Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
Form in Language: Grammatical Concepts
WE have seen that the single word expresses either a simple concept or a combination of concepts so interrelated as to form a psychological unity. We have, furthermore, briefly reviewed from a strictly formal standpoint the main processes that are used by all known languages to affect the fundamental conceptsthose embodied in unanalyzable words or in the radical elements of wordsby the modifying or formative influence of subsidiary concepts. In this chapter we shall look a little more closely into the nature of the world of concepts, in so far as that world is reflected and systematized in linguistic structure.
Let us begin with a simple sentence that involves various kinds of conceptsthe farmer kills the duckling. A rough and ready analysis discloses here the presence of three distinct and fundamental concepts that are brought into connection with each other in a number of ways. These three concepts are farmer (the subject of discourse), kill (defining the nature of the activity which the sentence informs us about), and duckling (another subject1 of discourse that takes an important though somewhat passive part in this activity). We can visualize the farmer and the duckling and we have also no difficulty in constructing an image of the killing. In