The history of grammatical study of the English language Essay
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THE HISTORY OF GRAMMATICAL STUDY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
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1 English linguistic communication
2 History of grammatical survey
“ Grammatica British pound Eastern Time? Ars recte scribendi recteque loquendi ; poetarum enarrationem continens ; omnium Scientiarum fons uberrimus. * * * Nostra atas parum perita rerum veterum, nimis brevi gyro grammaticum sepsit ; at apud old-timers olim tantum auctoritatis hic ordo habuit, ut censores essent et judices scriptorum omnium soli grammatici ; quos ob id etiam Criticos vocabant. ” — DESPAUTER. _Praf. ad Synt_ , fol. 1.
Such is the curious power of linguistic communication, that there is barely any topic so negligible, that it may non thereby be credibly magnified into something great ; nor are at that place many things which can non be ingeniously disparaged boulder clay they shall look contemptible. Cicero goes farther: “ Nihil est tam incredibile quod non dicendo decree probabile ; ” — ” There is nil so unbelievable that it may non by the power of linguistic communication be made likely. ” The survey of grammar has been frequently overrated, and still oftener injuriously decried. I shall neither fall in with those who would decrease in the public esteem that general system of philosophies, which from clip immemorial has been taught as grammar ; nor effort, either by amplifying its practical consequences, or by adorning it out with my ain imaginings, to put it with any unreal or immaterial importance.
I shall non follow the footfalls of Neef,
who avers that, “ Grammar and incongruousness are indistinguishable things, ” and who, under pretension of making the same terminal by better agencies, contemptuously rejects as nonsensical every thing that others have taught under that name ; because I am convinced, that, of all methods of instruction, none goes further than his, to turn out the admonitory averment true. Nor shall I copy the declamation of _Cardell_ ; who, at the beginning of his Essay, recommends the general survey of linguistic communication on Earth, from the consideration that, “ The module of address is the medium of societal cloud nine for superior intelligences in an ageless universe ; ” [ 51 ] and who, when he has exhausted animadversion in reprobating the practical direction of others, therefore lavishes congratulations, in both his grammars, upon that formless, nothingness, and inexplicable theory of his ain: “ This application of words, ” says he, “ in their endless usage, by one field regulation, to all things which nouns can call, alternatively of being the tantrum topic of blind quibble, _is the most empyreal subject presented to the mind on Earth. It is the practical intercourse of the psyche at one time with its God, and with all parts of his plant! _ ” — _Cardell ‘s Gram._ , 12mo, p. 87 ; _Gram._ , 18mo, p. 49.
Here, so, a broad chance opens before us ; but he who traces scientific discipline, and Teachs what is practically utile, must look into imaginativeness, and be content with sober truth.
“ For apt the head or illusion is to roll Uncheck ‘d, and of her wandering is no terminal. ” — MILTON.
Restricted within its proper bounds, and viewed in its true visible radiation, the practical scientific discipline of grammar has an intrinsic self-respect and virtue sufficient to throw back upon any adult male who dares openly assail it, the permanent stigma of folly and self-conceit. It is true, the opinions of work forces are fallible, and many sentiments are apt to be reversed by better cognition: but what has been long established by the consentaneous concurrency of the learned, it can barely be the portion of a wise teacher now to challenge. The literary reformist who, with the last named gentleman, imagines “ that the individuals to whom the civilised universe have looked up to for direction in linguistic communication were all incorrect likewise in the chief points, ” [ 52 ] intends no in-between class of reformation, and must demands be a adult male either of great virtue, or of small modestness.
1. English linguistic communication
The English linguistic communication may now be regarded as the common heritage of about 50 1000000s of people ; who are at least as extremely distinguished for virtuousness, intelligence, and enterprise, as any other equal part of the Earth ‘s population. All these are more or less interested in the pureness, permanence, and right usage of that linguistic communication ; inasmuch as it is to be, non merely the medium of mental intercourse with others for them and their kids, but the vehicle of all they value, in the reversion of hereditary honor, or in the transmittal of their ain. It is even irreverent, to state a adult male of any reputability, that the survey of this his native linguistic communication is an object of great importance and involvement: if he does non, from these most obvious considerations, experience it to be so, the suggestion will be less likely to convert him, than to give offense, as conveying an inexplicit animadversion.
Every individual who has any aspiration to look respectable among people of instruction, whether in conversation, in correspondence, in public speech production, or in print, must be cognizant of the absolute necessity of a competent cognition of the linguistic communication in which he attempts to show his ideas. Many a farcical anecdote is told, of individuals embarking to utilize words of which they did non cognize the proper application ; many a pathetic blooper has been published to the permanent shame of the author ; and so closely does every adult male ‘s repute for sense depend upon his accomplishment in the usage of linguistic communication, that it is barely possible to get the one without the other. Who can state how much of his ain good or sick success, how much of the favor or neglect with which he himself has been treated, may hold depended upon that accomplishment or lack in grammar, of which, every bit frequently as he has either spoken or written, he must hold afforded a certain and changeless grounds. [ 53 ]
I have earlier said, that to stand out in grammar, is but to cognize better than others wherein grammatical excellence consists ; and, as this excellence, whether in the thing itself, or in him that attains to it, is simply comparative, there seems to be no fixed point of flawlessness beyond which such acquisition may non be carried. In speech production or composing to different individuals, and on different topics, it is necessary to change one ‘s manner with great justness of reference ; and in nil does true genius more conspicuously appear, than in the installation with which it adopts the most appropriate looks, go forthing the critic no mistake to expose, no word to amend. Such installation of class supposes an confidant cognition of all words in common usage, and besides of the rules on which they are to be combined.
With a linguistic communication which we are daily in the pattern of hearing, speech production, reading, and composing, we may surely get no inconsiderable familiarity, without the formal survey of its regulations. All the true rules of grammar were presumed to be known to the learned, before they were written for the assistance of scholars ; nor have they acquired any independent authorization, by being recorded in a book, and denominated grammar. The instruction of them, nevertheless, has tended in no little grade to settle and set up the building of the linguistic communication, to better the manner of our English authors, and to enable us to determine with more clarity the true criterion of grammatical pureness. He who learns merely by rote, may talk the words or phrases which he has therefore acquired ; and he who has the mastermind to spot intuitively what is regular and proper, may hold further assistance from the analogies which he therefore discovers ; but he who would add to such acquisitions the satisfaction of cognizing what is right, must do the rules of linguistic communication his survey.
To bring forth an able and elegant author, may necessitate something more than a cognition of grammar regulations ; yet it is argument plenty in favor of those regulations, that without a cognition of them no elegant and able author is produced. Who that considers the infinite figure of phrases which words in their assorted combinations may organize, and the arrant impossibleness that they should of all time be recognized separately for the intents of direction and unfavorable judgment, but must see the absolute necessity of spliting words into categories, and of screening, by general regulations of formation and building, the Torahs to which usage normally subjects them, or from which she allows them in peculiar cases to divert? Grammar, or the art of authorship and speech production, must go on to be learned by some individuals ; because it is of indispensable usage to society. And the lone inquiry is, whether kids and young person shall get it by a regular procedure of survey and method of direction, or be left to reap it entirely from their ain occasional observation of the mode in which other people speak and write.
The practical solution of this inquiry belongs chiefly to parents and defenders. The sentiments of instructors, to whose discretion the determination will sometimes be left, must hold a certain grade of influence upon the public head ; and the popular impressions of the age, in regard to the comparative value of different surveies, will doubtless bias many to the acceptance or the rejection of this. A consideration of the point seems to be appropriate here, and I can non hold back to commend the survey to the favor of my readers ; go forthing every one, of class, to take how much he will be influenced by my advice, illustration, or statements. If past experience and the history of instruction be taken for ushers, the survey of English grammar will non be neglected ; and the method of its ingraining will go an object of peculiar enquiry and solicitousness. The English linguistic communication ought to be learned at school or in colleges, as other linguistic communications normally are ; by the survey of its grammar, accompanied with regular exercisings of parsing, rectifying, indicating, and scanning ; and by the perusing of some of its mostaccurate authors, accompanied with declared exercisings in composing and elocution. In books of unfavorable judgment, our linguistic communication is already more abundant than any other. Some of the best of these the pupil should peruse, assoon as he can understand and enjoy them. Such a class, pursued with regularity and diligence, will be foundthe most direct manner of geting an English manner at one time pure, correct, and elegant.
If any intelligent adult male will stand for English grammar otherwise than as one of the most utile subdivisions of survey, he may good be suspected of holding formed his constructs of the scientific discipline, non from what it truly is in itself, but from some of those suffering treatises which merely caricature the topic, and of which it is instead an advantage to be nescient. But who is so impoverished of good sense as to deny, that a graceful and easy conversation in the private circle, a fluent and agreeable bringing in public speech production, a ready and natural vocalization in reading, a pure and elegant manner in composing, are achievements of a really high order? And yet of all these, the proper survey of English grammar is the true foundation. This would ne’er be denied or doubted, if immature people did non happen, under some other name, better theoretical accounts and more efficient direction, than what was practised on them for grammar in the school-room. No adherent of an able syntactician can of all time talk ailment of grammar, unless he belong to that category of rogues who vilify what they despair to make.
By taking proper advantage of the ductileness of childhood, intelligent parents and wise instructors may exert over the surveies, sentiments, and wonts of young person a strong and good control ; and it will rarely be found in experience, that those who have been early taught to see grammatical acquisition as worthy and manfully, will alter their sentiment in after life. But the survey of grammar is non so luring that it may be disparaged in the hearing of the immature, without hurt. What would be the natural consequence of the undermentioned sentence, which I quote from a late well-written spiritual homily? “ The educator and his dunderhead may exert their marbless right plenty, in the manner of grammatical analysis, on some glorious statement, or explosion of fluency, or thrilling descant, or poetic ecstasy, to the strain and psyche of which non a fiber in their nature would give a quiver. ” — _New-York Observer_ , Vol. nine, p. 73.
Would non the bright male child who heard this from the lips of his clergyman curate, be apt the following twenty-four hours to turn weary of the parsing lesson required by his headmaster? And yet what truth is at that place in the transition? One can no more justice of the fittingness of linguistic communication, without respect to the significance conveyed by it, than of the fittingness of a suit of apparels, without cognizing for whom they were intended. The expansive clew to the proper application of all syntactical regulations, is _the sense_ ; and as any composing is defective which does non justly present the writer ‘s significance, so every solution of a word or sentence is needfully erroneous, in which that significance is non carefully noticed and literally preserved. To parse justly and to the full, is nil else than to understand justly and explicate to the full ; and whatsoever is good expressed, it is a shame either to misconstrue or to misinterpret.
This survey, when decently conducted and liberally pursued, has an obvious inclination to ennoble the whole character. How can he be a adult male of refined literary gustatory sensation, who can non talk and compose his native linguistic communication grammatically? And who will deny that every grade of betterment in literary gustatory sensation tends to lighten up and embroider the whole rational nature? The several powers of the head are non so many distinct and dissociable agents, which are normally brought into exercising one by one ; and even if they were, there might be found, in a wise prosecution of this survey, a healthful employment for them all. The imaginativeness,
so, has nil to make with the elements of grammar ; but in the exercising of composing, immature illusion may distribute her wings every bit shortly as they are fledged ; and for this exercising the old class of subject will hold furnished both linguistic communication and gustatory sensation, every bit good as sentiment.
2. History of grammatical survey
The regular grammatical survey of our linguistic communication is a thing of recent beginning. Fifty or sixty old ages ago, such an exercising was barely attempted in any of the schools, either in this state or in England. [ 54 ] Of this fact we have abundant grounds both from books, and from the testimony of our venerable male parents yet populating. How frequently have these presented this as an apology for their ain lacks, and endeavoured to excite us to greater diligence, by contrasting our chances with theirs! Is at that place non truth, is at that place non power, in the entreaty? And are we non jump to avail ourselves of the privileges which they have provided, to construct upon the foundations which their wisdom has laid, and to transport frontward the work of betterment? Institutions can make nil for us, unless the love of larning preside over and predominate in them. The subject of our schools can ne’er near flawlessness, till those who conduct, and those who frequent them, are strongly actuated by that temperament of head, which liberally aspires to all come-at-able excellence.
To bestir this commendable spirit in the heads of our young person, and to fulfill its demands whenever it appears, ought to be the prima objects with those to whom is committed the of import concern of direction. A dull instructor, blowing clip in a school-room with a package of stupid or faineant male childs, knows nil of the satisfaction either of making his ain responsibility, or of exciting others to the public presentation of theirs. He settles down in a regular modus operandi of monotony exercisings, fearing as an incommodiousness even such alteration as proficiency in his students must convey on ; and is good content to make little good for small money, in a profession which he honours with his services simply to get away famishment. He has, nevertheless, one virtue: he pleases his frequenters, and is possibly the lone adult male that can ; for they must inevitably be of that category to whom moral restraint is tyranny, noncompliance to instructors, as frequently right as incorrect ; and who, fearing the disbursal, even of a school-book, ever judge those things to be cheapest, which cost the least and last the longest. What such a adult male, or such a vicinity, may believe of English grammar, I shall non halt to inquire.
To the undermentioned sentiment from a author of great virtue, I am inclined to afford room here, because it deserves defense, and, I am persuaded, is non so good founded as the generalization of the philosophies with which it is presented to the populace. “ Since homo cognition is so much more extended than the chance of persons for geting it, it becomes of the greatest importance so to conserve the chance as to do it subservient to the acquisition of as big and as valuable a part as we can. It is non plenty to demo that a given subdivision of instruction is utile: you must demo that it is the most utile that can be selected. Remembering this, I think it would be expedient to distribute with the formal survey of English grammar, — a proposition which I doubt non many a instructor will hear with admiration and condemnation. We learn the grammar in order that we may larn English ; and we learn English whether we study grammars or non. Particularly we shall
get a competent cognition of our ain linguistic communication, if other sections of our instruction were improved. ”
“ A male child learns more English grammar by fall ining in an hr ‘s conversation with educated people, than in concentrating for an hr over Murray or Horne Tooke. If he is accustomed to such society and to the perusing of well-written books, he will larn English grammar, though he ne’er sees a word about sentence structure ; and if he is non accustomed to such society and such reading, the ‘grammar books ‘ at a boarding-school will non learn it. Men learn their ain linguistic communication by wont, and non by regulations: and this is merely what we might anticipate ; for the grammar of a linguistic communication is itself formed from the prevailing wonts of address and authorship. A compiler of grammar first observes these wonts, and so makes his regulations: but if a individual is himself familiar with the wonts, why study the regulations? I say nil of grammar as a general scientific discipline ; because, although the doctrine of linguistic communication be a valuable subdivision of human cognition, it were idle to anticipate that school-boys should understand it. The expostulation is, to the system of trying to learn kids officially that which they will larn practically without learning. ” — JONATHAN DYMOND: Essaies on Morality,
This sentiment, continuing from a adult male who has written upon human personal businesss with so much ability and practical good sense, is possibly entitled to as much regard as any that has of all time been urged against the survey in inquiry. And so far as the expostulation bears upon those faulty methods of direction which experience has shown to be inefficient, or of small usage, I am in no wise concerned to take it. The reader of this treatis
vitamin E will happen their mistakes non merely admitted, but to a great extent intentionally exposed ; while an effort is here made, every bit good as in my earlier grammars, to present a method which it is hoped will better make the terminal proposed. But it may easy be perceived that this writer ‘s proposition to distribute with the formal survey of English grammar is founded upon an indefensible premise. Whatever may be the advantages of those purer wonts of address, which the immature of course get from conversation with educated people, it is non true, that, without direction directed to this terminal, they will of themselves become so good educated as to talk and compose grammatically. Their linguistic communication may so be relatively accurate and genteel, because it is learned of those who have paid some attending to the survey ; but, as they can non ever be preserved from hearing vulgar and improper wording, or from seeing it in books, they can non otherwise be guarded from impropernesss of enunciation, than by a cognition of the regulations of grammar. One might easy endorse this place by the commendation of some tonss of defective sentences from the pen of this really able author himself.
I imagine there can be no error in the sentiment, that in exact proportion as the regulations of grammar are unknown or neglected in any state, will corruptnesss and impropernesss of linguistic communication be at that place multiplied. The “ general scientific discipline ” of grammar, or “ the doctrine of linguistic communication, ” the writer seems to relieve, and in some kind to commend ; and at the same clip his proposition of exclusion is applied non simply to the school-grammars, but a fortiori
to this scientific discipline, under the impression that it is unintelligible to school-boys. But why should any rule of grammar be the less apprehensible on history of the extent of its application? Will a boy make-believe that he can non understand a regulation of English grammar, because he is told that it holds good in all linguistic communications? Ancient etymologies, and other facts in literary history, must be taken by the immature upon the recognition of him who states them ; but the philosophies of general grammar are to the scholar the easiest and the most of import rules of the scientific discipline. And I know of nil in the true doctrine of linguistic communication, which, by proper definitions and illustrations, may non be made as apprehensible to a male child, as are the rules of most other scientific disciplines. The trouble of teaching young person in any thing that pertains to linguistic communication, lies non so much in the fact that its doctrine is above their comprehension, as in our ain ignorance of certain parts of so huge an enquiry ; — in the great multiplicity of verbal marks ; the frequent contrariety of pattern ; the insufficiency of memory ; the inveteracy of sick wonts ; and the small involvement that is felt when we speak simply of words.
The grammatical survey of our linguistic communication was early and strongly recommended by Locke, [ 55 ] and other authors on instruction, whose character gave extra weight to an sentiment which they enforced by the clearest statements. But either for privation of a good grammar, or for deficiency of instructors skilled in the topic and sensible of its importance, the general disregard so long complained of as a dangerous imperfectness in our methods of instruction, has been but late and partly obviated. “ The attainment of a correct and elegant manner, ” says Dr. Blair, “ is an object which demands application and labor. If any imagine they can catch it simply by the ear, or get it by the little perusing of some of our good writers, they will happen themselves much disappointed. The many mistakes, even in point of grammar, the many offenses against pureness of linguistic communication, which are committed by authors who are far from being contemptible, demonstrate, that a careful survey
of the linguistic communication is antecedently needed, in all who aim at composing it decently. ” — _Blair ‘s Rhetoric_ , Lect. nine, p. 91.
“ To believe rightly, to compose good, to talk pleasantly, are the three great terminals of academic direction. The Universities will pardon me, if I observe, that both are, in one regard or other, faulty in these three capital points of instruction. While in Cambridge the general application is turned wholly on bad cognition, with small respect to polite letters, gustatory sensation, or manner ; in Oxford the whole attending is directed towards classical rightness, without any sound foundation laid in terrible logical thinking and doctrine. In Cambridge and in Oxford, the art of speech production agreeably is so far from being taught, that it is barely talked or idea of. These defects
of course produce dry unaffecting composings in the 1 ; superficial gustatory sensation and puerile elegance in the other ; ungracious or affected address in both. ” — DR. BROWN, 1757: Estimate,
Vol. two, p. 44.
“ A grammatical survey of our ain linguistic communication makes no portion of the ordinary method of direction, which we pass through in our childhood ; and it is really rarely we apply ourselves to it subsequently. Yet the privation of it will non be effectually supplied by any other advantages whatsoever. Much pattern in the polite universe, and a general familiarity with the best writers, are good aids ; but entirely [ they ] will barely be sufficient: We have authors, who have enjoyed these advantages in their full extent, and yet can non be recommended as theoretical accounts of an accurate manner. Much less so will, what is normally called acquisition, serve the intent ; that is, a critical cognition of antediluvian linguistic communications, and much reading of ancient writers: The greatest critic and most able syntactician of the last age, when he came to use his acquisition and unfavorable judgment to an English writer, was often at a loss in affairs of ordinary usage and common building in his ain common idiom. ” — DR. LOWTH, 1763: _Pref. to Gram._ , p. six.
“ To the students of our public schools the acquisition of their ain linguistic communication, whenever it is undertaken, is an easy undertaking. For he who is acquainted with several grammars already, finds no trouble in adding one more to the figure. And this, no uncertainty, is one of the grounds why English engages so little a proportion of their clip and attending. It is non often read, and is still less often written. Its supposed installation, nevertheless, or some other cause, seems to hold drawn upon it such a grade of disregard as surely can non be praised. The pupils in those schools are frequently distinguished by their composings in the erudite linguistic communications, before they can talk or compose their ain with rightness, elegance, or eloquence. A classical bookman excessively frequently has his English manner to organize, when he should pass on his acquisitions to the universe. In some cases it is ne’er formed with success ; and the defects of his look either deter him from looking before the populace at all, or at least counteract in a great grade the influence of his work, and convey ridicule upon the writer. Surely these immoralities might easy be prevented or diminished. ” — DR. BARROW: Essaies on Education,
London, 1804 ; Philad. , 1825, p. 87.
“ It is besides said that those who know Latin and Greek by and large express themselves with more clarity than those who do non have a broad instruction. It is so natural that those who cultivate their mental powers, write with more clarity than the uncultivated person. The mental cultivation, nevertheless, may take topographic point in the female parent lingua every bit good as in Latin or Greek. Yet the spirit of the antediluvian languages, further is declared to be superior to that of the modern. I allow this to be the instance ; but I do non happen that the English manner is improved by larning Greek. It is known that actual interlingual renditions are miserably bad, and yet immature bookmans are taught to interpret, word for word, faithful to their lexicons. Hence those who do non do a peculiar survey of their ain linguistic communication, will non better in it by larning, in this mode, Greek and Latin. Is it non a commiseration to hear, what I have been told by the directors of one of the first establishments of Ireland, that it was easier to happen 10 instructors for Latin and Greek, than one for the English linguistic communication, though they proposed duplicate the wage to the latter? Who can guarantee us that the Grecian speechmakers acquired their high quality by their familiarity with foreign linguistic communications ; or, is it non obvious, on the other manus, that they learned thoughts and expressed them in their female parent lingua? ” — DR. SPURZHEIM: Treatise on Education,
1832, p. 107.
“ Dictionaries were compiled, which comprised all the words, together with their several definitions, or the sense each one expresses and conveys to the head. These words were analyzed and classed harmonizing to their kernel, attributes, and maps. Grammar was made a first principle taking to the rules of all ideas, and learning by simple illustrations, the general categorization of words and their subdivisions in showing the assorted constructs of the head. Grammar is so the key to the perfect apprehension of linguistic communications ; without which we are left to roll all our lives in an intricate maze, without being able to follow back once more any portion of our manner. ” — _Chazotte ‘s Essay on the Teaching of Languages_ , p. 45. Again: “ Had it non been for his lexicon and his grammar, which taught him the kernel of all linguistic communications, and the natural subdivision of their constituent parts, he might hold spent a life every bit long as Methuselah ‘s, in larning words, without being able to achieve to a grade of flawlessness in any of the linguistic communications. ” — _Ib._ , p. 50. “ Indeed, it is non easy to state, to what grade, and in how many different ways, both memory and opinion may be improved by an intimate familiarity with grammar ; which is hence, with good ground, made the first and cardinal portion of literary instruction. The greatest speechmakers, the most elegant bookmans, and the most complete work forces of concern, that have appeared in the universe, of whom I need merely reference Casar and Cicero, were non merely studious of grammar, but most erudite grammarians. ” — DR. BEATTIE: Moral Science,
Vol. I, p. 107.
Here, as in many other parts of my work, I have chosen to be broad of citations ; non to demo my reading, or to salvage the labor of composing, but to give the reader the satisfaction of some other authorization than my ain. In commending the survey of English grammar, I do non intend to discountenance that grade of attending which in this state is paid to other linguistic communications ; but simply to utilize my lame influence to transport frontward a work of betterment, which, in my sentiment, has been sagely begun, but non sufficiently sustained. In effect of this betterment, the survey of grammar, which was one time prosecuted chiefly through the medium of the dead linguistic communications, and was regarded as the proper concern of those lone who were to be instructed in Latin and Greek, is now thought to be an appropriate exercising for kids in simple schools. And the sentiment is now by and large admitted, that even those who are afterwards to larn other linguistic communications, may outdo get a cognition of the common rules of address from the grammar of their common lingua. This sentiment appears to be confirmed by that experience which is at one time the most satisfactory cogent evidence of what is executable, and the lone proper trial of what is utile.
It must, nevertheless, be confessed, that an familiarity with ancient and foreign literature is perfectly necessary for him who would go a thorough philologue or an complete bookman ; and that the Latin linguistic communication, the beginning of several of the modern linguas of Europe, being unusually regular in its inflexions and systematic in its building, is in itself the most complete example of the construction of address, and the best foundation for the survey of grammar in general. But, as the general rules of grammar are common to all linguistic communications, and as the lone successful method of larning them, is, to perpetrate to memory the definitions and regulations which embrace them, it is sensible to say that the linguistic communication most apprehensible to the scholar, is the most suited for the beginning of his grammatical surveies. A competent cognition of English grammar is besides in itself a valuable attainment, which is within the easy range of many immature individuals whose state of affairs in life debars them from the chase of general literature.
The attending which has recently been given to the civilization of the English linguistic communication, by some who, in the character of critics or lexicologists, have laboured intentionally to better it, and by many others who, in assorted subdivisions of cognition, have tastily adorned it with the plants of their mastermind, has in a great step redeemed it from that disdain in which it was once held in the halls of larning. But, as I have earlier suggested, it does non yet look to be sufficiently attended to in the class of what is called a broad instruction.
Compared with, other linguistic communications, the English exhibits both excellences and defects ; but its flexibleness, or power of adjustment to the gustatory sensations of different authors, is great ; and when it is used with that mastership which belongs to larning and mastermind, it must be acknowledged there are few, if any, to which it ought on the whole to be considered inferior. But above all, it is _our own_ ; and, whatever we may cognize or believe of other linguas, it can ne’er be either loyal or wise, for the erudite work forces of the United States or of England to plume themselves chiefly upon them.
Our linguistic communication is worthy to be assiduously studied by all who reside where it is spoken, and who have the agencies and the chance to go critically acquainted with it. To every such pupil it is immensely more of import to be able to talk and compose good in English, than to be distinguished for proficiency in the erudite linguistic communications and yet ignorant of his ain. It is certain that many from whom better things might be expected, are found miserably deficient in this regard. And their disregard of so desirable an achievement is the more singular and the more blameworthy on history of the installation with which those who are acquainted with the ancient linguistic communications may achieve to excellence in their English manner. “ Whatever the advantages or defects of the English linguistic communication be, as it is our ain linguistic communication, it deserves a high grade of our survey and attending. * * * Whatever cognition may be acquired by the survey of other linguistic communications, it can ne’er be communicated with advantage, unless by such as can compose and talk their ain linguistic communication well. ” — DR. BLAIR: Rhetoric,
Lect. nine, P. 91.
I am non of sentiment that it is expedient to press this survey to much extent, if at all, on those whom poverty or incapacity may hold destined to state of affairss in which they will ne’er hear or believe of it afterwards. The class of nature can non be controlled ; and luck does non allow us to order the same class of subject for all. To talk the linguistic communication which they have learned without survey, and to read and compose for the most common intents of life, may be instruction adequate for those who can be raised no higher. But it must be the desire of every benevolent and intelligent adult male, to see the advantages of literary, every bit good as of moral civilization, extended every bit far as possible among the people. And it is manifest, that in proportion as the principles of the Godhead Redeemer are obeyed by the states that profess his name, will all differentiations originating simply from the inequality of luck be lessened or done off, and better chances be offered for the kids of need to decorate themselves with the hoarded wealths of cognition.
We may non be able to consequence all that is desirable ; but, favoured as our state is, with great installations for transporting frontward the work of betterment, in every thing which can lend to national glorification and prosperity, I would, in decision of this subject, submit — that a critical cognition of our common linguistic communication is a capable worthy of the peculiar attending of all who have the mastermind and the chance to achieve it ; — that on the pureness and properness with which American writers write this linguistic communication, the repute of our national literature greatly depends ; — that in the saving of it from all alterations which ignorance may acknowledge or affectation invent, we ought to unify as holding one common involvement ; — that a fixed and settled writing system is of great importance, as a agency of continuing the etymology, history, and individuality of words ; — that a grammar freed from mistakes and defects, and encompassing a complete codification of definitions and illustrations, regulations and exercisings, is of primary importance to every pupil and a great assistance to instructors ; — that as the frailties of address every bit good as of manners are contagious, it becomes those who have the attention of young person, to be Masterss of the linguistic communication in its pureness and elegance, and to avoid every bit much as possible every thing that is condemnable either in idea or look.
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