Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/56

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clearly that one member of it is felt by the speaker and hearer to have a purely denominating office, another a purely predicating one. It may be objected that in Chinese, for instance, there is no formal distinction made between noun and verb. True, but the logical distinction of subject and predicate is reflected in the form of the Chinese sentence, inasmuch as the subject regularly precedes the predicate; thus, while the same word may be either noun or verb, in any particular sentence it necessarily is definitely one and not the other. Other fundamental logical categories will, on a more complete survey, be found to be subject to grammatical treatment in all or nearly all languages, but this is not the place to be anything but merely suggestive. Suffice it to remark on the wide-spread systematizing of personal relations; the wide-spread development of ideas of tense, number and syntactic case relations; and the clear grammatical expression everywhere or nearly everywhere given to the largely emotional distinction of declarative, interrogative and imperative modes.

Granted that there are certain general fundamental traits of similarity in all known languages, the problem arises of how to explain these similarities. Are they to be explained historically, as survivals of features deep-rooted in an earliest form of human speech that, despite the enormous differentiation of language that the lapse of ages has wrought, have held their own to the present day, or are they to be explained psychologically as due to the existence of inherent human mental characteristics that abide regardless of time and race? If the latter standpoint be preferred, we should be dealing with a phenomenon of parallel development. It is of course impossible to decide categorically between the two explanations that have been offered, though doubtless the majority of students would incline to the psychological rather than to the historical method. At any rate, it is clear that we can not strictly infer a monogenetic theory of speech from the fundamental traits of similarity that all forms of speech exhibit. Yet even though these are of psychologic rather than historic interest, it is important to have demonstrated the existence of a common psychological substratum, or perhaps we had better say framework, which is more or less clearly evident in all languages. This very substratum or framework gives the scientific study of language a coherence and unity quite regardless of any considerations of genetic relationship of languages.

In spite of the fact that, as we have seen, no tangible evidence can be brought to bear on the ultimate origin or origins of speech, many attempts have been made, particularly in the first half of the nineteenth century, when it was more common for historical and philosophical problems of extreme difficulty to be attacked with alacrity, to point out the way in which human speech originated or at least might have originated. From the very nature of the case, these attempts could not but