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The English Language   By: (1812-1888)

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Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected: they are listed at the end of the text.

In this e text a breve is represented by [)a], a macron by [=a], y dotted over by [.y], s acute by ['s] etc. Page numbers enclosed by curly braces (example: {25}) have been incorporated to facilitate the use of the Table of Contents.

THE

ENGLISH LANGUAGE.

BY

ROBERT GORDON LATHAM, M.D., F.R.S.,

LATE FELLOW OF KING'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE; FELLOW OF THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS, LONDON; MEMBER OF THE ETHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY, NEW YORK; LATE PROFESSOR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON.

THIRD EDITION,

REVISED AND GREATLY ENLARGED.

LONDON:

TAYLOR, WALTON, AND MABERLY,

UPPER GOWER STREET, AND IVY LANE, PATERNOSTER ROW.

1850.

LONDON: Printed by SAMUEL BENTLEY & Co., Bangor House, Shoe Lane.

TO

THE REV. WILLIAM BUTCHER, M.A.,

OF

ROPSLEY, LINCOLNSHIRE,

IN ADMIRATION OF HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS A LINGUIST,

AND AS A TESTIMONY OF PRIVATE REGARD,

THE FOLLOWING PAGES ARE INSCRIBED,

BY HIS FRIEND,

THE AUTHOR.

LONDON, Nov. 4, 1841 .

{v}

PREFACE

TO THE

SECOND EDITION.

The first edition of the present work was laid before the public, with the intention of representing in a form as systematic as the extent of the subject would allow, those views concerning the structure and relations of the English language, which amongst such scholars as had studied them with the proper means and opportunities, were then generally received; and which, so being received, might take their stand as established and recognized facts. With the results of modern criticism, as applied to his native tongue, it was conceived that an educated Englishman should be familiar. To this extent the special details of the language were exhibited; and to this extent the work was strictly a Grammar of the English Language.

But besides this, it was well known that the current grammarians, and the critical philologists, had long ceased to write alike upon the English, or {vi} indeed upon any other, language. For this reason the sphere of the work became enlarged; so that, on many occasions, general principles had to be enounced, fresh terms to be defined, and old classifications to be remodelled. This introduced extraneous elements of criticism, and points of discussion which, in a more advanced stage of English philology, would have been superfluous. It also introduced elements which had a tendency to displace the account of some of the more special and proper details of the language. There was not room for the exposition of general principles, for the introduction of the necessary amount of preliminary considerations, and for the minutiƦ of an extreme analysis. Nor is there room for all this at present. A work that should, at one and the same time, prove its principles, instead of assuming them, supply the full and necessary preliminaries in the way of logic, phonetics, and ethnology, and, besides this, give a history of every variety in the form of every word, although, perhaps, a work that one man might write, would be a full and perfect Thesaurus of the English Language, and, would probably extend to many volumes. For, in the English language, there are many first principles to be established, and much historical knowledge to be applied. Besides which, the particular points both of etymology and syntax are far more numerous than is imagined. Scanty as is the amount of declension and conjugation in current use, there are to be found in every department of our grammars, {vii} numerous isolated words which exhibit the fragments of a fuller inflection, and of a more highly developed etymology. This is well known to every scholar who has not only viewed our language as a derivative of the Anglo Saxon, and observed that there are similar relations between many other languages ( e... Continue reading book >>




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