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CHARACTERS OF OUR CLASSICAL WORDS.
finding Saxon terms, or working up combinations of these, recourse is had to Latin and Greek : factor, agent, actor, creator, poet, manufacturer, artizan. So also 'going' branches out into 'travelling', ‘journeying', 'proceeding', 'advancing', 'retreating', 'retiring', departing'; and while the vague 'going' is Saxon, the more definite terms are of classical origin. We are not content with 'go on', go forward', 'go back (-ward)'
go away'. The refinements and the precision of legal phraseology, demand a frequent resort to the classical part of the language. The leading terms-legal, civil, criminal, ecclesiastical, court, evidence, proof, procedure, judge, counsel, jury, advocate, verdict, penalty, punishment, offence, culprit, jurisprudence-are Latin (some through the French) or else Greek. Our Acts of Parliament are highly latinized, in spite of its being desirable that the law should be understood by the least educated of the community.
While the Saxon words are often of wide and vague signi. fication, precise names for generalities or abstractions are taken, by preference, from the classical part of the vocabulary. This is partly owing to the circumstance that the Greeks and the Romans were much more advanced in general views than the Teutonic tribes. The leading names in the sciences are sufficient evidence of this. In geometry, for example, we have ‘point, line, angle, circle, curve, parallel, rectilineal, polygon', and innumerable others. Many of these meanings are given also in plain Saxon words—dot, score, round, straight, many-sided '—but the precise definitions of the science are connected, not with the Saxon words, but with the others.
2. The classical words are more dignified in their associations. The Saxon part of the vocabulary, while favourable to feeling and pathos, contains also the coarse and vulgar words of the language. The Latin and Greek words not only are freer from coarseness, but also are associated with dignity or elevation. For Saxon 'stink', we have malo
our'. • Courtezan, concubine, prostitute' are more refined classical equivalents for a strong coarse Saxon word.
3. The classical element of our language enters into the loftiest kinds of oratory. This is partly due to the lastmentioned circumstance, the greater dignity of the associations (in the minds of the better educated classes), but not wholly. It has to do with the sound of the words. The Saxon root words are mostly of one syllable, never more than two; their compounds by prefixes and endings do not yield a flowing melody at all comparable to classical words. Compare 'roundness with 'rotundity'; 'shake' with 'agitate'; 'for aye’ with 'eternal' or 'immortal'.
Hence speakers and writers aiming at elevated and magniloquent diction prefer the classical vocables to the Saxon.
When these motives are not present, preference should be given to the Saxon, by reason of its great advantages, which have to be renounced when the classical element is made to prevail.
Examples of the two Vocabularies.
The Saxon words connected with political notions—town, borough, kingdom, sway, head, lord, folk, freedom-are supplemented by many times their number from classical sources :-city, civil, urban, empire, country, realm, county, magistrate, prince, ruler, commander, authority, administra. tion, people, nation, president, throne, sceptre, reign, state, royal, absolute, dominion, military, dictator, official, executive, legal, legislative, liberty, political, policy, politics, police, tyrant, despotism, dynasty, democracy, aristocracy, oligarchy, anarchy.
All the foregoing principles find illustration in this series of words. The Saxon words are more generally understood, and more homely in their associations. The others are adapted to a more complicated system of government and of public institutions; they are more definite in their scope, and express new and various situations; they are also the terms of a more dignified and elevated style.
Take next the terms for moral good and evil. Pure Saxon (or native) :-Good, lofty, high, great, worthy, well-doing,
SAXON AND CLASSICAL WORDS COMPARED.
meet, heart, right, righteous, upright, fair, good behaviour, unselfish, high-minded, heavenly, heaven-born, god-like, becoming, fitting, straightforward, even-handed, true, trusty, manly, handsome, sinless, righteous, undefiled, guiltless, spotless, harmless, childlike, dovelike, lamblike, forgiving, thankful, lovely, sweet, dear, soft-hearted, fellow-feeling. Evil, wrong, wicked, bad, sin, unfair, little, mean, low, knave, worldling, foul, loathsome, worthless, trothless, trustless, heartless, crooked, slippery, paltry, thief, sneak, cut-throat, naughty, forswear, job, spot, blot, unhandsome, unbecoming, unbeseeming, unseemly, unbefitting, unmanly, unrighteous, selfish, self-seeker, worldly, earthly, blackguard, rogue, rascal, wretch, liar, slut, turncoat, unbeliever, backslider, tuft-hunter, guilty, lost, sunk, narrow-minded, one-sided, hard-hearted, seared, astray, dregs, sink of wickedness, black, hellish, fiend, shameful, outlaw. The terms of opprobium or reproach that are native are thus pretty numerous; and they could be greatly added to, by citing the names for special vices—as sloth, intemperance, sexual incontinence.
The following list of terms for good and evil derived from classical sources, will show how largely we have benefited by the ancient languages. A good many words imported at an early period from Norman French (some not classical originally) have become so diffused and so familiar, that they are practically the same to us as our native terms. To these we must add the terms brought in by Christianity, which have also become household words. There is still, however, after the enumeration of these, a large reserve of words exemplifying the special and recondite characteristics that we have ascribed to the classical element of our language.
Good qualities :—Virtue, integrity, noble, honest, just, moral, conscientious, strict, honourable, equitable, impartial, faithful, loyal, constant, (high) principle, incorruptible, candid, veracious, single, dutiful, meritorious, exemplary, deserving, admirable, excellent, laudable, commendable, irreproachable, unerring, inviolable, pure, faultless, clear, elevated, perfect, undepraved, ingenuous, scrupulous, punctilious, innocent, blameless, impeccable, tender, generous, liberal, chivalrous, magnanimous, heroic, saint-like, dignified, sublime, angelic, seraphic, (self)-denying, devoted, disinterested, (self)-sacrifice, (self)-abnegation, sympathising, altruism.
Bad qualities :-Vice, iniquity, improbity, immoral, erring, dishonest, illiberal, disloyal, transgressor, infidel, turpitude, misconduct, mischief, base, vile, gross, false, (un)scrupulous, (un)principled, ignominy, infamy, disgrace, dishonour, (un)dignified, indecorous, incorrect, imperfect, perfidy, treachery, traitor, criminal, culpable, blamable, reprehensible, discreditable, disreputable, exceptionable, offending, delinquent, malefactor, insidious, disingenuous, malversation, dereliction, recreant, apostate, betrayer, renegade, (time)-server, polluted, dissolute, degenerate, demoralized, corrupted, miscreant (Campbell's translation of 'raca’), scoundrel, reptile, viper, truant, villain, monster, ruffian, demon, abominable, disgusting, abandoned, obdurate, incorrigible, irreclaimable, (un)sympathising, interested, (self)-indulgent, egotist, (un)generous, mercenary, graceless, (un)gracious, callous.
These are a sample of the terms entering into poetry, popular address, the oratory of moral suasion, and moral education as conducted by praise and blame. All the distinctive merits of the two styles might be exemplified by means of them; on the one hand, the intelligible, the familiar, and the strong; on the other, the discriminating and the elevated.
Another great department, also within the ethical and poetical vocabulary-pleasures, pains, and higher emotionsif given in the same way, would be equally instructive. Take Pleasures. Native:-happy, blest, glad, merry, well, toothsome, nice, snug, sweet, soft, thrilling, heavenly, blithe, airy, lively, playful, laughter, chuckle, smile, tickle, snigger, smirk, grin, gloat, fun. Classical :—Pleasure, joy, charm, delight, felicity, gratify, satisfy, fruition, comfort, cheer, relish, engaging, attractive, animating, agreeable, captivating, delectable, beatitude, enchantment, transport, rapture, ravishment, ecstasy, elysium, celestial, halcyon (time), palmy
UNNECESSARY CLASSICAL EXPRESSIONS.
(days), jubilation, fascination, seraphic [Hebrew], luxury, indulgence, regale, commend, console, approve, encourage, elate, exult, triumph, jocund, amuse, interest, divert, entertain, recreate, solace, relax, jocose, ludicrous, convivial, festive, gay, jollity, saturnalia, riot, revel, sport, hedonism, eudæmonism.
The Latin form, 'Smoking is prohibited', is wholly unnecessary. The word 'forbid' is at once plain and energetic. In legal style, we do not court variety of phrase, and the full scope of prohibition is given by the Saxon word. The Latin form has its advantage in the verbal noun “prohibition'. There is not a regular abstract noun of the verb ' forbid’; yet there might have been the same derivative as from 'begin’; a beginning was made'. But we do not call such forms an unmixed good, seeing that they confound the verbal noun with the participle and the infinitive in 'ing'. The Latin verbal noun in ‘ion' is remarkable for its distinctiveness.
The word “bid' is often unnecessarily displaced by the importations require ', 'command', 'enjoin '. In the Shorter Catechism, there are two questions under each of the ten commandments—What is required in the first commandment?'. What is forbidden ?' We might surely say—'What is bidden?' For the ten commandments ’, we might have had the 'ten laws'. The questions could have run—In the first law, what is bidden?' • What is forbidden ?'
The names for scientific instruments are nearly all Greek -thermometer, barometer, photometer, hydrometer. Such an exception as 'rain-gauge’[hybrid, 'pluviometer'] shows that we were not compelled to go to the Greek in every instance; heat-gauge', 'air-weight-gauge', 'light-gauge', 'wet-gauge', might have been employed with some benefit and little harm. On the other hand, it may be said that the ending ‘meter' is soon learned, and that the conjoined words 'thermo', 'baro', 'photo', 'hydro', are of such frequent use that the mere English scholar generally knows them. Moreover, they have the advantage of being free from mis