned to the facility of adequate preparation, is the degree in which evident want of preparation as evidenced by its symptoms, viz. laxity and fumbling is apt to render itself offensive and discreditable.
In every spoken discourse, in general, want of adequate preparation, is much more apt to be unavoidable than in any written discourse. In a spoken discourse, laxity and fumbling are accordingly more excusable and less offensive than in a written discourse.
Mutual Relation of the Properties Desirable and Undesirable in Language.
I. Clearness, conciseness, and correctness; with their opposites, obscurity, ambiguity, &c.,—their relation.
While obscurity lasts, the signs employed call up no idea signified.
While indistinctness lasts, the sign presents, along with the idea intended to be presented and conveyed, another idea, between which two the boundaries are not defined and ascertained.
While ambiguity lasts, the sign presents, along with the idea intended to be presented and conveyed, another idea which is not intended to be presented and conveyed, but between which and the idea intended to be conveyed, the boundaries are sufficiently definite and ascertained.
When incorrectness has place, instead of the idea intended to be presented and conveyed, is presented and conveyed an idea which was not intended to be presented and conveyed.
When, and in so far as non-completeness has place, either an idea or ideas which were designed to have place, or an idea or ideas in regard to which it is desirable that they should take place fail to take place.
Thus it is that comprehensiveness has two senses—a negative and a positive sense, according as the standard of reference is an idea which already has place in the mind of some person or persons, or an idea which, till the discourse in question was uttered, or at least framed, never yet had place; in the first case, the imperfection has place,* and non-comprehensiveness is the name; in the other case perfection has place, and comprehensiveness is the name of that perfection.
In so far as non-conciseness, or say non-compressedness, or say verbosity, has place, utterance is given to signs other than those by which the idea intended to be conveyed might have been expressed, though perhaps in a manner not quite so free from obscurity, ambiguity, and indistinctness, or say indeterminateness.
Compactness supposes ideas more than one: perhaps propositions more than one: opposite to compactness is non-compactness, or say perhaps desultoriness.
In so far as desultoriness, or say non-compactness has place, the propositions or portions of discourse, instead of being placed in contiguity, are placed at a distance, more or less great, from one another, other ideas, one or more, being placed between them.
Between the two desirable qualities of clearness and conciseness there is a perpetual repugnancy, a perpetual competition,—taking each of them at its maximum, even an absolute incompatibility.
Between clearness and conciseness, considered with reference to the same sentence, there exists the same sort of incompatibility as between conciseness considered as a quality of each particular sentence, and conciseness considered as a quality of the whole discourse of which that and the other sentences are component members.
II. Copiousness, Conciseness, Tractibility—their relation.
Of language, the use, and the sole use, being the communication of ideas, in proportion to its copiousness will be the usefulness, and in so far the excellence of every language.
But be the particular language what it will, at no one point of time will it contain within itself a stock of words, such as, without prejudice to the perfection of all these other desirable properties, shall be capable of giving expression to all the ideas for the expression of which a demand is capable of having place at a succeeding point of time. Hence in the property of copiousness, if considered as a constantly existing property or quality, the idea of tractibility is necessarily included.
Opposite to copiousness is poverty or scantiness. Scantiness may be distinguished into absolute and relative. Absolute is that which has place in so far as for the proposition for which a man has occasion to find expression, no expression can be found by any means; relative, where such expression may indeed be found, but not without prejudice to conciseness, to wit, by the employing, instead of a single-worded term, in the form of a noun-substantive, either a definition or a description, more or less loose and diffuse.
In so far as in language, copiousness is a perfection, scantiness cannot but be an imperfection.
Copiousness may be distinguished into useful or serviceable, and useless or unserviceable.
In respect of any given words, copiousness is serviceable, in so far as to the idea or proposition in question, without the employing of that word, expression either cannot be given at all, or not without preponderant prejudice to this or that other one of the properties desirable in language; unserviceable in so far as without preponderant prejudice to this or that property desirable in language, expression may be given to the idea or proposition in question without the employing of that word.
Scantiness and useless copiousness, i. e. redundancy, are properties very capable of co-existing in conjunction with one another in the same language.
In the vocabularies of the several arts, liberal and manual, in addition to such as are serviceable, others which, according to the explanation above given to the word, may, with strict propriety, be termed unserviceable, will, in almost every instance, to an amount more or less considerable, be found.
III. Copiousness and simplicity, their relation.
1. As to copiousness. This is a quality of a positive aspect, and presents itself as the principal one. The main use and purpose of language is to express thought, by the amount of all useful thought for which it is incapable of affording an adequate expression, therefore, any language cannot but be imperfect and inadequate.
This observation will be apt to appear so extremely obvious, that all mention of it may seem superfluous. A prejudice, however, is to be found established, and that in no small force, the harbouring of which is irreconcileable with the acknowledgement of this quality in the character of a desirable one. The word in and by which this prejudice is wont to find utterance is purity.
2. Simplicity. In this quality may be seen, as it were, the antagonist of copiousness; a language is copious, in so far as it is provided, furnished, replete, with useful matter: it is simple, in so far as it is unencumbered with matter which, being useless, is at best superfluous.
To this purpose, the words of which language is composed may be considered, 1. Singly but entire; 2. Aggregately as put together in the composition of a sentence: 3. Fractionally, i. e. each of them in respect of its component parts. By useless combinations, by words altogether useless; or, lastly, by useless modifications of words, may the simplicity of a language be destroyed.*
But allowing to the quality opposite to the one here in question the character of an imperfection, in what way, it may be asked, is it attended with any practical inconvenience, in a word, with positive uneasiness, or with loss of positive enjoyment?
I answer in this way—Whether it be his own native language, or a language which, with reference to him, is a foreign one, of no part of any language can the use be obtained by a man without labour; and in so far as it is consumed either in the learning or the employing of words or phrases that are without use, in so far is a man’s labour devoid of use.†
Comparative Importance of these several Desirable Qualities.
Such as above, is that which, in the character of a complete, as well as correct one, has presented itself as a list of the several qualities desirable in language.
Good,—it may be said,—desirable; but in what degree, as compared with one another? All in equal degree, or in different degrees?
Answer,—different and widely distant in the scale of importance will these several qualities, it is believed, upon comparison with each other, be found.
Copiousness and clearness, viz. clearness from ambiguity and obscurity,—compared with all the several others, these two qualities present themselves as seated upon a lofty eminence.
1. On the highest point stands copiousness. It is only in proportion as it is copious that a language contributes anything to its end:—to any of the modifications of which the universal end, wellbeing, is susceptible. Reduce its copiousness, and in proportion as you reduce it, the height of the place occupied by man, in the scale of being, is reduced from that of a member of the best governed and mannered community, down to that of a barbarian, of a savage, of a beast.
2. Next in the order of importance, and at no great distance, comes clearness;—clearness, from the two kindred imperfections of ambiguity and obscurity.
This, however, is but as it were a sort of negative quality consisting in the absence of two peculiar imperfections, each of them diminishing, as far as it goes, the benefits attached to copiousness.
3. Upon a yet lower level, presents itself the quality of impressiveness,—at any rate if considered by itself, viz. as having place no otherwise than in a case in which, in respect of the article of clearness, no deficiency has place.
A circumstance by which, in so far as importance corresponds with utility, the importance of this quality, viz. impressiveness, may, it should seem, be found to experience no inconsiderable reduction, is its liability to be rendered subservient to pernicious purposes in a degree superior to that in which it is likely to be rendered subservient to purposes of a beneficial character;—the greater the intensity of passion, the greater its aptitude to be productive of pernicious consequences, and in the case of a discourse, the object or tendency of which is to operate upon the passions, the greater the degree of its impressiveness, the greater the degree of efficiency with which it is likely to operate upon the passions;—the greater the degree of intensity of the passion which it is the nature and tendency of it to excite.
4. and 5. Simplicity and compressedness,—lower still is the level on which these two qualities present themselves.
Of their utility, that part which is original and intrinsic, and which consists of the saving in time and labour, is comparatively inconsiderable.
The principal part consists of that secondary and derivative utility which is composed of, and increased by, their subserviency to the two qualities of primary and intrinsic utility, viz. clearness and impressiveness.
6. and 7. Lowest of all stand the two kindred qualities so nearly allied to purely physical ones, viz. melodiousness and facility of utterance.
Melodiousness,—still more the absence of the opposite quality, may, in some measure, be considered as subservient to impressiveness, but for this connexion it might perhaps be regarded in no higher character than that of a foreign and accidental ornament, not connected with any of the important ends and uses of language, and not having application to it, but in two portions of its field, viz. oratory and poetry.
Even as between these two, viz. melodiousness and facility of utterance,—facility of utterance presents itself as standing on one account, in so far as it has place, in an uncombined state, manifestly and considerably below melodiousness. By excellence in respect of melodiousness, other persons besides the speaker or writer,—other persons to the number of which, in the case of the writer, there are not any limits, and in the case of the speaker none but such as are not narrow ones, are gratified,—by deficiency in that same respect, proportionably more or less displeased;—by facility of utterance, in so far as it is separable, and exists separate from melodiousness, one individual alone, viz. the author, is affected, and he only in so far as the discourse being composed of signs of the audible kind, it comes accordingly to be made audible.
Of the Qualities desirable in Style, i. e. in Language, considered as employed by this or that Individual.
1. Simplicity. 2. Compressedness. 3. Clearness. 4. Impressiveness; and 5. Harmoniousness.—Among the several distinguishable qualities which presented themselves as desirable in language in general, in the whole structure of every language, by whatsoever hands employed, these five presented themselves; to the case of this or that individual, considered as taking in hand this or that language in particular, and applying it to his own purpose, whatsoever be that purpose, these same five qualities will, it is believed, be found alike applicable, and with equal propriety and advantage.
Of the several qualities desirable in the case of language in general, considered without reference to an individual employer of the instrument, there are two others, viz. copiousness, and facility of utterance or say pronunciability, which are not thus applicable.
1. Of these, copiousness seems scarcely to have any application to the case of an individual speaker or writer. In his case copiousness bears reference to the occasion and the subject. Occasions are not wanting with reference to which a sufficient degree of copiousness may be exhibited in the compass of a single word.* In so far as the language which he employs fails of being adapted, adequately adapted, to the subject, the most consummate writer or speaker will not be able to give to his style the quality of copiousness. In the native language of New South Wales, the most consummate master of the language of that country would not be able to deliver an intelligible argument in the English court of Common Pleas, in an action of Replevin, or on what is called a point of Practice.
2. Pronunciability, or Facility of Utterance.—In this we have seen another quality, the applicability of which will be found to be confined to the case of a whole language, in contradistinction to that of an individual considered as making use of it.
In so far as the language in which he expresses himself affords a choice, it will naturally be, especially in this experienced and polished age, among the cares of every well educated man, especially of the poet and the public speaker, to put aside rather than look out for any of those difficultly pronounceable sounds, which the usage of early times happens to have introduced into the language, and that of intervening times to have left in it.
But if, throughout its whole texture, the language abound in sounds of difficult utterance, the utmost possible skill on the part of him by whom it is employed, may be insufficient to give utterance to a discourse of considerable length without suffering uneasiness, and, in his intonation and deportment, exhibiting sensible marks of such his sufferance.
Without much toil to himself, a statesman of the Hottentot country might perhaps, for a considerable time, continue to display his eloquence; but to an European hearer, the idea of continual difficulty, and considerable uneasiness, would all the while present itself.*
One quality there is which will be seen to depend on the individual alone:—on the use made by him of the language, whatsoever it may be. For the designation of this quality no appellative more apt has been found than the word dignity.
By the word dignity, no such meaning is here intended to be expressed as that which is conveyed by the word pomposity.
With or without dignity, pomposity is a quality that may be given to a man’s style by inappropriate choice of words taken singly,—by words selected for the purpose of impressing on the imagination the ideas of grandeur, sublimity, and importance, commonly at the expense of clearness,—words calculated to gratify the ear, with pleasure produced by appropriate melody and harmony.
The quality for the expression of which the word dignity is here employed, will be found to depend,—not upon the choice of terms taken singly, but principally or exclusively upon collocation,—and that not so much upon the collocation of words taken singly, as upon the collocation of whole sentences, and their component clauses or members.
OF IMPROVEMENT CONSIDERED AS APPLICABLE TO LANGUAGE, OR THE MEANS BY WHICH, IN SO FAR AS THE PARTICULAR LANGUAGE EMPLOYED BY AN INDIVIDUAL ADMITS OF THE POSSESSION OF THEM, THE PROPERTIES DESIRABLE IN LANGUAGE MAY, ON EACH OCCASION, BE SECURED.
Questions applicable to Improvements in Language.
To make an improvement, or improvements, in a language, is to cause it to possess, in a higher degree than it does at the time in question, some one or more of the qualities desirable in a language; of these, a list, as complete as it could be made, has already been given.†
An imaginable ulterior species of improvement would be the putting language in general, or this or that language in particular, in possession of some quality, of which, till the time in question, no language was ever possessed. But, if the list above referred to be what it was intended to be—a complete one, on this supposition this imaginary species is incapable of being exemplified and realized.
In connexion with this subject, the following are the questions which seem to call for an answer:—1. What alterations have a just claim to the title of improvements? 2. In what way, and in what manner, have they actually been brought about without design? 3. Whether any, and what improvements are capable of being brought about by design; in other words, in what shape, or shapes, the nature of language admits of improvement? And, 4. By what hands, and in what manner, improvement in these several shapes may be effected or promoted?
What Alterations may be deemed Improvements.
Short is the answer which, for this question, may suffice. Of the qualities desirable in language, the following list has been given,—viz. 1. Clearness; 2. Correctness; 3. Copiousness; 4. Completeness; 5. Non-redundance, or simplicity; 6. Compressedness; 7. Pronunciability; 8. Melodiousness; 9. Discibility; 10. Docibility; 11. Meliorability; 12. Decorability; 13. Impressiveness; 14. Dignity; 15. Patheticalness. In so far as this list is correct and complete, the answer to this question has been already given.
If the list above given be a complete one, then it is that, in the qualities contained in it, added to their respective opposites, we have all the qualities, good and bad, of which a language is susceptible; and, if so, then will every alteration, to which the name of improvement can with propriety be applied, consist in bestowing upon the language,—i. e. the aggregate of the words of which the language is composed, one or more of these qualities in a higher degree than that in which it was respectively in possession of them before. After, and in consequence, and in virtue of the improvement, the language will, pro tanto, and to the extent of the improvement, be more copious, more simple, more compressed, more clear, i. e. freer from ambiguity and obscurity, more impressive, more melodious, more easy of utterance, more ornamental, &c., than before.
What Improvements take Place without Design.
Improvements made without design? No certainly; in all the several shapes in which all the several improvements that have ever been made, in none of them has it ever been made any otherwise than with the design of doing what was done. In what sense, then, without design? In this sense,—viz. without any general survey taken of the language; without any such thought as that of doing, on the individual occasion in question, that which, on that individual occasion, was done.
1. Copiousness. For the purpose which the individual had in hand, a new word is thought wanting,—he accordingly makes one.
2. Simplicity. On the occasion in hand, a phrase, a word, a part of a word, which by others had been employed, presents itself to him, but presents itself to him in the character of a superfluous one, or as not better adapted, or as less fit than some other which presents itself at the same time,—he, in consequence, according to the nature of the case, leaves it, or throws it out,—forbears to employ it, or excludes it.
And so in the instance of the several other desirable qualities.*
By what Hands, and in what way Improvements in Language are capable of being effected, or promoted.
Individual and simple practice, individual instruction, free association, government authority,—by these several expressions, so many different hands by which, or so many modes in which, improvement, in this field, is capable of being effected or promoted, may be brought to view.†
In so far as in the nature of the case, improvement is capable of being introduced into language by practice,—by mere individual practice,—any individual may, with more or less prospect of success, take his chance for introducing it.
And by what means? Answer,—By clothing the discourse employed by him on each individual occasion, with all the several properties desirable on the part of human discourse; regard being had to the particular occasion on which it is so employed; these several properties being such as are subservient and contributory, to the several ends in view, for which, on the individual occasion in question, language is employed.
If, of these same properties, the above enumeration is complete, then so it is that, of every alteration held up in the character of an improvement, the effect, if that character does in any way belong to it, will be to invest it with those same properties, one or more.
In England, we hear of this or that man, operating in his individual capacity, having made improvements in language. We hear of Voltaire, of Junius, of Burke, of Johnson, of Goldsmith, as having given force to, or put a polish upon, the language of their respective countries.
Now, in what way can these men, any one of them, have made any improvement in the language?—that is to say, in the language employed by other persons, one or more or all? Answer,—Voltaire, &c., writes, other persons in number and proportion, more or less considerable, write, on this or that subject; with or without thinking that they are endeavouring to imitate him, they endeavour to write in the same or a similar manner.
Externally applied Instruments of Improvement.
External instruments of improvement for augmentation of the usefulness of the several desirable properties of language, are—
I. For abbreviation of the signs; thence saving in the labour employed in forming, and thereby making use of them.
1. Short-hand applicable and applied to all subjects.
2. Alegomorphic abbreviation,—viz. 1. Figures instead of letter-press; 2. Algebraic characters instead of figures.
II. For diffusion, or say, giving increase to the number of the persons capable of receiving participation in the benefit.
1. Instruments whereby increase is given to the diffusion of audible and evanescent signs:—1. Stentorophic tubes; 2. Pipes, such as those employed in the conveyance of water and gas; 3. Cannon—for, to a limited degree, neither are these hostile instruments altogether incapable of being applied to a peaceable and useful purpose.
2. Diffusion by means of signs visible and permanent, independent of conveyance:—1. Letter-press substituted to manuscript; 2. Manifold mode of writing; 3. Means of presenting to the view of a speaker or writer the words he has need of,—Synonymation, as in the Gradus ad Parnassum; 4. Dictionaries, whereby of the idea expressed in this or that language, corresponding equivalents are presented in this or that other language.
3. Diffusion by means of conveyance:—1. Letter-post; 2. Telegraphs, diurnal and nocturnal.
III. Durability—increase given to.
Instruments of durability are engravings in stone or metal.
Rules for Clearness, i. e. the Avoidance of Ambiguity, Obscurity, and Debility, so far as depends upon the choice of Words taken singly.‡
Rule I. When the language affords a word appropriated exclusively to the expression of the import which alone it is your intention to express, avoid employing any word which is alike applicable to the expressing of that import, and a different one which may require to be distinguished from it.
Examples:—Substantives, adjectives, adverbs,—in the instance of all these parts of speech, frequent breaches of this rule may be found.
I. Substantives.—1. The word taste employed instead of the word relish. To relish a thing is to taste it with pleasure. Do you relish this peach? In this question there is no ambiguity, not even for a moment. But instead of this, oftentimes we find,—Do you taste this peach? and so in the case of almost any other source of pleasure; for example, a poem, a sonata, a building, a landscape.
In the French language, there exists no appropriate word by which pleasure is represented as an accompaniment of the perception indicated; no word expressive of, I taste with pleasure. Gouter is to taste, and for, to relish, there is again this word, and no other. In French, therefore, this imperfection, this ambiguity and inadequacy, this incompleteness, and consequent incorrectness of expression, is the result of necessity. In the word taste, when employed instead of the word relish, this imperfection is needlessly and inelegantly copied. Why? Answer,—from affectation and vain glory, to give the hearer or reader to understand that the speaker or writer is so well acquainted with that foreign language, that it is more readily present to his memory than his own language.
II. Adjectives.—Either employed instead of each. To the word either belongs an exclusive signification, which belongs not to the word each. Where the idea of exclusion is not intended to be conveyed, how slovenly and absurd is it not to employ a word by which the exclusion is expressed? Yet of negligence in this shape, examples are continually occurring.
Poetry is the species of composition in which it is most frequent. There it has its excuse,—1. In cases where the monosyllable each would not, so it may be that the dissyllable either will suit the measure. 2. In poetry, distinctness is less requisite than in prose. A uniform distinctness would even be incompatible with the nature of the composition, and fatal to the design of it. To produce and keep up in the mind, confusion, so it be but accompanied with pleasure, is an object not of aversion, but of endeavour and study.
To affectation may the sin against propriety be imputed in this case, as well as in the last preceding one.
In saying taste, when he means relish, a man pleases himself with the thought of showing how familiarly he is acquainted with the language of France.
In saying either, when he means each, a man pleases himself with the thought of showing how familiarly he is acquainted with the language of poetry.
Affectation the genus, pedantry the species; formerly the dress most frequently worn by pedantry was Greek and Latin; latterly, it is French and poetry.
To the ambiguity attached to this impropriety, one circumstance alone operates in some measure as a palliative. If so it be, that for predicating what you meant to predicate alike of two things, A and B, the word you have employed is a word by which one of them is excluded: conceive the word repeated, then, one after the other, they are both of them comprised. First introduce A without B, then introduce B without A,—both of them are introduced; but how much better would it not be if, without any such unintended exclusion, both were introduced at once.
All, every, each, either,—these collective adjectives are none of them absolutely incapable of being employed for and instead of any of the rest; but they have each of them its appropriate and most proper sense.
Thus it is throughout, in regard to words which with reference to one another, in common acceptance and discourse, pass for synonyms. Take any two of them; by neither, perhaps, is exactly the same idea expressed as is expressed by the other. In many instances, however, so it is that without impropriety, and without inconvenience, one of them, perhaps either may be employed instead of the other.
III. The word future employed instead of the word subsequent. Future and subsequent are both of them names of relations, terms of reference. By each of them, two portions of time, an antecedent and a consequent, are brought to view. By the term subsequent, the point of time brought to view in the character of an antecedent, is that which, with reference to the state of things or transaction spoken of, was present; this alone, and not the time at which that same state of things or transaction, is spoken of. Thus stands the matter, in so far as concerns the word subsequent. In the use of it nothing of ambiguity is to be found.
Now as to the term future; but for the context,—from which, upon reflection, it may be concluded that the time from which the futurity is reckoned, was the time when the state of things or transaction spoken of was present,—that time would always be the time in which the discourse, if oral, was spoken, if in writing, was written.
From the promiscuous use made of these two words, suited to very different purposes, confusion and absurdity are continually arising.
IV. Restrictives, such as alone and only. By these words, what is constantly understood is, that the purpose for which they are employed is the narrowing the import of some word or other to which they are respectively annexed; that which in many cases cannot be collected but from the context, nor from the context without some difficulty, is, to which, of all the words in the sentence, the restriction is meant to be applied.
1. Substantive in the nominative case, (i. e. name of the agent.) 2. Adjective agreeing with do., (i. e. quality ascribed to the agent.) 3. Verb. 4. Substantive in the accusative case, name of the patient. 5. Adjective, agreeing with do., (i. e. quality of the patient.) 6. Adverb, in the character of the name of a quality, of a quality annexed to one or other of the adjectives or to the verb; frequently to any one of these, with more or less propriety, may the restriction be considered as applicable.
In English, what thickens the confusion is, the indeterminate character of the restrictives, alone and only. Each of them is employed sometimes in the character of an adjective, sometimes in the character of an adverb; to exhibit the different cases in which each, in contradiction to the other, is most proper, would of itself be a task of no inconsiderable length.
Required to exhibit so many forms, by means of which in the several cases, where the restriction is meant to be applied exclusively to the objects respectively signified by several parts of speech, it may in such sort be applied to these several subjects, that no misapplication whatsoever, howsoever transient and momentary, can take place.
To solve this problem would be a task of no inconsiderable length and labour,—but at the same time, of no inconsiderable use.
If of the words alone, and only, the one were always an adjective, the other always an adverb, the difficulty of the task would be much less than it is; but, unfortunately, as has been just observed, no such constant distinction has place.
V. Ordinals: more especially the word first.
Of the aptitude of this term to involve in ambiguity the import of the sentence in which it is employed, the causes are of the same nature in this instance, as in that of the restrictives, alone and only, viz.—
1. Uncertainty of the part of speech, and thence of the subject, to which the attributive is meant to be applied.
2. Uncertainty in regard to the part of speech to which it is meant to be considered as belonging, viz. whether an adjective or an adverb.
Example of the mode in which the ambiguity may be avoided.
1. Ambiguous expression.—Columbus first saw Hispaniola.
2. Correspondent pair of sentences, by which the existence of the ambiguity, and at the same time, the mode of avoiding it, are indicated.
(1.) Columbus was the first person who ever saw Hispaniola.
(2.) Of the islands now called the West India Islands, Hispaniola was the first that Columbus discovered.
The plural number is, in a particular degree, liable to be productive of perplexity and misstatement.
Rule II. For remedy, substitute the singular to the plural number where substitutable without impropriety; and by one means or other it may generally be so substituted.
Rule III. Unless for special reason, by whatsoever name an object has once been designated, by that same name and no other, continue to designate it, or if, on any account, you find it matter of necessity or convenience to employ for that purpose this or that other name, take care to give notice of the change.
Eadem natura, eadem nomenclatura.
Converse of the above Rule.—Whatsoever be the object, for the designation of which a given word has been employed, employ not that same word for the designation of any other object; unless so it be, that the word being a generic one, on the first occasion it was employed for the designation of the whole genus or of one species; on the other occasion, for the designation of another species of the same genus.
Rule IV. Prefer verbal substantives to verbs.
Numerous are the instances in which, for the giving expression to the import in question, a single word in the form of a verb, may in some sort suffice, and is frequently made to suffice; and a verbal noun from the same root, with the addition of some verb of extensive sign, and proportionally frequent use may also serve; as when, instead of to apply, the phrase to make application is used. From this substitution convenience is frequently found to result.
The noun from the same root is commonly a verbal noun; a verbal noun of that sort, which serves to designate, in the first place, the species of action, for the designation of which, the verb, including all the several adjuncts and modifications* belonging to that complex part of speech is used; and thence, by an almost imperceptible transition, the state of things produced by that same act.
This verbal noun, when thus obtained in a state of separation from these adjuncts, which, form so many parts in the composition of the very complex part of speech called a verb, and which in this its separate state, becomes the name of a sort of fictitious entity, of a sort of fictitious body or substance, is, in this state, rendered more prehensible. Being thus prehensible, it is more easily, and thence, directly brought to view, and being thus brought to view, it is capable of being employed as a common subject to any number whatsoever of propositions that may be requisite for predicating, whatsoever the nature of the case requires to be predicated, of the sort of act in question, or of its result.
By means of a few verbs of extensive import, such as the above word make, capable of serving, as it were, in an auxiliary character, introduction may, in most cases, be given by each of them to a large number of names of fictitious entities, and the advantage in question compassed to the utmost extent, of which it is susceptible.
When a characteristic verb, thus capable of being resolved, into a correspondently characteristic verbal noun-substantive and an uncharacteristic auxiliary verb, has been employed, a practice not unfrequent is, to follow it by some relative which has for its antecedent the verbal noun, the import of which is implied in that of the characteristic verb; subjoining, or not subjoining, to it the antecedent noun thus implied.
Example 1. The implied antecedent brought to view as if repeated.
If you would gain the populace, upon every favourable occasion apply yourself to their senses; this application will do more for you than the closest train of reasoning.
2. The implied antecedent not brought to view, but only tacitly and implicitly referred to.
If you would gain the populace, apply yourself upon every favourable occasion to their senses; this will do more for you than the closest train of reasoning.
If the verbal noun, the name of the fictitious entity, have, in a preceding sentence, been expressly brought to view, the repetition of it in the succeeding sentence, will have the good effect of reviving and strengthening the first impression. On the other hand, insert the verbal noun in the succeeding sentence, without having inserted it in the first, the consequence is that, in this way of speaking, a sort of false intimation is conveyed,—an intimation, that the verbal noun employed in the succeeding sentence, had already been employed in the preceding one.
Leave the verbal noun altogether uninserted, the result is still more awkward. “This will do so and so;” what is it that will do so and so? To this question no answer being given by the writer, the reader is left to hunt for one.
Rule V.—When, for the designation of the idea in question, no other appellative is in use but one which is tainted with ambiguity, presenting in conjunction with the idea required, another which is different from it, and which, on pain of being led into error by it, must be distinguished from it, or say, seen to be different from it,—substitute another word which is free from all ambiguity, presenting to view no idea other than that which is wished and endeavoured to be presented by it.
Example gathered from the field of penal law.—To acts considered as having been taken for the subjects of prohibition, is universally applied the appellation of offence. But when in regard to these acts, the desire is, to present to view the quality, or say, property, on account of which they have been constituted, or it is in contemplation to constitute them, offences; for conveying this idea, no other word is in use than this same word offence. By law the act is made an offence,—and why? Answer.—Because in its own nature it is an offence. Generally speaking, the idea, which in this case is associated with the word offence, is that of maleficence, that is to say, the property which the act, to which this appellative is attached, has, or is supposed to have, of making a defalcation more or less considerable, from the aggregate happiness of the community. In so far as the greatest happiness principle is the ruling principle, on no other ground can any species of act be taken in hand by the legislator, and by prohibition and eventual punishment, constituted an offence.
This ambiguity, it has seemed to me, matter of high importance to remove. Accordingly, continuing to employ the term offence, for designating the fact of the act having been taken for the subject of prohibition,—for the purpose of bringing to view the quality, in consideration of which it was my desire to see it thus dealt with, I employed the word maleficence; giving to the act in which this quality was beholden by me, the appellation of a maleficent act.
Once having become sensible of the need there was of a word for this purpose, and having accordingly formed the determination of being on the look-out for such an one, I soon found that I had not far to look: beneficent, beneficence, were words already not only in the language but in every mouth; in the language (the Latin) from which they were derived, correspondent and opposite to them I saw the words maleficent and maleficence.
Thenceforward, instead of not knowing what to say, unless it were in a roundabout way, or saying, this act is an offence, and therefore ought to be made an offence, it has been my custom to say the sort of act thus described is a maleficent act, and that in such sort and to such an amount, that by apt prohibition, backed by apt eventual suffering, it ought to be constituted an offence.
Rules for Clearness, and thence for Impressiveness, so far as depends upon Collocation.
Rule I. Wheresoever it is of importance that two objects be distinguished from each other, be careful so to order the expression as to render the distinction between them as clear, i. e. the contrast between them as strong, as may be.
Rule II.—When the two objects belong to the same scale, the difference between them is in degree, and in degree only. In that case, what is to be endeavoured at is, that that which is considered as entitled to stand at the higher degree, shall not be placed at any lower degree, that which ought to stand at the lower degree not at any higher degree, so that the difference of degree may be correctly indicated.
Rule III.—When the objects belong to the same scale, placing in the situation of contradictory propositions the two propositions whereby they are spoken of, does not place the differences between them in so strong or in so clear a point of view as that in which they would be placed by an indication of the degrees which they respectively occupy. Milled corn is not cold; ice is cold. By these expressions, how feebly and inadequately the difference in temperature between the two bodies is represented, is sufficiently manifest.
Rule IV.—When contrast is meant to be exhibited, keep to the same words throughout, till you come to those by which the contrast is meant to be exhibited.
Rule V.—For impressiveness, put not the names of two leading objects in one sentence, unless when they are under the same regime. One thing at a time.
Rule VI.—Of that idea which is the principal one, and to which in the sentence in question the purpose requires that the attention should be principally attached, put the sign in the first place, or as near the first place as the state of the grammatical relation will admit.
An inconvenience attendant on this mode of collocation is, that it will seldom be that which would be pursued, or without presenting the idea of affectation could be pursued, in oral discourse. It is on this account with reference to the most usual order of discourse, termed inversion.
But the reasons which perhaps would render this mode of collocation difficult and unusual, and thence unpleasant, in oral discourse, do not apply, at least with equal force to written; since in this case for marshalling his words in such sort as to him seems best, a man may then take whatever time is necessary.
Rule VII.—Use antecedent modifications. 1. They prevent instead of correcting misconception. 2. They excite the collateral idea of self-command on the part of the speaker or writer. This is the, or a, reason why I find it not pleasant to begin a sentence with a nominative case.
Rule VIII.—Every clause not expressly ampliative is restrictive.
Rule IX.—When in relation to the clause in question, having the effect of a limitative, ampliative, or in any other way modificative, clause, your intention is that the import of it shall be understood as applying exclusively to some one, to the exclusion of one or more other clauses, the nature of the case affords two expedients, either of which will suffice for insuring the production of the desired effect.
1. It is only in one case that the first of them applies; and that is, when the clause to which it is intended that the modification should be considered as applied, is that which it is intended should stand before any of the others to which it would be capable of being applied. In this case put the modificative clause before the clause intended to be modified; and in this way modificative clauses in any number may be made to precede, and by that means exclusively attach upon one and the same modificand.
2. The other expedient is applicable to all sorts of cases. It consists in inserting the modificative clause within the modificand. By this means it is to this modifiable clause to the exclusion of all other modifiable clauses, that it will be found applicable.
In the wording of acts of Parliament, and indeed in discourses in general, this expedient is pretty generally employed, and that with manifest good effect.
Rule X.—Between an antecedent substantive and its relative, be careful not to interpose any word, capable of being, though it be but for a moment, understood as meant to be taken for the antecedent of that same relative.
Rule XI.—The list of topics given, treat them in the same order,—change not the order.
Rule XII.—When of two or more ideas brought to view in the course of the same proposition, sentence, or clause, there is some one to which, whether to the exclusion of, or in preference to, the rest, it is your wish that for the purpose of its being impressed into his mind with a pre-eminent degree of force, the attention of the hearer or reader, to the end that he may take particular cognizance of it, should be pointed, contrive so to turn the phrase, as that the word or words designative of that idea, shall occupy the front of the sentence.
Example.—Say, “When it is by word of mouth that the communication is made;”—rather than, “When the communication is made by word of mouth.”
In the latter form, the attention is divided between the consideration of the general fact of the making the communication in question, and that of the particular mode in which that operation is proposed to be performed, and by this division, the impression made by the words indicative of the particular mode is more or less weakened,—in the first form, the attention is without division fastened at once upon the only one of the two objects to which on the particular occasion in question it was meant to attach it; the attention is pointed to one of the two objects in preference to the other at least, if not to the exclusion of it.
Rule XIII.—Place not in a strong light,—place not in an impressive point of view, two propositions,—two clauses in the same sentence.
For example,—a principal clause and a clause which is employed to modify it,—or say a modificative clause.
Reason.—When upon the same level in the scale of importance, two objects are thus placed at the same time, the consequence is, that between the one and the other the attention is distracted; it takes not a sufficient hold of either of them. Present them to the mind one after another, it grasps them with its undivided force.
Rules for Correctness and Completeness.
Rule I.—Correctness.—The more extensively general the terms you have occasion to employ, be the more careful in examining the species contained under the generic appellation employed, and in considering whether that, whatever it be, which you predicate of the genus, is with truth predicable of these several species.
Rule II.—Completeness, or say comprehensiveness.—When on the occasion of any sort of operation which is productive of beneficial effects when performed in relation to a certain species of subject matters, look round for the several genera within which the species in question is contained, and consider whether with correspondent beneficial effects the same operation may not be performed upon the other species contained in that same genus, all or some of them.
So as to objects analagous to the one in question, without being congeners to it. By this means are inventions produced.
Of the Improvement of Language in respect of Copiousness.
General Rule.—Exceptions excepted, the more copious a language the better. New words and new combinations, to one or other of these heads may every improvement of which language is susceptible in respect of copiousness be referred.
In whichsoever mode any addition is made to the pre-existing state of instruments of discourse, the addition is primâ facie, and, saving particular exceptions entitled to be set down to the account of improvement.
Particular reasons apart, for the same reason that the first word that was ever invented was an addition to the stock of instruments of enjoyment and security; in a word, to the instruments of wellbeing, so has every other been, and so will every other be.
On this head, therefore, the general rule is, The more copious a language is, the better,—the better adapted to the purposes of language.
But to this general rule particular exceptions are not wanting. As to the grounds of these exceptions, and thence as to the rules in cases of exception that have place under this general rule, their place will be found under the head of the next-mentioned article upon the list of qualities desirable in language, viz. simplicity.*
Generally speaking, there exists in language a natural tendency to improve itself, or, to speak strictly, to become improved in respect of this desirable quality. The same causes, by the operation of which the earliest and scantiest stock of the instruments of thought and conversation were produced, continue in action, and will continue in action, without end. Observation, experiment, experience, reflection, discovery, invention: all these are so many seeds of language, seeds from which new additions to the stock of words and combinations in every language are continually springing up.
As there exist cases in which the alteration made in language by increase given to the number of words, and combinations of words, of which it is composed, cannot, with propriety, be set down to the account of advantage, so are there cases in which, though the addition, if made, is or would be of an advantageous nature, yet, the addition finds the introduction of it opposed, by various springs of human action, by various principles of human nature.
Indigenous weakness, viz. in the intellectual faculty, sinister interest, interest-begotten prejudice, adoptive prejudice; in this part of the field of action, as in every other, will human felicity find these its enemies set in array against it, and opposing its progress at every step; while, in so far as the mode of enrichment is unserviceable in any instance, the interests of all mankind are opposed to it.
Modes of Enrichment.
On the occasion of the explanation of the modes in which a language is capable of being enriched, two objects require to be considered, viz. 1. The source from which the addition is derived; 2. The mode in which it is made.
Say enrichment ab intra, or home-drawn, in so far as the addition is drawn from the same language,—ab extra, in so far as it is drawn from any foreign language.
Simple modes of enrichment are,
1. Indication of particular properties as applied to a given genus—as expressed by a generic name of any degree of amplitude. Examples of this mode of enrichment are afforded by the several branches of Natural History and Natural Philosophy.
2. Spiritualization or psychologization, in so far as of any name of any physical substance, operation or quality, application is made to the purpose of giving designation to any correspondent, or supposed correspondent, psychological substance, operation, or quality; the psychological object being modelled from the physical archetype, as a bust in clay from any part of the human figure.
3. Formation of new words on the ground of analogy. Example—from beneficence, maleficence; from beneficial, maleficial.
4. By composition. The composite mode in which enrichment is performed, is per inequalitatem, the words conjoined being in their import of unequal importance with relation to each other, the one may be considered as the principal, the other as being, with relation to it, the accessory word.
In this case, let the number of words thus related and entering into the composition of the compound word be supposed to be no more than two, the place of the accessory word will either be anterior or posterior to the principal; if anterior, it may be termed, with relation to it, a prefix,—if posterior, it has been called, in Latin, a suffix.
Where the mode of enrichment is by composition, it may be distinguished into:
(1.) Composition by simple aggregation, or agglutination, or coalition, viz. without change in the signification of either of the two constituent elements, and without the need of supposing the addition of any other word as necessary to complete the sense. Of this sort is that which has place between a subject in the grammatical form of a substantire, and the name of an epithet or adjunct in the grammatical form of an adjective, as in the case of the words vain-glory, fee-simple, plaindealing.
(2.) By aggregation with ellipses. Examples, 1. Churchyard, i. e. yard of the church: words omitted by ellipses, of and the. 2. Foot-ball, ball for the foot to play with by kicking it. 3. Mother-country, country which was as it were a mother to the person or persons in question.
5. By importation of words from other languages, dead or living.
6. By addition to, not to say completion of, each set of conjugates. A noun, taken in its several cases and numbers; a verb, taken in its several moods, tenses, numbers, and persons. These aggregates may be considered as so many grammatical conjugates. By the term logical conjugate, may be designated the aggregate of these same aggregates,—the whole stock of the aggregates capable of being formed of those aggregates.
In the Greek and Latin Lexicon, or, say Dictionary, of Scapula, may be seen the several lists, of logical conjugates made to grow out of the same root; say, out of some noun-substantive, taken in hand and considered as a root. Of the several branches, or, say ramifications, thus seen growing out of one and the same root, each one is expressive of an idea bearing a determinate relation to the idea designated by that same root.
Importation of Words from Foreign Languages, dead and living—its Advantages and Disadvantages.
There exists not that state in life, be it ever so humble, in which a man’s wellbeing is not, in some shape or other, in some degree or other more or less dependent on the acquaintance he has with his own language,—of the language in which he not only converses but thinks. Language being not merely the instrument of discourse but, moreover, the instrument of thought, the stock of a man’s ideas is limited and determined by the stock of the words which he finds at his command for giving expression to those ideas.
In every language, words are found in clusters growing out of the same root. Whatsoever be the cluster to which the word in question belongs, the comprehension a man has of its import is comparatively imperfect, if it include not a more or less general acquaintance with the whole cluster to which it belongs. In the stock of words of which the English language is composed, a very considerable, not to say the largest, portion, are borrowed from some one or other of several foreign languages, in some instances at a very early date, in others at different points of time from the remotest down to the most recent. In some instances these words so borrowed were transplanted in a single state, in others in large clusters, in others in smaller clusters, which, after transplantation, have gradually grown into larger ones.
When a word has thus been transplanted and naturalised in a single state, the conception entertained of its import by persons altogether unacquainted with the cluster to which it belonged in the language from which it was borrowed, is always very obscure and imperfect in comparison with that which he has of a word which forms one of a cluster, more or less complete, originally of the growth of his own language, or fully rooted and naturalised in it.
These languages are some of them of a northern, some of them of a southern origin; of the northern, the one principally borrowed from is the German; of the southern, the French. Among ancient languages, those principally borrowed from are the Latin and Greek. The Latin being the language from which the French has borrowed a great part, perhaps the largest part, of its words; hence in the instance of many words of Latin origin, it remains a question whether the word was derived from the Latin immediately, or remotely, through the medium of the French. The Greek being the language of the writers from whom the first crude notions respecting most of the arts and sciences were derived to us; hence the appropriate terms, expressive of the subject-matters and operations belonging to those several branches of art and science, have in a large proportion been borrowed from that language. Even when the subject-matter, instrument, or operation, is itself new, a convenience is found, on several accounts, in taking its name from a foreign language, more especially from the Greek, rather than from our own.
For characterizing an object which not only is new, but is designed to be presented as such, a word as plainly new as the object itself is meant to be represented as being, is much more convenient than any old word taken from the old-established stock of words belonging to the language; for when any such old-established word is taken and thus employed, it comes with the whole of its original import adhering to it; and the consequence is that it presents to the mind instantly and to a certainty, a multitude of old ideas which on the new occasion it is not intended to present; and this in the most perfect manner, while it is only in a manner comparatively imperfect that it presents the new idea which it is intended to present.
Borrow the word from a foreign language, and that a dead one, from the Greek, for example, this confusion is avoided. Let but the reader have once succeeded in his endeavours to establish an adequately constant association between the new idea you mean to impress upon his mind, and the new-coined or imported word employed by you for expressing that idea, (for which purpose, in the first instance, an explanation, more or less particular, will, to persons unacquainted with the language so borrowed from, be always necessary,) thenceforward, as often as the new word is presented to his mind, the idea which it brings with it will be the very idea which it is your desire it should present; that and no other, that idea alone, unaccompanied by, and unclogged with, any other. By the very description of it thus given, this mode of proceeding, it is however evident, has its difficulties, and thereby its inconvenience.
The difficulty consists in getting men to give themselves the trouble of establishing this association; whereas, when the language from which the word is taken is a man’s own language, the association, such as it is, is already formed; and howsoever clumsy the new appellative appears, and howsoever troublesome the cluster of collateral and (with reference to the purpose in question) irrelevant ideas it stands associated with, and however confused and inadequate the import is which it has the effect of presenting, still it can scarcely fail of bringing to view an import having some similarity to the one which it is intended to present; whereas, if it be a word of altogether foreign original, no other word of the cluster it belongs to being presented to the mind of the person in question, the necessary result is that, if the explanation attached to it has either never been received into the mind, or, after having been so received, has dropped out, the word is so much unmeaning sound, not presenting any the faintest intimation of the import which it is intended to present.
ANALYTICAL VIEW OF THE MATTER OF THOUGHT AND INTERNAL ACTION; CORRESPONDENT VIEW OF THE MATTER OF LANGUAGE.
Thought the Basis of Language.
Of language, the primary and only original use is the communication of thought, the conveyance of thought from mind to mind, from the mind of a speaker to the mind of a hearer.
All thought belongs either to the intellectual or to the volitional department of the mind—to the understanding or the will.
A portion of the matter of language is frequently termed a discourse.*
By every portion of discourse, communication is endeavoured to be given of the state which, in some respect or other, one or the other of the above departments of the speaker’s mind is in.
Acts of the intellectual department or faculty are, 1. Simple perceptions;† 2. Sensations, i. e. perceptions attended with pain or pleasure; and 3. Judgments or Opinions. Remembrance is but the work of a particular species of perception. Of the general faculty of sensation, a particular impression is the exercise or exemplification of the memory, the correspondent idea, i. e. the copy of that same impression as taken by and preserved in the mind.
Of judgment, the subjects are, 1. Points of similitude between object and object. 2. Points of dissimilitude between object and object. 3. Existence or non-existence of the relation of cause and effect as between object and object.
Simple perception is not capable of erring, no, nor sensation neither. But judgment is, on the part of every person, and on almost every occasion exposed to error.
A state or act of the mind in which judgment is continually included, is apt to be considered as an exemplification of perception alone, or sensation alone. Such is the case with all instances of the exercise of the organs of sight and hearing. I see a hill, i. e. what appears to me a hill; but oftentimes when what a man sees is believed by him to be a hill, it is in reality a cloud. I hear the rain, but oftentimes when a man thinks he hears the rain falling, the cause of his perception is not rain, but the wind whistling through certain trees.
When as above, desire, (the state or act of the will,) and simple perception or sensation, (the state or act of the understanding,) are excepted, all that the mind of man is capable of containing is an act of the judicial faculty—an opinion, a judgment: an opinion entertained by himself, entertained in his own mind. This is the only immediate subject of any communication which, concerning the state of that faculty, can be made. Of no matter of fact, external to, of no matter other than that which passes in his own mind, can any immediate communication be made by language. Opinion, an opinion entertained by the speaker, this is all of which, in any instance, communication can be made. Of an opinion thus expressed, any imaginable matter of fact, real or supposed, may have been taken for the object. But that to which expression is given, that of which communication is made, is always the man’s opinion, i. e. that which, in so far as the expression answers its intended purpose, that which he wishes should be taken for his opinion in relation to the subject in question, nor anything more.*
Be this as it may, the strictly logical consequences are the only ones that belong to the present purpose.
One is,—that, in every portion of discourse which is not the expression of a desire, a simple sensation, or a perception; in every portion of discourse, for example, by which the existence of a matter of fact exterior to the person of the speaker is asserted,—is included a communication made of the state of the judicial department of the speaker’s mind, an opinion entertained in relation to that same matter of fact.
This being the case, a certain degree of complexity attaches to every proposition, the simplest imaginable not excepted, which has for its subject a matter of fact at large.
Eurybiades struck Themistocles. By a proposition in these words, what is it that I assert? It is this: It is my opinion that Eurybiades struck Themistocles. This is what I can be sure of, and it is all that, in relation to the supposed matter of fact, it is in my power to be assured of.
This pen exists,—meaning the pen employed in the tracing of these characters. This pen exists, i. e. my opinion is that this pen exists. Such is very decidedly and firmly my own opinion. But of no pen with which he ever wrote would any such opinion have been entertained by Bishop Berkeley.
Thus it is, that, in respect of this complexity—this constant and unavoidable complexity,—the expression of the mode of being of the intellectual department agrees with the expression of the volitional department of a speaker’s mind.
Come hither. By this discourse, as every man will acknowledge, at the very first hint, what is expressed is, that it is my desire that the person to whom I speak should so do.
He is there. By this discourse, in like manner, what is expressed is, my opinion that he (the person spoken of) is in the place alluded to by the word there.
The consequence is, that in saying,—He is there,—the proposition, simple as it is in appearance, is, in its import, complex; and if it be considered as designating, expressing, communicating, the whole of the object of which it is employed as the sign, viz. the mode of being of my mind, it is elliptical. That to which it gives expression is the supposed matter of fact which (supposing me to speak truly) was the object of my thought;—that of which it does not contain the expression, is that thought itself; the only matter of fact of which the discourse in question is strictly and immediately the assertion, is left to be inferred from the context, from such words as are actually uttered.†
In all ordinary discourse propositions come entire, it is only on the occasion of some science or art, that, unless where employed instead of a proposition, and by ellipsis or abridgment, containing in it the import of an entire proposition, any term is presented by itself. Every man who speaks, speaks in propositions, the rudest savage, not less than the most polished orator,—terms taken by themselves are the work of abstraction, the produce of a refined analysis:—ages after ages must have elapsed before any such analysis was ever made.
Of the above observations, another logical consequence is this, viz. that for the giving expression and conveyance to any thought that ever was entertained, so far as concerns import and not discourse, nothing less than the import of an entire proposition, and that, as above, a complex one, ever was, or ever could be made to serve.
Not but that in many instances for the making communication of thought, even a single word is made to serve. But then it is by means of other words, which, according to the occasion, the single word in question may have the effect of suggesting as effectually as by this same single word, the ideas constantly associated with it are suggested.
Looking at my son, whose name is John,—I say to him, John,—he hears me,—what is it that he understands by this? The import, the full import, belonging to one or other of these two phrases. My desire is that you attend, (viz. to what more I am about to say,) or, my desire is that you come, i. e. come near to the place at which I am sitting.
And thus it is by bringing to view other words, in the character of words of which, though not pronounced, the import was meant to be conveyed by the word which was pronounced, that a single word may be made to have the effect, and thus, as it were, comprise the import, of an indefinite number of other words,—of a discourse of an indefinite length.
This being the case, if nothing less than the import of an entire proposition be sufficient for the giving full expression to any the most simple thought, it follows that no word, being anything more than a fragment of a proposition, no word is of itself the complete sign of any thought.
It was in the form of entire propositions that when first uttered, discourse was uttered. Of these integers, words were but so many fragments, as afterwards in written discourse letters were of words. Words may be considered as the result of a sort of analysis,—a chemico-logical process, for which, till at a comparatively much later period than that which gave birth to propositions, the powers of the mind were not ripe.
With a view, however, to save the words which would be required to point out this complexity, such propositions as are only in this way complex, may, for some purposes, and on some occasions, be considered and spoken of as simple.
Upon this field of observation the logic of Aristotle and his followers did not penetrate. The subjects it began with were terms, i. e. words of a certain description, and beginning with the consideration of these terms, it went on to the consideration of propositions in the character of compounds capable of being composed out of these elements.
Antecedently to all particular inquiry, in an inquiry the subject of which was confined to the signs of thought—in an inquiry in which no attempt was made to look into the thoughts signified, in the conception entertained in relation to the nature of thought, and of the diversification of which it is susceptible, much clearness, correctness, or advance to completeness, could not naturally be expected.
These terms are accordingly spoken of as possessing of themselves an original and independent signification, as having existence before anything of the nature of a proposition came to be in existence;—as if finding these terms endowed, each of them, somehow or other, with a signification of its own, at a subsequent period some ingenious persons took them in hand, and formed them into propositions.*
But the truth is, that in the first place came propositions, and that out of these propositions, by abstraction and analysis, terms possessed, each of them, of an independent import, were framed.†
Condillac—for the purpose of elucidating Locke’s doctrine that all ideas grow out of sensations, and but for such sensations could not have existence—imagined to himself the idea of a statue, and enduing it successively with the five senses, and such combination of them as promised to afford instruction with reference to this, his purpose, exhibited to view the furniture of the different orders of minds with which the statue would, in this way, be provided.
Proceeding thus, was proceeding in the way of synthesis:—synthesis means putting together. Proceeding thus, he took in hand, in the first place, as a basis for the rest, the most simple element he could find, and adding to this one, other elements one after another, exhibited, in this gradual way, the contents of all the several compounds capable of being made, and which, accordingly, are the most compounded of those in experience found to be made out of those elements.
Equally well adapted has this same method appeared to be for exhibiting to view, in the order of simplicity or complexity, (it may be denominated in either way,) the results that have been produced by putting together the several ideas respectively denoted by the several sorts of words of which language is composed.‡
Of language in its origin, the parts could not have existed in a degree of simplicity, equal to that of the most simple of those at present in use. The first words must, in their import, have been equivalent to whole sentences, to sentences expressive, for example, of suffering, of enjoyment, of desire, of aversion.
Of this original language, the parts of speech called interjections are examples.
Of this nature is, and seems destined for ever to continue, the language of quadrupeds and other inferior animals.
To form the words of which language is at present composed has been the work of analysis. The original sentences were, as it were, broken down into words, these words into syllables, and these syllables, by the help of written and visible signs, into letters.
Of these elements, thus formed by analysis, those called words will now be to be put together in the way of synthesis.
The task here undertaken is to take up the several classes of words denominated by logicians, in consideration of the connexion between their respective imports with reference to one another, conjugates, and beginning with that one of which the import is most simple, not admitting of being analyzed into others more simple, to apply to it the several other classes of which the respective imports are more and more complex.
Of this theoretical labour, the practical use is this: by the observation of the compounds already made, and the conveniences with reference to the ends of language respectively derived from them, to show how the number of them may be made to receive increase, very considerable increase, and in respect of its several useful and desirable properties, the utility of the instrument called language may be made to receive increase.
Language has its logical and its chronological history: its logical history shows what must have been the order of formation among the elements of language—shows it from the nature of man, shows it from the circumstances in which all men are placed, shows it from circumstantial evidence. The chronological history of language shows what has actually been, &c.*
In language are to be considered, 1. The ideas designated; 2. The signs employed in the designation of those ideas.
As to the signs, they have been for the most part arbitrary, bearing no naturally characteristic analogy to the things respectively designated; when considered apart from the ideas, no very considerable instruction, comparatively speaking, is accordingly derived from the consideration of them.
Being arbitrary, they have accordingly been infinitely diversified; taking the human species in the aggregate, one and the same idea having found employment for signs to the number of some hundreds at least, not to say thousands, in the expression of it.
In a very different case are the ideas themselves. These being the furniture of the mind, and mind being, in fact, a property of the body—in the sort of fictitious language without which it cannot be spoken of—a sort of inmate of the body, the differences between minds, that is to say, the furniture of minds, are not greater than the differences between bodies.
Hence it is that, in the history of the formation of ideas, i. e. of the order in which the several ideas thus characterized by their several sets of signs have made their appearance, there must, throughout the whole human race, have been a considerable degree of sameness.
By grammarians, who may be considered as a tribe of logicians, operating in a particular quarter of the field of logic, the term conjugates, or, at any rate, the nearly allied terms, to conjugate, and conjugation, have been employed of old.
By logicians, to the import of these terms a considerable and very useful extension has been given.
By grammarians, the aggregate, or say cluster of connected words, called by them a verb, has been said to be conjugated when, in conjunction with the characteristic fundamental portion of it, the several modifications by which—the several varieties by which tense, mood, person, number, to which in some instances is preposterously added gender, i. e. sex stand expressed,—have been exhibited and recited; and the groups, in so far as for the expression of these modifications of the fundamental import, words more or less different in sound are employed, are said to belong to so many different conjugations.
With the same propriety and convenience as that with which the terms conjugation and to conjugate were applied to the cluster of intimately connected words called a verb, might they have been applied to the other cluster of intimately connected words called a noun, as diversified by the several modifications called cases, in addition to those by which the designation of the several varieties of which sex, person, (viz. with relation to the speaker, the hearer, and others,) and number are susceptible,—by which so many correspondent varieties, in respect of sex, person, and number, are expressed and brought to view.
As it happened, no such extension, however, was made. In the case of a noun, instead of conjugation and to conjugate, declension and to decline, were the words employed.
Applied to the cluster to which they were applied, viz. to the verb, the terms conjugation and to conjugate were apposite and expressive. Jugum is the Latin word for a yoke, an instrument by which a number of animals employed in draught are connected with each other and with the burthen which is to be drawn: connected with each other for that common purpose.
The cluster of words called a verb, presents to view a fundamental or radical import to which, throughout the whole cluster, expression is given by some letter, or combination of letters, which has place in every one of the component words, and by which, as by a bond of union, they are connected together, and made up into one whole.
Exactly of the same sort is the connexion, which, in the different parts or portions of the part of speech called a noun, has place.
In the instance of a noun, the several sources of modification, designated by the words person, gender, and number, are designated by the same names as in the instance of the verb.
The sources of diversification, in respect of which the noun differs from the verb, are, on the part of the verb, the moods and tenses, which the noun has not; on the part of the noun, the cases which the verb has not.
When, a noun being given, a man names the modifications called cases, together with those which regard person, number, and gender, he is not said to conjugate it,—he is said to decline it. Associated with the import of the word case, is, according to the grammarians, the import of the words declension, to decline.
But in the instance of declension, the emblem or archetypal image exhibits no marks of such felicity as have been seen exhibited in the case of conjugation. Case is from cado to fall; an image borrowed by the Latin grammarians from the Greek grammarians. A rod is conceived to fall. In the nominative case, the mode of its falling—the direction in which it falls is considered as direct—perpendicular to the horizon, and is accordingly called-rectus: in the other cases, it is considered as oblique, viz. with reference to the horizon: accordingly, all these several cases are, besides their peculiar names, expressed by one common name, and called oblique cases.
With indisputable propriety, and with no inconsiderable utility, if comprehensiveness of perception be of any use, have the logicians extended the application of these words, conjugation and to conjugate,—or at any rate, that other term so intimately connected with them, viz. conjugate, or conjugates, not only to the cluster of connected words called nouns, but to all words, the connexion of which is formed and evidenced by the circumstance of their containing in their structure the main portion, expressive of the principal and characteristic idea of the whole cluster.
In the combination of letters expressive of this characteristic idea, may be seen what may be termed the root of the cluster. In the whole word, whatever it be, which, if there were any difference in respect of time, presents itself as likely to have been the word first in use, we have the radical and primitive conjugate; in all the others, the several ramified branches, or collateral and derivative conjugates.*
On looking over the materials of which any language is composed, two distinguishable classes of words will be found: one which possess a sort of independent import, and suggest each of them an idea without the assistance of any other word; the other, which not suggesting each of them an idea of itself, serves no other purpose than that of modifying in some way or other, the idea suggested by those of the above-mentioned independent cast.
The former may be distinguished by the name of principal, the other by that of accessory words.
Taken together a principal when considered in connexion with one of these accessory words, may be termed a conjugate.
With each such principal term will be found connected accessory words in great number and variety; hence, in the case of each principal, as many different conjugates as there are accessory words found in connexion with it; and as among these accessory words, different classes will be found distinguishable, hence to each such principal, so many clusters of conjugates.
In some instances, the accessory term is found attached to the principal, forming but one word with it, in others not, hence the distinction,—accessory words attached,—accessory words detached; conjugates in the attached form,—conjugates in the detached form.
Where the accessory word is attached, in some instances it precedes the principal word, in others it follows it. Hence the distinction,—accessories prefixed, or in the way of prefixion; accessories suffixed; or where the word accessory is understood to be in question, leaving out that word, one may say for shortness, prefixes and suffixes.
Accessories, which in one language are attached, are in another not attached.
Accessories, which in one part of the same language are attached, are, in another part of the same language, not attached.
In this respect, taken in the aggregate, infinite are the diversities which language brings to view.
The greater the number, which in any language can be found, of those sorts of words called conjugates, the more manageable will the language be, and the fitter for all the purposes of language.
For the formation of these, the first and most obvious step will be, for a man to begin with the language in which he writes; to take stock, as they say in mercantile accounts, to form his inventory out of those articles which his own language furnishes, and then to see what, if any, enrichment it may be made to receive from other languages.
On this occasion, one subject of observation will be, the difference—the prodigious difference, between the degree, in which, in its present state, the language is stocked with this or that one sort of conjugate, and the degree in which it is stocked with this or that other sort of conjugate; in this or that one instance the number stretching to hundreds or even thousands, in this or that other, not going beyond units; when the same use, which is actually derived from the species of conjugate in those two or three instances, might, without inconvenience, be derived from it in the two or three hundred, or two or three thousand instances.
As a noun or a verb is a cluster of words, so a complete set of conjugates, formed upon the model of those already in use, and by analogy, each of them made complete, would include in it an aggregate cluster of all those clusters.
The different species of conjugates, in the logical sense of the word conjugate, are chiefly, if not exclusively, formed of either terminations or beginnings, (mostly terminations,) added to the principal part of the word, considered as standing in the relation of the root or basis; to that part of the word by which the principal part of the import of the compound is designated.
Take, for example, the cluster of conjugates, of which the Latin word locus, (the English, place,) forms the basis. Terminations or suffixes,—say, for example, locate, to locate, location, located, add locatedness and locatement. Beginnings or prefixes,—dislocate, add, upon the model of replace, relocate; add, upon the model of transfer and transfuse, translocate.
Of the import of all the several sorts of conjugates actually existing and imaginable, the basis is the import of the noun-substantive.
A noun-substantive is the name of some entity, real or fictitious.
By a real entity, understand a substance,—an object, the existence of which is made known to us by one or more of our five senses. A real entity is either a person or a thing, a substance rational, or a substance not rational.
By a fictitious entity, understand an object, the existence of which is feigned by the imagination,—feigned for the purpose of discourse, and which, when so formed, is spoken of as a real one.*
These sorts of fictitious entities may be classed in different ranks or orders, distinguished by their respective degrees of vicinity to the real one.
First comes motion,—fictitious entity of the first order. To speak of a motion, we are obliged to speak of it as if it were a substance. We say he or it is in motion; thus speaking, we speak of a motion as if it were a place, a portion of space, and the person or thing situated in that place.
The absence or negation of motion is rest; we say that person or thing is at rest:—speaking thus, we speak of rest as being a sort of substance; suppose a tree or a stone, and the person or the thing as being in a state of contiguity or relation to it.
Considered with reference to our senses, every particle of matter, perceived or perceptible at the time at which, or with reference to which it is considered, is either in a state of motion or in a state of rest.
The state of rest is the negation of the state of motion. With reference to the same object, no particle of matter can therefore be in motion and at rest at the same time. To say that it is or can be, would be a self-contradictory proposition, resolvable into a pair of mutually contradictory propositions.
But take any body composed of a number of particles of matter, then so it is that, of and in that same body, while part, i. e. some of those particles, are in a state of motion, other parts may at that time be in a state of rest.
When of any body it is said, that body has been in motion, what is meant is, that, at or in different portions of the field of time, that body has occupied different portions or positions in the field of space.
As atoms or minimum portions may be conceived as having place in the field of space, so may atoms or minimum portions in the field of time.
If speaking of any body, suppose the plaything called a peg-top. I say this body is now in motion; then, if by now I mean no more than a single atom or minimum portion of time, what I thus say cannot be exactly true, since, as above, for motion to have had place, or to have place, two atoms of time at the least are necessary.
But if, speaking as above, what I mean by now is a portion of the field of time, containing any number of atoms greater than one, then the proposition delivered by me in those same words may be true.
In general, the word now, when applied to motion, is understood as applicable with propriety. Why? Because, in the utterance of the proposition to that effect, atoms in great number are employed.†
Here, then, we have a division of the states of which things, i. e. portions of matter, are susceptible, and that division an exhaustive one; of states of things, and thence and therefore of the objects of thought, in so far as they come within that same denomination, viz. portions of matter.
States of things, when at rest, are their positions with reference to one another in the field of space.
States of things, when in motion, are motions.
Considered abstractedly from volition, a motion is termed an event; a simple motion, a simple event; a complex motion, a complex event.
Considered as the result of volition, a motion is termed an act, an action, an operation.
In the word position, we see already the name of one fictitious entity, and thereby, in so far as it can be said to be visible, one fictitious entity. In the word motion we see another.
Taking into consideration any body which we have been considering as having been in a state of motion, we thence take occasion to ascribe to it a quality, viz. mobility; the quality which consists in the capacity of being, or aptitude to be, put into, and thence to be in, a state of motion. Antecedent to our idea of this quality, mobility must have been our idea of the correspondent state, viz. a state of motion.
To substance we ascribe qualities; to motion also we ascribe qualities. It is by this circumstance, that of motion, the import is placed, as it were, nearer to that of substance than that of qualities. Substances have their qualities,—they are large, small, long, short, thick, thin, and so forth; motions have their qualities,—they are quick, slow, rising, falling, continued, discontinued, regular, irregular, and so on.
If, then, motion be termed a fictitious entity of the first order, viz. that which is nearest to reality, mobility, and so any other quality, may with reference to it be termed a fictitious entity of the second order.
Here, then, we have an additional class of fictitious entities,—of fictitious substances. We have largeness, smallness, length, shortness, thickness, thinness; we have, moreover, quickness, slowness. We might have as well as rising, risingness; as well as falling, fallingness; as well as continued, continuedness; as well as discontinued, discontinuedness; we have as well as regular, regularity; as well as irregular, irregularity; attributes as well of substances as of motions.
Already has been brought to view, though as yet without special notice, a different sort of conjugate, the noun-adjective,—large, small, long, short, thick, thin, and so forth.
This sort of conjugate, in what consists its difference from that which is the name of a quality? In this:—when we speak of largeness, there is largeness; we speak of the fictitious substance so denominated, without reference made to any other object. On the contrary, when we say large, we present the idea of that same quality, but accompanied with the intimation of some other substance which is endued with that quality,—some other object in which that quality has existence, and is to be found. We put the mind upon the look-out for that other object, without which it is satisfied that the expression is incomplete; that the idea presented by it is but, as it were, the fragment of an idea,—a fragment, to the completion of which the idea of some object in which the quality is to be found is necessary.
In a word, the substantival name of a quality presents the idea, in the character of a complete idea, conceivable of itself, the adjectival denomination of that same quality presents the idea in the character of an incomplete idea, requiring for the completion of it the idea of some object in which it may be seen to inhere.
In the order of invention, proper names come before common names. Common names are the result of generalization; every common name is the name of a general idea.
The pronoun I is a sort of common name, being applicable by any person as well as any other; the pronouns he, she, and it, more manifestly so. Languages, it is said, are in existence, in which there are no such pronominal names. Instead of I, the speaker employs his own name; instead of you, the name of the person spoken to; instead of he or she, that of the person spoken of. A different sign for the third person, when of a different sex, must have been a superior refinement; so likewise the difference between animals endued with the organs of sex, and other substances,—whence the distinction between masculine and feminine, on the one hand, and neuter on the other.
Among the articles, the definite article the must have come first into use. The use of the indefinite article a implies the existence of the habit of abstraction,—of generalization,—an advance made in the art of logic.
On the occasion in which the original sole part of speech, the interjection, began to be resolved into the eight which we distinguish at present, the noun-substantive was probably the first to make its appearance, and that in the nominative case and singular number.
Nouns-adjective, and verbs,—which came forth first? the adjective or the verb, it seems not at present very easy to determine. What is certain, is, that of the adjective the idea is altogether simple in comparison with that of the verb; but as above, simplicity, so far from being an evidence of priority, is rather an evidence to the contrary.
When once the verb-substantive was established, the greatest of all strides was made in the track of abstraction and generalization. Added to a correspondent set of adjectives, this one verb is capable of performing the office of all other verbs.
In the logical sense of the word conjugate every verb is a cluster or set of conjugates,—of conjugates bearing the same relation to each other. In the instance of every such aggregate, accordingly, to conjugate a verb, is, in the hitherto current language of grammarians, (for in this respect, in the language of logicians, there is a difference,)—to enumerate the several words which enter into the composition of the aggregate so denominated.
To see clearly into the nature of this aggregate, it will be necessary to take an inventory of the ideas, the signs of which enter into the composition of it.
Distinguish them, in the first place, into principal and accessory.*
Irregular Nouns and Verbs are amongst those which are of most frequent use—why?
At an early period in the history of language, a word or sound of one sort was employed as a basis for one of the relations which are expressed by inflection, a word of another sort for another.
Fragments of the mass of language in the shape which it wore while in that imperfect state, are still to be seen, and that, it is believed, in every at present cultivated language.
These fragments may be seen in the composition of all those nouns and verbs which are regarded as being in any respect irregular, and which, on that account, are exhibited by grammarians in the character of irregular nouns and verbs.
By any person who will be at the trouble of reviewing them, these irregular parts of speech will, in every language, be found among those, for the import of which the demand is most frequent in its occurrence, and which, consequently, are in most general use. In the track of time the stage at which they first came into use, was that at which the number of words in use was not as yet sufficiently great for the labour attached to it, to have drawn men into the expedient of cultivating it by employing the principle and scheme of connexion for a multitude of mutually-related words, and thus substracting from the inconvenient multitude of different forms, with the import of which they would otherwise have had to make themselves acquainted. Such was the state of society,—such the state of the demand for discourse at the time when they first came into use. The demand never having diminished, thus it is that the actual use of them remains undiminished.
Thus it is that, of the history of language, no inconsiderable part remains to this day written upon the face of it.
Necessity of Names of Material Objects for the Designation of Pneumatic or Immaterial Objects.
All our psychological ideas are derived from physical ones,—all mental from corporeal ones. When spoken of, mental ideas are spoken of as if they were corporeal ones. In no other manner can they be spoken of. But thus to speak of them is to give an erroneous, a false account of them, an account that agrees not with their nature,—it is to misrepresent them. But very different from what it is in most other cases, in this case misrepresentation is not matter of blame. By it no deception is intended; if, to a certain degree, for want of sufficient explanation, misconception be the result of it, unless by accident, it is not among the results intended by him by whom the misrepresentation is made,—the false account is delivered. From what there is of falsehood not only is pure good the result, but it is the work of invincible necessity,—on no other terms can discourse be carried on.
Every noun-substantive is a name, a name either of an individual object, or of a sort or aggregate of objects. The name of an individual has, by all grammarians, been termed a proper name,—the name of a sort or aggregate of objects, a common name; it being applied in common to each one of the individual objects which are regarded as belonging to that sort—as possessing certain properties supposed to belong in common to them all.
By this name an existence is ascribed to the individual object, or sort of object, of which it is the name. In the case where to the object thus spoken of, existence is actually an object of one of the five senses, and in particular of the sense of touch or feeling,—the only one without which man cannot exist, say, in a word, where the object is a tangible one; here there is no fiction,—as this man, this beast, this bird, this fish, this star;—or this sort of man, this sort of beast, this sort of bird, this sort of fish, this sort of star,—the object spoken of may be termed a real entity. On the other hand, in the case in which the object is not a tangible one, the object, the existence of which is thus asserted, not being a real existing one, the object, if it must be termed an entity, as on pain of universal and perpetual non-intercourse between man and man, it must be,—it may, for distinction’s sake, be termed a fictitious entity. Take, for example, this motion, this operation, this quality, this obligation, this right. Thus then we have two sorts of names, with two corresponding sorts of entities. Names of real entities,—names of fictitious entities.
Unfortunate it is, howsoever necessary and indispensable, that for speaking of fictitious entities, there is no other possible mode than that of speaking of them as if they were so many real entities. This blameless falsehood being universally uttered, and remaining universally uncontradicted, is, to a considerable extent, taken for truth. With every name employed, an entity stands associated in the minds of the hearers, as well as speakers, and that, entity, though in one half of the whole number of instances, no other than a fictitious one, is, in all of them, apt to be taken for a real one. To speak of an object by its name, its universally known name, is to ascribe existence to it,—out of this, error, misconception, obscurity, ambiguity, confusion, doubts, disagreement, angry passions, discord and hostility have, to no inconsiderable amount, had place. There is many a man who could not endure patiently to sit and hear contested the reality of those objects which he is in the habit of speaking of as being his rights. For the assertion of the existence of these fictitious objects, no small degree of merit has been ascribed, no small degree of praise has been given,—assertion has been taken for proof, and the stronger and more numerous the sets of words employed, the more complete and conclusive has that proof been esteemed.*
To such of the sources of perception as are of a material or corporeal nature, whether audible or visible, names are early attached;—by the presence of the object to both parties at once, the addresser and the addressee, i. e. party addressed, at the time that, by the addresser, the sign is presented to the sense of the addressee, the individuality of the object, the idea of which is, by that sign, presented to notice, is continually established. Bring hither that loaf;—behold that apple;—at the time when the sign is thus presented to sense, the thing signified,—the portion of matter thus denominated being at the same time presented to the senses of both parties, the import of the word loaf or apple is thus fixed, readily fixed, and beyond danger of mistake.
Objects of a corporeal nature may be designated and denominated in a direct way.
Not so in the case of an object of which the seat lies in the mind;—not so in the case of an immaterial being. For producing in any other mind any conception whatsoever of an object of this class, a man has absolutely but one means, and that is to speak of it as if it belonged to the other class,—to speak of it as if it were a material object,—to present to the party addressed some sign or other with the signification of which he is acquainted, in the character of a sign of some material object,—and upon the resemblance, or rather analogy, such as it is, which has place between the material object of which it was originally the sign, and the immaterial object of which it is now employed as a sign, to depend for the chance of the sign’s exciting in his mind the idea which, on the occasion, it is endeavoured to excite, viz. the idea of the immaterial object.
In saying, bring me that loaf, it lies in that pan;—if a pan, with a loaf in it, were accordingly existing in the presence of us both,—I should raise up in your mind two ideas, that of a pan and that of a loaf. Correspondent to the portion of discourse having matter for its subject, here then is a portion of discourse having mind for its subject. By what means, then, is it, that by words employed for that purpose, I have succeeded in my endeavour to present to your own mind, the general, in conjunction with the particular, idea of something which I have caused to have place in it?
It is by causing you to consider your own mind under the image or similitude of a receptacle, in which the idea has been made to have place, as in the material pan the material loaf is deposited. And here, after having officiated in the material sense, the preposition in, a preposition significative of place, officiates in the immaterial sense; and it is by its material sense, that it receives its explanation when employed in its immaterial sense, for from no other source could it receive its explanation.
Applied to the designation of any class of material objects, a sign is, or may be, the sign of a real entity, applied to the purpose of designating any object of the class of immaterial objects, a sign cannot, in that respect, be the sign of anything but a fictitious entity. The entity of which the sign in question is given as a sign,—your mind, as in the above example, shall in the character of an immaterial substance, have whatsoever reality it may be your pleasure to see ascribed to it. But in the phrase in question, in virtue of the preposition in, it is in the character of a material substance that it is spoken of, a receptacle in which an idea may have place, as a loaf may in a pan; and in so far as that is the character in which it is spoken of, fiction is employed. So far, therefore, the name given to your mind is the name of a fictitious entity, and your mind itself a fictitious entity. If in the instance of your mind it be in any way displeasing to you to make this acknowledgment, take for the fictitious entity the idea spoken of as being lodged in it;—or if that be not agreeable, let it be your understanding, your will, your conception, your imagination, considered in the character of so many separated existences, capable of having objects lodged in them.
Of the origin of the import of the sign in some instances the materiality is, it is true, no longer visible. Take for example, as above, the word mind itself, and the word will. But in by far the greater number of instances, it is plain enough. Take for example the words understanding, conception, and imagination, as above. Even in regard to mind, though of that word the root, in material ideas, is lost; in the French word, the import of which, though it coincide not with it, comes nearest to it, viz. esprit, the materiality is plain enough. Correspondent to, and derived from, that French word, or from the Latin word spiritus, is our word, spirit, and that spirit means originally breath, i. e. air discharged out of the lungs, is sufficiently notorious.
In so far as any origin at all can be found for it, it is in a material import that the origin of the import of every word possessing an immaterial import is to be found. Seeing that in the numerous instances in which both sorts of imports are attached to the same word, this rule is verified, we can do no otherwise than conclude that originally such was also the case in the instance of the comparatively small number of words, in and for which no material import can at present be found.
Throughout the whole field of language, parallel to the line of what may be termed the material language, and expressed by the same words, runs a line of what may be termed the immaterial language. Not that to every word that has a material import there belongs also an immaterial one; but that to every word that has an immaterial import there belongs, or at least did belong, a material one.
In a word, our ideas coming, all of them, from our senses, from what other source can the signs of them—from what other source can our language come?
Of one and the same thought, from mind to mind, by what means—through what channel can conveyance be made? To no other man’s is the mind of any man immediately present. Matter, this or that portion of matter external to both, in this may be seen the only channel, the only medium, which the nature of the case admits of. Yonder stands a certain portion of matter. By that portion of matter feelings of a certain sort are produced in your mind: by that same portion of matter feelings of a sort, if not exactly the same, at least, with reference to the purpose in question, near enough to being the same, are produced, at the same time, in my mind. Here, then, is the channel of communication, and the only one. Of that channel language takes possession and employs it.
Under you tree, in that hollow on the ground, lies an apple;—in that same spot, while I am saying this to you, pointing, at the same time, to the spot, you are observing that same apple. By this means, along with the signification of the words, lies, ground, hollow, &c., you and I learn the signification of the word in.
At and during the time we are thus conversing, the ideas of the apple, the ground, and the hollow, are in both our minds. In this way it is, that we learn the import of this same word in with reference to our two minds. In a word, with reference to mind in general, by no other means could we have learned it. In no other way could the word in, add, or any other word, have acquired a signification with reference to mind.
Unless it be the one expressed by the proposition of, taken as the sign of the possessive case, the material image, and thence the immaterial idea expressed by the preposition in, is the one the exemplification of which occurs with the greatest frequency.
By this example, the derivation of the immaterial idea from the material image, and the use thence made of the noun, considered as the name of the immaterial idea, from the use made of the same word in the character of the name of the material image, being once explained to any one to whom the explanation thus given is clear and satisfactory; of the two senses thus attached to as many propositions as the particular language, whatsoever it be, happens to furnish, the explanation may henceforward be despatched in a short formulary, and at the expense of a comparatively small number of words.
Subjects of Discourse, immediate and ulterior.
Language is the sign of thought, an instrument for the communication of thought from one mind to another.
Language is the sign of thought, of the thought which is in the mind of him by whom the discourse is uttered.
It may be the sign of other things and other objects in infinite variety, but of this object it is always a sign, and it is only through this that it becomes the sign of any other object.
On this occasion, and for this purpose, the whole of the mind of man may be considered as distinguishable into two parts,—the purely passive and the active. In the passive is included the intellectual; the active may also be styled the concupiscible. The passive, the seat of perception, memory, and judgment, in so far as it is capable (as in seeing) of being exercised without any consciousness of the intervention of the will the active the seat of desire, and thence of volition, and thence of external action.
The object for the designation of which a class of words, termed by grammarians a verb in the imperative mood, is employed, is one example out of several modifications, of the state of which the concupiscible part of the mind is susceptible.
A certain event presented by my imagination as being not yet realized, but as capable of being realized, becomes the object of my desire; if the event be regarded as capable of being brought into reality by my own agency alone, and my desire of seeing it realized, is strong enough, my will, my volitional faculty, and, at the same time, the appropriate branch of my externally active faculty are concerned in the production of it.
If it be regarded as capable of being brought into reality by the active agency of some other individual, and not otherwise, at the same time that it appears to me probable that, by the knowledge of the desire entertained in my mind a correspondent desire followed by corresponding action, will be produced in his, I address myself to him. I employ the faculty of language in making communication to him of such my desire accordingly.
In respect of power, regard being had to the particular occasion and purpose in question, what is his situation in life in relation and comparison to mine? Is it that, in my view of the matter, I have it in my power to exercise a greater influence on his wellbeing than he has on mine?—I am his superior. Is it that, on the one hand, the power which I have of exercising influence on his wellbeing, on the other hand, the power which he has of exercising influence on my wellbeing, are equal to one another?—He is my equal. Is it that the power which he has of exercising influence on my wellbeing is greater than that which I have of exercising influence on his wellbeing?—I am his inferior.
In the first case, if the mode in which I make communication of such my desire be such as to convey to him an intimation of the opinion I entertain of the position of such my own station in life with relation to his, the expression thus given to my desire is termed a command.
In Latin, impero means I command, imperation, commanding. Of the cluster of words, designated by grammarians by the name of a verb, one included cluster is termed as above, a verb in the imperative mood. By this name the intimation expressed is, that wherever a word of this form is employed, intimation of superiority is given, as above; that by it this sort of command is signified, and that commands are not signified by any other sort of word. But that neither of these propositions is correct will, in its place, be made manifest.
Thus far, then, are we advanced. The immediate subject of a communication made by language is always the state of the speaker’s mind, the state of the passive or receptive part of it, or the state of the active or concupiscible part.
Now, then, in the case where it is the state of the receptive part, what is, or may be, the ulterior subject of the communication thus made?
Answer. It will be, in some respect or other, the state (viz. meaning the supposed or alleged state) either of the corporeal part of the speaker’s frame or the state of some object other than, and exterior to, the speaker.
Of the corporeal part of the speaker’s frame. Examples:—I am weary, I am hungry, I am dry.
Of the state of some object other than and exterior to the speaker. Examples:—That apple is ripe, apples are sweet, apples are good.
In both these cases, an object other than the state of my own mind is the subject of the discourse held by me, but in neither of them is it the immediate subject.
In both of them the immediate subject is no other than the state of my own mind,—an opinion entertained by me in relation to the ulterior object or subject.
In the one case it is an opinion of which the subject is the state of my own body.
In the other it is an opinion concerning the state of a body exterior to my own body.
In the first case, the opinion, though it be but an opinion, is not, as the case is here put, much in danger of being erroneous. In respect of the actual state of my sensations, meaning the sensations themselves, I am scarcely liable to be in an error. But beyond that point no sooner do I advance but a single step, if I undertake to pronounce an opinion relative to the cause of any of those sensations, from that moment I am liable to fall. I here launch into the ocean of art and science. I here commence physician; and, in the field of the physician the dominion of error is but too severely felt.
Speaking of the state of my own body, am I thus exposed to error?—Much more so am I in speaking of the state of any other.*
The sort of infirmity just noticed being common to all discourse, in the composition of which an assertion of the state of the speaker’s mind intervenes, precedes, introduces, and weakens the ulterior assertion which lies beyond it, the consideration of the intervening assertion may, in every case but the present (in which, for the purpose of explanation, it has been necessary thus, for once, to bring it to view) be dropped, and the subject of the discourse may be stated as being, except in the particular case where it is the state of the speaker’s body, the state of some exterior entity or assemblage of entities.
But now already comes the stage at which it will become necessary to launch into the track of fiction, at which, by an irresistible voice, and on pain of leaving everything unexplained and misconceived, the land of fiction calls upon us to visit it.
That apple is ripe. Apples are sweet. Apples are good. An apple is a real entity; in saying that apple exists,—the existence of which, I express my opinion, is a real entity. But that apple is ripe; of what is it that, in addition to that of the apple, I express my opinion of the existence? It is of the existence of the quality of ripeness in the apple.
But the quality of ripeness, is it a real entity? Different from apples, and everything else that is susceptible of it, has this quality, or any quality, any separate existence? If there were no other apple in the world than that which I have in my hand, this apple would not the less be possessed of existence; but if there were nothing in the world that were susceptible of being ripe, where would be the quality of ripeness? Nowhere.
In saying this apple is ripe, what is it that I affirm? It is, that in this apple is the quality of ripeness. The two expressions are equivalent. But,—in this apple is the quality of ripeness, in the assertion thus made, what is the image that I bring to view? It is, that the apple is a receptacle; and that, in this receptacle, the quality of ripeness, the imaginary, the fictitious entity called a quality is lodged. For, of the preposition in this is the import. Witness the apple which I am supposing myself to have in my hand; witness the pen which, at this moment, I actually have in hand.
Thus it is that, in the use made of language, fiction, at the very first step that can be taken in the field of language, fiction, in the simplest, or almost the simplest case, in which language can be employed, becomes a necessary resource.
Coeval with the very first steps that can be taken in the endeavour to give a clear explanation of the nature of language, must be the intimation given of the distinction between real and fictitious entities, and the correspondent distinction between names of real and names of fictitious entities.
Though to the development, and thus to the explanation of the import of the word ripe, the word ripeness may thus be rendered subservient, it follows not that of the two the word ripeness was first in use. From the use which,—in and for the developing the texture of the import of the verb,—of the word quality, in the character of a generic name, and of the names of the several sorts of qualities distinguishable in the several sorts of substances in the character of so many specific names, may now be made, it follows not that words of this description were in use before the verb,—before that complex species of verb, in every individual of which the import of some species of quality may be found contained. On the contrary, the contrary course seems even by much the most natural and probable to have taken place.
In the earlier stages of society, all conceptions, and, consequently, all expressions, were generally indistinct; it is only by long-continued courses of attention that distinctness in conception and expression have been produced.
It seems probable that it was in the shape of entire propositions that the sounds of which audible language was composed, first presented themselves; witness those words which, under the name of interjections, are by grammarians numbered among the parts of speech, and which may be considered as so many fragments of language, as it showed itself in its earliest state.
As it was with the audible, so it appears to have been with the visible signs of language; and as words were formed by the decomposition of propositions, so were letters by the decomposition of words.
If all language be thus figurative, how then, (it may be asked,) how then is it that the character, and, in so important a class of instances the reproach, of figurativeness, is cast upon the use made of it in particular instances?
To this it may be answered,—The discourse that, in this particular sense, is not figurative, is the discourse in which, for the conveyance of the immaterial part of the stock of ideas conveyed, no other fictions,—no other figures are employed than what are absolutely necessary to, and which, consequently, are universally employed in, the conveyance of the import intended to be conveyed.
When a discourse is figurative, in lieu of those, or in addition to those, other images not necessary to, and thence not universally employed in the conveyance of the import in question, are employed.
In some instances, by the figures, by the images thus without necessity employed, it happens that, in the mind of the hearer or speaker, a sense of pleasure is produced: in this case, according to the nature of the subject, and according as the use of them is or is not conjoined with the use of metre, they constitute the matter of poetry or rhetoric, and are regarded as ornamental.
In other instances, the sensation of which they are productive, is that of disgust. The case in which this happens is where the resemblance between the material image employed as a sign, and the immaterial object meant to be signified, is too faint, the distance too wide, or where, in such a proportion as to be fatiguing for the designation of one and the same object, a multitude of images, one upon the back of another, are heaped up.
Not unfrequently when, for the designation of the immaterial idea meant to be designated, a man has chosen and employed a material image, not very closely analogous to it, that image brings to view and gives expression to a second, that second to a third, and so on, not one of them perhaps very closely analogous to the one by which it was immediately suggested. What adds to the confusion, a quality which belongs only to one of these images considered in the character of a subject, is inadvertently ascribed to another. In this way, perhaps, before the discourse is come to a close, the immaterial object, or state of things originally meant to be designated, has been forgotten, and is dropt out of sight; and thus the whole becomes a tissue of nonsense.
Of imperfection, in this shape, the most conspicuous examples may be found generally, not to say universally, in the works of oriental writers.
Relation as between Archetype and Type, with their respective Synonyms and Modifications.
When any two psychical real entities, any two ideas, whether perceptions, remembrances, or factitious mental images, have, either at the same instant, or at two contiguous, or nearly contiguous, instants, been present to the mind,—each of them, such is the effect of this conjunction, howsoever transient, acquires, in the event of its reappearance, a tendency to draw forth and introduce the other; and the more frequently the conjunct appearance is repeated, the more apt, cæteris paribus, is this tendency, or probability, to ripen into actuality.
This tendency is equal and mutual; and, forasmuch as when considered in this most simple point of view, the two objects thus associated present not any points of difference by which either can be distinguished from the other, they are not, while considered in this point of view and no other, susceptible of different names.
When, in respect of order of time, any difference between the two has place, in this difference may be found (it might be supposed) matter sufficient to serve as the ground for the formation of a difference in respect of name. But innumerable are the instances in which no difference in point of time can be found to have place; and even when a difference of this sort might, perhaps, be observable, to such a degree is it fugitive and questionable, as to be altogether incapable of affording any permanent and sufficient practical ground for a permanent difference in respect of name.
At the same time, so it is, that for the two ideas in a pair of ideas thus associated, two different names, and those employed throughout a large portion of the field of thought, have been provided.
To the possibility of putting to any kind of use this difference in respect of name, some difference in respect of nature was an indispensable requisite. Of this necessary difference, a source was found in the order of importance. For designating the object regarded as superior in the scale of importance, the word archetype, or thing signified, was employed; for the other, the words sign and type.
In so far as any importance is considered as belonging to both, and if to both, in so far as any difference is considered as having place in their respective degrees of relative importance, that to which the highest degree is ascribed will be considered and spoken of as the archetype, or thing signified; that to which no more than an inferior degree of importance, or what is, perhaps, more common, no importance at all is regarded as belonging, will be spoken of as the type or sign.
If, while importance is considered as belonging to both, no difference of level is considered as having place between their respective situations in the scale of importance, either may be considered as possessing the character of archetype, or thing signified in relation to the other, which, in that case, will be considered as operating in the character of type,—performing the function of type or sign.
In so far as no degree of importance is regarded as belonging to either of them, no source of denomination can, in that case, be found for either of them,—neither of them presenting any pretension to the character of archetype, neither of them is capable of being designated by any such denomination as that of type.
The condition requisite to the establishment of this conjunction being so extremely simple, and such as in the nature of things, cannot but be of continually repeated occurrence, design, human design, cannot but have been necessary to the exemplification of it.
But if, even without design, i. e. an exertion of the will applying itself to that purpose, it be capable of taking place, much more is it with and by design.
Of the production of this effect by design, language, in all its various forms, is the most extensive exemplification,—within the field of its operation, almost all other exemplifications are included.
In the case of language taken in the aggregate, the aggregate, composed of ideas or other psychical entities, capable of being expressed by language, being considered as constituting the aggregate archetype or thing signified; the aggregate of the sounds employed for that purpose, constitute, with reference to it, the aggregate type or sign; this aggregate type or sign being considered as the archetype, the aggregate of the images which, under the name of letters, are employed for the designation of those sounds, constitutes with reference to the aggregate of those same sounds, the aggregate type or sign.
Symbol, index, indication, token, badge, the ideas attached respectively to these words, are so many modifications of the idea attached to the word sign.
Though in the nature of the case as above, no object of perception be incapable of being in the character of type or sign, made to serve for bringing to the mind’s view any other, yet, by reason of their natural permanence, or capacity for permanence, the signs most naturally and frequently applied to this purpose are of the visible class.
So extensive, and considered in its totality, so adequate to the purpose of designation, is the collection of signs of which language is composed, that any other sign or lesser aggregate of signs, to which, on any occasion it happens, to be applied to any part of the same purpose, is considered in no other light than that of a substitute to that supremely useful instrument.
Symbol, token, badge,—in these words may be seen so many names of signs of a particular description, employed on some particular occasion, with or without advantage in the character of substitutes to that universally and constantly fit and useful instrument.
Of the above three words, symbol and token are not incapable of being employed for the designation of any class of objects, considered as employed in the character of signs. Of the word badge, the applicability seems confined to such signs as consist of visible images.
Every word* to be made intelligible, must be represented as part of some assertion or proposition.
Every sentence is either an assertion, or a combination of assertions.
To be subservient to any use or purpose, every assignable portion of language must, on each occasion, be enunciative or suggestive of at least some proposition. This proposition will consist of one word only, or of divers words,—will be either monoepic or polyepic; when it is polyepic, the proposition has several words for its component elements.
A proposition is either simple or composite. Every composite proposition is resolvable into a number of simple ones.
Every monoepic proposition has, for its equivalent, a polyepic one, of which it is the abridged expression. Examples of monoepic propositions are the several conjugates, (the infinitive mood excepted,) which are usually contained in what is called a verb,—one and the same verb.
A simple proposition is either, 1. physical; 2. psychological; or, 3. compounded of the two.
Every psychological proposition has, for its archetype, a physical proposition; physical are therefore the propositions, the mention of which requires to precede that of the other.
By every single physical proposition, the subject of it is stated either as being in a state of rest, or in a state of motion.
In every simple physical proposition, if complete, are contained a word designative of the subject of the proposition, a word designative of the predicate of the proposition,† and a word designative of the copula,‡ or bond of connexion between the two, a word by which the operation called predication is performed.
This copula is either affirmative or negative; by the copula, if affirmative, the subject is averred to be in some state for the description of which the predicate is employed.
The portion of language employed for giving expression to a proposition may be either—1, exactly adequate or commensurate; 2, superabundant; or, 3, deficient.
It is exactly adequate, or commensurate, when, for the designation of each member, one word, and no more, is employed.
It is deficient in so far as the name of any one of the members being omitted, the import belonging to it is left to be inferred, viz. from the context, i. e. from such parts of the whole discourse of which the signs are inserted.
It is redundant, or superabundant, in proportion as, in lieu of the designation of any one or more of the members, words more than one are employed.§
Propositions may be distinguished, in the first place, into purely real, purely verbal, semi-real, or ambiguous.
A purely real proposition is either intellectual, i. e. state of the intellect expressing, or volitional, i. e. state of the will expressing.
In propositions of the intellectual cast or kind, the name of the subject may be the name either of a real entity or of a fictitious entity; so also the name of the attribute or predicate may be either the name of a real or the name of a fictitious entity.
Every simple proposition comes,—or without violence, and in respect of unity and simplicity, with considerable use, may be made to come, under this description, viz. a mass of discourse by which the assertion conveyed is to this effect, viz. that in the subject of which the name is contained or implied in it, a property, or quality,∥ of which the name is contained or implied in it, has had, has, or will absolutely or eventually have, existence.
Every proposition predicates the existence, past, present, or future, (i. e. future certain, or future contingent,) of some state of things, which is either motional or quiescent. A motional state of things is an event.
To predicate, for instance, the existence of a quality in a subject, is to predicate the existence, viz. past, present, or future, certain or contingent of the events which are the manifestations of that quality.
A proposition containing the name of a fictitious entity, predicates indirectly, (as if a real event were predicated of a real entity,) some event as if it were real, concerning the fictitious entity, at the same time the event being referred to an entity which is not real, cannot itself be real; and this is done by means of a distant and fanciful analogy which there is between the event typified and the real event made use of for typification.
Abstract entities can no otherwise be expressed than by fiction. Thus a billiard-ball is said to be in motion; or motion in a billiard-ball; or two billiard-balls in a situation.
Two objects, two billiard-balls considered in successive moments, have been either at different distances from one another or at the same distance: in the first case they are in motion, in the second case they are at rest.
Motion can no otherwise be defined than by diversity of distance: the portion of matter interposed between them being at one time of one length, at another time of another. Diversity of distances are judged of by a comparison which is simultaneous; one moment I can place no more than one piece of wood of an inch long between the two balls, the next moment I can place two such pieces.
Words cannot, in a direct manner, represent any other events than what are quiescent. Motion they cannot represent. It is with language in this respect as it is with painting.
In all propositions composed of or concerning fictitious and abstract entities, there are two events concerned, 1. The real event typified; 2. The fictitious event, which is the archetype.*
The proposition which announces the event typified may be termed the plain or unfigurative proposition, the other the figurative proposition.
A proposition is really significative, in so far as the import of the subject, and that of the attribute, not being precisely the same, the attribute is represented by the proposition as bearing this or that relation to the subject. Examples,—man is rational, apples are nourishing.
A proposition is no more than verbally significative, in so far as without relation had to the nature of the entity signified by the subject, this or that relation is represented as having place between their names. Examples: A wight is a man; a miser covets wealth; a rapier is a sword.
A proposition is both really and verbally significative in so far as by the names given to the subject, and the attribute, respectively, the nature of both or either of them, is meant to be brought to view. Example:—Wood anemonies are plants; sea anemonies are animals.
Of all propositions by which a minor genus is spoken of as being contained in a major genus, the import may be considered as being of this mixed kind.
In propositions of which the subject is a fictitious entity, the subject and predicate, the verb and noun which use has conjoined must be kept conjoined. A new combination appears an impropriety, at least a novelty, as much almost as the use of a new term. You may say strain a point, or stretch a point; you cannot say extend a point, nor strain nor stretch a line or a buckle.†
A complex proposition is that which has at least two subjects, with a predicate and copula to each of them, two subjects, and as many predicates and copulas. The general effect of it is to bring to view two entities, each of them real or fictitious, accompanied with an intimation that by one of them a change is produced in the state or condition of the other.
Considered in this point of view, a complex proposition may be termed a transition-expressing proposition. Examples:—1. Eurybiades struck Themistocles. 2. Themistocles was stricken by Eurybiades.
In both these instances the result expressed is one and the same; but in the one instance the verb employed is in what is called the active voice; in the other, in the passive.
In both instances a change in the state of a certain entity is represented as produced, and a motion is presented in the character of a cause of that change.
But in the first instance, the entity brought to view is the entity in which the motion is represented as having had its commencement, the entity which is represented as having been first in motion, and with that same entity the motion so produced by it. In the other instance it is the entity in which the motion is represented as having had its termination. Themistocles was struck, viz. by Eurybiades.
This motion may be considered as the manifestation of a correspondent quality on the subject, viz. an active quality, an active quality which is represented as having, on the occasion in question, at the moment in question, been resident in one of the two subjects in question, viz. Eurybiades.
In the other instance, the being struck may be considered as the manifestation of a correspondent quality of the passive kind, which is represented as having been on that same occasion, at that same moment, resident in the other of the two subjects in question, viz. Themistocles.‡
Of the Subject of a Proposition.
The name of the subject of a proposition is either singularly designative, or plurally designative: it is singularly designative when no more than one individual is meant to be designated; plurally when individuals more than one.
A singularly designative name is either determinately or indeterminately significative; determinately where the individual meant to be designated is distinguished from all others, as in the case of the proper name of a man, a field, a street, a lane, &c.; indefinite or indeterminate when the import of the pronoun adjective, some or any is considered as attached to it.
A plurally designative name is the name of an aggregate or number of individuals, considered as if collected together.
These individuals are either all determinate, all indeterminate, or some determinate, others indeterminate.
1. All determinate, for instance the members of one official board actually in existence.
2. All indeterminate, for instance the intended members of an official board, not in existence, but in contemplation to be established.
3. Some determinate, some indeterminate, of this sort, are the names of all species and genera of things; of aggregate objects which have, have had, or will have, a real existence; for in and by every such specific or generic name are designated, in the first place, all the individuals which are considered as being at the time in question endowed with the specific quality indicated by the name. In the next place, all that ever were. In the last place, all which ever will be, and by the supposition these last neither have nor ever have had existence.
A specific name partakes, therefore, at once, of the nature of the name of a real entity, and of a name of a fictitious entity. It is the name of a real entity considered as applied to any one of the individuals now or before now in existence, which were endowed with the specific property, or to the whole number of them, or to any part of the whole number of them put together. It is as yet the name of a fictitious entity, considered as applied to all or any one or more of those individuals, which, with that same specific character belonging to them, are considered as about to come into existence.
In this it differs from the name of a quality, for a quality is an object altogether fictitious, an object which, considered as distinct from the subject in which it is spoken of as inhering, neither has, nor has had, nor ever will have existence; for as often as it is spoken of as if it were in a body, i. e. a tangible substance, or in some other object which is spoken of as if it were a body, it is spoken of as if it were a substance, a tangible substance, which, by the supposition, it is not.
In the character of a subject, an entity, real or fictitious, being brought to view, if by any phrase, intimation is given, that in that subject a certain quality thereby designated has place, predication is performed: the quality, in respect of its being so asserted to have place in the subject, is styled the predicate; and the sign by which the assertion, the act of assertion to the effect in question is expressed, is termed the copula.
In this explanation a proposition implied is, that predication may, in every case, be reduced to this: an attribution of a quality to a subject; to the entity which is the subject of the proposition of which the predicate in question is the predicate. The import of the word quality being already explained as not to be confined to the case in which the existence of it is considered as permanent.
Property, relation, place, time, manners, by the one word quality can the import of all these terms be with propriety said to be included? Answer—yes.
1.Property.—This may be considered as being perfectly synonymous to the word quality, and therefore in any case in which the use of the word quality might on any account be less convenient, may without any difference of import, be employed as a substitute for it.
2.Relation. For explaining the import of divers parts of speech, this word will, of necessity, come to be employed. But the bearing this or that relation to this or that other object may, without impropriety, be numbered among the qualities or properties of any object.
3. Of the modification of which place, i. e. space, considered in a relative point of view, is susceptible, frequent occasion for making mention will present itself. But the having its existence in the place in question may, for so long as it continues, be, with as much propriety, in this instance as in any other, numbered among the properties or qualities of the object, whatsoever it may be.
4. So, in regard to time. Amongst the qualities attributed to this subject in question, may be the having its existence in a certain portion of the field of time.
Every object that exists, exists in some portion or other of the field of place or space.
Every object that exists, exists in some portion or other of the field of time.
In so far as it exists in the field of space, an object bears a certain relation to every other object considered as having its existence in that field.
In so far as it exists in the field of time, an object bears, in like manner, a certain relation to every other object considered as having its existence in that same field—the field of time.
And thus we have the relations of place and time, which, with the addition of quality, in the less extended sense of the word, (viz. that in which it is put for qualities other than those which consist in existence in certain portions of the field of place and time) constitute some of the principal classes of the objects, for the designation of which the different classes of words called parts of speech are employed.
As it requires an entire proposition to give complete expression—expression at length, to an intimation, that, to the subject in question, a certain property or quality belongs, so does it to give the like expression to an intimation, that, of the subject in question, the existence is confined to a certain portion of the field of space, or to a certain portion of the field of time.
In this way it will appear, that not only, in an adverb such as—here, there, now, then, the import of an entire proposition is contained; but even that in a mere preposition such as of, under, the import of an entire proposition is contained; and that, accordingly, whenever, over and above the preposition in, the import of which is included in every proposition, (or every form of words by which a quality is asserted to be in a subject,) any other preposition is included in the proposition, that proposition is a complete one, containing, in addition to whatsoever other simple propositions it may contain, one of which the preposition in question is the abridged equivalent and substitute.
Predication is either real or verbal;—real, when the design of the proposition is to convey information concerning the nature of the object signified,—when it declares the existence of some quality, in the subject named;—of real predication, nothing can be the object or matter but a quality:* verbal, when the design is merely to give intimation of the import of the word which, on the occasion in question, is employed in the character of a sign, as an oak is a plant, a dog is an animal.
Different as they are in themselves, that is, in the design in pursuance of which they are employed, these two modes of predication are very liable to be confounded.
When the predication is real, the purpose of it, the purpose of the proposition in which it has place, is always as above, to convey an intimation that, in the entity in question which, or the name of which, is the subject of the proposition in question, a certain quality to which expression is given in and by the Predicate, has existence.
When the predication is verbal, purely verbal, the design is not to give intimation of any quality as having existence in any subject, but merely to convey an intimation of a certain relation between the import of one word and the import of another, no such object as the nature of the quality designated by either, being on that occasion meant to be brought into view.†
The reason for holding up to view this distinction is, that sometimes, when the effect or design of the preposition is of one sort, it is liable to be misconceived, by being conceived to be of the other sort.
Of Collections of Signs, i. e. Propositions expressive of some State of the Perceptive Faculty, considered as having for the Source of the Perception a corporeal Object or Objects.
Correspondent to such as are the objects to be designated, such must be the signs by which they are designated.
Correspondent to the states, and such as are the modifications, of which corporeal objects are susceptible, such must be the modifications of the signs which, under the name of language or discourse, are employed in the designation of them.
Every proposition by which any portion of matter is brought to view—is presented to the mind, has for its subject either some material body, some portion of a body, or some collection of bodies, or portions of bodies.
The sign or portion of language by which any such modification or modifications of matter are presented to the mind, is termed a name, a denomination, an appellation, the appellative.
By any such name, what is designated is either a simple body, a part of a single body, or an aggregate of bodies, or of parts of single bodies.
If a part of a body be spoken of by itself, it is in so far considered as a whole.
If it be a single body, the mode in which that body is spoken of is either determinate or indeterminate; if determinate, the name is styled a proper name; if it be an aggregate of bodies, it is styled a common name.
If the individuals designated by such common name be all determinate, it is, or may be styled a collective name;—in so far as any of them are indeterminate, a general or specific name.
If, being a single body it be indeterminate, it has for its denomination a common name, whether collective or generic, being the name of the aggregate of which it is considered as an unit, coupled with a species of sign denominated a pronoun-adjective of which by and by.
During any given length of time every material object, capable of being taken for the subject of a proposition, in fact, has been either in motion or at rest. But when it is in motion it may be considered as capable of being at rest, and, when at rest, as capable of being in motion.
Every proposition has either one subject alone, or more than one; it being understood that under the description of one subject is here comprehended that which has for its sign a common name, whether collective or generic, (i. e. logically comprehensive,) or that of which a proper name is the appellative.
A proposition, if but one subject be designated in it, may be termed a single proposition; if two, double; if more than two, complex.
As everything which can happen to a corporeal subject is resolvable into this, viz. the having been, during the length of time in question, either in a state of motion or in a state of rest, so everything that can be said of, said to have happened to, that same corporeal subject, is resolvable either into this; viz. that during the length of time in question it has been, or has been capable of being in a state of motion; or into this, viz. that it has been, or has been capable of being in a state of rest.*
In either case, by what is said of the corporeal subject in question, a quality may be said to be ascribed to it, to be attributed to it, to be said to belong to it,—it may be said to be possessed of, endued, endowed with that same quality;—the quality is spoken of as being in that same subject, belonging to, appertaining to, inherent in that same subject.
If, in speaking of the quality as being in the subject, no more than a single point of time is brought to view, the quality thus attributed may be styled actual, or momentary, or transient;—if it be considered as either being, or capable of being, in the subject for an indeterminate length of time, the quality may be styled potential, habitual, or permanent.
When a quality is spoken of as appertaining to this or that subject, that which, on this occasion, is most frequently meant to be designated, and is, therefore, most apt to be brought to view, is an habitual or permanent quality.
In consideration of its being attributed to a subject, a quality is also frequently styled an attribute—an attribute of that same subject; and, in consideration of its belonging to a subject, it is also frequently styled a property—a property of, or belonging, or appertaining to, or inherent in, that same subject.
Suppose, then, a portion of the matter of language so constructed as to present to view a quality, whether actual or habitual, as appertaining to this or that given corporeal subject, let it be considered what are the objects of which this portion of the matter of language must have contained the signs.
These are, 1. The subject; 2. The quality. But to say that the quality in question is in the subject in question, is to affirm the existence of a certain relation between that subject and that quality, viz. the sort of relation of which the word in is the sign.
Thus, then, to the sign of the subject and the sign of the quality must be added the sign of the relation.
But what is thus said, what is thus affirmed, is, that in the subject in question the quality in question is; in other words, that between the subject and this quality there exists the relation in question.
Thus, then, to complete the texture of the proposition, to the sign of the subject, the sign of the quality, and the sign of the relation, must be added the sign of existence,—the sign by which existence is brought to view—the sign by which existence is asserted to have, or to have had place, viz. the existence of the relation between the subject and the attribute.
For the present, viz. to aid conception, and to afford a mark of distinction whereby this minimum proposition, and a proposition of larger dimensions and a greater number of parts, may be distinguished, let the following examples serve:—
Apples, say, are sweet, or, to keep clear of certain causes of complication, say, rather, sugar is sweet.
The number of words employed is here no more than three; but, in the form of expression, an abbreviation may be observed. Sweetness (the quality of sweetness) is in sugar. Sugar, the name of the subject—a corporeal subject: sweetness, the name of the quality; the quality consisting in the aptitude, in consequence of the necessary actions to produce in the sensorium of men the perception termed by the same name.
Aristotelian Logicians—Imperfection of their Conceptions in relation to Propositions.
For the formation of a proposition it has been seen that no fewer than four objects require to be brought to view,—objects all of them distinct, and, for the designation of each of them, a distinct sign capable of being, and in use to be employed.
What has, moreover, been seen is, that, for the formation of a complete proposition, though it be but a single proposition, the number of objects brought to view cannot be smaller than as above.
True it is, that, for the bringing to view this number of distinct and altogether different objects, a smaller number of words, and, in truth, even a single word, may be, and often has been, made to serve and to suffice. But how? Only because, in virtue of certain established associations, by this one word, the whole number of the above-mentioned distinct and different objects have been brought to view.
Not so the Aristotelians. Constituent parts of a proposition, according to Aristotle himself, no more than two,* viz. the subject and the predicate: name of the subject a noun—name of the predicate a verb.
Seeing that out of the two, and no more than two, distinguishable parts no proposition could be formed, no attribute spoken of, as belonging to any subject, the followers of Aristotle one and all, added a third, viz. the sign of existence to which they gave the name of a copula, though in this, according to Sanderson, they departed from the truth of the case. Why? Because they departed from the conceptions expressed, from the language used, by Aristotle.
But the relation between the subject and the attribute, the relation of which the existence between this subject and the attribute was to be affirmed, even after the above addition, what name had they found for it?—what observation had they made of it? Answer: None.
As in Anatomy so in Logic, by a continued and varied course of attention bestowed by a succession of observers, new organs have, from time to time, been discovered.
For the formation of a proposition, taken too in its least dimensions, according to Aristotle, no more than two, according to his observers, no more than three, parts, necessary; whereas, this minimum number, it has been seen, is no less than four. And, in their view of the matter, this number sufficient for another sort of proposition, which remains to be brought to view, and which, when analyzed, will be found to contain twice the number of parts contained in the only sort of proposition as yet brought to view.†
Term, it must be acknowledged, is the Latin-sprung word corresponding to the word employed by Aristotle. Terms—no more than two; and so, by his followers, terms no more than three. But, by terms, he and they must have meant component or constituent parts; for that was the thing which required to be brought to view. If, by the name of term, there were any parts that were not designated, then, by some other name such other parts should have been brought to view.
According to Sanderson, the copula, says Aristotle, is neither a term nor so much as a part of a proposition;—it is no more than a syncategorema. And what, according to him, is a syncategorema? It is a part of the predicate which, according to him, is itself a part of a proposition, the subject being the other. A part of that which is a part of the whole, and yet not a part of the whole! What self-contradiction!—what confusion!—what trifling!—what torment to the student! who, by the law of authority, stands bound to find it all true and incomprehensible!
[* ] No farther exposition of this head has been found among the MSS.—Ed.
[† ] No exposition of this head has been found among the MSS.—Ed.
[* ] The completion of this proposal, in so far as respects the abstract connexion between the actions of the mind and their typification in language, will be found considered in the last chapter of this work; but in so far as respects the practical explanation and analysis of the various parts of speech, the object will be found better fulfilled in the immediately ensuing tract on Universal Grammar.—Ed.
[† ] This name is not properly applicable to any but audible signs. Letters are visible signs of audible signs; not so all Chinese characters.
To a deaf man there exists not any audible language; to a man born blind, as well as deaf and in consequence dumb, there would not exist any means of mental intercourse. In respect of intelligence, he would be inferior to the most meanly endowed among quadrupeds.
[* ] For example, in speaking of the instrument of communication in the forms in which it exhibits itself in different nations; you cannot say—the English discourse, the French discourse,—you find yourself under the obligation of saying, the English language, the French language.
[* ] Inference,—1. The impropriety, folly, and insolence of the communicators representing any such communication as being anything more than a persuasion,—an opinion of his own. 2. That discourse is nothing but a persuasion; that human persuasion is fallible, and, moreover, all declarations by which the existence of a persuasion to any effect is affirmed, more or less probably false, such falsity being either accompanied or not with self-consciousness; these are among the truths which, whether it be for the exclusion of obstinate error, or for the exclusion of arrogance, over-bearingness, obstinacy, and violence, ought never to be out of mind.
[* ] This division appears to be equivalent to that above made into solitary and social. The two divisions were made at different times, as appears from the dates on the MSS., and they are thus probably a different nomenclature applied to the same operation; as, however, there is an important subdivision of the “transitive function,” which is not carried out in the case of the “social use,” it was thought right to keep the two operations of divisions distinct.—Ed.
[* ] 5 Elizabeth, chap. iv. The portion of this statute that relates to apprenticeship is repeated by 54 Geo. III. cap. 96.—Ed.
[* ] In the word harmoniousness may be seen a source of ambiguity, from which the word melodiousness is free; applied to the aggregates of musical sounds, harmony has, in contradistinction to melody, been in these modern times applied to the case in which sounds more than one are purposely produced simultaneously; and this for the express purpose of distinguishing the case from that of melody, in which the like sounds are not considered otherwise than exhibiting themselves in succession.
On the other hand, the word melodiousness, if employed on the occasion here in question, viz. sounds considered as the vehicles of thought and as the instruments of converse, seems exposed to an objection from which the word harmoniousness when applied to the same subject is free; by the word melody, the case where the sounds employed are standing with reference to each other in the relation that belongs to the sounds called musical, is brought to view; a sort of relation, in which, except with reference to each other in the particular case of their being, as the phrase is, set to music, the sounds employed as instruments of discourse do not stand to each other.
Moreover, in this case, in further justification of the use of the word harmony, an observation that may be made, is, that in its original acceptation ἁϱμονια, the Greek word, of which the English word harmony is a copy, means neither more nor less than adaptation, and whether on the occasion of the pleasure derived from a number of sounds, the pleasure derived from simultaneity be or be not added to the pleasure produced by succession, adaptation has equal place,—it is upon adaptation that the production of the agreeable effect depends.
[* ] Essay on Shakspeare.
[* ] See chap. v. sect. viii.
[* ] Viz., If the discourse do not embrace the idea which is made the standard of reference?—Ed.
[* ] In the MS. there is here the following N. B.—Add examples.—1. Terms without use, in many instances technical professional terms,—diversity of names for the same kind of act. 2. Superfluous inflections; example in Greek names and verbs. Cases, moods, and tenses, expressed by different terminations in different dialects. The dual a useless number. 3. Quere as to useless combinations of words.
In the English, by the separate auxiliary words by which the modifications included in the aggregate of connected words, called by grammarians the verb, are expressed, are, with great advantage, performed those functions, in the performance of which, terminations in prodigious number and variety are employed in the more inflected languages, viz. the Greek and Latin, and their modern derivatives.
By means of these same instruments a much higher degree of force or impressiveness is possessed by this same modern and northernly derived language.
Witness the words shall and will; and the most imperiously imperative mood expressible by the word shall.
Indeed, such is the quantity of verbal matter saved by the employing the word shall in its imperative sense, that besides giving to the English, pro tanto, a degree of simplicity and force not possessed by any of those southernly derived languages, dead or living, it may almost be said to give to it a degree of copiousness equally peculiar. Why? Because in the expressing by means of the necessary circumlocution the import of the imperative shall, so many words would be necessary that the mind has not patience to draw them out, and so they remain unexhibited.
[a ] The same modifications which, in the least inflected languages are mostly expressed by separate words termed auxiliaries, are in the most inflected languages expressed by inseparable affixes, viz. prefixes or suffixes; mostly by suffixes, more commonly styled terminations.
[* ] The word away, for instance.
[* ] The language of that country is said to contain in it sounds unexemplified in any European language, and without a course of labour such as hath never yet been submitted to, not utterable by any European organs.
[† ] See chapter v.
[* ] There is here a notandum, “go on bringing them to view in the same manner.”—Ed.
[† ] With the exception of a sentence or two on instruction, merely initiatory, individual practice is the only one of these that has been found discussed in the MSS.—Ed.
[‡ ] For further remarks by the author on the subjects embraced in this and the succeeding section, see Nemography, in vol. iii. p. 233, et seq.
[* ] Viz. The adjuncts designative of the time of an action, the number of the person or persons concerned in it, and the point of view in which in respect of certainty, the act in question was contemplated.
[* ] See above p. 310, and note † attached to it.
[* ] This word is necessary, for if instead of a discourse you were to say a language, the import expressed would be quite different from that which is here intended.
[† ] For the distinction between impressions and ideas we are, it is believed, indebted to David Hume.
[* ] From this observation various practical inferences of the moral class may be seen to follow:
1. All reliance on the opinion as supposed of others, is in fact reliance upon a man’s own opinion; viz. upon his opinion concerning the credit due to the opinion which in the instance in question is attributed to those others.
2. That in other words all bigotry is grounded in, includes in it self-conceit.
[† ] It might thus be shown that these propositions which are given by the Aristotelians as simple and entirely expressed propositions, are complex and imperfectly expressed.
[* ] By the synthetic method, as syllables now form words, and letters form syllables.
[† ] Brutes have no terms,—their language is all in propositions; their faculties enable them not to break them down into words.
[‡ ] A warning which on this occasion and in this place it seems necessary to give, is, that the order which in the endeavour to give a clear, correct, and comprehensive view of the matter of language, considered in its most extensive portions and diversifications, those styled grammatical included, it has been deemed necessary to pursue, is not the same with, but very different from, the order in which in the progress of society they were developed.
By the distinctions pointed out by the different aggregates of words, termed by grammarians the parts of speech, the process of methodization has been applied to, and carried through the whole multitude of these numerous signs. But for the carrying on of the sort of mental process styled methodization, in which is included a high degree of abstraction, a comparatively mature state of the human intellect was requisite; and not only at the time of the first commencement, whenever that was, but long after that time, the stage occupied by the human intellect in the scale of maturity must, in comparison with that stage, have been extremely low.
[* ] This last sentence of the paragraph seems to be a mere notandum, or the proposed commencement of a definition of the chronological history.—Ed.
[* ] Among those things which it is desirable should be done, is to class those conjugates logically. Among the uses that may be made of such classification, would be the improvement of language, by the completion of the several forms of conjugates.
[* ] For a fuller explanation of this division of entities into real and fictitious, with the subdivisions, see the Tract on Ontology, supra, p. 195.
[† ] In the above distinction in regard to existence, and thence thought, may be seen the necessary basis of the distinction of qualities into active and passive, and of verbs into transitive and intransitive.
[* ] At this point the MSS. break off abruptly.—Ed.
[* ] See a more minute exemplification in the author’s criticism on the French Declaration of Rights, in vol. ii. p. 496, et seq.—Ed.
[* ] From these speculative observations practical inferences of no small importance might be deduced.
1. Avoid dogmativeness. 2. Still more avoid intolerance. In both cases never cease to bear in mind how slippery and hollow the ground on which your opinion, and consequently the utmost value of any expression which you can give to it, rests.
[* ] Words are the signs of ideas. To render a word understood, is to point out the idea of which it is a sign. Combinations of words form assertions.
[† ] The predicate is always the name,—may at least be considered in every case as the name of a quality.
[‡ ] So called, in as much as it operates as a bond of connexion to such other parts of speech as it may happen to the other parts of the proposition to contain.
[§ ] In this case the redundancy is but relative; relation being had to the least number necessary and sufficient for the formation of a proposition in any case, since in many instances for the giving expression to the import meant to be expressed, words in considerable numbers beyond those in question just mentioned, will, in many, and indeed most, instances commonly be necessary.
[∥ ] A quality is a fictitious entity, i.e. every name of a quality is the name of a fictitious entity. The quality thus expressed, may be either momentary or permanent,—momentary, i. e. not meant to be represented as having existence in the subject in question for any portion of time, other than the individual portion which the other words are employed to designate; permanent, when the property is considered as habitually resident in the subject in question, no length of time being marked out as that beyond which, on the occasion in question, the quality is not considered as residing in that same subject.
[* ] See sect. v., p. 330.
[† ] Strain a point seems to have taken rise when breeches were trussed and untrussed by points.
[‡ ] Here may be seen the origin and explanation of two species of verb. The verb active and the verb passive, or (to speak in the language of the past and present race of grammarians, by whom an ample cluster of words are spoken of as if they were all together but one word, to which real aggregate and supposed, imaginary unit, they give the name of a verb, i.e. one verb) the active voice and the passive voice of the verb.
A verb active is a verb, i. e. an aggregate of words in and by which to the import of the copula or verb-substantive is added that of an active quality, as having been manifested by the subject in question. In this case the subject in question is the subject in which the motion is considered as having had its commencement.
A verb passive is a verb in which to the import of the same copula or verb-substantive, is added that of the correspondent passive quality, as having been manifested by the subject in question. In this case the subject in question is the subject in which the motion in question is considered as having received its termination.
[* ] A quality being but a fictitious entity, the predicate, if the predication be real, can never be anything but the name of a fictitious entity.
[† ] See this distinction exemplified above, p. 334.—Ed.
[* ] Sight, hearing, smell, present no exceptions. In case of sight, the object said to be seen, may be at rest, but the light, but for which it would not have been seen, has been in motion; and so in the instances of hearing and smell; in hearing, the air,—in smell, the odoriferous particles.
[* ] Sanderson, lib. ii. cap. i. p. 55.
[† ] Here, and at the commencement of p. 337, there are references to which no corresponding elucidations have been found. From these and other pretty obvious irregularities, it will easily be perceived that the author had left this portion of his MSS. in a fragmentary state.—Ed.