Puslapio vaizdai

he was called to the Bar, he stood at the head of those then admitted.

In 1868 he gave up law practice and went into business in Montreal with Redpath and Company and co-operated in various enterprises with the Allans, Redpaths and others for many years. But his activities were never confined to business, he was by nature a student and a worker. Botany, Forestry, Electricity, Water-power and Minerals were some of the subjects to which he devoted his investigations.

For upwards of fifty years he was active in the three fields of literature, university administration and practical affairs. His contributions to public journals, on an extraordinary variety of subjects, were numerous and valuable, e.g., A Canadian National Spirit (1873), Canadian Forest Resources (1884), Scientific and Industrial Research (1915), An Ocean Highway to Lake Superior (1908-18), Electrification of Railways (1921-22), and many others.

For many

His interest in his Alma Mater never ceased. years he was a Trustee and took a living interest in all her affairs. In this smaller field, as in the larger one of life he showed not only an interest in ideas, but a strong practical bent. It is due to him and his energy and knowledge that the trees now growing to lusty manhood throughout the grounds were planted and nursed through a precarious infancy. His strong constructive instinct loved to make things grow and successive generations of students will enjoy the grateful shade provided by his energy and forethought.

As a practical man of affairs-particularly a Railway Builder, he was entitled to rank among the makers of Canada. In 1881 he built 260 miles of the Manitoba and North Western, now part of the C.P.R., and in 1882 the section of the Intercolonial Railway from Spring Hill to Sydney, N.S., and in many other enterprises he was the moving spirit.

Remembering these and other things which space will not permit us to recount, remembering too his life-long devotion to his family, his friends, his University and his country, we do well to remember him most gratefully and affectionately among those of whom his University and his country may well be proud.


The American Language. H. L. Mencken.

The Pronunciation of Standard English in America. G. P. Krapp.

Old and New. C. H. Grandgent.

The recent publication of Mr. Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt with a glossary for English readers has once more raised the question of the cleavage between the speech of England and of America. Mr. Mencken's book on the American Language was an interesting contribution to this subject, and subsequent works by Professors Grandgent and Krapp have added to the somewhat scanty amount of really scientific data at our disposal. An examination of these works may provide a starting-point for a brief survey of the main points at issue in the complicated problem of American and English speech. It is necessary at the outset to explain that the term American is used here in its restricted and incorrect sense, as referring solely to the United States. No attempt is made to draw any conclusions as to Canadian speech, which, with its substrata of English, Scottish, and Irish dialects, presents a difficult problem for the philologist. It will, however, be obvious that a great part of the vocabulary of American popular speech has penetrated into large regions of Canada and that the same is true of certain typical American sounds, especially among the vowels.

No apology is needed for drawing attention to the differences between English and American speech. In this respect the attitude of Americans is rapidly becoming independent. They do not feel that their language is an imitation of English, that the more closely it approximates to the English of England the better it is, but they hold that it has developed and is

1See an interesting review in the Spectator, Dec. 16th, 1922, where it is pointed out that the English reader is further helped by the substitution of a number of English words for their American equivalents. This seems unnecessary when a glossary is added and certainly tends to reduce the American atmosphere of the book.

developing on its own lines and has to work out its own destiny in accordance with the special needs and genius of the American people. Language is largely a product of social conditions, and the special social conditions of America will play their part in moulding the American language. This speech in its turn may react on the speech of England-in fact it is already doing so as far as the popular language is concerned. The literary language is more stable and conservative and shows far less difference-the English tradition is largely predominant-but the spoken language tends to deviate more and more in two communities such as England and America, where there is so little chance of oral intercourse. And, after all, it is in most cases the spoken language that ultimately counts in linguistic development, though the literary language may of course exert a conservative influence.

What, then, is the nature of the differences between the English of America and of England? How have these differences originated? What is the future of the American language? These are the questions that arise in this connexion and that we shall try to answer with the help of the books referred to above, supplemented and checked occasionally by our own observation.

Mencken lays down two fundamental differences between English and American speech. The American language, he holds, is in the first place more uniform,and secondly, more progressive, than English. The second difference may be granted, though, as we shall see, English is less conservative than he imagines. The first, the superior uniformity of Americanif linguistic uniformity really means superiority-seems exceedingly doubtful. It may be dangerous to generalize from the individuals one has met, but we have never observed this uniformity of speech in the Americans of our acquaintance. On the contrary they ranged from Bostonians whose speech was practically indistinguishable from English, to people who almost needed an interpreter if they were to be understood by an untravelled Englishman-with all possible intermediate varieties. Secondly, the mixture of population in America must obviously militate against uniformity of speech; each

The American Language, pp. 19 ff.

nationality colours the language in its own special way; Yiddish, German, Swedish, Italian and Oriental speakers each have their special pronunciation and their special idiom to contribute to the language. Thirdly, there is the absence of any levelling force such as we have in England in our so-called 'standard' English, a form of English with great social prestige, in reality a class dialect chiefly confined to those who attend the great public schools and the older universities, but a dialect that appears to be rapidly spreading with the spread of educational facilities. And lastly, we have the testimony of Mencken's own countryman, Krapp, who states expressly that 'American cultivated speech is extraordinarily mixed." And if 'cultivated' speech is mixed, it is pretty certain that 'uncultivated' speech, where natural forces work far more freely, will be still more mixed. In view of all these facts it is difficult to accept Mencken's postulate as to the uniformity of American speech. It may apply to some extent to the vocabulary; in pronunciation the reverse seems to be true.

Mencken's second postulate, the greater conservatism of English, may be admitted, though our English speech is not so static as he supposes. His statement that English 'shows no living change in structure and syntax since the days of Anne, and very little modification in either pronunciation or vocabulary' will hardly meet with general acceptance. To the eighteenth century is attributed, for instance, the total loss of r finally and before consonants in English, with far-reaching effects on the pronunciation. And though the literary language cannot show any revolutionary changes, the popular language has undoubtedly changed considerably. Moreover, Mencken's second criterion seems to be inconsistent with his first. If, as he maintains, the American language is in a constant state of change and flux, and these changes operate over regions so vast that the possibility of continuous oral intercourse is slight, there can scarcely be much uniformity in such a language. Uniformity implies either the continuity of a fixed tradition or the levelling-out of change by a process of linguistic give-and-take. Thus, of Mencken's two main dif

Pronunciation of Standard English in America, p. viii.
loc. cit., p. 24.

ferences, the first, the greater uniformity of American speech must, we think, be rejected. With regard to the second, its greater progressiveness, a distinction must be drawn between the literary and the colloquial language; literary English and literary American show no very far-reaching differences, while the popular language, if perhaps somewhat more conservative in England owing to the influence of the schools and a more potent literary tradition, still shows many of the progressive tendencies that Mencken claims as the monopoly of America.

The origin of Americanisms-as we may conveniently call special usages in American as opposed to British speechis a threefold one. First, we have various borrowings from other languages, during the earlier periods of settlement from the Indian and French languages, later from the many other languages spoken by new settlers in America. Secondly, we have an interesting class of words and phrases which have ceased to be current in England but have survived in America. Thirdly, we have new expressions, built up of native English words, but coined on American soil, often to denote specific American objects or institutions or processes. Copious examples of these three classes of Americanisms will be found in Mencken's book. The earliest examples in the first classthe words borrowed from the Indian languages-consist mainly of names of natural objects, the Indian words being taken over directly, often in a more or less mutilated and disguised form. Thus the word squash represents a simplification of Indian isquontersquash, askutasquash; woodchuck from an Indian form wejack is an interesting example of popular etymology; in other cases we have literal translations of Indian terms, e.g. pale-face, fire-water, medicine-man. Of course, many of these early borrowings have passed over into England, largely through the influence of redskin literature, and are no longer specifically American. The later borrowings-from Dutch, Spanish, German, Yiddish, etc.-offer interesting problems, and some of these languages are still an active source of Americanisms. But the number of borrowings in recent times is, as Jespersen has pointed out, astonishingly small.5

Growth and Structure of the English Language, p. 76.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »