Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 154
Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.

Page 154
of their development we frequently encounter a gradual change of morphological type. This is not surprising, for there is no reason why a language should remain permanently true to its original form. It is interesting, however, to note that of the three intercrossing classifications represented in our table (conceptual type, technique, and degree of synthesis), it is the degree of synthesis that seems to change most readily, that the technique is modifiable but far less readily so, and that the conceptual type tends to persist the longest of all.
  The illustrative material gathered in the table is far too scanty to serve as a real basis of proof, but it is highly suggestive as far as it goes. The only changes of conceptual type within groups of related languages that are to be gleaned from the table are of B to A (Shilluk as contrasted with Ewe; 25 Classical Tibetan as contrasted with Modern Tibetan and Chinese) and of D to C (French as contrasted with Latin. 26 But types A:B and C:D are respectively related to each other as a simple and a complex form of a still more fundamental type (pure-relational, mixed-relational). Of a passage from a pure-relational to a mixed-relational type or vice versa I can give no convincing examples.
  The table shows clearly enough how little relative permanence there is in the technical features of language. That highly synthetic languages (Latin; Sanskrit) have frequently broken down into analytic forms (French;
Note 25.  These are far-eastern and far-western representatives of the “Soundan” group recently proposed by D. Westermann. The genetic relationship between Ewe and Shilluk is exceedingly remote at best. [back]
Note 26.  This case is doubtful at that. I have put French in C rather than in D with considerable misgivings. Everything depends on how one evaluates elements like -al in national, -té in bonté or re- in retourner. They are common enough, but are they as alive, as little petrified or bookish, as our English -ness and -ful and un-? [back]


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