LANGUAGE

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LANGUAGE. This word, originally derived from the Latin lingua (tongue), in its most general sense, means the faculty which God has given to men of communicating their perceptions and ideas to one smother, by means of articulate sounds. Metaphorically, its signification is extended to every other mode by which ideas may be made to pass from mind to mind. Thus we say, the "language of the eyes," the "language of signs," the "language of birds and beasts." Even silence, by a bold metaphor, has been assimilated to language by one of the most elegant British poets: "Come then, expressive silence, muse his praise." THOMSON.In an analogous sense, philologists call the communication of ideas by writing, ivritten language, in contradistinction to language properly so called, which they denominate spoken language. It is certain that ideas may be communicated by signs, representative of sounds, which word representative must not, however, be taken literally, because there is no point of contact between the sense of seeing and that of hearing ; all that can be said is, that, by tacit convention, certain visible signs are made to awaken in the mind the idea of certain audible sounds, which sounds, by another tacit agreement, awaken the ideas of physical objects or of moral perceptions. Thus the eye operates on the mind through the medium of the ear ; but the process is so rapid, that it is not perceived at the time, and writing may be said even to be a quicker mode of communication than speech, for the eye can run over, and the mind comprehend, the sense of a page of a printed book, in a much shorter space of time than the words which it contains can be articulated. Still the passage of ideas from the eye to the mind is not immediate ; the spoken words are interposed between, but the immortal mind of man, that knows neither time nor space, does not perceive them in its rapid flight; and by this we may form a faint idea of what the operations of the soul will be, when freed from the shackles of our perishable frames. (For a more particular developement of this subject, as applied to alphabetical writing, see an essay, entitled English Phonology, in the first volume of the new series of the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, p. 228.) The same principle applies equally to those modes of writing which philologists have denominated ideographic, by which it would seem to be implied, that ideas are immediately transmitted through the eye to the mind. Among those is classed the Chinese. But it is well known that every one of the numerous characters of which that writing consists, awakens in the mind the idea of a syllable, which it is meant to represent; and that syllable, in speech, rep ear) is also an intermediate agent between the eye and the mind. (See the article Chinese Language, Writing and Literature; see also a letter from Peter S. Duponceau, esq., of Philadelphia, to captain Basil Hall, in the London Philosophical Magazine for January, 1829, where tins question is discussed at large.) The same may be said of the Egyptian hieroglyphics, (q. v.) For a long time, it was believed that every one of those signs was the representative of an idea, until the researches of the younger Champollion afforded the most complete proof of their having been chiefly used as alphabetical characters, although their forms indicate a different destination. It would seem that it was originally intended to employ them to represent ideas, not abstractedly, but .through words or sentences of the spoken idiom ; for wherever a language exists, and all nations have spoken before they wrote, ideas can only occur to the mind in the shapes given to them by the peculiar structure and grammatical forms of that language. That might easily have been done to a certain extent. There was. no difficulty in devising signs to awaken in the mind the idea of the sun, the moon, a tree, a house, or other object, perceptible by the sense of sight: physical and even moral qualities might be expressed metaphorically, as they are in speech ; and even some abstract ideas might be represented as they are with us by our algebraic characters. But this mode of communication was necessarily very limited, and its sense, as well as its method, could only be explained by means of spoken words. This led to an easier process, and the hieroglyphics were turned into alphabetical letters. A number of them continued to be employed in the former mode ; as, in our almanacs, we have characters representing the sun, the moon and her phases, various stars, and the signs of the zodiac. These are hieroglyphics, to all intents and purposes, and every written language (if we may use the term) has more or less of them. The Egyptians have employed them in greater abundance than any other nation. Still tkose signs awakened ideas in no other forms than those in which they presented themselves to the mind, when clothed in words ; hence we are informed by Champollion, that there were hieroglyphs significative of the articles which, in the Coptic language, are prefixed to substantives. But the article is a part of VOL. VII. 35 stance, and, amongst modern languages, the Russian) that are entirely without it so that it is evident that even hieroglyphic signs were invented to represent words in the first instance, and ideas through them. Of what is called the Mexican pictureluriting, we know too little to speak very positively. Unfortunately, the key to those hieroglyphs, which was preserved for a long time after the conquest of Mexico, is now lost. Therefore we cannot say how they were connected with the spoken language. But that such a connexion must have existed, it is impossible to doubt ; otherwise, the Mexicans could not, as it is known they did, have communicated, by mere pictures of visible objects, the history of their empire, from generation to generation. The few hieroglyphic signs which our northern Indians cut or paint on the bark of trees, to inform each other of the number of their enemies, of the course they are pursuing, and of the number of scalps they have taken in battle, are so limited in their objects, that they only serve to show the difficulty of establishing a similar mode of communication on a more extensive scale. It would soon produce confusion, unless a method were connected with it, based on the structure and on the grammatical forms of the spoken language. This alone could class the signs in the memory, and furnish a clew to their different significations, as applied to various objects, cases and circumstances. It must be otherwise, however, when men, in consequence of some natural defect, as the deaf and dumb, for instance, have no idea of sounds, and therefore are without a spoken language. Here their ideas are formed from the recollection of the perceptions which they have received through other senses than that of hearing. They, however, invent signs to communicate with each other, either through the organs of sight or by means of touch. It has been observed, that many of those signs seem to have been taught by nature, and are the same in countries far distant from each other. These are to sight and feeling what onomatopeias are to sound, and are much more numerous, because more abounding in analogies. Others of those signs are arbitrary, and that is where analogies either entirely fail, or are more obscure and less perceptible. All of them, however, are very limited, and, if the deaf and dumb were left to themselves, would not enable them to enlarge the circle of ;hek ideas. But the admirable art by which they have been taught to understand our languages, through the application of the sense of sight, and to comprehend the mysteries of their structure and their forms, has opened to them a world of ideas, to which they were before entirely strangers, and has enabled them to combine them with method, compare them with precision, and draw from them correct inferences. To them words are not sounds, but groups of little figures, which class themselves in their minds, and become a medium by which not only to increase the number of the visible signs by touch or gestures, through which they before communicated together, but to improve and methodize them to a degree wThich, without the knowledge of language, they never would have attained. This language of signs in our deaf and dumb asylums, and no doubt also in Europe, has received a degree of perfection, which, in some respects, particularly in the rapidity with which ideas are communicated, places it above speech, although, in others, its inferiority cannot be denied. Those advantages it has derived from the knowledge of the forms and method of spoken language, obtained through its written image. It follows, from what has been said, that speech alone is properly entitled to the name of language, because it alone can class and methodize ideas, and clothe them in forms which help to discriminate their various shades, and which memory easily retains ; that written signs or characters, invented by men who can speak, will naturally awaken ideas, in the forms in which their language has clothed them, so as to convey them to the mind through those well known forms, and consequently through the words or sounds to which they have been given. Those who are deprived, by nature, of the sense of hearing, will make the best use they can of the senses which they possess. We have even known a young woman, born deaf and blind, who, to a certain degree, could understand, and make herself understood, by means of touch ; but, otherwise, speech is the basis of all other modes of communication between men, and all of them, whatever be their forms, reach the mind only through the recollection of ideas, as clothed in the words of a spoken language. Origin and Formation of Language. The origin of language is involved in deep obscurity. The greatest philosophers, among whom may be mentioned Leibnitz, J. J. Rousseau, Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart, and many others, have in vain exerted their powers to discover what it is most probable will ever remain to us a profound mystery, at least on this side of the grave. Theories have been accumulated upon theories, systems have been formed, and volumes have been written for and against them ; but it does not appear that we are much better informed, at present, than we were in the beginning. Human knowledge has its bounds, prescribed by the almighty Creator of the universe; these bounds we may approach to a certain degree, but never pass. However we may be assured of this undeniable truth, it is not the less certain that the same Being who has set limits to our knowledge has implanted in our souls an ardent desire to extend it as far as possible ; and, as those precise limits have not been revealed to us, and there remains a vast space of debatable ground, we are not prohibited from exerting our best faculties in order to extend our view of that ground as far as our imperfect judgment, aided by our imperfect senses, will permit; and therefore inquiries of this kind will always be curious and interesting, how often soever they may have been tried hi vain. Nor is it less curious to take a retrospective view of the aberrations of the human mind to which these inquiries have given rise. It is unfortunately too true, that, in pursuing them, men have much oftener reasoned a priori^ than they have sought to come at the truth by means of fair induction from well ascertained facts. It is but lately that philologists have employed themselves in collecting facts till then unobserved, by means ol which some extension of our knowledge mayv be gained, though we must not ex pect that we shall ever be able to penetrate into the secrets of Providence, whjph, if they were displayed before us, it is prob able that our weak minds could not eve< comprehend. Philologists long bewilder ed themselves in search of the primitive language. The greatest number of the learned assigned that rank to the Hebrew, it being the language of the holy writings, as they have come down to us from the time of Esdras. But many solid objections have been made to that hypothesis, and it seems now to be generally abandon ed. Others saw the primitive language in that of their own country, or in some other idiom of which they were particularly fond. Thus Van Gorp, a Fleming, better known as Becan or Becanus, was in favor of the Low Dutch, Webb was for the Chi nese, Reading for the Abyssinian, Stierr Scythian, Erici for the Greek, Hugo for the Latin, the Maronites for the Syriac. In our day, don Juan Bautista de Erro y Azpiroz, who not long since was one of the ministers of state to the present king of Spain, in a work entitled El Mundo primitivo, 6 Examen Filosqfico de la Antiguedad y Cultura de la Nation Bascongada (printed at Madrid, in 1815), claims that honor for the Basque, which, however, in a former work, entitled Alfabeto de la Lengua primitiva de Espana (Madrid, 1806), he had only, and with more reason, supposed to be the primitive language of Spain. A partial translation of these works was published at Boston, in 1829, by our learned countryman, George W. Erving, esquire, late minister of the U. States to the court of Spain, and will be read with interest, because, in the midst of his national prejudices, the Spanish author discovers a truly philosophic mind, particularly where he maintains, with great cogency of argument, that, because men in the beginning had but few wants, it does not follow that they had few ideas, and that their language was destitute of form or method. (El Mundo primitivo, p. 37.) The admirable syntax of the languages of the American Indians has sufficiently proved the coirectness of this proposition, which now seems to be generally admitted, though it was at first received with great distrust by the learned world. (See Historical Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, vol. i, in the report of the secretaiy of the historical committee, printed at the beginning of the book, in which this doctrine appears to have been sufficiently proved. See, also, the preface to the translation of Zeisberger's Delaware Grammar, in the third volume, new series, of the Philosophical Transactions of the same society.) We shall presently expatiate Somewhat more at large upon this subject. That there was a primitive language, which was spoken by the first parents of mankind, is a fact attested by our Holy Scriptures, and which philosophy is not willing to deny. But what has become of that language, and where is it now to be found ? Grotius was of opinion, that though it exists at present nowhere in its original form, yet that traces of it may be found in all the languages now spoken. This was a bold assertion, and which could not proceed from actual observation of facts; for what man ever did, what man ever could, compare all the languages of the earth, so as to and, what is still more difficult, to point out what these traces are ? One man, howTever, was found,a man of extensive learning and erudition, and, at the same time, a pure and an elegant writer, who thought he had discovered the primitive language. This was the celebrated Court de Gebelin, well known as the author of a large work, published at Paris (from 1773 to 1784), containing nine quarto volumes, entitled Le Monde primitif, analyst et compart avec le Monde moderne. This curious work contains etymological dictionaries of the Latin and French languages, in which the author assumes to derive all the words of those idioms from his pretended primitive tongue. He considered speech as an instinct, and every language as a dialect of that which he called "primitive, inspired by God himself natural, necessary, universal and imperishable." So far may a man be carried, by the spirit of system, and enthusiasm for a favorite hypothesis ! It needs not to be said that Gebelin's imperishable language has perished with him ; yet his books may still be read with advantage, because, like Don Quixote, when he is not mounted on his hobby horse, he shows himself a man of j udgment and of profound thought. Count Lanjuinais has abridged and enriched with notes one of his volumes, entitled Histoire naturellede la Parolea valuable system of general grammar, held in high esteem by philologists. What gave the greatest appearance of probability to the proposition advanced by Grotius, and many others after himthat the remains of the primitive tongue are to be found' and discerned in all existing languagesis the astonishing affinities which have been discovered between the languages of Europe and those of Western Asia, so that even the German and the Sanscrit have been classed together under the generic name Germ,anoIndian. These affinities really do exist, to a degree that would hardly be believed, if the wellascertained fact were not too stubborn to be resisted. But as soon as we have crossed the Ganges, and proceed towards China, these analogies vanish, and we find languages entirely different from those of the West, not only in etymology, but in their grammatical forms. In the interior of Africa, in the Australian islands, and on the whole of the American continent, we find idioms of different structures, having characters of their own, and in which it would be in vain to seek for traces of the primiti ve tongue. The late professor Barton, of Philadelphia, and after him professor Vater, of Konigsberg, endeavored to find affinities between the American languages and those of the Tartars and Samoieds; but their researches produced no decisive results. Here and there they found a few words, which seemed to sound alike, but in such small numbers, and so scattered among the numerous idioms of those nations, that it was not possible to infer even the probability of a former connexion between them; and. it is more natural to suppose that chance produced those accidental similarities. (See New Vieivs of the Origin of the Tribes arid Nations of. America, by B. S. Barton, Philadelphia, 1797, 1798 ; and Untersuchungen uber AmerikcCs Bevolkerung, von J. S. Voter, Leipsic, 1810.) If we were only to attend to the etymological part of languages, that is to say, to the words of which they are composed, considered merely in relation to the sounds which they produce when uttered, we might still doubt whether the primitive idiom might not yet exist in all of them, corrupted and disguised by time and a variety of accidents which may easily be imagined; but we have at last turned our thoughts to the internal structure of the various modes of speech ; and the immense differences which exist, and appear to have existed from time immemorial, between them, lead us irresistibly to inferences which, at first view, would seem to contradict the Mosaic account of the creation, but which, we think, may still be reconciled with it on scriptural grounds. Were it otherwise, we would not be deterred from our philosophical investigations, convinced as we are that religion and philosophy are sisters, and, though at first they may appear to be opposed, they will, in the end, be reconciled to each other. When we consider the great variety which exists in the structure or organizationif we may so express ourselvesof the different languages of the earth, and the length of time that has elapsed since that variety has begun to exist, we are at a loss to comprehend how they can all have been derived from one primitive source. We see, in the first place, the Chinese and its kindred dialects completely monosyllabic ; that is to say, that every syllable of which they are composed,with very few exceptions, has an appropriate meaning, and conveys, by itself, to the mind, either a simple or a compound idea. At the opposite end of the grammatical scale, we find the languages of the Indians of the American continent polysyllabic in the extreme, composed of words some of them of an enormous length, while their component syllables have,when separately taken, no meaning whatsoever. The Sanscrit, in Asiatic India, and in the vicinity of China, is also an eminently polysyllabic language, though the roots of its words may be more easily traced than those of the idioms of America. The Sanscrit abounds in grammatical forms, by means of which accessary ideas are conveyed to the mind by regular inflections, evidently the result of a preconceived system. The Chinese has none of those forms: every syllable, every word, conveys a detached idea ; and it wants those connecting vocables which, in other languages, bind the discourse together, and help the hearer to understand the sense of a period. The same differences exist, in a greater or less degree, in all the languages of the earth, ancient as well as modern. No two of them, it is believed, have exactly the same manner of conveying ideas from mind to mind in the"form of words ; and, though they may have the same grammatical character in a general point of view, they differ in the details. That is not, however, what we are considering. We mean to speak only of those great and essential differences, in consequence of which, languages maybe divided into strongly distinguished classes; such as the monosyllabic, and the polysyllabic, the atactic, that is to say, those that are devoid of connecting words and of grammatical forms, and the syntactic, which possess these in greater or lesser abundance. These differences, it will be said, may have gradually taken place in the course of time, and prove nothing against the common origin from one primitive language. Unfortunately for this objection, they may be traced back so far, and have continued so long, that it is impossible to suppose that they may have been thus successively produced. Taking, for instance, only two of the languages of the old worldthe Chinese and the Sanscrit,or, if it be alleged that the latter is no longer spoken, we will take those languages of India which are known to be mediately or immediately derived from it, and which may fairly be considered as its continuation,Now, the Chinese and the languages of India are known to have existed at least 4000 years, the one monosyllabic and atactic, the other, or the others, polysyllabic and syntactic. It does not appear that, in all that period of time, they have at all approached nearer to each other, and, in their general structure and character, they remain now as they were as far back as we can trace them. The same might be said of the Hebrew and the class of languages called Semitic, of the las, and the barbarous languages, as they are called, of Asia, Africa, Polynesia and America, all of which are more or less ancient, and some of which may be traced as far back as the Chinese and Sanscrit; and their origin is lost in the night of time. Their organic differences have remained the same, not only for ages, but thousands of ages. From these facts an inference forces itself irresistibly upon the mind, which is, that in all languages there is a strong tendency to preserve their original structure. From the most remote time that the memory of man can reach,we have never seen a monosyllabic language become polysyllabic, or vice versa. Why have not the Chinese, and the Sanscrit or its cognate languages, in the course of 4000 years, approximated in the least to each other ? Has the Tartar conquest made the least alteration in the structure of the former idiom ? How has the Basque preserved its grammatical forms, different as they are from those of any other language, and surrounded as that handful of ancient Iberians is, and has been for so many ages, by idioms of a character entirely opposite ? How comes it that the polysynthetic forms of the American languages extend from one end of "this vast continent to the other, and that one general grammatical system pervades them all, and appears to have been, from the beginning of time, peculiar to the races o** American red men ? The strong tendency of languages to preserve their organic structure can alone account, in a satisfactory manner, for these phenomena. If such a tendency be admitted,and we do not see how it can be reasonably denied,it must have existed in the primitive language, as well as in those that are supposed to have been derived from it. But when we see that these have preserved their grammatical characters unchanged for more than 4000 years, we cannot believe that, in the 2000 years preceding, according to the generally received chronology, which makes the world about 6000 years old, language should have suffered so many changes in its organic structure as to form new languages, so essentially and so entirely different from each other in that respect, to say nothing of the difference which exists in the etymology of words; for between the Chinese and the Cherokee, for instance, it will be difficult to find the least etymological affinity; and, if the distance of places is assigned as the cause, we will instance the Bengaleea 35* Chinese full as much as the Mohawk and the Potawatamee. We are therefore forced into the conclusion, that all the languages which exist on the face of the earth are not derived from one, but that they must be divided into classes or genera, to which must be assigned separate and distinct origins. It is not our business to reconcile this theory with the Mosaic records; we think, however, it may be easily done by supposing (to the contrary of which there is nothing in Scripture) that, at the confusion of tongues, the primitive language, its words and its forms, were entirely effaced from the memory of man, and men were left to their own resources to form new ones, which they did without reference to any preexisting model. Wre can in this manner very easily account for all the differences, grammatical as well as etymological, that exist between languages. As to the former, we need only look to the various capacities of the human mind. As the physical eye perceives objects differently, and ascribes to them different shapes and colors, according to the strength of the organ and the point of view from which it contemplates them, so the eye of the mind receives ideas or mental perceptions, according to its various capacities, and to different attending circumstances. What we call ideas, are rapid perceptions, continually flitting before the mental eye. Like objects viewed through the kaleidoscope, they pass before us in everchanging shapes, and, in endeavoring to fix them on the memory by articulate sounds, the appearance of the moment will decide the form to be given to those representative signs. The man of quick perceptions will try to retain the idea of a whole physical or moral object, or, perhaps, a whole group of objects, in his memory, by means of one single word: another, of slower comprehension, seeing or perceiving a part only, will appropriate a word or a syllable to the expression of that part, and another and another to each of the other parts that he will successively perceive. In this manner, syntactic and atactic idioms have been respectively formed; the impulse first given has been followed, and thus languages have received various organic or grammatical characters and forms. Let us give an example : At the first formation of a language, one man, by signs or otherwise, asks another to do something; the other, anxious to express his consent at once, and conceiving the whole idea, answers, Volo. Another man, who^e mind is slower in its operations, divides the idea, and answers in two words, Ego volo, or J will. Another demand is made, to which the first man does not agree; he answers, Nolo; the other says, Ego non volo, or I will not. Applying this hypothesis to all languages, and their different forms, it will be perceived how, in the beginning, they were framed, and how their various structures have been more or less regular and more or less elegant in their grammatical analogies, according to the tempers and capacities of the nations that first formed them, and of the men that took the lead in that formation, who may not always have been the most sensible of the whole band; for it is to be presumed that, in those early times, as in our day, the affairs of men were not always directed by the ablest, but oftener, perhaps, by the most forward and the most presuming individual. As to the mechanical or physical part of language, that must have depended on the climate and on the peculiar organizations of individuals. Although the component sounds of all languages appear very few, they are very numerous, if we consider their almost imperceptible shades and modes of utterance. Hence the difficulties that occur everywhere in acquiring the pronunciation of foreign idioms. Although the organs of speech are the same in all men and races of men, great differences are produced in their utterance of sounds, by the early habit of more or Jess contracting or expanding certain of the muscles of which those organs are composed. Opening or shutting the mouth, letting out the air more or less freely through the lungs, and othpr similar causes, produce infinite varieties in vocal sounds and consonant articulatiojis, analogous to those that we perceive in musical instruments, which, like the human voice, are operated upon by touch or pressure, or by the impulsion and expulsion of air. The flute does not produce the same sound writh the clarionet or French horn, nor the harpsichord with the violin. Even instruments of the same kind produce different effects, according to the manner in which they are played upon. It is so with the human organs*^ The first sounds that were uttered, when each language was first invented, gave tone and color to the rest, and that depended on the first individuals who uttered those sounds, and whom the others imitated or followed. The habits, once fixed, could not easily afterwards be altered Each language, therefore, had its own articulations, its own accent, and its own tones. Philosophers have, in general, been of opinion that the invention of languages was a very difficult task, and that it required a very long timeages, perhapsto bring an idiom to perfection. We are inclined to be of the contrary opinion. God has given to man, as he has to other animals, all the faculties that are necessary to attain the ends of his creation. These faculties, in animals, we call instinct; and by whatever highsounding names our pride may induce us to call them in ourselves, they are, after all, no more than a power given by the Almighty Being. He made man a social animal, because that was necessary to the purposes of his creation; for the same purposes, it was necessary that men should understand each other, that they should exchange plans, projects and ideas. God therefore gave them the means of so doing, and these means consisted of physical organs and mental faculties equal to the task. By means of these faculties, they soon found words by which to convey their perceptions of natural and moral objects to one another, and means to retain them in their memory by some method or order of classification, without which they would have been lost in a confusion of articulate sounds. Hence it has happened that there is no language, however barbarous or uncivilized may be the nation that speaks it, that is not systematically arranged; none, in short, that has not a method of its own, pi, in other words, a grammar. They are all reducible to certain grammatical principles, and none has yet been found that cannot be so reduced. The American Philosophical Society has proved to a demonstration, that the languages of the aborigines of this continent are rich in words and in grammatical forms, and it has been said, that it would rather seem that they were composed by philosophers in their closets, than by savages in the wilderness. (See Report to the Historical and Literary Committee, and Correspondence between Mr. Duponceau and Mr. Heckewelder, in the Historical Transactions of the Am. Phil. Soc. vol. i.) When the writer to whom we allude made use of this expression, we believe that he sought to accommodate himself to ideas generally received; for he must have known that languages are not made by philosophers in their closets, and he must have been aware of the failure of all those who attempted to invent what they called a philosophical language. Leibnitz, it is said, once had such an ideaj abandoned the senseless project. To such a degree was the presumption of the learned raised, about the middle of the seventeenth century, that it was thought, that an universal language could, be made for the use of all mankind. One Becher, having heard a German prince say, that he would give 300 crowns to him who should discover such a language, wrote a treatise, in which he asserted, and tried to prove, that he had made the discovery. He presented it to the prince, who paiu him with compliments, and an invitation to dinner. The work is entitled Character pro JYotitia IA?iguarum universali (Frankfort, 1661), and is now veiy scarce. In 1668, John Wilkins, dean of Itippon, and afterwards bishop of Chester, published a thick folio volume, entitled an Essay towards a real Character * and Philosophical Language, which contained an alphabet, a grammar and a dictionary of his supposed perfect idiom. Afterwards, a M. Faignet, who is called, in the French Encyclopaedia, tresorier de France, but who, in fact, was only a receiver of public moneys in some provincial town, wrote, for that compilation, a scheme of a philosophical language, with which the editors did not disdain to swell their work, and which remains there as a monument of the folly and presumption of mankind. The productions of this writer and of bishop Wilkins, show the superiority of nature over philosophy. Nature invents, philosophy imitates. These philosophers had no idea of grammatical forms except those of the languages that they knew, that is to say, those that they had learned at college, and those they had received from their nurses. Therefore, neither the monosyllabic system of the Chinese, nor the polysynthetic of the Americans, ever occurred to their minds ; all the improvement that they could think of on the forms which they were familiar with, was, to apply to them the principle of little minds, uniformity. To show how they went to work, we will give a few short samples of their respective inventions. M. Faignet thus formed, in his philosophical language, the substantive verb to be: Infinitive. Etre = sas Avoir ete = sis Devoir etre = sus Etant sont. Indicative Present. Je suis = jo sa Tu es = to sa II est = lo sa Nous sommes = no sa Vous etes = vo sa lis sont ¦= zo sa. French language is servilely imitated, with a little of the Latin; and the only improvement, or rather alteration, is a tiresome uniformity in the termination of words. Bishop Wilkins's system is more metaphysical, and of course more complicated. He affects an antithetical arrangement of his words, according to the ideas which they express; thus lie says, if Da signifies God, then ida must signify its opposite, or an idol; if dab be spirit, odah will be body; if dad be heaven, odad will signify hell. With respect to dissyllables, if pida be presence, pidas will be absence; if tadu bepoiver, tadus will be impotence, &c. His numerals are as follows *. Pobal, 10; pobol7 20; pobel, 30. Pobar, 100; pobor, 200; pober, 300. Pobam, 1000 ; pobom, 2000 ; pobem7 3000. Poban, 100,000; pobon, 200,000; poben, 3007000 One thousand six hundred sixty six. Pobam pobur pobul pobu. His arrangement of words in regular rows of prefixed syllables and terminations, is very different from the order which nature follows in all her works, in the structure of languages as in every thing else. She aims not at a childish uniformity. Hers is not. the garden where " grove nods at grove; each alley has a brother." She delights, on the contrary, in "pleasing intricacies," and every where introduces an " artful wildness," to " perplex" while it embellishes the scene. But not so presumptuous man. Under the mask of a false philosophy, he sets himself up as a rival to nature, which he neither knows nor understands. True philosophy, in a more humble spirit, observes and studies her noble works, contented to admire, and not presuming to imitate. All those who have attempted to invent a new language, have taken for their models those that they were most familiar with. Father Lami, however, the author of an esteemed French work upon rhetoric, speaking of the possibility of composing a factitious idiom, proposes, as a type, the language of the Mongul Tartars, probably to make a show of some little knowledge he had of that tongue. But none of these writers thought of framing a language on abstract principles, founded on the most natural arrangement and concatenation of ideas: even the transitive verbs of the Hebrew and other Oriental languages;, including in one" word the idea of the objective as well as of the governing pronoun, doe? not an pear to have occurred to their minds. It would have been in vain, however, that they should have sought for a system of grammatical forms more natural than another, since, as we have before observed, all the existing grammatical systems, differing as they do from each other, are equally the work of nature, operating through the minds of men, possessing various physical and moral qualities, and Droclucing different results, though all equally tending to the same endthe intercourse of human minds with each other, through the medium of the organs of speech. We will not, therefore, stop to inquire whether any of the existing languages are more perfect than the others. Perfection is relative to its object. Whatever is adequate to the end for which it was made, cannot be improved but with respect to some new objects to which the times or circumstances require that it should be adapted. And that improvement in language is the work of nature, not of philosophy, literature or science. Necessity sometimes, and. sometimes caprice, introduces new words into a language, and chance directs the choice. The same process takes place in the improvement of languages, or rather in the additions made to them, as in their formation. Words are borrowed from neighboring idioms, or framed by analogy from those in common use, by the first man who thinks he has occasion for them, and they are adopted, or not, by the multitude, as chance or fashion directs. Words are often introduced without necessity, and without much regard to euphony, or the genius of the idiom. Thus, in our Amer* ican English, we say prairie, for meadow land; formerly we said savannah; both words derived from foreign languagesone from the French, the other from the Spanishand both unnecessary. It has lately become fashionable to say approval for approbation, withdrawal instead of withdrawing; and many other similar newcoined words are gradually coming into use. These innovations make the language more copious, not more perfect. Thesynonymes, in process of time, assume shades of difference in their meaning, which are not thought of when the words are first used. But we are constantly asked whether the Greek, that enchants us so much in the works of Homer and Pindar, is not a more perfect language than, for instance, the Iroquois, or the Algonkin. We answer, that it is not. We must not confound perfection with cultivation. The wild rose that grows in our forests is not less a perfect flower than that which adorns our gardens. The latter is more pleasing to our fastidious senses ; but will even the most skilful gardener dare to say that he has perfected the work of his Creator ? Languages are instruments which have come perfect from the heads of the makers. But they are played on better or worse by different artists. Homer played well on the Greek: he would have played equally well on the Iroquois. If we are to judge of the perfection of a language by the method and regularity of its grammatical forms, that of the Lenni Lenape, of which we have an excellent grammar, by Zeisberger, published in the third volume of the new series of the American Philosophical Transactions, is far superior to our own English, the most anomalous of all idioms, made up almost entirely of monosyllables, full of sibilants and inarticulate vowel sounds; in short, a language which, a priori, would be probably pronounced barbarous and uncouthbut hear that instrument played upon by Milton, Shakspeare, Dryden, Pope ! If you think that it is the superior perfection of the language that ravishes your senses, and carries you up to the third heavens, you will be much mistaken. It is only the talent of the immortal artists. It is the art of the gardener, who has cultivated this wild tree, and made it produce delicious fruits. But the perfection of a language does not consist in the regularity or in the anomaly of its forms, in its being compounded of monosyllables or polysyllables, or of such or such consonant or vowel sounds predominating in its utterance. Nature in this, as in all her other works, delights in variety. The imperial lily and the humble violet are alike perfect flowers; the barren pine, the stately oak, and the fragrant orangetree, are alike perfect plants, various in their organization and in their structure, but all adequate to the end for which they were created. Languages were made for the purpose of communication between men, and all are adequate to that eud. We have heard that the Chinese language is so imperfect, that men are obliged, in conversation, in order to explain their meaning, to trace, with their fingers, in the air, the figure of written characters. This is exaggerated. We have seen sensible and intelligent Chinese, who have assured us that they never are at a loss to explain their ideas by spoken words. It happens, sometimes, even in speaking English, that when we use a word which, being differently written, has different meanings, we spell that word, to show in what sense we understand it. The Chinese probablyMo the same, by means of their characters, but not to the extent that the love of the marvellous, or incorrect information, has induced some writers to maintain. In the same manner, those who have lived long among our Indians, all concur in assuring us that those nations converse with one another, on all subjects, in their own idioms, with the greatest ease. Our missionaries preach to them, and find no difficulty in making them understand the abstract doctrines of our religion ; and what must dispel every doubt upon this point is, that the whole of the Old and New Testaments has been translated, by our venerable Eliot, into the language of the Massachusetts Indians. Let us cease, therefore, to speak of the comparative perfection of languages with respect to each other. They are various instruments, formed by nature, which genius may cultivate and render more pleasing to our senses, but not more adequate to their end, and the organization of which no talent can change, and no genius can imitate. If it be true, as we firmly believe, that languages were various in their original formation, after the traces of the primitive language had, by the divine will, been entirely obliterated from the minds of men, it becomes needless to inquire whether the first language was monosyllabic or polysyllabic, and whether the first words were formed by onomatopeiafrom an imitation of natural sounds. No doubt there are, in every language, words which have Deen formed by that kind of process, even in modern times, as, for instance, the word bomb. But it does not follow that this has been a general rule. In most of our Indian languages, the word which signifies thunder has no resemblance to the noise made by that explosion: for instance, in the Chickasaw, it is elloha; Creek, tenitke; Huron, inon; Cadoes, deshinin; Nootka, tuta; and there are many other languages in which, in that word, no symptoms ofonomatopeia appear. It is curious, however, to find that, in the language of the Arkansas, the word for thunder is tonno, and in that of the Yaos, called by De Laet Jaivi (a people of Guiana,now extinct), it is tonimeru. Chance will produce such similarities, which,when thus isolated,prove nothing for or against the affinity of languages, or their derivation from each other. LANGUAGES. (See Philology.) LANGUEDOC ; before the revolution, a jarge province of France, divided into Upper and Lower; bounded east by the Rhone, which separates it from Dauphiny, the county of Venaissin, and Provence; south by Roussillon and the Mediterranean ; west by Gascony, and north by Forez, Quercy and Rouergue. Its extent was about 270 miles in length,and 120 in breadth. The land is, in general, very fertile in grain, fruits and wine. Toulouse was the capital of Upper, and Montpellier the capital of Lower Languedoc. It is flow divided into the eight following departments: Department. Chief Towns. Gard,........... Nimes. Herault,..........Montpellier. Ardeche,.........Privas. Lozere,..........Mende. Tarn,...........Alby. Upper Garonne,.....Toulouse. Aude,...........Carcassonne. Upper Loire,.......Le Puy. (See Departments. The celebrated canal of Languedoc commences at Cette, and joins the Garonne near Toulouse, forming a communication between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. It was constructed in the reign of Louis XIV, and is about 140 miles in length. (See Canals.)