Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 67
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Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.
 

Page 67
 
  We have already seen something of the process of composition, the uniting into a single word of two or more radical elements. Psychologically this process is closely allied to that of word order in so far as the relation between the elements is implied, not explicitly stated. It differs from the mere juxtaposition of words in the sentence in that the compounded elements are felt as constituting but parts of a single word-organism. Such languages as Chinese and English, in which the principle of rigid sequence is well developed, tend not infrequently also to the development of compound words. It is but a step from such a Chinese word sequence as jin tak “man virtue,” i.e., “the virtue of men,” to such more conventionalized and psychologically unified juxtapositions as t’ien tsz “heaven son,” i.e., “emperor,” or shui fu “water man,” i.e., “water carrier.” In the latter case we may as well frankly write shui-fu as a single word, the meaning of the compound as a whole being as divergent from the precise etymological values of its component elements as is that of our English word typewriter from the merely combined values of type and writer. In English the unity of the word typewriter is further safeguarded by a predominant accent on the first syllable and by the possibility of adding such a suffixed element as the plural -s to the whole word. Chinese also unifies its compounds by means of stress. However, then, in its ultimate origins the process of composition may go back to typical sequences of words in the sentence, it is now, for the most part, a specialized method of expressing relations. French has as rigid a word order as English but does not possess anything like its power of compounding words into more complex units. On the other hand, classical Greek, in spite of its relative freedom in the placing of words,

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