Semantics; Studies in the Science of Meaning

Breal, Michel

This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can usually download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1900 edition. Excerpt: ...the reason given is a lack of " plastic power," a metaphor which begs the question, and is entirely devoid of meaning. Certainly poets were not without a desire to imitate the compounds of the Greek language. Attempts of this kind are not lacking. Why then have these compounds a borrowed look? Why were the Latins themselves the first to laugh at them? It was no doubt because the popular mind has to be prepared for the creations of poets by the language of every day. On the other hand, ancient compounds such as princeps, pauper, simplex, were already too much restricted and contracted by pronunciation, and had already lost too much of their transpicuity, to serve as initiation or as guide.1 It is with reference to compound nouns that Lucretius, having to find an equivalent for the Greek i5/xoiopeia, makes his complaint on the poverty of the Latin language, patrii sermonis egestas. Quintilian has an analogous observation: Res tota magis Grcecos decet, nobis minus succedit. Yet it must not be thought that Latin possesses no compounds: were they to be all collected together, the list would be long. The language of the calendar alone offers a certain choice, like armilustrium, regifugium, fordicidia, etc. Law shows an equal number: judex,manceps,justitium, etc. What the Latin language does lack are such fine epithets of pure ornament as apyvporoj-os, /3(aTidvfipa, KfpbaAf6ctipwv, which are so abundant in Greek poetry. One feels that the model of epic poetry was wanting. Though multiplying compounds of this kind, Greek seems at the same time to have fixed a limit for itself, created them to designate a permanent quality, a 'nstant action, but not to indicate a transient fact, ace/dental attribute. Achilles, for example, was h had no compounds...

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