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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/515

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which the Ayran tense system is found in its greatest delicacy and perfection. But we know that in all cases where an Aryan language has without doubt been adopted by a non-Aryan folk the tense system is invariably broken up. No better example than this is needed than ordinary "pigeon" English. So difficult is it for the defenders of the non-Aryan theory of the origin of the aborigines of Greece to maintain their position that one of the latest, Professor Burrows, has to rely on certain supposed syntactical survivals of a non-Aryan language which Sir John Rhys believes that he has found in Welsh and Irish, and in the remarkable resemblance which Professor Morris Jones thinks that he has traced between the syntax of those languages and that of Berber and ancient Egyptian.

Yet when we examine the evidence on which Sir John Rhys relies, it turns out to be only three Welsh and Cornish oghams, written not in pure Celtic, but in dog Latin, and also two Irish oghams, which show a looseness in the use of the genitive suffix at a time when final syllables were dropping out of use in Irish. Sir John Rhys supposes that the non-Aryan inhabitants of these islands derived their Gaelic speech from a people whom he terms Celticans, who spoke Goidelic, and who were followed by the Brythons, who found the aborigines already Celticized. Professor Morris Jones freely admits that the aborigines must have borrowed the full Aryan tense system, a fact in itself sufficient, from what I have already said, to arouse grave suspicions as to the validity of any arguments based on supposed fundamental grammatical differences. But this supposed taking over of the full Aryan tense system by the non-Aryan aborigines of these islands is rendered all the more miraculous from the circumstance that Sir John Rhys holds that his Celticans, who spoke Goidelic, "came over not later than the great movements which took place in the Celtic world of the continent in the sixth and fifth centuries before our era," that the Brythons "came over to Britain between the time of Pytheas and that of Julius Caesar," and that the Brythons were not likely to come into contact on any large scale with the aborigines "before they had been to a considerable extent Celticized." It is thus assumed that it was possible for the aborigines to have been so completely Celticized as to have adopted the Aryan tense system, as well as the Aryan vocabulary, in its fullness in the interval between the sixth or fifth century and the second century B.C. Yet English has been the master speech in Britain for many centuries, and that, too, when reading and writing have been commonly practised; yet Gaelic still survives, whilst Welsh not only survives but flourishes. It is, therefore, simply incredible that such a complete transformation as that postulated could have taken place in three or four centuries in an age when writing and literature can be hardly said to have existed in these islands.