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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.



14. By examining the English language closely, we observe that many of its words are short, consisting of one syllable only or two. Most of these words are derived from the Anglo-Saxon language, a language used by those early inhabitants of England who migrated thither from different parts of Germany, and were called by the general name, Anglo-Saxons. 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. most common objects have short names. The most highly educated persons, as well as others, employ them. Therefore, if properly and skillfully used in



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 Prod igal 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

kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again, he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry."

Every word in this beautiful story is such as a child comprehends. The whole number of words in it is one hundred and forty-one, all of which but perhaps divided, citizen, and compassion, may be described as short, familiar words. Some of the words are indeed derived from the Latin, such as portion, journey, substance, spent, joined, perish; but these words have al most and, in some instances, quite supplanted their Anglo-Saxon equivalents, and are to the present generation of English-speaking people as familiar as any terms of Saxon origin. It is a characteristic tendency of the English language to clip and shorten words. from other languages, and reduce them to the type of simplicity and energy in which it delights. It is not necessary for the speaker to know their origin, that he may appreciate their force, any more than it is to know the origin of grains or fruits in order that they may nourish the body or please the palate.

Though the above specimen of composition, "The Prodigal Son," has less than one hundred and fifty dif ferent words, it repeats some of the simplest of them many times, so as to have more than three hundred utterances. And is repeated more than thirty times, he, to, the, have, and other such words, many times. The word living is used in two different significations



"And he divided unto them his living," meaning his property. And "wasted his substance with riotous living," or manner of life. Careful writers avoid the use of words in different meanings in the same sentences, or so near to each other as to lead to confusion of thought.*

The following poem, written by Professor J. Addison Alexander, D.D., shows how much meaning may be conveyed by the skillful use of monosyllabic words alone:


"Think not that strength lies in the big round word, Or that the brief and plain must needs be weak. To whom can this be true who once has heard

The cry for help, the tongue that all men speak, When want, or woe, or fear is in the throat,

So that each word gasped out is like a shriek Pressed from the sore heart, or a strange, wild note, Sung by some fay or fiend? There is a strength

Which dies, if stretched too far or spun too fine,

Which has more weight than breadth, more depth than length. Let but this force of thought and speech be mine, And he that will may take the sleek fat phrase, Which glows and burns not, though it gleam and shineLight, but no heat--a flash, but not a blaze!

* It may be interesting to note that, while in the English of the Prodigal Son about one hundred and fifty different words are employed, the original Greek makes use of less than one hundred; and while in English there are more than three hundred utterances, in the Greek there are less than two hundred and fifty, and yet both cover about the same space, or require the same time for repetition. This illustrates the fact that in English shorter words are used and more frequently repeated, while the Greek varies and compounds its original words more.

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