Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 123
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Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.
 

Page 123
 
the subjective prefix to the verb of the relative clause, and the subjective prefix to the verb of the main clause (“is dead”). We recognize in this insistence on external clarity of reference the same spirit as moves in the more familiar illum bonum dominum.
  Psychologically the methods of sequence and accent lie at the opposite pole to that of concord. Where they are all for implication, for subtlety of feeling, concord is impatient of the least ambiguity but must have its well-certificated tags at every turn. Concord tends to dispense with order. In Latin and Chinook the independent words are free in position, less so in Bantu. In both Chinook and Bantu, however, the methods of concord and order are equally important for the differentiation of subject and object, as the classifying verb prefixes refer to subject, object, or indirect object according to the relative position they occupy. These examples again bring home to us the significant fact that at some point or other order asserts itself in every language as the most fundamental of relating principles.
  The observant reader has probably been surprised that all this time we have had so little to say of the time-honored “parts of speech.” The reason for this is not far to seek. Our conventional classification of words into parts of speech is only a vague, wavering approximation to a consistently worked out inventory of experience. We imagine, to begin with, that all “verbs” are inherently concerned with action as such, that a “noun” is the name of some definite object or personality that can be pictured by the mind, that all qualities are necessarily expressed by a definite group of words to which we may appropriately apply the term “adjective.” As soon as we test our vocabulary, we discover that the parts of speech are far from corresponding to so simple

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