Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
relational concepts as are expressed by the and that the combined notions of number and sex. Yet all this, and more, happens in Latin. Illa alba femina quae venit and illi albi homines qui veniunt, conceptually translated, amount to this: that-one-feminine-doer5 one-feminine-white-doer feminine-doing-one-woman which-one-feminine-doer other6-one-now-come; and : that-several-masculine-doer several-masculine-white-doer masculine-doing-several-man which-several-masculine-doer other-several-now-come. Each word involves no less than four concepts, a radical concept (either properly concretewhite, man, woman, comeor demonstrativethat, which) and three relational concepts, selected from the categories of case, number, gender, person, and tense. Logically, only case7 (the relation of woman or men to a following verb, of which to its antecedent, of that and white to woman or men, and of which to come) imperatively demands expression, and that only in connection with the concepts directly affected (there is, for instance, no need to be informed that the whiteness is a doing or doers whiteness8). The
Note 5. Doer, not done to. This is a necessarily clumsy tag to represent the nominative (subjective) in contrast to the accusative (objective). [back]
Note 7. By case is here meant not only the subjective-objective relation but also that of attribution. [back]
Note 8. Except in so far as Latin uses this method as a rather awkward, roundabout method of establishing the attribution of the color to the particular object or person. In effect one cannot in Latin directly say that a person is white, merely that what is white is identical with the person who is, acts, or is acted upon in such and such a manner. In origin the feel of the Latin illa alba femina is really that-one, the-white-one, (namely) the-womanthree substantive ideas that are related to each other by a juxtaposition intended to convey an identity. English and Chinese express the attribution directly by means of order. In Latin the illa and alba may occupy almost any position in the sentence. It is important to observe that the subjective from of illa and alba does not truly define a relation of these qualifying concepts to femina. Such a relation might be formally expressed via an attributive case, say the genitive (woman of whiteness). In Tibetan both the methods of order and of true case relation may be employed: woman white (i.e., white woman) or white-of woman (i.e., woman of whiteness, woman who is white, white woman). [back]