Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/508

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term "to ship." The verb came into use at a time when goods were generally transported by water; then it was extended to include conveyance by land likewise. Now it is employed to designate the activities of any common carrier whether by land or water. The original signification has been so completely lost that very few persons who use the word think of it, or notice the incongruity between the term and its primitive meaning.

It is almost certain that a good many words—and there is no way of discovering how large the number—are the spontaneous utterances of persons who can give no reason why one form was chosen rather than some other. To this class belong boom, skedaddle, hoodlum, hooligan, spondulicks and a host more. I recall that several words were current in our neighborhood in Pennsylvania to designate certain persons and acts and were usually referred to their authors. As they never got into print they may have since died out. It is easy to see how, in a primitive state of society, a word uttered by some chief would be taken up by his entourage and eventually become a part of the language of the clan; for although language is developed by society, it does not owe its origin to man's gregarious instinct. Every one knows that children often invent names for things that have no relation to or connection with words used by older persons. The theory that the hypothetical pithecanthropus was the progenitor of man is no longer held by any competent anthropologist. If we place the fossil remains discovered by Dubois in the island of Java in this class the argument is not strengthened, the chief objection being its comparatively late date. According to the recent and very careful examinations of Klaatsch and Hauser of all known fossil remains of man there were two primitive types which they designate as the Aurignac and the Neanderthal races. Of these the former stood considerably higher than the latter and unquestionably possessed the faculty of speech. With regard to the latter the evidence is not quite so convincing, but is sufficient to produce a high degree of probability, especially in view of the fact that this race, anatomically considered, bore a striking resemblance to the Australian aborigines; and these display a large measure of linguistic capacity.

Although words are often used eventually in a widely different sense from that which they originally bore, the progress from one meaning to another is not always gradual. The first man who used ship to designate transportation by land doubtless did so with a clear knowledge of its original signification; this was only forgotten in the course of time. The man, probably a sailor, who invented the article now considered indispensable by seamstresses named it a "thumb-bell" for evident reasons. The Germans call it a Fingerhood. Yet it is safe to say that very few English or Germans now think of the original meaning of the word, though it was clearly evident when it first came