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word are usually failures. "Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing" is not understood by the people, lying being now substituted for leasing. "Wot" for knew, "took up our carriages" for took up our luggage, and some other expressions, are instances of terms in the common translation of the Bible that are now obsolete. They can not easily be revived.

In personating a character who is supposed to have lived in a preceding age, it would be proper to represent him as speaking the language common in his time, or at least to use many characteristic terms, to aid in the illusion. Thus Thomson, in his "Castle of Indolence," imitating the style of Spenser, introduced many obsolete terms.

The attempt by some modern poets to revive the use of forgotten words will be nugatory. As "revolutions seldom work backward," so the tide that bears a word toward oblivion seldom has an ebb.

39. Words should be used in their Modern Meaning.Words that have changed their signification should be used in their modern meaning. Prevent once signified go before; now it has a meaning that no other word exactly expresses. Let is no longer needed in the sense of hinder, as it was once employed.

40. Degeneracy of Words.-Many words have degenerated in value, and it is impossible to restore them to their former honor. Thus by-and-by once meant immediately: "Which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by-and-by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?" (Luke xvii. 7).



Presently also once had the same meaning. Thus Shakspeare writes: "My lord, the queen would speak with you and presently"-meaning now; and the reply is, "Then will I come to my mother by-and-by" (Hamlet, act iii. scene 2).

Though words do thus change their usage, in some instances degenerating in value, and in others rising in importance, good scholarship is often exhibited by restricting a word, as far as possible, to its ancient meaning. By this mark a speaker skilled in the ancient languages may often be distinguished from one ignorant of them.

Words have a history, and some of them a rich history. Jovial was once "suitable to Jove," it is now degraded to merry; saturnine was once mysteri ous and profound, now it is gloomy; "animal spirits," "humorous," and "vapors" suggest a theory of physiology long since discarded, but words often survive the theories that invented them.



41. Provincialisms. - PROVINCIALISMS should be avoided, or sparingly and discriminately employed. Some words are used in confined localities, and are unknown elsewhere. If they are substituted for other well-known words in the language, they should be discarded. If they express objects or customs peculiar to that locality, they should be tolerated and rendered respectable. There is no particular reason why a waistcoat in England should be called a vest in America, or why trowsers, railway, autumn there, should be styled here respectively pantaloons or pants, railroad, fall:* and yet so numerous is the population in America that her peculiarities of speech promise to become permanent and the rule, while in some instances the older and perhaps purer English will become obsolete, even in England. The word clever in England signifies intelligent, intellectual, and able to succeed; in the United States it is often used to mean generous, amiable.

42. Americanisms.-It is often assumed that Amer

* Used occasionally in Scotland (see Beattie's Life of Thomas Campbell, vol. i. p. 200).

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icans use many provincialisms, which have been called "Americanisms," though, in fact, no people use so few. Many of the inaccuracies that have been styled Americanisms have been imported, but have here obtained larger currency than at home, and are here oftener seen in print. There are of course some peculiar expressions, and always must be, of native origin. The constant tendency in language to change, is introducing new forms of expression, all of which are provincialisms at first. From the multitude of newspapers in this country, and the ease with which almost any one may "see himself in print," colloquialisms and slang terms which finished scholars would never repeat, are frequently printed. All such corruptions of language should be discountenanced. calculate is sometimes used for intend, reckon and presume are substituted for think by persons who seldom think closely, or they would use words more accurately.


43. Vulgarisms.-Vulgarisms are words and phrases which, from their origin or general use, have a tendency to excite low and mean associations. "You can see with half an eye," "Go it blind," are instances. Similar to these are hackneyed words or phrases, sometimes called catch-words, which arise in particular places where a company of persons pursuing the same course are associated together, such as armyphrases, college-words, sailors' expressions, all of which should be sedulously excluded from dignified addresses or writings.

44. Words used erroneously for Others similar in

Sound.-Careless speakers and even writers sometimes mistake a word for another similar to it in sound, but more or less widely different in meaning. Ludicrous errors are thus made by ignorant persons. Thus it would not surprise us to hear that "the observation of Christmas as a holiday is commendable," while observance is evidently meant. Consciousness

may thus be used for conscience, and many errors of this kind are often heard from uneducated or careless speakers.


45. Ambiguous Expressions. Ambiguous words should be avoided. Words capable of having two or more meanings, or so employed as to admit of diverse interpretations, should never be used unless it is the deliberate intention of the author to leave the matter undecided and uncertain.

"Solomon, the son of David, who built the Temple, was the best King of Israel." It is not stated in this sentence who built the Temple.

"Lysias promised to his father never to abandon his friends." It is impossible to decide whose friends are meant, whether those of Lysias or of his father.

No language more abounds in ambiguities than the English. Indeed it may be doubted whether any ambiguity can be found in any language that may not be translated into English. Certainly it might be imitated and paralleled in our language. For this reason, great care should be taken to avoid it, but even after the utmost care it will sometimes occur.

In all legal documents, such as constitutions, laws, treaties, contracts, wills, bonds, and deeds, ambiguity

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