Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 108
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Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.
 

Page 108
 
of class I are essential to all speech, also concepts of class IV. Concepts II and III are both common, but not essential; particularly group III, which represents, in effect, a psychological and formal confusion of types II and IV or of types I and IV, is an avoidable class of concepts. Logically there is an impassable gulf between I and IV, but the illogical, metaphorical genius of speech has wilfully spanned the gulf and set up a continuous gamut of concepts and forms that leads imperceptibly from the crudest of materialities (“house” or “John Smith”) to the most subtle of relations. It is particularly significant that the unanalyzable independent word belongs in most cases to either group I or group IV, rather less commonly to II or III. It is possible for a concrete concept, represented by a simple word, to lose its material significance entirely and pass over directly into the relational sphere without at the same time losing its independence as a word. This happens, for instance, in Chinese and Cambodgian when the verb “give” is used in an abstract sense as a mere symbol of the “indirect objective” relation (e.g., Cambodgian “We make story this give all that person who have child,” i.e., “We have made this story for all those that have children”).
  There are, of course, also not a few instances of transitions between groups I and II and I and III, as well as of the less radical one between II and III. To the first of these transitions belongs that whole class of examples in which the independent word, after passing through the preliminary stage of functioning as the secondary or qualifying element in a compound, ends up by being a derivational affix pure and simple, yet without losing the memory of its former independence. Such an element and concept is the full of teaspoonfull, which

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