Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/383

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LANGUAGE STUDY AND LANGUAGE PSYCHOLOGY

as a whole. It is as much an entity as an icicle, the perception of which need not involve the thought of water, much less of hydrogen and oxygen. Qua analyst, I may divide amabo in one way for its syllables, and in another way for its root and stem, its tense and person signs. Qua hearer or reader, the unit is amabo, which I think I can mentally realize in rather less time than I realize "I shall love." My eye may see ama-sooner than it does -bo, but my consciousness appropriates them simultaneously. It is more probable that my eye sees amabo all at once, just as it is immediately aware of a flag, which it may then analyze as a tricolor, and last as three colored stripes. It requires no special act of enumeration to be conscious that a group is composed of five or six individuals, but the group is probably first to rouse my attention and my perception of it is a synthetic perception.

It was only the little lad learning to read from a hornbook at his grannam's knee that ever passed through Spencer's struggles with "the black horse," for it is an utter fallacy that "black horse" and "cheval noir" are, in speech, ever broken up into "black" [here ponder on "black"] and "horse"; "cheval" and "noir." And we shall not be entirely brutal if we disregard the distress of an American critic of style who thinks of "bay-horse" when he hears "cheval" and is pained to have his impression corrected by "noir": What an agony "the [bay] horse is black" must cause him. Nor need we make a prolix appeal to grammar or psychology to prove that "black horse" is, in the evolution of speech, shorthand for "the horse is black." This probably did not trouble our savage forefathers any more than it troubled the Romans, to whom either niger equus or equus niger alike meant "black horse" and "the horse is black."

Equally unhappy is Professor Hill's analysis of the Cæsar sentence cut at random after the manner of the sortes Virgilianæ. In its own context the sentence stands in the middle of a paragraph, and the reader coming upon it knows that Sextius has jumped from a sick-bed to rush with a few followers upon the attacking foe: paulisper una proelium sustinent. . . relinquit animus Sextium. . . gravibus acceptis vulneribus. To me also it seems incredible that the thought that formed itself in Cæsar's mind was anything like "Leaves it the soul Sextius by or to grave by or to received by or to wounds." The thought of Cæsar was in three phrases, "for-a-little together the struggle they endure. . . swoons Sextius. . . from dangerous received wounds." It can not be said too often that for the understanding the phrase is the unit. Ay, whether the medium of interpretation be the ear or the eye, the hearer or reader is simultaneously conscious of the whole phrase. When I say hearer or reader I mean, of course, Cæsar's predetermined hearer or reader, not the tiny learner spelling out r-e-l, etc., nor the older dullard who calls out words like sums standing in a column to be added. There is a trick of rhetoric, to be sure, in Cæsar's chiastic order, meant to