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It is postulated that in the growth of languages new words are formed by combination, and that these new words change by attrition to secure economy of utterance, and also by assimilation (analogy) for economy of thought. In the comparison of languages for the purposes of systematic philology it often becomes necessary to dismember compounded words for the purpose of comparing the more primitive forms thus obtained. The paradigmatic words considered in grammatical treatises may often be the very words which should be dissected to discover in their elements primary affinities. But the comparison is still lexic, not grammatic.
A lexic comparison is between vocal elements; a grammatic
comparison is between grammatic methods, such, for example, as
gender systems. The classes into which things are relegated by
distinction of gender may be animate and inanimate, and the animate
may subsequently be divided into male and female, and these two
classes may ultimately absorb, in part at least, inanimate things.
The growth of a system of genders may take another course. The
animate and inanimate may be subdivided into the standing, the
sitting, and the lying, or into the moving, the erect and the
reclined; or, still further, the superposed classification may be
based upon the supposed constitution of things, as the fleshy, the
woody, the rocky, the earthy, the watery. Thus the number of genders
may increase, while further on in the history of a language the
genders may decrease so as almost to disappear. All of these
characteristics are in part adventitious, but to a large extent the
gender is a phenomenon of growth, indicating the stage to which the
language has attained. A proper case system may not have been
established in a language by the fixing of case particles, or,
having been established, it may change by the increase or diminution
of the number of cases. A tense system also has a beginning, a
growth, and a decadence. A mode system is variable in the various
stages of the history of a language. In like manner a pronominal
system undergoes changes. Particles may be prefixed, infixed, or
affixed in compounded words, and which one of these methods will
finally prevail can be determined only in the later stage of growth.
All of these things are held to belong to the grammar of a language
and to be grammatic methods, distinct from lexical elements.
Indian Linguistic Families of America North of Mexico, 1891
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