Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 102
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Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.
 

Page 102
 
other relational concepts are either merely parasitic (gender throughout; number in the demonstrative, the adjective, the relative, and the verb) or irrelevant to the essential syntactic form of the sentence (number in the noun; person; tense). An intelligent and sensitive Chinaman, accustomed as he is to cut to the very bone of linguistic form, might well say of the Latin sentence, “How pedantically imaginative!” It must be difficult for him, when first confronted by the illogical complexities of our European languages, to feel at home in an attitude that so largely confounds the subject-matter of speech with its formal pattern or, to be more accurate, that turns certain fundamentally concrete concepts to such attenuated relational uses.
  I have exaggerated somewhat the concreteness of our subsidiary or rather non-syntactical relational concepts in order that the essential facts might come out in bold relief. It goes without saying that a Frenchman has no clear sex notion in his mind when he speaks of un arbre (“a-masculine tree”) or of une pomme (“a-feminine apple”). Nor have we, despite the grammarians, a very vivid sense of the present as contrasted with all past and all future time when we say He comes. 9 This is evident from our use of the present to indicate both future time (“He comes to-morrow”) and general activity unspecified as to time (“Whenever he comes, I am glad to see him,” where “comes” refers to past occurrences
Note 9.  Aside, naturally, from the life and imminence that may be created for such a sentence by a particular context. [back]

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