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these ideas become words : the idea of object the pronoun, the idea of act the verb; the thought thus expressed becomes the proposition, the assertion of
Ideas of objects, ideas of acts, such are the two constitutive elements of thought. Limited however to the pronoun and the verb, discourse would have been but a slow and monotonous process, hardly suited to any but sensible objects and present acts. But, by a new effort of the mind, the thought contracts itself into an idea, the attribute, the proposition into a word, derived from the verb, the adjective; and to express objects, attributes, and acts, we possess the pronoun, the adjective, and the verb.
And now the pronoun and the adjective combining give us further two kinds of words. In this combination, the pronoun, become the article, still designates the object, while the adjective, transformed into the noun, specifies it by a characteristic attribute, generally undergoing some change in the transformation, often taking a generic desinence; and thus are the article and the noun to be viewed as primarily derived, the one from the pronoun, the other from the adjective, itself primarily derived from the verb. Furnished with these means, the mind can take its flight beyond the sphere of the senses. Conceiving the attribute as an
object, it can name it; nay, it can name itself, express its conceptions as well as its perceptions, the unseen and the seen.
The family of words would now seem complete. But, though the mind can say all, it would say it with more despatch. Accordingly, we have, for ideas and thoughts of frequent recurrence, short-tongue messengers which vie in rapidity with the mind itself, as short-hand writing does with speech : these are the abbreviatives. Thus, relations of position, acts which would require verbs, are expressed by the preposition, by mere root-words, answering well to the mere act, the act without concomitants; the circumstances of an act, or an attribute, which would require a preposition, a noun, and an adjective, are rendered by the adverb, in which these three words are blended into one; to express assent or dissent, the affirmative and the negative, simple monosyllables, perform the office of a proposition; to avoid breaking the thread of discourse, a pronoun becomes the continuative; finally, to express those operations of the mind by means of which we pass in discourse from one thought to another, one word, the conjunction, often a monosyllable, supersedes a proposition. And thus the last effort of the mind embodies a thought in the abbreviative, as the first effort of the heart has embodied a feeling in the interjection.
From this ideology of language result the following definitions :
The interjection expresses emotions ;
The article designates the objects which the noun names;
The noun names objects;
And the abbreviative is equivalent to one or more other words.
To these definitions it will be well to add a few remarks on the names of the words, and the order assigned to them.
The interjection, the germ of language, and itself a language, justly occupies the first place. Thrown into the sentence, yet without being a logical part of it, it has been aptly named the interjection.
The pronoun then opens the series of the parts of speech, as the designator of the object, itself the starting-point of the thought. The pronoun represents the
. three personages of the conversational drama, the speaker, the interlocutor, and the bystander; it is their name for the nonce, and could not be replaced by the names they bear off the scene; moreover, the pronoun of the third person serves frequently in sustained discourse to re-designate an object already named: thus, either used as a name, or instead of a noun, this word, the noun's senior, well deserves to be called the pronoun.
Next come the article, or transformed pronoun, still designating the object; the noun, which names it; the adjective, which qualifies it. Article means a joint : a name which the greek grammarians gave to their third personal pronoun, used later as a definite article, viewing it as a relative, as a joint connecting two propositions. The term noun nomen, name) explains itself. As for the adjective, it is so called, because it is added to the pronoun or noun, and belongs to it, as the attribute to the object.
The words which minister to the object being thus classed, we come to the verb. The expressor of the act; embodying, besides this essential idea, the accessory ideas of mood, tense, person, and number; generator of the adjective, and consequently of the noun; itself a noun in the infinitive, an adjective in the participle, an interjection in the imperative and the interrogative, this word of words has with justice been called emphatically the word, the verb. It is the life of discourse, as the act is the life of the creation.
The abbreviative, the equivalent of other words, closes the series of the parts of speech, and comprises : the preposition, so called because it expresses a relation of position with regard to an object; the adverb, or adjective of the verb; the affirmative, the negative, and the continuative, terms which require no explanation; finally, the conjunction, so denominated, because it serves to link thoughts; itself the sign of a thought, it closes the series of abbreviatives, and also the series of words.
Such are the materials of language, which respond to the wants and the aspirations of the human mind, whether it abide in the sensible world, or soar into the ideal.
From the spirit of words we now pass to their substance, to the sounds and articulations of which they are made. Our alphabet will serve as the basis of our remarks.
These two elements of speech, vowels and consonants, answer to the two elementary, ideas, objects and acts. As the act quickens the object which supports it, so