Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
only be expressed in different form but that they may be differently grouped among themselves; that some among them may be dispensed with; and that other concepts, not considered worth expressing in English idiom, may be treated as absolutely indispensable to the intelligible rendering of the proposition. First as to a different method of handling such concepts as we have found expressed in the English sentence. If we turn to German, we find that in the equivalent sentence (Der Bauer töotet das Entelein) the definiteness of reference expressed by the English the is unavoidably coupled with three other conceptsnumber (both der and das are explicitly singular), case (deris subjective; dasis subjective or objective, by elimination therefore objective), and gender, a new concept of the relational order that is not in this case explicitly involved in English (deris masculine, dasis neuter). Indeed, the chief burden of the expression of case, gender, and number is in the German sentence borne by the particles of reference rather than by the words that express the concrete concepts (Bauer, Entelein) to which these relational concepts ought logically to attach themselves. In the sphere of concrete concepts too it is worth nothing that the German splits up the idea of killing into the basic concept of dead (tot) and the derivational one of causing to do (or be) so and so (by the method of vocalic change, töot-); the German töot-et (analytically tot-+ vowel change+-et) causes to be dead is, approximately, the formal equivalent of our dead-en-s, though the idiomatic application of this latter word is different3
Wandering still further afield, we may glance at the
Note 3. To cause to be dead or to cause to die in the sense of to kill is an exceedingly wide-spread usage. It is found, for instance, also in Nootka and Sioux. [back]