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This deficiency will appear the more extraordinary when we know that a much greater number of variations ought naturally to be admitted in the plural than in the singular number. Some languages we know do admit a triple distinction in the plural, as well as the singular; but these are still by far too few. The following are all obvious distinctions, that might plainly take place in reference to gender, with respect to the pronoun of the third person, plural number. Ist, To denote male animals alone, which Gender, might constitute the
Masculine 2d, Female animals alone,
Feminine. 3d. Inanimate objects alone,
Neuter. 416, Animate objects which either express)
general classes, or a whole genus, or where it is not necefsary to specify sex
Indefinite. at all, sih, Animals known to be castrated, and Imperfect, or: meant to be distinguished as such, Soprano.
, known to be ,
, geb, Males only, part perfect, and part cas
Masculine trated, known and meant to be distintinguished, but not separated,
Š Imperfect. 8th, Females and castrata,
Fem.imperfect. 9th, Males, females, and castrata,
Mixt imperfect joth, Males and inanimates conjoined, Masc. mixt. jith, Females and inanimates conjoined, Fem. mixt, 12th, Males, females, and inanimates con
separated or conjoined, where no dis-
Some lefser distinctions are omitted to avoid the appearance of unnecessary refinement. The above are all obvious ; and if a language should be found, the gender of whose nouns was only denoted by the pronouns, and in which a distinct and separate word was to be found for each of these variations, and, were writers always at liberty either to employ the definite or the indefinite genders, as suited the purpose they had particularly in view at the time, this language would possess a variety of phraseology, and a clear, precise, nervous perspicuity of expression with which we are as yet entirely unacquainted.
An unobserved case. Under the head of pronouns of the first and second persons, we had occasion to take notice of one important variation of the pronouns that had escaped the notice of all our grammarians. Another, that is of equal importance, and that has in 'like manner been hitherto entirely unobserved, occurs under the present head.
To avoid the appearance of egotism, and in some measure to vary the stile and form of narrative, an author often finds it would be convenient to write in the third person rather than the first, could it be done with the requisite clearness and perspicuity. But if the writer, in these circumstances, should chance to mention another person of the same sex with him or herself, (here I want the pronoun indefinite,) the frequent repetition of the same pronoun, as applied. to the writer and to the party mentioned, occasions a perplexity and indistinctness, that can be in no other way avoided, but by repeating the noun itself, in place
of the pronoun.' This confusion, however, might be entirely avoided, and the writer left in perfect freedom in this respect, if, instead of one pronoun only, for each of the genders, we had two or more. One of these words for each gender being invariably applied to denote the speaker only, another word to be as invariably appropriated to denote the party addressed, and a third or a fourth to be in the same manner appropriated to stand in place of the person second or third mentioned, in case that should ever occur. To exemplify at once the inconvenience here complained of, and the great facility with which it could be obviated, I shall beg leave to produce an imaginary case.
The following card will sufficiently prove the want of the variation here complained of with respect to the English language : and all other languages I know are equally deficient as to this particular.
“ Mr A, presents his compliments to Mr B, win -“ be glad to have the pleasure of his company to din
ner, when he hopes be will be entertained by the " singing of Signiora Martini, as be knows he is
passionately fond of music; and it will always * give bim a very sensible pleasure to contribute to -66 bis amusement."
This card, which could hardly be intelligible in its present form, on account of the frequent repeti. tion of the same pronoun, as applied to different persons, would have been perfectly intelligible had we a different pronoun for the party addressing, and the party addressed. This we can easily prove by substituting a lady instead of a gentleman addressed ; as
our pronoun for the masculine gender is a different word from that for the feminine : Thus,
“ Mr A presents his compliments to Mrs B, “ will be glad to have the pleasure of her company .66 to dinner, when be hopes foe will be entertained by “ the singing of Signora Martini, as be knows the is
passionately fond of music; and it will always
give him a very sensible pleasure to contribute to -66 her amusement."
Here no sort of ambiguity occurs; and it is. plain that as little would be perceived in the former case, had we a different word for each of the parties when of the same gender.
But as it frequently happens that we have occasion to mention, not one person only, but several others, and to repeat circumstances relating to each, the confusion that in all such cases arises, in the present imperfect state of our language, when this mode of writing is adopted, is such as to render it quite unintelligible. Nor could this perplexity be removed by adopting one variation only for each gender, but several others. This I shall endeavour to exemplify in the following imaginary card. John presents his compliments to James
, begs he will
3 6 be.so kind as call upon George *, and bring him with
* In this example the nouns John, James, and George, came in order ist, 2d, 3d. To mark the order, these figures are placed above the pronoun dejoting them respectively, and below the line the name denoted by the pronouns written. The examples, it is hoped, will thus be intelligible. VOL. xi.
* him to morrow to dinner, where he will expect him James
" with some impatience, as he will be always proud to
3 * show him every civility in his power, not only on his George
3 “ own account, from the personal regard he bears him,
3 “ but also on account of his father, who was his much
Jobn's respected friend.
3 “ If he will also desire him to come with an intention James
to spend the evening with him, it will give him an ad
“ ditional pleasure ; and in that case he will endeavour to
3 “ have some of his old friends to meet with him, whom he George's
George George 6 will probably be glad to see.
Should such a card as this be sent to any person, in the present state of our language, the adjuncts above and below the line being omitted, it would be justly laughed at, as a most absurd composition, that could not be easily decyphered. If, however, there was a particular pronoun appropriated to each of the persons mentioned in the card, the ambiguity would be totally removed, and it would be understood with as great facility as any other composition in our language. To illustrate this proposition, we shall, for a moment, suppose that the pronoun of