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6. In the early ages of the world, there is every reason to suppose, that the difference of language in Europe, Asia, and Africa, was no more than a difference of dialects; and that the people of Greece, of Phenicia, and of Egypt, mutually understood each other. The oriental origin of the Latin and Greek, is now generally acknowledged; and to these, the Teutonic dialects have an affinity; the Arabic, the Chaldee, the Syriac, and the Ethiopic, still bear the most striking resemblance to the Hebrew: in the Welsh, are many words analogous to it: the Celtic, also, has de rived much from this and other eastern languages. The Hebrew, then, if we judge from these remarkable facts, from the mode of its derivation from its radicals,-or from the simplicity of its structure,-must undoubtedly, be considered, as the primitive, or parent language.
7. An eminent linguist of the present day, thinks it very likely, that the original language was composed of monosyllables, that each had a distinct ideal nieaning, and only one meaning; as different acceptations of the word would undoubtedly arise, either from compounding terms, or when there were but few words in the language, using them by a different mode of pronunciation, to express a variety of things. Where this simple, monosyllabic language prevailed, and it must have prevailed in the first ages of the world,) men would necessarily have simple ideas, and a corresponding simplicity of manners. The Chinese language is exactly such as this; and the Hebrew, if strip ped of its vowel points, and its prefixes, suffixes, and postfixes, separated from their combinations, so that they might stand by themselves, would nearly answer to this character, even in its present state. The same anthor, speaking of the confusion of tongues, thinks, that God caused the workmen employed in building the Tower of Babel, to articulate the same word differently,--to affix different ideas, to the same term,--and perhaps, by transposing syllables, and interchanging letters, to form new terms and compounds, so that the mind of the speaker was apprehended by the liearer in a contrary sense to what was intended.
This idea is not ill expressed by an antient French poet, Du Bartas, and not badly, though rather, quaintly, metaphrased by our countryman, Mr. Sylvester.
Some speak between their teeth, some in the nose,
CHAP. II.-WRITING AND ALPHABETS. 1. WRITING is an improvement upon speech, and consequently, posterior, in the order of time. Its characters are of two kinds; either signs for things, or signs for worris. Thus the pictures, hieroglyphics, and symbols employed by the antients, and the Chinese characters, are of the former sort; the alphabetical characters, now employed by Europeans, of the latter. Pictures were, certainly, the first attempts towards writing. Mankind, in all ages, and in all nations have been prone to imitation. To signity that one man bad killed another, they painted the figure of a dead man lying on the ground, and of another standing over him with an hostile weapon in his hand. This was the only sort of writing used by the Mexicans, when America was discovered.
2. Hieroglyphic characters may be considered as the second stage in the art of writing. They consist in certain symbols, which are made to represent invisible objects, on
• Dr. Clarke's Commentary, Gen, xi. 6.
account of a resemblance, which such symbols were supposed to bear, to the objects themselves. Thus an eye represented knowledge, and a circle, having neither beginning nor end, was the symbol of eternity. Egypt was the country where this kind of writing was most studied and brought into a regular art. In these characters, all the boasted wisdom of their priests was conveyed. They fixed upon animals, that were to be emblems of moral objects, according to the qualities, with which they sup posed them to be endowed. Thus imprudence was de noted by a fly; wisdom by an ant; and victory by a hawk. But this sort of writing was, in the highest degree, enigmatical and confused; and therefore, a very imperfect ver hicle of knowledge.
3. From hieroglyphics, mankind gradually advanced to simple arbitrary marks, which stood for objects, though without any resemblance to the objects signified. The manner of writing among the Peruvians was of this nature. They used small cords of different colours; and by knots upon these of different sizes, and variously arranged, they invented signs for giving information, and communicating their thoughts to one another.
4. The Chinese at this day, use written characters of this sort; every single character which they use is expressive of an idea. The number of these is of course immense. The various combinations to which the 214 elementary characters bave been carried, are generally supposed to amount to 80,000.* The Great Dictionary of China, consists of more than 200 volumes, and contains above 60,000 characters: that of the emperor Kaungshee, consists of 35,000 characters. Each of these characters is monosyllabic, and denotes a great variety of things according to the accent or intonation given to it. The system of writing will of course, be hieroglyphic, or rather symbolic in all its improvements. It does not seem inferior to the alphabet, but it may be justly doubted, whether the practice be pot more inconvenient and perplexing, than the theory is beautiful and ingenious. The Chinese alphabet consists of thirty-six selected characters, whose names sup
• This account of the French Missionaries, however, is somewhat exaggerated.
ply an equal nunber of initial consonant sounds; and of twelve other chosen characters, furnishing the same puunber of final sounds,*
5. The English alphabet contains twenty four letters, or (if j anil v consonants, be added) twenty-six ; the French twenty-three; the Chaldee, Hebrew, Samaritan, and Syriac, twenty-two, each; the Arabic tweuty-eight; the Persian, thirty-one; the Turkislı, thirty-three; the Georgian, thirty-six; the Coptic, thirty-two; the Muscovite, forty, three; the Greek, twenty-four; the Latin, twenty-two; the Sclavonic, twenty-seven; the Dutch, twenty-six; the Spanish, twenty-seven; the Italian, twenty; the Ethiopic, and Tartarian, two hundred and twenty-two each; the Indian of Bengal, twenty-one; the Bramas, nineteen; the Sanskrita, twenty-eight.
6. Letters were first brought into Greece by Cadmus, the Phenician, who was contemporary with David. This alphabet consisted of sixteen letters, and the rest were added afterwards, as signs for proper sounds were wanting. The antient order of writing was from right to left, and this method prevailed even among the Greeks. They used, afterwards, to write alternately from right to left, and from left to right; this continued to the time of Solon, the fa. mous Athenian legislator. However, the motion from the left to the right, being found! more nataral and convenient, this method was adopted by all the Earopean nations. Writing was first exhibited on pillars, and tables of stone; afterwards on least, and on plates of the softer metals. When it became more extensively practised, in some countries, the leaves of plants, and the bark of trees were used;t in others, tablets of wood covered with a thin coat of soft wax, on which the impression was made with a stylus, or pen of iron. After this, parchinent, made of the hides of animals, was used. On parchment were written books and records, and every kind of composition considered worthy
• Marshman on the Chinese Language, printed at Serampere. || Patrick has published a chart of the ten numerals in two hundred tongues; and a learned German has published the Lord's Prayer in more than fire hundred dialects.
+ Hence the word liber, which signifies the inner bark of trees; and as these barks were afterwards rolied np, fur conveniency of removal, the rolls were called volumen, a voluine,
of preservation. The waxen tablets were employed in bu-
Select Books on Writing.
CHAP. III.-GRAMMAR. The origin of language, its slow and almost imperceptible progress,-the formation of characters, or alphabets, and the invention of writing, having been noticed, the subject which next presents itself is Grammar. This teaches us to write and to speak with propriety. It gives our thoughts entrance into the minds of other persons with the greatest facility, and renders that perfectly intelligible, which, without grammatical order, would be perplexed and confused. Grammar explains the principles common to all languages; applies those common principles to one particular language, according to the established usage and custom of it; and treats of sentences, and of the several parts of which they are compounded. Or, it may be defined a collection of observations on the structure of any language, and a system of rules for its proper use.
ENGLISH GRAMMAR is divided into four parts. 1. ORTHOGRAPHY, which teaches the form and sound of letters, and the art of combining letters into syllables, and