There is no subject so deeply interesting and important to rational beings as the knowledge of language, or one which presents a more direct and powerful claim upon all classes in the community; for there is no other so closely interwoven with all the affairs of human life, social, moral, political and religious. It forms a basis on which depends a vast portion of the happiness of mankind, and deserves the first attention of every philanthropist.
Great difficulty has been experienced in the common method of explaining language, and grammar has long been considered a dry, uninteresting, and tedious study, by nearly all the teachers and scholars in the land. But it is to be presumed that the fault in this case, if there is any, is to be sought for in the manner of teaching, rather than in the science itself; for it would be unreasonable to suppose that a subject which occupies the earliest attention of the parent, which is acquired at great expense of money, time, and thought, and is employed from the cradle to the grave, in all our waking hours, can possibly be dull or unimportant, if rightly explained.
Children have been required to learn verbal forms and changes, to look at the mere signs of ideas, instead of the things represented by them. The consequence has been that the whole subject has become uninteresting to all who do not possess a retentive verbal memory. The philosophy of language, the sublime principles on which it depends for its existence and use, have not been sufficiently regarded to render it delightful and profitable.
The humble attempt here made is designed to open the way for an exposition of language on truly philosophical principles, which, when correctly explained, are abundantly simple and extensively useful. With what success this point has been labored the reader will determine.
The author claims not the honor of entire originality. The principles here advanced have been advocated, believed, and successfully practised. William S. Cardell, Esq., a bright star in the firmament of American literature, reduced these principles to a system, which was taught with triumphant success by Daniel H. Barnes, formerly of the New-York High School, one of the most distinguished teachers who ever officiated in that high and responsible capacity in our country. Both of these gentlemen, so eminently calculated to elevate the standard of education, were summoned from the career of the most active usefulness, from the scenes they had labored to brighten and beautify by the aid of their transcendant intellects, to unseen realities in the world of spirits; where mind communes with mind, and soul mingles with soul, disenthraled from error, and embosomed in the light and love of the Great Parent Intellect.
The author does not pretend to give a system of exposition in this work suited to the capacities of small children. It is designed for advanced scholars, and is introductory to a system of grammar which he has in preparation, which it is humbly hoped will be of some service in rendering easy and correct the study of our vernacular language. But this book, it is thought, may be successfully employed in the instruction of the higher classes in our schools, and will be found an efficient aid to teachers in inculcating the sublime principles of which it treats.
These Lectures, as now presented to the public, it is believed, will be found to contain some important information by which all may profit. The reader will bear in mind that they were written for, and delivered before a popular audience, and published with very little time for modification. This will be a sufficient apology for the mistakes which may occur, and for whatever may have the appearance of severity, irony, or pleasantry, in the composition.
On the subject of Contractions much more might be said. But verbal criticisms are rather uninteresting to a common audience; and hence the consideration of that matter was made more brief than was at first intended. It will however be resumed and carried out at length in another work. The hints given will enable the student to form a tolerable correct opinion of the use of most of those words and phrases, which have long been passed over with little knowledge of their meaning or importance.
The author is aware that the principles he has advocated are new and opposed to established systems and the common method of inculcation. But the difficulties acknowledged on all hands to exist, is a sufficient justification of this humble attempt. He will not be condemned for his good intentions. All he asks is a patient and candid examination, a frank and honest approval of what is true, and as honest a rejection of what is false. But he hopes the reader will avoid a rash and precipitate conclusion, either for or against, lest he is compelled to do as the author himself once did, approve what he had previously condemned.
With these remarks he enters the arena, and bares himself to receive the sentence of the public voice.
GENERAL VIEW OF LANGUAGE.
Study of Language long considered difficult. — Its importance. — Errors in teaching. — Not understood by Teachers. — Attachment to old systems. — Improvement preferable. — The subject important. — Its advantages. — Principles laid down. — Orthography. — Etymology. — Syntax. — Prosody. 13
THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF LANGUAGE.
General principles of Language. — Business of Grammar. — Children are Philosophers. — Things, ideas, and words. — Actions. — Qualities of things. — Words without ideas. — Grammatical terms inappropriate. — Principles of Language permanent. — Errors in mental science. — Facts admit of no change. — Complex ideas. — Ideas of qualities. — An example. — New ideas. — Unknown words. — Signs without things signified. — Fixed laws regulate matter and mind. 21
WRITTEN AND SPOKEN LANGUAGE.
Principles never alter. — They should be known. — Grammar a most important branch of science. — Spoken and written Language. — Idea of a thing. — How expressed. — An example. — Picture writing. — An anecdote. — Ideas expressed by actions. — Principles of spoken and written Language. — Apply universally. — Two examples. — English language. — Foreign words. — Words in science. — New words. — How formed. 35
Nouns defined. — Things. — Qualities of matter. — Mind. — Spiritual beings. — Qualities of mind. — How learned. — Imaginary things. — Negation. — Names of actions. — Proper nouns. — Characteristic names. — Proper nouns may become common. 46
ON NOUNS AND PRONOUNS.
Nouns in respect to persons. — Number. — Singular. — Plural. — How formed. — Foreign plurals. — Proper names admit of plurals. — Gender. — No neuter. — In figurative language. — Errors. — Position or case. — Agents. — Objects. — Possessive case considered. — A definitive word. — Pronouns. — One kind. — Originally nouns. — Specifically applied. 54
Definition of adjectives. — General character. — Derivation. — How understood. — Defining and describing. — Meaning changes to suit the noun. — Too numerous. — Derived from nouns. — Nouns and verbs made from adjectives. — Foreign adjectives. — A general list. — Difficult to be understood. — An example. — Often superfluous. — Derived from verbs. — Participles. — Some prepositions. — Meaning unknown. — With. — In. — Out. — Of. 68
Adjectives. — How formed. — The syllable ly. — Formed from proper nouns. — The apostrophe and letter s. — Derived from pronouns. — Articles. — A comes from an. — Indefinite. — The. — Meaning of a and the. — Murray's example. — That. — What. — "Pronoun adjectives." — Mon, ma. — Degrees of comparison. — Secondary adjectives. — Prepositions admit of comparison. 90
Unpleasant to expose error. — Verbs defined. — Every thing acts. — Actor and object. — Laws. — Man. — Animals. — Vegetables. — Minerals. — Neutrality degrading. — Nobody can explain a neuter verb. — One kind of verbs. — You must decide. — Importance of teaching children the truth. — Active verbs. — Transitive verbs false. — Samples. — Neuter verbs examined. — Sit. — Sleep. — Stand. — Lie. — Opinion of Mrs. W. — Anecdote. 111
Neuter and intransitive. — Agents. — Objects. — No actions as such can be known distinct from the agent. — Imaginary actions. — Actions known by their effects. — Examples. — Signs should guide to things signified. — Principles of action. — Power. — Animals. — Vegetables. — Minerals. — All things act. — Magnetic needle. — Cause. — Explained. — First Cause. — Means. — Illustrated. — Sir I. Newton's example. — These principles must be known. — Relative action. — Anecdote of Gallileo. 131
A philosophical axiom. — Manner of expressing action. — Things taken for granted. — Simple facts must be known. — Must never deviate from the truth. — Every cause will have an effect. — An example of an intransitive verb. — Objects expressed or implied. — All language eliptical. — Intransitive verbs examined. — I run. — I walk. — To step. — Birds fly. — It rains. — The fire burns. — The sun shines. — To smile. — Eat and drink. — Miscellaneous examples. — Evils of false teaching. — A change is demanded. — These principles apply universally. — Their importance. 157
The verb to be. — Compounded of different radical words. — Am. — Defined. — The name of Deity. — Ei. — Is. — Are. — Were, was. — Be. — A dialogue. — Examples. — Passive Verbs examined. — Cannot be in the present tense. — The past participle is an adjective. 181
Mood. — Indicative. — Imperative. — Infinitive. — Former distinctions. — Subjunctive mood. — Time. — Past. — Present. — Future. — The future explained. — How formed. — Mr. Murray's distinction of time. — Imperfect. — Pluperfect. — Second future. — How many tenses. — Auxiliary Verbs. — Will. — Shall. — May. — Must. — Can. — Do. — Have. 196
Person and number in the agent, not in the action. — Similarity of agents, actions, and objects. — Verbs made from nouns. — Irregular verbs. — Some examples. — Regular Verbs. — Ed. — Ing. — Conjugation of verbs. — To love. — To have. — To be. — The indicative mood varied. — A whole sentence may be agent or object. — Imperative mood. — Infinitive mood. — Is always future. 215
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