Page images

minion, jurisdiction, or condition : as, " Bailiwick, bishoprick, kingdom, dukedom, freedom," &c.

Substantives which end in ian, are those that signify profession; as, "Physician, musician," &c. Those that end in ment and age, come generally from the French, and commonly signify the act or habit; as, “Commandment, usage."

Some substantives ending in are derived from verbs or adjectives, and denote character or habit: as, “ Drunk, drunkard ; dote, dotard."

Some substantives have the form of diminutives; but these are not many. They are formed by adding the terminations, kin, ling, ing, ock, el, and the like: as, "Lamb, lambkin; goose, gosling; duck, duckling; hill, billock; cock, cockerel," &c.

That part of derivation which consists in tracing English words to the Saxon, Greek, Latin, French, and other languages, must be omitted, as the English scholar is not supposed to be acquainted with these languages. The best English dictionaries will, however, furnish some information on this head, to those who are desirous of obtaining it. The learned Horne Tooke, in his “ Diversions of Purley," has given an ingenious account of the derivation and meaning of many of the adverbs, conjunctions, and prepositions.

It is highly probable that the system of this acute grammarian, is founded in truth ; and that adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions, are corruptions or abbreviations of other parts of speech. But as many of them are derived fronı obsolete words in our own language, or from words in kindred languages, the radical meaning of which is, therefore, either obscure, or generally unknown; as the system of this very able etymologist is not universally admitted ; and as, by long prescription, whatever may have been their origin, the words in question appear to have acquired a title to the rank of distinct species ; it



seems proper to consider them, as such, in an elementary treatise of grammar: especially as this plan coincides with that, by which other languages must be taught; and will render the study of them less intricate. It is of small moment, by what names and classification we distinguish these words, provided their meaning and use are well understood. A philosophical consideration of the subject, may, with great propriety, be entered upon by the grammatical student, when his knowledge and judgment become more improved.

Section 2. A sketch of the steps, by which the English

Language has risen to its present state of refinement. BEFORE We conclude the subject of derivation, it will probably be gratifying to the curious scholar, to be informed of some particulars respecting the origin of the English language, and the various nations to which it is indebted for the copiousness, elegance, and refinement, which it has now attained.

66 When the ancient Britons were so harassed and oppressed by the invasions of their northern neighbours, the Scots and Picts, that their situation was truly miserable, they sent an embassy (about the middle of the fifth century) to the Saxons, a warlike people inhabiting the north of Germany, with solicitations for speedy relief. The Saxons accordingly came over to Britain, and were successful in repelling the incursions of the Scots and Picts; but seeing the weak and defenceless state of the Britons, they resolved to take advantage of it; and at length established themselves in the greater part of South-Britain, after having dispossessed the original inhabitants.

"From these barbarians, who founded several petty kingdoms in this island, and introduced their own laws, language, and manners, is derived the groundwork of the English language ; which, even in its present state of cultivation, and notwithstanding the successive augmentations

[ocr errors]

and improvements, which it has received through various channels, displays very conspicuous traces of its Saxon original.

“ The Saxons did not long remain in quiet possession of the kingdom ; for before the middle of the ninth century, the Danes, a hardy and adventurous nation, who had long infested the northern seas with their piracies, began to ravage the English coasts. Their first attempts were, in general, attended with such success, that they were encouraged to a renewal of their ravages ; till, at length, in the beginning of the eleventh century, they made themselves mas. ters of the greater part of England:

“ Though the period, during which these invaders occupied the English throne, was very short, not greatly exceeding half a century, it is highly probable that some change was introduced by them into the language spoken by those, whom they had subdued: but this change cannot be supposed to have been very considerable, as the Danish and Saxon languages arose from one common source, the Gothic being the parent of both.

“ The next conquerors of this kingdom, after the Danes, were the Normans, who, in the year 1066, introduced their leader William to the possession of the English throne. This prince, soon after his accession, endeavoured to bring his own language (the Norman-French) into use among his new subjects; but his efforts were not very successful, as the Saxons entertained a great antipathy to these haugh-ty foreigners. In process of time, however, many Norman words and phrases were incorporated into the Saxon language: but its general form and construction still remained the same.

“ From the Conquest to the Reformation, the language continued to receive occasional accessions of foreign words,e tin it acquired such a degree of copiousness and strength, as to render it susceptible of that polish, which it has received from writers of taste and genius. in the last and prr

sent centuries. During this period, the learned have enriched it with many significant expressions, drawn from the treasures of Greek and Roman literature ; the ingenious and the fashionable have imported occasional supplies of French, Spanish, Italian, and German words, gleaned during their foreign excursions; and the connexions which we maintain, through the medium of government and commerce, with many remote nations, have made some addi. tions to our native vocabulary.

“ In this manner did the ancient language of the AngloSaxons proceed, through the various stages of innovation, and the several gradations of refinement, to the formatiou. of the present English tongue."

See the Twelfth chapter of the Octavo Grammar.



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The third part of grammar is SYNTAX, which treats of the agreement and construction of words in a sentence

A sentence is an assemblage of words, forming a complete sense:

Sentences are of two kinds, simple and compound.

A simple sentence has in it but one subject, and one finitet verb: as, “Life is short."

A compound sentence consists of two or more simple sentences connected together : as, “Life is short, and art is long.” “Idleness produces want, vice, and misery."

As sentences themselves are divided into simple and compound, so the members of sentences may be divided likewise into simple and compound members : for whole sentences, whether simple or compounded, may become members of other sentences, by means of some additional connexion; as in the following example: “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people do not consider.” This sentence consists of two compounded members, each of which is subdivided into two simple members, which are properly called clauses.

There are three sorts of simple sentences; the explicative., or explaining; the interrogative, or asking; the imperative, or commanding,

An explicative sentence is when a thing is said to be or not to be, to do or not to do, to suffer or not to suffer, in : direct manner: as, “I am; thou writesi; Thomas is loved." If the sentence be negative, the adverb not is placed after

* Finite verbs are those to which number and person apoer-lain Verbs in the in-nitive mood have no respect to gumber or person..

« PreviousContinue »