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ACQUISITION OF WORDS.

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CHAPTER III.

HOW TO ACQUIRE THE KNOWLEDGE OF WORDS.

10. Language learned in Childhood.-THE first requisite of Rhetoric is to acquire a knowledge of words.

This knowledge is obtained, to a great extent, in our childhood from our parents and early companions. We hear words pronounced, we mark their significance, we imprint them upon our minds; they thus become vehicles of thought for our own use. Who may have uttered those words first is of no practical consequence to us. Some of them may have been used by the Romans two thousand years ago, and therefore be said to be derived from the Latin; others may have been used by the Greeks; others by the Normans; others by the modern French; others may have been always used from the creation of man till now; but whoever used them before us, they are now words of our language, and we learn their significance and power by hearing them pronounced.

11. Language acquired by hearing and reading.-By the sense of hearing alone it is possible to acquire an extensive and choice vocabulary, and to become ready and expert in the use of language. There have been many eloquent speakers who have thus acquired all their knowledge of language. In past ages, and among

ignorant people, undoubtedly there have been many able orators who could not write their names, and who could not read the alphabet. But the most efficient aid of the hearing now is the printed page. Many obtain their knowledge of all but a few common words from books. The words used in good books are more choice and correct, and more numerous than are heard except from the best speakers.

12. The Number of Words in Use.-The number of words heard and understood by children and youth generally is small. As the boundaries and the minuteness of their investigations enlarge, the number of words used must increase, to express the new objects and relations discovered, and the new thoughts and emotions awakened. Our knowledge is proportional to the number of words that we understand, each conveying a different thought; and our power of producing thought and feeling in others depends on the number of words that we can properly and promptly use in our addresses to them. How can one who understands only a hundred words make an eloquent speech on a complicated subject, or write an instructive essay?

The number of independent words in the English language is estimated to be about forty thousand; though if we counted only those in ordinary use by well-educated speakers and writers, we should find not half so many; but if we reckon all that have been used by writers within the past two hundred years, we should find many more than that number.

13. Natural and Artificial Modes of learning Lan

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METHODS OF LEARNING WORDS.

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guage. There are two methods of learning the meaning of words-the natural and the artificial.

The natural method is to listen to the words when uttered, and to observe what from their connection and from the appearance of the speaker, and from the consequences that follow, must be their meaning, and then ourselves, when occasion calls, to use the same words.

The artificial method is to study the meaning of words by the use of lexicons, grammars, and other books that define words, or to hear them explained by a teacher.

Both methods must be practiced to obtain so extensive a knowledge of words as good scholarship requires. Both may be combined by reading books written in a good style, and by never passing over an unfamiliar expression without obtaining a correct idea of the author's meaning by consulting a dictionary or some other aid.

CHAPTER IV.

SHORT AND EXPRESSIVE WORDS.

14. By examining the English language closely, we observe that the most of its words are short, consisting of one syllable only or two. The most of these short words were used by those early inhabitants of England that migrated thither from parts of Germany, and were called Anglo-Saxons, and have been derived from the Anglo-Saxon language. Nearly all the primitive Anglo-Saxon words were short, and the longer words in the language were compound terms. Many of the Anglo-Saxon words are no longer used, and many other terms similar to them in brevity and force have been introduced from other sources. Indeed there seems to have been a great tendency in the formative ages of the English language to reduce long words to shorter and more easily remembered

terms.

A large stock of these short words are understood by nearly all who speak the English language, and are first learned by children, and by all who become acquainted with the language by actual use. The most common objects have short names. The most highly educated persons, as well as others, employ them. Therefore, if properly and skillfully used in

SHORT WORDS.

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oratory, poetry, or ordinary speech, they produce upon the people their full effect. The power to appreciate them is enjoyed by all, while some persons do not fully understand some of the longer and less familiar terms in our language.

The exact meaning of these condensed terms should be carefully studied, and the laws of their combination be examined, for a mastery over them gives great power to a writer or speaker. The Anglo-Saxon element of our language has not been sufficiently studied in our schools.

We give a few extracts to show the expressiveness of words of this kind. The first extract is a specimen of excellent composition, though translated from another language, in which it was uttered by Him "who spake as never man spake "--the Parable of the Prodigal Son:

"A certain man had two sons.

And the younger of them said to his father, Give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose and came to his father: But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck and

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