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or, the first person speaks, to the second, about tie third.
111. Pronouns, though very convenient in giving variety to discourse, are not an original, nor an absolutely necessary part of speech. This, like some other branches of knowledge, may be learned from savages and children, if we had no other means of discovering the fact. The tenants of the American forest, in their various dialects, have one general word for the third person singular, which answers for the three genders; and when one of these men, in speaking broken English, mentions a woman, he habitually calls her he or him. However oddly this may sound to us, it is only the application of e same principle to the singular number, which we ourselves use in the plural; for we say they or them without distinguishing whether
It is very natural for an Indian, or any other person, to carry into a foreign language the babits with which he is familiar in his mother tongue.
It is no more philosophically improper that savages should say he, for one person, male or female, than that polite scholars should say they, for ten of either sex. All English learners, in French, Spanish, Italian, and many other tongues, are liable to turn Indians in misapplying the pronoun plural for they.
Children also instruct us in the secondary character of pronouns; for when the little prattler speaks of himself, he commonly makes use of his own name, instead of the words Zor me; as, “Charley fall down :" "give John drink.”
we mean women or men.
1 12. Grammatical writers have very generally made out a table of words of three cases, which they call personal pronouns. It seems strange that persons acquainted with language should fail to
perceive that this personal pronoun in the posses-
Ye or you
them The words mine, thine, her's, our's, your's, and their's, are a mere contraction or sinking of a word, always necessarily understood.
A few examples will illustrate this principle.
This is my book; or emphatically my own book.
Here the word book is inserted after my; because perspicuity requires it to be so inserted, if it has not been previously expressed.
This book is mine.
Here the word book, being placed before the verb, its repetition immediately after it, is useless as it regards perspicuity; and that object being accomplished, the only remaining consideration is brevity. If the contraction had not already been made, it is altogether likely that a community of illiterate people would soon fall into it. That this was the manner of formation in England, is corroborated by the vulgar contractions, hisn, hern, ourn, yourn, and theirn, in the same way.
Among scholars, however, that portion of these words which end in a consonant, have fallen into the more general mode of contraction, as in the changed forms of nouns, called the possessive case.
In all instances then, where mine, ours, and other words of this class occur, they are only to be explained by the fact of their being an adjective with a following noun understood, as being included in a contracted form.
115. A traveller, on his journey, came to the river Rhone. He met a rustic who had always lived near its border, and had never seen any other large stream. “Mon bon garcon, dit le voyageur, comment appelle tu ce fleuve ?" My good fellow, said the traveller, what river do you call this? "C'est le fleuve, Monsieur, je n'en ai jamais entendu d'autre
It is the river, sir; I have never heard any other name for it.
If there was really but one river in the world, it would be as useless for others, as for the clown of the Rhone, to employ a great number of secondary words, to distinguish one river from others.
There would have been no need of the proper names Rhone, Rhine, Seine, Garonne, and others, to denote various streams by appropriate individual designation. We could not say that one river is large and an other smaller ; some rivers limpid, clear, and beautiful; others turbid and unwholesome; this river broad, deep, and sluggish in its course; and that narrow, turbulent, and rapid ; nor that three American rivers are larger and more majestic than any river on the eastern continent.
A more full exposition of this class of words will be given, from an impression of their great importance, as well as the limited and mistaken principles upon which grammarians have attempted to explain them.
11.6. The great leading character of the adjective is founded on the countless relations which things bear to each other. They are, like other words, nouns and verbs, by origin : they assume an astonishing variety in their modifications, while their general nature and use are easily distinguished by children.
Though adjectives are secondary words by use, they are an exceedingly numerous class; and it is a great mistake of some learned writers to suppose that any language is without them.
I have before taken occasion to advert to the common error in not distinguishing 'the relative from the absolute meaning of words. The nature of this error I shall endeavor to explain.
117. It is asserted by the learned and excellent President Dwight, that from his childhood he learned the language of the Stockbridge tribe of Indians, and afterwards became conversant with the principai dialects of North America. He represents them all as entirely destitute of adjectives. This authority is quoted with approbation by several European writers, and by Horne Tooke among the rest. It is a simple mistake of the form for the substance. When the savage speaks of a ship as a "water wigwam ;" does not every one perceive that the epithet water, instead of being em
ployed primarily, as the name of a thing, takes a secondary relation, as descriptive of an other thing; and, with the same specific meaning, as before, acquires a new character, by its “manner of signification?” It is the same when he calls his brandy "fire water," and cannon, the "white men's thunder.”
The latter expression is his simple and natural manner of distinguishing this new discovered fulmination from the thunder of "the Great Spirit.”
118. Grammarians, in general, have conceived it necessary to give practical rules for distinguishing the parts of speech; but probably most persons who know the difference between a chesnut horse and a horse chesnut will find no great difficulty in telling adjectives from nouns.
119. Adjectives are words used with nouns to specify or describe them.
This definition implies two kinds, specifying and describing adjectives. To understand these we must see how they apply to the noun, or to the pronoun, as its substitute, according to the nature of the thing
Common nouns name things with reference to their general descriptive qualities : for instance, a book is a collection of leaves, fastened together at one edge, enclosed between two covers, to open and shut, for the purpose of containing some form of written language. The idea included in the word books, according to its plain meaning, takes the entire range, from two to the whole number ever manufactured ; leaving the mind in total uncertainty as to everything else comprehended under the general definition of the word. Mention the word books to any person in conversation. Several questions successively and spontaneously