A Grammar of the English Tongue Part 11

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Some words purely French, not derived from the Latin, we have transferred into our language; as, garden, garter, buckler, to advance, to cry, to plead, from the French jardin, jartier, bouclier, avancer, crier, plaider; though, indeed, even of these part is of Latin original.

As to many words which we have in common with the Germans, it is doubtful whether the old Teutons borrowed them from the Latins, or the Latins from the Teutons, or both had them from some common original; as wine, vinum; wind, ventus; went, veni; way, via, wall, vallum; wallow, volvo; wool, vellus; will, volo; worm, vermis; worth, virtus; wasp, vespa; day, dies; draw, traho; tame, domo, daa?; yoke, jugum, ?e????; over, upper, super, ??pe?; am, sum, e??; break, frango; fly, volo; blow, flo. I make no doubt but the Teutonick is more ancient than the Latin: and it is no less certain, that the Latin, which borrowed a great number of words not only from the Greek, especially the aeolick, but from other neighbouring languages, as the Oscan and others, which have long become obsolete, received not a few from the Teutonick. It is certain, that the English, German, and other Teutonick languages, retained some derived from the Greek, which the Latin has not; as, ax, achs, mit, ford, pfurd, daughter, tochter, mickle, mingle, moon, sear, oar, grave, graff, to grave, to sc.r.a.pe, whole, from a????, eta, p?????, ???at??, e?a???, ?????, ???, ?????, ??af?, ?????. Since they received these immediately from the Greeks, without the intervention of the Latin language, why may not other words be derived immediately from the same fountain, though they be likewise found among the Latins?

Our ancestors were studious to form borrowed words, however long, into monosyllables; and not only cut off the formative terminations, but cropped the first syllable, especially in words beginning with a vowel; and rejected not only vowels in the middle, but likewise consonants of a weaker sound, retaining the stronger, which seem the bones of words, or changing them for others of the same organ, in order that the sound might become the softer; but especially transposing their order, that they might the more readily be p.r.o.nounced without the intermediate vowels. For example in expendo, spend; exemplum, sample; excipio, scape; extraneus, strange; extractum, stretch'd; excrucio, to screw; exscorio, to scour; excorio, to scourge; excortico, to scratch; and others beginning with ex: as also, emendo, to mend; episcopus, bishop, in Danish bisp; epistola, epistle; hospitale, spittle; Hispania, Spain; historia, story.

Many of these etymologies are doubtful, and some evidently mistaken.

The following are somewhat harder, Alexander, Sander; Elisabetha, Betty; apis, bee; aper, bar; p pa.s.sing into b, as in bishop; and by cutting off a from the beginning, which is restored in the middle; but for the old bar or bare, we now say boar; as for lang, long, for bain, bane; for stane, stone; aprugna, brawn, p, being changed into b and a transposed, as in aper, and g changed into w, as in pignus, p.a.w.n; lege, law; a??p??, fox, cutting off the beginning, and changing p into f, as in pellis, a fell; pullus, a foal; pater, father; pavor, fear; polio, file; pleo, impleo, fill, full; piscis, fish; and transposing o into the middle, which was taken from the beginning; apex, a piece; peak, pike; zophorus, freese; mustum, stum; defensio, fence; dispensator, spencer; asculto, escouter, Fr. scout; exscalpo, sc.r.a.pe; restoring l instead of r, and hence sc.r.a.p, scrabble, scrawl; exculpo, scoop; exterritus, start; extonitus, attonitus, stonn'd; stomachus, maw; offendo, fined; obstipo, stop; audere, dare; cavere, ware; whence, a-ware, beware, wary, warn, warning; for the Latin v consonant formerly sounded like our w, and the modern sound of the v consonant was formerly that of the letter f, that is, the aeolick digamma, which had the sound of f, and the modern sound of the letter f was that of the Greek f or ph; ulcus, ulcere, ulcer, sore, and hence sorry, sorrow, sorrowful; ingenium, engine, gin, scalenus, leaning, unless you would rather derive it from ?????, whence inclino; infundibulum, funnel; gagates, jett, projectum, to jett forth, a jetty; cucullus, a cowl.

There are syncopes somewhat harder; from tempore, time; from nomine, name, domina, dame; as the French homme, femme, nom, from homine, fmina, nomine. Thus pagina, page; p?t?????, pot; ??pe??a, cup; cantharus, can; tentorium, tent; precor, pray; preda, prey; specio, speculor, spy; plico, ply; implico, imply; replico, reply; complico, comply; sedes episcopalis, see.

A vowel is also cut off in the middle, that the number of the syllables may be lessened; as amita, aunt; spiritus, spright; debitum, debt; dubito, doubt; comes, comitis, count; clericus, clerk; quietus, quit, quite; acquieto, to acquit; separo, to spare; stabilis, stable; stabulum, stable; pallacium, palace, place; rabula, rail, rawl, wrawl, brawl, rable, brable; quaesito, quest.

As also a consonant, or at least one of a softer sound, or even a whole syllable, rotundus, round; fragilis, frail; securus, sure; regula, rule; tegula, tile; subtilis, subtle; nomen, noun; deca.n.u.s, dean; computo, count; subitaneus, sudden, soon; superare, to soar; periculum, peril; mirabile, marvel; as magnus, main; dignor, deign; tingo, stain; tinctum, taint; pingo, paint; praedari, reach.

The contractions may seem harder, where many of them meet, as ????a???, kyrk, church; presbyter, priest; sacrista.n.u.s, s.e.xton; frango, fregi, break, breach; f.a.gus, f??a, beech, f changed into b, and g into ch, which are letters near akin; frigesco, freeze, frigesco, fresh, sc into sh, as above in bishop, fish, so in scapha, skiff, skip, and refrigesco, refresh; but viresco, fresh; phlebotamus, fleam; bovina, beef; vitulina, veal; scutifer, squire; pnitentia, penance; sanctuarium, sanctuary, sentry; quaesitio, chase; perquisitio, purchase; anguilla, eel; insula, isle, ile, island, iland; insuletta, islet, ilet, eyght, and more contractedly ey, whence Owsney, Ruley, Ely; examinare, to scan; namely, by rejecting from the beginning and end e and o, according to the usual manner, the remainder xamin, which the Saxons, who did not use x, writ csamen, or scamen, is contracted into scan: as from dominus, don; nomine, noun; abomino, ban; and indeed apum examen; they turned into sciame; for which we say swarme, by inserting r to denote the murmuring; thesaurus, store; sedile, stool; ??et??, wet; sudo, sweat; gaudium, gay; jocus, joy; succus, juice; catena, chain; caliga, calga; chause, chausse, French, hose; extinguo, stand, squench, quench, stint; foras, forth; species, spice; recito, read; adjuvo, aid; a???, aevum, ay, age, ever; floccus, lock; excerpo, sc.r.a.pe, scrabble, scrawl; extravagus, stray, straggle; collectum, clot, clutch; colligo, coil: recolligo, recoil; severo, swear; stridulus, shrill; procurator, proxy; pulso, to push; calamus, a quill; impetere, to impeach; augeo, auxi, wax; and vanesco, vanui, wane; syllabare, to spell; puteus, pit; granum, corn; comprimo, cramp, crump, crumple, crinkle.

Some may seem harsher, yet may not be rejected, for it at least appears, that some of them are derived from proper names, and there are others whose etymology is acknowledged by every body; as, Alexander, Elick, Scander, Sander, Sandy, Sanny; Elizabetha, Elizabeth, Elisabeth, Betty, Bess; Margareta, Margaret, Marget, Meg, Peg; Maria, Mary, Mal, Pal, Malkin, Mawkin, Mawkes; Mathaeus, Mattha, Matthew; Martha, Mat, Pat; Gulielmus, Wilhelmus, Girolamo, Guillaume, William, Will, Bill, Wilkin, Wicken, Wicks, Weeks.

Thus cariophyllus, flos; gerofilo, Italian, giriflee, gilofer, French, gilliflower, which the vulgar call julyflower, as if derived from the month July; petroselinum, parsley; portulaca, purslain; cydonium, quince; cydoniatum, quiddeny; persic.u.m, peach; eruca, eruke, which they corrupt to earwig, as if it took its name from the ear; annulus geminus, a gimmal, or gimbal-ring; and thus the word gimbal or jumbal is transferred to other things thus interwoven; quelques choses, kickshaws. Since the origin of these, and many others, however forced, is evident, it ought to appear no wonder to any one if the ancients have thus disfigured many, especially as they so much affected monosyllables; and, to make the sound the softer, took this liberty of maiming, taking away, changing, transposing, and softening them.

But while we derive these from the Latin, I do not mean to say, that many of them did not immediately come to us from the Saxon, Danish, Dutch, and Teutonick languages, and other dialects; and some taken more lately from the French or Italians, or Spaniards.

The same word, according to its different significations, often has a different origin; as, to bear a burden, from fero; but to bear, whence birth, born, bairn, comes from pario; and a bear, at least if it be of Latin original, from fera. Thus perch, a fish, from perca; but perch, a measure, from pertica, and likewise to perch. To spell is from syllaba; but spell, an inchantment, by which it is believed that the boundaries are so fixed in lands that none can pa.s.s them against the master's will, from expello; and spell, a messenger, from epistola; whence gospel, good-spell, or G.o.d-spell. Thus freese, or freeze, from frigesco; but freeze, an architectonick word, from zophorus; but freeze, for cloth, from Frisia, or perhaps from frigesco, as being more fit than any other for keeping out the cold.

There are many words among us, even monosyllables, compounded of two or more words, at least serving instead of compounds, and comprising the signification of more words that one; as, from scrip and roll comes scroll; from proud and dance, prance; from st of the verb stay or stand and out, is made stout; from stout and hardy, st.u.r.dy; from sp of spit or spew, and out, comes spout; from the same sp with the termination in, is spin; and adding out, spin out: and from the same sp, with it, is spit, which only differs from spout in that it is smaller, and with less noise and force; but sputter is, because of the obscure u, something between spit and spout: and by reason of adding r, it intimates a frequent iteration and noise, but obscurely confused; whereas spatter, on account of the sharper and clearer vowel a, intimates a more distinct poise, in which it chiefly differs from sputter. From the same sp and the termination ark, comes spark, signifying a single emission of fire with a noise; namely sp, the emission, ar, the more acute noise, and k, the mute consonant, intimates its being suddenly terminated; but adding l, is made the frequentative sparkle. The same sp, by adding r, that is spr, implies a more lively impetus of diffusing or expanding itself; to which adding the termination ing, it becomes spring: its vigour spr imports; its sharpness the termination ing; and lastly in acute and tremulous, ending in the mute consonant g, denotes the sudden ending of any motion, that it is meant in its primary signification, of a single, not a complicated exilition. Hence we call spring whatever has an elastick force; as also a fountain of water, and thence the origin of any thing: and to spring, to germinate, and spring, one of the four seasons. From the same spr and out, is formed sprout, and wit the termination ig, sprig; of which the following, for the most part, is the difference: sprout, of a grosser sound, imports a fatter or grosser bud; sprig, of a slenderer sound, denotes a smaller shoot. In like manner, from str of the verb strive, and out, comes strout, and strut. From the same str, and the termination uggle, is made struggle; and this gl imports, but without any great noise, by reason of the obscure sound of the vowel u.

In like manner, from throw and roll is made troll, and almost in the same sense is trundle, from throw or thrust, and rundle. Thus graff or grough is compounded of grave and rough; and trudge from tread or trot, and drudge.

In these observations it is easy to discover great sagacity and great extravagance, an ability to do much defeated by the desire of doing more than enough. It may be remarked,

1. That Wallis's derivations are often so made, that by the same license any language may be deduced from any other.

2. That he makes no distinction between words immediately derived by us from the Latin, and those which being copied from other languages, can therefore afford no example of the genius of the English language, or its laws of derivation.

3. That he derives from the Latin, often with great harshness and violence, words apparently Teutonick; and therefore, according to his own declaration, probably older than the tongue to which he refers them.

4. That some of his derivations are apparently erroneous.


The established practice of grammarians requires that I should here treat of the Syntax; but our language has so little inflection, or variety of terminations, that its construction neither requires nor admits many rules. Wallis, therefore, has totally neglected it; and Jonson, whose desire of following the writers upon the learned languages made him think a syntax indispensably necessary, has published such petty observations as were better omitted.

The verb, as in other languages, agrees with the nominative in number and person; as, Thou fliest from good; He runs to death.

Our adjectives and p.r.o.nouns are invariable.

Of two substantives the noun possessive is in the genitive; as, His father's glory; The sun's heat.

Verbs transitive require an oblique case; as, He loves me; You fear him.

All prepositions require an oblique case: as, He gave this to me; He took this from me; He says this of me; He came with me.


It is common for those that deliver the grammar of modern languages, to omit the Prosody. So that of the Italians is neglected by Buomattei; that of the French by Desmarais; aad that of the English by Wallis, Cooper, and even by Jonson, though a poet. But as the laws of metre are included in the idea of grammar, I have thought proper to insert them.

PROSODY comprises orthoepy, or the rules of p.r.o.nunciation; and orthometry, or the laws of versification.

p.r.o.nunciation is just, when every letter has its proper sound, and every syllable has its proper accent, or, which in English versification is the same, its proper quant.i.ty.

The sounds of the letters have been already explained; and rules for the accent or quant.i.ty are not easily to be given, being subject to innumerable exceptions. Such, however, as I have read or formed, I shall here propose.

1. Of dissyllables, formed by affixing a termination, the former syllable is commonly accented, as childish, kingdom, actest, acted, toilsome, lover, scoffer, fairer, foremost, zealous, fulness, G.o.dly, meekly, artist.

2. Dissyllables formed by prefixing a syllable to the radical word, have commonly the accent on the latter; as to beget, to beseem, to bestow.

3. Of dissyllables, which are at once nouns and verbs, the verb has commonly the accent on the latter, and the noun on the former syllable; as, to descant, a descant; to cement, a cement; to contract, a contract.

This rule has many exceptions. Though verbs seldom have their accent on the former, yet nouns often have it on the latter syllable; as delight, perfume.

4. All dissyllables ending in y, as cranny; in our, as labour, favour; in ow, as willow, wallow, except allow; in le, as battle, bible; in ish, as banish; in ck, as cambrick, ca.s.sock; in ter, as to batter; in age, as courage, in en, as fasten; in et, as quiet; accent the former syllable.

5. Dissyllable nouns in er, as canker, b.u.t.ter, have the accent on the former syllable.

6. Dissyllable verbs terminating in a consonant and e final, as comprise, escape; or having a diphthong in the last syllable, as appease, reveal; or ending in two consonants, as attend; have the accent on the latter syllable.

7. Dissyllable nouns having a diphthong in the latter syllable, have commonly their accent on the latter syllable, as applause; except words in ain, certain, mountain.

8. Trissyllables formed by adding a termination, or prefixing a syllable, retain the accent of the radical word; as, loveliness, tenderness, contemner, wagonner, phsical, bespatter, commenting, commending, a.s.surance.

9. Trissyllables ending in ous, as gracious, arduous; in al, as capital; in ion, as mention; accent the first.

10. Trissyllables ending in ce, ent, and ate, accent the first syllable, as countenance, continence, armament, imminent, elegant, propagate, except they be derived from words having the accent on the last, as connivance, acquaintance; or the middle syllable hath a vowel before two consonants, as promulgate.

11. Trissyllables ending in y, as ent.i.ty, specify, liberty, victory, subsidy, commonly accent the first syllable.

12. Trissyllables in re or le accent the first syllable, as legible, theatre, except disciple, and some words which have a position, as example, epistle.

13. Trissyllables in ude commonly accent the first syllable, as plenitude.

14. Trissyllables ending in ator or atour, as creatour; or having in the middle syllable a diphthong, as endeavour; or a vowel before two consonants, as domestick; accent the middle syllable.

15. Trissyllables that have their accent on the last syllable are commonly French, as acquiesce, repartee, magazine, or words formed by prefixing one or two syllables to an acute syllable, as immature, overcharge.

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A Grammar of the English Tongue Part 11 summary

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