chapter  V
The Development of Language,
Pages 26

Now, Modern English as compared with Old English ; Modern Danish, Swedish and Norwegian as compared with Old Norse ; Modern Low German as compared with Old Saxon ; Modern High German as compared with Old High German (all modem Germanic tongues as compared with the Gothic of Wulfila) ; Modern French, Italian, etc., as compared with Latin ; Modern Greek as compared with Old Greek ; Modern Persian as compared with the language of the Avesta (" Zend") and the cuneiform inscriptions; Modern Indian dialects as compared with Prakrit and Sanskrit-all of these show, though in different degrees, the same direction of change ; the grammatical forms of the modern languages are all shorter, fewer, simpler, more abstract and more regular ; those of the older languages in general longer, more complicated, more concrete and more irregular. Semitic languages present, as I understand, similar phenomena. And we find traces of an evolution in the same direction in those languages where the want of early documents, or the peculiar character of the early documents, hinders us from following the historic development with the same exacti tude as in the languages just mentioned (see the sections above on Bantu and on Chinese). W e seem therefore justified in believing that the pre-Arian languages spoken in a remote past by our ancestors

were still more complicated than the oldest languages we are now acquainted with ; they must certainly in many points have presented similar features to those found in Basque or in those entangled, polysynthetic Indian languages, where the sentences consist in intricate words or word-conglomerations, embodying in one inseparable whole such distinctions as subject, verb, direct and indirect objects, number, tense, mood, etc., and being therefore very clumsy and imperfect instruments for the expression of thought.