Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/163

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THE MODERN ENGLISH LANGUAGE

the more living boycott; we owe to it democracy, oligarch, aristocracy, tyrant and politics, but we have borrowed from the American Indians Tammany, mugwump, and perhaps caucus; nor has anthropological science any greater words to conjure with to-day than totem and taboo, the first of which is derived from an Algonkian language of North America, and the second from one of the Polynesian dialects. To create sociology, a hybrid of Greek and Latin that shocked the purists was called into being, but the very useful and significant term club was taken from a cognate Scandinavian language. The familiar word squirrel goes back to Greek, but chipmunk, in spite of its rather deceptive appearance, is derived from the Ojibwa dialect of the Algonkian Indians. The Latin ending of petunia can not altogether disguise its ultimate origin from one of the Tupi-Guaranian languages of aboriginal Brazil. Megatherium is Latinized Greek, but mammoth is little changed from the form it had in a Tatar language of Siberia. The vocabulary of English owes much to Greek and Latin, but this debt does not include terms like the following, which have all become part and parcel of everyday speech: Slave (Slavonic) and nabob (Hindi); talk (Lithuanian) and jungle (Sanskrit); thug (Hindustani) and bantam (Javanese); gong (Malay), tattoo (Tahitian) and guinea (W. African); alcohol, assassin, and tariff (all Arabic); buccaneer, cannibal, hammock, hurricane, mahogany, potato, tobacco, tomahaiuk, wigwam (all from the various Indian tongues of the New World). What list of the important loan words of modern English could omit Tammany, mugwump, totem, etc.? And what place-name of classic origin has, in the present day and generation, been given new life and significance in our tongue, like Chautauqua, one of the remembrancers of the Iroquoian predecessors of the white man in the great state of New York? Another place-name from the same source, Saratoga, has also won lodgment, but with less fame and repute. In American English, in particular, the only memorial existing of some now extinct and forgotten tribe of savages may be some such word which has won a place in our hospitable lexicon. On the other hand, the united efforts of all the "purists" in the land are often insufficient to secure permanent footing for some new coinage, whose classical parentage is quite unimpeachable and whose grammatical attire forbids criticism. Very often does our language illustrate the truth of the old saying, "the first shall be last, and the last shall be first." It is a democratic institution, having adopted a declaration of independence against King Grammar and his whole court.

2. Hybrid Words.—English has no morbid fear of joining its words together regardless of the remoter origin of the newly-wedded elements. It is a language in possession of those who use it, and not one in perpetual and cringing serfdom to grammarians and lexicographers. It shows its genius in its independence of these linguistic tyrants, being