Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 62
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Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.
 

Page 62
 
ganab “he has stolen,” goneb “stealing,” ganub “being stolen,” gnob “(to) steal.” But not all infinitives are formed according to the type of shmor and gnob or of other types of internal vowel change. Certain verbs suffix a t-element for the infinitive, e.g., ten-eth “to give,” heyo-th “to be.” Again, the pronominal ideas may be expressed by independent words (e.g., anoki “I”), by prefixed elements (e.g., e-shmor “I shall guard”), or by suffixed elements (e.g., shamar-ti “I have guarded”). In Nass, an Indian language of British Columbia, plurals are formed by four distinct methods. Most nouns (and verbs) are reduplicated in the plural, that is, part of the radical element is repeated, e.g., gyat “person,” gyigyat “people.” A second method is the use of certain characteristic prefixes, e.g., an’on “hand,” ka-an’on “hands”; wai “one paddles,” lu-wai “several paddle.” Still other plurals are formed by means of internal vowel change, e.g., gwula “cloak,” gwila “cloaks.” Finally, a fourth class of plurals is constituted by such nouns as suffix a grammatical element, e.g., waky “brother,” wakykw “brothers.”
  From such groups of examples as these—and they might be multiplied ad nauseam— we cannot but conclude that linguistic form may and should be studied as types of patterning, apart from the associated functions. We are the more justified in this procedure as all languages evince a curious instinct for the development of one or more particular grammatical processes at the expense of others, tending always to lose sight of any explicit functional value that the process may have had in the first instance, delighting, it would seem, in the sheer play of its means of expression. It does not matter that in such a case as the English goose—geese, foul—defile, sing—sang—sung we can prove that we are dealing with

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