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3. Comparative grammar.
It is common to limit the application of etymology to lexicography, and in its narrow sense this is right; but, on a broad view comparative grammar also must be included, as derived forms arc, almost all of them, those at least of a simple uncomposite structure, of a grammatical origin.
One of the chief peculiarities of the new philology is, that it rests the comparison of languages so much on their grammatical correspondences. Not only the forms of declension and conjugation are found, under the lens of true analytic and phonological investigation, to be identical in all the Indo-European languages, but also all the various parts of speech down to the merest particles of these languages, and their very prefixes, suffixes and terminations. A given radical may be selected in both its simple and its composite forms, and its nominal, adjective, adverbial and verbal derivatives may be compared, in different languages, form with form and kind with kind, and everywhere, both generally and particularly, in great things and little, the most intimate union and communion will be found to exist between them.
Under the light of comparative grammar, the lexicographer's sense of the common origin and unity of our different languages is heightened to perfect absoluteness. He feels the self-reliance of complete vision. Our different languages, he sees, are but so many different dresses of the same essential, radical word, like the figures with which children amuse themselves, made to slip in and out of a dozen various styles of dress, with such ever changing effect that the same theme may be taken and robed in the flexionforms of each several language, and transformed at will into Sanscrit, Greek, Latin, Gothic or Slavonic.
II. The principles that prevail in respect to the specific etymology of any individual language, under the influence of comparative etymology.
They are these, viz.:
1. The originals of words in the given language, and their meaning, must be furnished, whether in the language or out of it.
The radical element, stem, theme or base, as it is variously called, should be set forth distinctly by itself, and, in compound forms, each component part should be separately exhibited. The stem contains all that belongs to the word, as such. Everything else connected with it is but some incidental affection, and belongs to the department of the pathology of words.
2. Comparative forms, in other kindred languages, must be given, serving to illustrate more fully its place in the great family to which it belongs.
In all lexicography, whether vernacular or classical, the history of each word should, so far as possible, be exhibited on the following scale of equivalents, and in the order here stated, viz.: the Sanscrit, Zend, and Old Persian, Celtic, Latin, Greek, Lettic, Gothic, and Slavonic. In the etymology of the modern languages, full parallelisms also should be run between the different Romanic tongues, and in the order, for etymological value, of the Italian, Spanish, French, and English. A line or two of such etymological equivalents, standing side by side in mute array with any word, so significant are these symbols while brief like those of chemistry, contains in itself a volume of history to the philologist. It is only also, by the comparisons of words in different languages, that the normal or abnormal peculiarities of any given language can become at all apparent.
In introductory chapters, phonetic principles should be fully discussed and illustrated, by which the various changes of words derived from the same root, may be comprehended and appreciated.
3. Derived forms, in the same language, must be carefully presented.
Even derived forms have, most of them, analogies in the various Indo-European languages; and a thorough, comprehensive system of etymology and lexicography demands that such equivalents should also be exhibited. In all those derivatives, of whatever class or style, in each language, which have no analogies in other languages, we can best discover the distinctive genius of the specific language in which they occur; and these are of great value to us, by way of revealing the inward principles to our view, of its own separate home growth. They are its peculiar characteristics and the marks of its own individuality.
4. The whole interior logical etymology of each language, in its separate words, must be carefully traced by the lexicographer himself, and as carefully set forth in full detail.
The sphere of secondary and derived meanings is one in which a deep-searching mind can work with great effect, employing all its powers of comparison, discrimination, judgment, reasoning, memory, invention and research, in the fullest possible manner. Words are even more arborescent in the variations of their sense than of their form; rising up from their elementary signification into every possible modification of it, by light and shade, in largeness and littleness and strength and beauty, of which it is susceptible. The pleasure of tracing them is like that of an anatomist in dissecting and exhibiting the delicate net work of nerves and veins and vessels in the body, or of a mechanician in comprehending and explaining the mysteries enfolded in a telescope or a steam engine, or of an amateur of nature, who is able to see and to say what effect each part and point of a charming landscape contributes to the varied whole. Greatness, as paradoxical as it may seem, best shows itself in little things; greatness of character, greatness of intellect, and greatness of scholarship. As our dictionaries are now used by both scholars and teachers, they are made to answer merely the purposes of a commentary. Only the specific meaning of the word, in the given connection, is sought for, and that is determined, not by any process of judgment going forth from the radical etymological sense of the word, through its various ramifications, to the proper point of destination, but by merely searching after the quotation of the passage in which it occurs, or of a kindred one under some one of its senses; and, if such a quotation be found, its authority is commonly held to be as conclusive as would be that of an infallible fiat. Whether the day will ever come, in these modern times of haste and waste, in which classical school lexicons shall be prepared on the plan of a thorough philological and logical development of each word, from its ultimate root to its topmost branch, in both its form and sense, without note or comment, and in which the student shall be required to select his own meaning in each case, without aid, and to be able to give his reason out of the very word itself as well as out of the context, for so rendering it, is quite uncertain, if not altogether improbable. But if ever the time comes when such facilities are provided and used with enthusiasm and perseverance, there will be a body and substance in the style of mental discipline secured, far beyond anything yet obtained in the whole round of scholastic appliances.
IV. The determinative principles and tests of etymology.
By these are meant certain fixed laws of evidence and judgment, by which any supposed or alleged facts are to be ruled in or out of this science, which is, as has been said, a strictly inductive science. The relations of cause and effect, therefore, or of antecedence and sequence, are to be traced here as they would be on any other field of investigation, and we must walk in the light of analogy.
1. The determinative principles and tests of comparative etymology.
2. Those pertaining to specific etymology in any and ev. ery language.
1. Those of comparative etymology are the following, viz.:
(1) Correspondence in the fundamental base or root. A real difference of base is of course destructive of all etymological identity. The base or theme of a word is its whole substance and essence.
(2) Minute mutual resemblances, through a wide range of derivatives, and in all the details of prefix and suffix forms. Each new correspondence in the derivatives of different languages adds much weight, like the argument from multiplied undesigned coincidences in the Bible, in favor of the integrity of its writers, to the force of that probable evidence by which, in this science, we are to determine all its facts and features.
(3) Euphonic laws of definite, ascertained scope and power.
These often avail to overrule and overthrow all conclusions derived from sight or sound, for or against a given etymology. They are laws which are openly revealed to us in the language itself; laws which it observed in its own constant manifestation and growth, and, by observing, preserved as such in its own keeping, for its own sure interpretation forever.
(4) Certain specific axioms.
(a) One fact outweighs any and all theories to the contrary.
(b) No theory is adequate which does not embrace and explain all known facts.
(c) Of two varying theories, equally supported in other respects, that should always have the preference which is the most simple.
(d) No etymology can be rightly rejected on principles of reasoning, in following which in receiving other etymologies, one would be condemned. One may be as much of an empiric in his mode of rejecting an etymology, as he could possibly judge another to be, in receiving it.
2. The authoritative principles pertaining to specific etymology in any given language.
(1) The genius of the language itself.
The genius of a language in respect to its etymology, is determined by its general analogies, as discovered by a wide and thorough comparison of its derivatives and secondary forms, just as by resemblances of structure and cleavage and essential characteristics, minerals are classified. Each language has a spirit, a mien and a gait of its own; and, as we know a man's handwriting, with whom we are familiar, or his style of composition, so as to recognize them readily without his name, so, to him who knows a language as his own, under the motion of whose thoughts and feelings its words move, like his limbs, as if a part of his inward self, that language has a familiar, cherished look, in all its aspects. The true etymologist in any language does not stand outside of it, and take his observations of its dimen