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THE LIFE
AND GROWTH OF
LANGUAGE

WILLIAM DWIGHT WHITNEY

PROFESSOR OF SANSKRIT AND COMPARATIVE PHILOLOGY IN YALE COLLEGE

Henry S. King & Co., London

1875

I The rights of translation and reproduction are reserved^ PEEEAOE.

The present work needs only a few words by way of introduction. That its subject calls for treatment in the series of which it forms a part, especially at this time, when men's crude and inconsistent views of language are tending to crystallize into shape, no labored argument is required to prove. Very discordant opinions as to the basis and superstructure of linguistic philosophy are vying for the favor, not of the public only, but even of scholars, already deeply versed in the facts of language-history, but uncertain and comparatively careless of how these shall be coordinated and explained. Physical science on the one side, and psychology on the other, are striving to take possession of linguistic science, which in truth belongs to neither. The doctrines taught in this volume are of the class of those which have long been widely prevalent among students of man and his institutions; and they only need to be exhibited as amended and supported, not crowded out or overthrown, by the abundant new knowledge which the century has yielded, in order to win an acceptance well-nigh universal. They who hold them have been too much overborne hitherto by the illfounded claims of men who arrogate a special scientific or philosophic profundity.

After one has once gone over such a subject upon a carefully matured and systematic plan, as I did in my "Language and the Study of Language" (New York and London, 1867), it is not possible, when treating it again for the same public, to avoid following in the main the same course; and readers of the former work will not fail to observe many parallelisms between the two. Even a part of the illustrations formerly used have been turned again to account; for, if it be made a principle to draw the chief exemplifications of the life and growth of language from our own tongue, there are certain matters—especially our most important recent formative endings and auxiliaries—which must be taken, because they are most available for the needed purpose. Nor has the basis of linguistic facts and their classification undergone during the past eight years such change or extension as should show conspicuously in so compendious a. discussion as this. Accordingly, I present here an outline of linguistic science agreeing in many of its principal features with the former one; the old story told in a new way, under changed aspects and with changed proportions, and with considerably less fullness of exposition and illustration.

The limits imposed on the volume by the plan of

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