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Persia, Armenia, etc.; and in the Western Division, (1.) the Greek; (2.) the Illyrian in Albania; (3.) the Italic, embracing the Latin, and the languages of Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France; (4.). the Celtic, embracing the Cymric or Welsh and the Gaelic in Scotland and Ireland; (5.) the Slavic, including the Lithuanian; and (6) the Teutonic, embracing the three groups of the High German; the Low German or languages of England, Holland, Friesland, and the north of Germany; and the Scandinavian, or the languages of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.
The Semitic are generally inflected, but in different degrees in the different dialects; in none however so fully as in some Japhetic languages. The Hamitic, so far as represented in the old Egyptian, is somewhat less perfectly and fully inflected than the Semitic. The Japhetic family includes the most fully inflected dialects and also the purest monosyllabic tongues, the richest and the rudest and all intermediate gradations of dialects.
It is a significant fact bearing on the question of the original unity of languages, and thus of the original unity of the race, as also on the chronology of ancient peoples and their affinities, that the earliest known dialects in the three great divisions of the race, the Hebrew dialect of the Semitic, the old Egyptian of the Hamitic, and the Celtic of the Japhetic division, in the first place, are inflected; in the second place, are inflected only to a like limited extent; in the third place, have their inflections formed in leading particulars in the same way, as, for instance, having pronominal suffixes for personal inflections of verbs; and finally, have similar sounds for the sign of negation, and for the pronominal elements. In connection with this very remarkable coincidence in the three earliest dialects of which we have any knowledge, should be considered for the better understanding of the history of the rise and changes of dialects, the well established facts that, on the one hand, a given monosyllabic dialect may, under favoring conditions, in a
brief period be made a highly inflected language, and that on the other hand, a highly inflected dialect may also, in a brief period, wear off its inflectional elements and become characteristically monosyllabic. Either of these transformations may in rude migratory tribes be consummated in the course of several generations of men.
7. The English language belongs to the Teutonic branch of the Indo-European family, and to the Low German division of the Teutonic branch. It is hence closely allied to the dialects of Holland and of Friesland, but from the peculiarities in the condition of the people among whom it has had its growth, it is marked by very distinctive characteristics. As various tribes or peoples speaking various dialects have been brought into communication with one another in England, the modern English tongue has received its shape and character from divers sources.
8. The earliest inhabitants of England, so far as known, were of the Gomeric or Celtic family. The Celtic dialect being the least developed of the Indo-European family, that is, having its formative or grammatical elements which express the relations of the thought least developed, it has left no traceable effect on the language in its grammatical character; and the modern vocabulary contains but few words of well established Celtic origin except names of places, rivers, men, etc. Pen in Welsh and Ben in Gaelic was the Celtic word for hill or mountain; we have hence the familiar names Pen-rose, Pen-zance, Pen-dennis, Ben Lomond, Ben Nevis, etc. Aber meant mouth; hence Aberdeen (a mouth of the Dee). Wans-beck-water, is made up of three words of different sources, all signifying water, the first being Celtic, the second Saxon. Most names of mountains and of rivers in England are Celtic. In names of men, O', Mac, and Ap, are Erse, Gaelic, and Welsh respectively, signifying son or descendant; we have thus the names of O'Connell, Macaulay, Ap Richard, now Prich ard, Ap Owen, now Bowen.
It is claimed with much plausibility by a late critic that the English literature owes its proper æsthetic spirit — its element of style by which it is distinguished from its kindred Teutonic literatures to the Celts.
9. In the year 55 B. C., the Romans under Julius Cæsar invaded Britain, and followed up their invasion till, under Agricola, they subjugated all the southern part of Great Britain beyond the Forth, together with the Orkney Islands. They made little impression on the language, however, and early in the fifth century they were driven out of the island. They occupied fortified places and have left traces of their tongue in names of places, as Colchester, a compound of Lat. colonia and castrum; Stratton (= street-town), from Lat. stratum. In subsequent times the Latin tongue won its way into England through the learned professions of the church and of the law, and the rites and forms which religion and civil polity thus introduced.
10. About the middle of the fifth century commenced the invasions of Britain by the Teutonic tribes. The Jutes led the way; they were followed by the Saxons and Angles, and still others from the neighboring islands and coasts of the continent. These invaders from Low German and Scandinavian tribes gradually supplanted the ancient Britons, and mingling together in modes and times to a great extent beyond the reach of historic research, introduced a new speech, the vocabulary of which was derived from sources as diverse as the origins of the invading bands, and the grammatical structure of which was heterogeneous and peculiar. The Angles and the Saxons predominating, the resulting language was known as the Anglo-Saxon. It is the proper ground-form and germ of the modern English. But it was subject to the conditions of growth imposed upon it by the growth and destiny of those who used it. It became, in fact, subject to very remarkable influences determining its growth and character.
11. In the ninth century the Northmen from Denmark
and Norway, of Scandinavian race, began their invasions of Britain, and in 1016, under Canute, achieved the sovereignty of England. They brought in a new element and a new force into the language, affecting, to some extent, its vocabulary and its grammatical forms, but without destroying the general identity of the dialect. Some new words. were brought in; and the tendency to drop inflections, ever attending the mingling of dialects, was considerably strengthened. Words and roots, as well as grammatical forms, common to the Saxon and Scandinavian, were naturally more in use and so became more permanent and fixed in the growing language.
12. In 1066 took place the conquest of England by the Northmen under William the Conqueror, marking a new epoch in the formation of the language. The Northmen, branches of the same vigorous stock that had gained sway in Denmark and Norway and thence passed to the conquest of England, had pressed also into France, and firmly seated themselves there. They did not uproot the language spoken by the conquered inhabitants, which was a derivative of the Latin; but the vocabulary retained to a great extent its integrity, receiving, however, many new words from the conquering race, and the inflectional character gave way, as everywhere, before the abrading force of colliding dialects. This gothicized Latin, the Norman French, became the dialect of the court of the conqueror in England, and was used in the framing of the laws and generally in the administrative life of the people, while the old dialect of the conquered people remained in the departments of more private life.
From the fusion of these various peoples and dialects arose, in the progress of time, the proper English language. It attained full age with fixed and peculiar characteristics ir that noble literature to which the latter half of the four teenth century gave birth the age of Langlande, Mandeville, Wycliffe, Chaucer, and Gower.
1. VERSIONS OF THE BIBLE.
THE first translation of the entire Scriptures into the English language was made by John Wycliffe or Wiclif, who was born in Yorkshire in 1324, and died December 81st, 1384. His translation of the Bible was made from the Vulgate near the close of his life. As this was about half a century before the introduction of the art of printing, the publication could be effected only by public readings and by manuscript copies.
The first translation of the whole Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek was made by William Tyndale, born in Yorkshire probably in 1484, and executed in Brabant, October 6th, 1536. It was first printed at Worms in 1525. The selection here given is from a revision by himself in 1534.
The Geneva version was made by Miles Coverdale and others, fugitives from England during the reign of Queen Mary. The New Testament was printed in Geneva in 1577; the whole Bible appeared in 1560.
The authorized, or King James' version, was first printed in 1611. This version was made under the direction of the king, by forty-seven learned men, meeting in six different companies, two in Oxford, two in Cambridge, and two in Westminster. The Bible, including the Apocrypha, was divided into six parts, and one part given to a company, each member of which prepared a translation of the entire part. After the translations of these several parts had been compared in each company, the approved version was sent to each of the other five companies to be corrected; and finally the whole was revised by a committee of twelve men from the whole body of translators.
The language of this last version, it should be remarked, is more antique than that of the age in which it dates. The translators were expressly instructed by the king to follow the ordinary Bible read in the churches, called the Bishops' Bible, as closely as the original would admit. "The old ecclesiastical words were to be kept, as the word church was not to be translated congregation." Moreover, Tyndale's, Coverdale's, Matthew's, Cranmer's, and the Geneva translations were to be used when they agree better with the text than the Bishops' Bible. Words, phrases, forms of sentences which had become antiquated in common use, were thus readily retained. Indeed, many of these obsolete expressions were held in a kind of reverence which would prevent unnecessary change.
Of these translations, Matthew's appeared in 1537; Cranmer's, styled The Great Bible, in 1530; The Bishops' Bible, in 1568.
Besides these versions of the Scriptures into English, may be mentioned the Douay Bible, of which the New Testament part was printed at Rheims, in 1582, and the Old Testament part at Douay, in 1609-10.
The selections here presented are copied immediately from the English Hexapla, published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, London.