Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 118
Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.

Page 118
nothing but sequences that have shrunk together and away from other sequences or isolated elements in the flow of speech. While they are fully alive, in other words, while they are functional at every point, they can keep themselves at a psychological distance from their neighbors. As they gradually lose much of their life, they fall back into the embrace of the sentence as a whole and the sequence of independent words regains the importance it had in part transferred to the crystallized groups of elements. Speech is thus constantly tightening and loosening its sequences. In its highly integrated forms (Latin, Eskimo) the “energy” of sequence is largely locked up in complex word formations, it becomes transformed into a kind of potential energy that may not be released for millennia. In its more analytic forms (Chinese, English) this energy is mobile, ready to hand for such service as we demand of it.
  There can be little doubt that stress has frequently played a controlling influence in the formation of element-groups or complex words out of certain sequences in the sentence. Such an English word as withstand is merely an old sequence with stand, i.e., “against 28 stand,” in which the unstressed adverb was permanently drawn to the following verb and lost its independence as a significant element. In the same way French futures of the type irai “(I) shall go” are but the resultants of a coalescence of originally independent words: ir 29 a'i “to-go I-have,” under the influence of a unifying accent. But stress has done more than articulate or unify sequences that in their own right imply a syntactic relation.
Note 28.  For with in the sense of “against,” compare German widen “against.” [back]
Note 29.  Cf. Latin ire “to go”; also our English idiom “I have to go,” i.e., “must go.” [back]


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