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ART. VI.-An Inquiry into the Structure and Affinity of the

Greek and Latin Languages, with occasional comparisons of the Sanscrit and Gothic: and an Appendix, in which the Derivation of the Sanscrit from the Greek is endeavoured to be established. By GEORGE DUNBAR, F.R.S. E., and Professor of Greek in the University of Edinburgh.

Such is the lengthy title page to a small octavo volume, the object and intention of which it is difficult to understand. For in the preface Mr. Dunbar very justly observes“ Unless philosophy is combined with philology, we may have ingenious conjectures, but no real scientific views, and none of the laws of thought investigated, which directed the formation of all languages." In this work, however, he does not enter into any philosophical inquiries respecting the origin of language, or of the causes wbich have rendered its structure so different amongst the various races of mankind; but merely contents himself with discussing the trite question of the manner in which the inflexions of the Greek and Latin nouns and verbs were first formed. Mr. Dunbar, indeed, in the preface makes these remarks—" I have presumed to differ from several highly respectable authorities, but from no desire of innovation, nor ambitious to be thought the discoverer of new truths. My aim has been, by long and laborious inquiry, to obtain some fixed principles which appeared to pervade all languages, and to apply these to the structure of the Greek and Latin. I have trusted as little as possible to conjecture and hypothesis, the usual resources of etymologists, but, on the contrary, have produced proofs and examples in support of most of my opinions. From the principles stated, and the examples of various kinds adduced, many important inferences remain to be drawn, of such a nature, I imagine, as may simplify the philosophy of language, and throw more light on the noblest invention of the human mind.” But after this peculiarly modest statement, the reader is miserably disappointed in finding, instead of new and luminous principles applicable to the formation of all languages, nothing more than a dry, dull disquisition respecting the manner in which the Greeks and Romans inflected their nouns and verbs, and very questionable conjectures respecting the causes which produced these inflec. tions.

It might, however, be supposed that a Professor of Greek in the University of Edinburgh must, from his very situation, have maturely studied the origin, nature, and properties of Language, and that consequently his opinion on such a subject must be de serving of every attertion. But the following remarks of Mr. Dunbar, p. 13, will probably evince that he has taken both a superficial and an erroneous view of the subject. “ Is it not then (he ob. serves) rational to conclude that language, to a very considerable extent, derives its origin from natural sounds and expressions, viewed as they must be in different aspects, [the aspect of a sound !] by various tribes according to their situation, knowledge, and habits of observation. If we attend to what may be considered the original words of all languages, we shall find them to be, for the most part, of this description, bearing some resemblance, when articulated, to the sounds of particular objects.". In support of this opinion, Mr. Dunbar strongly quotes the following passage from the Noctes Atticæ of Aulus Gellius, which obviously applies to a very different question—“Nomina verbaque non posita fortuito, sed quadam vi et ratione naturæ facta esse, P. Nigidius in Grammatices commentarüs docet, rem sane in philosophiæ dissertationibus celebrem. Quæri enim solitum apud philosophos quoel Ta ονοματα sint ηθεσει ; (natura nomina sint an impositione ?) In cam rem multa argumenta dicit cur videri possint verba esse naturalia magis quam arbitrariæ. Nam sicuti enim adnuimus et abnuimus, motus quidem ille vel capitis vel oculorum a natura rei quam significat non abhorret; ita in vocibus quasi gestus quidam oris et spiritus naturalis est. Eadem ratio est in Græcis quoque vocibus quam esse in nostris animadvertimus."

THERE can certainly be no doubt, but that in all languages, a considerable number of words will be found, which have been formed from the imitation of natural sounds; but to suppose, that such words could ever have been the basis of any language, is obviously contrary to the very nature of things. For what sounds are imitaa ted by the words vdwp, aqua, water; Caravos, glans, acorn; devdpov, arbor, tree, dos, da, give ; and the like? It is equally impossible to understand how situation, knowledge, or observation could in any manner vary the impression made on the hearing of different races of men by the same natural sound; and consequently the supposed original words formed in imitation of such sounds ought to be the same in all languages. It might, also, have occurred to Mr. Dunbar, that the meaning of words of this kind, is almost always restricted to the mere conveying the idea of the sound, which the term is intended to represent ; and that they are consequently altogether inadequate to express any of the wants or wishes of man, or any of the operations of the human mind, Of what use, for instance, to the savage, could words have been, formed from such sounds, as “the roaring of the ocean in a tempest; the dashing of its waves upon a rocky shore ; the tremendous voice of the thunder; the sweeping violence of the storm, bending the feeble, and breaking with a crash the stubborn and inflexible ?" But the most singular opinion of Mr. Dunbar is, “ that, as man is an imitative animal, the sounds he would first utter to communicate certain of his emotions to others, would be a kind of imitation of the creatures around him, as he had observed them express similar emotions by particular sounds.” On this bestial origin of language, however, no remarks can be necessary, as no person can imagine that the languages of Homer, Virgil, Tasso, and Milton, were originally formed from the braying of the ass, the howling of the jackall, the neighing of the horse, or the roaring of the lion.


But in p. 41, of the same volume, Mr. Dunbar seems to contradict his own theory, for he observes; “ I have already remarked, that the elements of all languages appear to have been derived, in a great measure, from the natural cries and sounds of animals and objects,

expressive of desire, or under any strong emotion and agitation. These, however, it is evident, must have been very few and confused, and could scarcely serve for the purposes of mutual conversation. The greater part of the vocables must, therefore, have been at first arbitrary and imposed without any reference to the forms, appearances, and qualities of objects, as this would imply a power of observation and abstraction not likely to be found among rude nations. If so, language was either not formed from the imitation of natural sounds and the cries of animals, or “the original words of all languages," were of a distinct nature, and contributed in no manner to the subsequent formation of “the greater part of the vocables” of these languages. But the latter cannot be Mr. Dunbar's meaning, for he remarks in p. 16, that “a few original terms are sufficient, if the language be at all flexible, by skilful combination to produce a copious vocabulary.” It hence seems too evident, that a Professor of Greek has published his remarks on this point, before he had taken the trouble of forming any clear and determinate opinion respecting it. For otherwise, he would scarcely have quoted in the 14th page of his work, the passage from Aulus Gellius, above transcribed, in which it is said, " in cam rem multis argumentis dicit cur videri possint verba esse naturalia magis quam arbitraria ;” and in p. 42, cite these words of Locke, “ Thus we may conceive how words, which were by nature so well adapted to the purpose, came to be made use of by men as the signs of their ideas, not by natural connection that there is between particular sounds and certain ideas, for then there would be one language among all men; but by a voluntary imposition, whereby such a word is made arbitrarily the mark of such an idea.”

It must, however, be evident that fixed and determinate notions respective the origin and formation of language, are indispensable, in order to enable any person to explain successfully, or even plausibly, the process of thinking, by which he supposes men may

have been led to denote by certain inflexions, the cases of

From the quotations contained in this article from Mr. Dunbar's works, the strangeness of the style in which it is written 'will be sufficiently obvious. It might, however, have been expected that a professor when writing on a phi. lological subject, would have studied precision and intelligibility. But Edipus himself would find it impossible to explain what is meant by the sound of an object expressive of desire or under any strong emotion or agitation.

nouns and the moods and tenses of verbs. On this subject, therefore, it is not surprising that Mr. Dunbar's remarks are uninteresting and unsatisfactory. For they are principally occupied in describing the inflexions of the Greek and Latin noun and verb, and the affinity that exists between them--points with which every tyro in philology must be well acquainted. But for an explanation of the cause of this affinity he contents himself with observing, “ it was already stated that the Latin language was indebted in a great measure to the Æolic dialect of the Greek for its origin, particularly in its terminations, and to an intermixture of words either introduced by the Pelasgi, or such as were used by the original inhabitants of the country." In discussing, however, the subject which Mr. Dunbar had undertaken to elucidate, it will be obvious that the immediate derivation of the Latin from the Greek, ought not to have been assumed but proved. Because, both in the words and in the structure of these two languages, such differences exist, as must render the generally received opinion, that the Latin is merely a daughter of the Greek extremely questionable. The simple circumstances, for instance, of there being an article in Greek, and none in Latin, and of prepositions being more frequently employed in construction with the cases of nouns in the former, than in the latter language, might have excited some doubts, with respect to this derivation ; and might have suggested the idea that, though the one was not derived from the other, yet both languages had but one common origin.

BEFORE, also, speculating on the manner in which the inAerions of the Greek noun and verb may have been formed, it is evidently indispensable to determine in the first place, whether the Greek is an original language or not, and whether in the Greek works and fragments now extant, the language appears in precise ly the same state, in which it was originally spoken by the ancestors of the Greeks. For, until these points be established, it must be obvious, that should the premises be erroneous, the conclusions must be equally so. But the utmost uncertainty exists, with respect to the primitive form of a great number of the Greek nouns, and Mr. Dunbar himself remarks ; “ From the observations already made, it will be seen, that my opinion respecting the original termination of several words 3d [5th] declension, differs in some respects, both from Markland's and Dr. Murray's.” Markland appears to have had no idea whatever, of the origin and nature of such terminations. Dr. Murray, a very arbitrary one, resting upon principles, exceedingly fanciful, if not absurd. Let us, for example, consider the probable derivation of such words, as tous, πραγμα, φιλημα, &c. ποιημα has been usually derived from the perfect passive TETOIMU X., by dropping the augment and the termination; πραγμα from πεπραχμαι ; φιλημα from πεφιλημαι. The radical part of each appears to have been ποιημ, πραγμ, φοιλημ. If the original nominative was, according to Markland, TITS,

or according to Dr. Murray, zonuas, how do we get ats in the one case, or as in the other ? Lanzi has remarked in his valuable work, (Vol. I. 302.) that the ancient inhabitants of Italy, terminated their words in A. E. and U. “ It has been sta ted, that the Æolians and Dorians were partial to the sound of the A. the Ionians to that of E. Whether these vowels are added to radical terms, to make them more agreeable to the ear, or whether in such words, as πραγμα

the la was not rather a distinct word, with a particular meaning of its own, I am unable to say. I rather think it was an independent word, as well as several other of the terminations, such as on, en, in, &c. What was their original signification it is now, perhaps, difficult to ascertain, as I cannot suppose they owed their origin to Dr. Murray's consignification. If I might be allowed to conjecture, I would supppose them to be the same with our term one, which is evidently a pronoun, and was variously pronounced in different places, as ane, an, en, on. It appears to be the same as the French on, and to have a close affinity with the Greek article.”

The preceding quotation is a fair specimen of the whole of Mr. Dunbar's work, and evinces how little acquainted he must be with the first principles of either philology or logic: For the investigation of so abstruse a subject, as the real nature of the inflexions of nouns, cannot be conducted successfully, by merely indulging in vague and ill founded conjectures, but must be prosecuted by carefully examining the earliest forms, in which these inflexions are still to be found, and ascertaining the primitive relations, which they were intended to express. Mr. Dunbar, however, contents himself with stating ; " That the terminations, which form the first and second declensions [in Latin) are of Grecian origin, will, I iinagine, appear evident from the following induction of particulars. The first and second declensions form their cases from the Greek relative pronoun, or, as it is sometimes denominated, postpositive article, os, no which in the old Æolic and Doric dialects, appears to have been

This pronoun the Latins changed into us, a, u, and um. The prepositive article 0, na to, as we shall afterwards see, was very nearly allied to it. It appears to have served the same purpose as our articles a and the, and the pronouns this and that,* and was not originally attached to nouns.” But it will be obvious that the supposing that the cases of Greek and Latin nouns were formed by adding the cases of the Greek relative pronoun, affords no information whatever, with respect to the origin and nature of such inflexions. For the questions to be determined, are, what led the Greeks to select ou for the termination of the genitive, w of the dative, and oy of the accusa.

05,Q,0 and


MR. Dunbar does not think it necessary to explain how one and the same word could possibly express both definite, and indefinite meaning; and equally indicate distance and proximity,


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