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different breasts of an Athenian, Roman, and Briton, fhould prompt the organs of speech, to fuch different pronunciations.
THIS to me appears more difficult to be explained, than the origin of language itself; whoever obferves on what paffes in the human mind, must have remarked, that every object of the fenfes, as naturally prompts us to speak of it, as to attend to it.
THE excellence or fingularity of any object will urge us to exprefs it by fome found, as will novelty, and ten thousand other circumstances; besides, there is a certain, tho' perhaps inexplicable connection between the organs of speech, and those of the fenfes. Who can hear an exquifite performer in mufic, behold a finished piece of painting, taste
a delicious fruit, or fmell an enlivening odor, without being preft by the excellency of each to an exclamation in their praife; and this as. well alone as in company?
BUT that the natives of one fide of a river should call the fame objects by different names, VOL. II.
from those of the other, or a ridge of mountains change the founds of a whole language, of beings of the fame kind, is a moft fingular phænomenon to my manner of conceiving things.
PRAY tell me, what account can be given for this, or whether any account can be given or no?
Is it poffible, that the fouls of creatures, fo much alike in form, can be fo different in their fenfations, and the word odium in Latin, fignify the fame with that which is meant by bate in English?
Ir this fhould be received as a truth, it would make the writings of one nation, tho' the language be tranflated, unintelligible to another; the ideas in each continuing different, tho' the words are truly changed for each other; thus, to love in English, is amare in our language, and to bate, odiare; and yet, if the fenfations which attend these words are as different as the founds, it must be evident that the writers in these two different tongues must be unintelligible to each other, according to the original meaning, tho' justly tranflated.
THE word odiare, tranflated into this to hate, conveys to the Englishman's mind that idea which belongs to the English word, and not the Italians, and fo in the inverfe: from this, if the difference of fenfation is equal to that of the found, thefe languages tranflated convey very different ideas from the writer's defign.
SOMETHING like this is true, but there is not all the difference in the fenfe of these words, which there is in the founds.
LET us fuppofe, that all the ideas of fenfation, from paffion, and other interesting emotions, in the breasts of the inhabitants, are actually as different as the founds of each nation; yet, this would only help us in that alone, and the objects of our fenfes, colours, odours, and others, would ftill remain infolveable, by this manner. Surely, men do not fee things fo very different to make the fame object known by il bianco in one language, and white in another, as in Italian and English.
THERE is then fomething more than has yet been discovered, which is the caufe of this P 2
variety of language, in nations separated from one another by fuch little divifions as rivers or even a ridge of hills.
PRAY tell me then, how to folve this difficult phænomenon, and please myself and others, who would gladly be acquainted with an explication of it. I am,
Your most obedient.
To the Reverend Father FILIPPO PAMPTA at Rome.
HATEVER my obfervations contribute to your pleasure, they answer fomething more than I expect, and all that I defire you feem pleased with my laft, and wish me to explain what I appealed to your judgment for a folution of this is drawing water from a scanty well, when whole rivers run before your gate.
INDEED, I am yet at a lofs to fatisfy myfelf, whence it happens that brutes fpeaking univerfally the fame language intelligible to one another, that men on this fide the channel, and of the other, fhould yet not understand each others expreffions.
A FRENCH Cock is well understood by an English; and the founds with which a hen calls P 3 her