Language: Its Nature, Development and Origin

Jespersen, Otto 1922. Language: Its Nature, Development and Origin. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

Endless discussions were carried on about this question, as we see particularly from Plato's Kratylos, and no very definite result was arrived at, nor could any be expected so long as one language only formed the basis of the discussion - even in our own days, after a century of comparative philology, the question still remains an open one. In Greece, the two catchwords phúsei (by nature) and thései (by convention) for centuries divided philosophers and grammarians into two camps [...] (Jespersen 1922: 19)

Another drop in the bucket for reading Plato's Kratylos, and a reminder that the distinction I usually borrow from Augustine (signa data and signa naturalia) have an earlier precedent.

What was the object of teaching Latin in the Middle Ages and later? Certainly not the purely scientific one of imparting knowledge for knowledge's own sake, apart from any practical use or advantage, simply in order to widen the spiritual horizon and to obtain the joy of pure intellectual understanding. For such a purpose some people with scientific leanings may here and there take up the study of some out-of-the-way African or American idiom. (Jespersen 1922: 24)

Sounds like the function of universities sometimes attributed to Hegel. Today, "spiritual horizon" sounds awkward because we are not a very spiritual people. I'm not even sure what the English equivalent to Estonian silmaring (lit. eye-circle) would be (or if it corresponds to German Weltanschauung).

Condillac is much more sensible when he tries to imagine how a speechless man and a speechless woman might be led quite naturally to acquire something like language, starting with instinctive cries and violent gestures called forth by strong emotions. Such cries would come to be associated with elementary feelings, and new sounds might come to indicate various objects if produced repeatedly in connexion with gestures showing what objects the speaker wanted to call attention to. (Jespersen 1922: 27)

"But before [Boutan and Sapir], both Rousseau and Vico had the concept of human speech as arising from animal sounds of a merely emotional character." (La Barre 1954: 349) - Rousseau is mentioned here as well, but Étienne Bonnot de Condillac I'm not familiar with.

In the Introduction the author [Jenisch] has the following passage, which might be taken as the motto of Wilhelm v. Humboldt, Steinthal, Finek and Byrne, who do not, however, seem to have been inspired by Jenisch: "In language the whole intellectual and moral essence of a man is to some extent revealed. 'Speak, and you are' is rightly said by the Oriental. The language of the natural man is savage and rude, that of the cultured man is elegant and polished. As the Greek was subtle in thought and sensuously refined in feeling - as the Roman was serious and practical rather than speculative - as the Frenchman is popular and sociable - as the Briton is profound and the German philosophic - so are also the languages of each of these nations." (Jespersen 1922: 30)

In light of this overview, Malinowski did nothing but "reify" the orthodox view of "primitive language" and - interestingly, if only for his connection with he Frenchman that Durkheim was - apparently mixed it with the French linguistic pathos.

We have to examine in each case the following essential qualities of the languages compared, (1) richness, (2) energy or emphasis, (3) clearness, and (4) euphony. Under the head of richness we are concerned not only with the number of words, first for material objects, then for spiritual and abstract notions, but also with the ease with which new words can be formed (lexikalische bildsamkeit). The energy of a language is shown in its lexicon and in its grammar (simplicity of grammatical structure, absence of articles, etc.), but also in "the characteristic energy of the nation and its original writers." Clearness and definiteness in the same way are shown in vocabulary and grammar, especially in a regular and natural syntax. Euphony, finally, depends not only on the selection of consonants and vowels utilized in the language, but on their harmonious combination, the general impression of the language being more important than any details capable of being analysed. (Jespersen 1922: 30)

Hey this sounds very much like the work of the Estonian linguistic innovator Johannes Aavik, whose three principles include utility (richness and clearness), aesthetics (euphony) and native quality (energy).

It depends to a great extent on accidental circumstances whether a language has been or has not been used in elevated literature, and its merits should be estimated, so far as this is possible, independently of the perfection of its literature. (Jespersen 1922: 30)

Above, there was an interesting philosophical insight about the literary nature of language: "[Herder] sees the close connexion that exists between language and primitive poetry, or that kind of spontaneous singing that characterizes the childhood or youth of mankind, and which is totally distinct from the artificial poetry of later ages. But to him each language is not only the instrument of literature, but itself a literature and poetry. A nation speaks its soul in the words it uses." (infra, 29)

The passage has relevant implications. Language - as a system of systems - is itself a work of art: "language [...] is the most significant and colossal work that the human spirit has evolved - nothing short of a finished form of expression for all communicable experience" (Sapir 1921: 235).

Thus, on p. 396, he [Jenisch] declares German to be the most repellent contrast to that most supple modern language, French, on account of its unnatural word-order, its eternally trailing article, its want of participial constructions, and its interminable auxiliaries (as in 'ich werde geliebt werden, ich würde geliebt worden sein,' etc.), with the frequent separation of these auxiliaries from the main verb through extraneous intermediate words, all of which gives the German something incredibly awkward, which to the reader appears as lengthy and diffuse and to the writer as inconvenient and intractable. (Jespersen 1922: 31)

The heaviest critique of Germani I've met. Sapir's was much more lenient, even poetic (did not re-type it).

Anyhow, it seems to me no small merit to have been the first to treat such problems as these, which are generally answered in an off-hand way according to a loose general judgement, so as to put them on a scientific footing by examining in detail what it is that makes us more or less instinctively prefer one language, or one turn or expression in a language, and thus lay the foundation of that inductive æsthetic theory of language which has still to be developed in a truly scientific spirit. (Jespersen 1922: 31)

Phraseological findings for discussing the lack of a phatic theory in terms of which strands we prefer instinctively/intuitively and what turns of expression capture the otherwise rather loose definitions best.

The chief innovation of the beginning of the nineteenth century was the historical point of view. On the whole, it must be said that it was reserved for that century to apply the notion of history to other things than wars and the vicissitudes of dynasties, and thus to discover the idea of development or evolution as pervading the whole universe. (Jespersen 1922: 32)

Now we're into the vicissitudes of ideologies. The historical point of view is so much taken for granted these days that no one would dare bring up this view of history outside of the history of historical writing. To development and evolution one could probably add "progress".

Schlegel had studied Sanskrit for some years in Paris, and in his romantic enthusiasm he hoped that the study of the old Indian books would bring about a revolution in European thought similar to that produced in the Renaissance through the revival of the study of Greek. (Jespersen 1922: 34)

How's that going? I've dipped my toes into the study of Vedic literature, for example (France & Eigner eds. 2009), but it feels like ancient Indian knowledge has not achieved a noticeable foothold in modern sciences; rather, Indian and other (South- and East-)Asian nationals are doing a lot more modern science today.

In his review (1812) of Rask's Icelandic grammar he [Grimm] writes: "Each individuality, even in the world of languages, should be respected as sacred; it is desirable that even the smallest and most despised dialect should be left only to itself and to its own nature and in nowise subjected to violence, because it is sure to have some secret advantages over the gretaest and most highly valued language." (Jespersen 1922: 41)

Linguistic romanticism. Similar statements have probably been uttered by Johannes Aavik and similar proponents of small languages.

He speaks of previous German grammars and says expressly that he does not want his to be ranged with them. He charges them with unspeakable pedantry; they wanted to dogmatize magisterially, while to Grimm language, like everything natural and moral, is an unconscious and unnoticed secret which is implanted in us in youth. Every German therefore who speaks his language naturally, i.e. untaught, may call himself his own living grammar and leave all schoolmasters' rules alone. Grimm accordingly has no wish to prescribe anything, but to observe what has grown naturally, and very appropriately he dedicates his work to Savigny, who has taught him how institutions grow in the life of a nation. (Jespersen 1922: 42)

A somewhat enviable attitude. The "unconsciousness" called up the admiration Jakobson felt for Sapir on this matter. The latter portion made me think of the ethics of terminology, and how to employ this anti-prescriptive, purely observational ethos to my own survey of the work of definition that has naturally occurred in the past century with PC.

This first book in the 1822 valume contains much, perhaps most, of what constitutes Grimm's fame as a grammarian, notably his exposition of the 'sound shift' (lautverschiebung), which it has been customary in England since Max Müller to term 'Grimm's Law.' If any one man is to give his name to this law, a better name would be 'Rask's Law,' for all these transitions [...] are enumerated in Rasks' Undersogelse, p. 168, which Grimm knew before he wrote a single word about the sound shift. (Jespersen 1922: 43)

The sentiment of justice at work. It is easy enough to prove that one person has read another via citation; a whole different story to prove that one person had not read another via the lack of citation. (Jakobson had cited Malinowski on at least one other occasion but where he attributes "phatic" to him a citation is lacking and it cannot be said that anything besides the term itself had been communicated, imo through mediation.)

Grimm rejoiced in his formula, giving as it does three chronological stages in each of the three subdivisions (tenuis, media, aspirate) of each of the three classes of consonants (labial, dental, 'guttural'). This evidently took hold of his fancy through the mystic power of the number three, which he elsewhere (Gesch I. 191, cf. 241) finds pervading language generally: three original vowels, a, i, u, three genders, three numbers (singular, dual, plural), three persons, three 'voices' (genera: active, middle, passive), three tenses (present, preterit, future), three declensions through a, i, u. As there is here an element of mysticism, so is there also in Grimm's highflown [|] explanation of the whole process from pretended popular psychology, which is full of the cloudiest romanticism. (Jespersen 1922: 44-45)

Reminiscent of Peircean triadomania. Apparently a more common problem than it appears.

He [Humboldt] rightly insists on the importance of seeing in language a continued activity. Language is not a substance or a finished work, but action (Sie selbst ist kein werk, ergon, sondern eine tätigkeit, energeia). Language therefore cannot be defined except genetically. It is the ever-repeated labour of the mind to utilize articulated sounds to express thoughts. Strictly speaking, this is a definition of each separate act of speech; but truly and essentially a language must be looked upon as the totality of such acts. (Jespersen 1922: 56)

Language as a system, languaging as an activity. The phraseology here might serve to expand the otherwise quite commonplace "communicating ideas" and expressing thoughts". The novel component, I guess, is "labour". Note that the onus is on language, that language is a mode of action (and not speech, as it is in Malinowski, who intentionally conflates the two concepts in an apparent attempt to avoid the kind of psychological essentialism also manifest in the subject of collective consciousness).

Humboldt speaks continually of languages as more perfect or less perfect. Yet "no language should be condemned or depreciated, not even that of the most savage tribe, for each language is a picture of the original aptitude for language" (Versch 304). In another place he speaks about special excellences even of languages that cannot in themselves be recognized as superlatively good instruments of thought. (Jespersen 1922: 57)

"Popular statements as to the extreme poverty of expression to which primitive languages are doomed are simply myths." (Sapir 1921: 22)

According to Humboldt, each separate language, even the most despised dialect, should be looked upon as an organic whole, different from all the rest and expressing the individuality of the people speaking it; it is characteristic of one nation's psyche, and indicates the peculiar way in which that nation attempts to realize the ideal of speech. As a language is thus symbolic of the national character o those who speak it, very much in each language had its origin in a symbolic representation of the notion it stands for; there is a natural nexus between certain sounds and certain general ideas, and consequently we often find similar sounds used for the [|] same, or nearly the same, idea in languages not otherwise related to one another. (Jespersen 1922: 57-58)

"Languages are more to us than systems of thought-transference. They are invisible garments that drape themselves about our spirit and give a predetermined form to all its symbolic expression." (Sapir 1921: 236) - sentiments such as these seem to come a dime a dozen.

According to Humboldt, language is in continued development under the influence of the changing mental power of its speakers. In this development there are naturally two definite periods, one in which the creative instinct of speech is still growing and active, and another in which a seeming stagnation begins and then an appreciable decline of that creative instinct. Still, the period of decline may initiate new principles of life and new successful changes in a language (Versch 184). (Jespersen 1922: 59)

Touching upon the possibility of innovation in language posed by Johannes Aavik: is language a finished product of the collective mind or can upstart individuals contribute to its refinement on their own will? This is just another, more broader, way of putting the question of "private languages" and the individual contribution of singular personages.

In other cases less noble causes are at work. Rougher organs and less sensitive ears are productive of indifference to the principle of harmony, and finally a prevalent practical trend may bring about abbreviations and omissions of all kinds in its contempt for everything that is not strictly necessary for the purpose of being understood. While in the first period the elements still recall their origin to man's consciousness, there is an æsthetic pleasure in developing the instrument of mental activity; but in the second period language serves only the practical needs of life. (Jespersen 1922: 60)

Noble and not so noble tendencies in the development of language. It almost feels like a period of practical stagnation occurred to the Estonian language during the Soviet occupation decades when the mere survival of the language was at stake. Perhaps this century will see a new burst of innovation, a mirror of what occurred more or less a century before?

He [Grimm] instances the English language, which by sheer making havoc of all old phonetic laws and by the loss of all flexions has acquired a great force and power, such as is found perhaps in no other human language. Its wonderfully happy structure resulted from the marriage of the two noblest languages of Europe; therefore it was a fit vehicle for the greatest poet of modern times, and may justly claim the right to be called a world's language; like the English people, it seems destined to reign in future even more than now in all parts of the earth. (Jespersen 1922: 62)

This is quite a bit more prophetic and significantly less grim than Sapir (1921: 207) on the same matter: "The English language itself is spreading because the English have colonized immense territories."

But all these compound names are clumsy without being completely pertinent, and it seems therefore much better to use the short and convenient term 'the Aryan languages': Aryan being the oldest name by which any members of the family destined themselves (in India and Persia). (Jespersen 1922: 64)

Today we use "Indo-European", as "Aryan" evidently picked up a very charged political connotation some time after this book was first published. It would offend most everyone's sensibilities to even bring this up these days. (Particularly due to the political contentions mentioned have resurfaced in recent times due to some U.S. president or other.)

Schleicher specialized in Slavonic and Lithuanian; he studied the latter language in its own home and took down a great many songs and tales from the mouths of the peasants; he was for some years a professor in the University of Prague, and there acquired a conversational knowledge of Czech; he spoke Russian, too, and thus in contradistinction to Bopp and Grimm had a first-hand knowledge of more than one foreign language [...] (Jespersen 1922: 71)

Some notable similarities with Roman Jakobson. Is there a century-earlier prototype personality for everyone?

The sun exists independently of the human observer; but there could be no such thing as language if there was not besides the speaker a listener who might become a speaker in his turn. (Jespersen 1922: 74)

The first part is reminiscent of Uexküll and/or Goethe on the sun and the eye whilst the latter part naturally makes me think of the symmetry and reciprocity of speaking and listening roles in PC.

Beyond the flexional stage no language can attain; the symbolic denotation of relation by flexion is the highest accomplishment of language; speech has here effectually realized its object, which is to give a faithful phonetic image of thought. (Jespersen 1922: 76)

Another odd synonymous formation of "communicating ideas". At some point I should have an enviable array of such formulations in widely different speech registers. Then the matter would be to analyze their implications for both communication and communion.

No language of modern Europe presents the flexional type in a purer shape than Lithuanian, where we find preserved nearly the same grammatical system as in old Sanskrit, yet no one would assert that the culture of Lithuanian peasants is higher than that of Shakespeare, whose language has lost an enormous amount of the old flexions. (Jespersen 1922: 78)

This must be why a recent /r/dataisbeautiful post (based on Eurostat numbers) showed that in Lithuania 25-40% of people cannot keep their homes adequately warm: their domiciles were evidently burned by Jespersen a century ago! So complete was this burn that the Lithuanians are still suffering.

But the latter division had better be left alone; it turns on the intricate question "What constitutes a word?" and ultimately depends on the usual depreciation of 'inferior races' and corresponding exaltation of our own race, which is alone reputed capable of possessing 'real words.' (Jespersen 1922: 80)

More worthwhile notes for discussing the scientific racism of Spencer and the primitiveness of the "Savage Community" in Malinowski and how he denied "communicating ideas" (and hence higher, verbal, arts) and "exact meaning" to those peoples.

[...] the writer of these lines looks back with the greatest gratitude to that period of his youth when he had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of these truly classical works. Everything was so well arranged, so carefully thought out and so lucidly explained, that one had everywhere the pleasant feeling that one was treading on firm ground, the more so as the basis of the whole was not an artificially constructed nebulous ursprache, but the familiar forms and words of an historical language. (Jespersen 1922: 85)

Something akin to this feeling seems to follow functionalist scheming. For example, just today I stumbled upon the four-sides model of Friedemann Schulz von Thun on Wikipedia. It is unmistakably inspired by Jakobson's scheme and replaces the phatic dimension with "relationship". It was as surprising a find as that one Canadian guy who developed a unique sociolinguistics after Jakobson, of which only select few Canadians seem to be aware (the guy's name escapes me at the moment).

[...] and finally, if semantics (the study of the significations of words) has become a real science instead of being a curiosity shop of isolated specimens, this has only been rendered possible through seeing words as connected with other words to form complete utterances. (Jespersen 1922: 97)

Phraseology! ("Phatic Theory")

Science, of its very nature, aims at larger and larger generalizations, more and more comprehensive formulas, so as finally to bring about that "unification of knowledge" of which Herbert Spencer speaks. (Jespersen 1922: 98)

Well, thanks for not leaving a citation! It sounds like Spencer anticipated the Unified Science Movement, though it is presented so generally here that it may have legitimately been something he only spoke (and did not write) about.

A child's linguistic development covers three periods - the screaming time, the crowing or babbling time, nad the talking time. But the last is a long one, and must again be divided into two periods - that of the "little language," the child's own language, and that of the common language or language of the community. In the former the child is linguistically an individualist, in the latter he is more and more socialized. (Jespersen 1922: 103)

These are fine distinctions for they enable the observation that while La Barre and Jakobson both deal with the small child, one focuses on screaming and the other on babbling, one on the private emotional connotations of the parent-child dyad and the other on the child's gradual acquisition of the full language of adults.

Tracy (p. 139) gives the following forms through which the boy A (1.5) had to pass before being able to say pussy: pooheh, poofie, poopoohie, poofee. (Jespersen 1922: 111)

Immature amusements.

The child has somehow to find out for himself with regard to his own language what ideas are considered to hang together and so come under the same word. He hears the word 'chair' applied to a particular chair, then to another chair that perhaps looks to him totally different, and again to a third: and it bocemes his business to group these together. (Jespersen 1922: 114)

Notice the similar example in Lotman (if memory does not betray then in the same text that discusses the metaphor "world is a horsie").

Shifters - A class of words which presents grave difficulty to children are those whose meaning differs according to the situation, so that the child hears them now applied to one thing and now to another. That was the case with words like 'father,' and 'mother.' Another such word is 'enemy.' (Jespersen 1922: 123)

The kind of explanation painfully missing from Jakobson's paper on Russian shifters. The connection with cryptanalysis would probably explain why he chose this category for study during his initial American period. Also, consider the similarity with Laclau's "empty signifiers."

But gradually a high degree of accuracy is obtained, the fittest meanings surviving - that is (in this connexion) those that agree best with those of the surrounding society. And thus the individual is merged in society, and the social character of language asserts itself through the elimination of everything that is the exclusive property of one person only. (Jespersen 1922: 127)

Culture, "the traditional body of social usage" (Sapir), eliminates non-standard verbiage by way of neglect and exclusion from tradition. Here the "survival of the fittest" trope of evolutionism is applied on linguistic forms in a manner reminiscent of Peirce's similarly Darwinian approach to how signs gain currency (cf. the famous "signs grow" passage).

Many people will say it comes by 'instinct,' as if 'instinct' were not one of those fine words which are chiefly used to cover over what is not understood, because it says so precious little and seems to say so precious much. (Jespersen 1922: 128)

In one of his metalogues (to a compendium on animal communication) Gregore Bateson explains to his daughter that "instinct" is like a black box - a square in the design or outline into which you put something as of yet unexplained or mysterious (and hope that the engineers will figure it out).

Most children learn to say 'no' before they can say 'yes' - simply because negation is a stronger expression of feeling than affirmation. (Jespersen 1922: 136)

How does one measure the strength of the expressions of feeling?

The first use of prepositions is always in set phrases learnt as wholes, like 'go to school,' 'go to pieces,' 'lie in bed,' 'at dinner.' Not till later comes the power of using prepositions in free combinations, and it is then that mistakes appear. (Jespersen 1922: 138)

Perhaps relevant for understanding Alan Gardiner's discussion of "set phrases" in connection with so-called phatic utterances, which are conventionally "fixed" (as opposed to "free").

It is perfectly natural to say that something has passed over the threshold of consciousness: the metaphor is from the way in which you enter a house by stepping over the threshold. If the metaphor were kept, the opposite situation would be expressed by the statement that such and such a thing is outside the threshold of consciousness. But psychologists, in the thoughtless way of little children, take under to be always the opposite of over, and so speak of things 'lying under (or below) the threshold of our consciousness,' and have even invented a Latin word for the unconscious, viz. subliminal. (Jespersen 1922: 138)

Evidently I commit this error frequently. I also had some trouble learning the exact spelling of threshold, as the h in both instances sounds all too silent for notice. Hopefully henceforth I'll write "outside" instead of "below" when it comes to this metaphor.

Women know
The way to rear up children, (to be just)
They know a simple, merry, tender knack
Of stringing pretty words that make no sense,
And kissing full sense into empty words,
Which things are corals to cut life upon,
Although such trifles: children learn by such
Love's holy earnest in a pretty play
And get not over-early solemnized...
Such good do mothers. Fathers love as well
- Mine did, I know - but still with heavier brains,
And wills more consciously responsible,
And not as wisely, since less foolishly.
Elizabeth Browning: Aurora Leigh, 10. (Jespersen 1922: 142; footnote 1)

Who inserts a full poem into a footnote? Otto Jespersen does. The emphasized line could illustrate La Barre's phatic communication on two points, one being private emotional connotation and the other the appearance of communication.

This is by no means depreciating the mother's influence, which is strong indeed, but chiefly in the first period, that of the child's 'little language.' But that is the time when the child's imitative power is weakest. His exact attention to the minutiæ of language dates from the time when he is thrown into a wider circle and has to make himself understood by many, so that his language becomes really identical with that of the community, where formerly he and his mother would rest contented with what they, but hardly anyone else, could understand. (Jespersen 1922: 147)

It would appear that Jespersen's "little language" is amply comparable to the talk of private emotional connotation by La Barre.

It is the same everywhere. Hawthorne writes: "Pearl mumbled something into his ear, that sounded, indeed, like human language, but was only such gibberish as children may be heard amusing themselves with, by the hour together" (The Scarlet Letter, 173). And R. L. Stevenson: "Children prefer the shadow to the substance. When they ight be speaking intelligibly together, they chatter senseless gibberish by the hour, and are quite happy because they are making believe to speak French" (Virginibus P., 236; cf. Glenconner, p. 40; Stern, pp. 76, 91, 103). Meringer's boy (2.1) took the music-book and sang a tune of his own making with incomprehensible words. (Jespersen 1922: 149)

I had one such memorable experience when I, an Estonian, was in a Russian kindergarten: Igor approached me and spoke complete gibberish that sounded like minced Russian. Immediately afterwards he told the others around us that he just spoke Estonian to me. They probably caught the deceit in my lack of reply and puzzled look.

Originally Fare well was only said to some one going away. If now the departing guest says Farewell to his friend who is staying at home, it can only be because the word Farewell has been conceived as a fixed formula, without any consciousness of the meaning of its parts. (Jespersen 1922: 176)

"In 'good morning' and 'good-bye' the referential function lapses, i.e., these verbal signs are not symbols, it is enough if they are suitable." (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 234)

Chin-chin, according to the same source, is from Chinese ts'ing-ts'ing, Pekingese ch'ing-ch'ing, a term of salutation answering to 'thank you, adieu,' but the English have extended its sphere of application very considerably, using it as a noun meaning 'salutation, compliment,' and as a verb meaning "to worship (by bowing and striking the chin), to reverence, adore, implore, to deprecate anger, to wish on something, invite, ask" (Leland). (Jespersen 1922: 222)

This is "The Ultimate Gesture of Deference and Debasement" - Kowtowing in China (Hevia 2009). It looks like nonverbal affiliates to greeting and other politeness formulae are unavoidable.

[...] wailo, or wylo, which is probably from away; it means 'go away, away with you! go, depart, gone.' (Jespersen 1922: 223)

Historical phatic utterances? The Wikipedia article about Chinese Pidgin English contains the above note with citation to Online Etymology Dictionary: "The term "pidgin" itself is believed by some etymologists to be a corruption of the pronunciation of the English word "business" by the Chinese." It also said that it was developed by the English (agentive emphasis) and words like "ploper (plopa)" (infra, 224) do sound "humiliating".

'You belong clever inside,' 'you are intelligent.' The usualy way of asking the price of something is 'how much belong?' (Jespersen 1922: 224)

Good illustrations of how this pidgin English souds like children's speech and that of someone with simply not enough skill with standard English to utter full sentences. The latter illustration especially rings like it could be uttered by an Estonian who has picked up only enough English from the American cultural influence to barely conduct everyday practical matters. Jespersen, as a turn-of-the-century man in a Skandinavian country didn't find these notes too offensive to publish.

And we have seen that there are some words which the Easterners must naturally suppose to be English, while the English think that they belong to the vernacular, and in using them each party is thus under the delusion that he is rendering a service to the other. [...] From Schuchardt I take the following quotation: "The usual question on reaching the portico of an Indian bungalow is, Can missus see? - it being a popular superstition amongst the Europeans that to enable a native to understand English he must be addressed as if he were deaf, and in the most infantile language." This tendency to meet the 'inferior races' half-way in order to facilitate matters for them is by Churchill called "the one supreme axiom of international philology: the proper way to make a foreigner understand what you would say is to use broken English. He speaks it himself, therefore give him what he uses." We recognize here the same mistaken notion that we have seen above in the language of the nursery, where mothers and others will talk a curious sort of mangled English which is believed to represent real babytalk, though it has many traits which are purely conventional. In both cases these more or less artificial perversions are thought to be an aid to those who have not yet mastered the intricacies of the language in question, though the ultimate result is at best a retardation of the perfect acquisition of correct speech. (Jespersen 1922: 225)

I cinged at the remark about deafness and infantile language, which tie into the "scientific" prejudices in Malinowski, La Barre, and Jakobson, which picks its illustrative subjects from various non-standard representatives of what they purport to deal with (Mal's "primitives", Bar's primates and infants, Jak's birds, Natürvölker, and infants).

When later the white traders made permanent establishment in Oregon, a real language was required; and it was formed by drawing upon the Chinook for such words as were requisite, numerals, pronouns, and some adverbs and other words. Thus enriched, 'the Jargon,' as it now began to be styled, became of great service as a means of general intercourse. Now, French Canadians in the service of the fur companies were brought more closely into contact with the Indians, hunted with them, and lived with them on terms of familiarity. (Jespersen 1922: 229)

Connotations for the term jargon (a guest in some treatments of phaticity). The scene sounds like the stuff of Alejandro Iñárritu's The Revenant (2015).

"The origin of some of the words is rather whimsical. The Americans, British and French are distinguished by the terms Boston, Kinchotsh (King George), and pasaiuks, which is presumed to be the word Français (as neither f, r nor the nasal n can be pronounced by the Indians) with the Chinook plural termination uks added. (Jespersen 1922: 229)

It sounds like a Frenchmad had quarreled with a native about how to pronounce their people, with French word-endings being notoriously vague-sounding, and landed at "uks" as a compromise. Note: remove the i and you have a novel Estonian word for the French.

To sum up, this Oregon trade language is to be classed together with Beach-la-mar and Pidgin-English, not perhaps as 'bastard' or 'mongrel' languages - such expressions taken from biology always convey the wrong impression that a language is an 'organism' and had therefore better be avoided - but rather as makeshift languages or minimum languages, means of expression which do not serve all the purposes of ordinary languages, but may be used as substitutes where fuller and better ones are not available. (Jespersen 1922: 232)

Only now do I realize that the word "full" (as opposed to the "empty" or "small" of PC) can be substantiated with Malinowski's illustrations of the higher arts. That is, the "ordinary languages" can serve everyday conversation as much as practical goals as well as verbal art and philosophy. Essentially, Malinowski evidently didn't consider the language he was studing a "full" language in this sense? Above, Jespersen describes how this particular makeshift language he just discussed "has already the beginning of a literature", by which he means "songs, mostly composed by women" (infra, 231). Huh, songs and sermons fulfil both (verbal art and philosophy).

The natives, who had learnt such words from the French, evidently used them to other whites under the impression that thereby they could make themselves more readily understood, and the British and American traders probably imagined them to be real Chinook; anyhow, their use meant a substantial economy of mental exertion. (Jespersen 1922: 233)

Jakobson describes a similar situation between the Russian and Norwegian fishermen's language in the far north. The bold ending of the quote has heavy implications for PC (associations with Spencer's Style).

Finally, I would point the contrast between these makeshift languages and slang: the former are an outcome of linguistic poverty; they are born of the necessity and the desire to make oneself understood where the ordinary idiom of the individual is of no use, while slang expressions are due to a linguistic exuberance: the individual creating them knows perfectly well the ordinary words for the idea he wants to express, but in youthful playfulness he is not content with what is everybody's property, and thus consciously steps outside the routine of everyday language to produce something that is calculated to excite merriment or even admiration on the part of his hearers. (Jespersen 1922: 234)

Some lesser-known phatic tropes are associated with this phenomenon in the lesser studied corners of the domain (along with the study of humor). Slang basically aims to create an impolite but pleasant atmosphere of social interaction, praticularly among the youth. This must be why La Barre includes slang under phatic communication.

Vilhelm Thomsen informs me that the old Livonian language, which is now nearly extinct, is kept up with the greatest fidelity by the women, while the men are abandoning it for Lettish. (Jespersen 1922: 241)

Immediately precedenci this is a discussion of the Basque situation where women speak the language and men only French and forbid their children to learn their mother's tongue. Interestingly, this was turned around a half-century later when in "The Language Situation in Southern France" (Schlieben-Lange 1977) found that the men were linguistically conservative and women wanted their children to do well in French schools and society.

But when from the field of phonetics we come to that of vocabulary and style, we shall find a much greater number of differences, though they have received very little attention in linguistic works. A few have been mentioned by Greenough and Kittredge: "the use of common in the sense of 'vulgar' is distinctly a feminine peculiarity. It would sound effeminate in the speech of a man. So, in a less degree, with person for 'woman,' in contrast to 'lady.' Nice for 'fine must have originated in the same way" (W, p. 54). (Jespersen 1922: 245)

To this the only natural response available today is printed in parts on the following page: "the old-fashioned prudery which prevented ladies from using such words [...] is now rightly looked upon as exaggerated and more or less comical" (infra, 246).

This is not invalidated by the fact that quite recently, with the rise of the feminist movement, many young ladies have begun to imitate their brothers in that as well as in other respects. (Jespersen 1922: 248)

On the subject of swearing. How little changes in a century?

Woman as a rule follows the main road of language, where man is often inclined to turn aside into a narrow footpath or even to strike out a new path for himself. (Jespersen 1922: 248)

This goes equally well for some other grant sex differences, particularly in ambition.

Most of those who are in the habit of reading books in foreign languages will have experienced a much greater average difficulty in books written by male than by female authors, because they contain many more rare words, dialect words, technical terms, etc. Those who want to learn a foreign language will therefore always do well at the first stage to read many ladies' novels, because they will there continually meet with just those everyday words and combinations which the foreigner is above all in need of, what may be termed the indispensable small-change of a language. (Jespersen 1922: 248)

Sexist and accurate. The small-change of language sounds eminently phatic.

[...] certain experiments made by the American professor Jastrow would tend to show that we have here a trait that is independent of education. He asked twenty-five university students of each sex, belonging to the same class and thus in possession of the same preliminary training, to write down as rapidly as possible a hundred words, and to record the time. Words in sentences were not allowed. There were thus obtained 5,000 words, and of these many were of course the same. But the community of thought was greater in the women; while the men used 1,375 different words, their female class-mates used only 1,123. (Jespersen 1922: 248)

That's not a great difference, and I'm beginning to notice an accusation of femininity in "common" and "community".

"In general the feminine traits revealed by this study are an attention to the immediate surroundings, to the finished product, to the ornamental, the individual, and the concrete; while the masculine preference is for the more remote, the constructive, the useful, the general and the abstract." (See Havelock Ellis, Man and Woman, 4th ed., London, 1904, p. 189.) (Jespersen 1922: 249)

Harmful stereotypes!

Thus it comes that some men are confirmed punsters, while women are generally slow to see any point in a pun and scarcely ever perpetrate one themselves. (Jespersen 1922: 249)

Just another way of putting Christopher Hitchens's 2007 Vanity Fair article.

These quotations illustrate types of sentences which are becoming so frequent that they would seem soon to deserve a separate chapter in modern grammars, 'Did you ever?' 'Well, I never!' being perhaps the most important of these 'stop-short' or 'pull-up' sentences, as I think they might be termed. (Jespersen 1922: 251)

An interesting trivial notice, something of the spirit of "Where Were We?" (Alonso 2002).

Meredith says of one of his heroines: "She thought in blanks, as girls do, and some women," and Hardy singularizes one of his by calling her "that novelty among women - one who finished a thought before beginning the sentence which was to convey it." (Jespersen 1922: 251)

Eshter Vilar has something to this effect, involving the mystifying effect of femininity (girls, women need only be mentioned to make so few words deeply meaningful) and emptiness in The Manipulated Man. Fullness was discussed above; emptiness is one of those less popular phatic tropes (speech empty of meaning; the meanings of words do not belong to the words symbolically but pragmatically, as in the vivid Polly and Arthur illustration in phatic implications).

If we compare long periods as constructed by men and women, we shall in the former find many more instances of intricate or involute structures with clause within clause, a relative clause in the middle of a conditional clause or vice versa, with subordination and sub-subordination, while the typical form of longe feminine periods is that of co-ordination, one sentence or clause being added to another on the same plane and the gradation between the respective ideas being marked not grammatically, but emotionally, by stress and intonation, and ni writing by underlining. (Jespersen 1922: 251)

These are some lofty ideas. To simplify, men's speech infolves more complex mental gymnastics and women's speech grades between different ideas with emphasis. On the following page: "Or we may use a simile that a male period is often like a set of Chinese boxes, one within another, while a feminine period is like a set of pearls joined together on a string of and and similar words." (infra, 252)

Ellis (Man and W. 195) explains this in this way: with the quick reader it is as though every statement were admitted immediately and without inspection to fill the vacant chambers of the mind, while with the slow reader every statement undergoes an instinctive process of cross-examination; every new fact seems to stir up the accumulated stores of facts among which it intrudes, and so impedes rapidity of mental action. (Jespersen 1922: 252)

For me this is the distinction between a fast and slow text, which nearly accord to related distinctions (fiction/non-fiction; often further, easy and good), distinguished between whether the text is something I "get into" or whether it's one I have some sort of internal dialogue with (most often in the form of comment reply; incommunication).

This reminds me of one of Swift's "Thoughts on Various Subjects": "The common flunecy of speech in many men, and most women, is owing to the scarcity of matter, and scarcity of words; for whoever is a master of language, and hath a mind full of ideas, will be apt in speaking to hesitate upon the choice of both: where common speakers have only one set of ideas, and one set of words to clothe them in; and these are always ready at the mouth. So [|] people come faster out of a church when it is almost empty, than when a crowd is at the door" (Works, Dublin, 1735, i. 305). (Jespersen 1922: 252-253)

"This reminds me of one of Swift's [text]" is something I would "comment reply". The emphasized portion is, once again, eerily reminiscent of PC. It covers equally the ideational aspect ("communicating ideas"), linguistic homogeneity typical of formulas and small talk, and it's "readiness", as it is put here, is embodied in more complex matters (propitiating the strangers, tension release, etc.).

But this again is connected with another indubitable fact, that women do not reach the same extreme points as men, but are nearer the average in most respects. Havelock Ellis, who establishes this in various fields, rightly remarks that the statement that genius is undeniably of more frequent occurrence among men than among women has sometimes been regarded by women as a slur upon their sex, but that it does not appear that women have been equally anxious to find fallacies in the statement that idiocy is more common among men. Yet the two statements must be taken together. Genius is more common among men by virtue of the same general tendency by which idiocy is more common among men. The two facts are but two aspects of a larger zoological fact - the greater variability of the male (Man and W. 420). (Jespersen 1922: 253)

What year is this? Does anything change in a century's time?

If, however, we find a particular period especially fertile in linguistic changes (phonetic, morphological, semantic, or all at once), it is quite natural that we should turn our attention to the social state of the community at that time in order, if possible, to discover some specially favouring circumstances. (Jespersen 1922: 260)

This phraseology is reminiscent of Spencer (the social state) though with a modern bent (the community).

Secondly, there may be no periods in which the ordinary restraints on linguistic change make themselves less felt than usual, because the whole community is animated by a strong feeling of independence and wants to break loose from social ties of many kinds, including those of a powerful school organization or literary tradition. (Jespersen 1922: 260)

Isn't the current era kinda like this? People live independent lives, connected by technology while IRl "social ties" deteriorate. This period of peace and independent is not as enthralling as times of disaster, wars, public uproar and mass movements.

I ma also inclined to think that the unparalleled rapidity with which, during the last hundred years, the vulgar speech of English cities has been differentiated from the language of the educated classes (nearly all long vowels being shifted, etc.) finds its natural explanation in the unexampled misery of child-life among industrial workers in the first half of the last century - one of the most disgraceful blots on our overpraised civilization. (Jespersen 1922: 261)

Unexpected Malinowskianism: "To the primitive mind, whether among savages or our own uneducated classes, taciturnity means not only unfriendliness but directly a bad character." (PC 4.3)

Sütterlin thinks it enough to mention some sound changes in which the new sound is more difficult than the old; these being admitted, he concludes (and others have said the same thing) that those other instances in which the new sound is evidently easier than the old one cannot be explained by the principle of ease. But it seems clear that this conclusion is not valid: the correct inference can only be that the tendency towards ease may be at work in some cases, though not in all, because there are other forces which may at times neutralize it or prove stronger than it. (Jespersen 1922: 262)

This may become preferable to the principle of economy of mental effort (?) in explaining the pleasantness and possibly other troypes of PC.

[...] but it is no less true that the act of speaking always requires some exertion, muscular as well as psychical, on the part of the speaker, and that he is therefore apt on many occasions to speak with as little effort as possible, often with the result that his voice is not loud enough, or that his words become indistinct if he does not move his tongue, lips, etc., with the required precision or force. (Jespersen 1922: 262)

Many definitions of PC basically amount to a lack of psychical exertion (most frequently in terms of information content and processing).

In thus taking up the codgels for the ease theory I am not afraid of hearing the objection that I ascribe too great power to human laziness, indolence, inertia, shirking, easygoingness, sloth, sluggishness, lack of energy, or whatever other beautiful synonyms have been invented for 'economy of effort' or 'following the line of least resistance.' (Jespersen 1922: 263)

This list of synonyms runs the gamut from negative (laziness) to positive (easygoingness) qualities; I'm sure if necessary I could find examples of both tendencies in my corpus.

When this lazy tendency is indulged to the full, the result is an indistinct protracted vocal murmur, with here and there possibly one or other sound (most often an s) rising to the surface: think, for instance, of the way in which we often hear grace said, prayers mumbled and other similar formulas muttered inarticulately, with half-closed lips and the least possible movement of the rest of the vocal organs. This is tolerated more or less in cases in which the utterance is hardly meant as a communication to any human being; otherwise it will generally be met with a request to repeat what has been said, the social curb being thus applied to the easygoing tendencies of the individual. (Jespersen 1922: 266)

What the holy phaticity?! Lazy articulation → vocal murmur → characteristic of ritual formulae → hardly meant as a communication → the social curb.

Russian sudar' (gosudar'), 'sir,' is colloquially shortened into a mere s, which may in subservient speech be added to almost any word as a meaningless enclitic. And curiously enough the same sound is used in exactly the same way in conversational Spanish, as buenos for bueno 'good,' only here it is a weakening of señor (Hanssen, Span. gramm. 60): thus two entirely different words, from identical psychological motives, yield the same result in two distinct countries. (Jespersen 1922: 266)

Does this link up with Drazdauskienė's phatic approach to honorifics?

Formulas of greeting and of politeness are liable to similar truncations [...] (Jespersen 1922: 266)

Lord almighty. Palju tervisi! → Terwit! → Tere.

[...] we must look for a more psychological explanation. This naturally must be found in the ease with which a word is understood in the given connexion or situation, and especially in its worthlessness for the purpose of communication. Worthlessness, however, is not the moving power, but merely the reason why less restraint than usual is imposed on the ever-present inclination of speakers to minimize effort. A parallel from another, though cognate, sphere of human activity may perhaps bring out my point of view more clearly. The taking off of one's hat, combined with a low bow, served from the first to mark a more or less servile submissiveness to a prince or conqueror; then the gesture was gradually weakened, and a slight raising of the hat came to be a polite greeting veen between equals; this is reduced to a mere touching of the hat or cap, and among friends the slightest movement of the hand in the direction of the hat is thought a sufficient greeting. When, however, it is important to indicate deference, the full ceremonial gesture is still used (though not to the same extent by all nations); otherwise no value si attached to it, and the inclination to spare oneself all unnecessary exertion has caused it to dwindle down to the slightest muscular action possible. (Jespersen 1922: 268)

Unexpected history of politeness behaviour! PC is the ground zero for the principle of ease because "The whole situation consists in what happens linguistically." (PC 7.7)

The above instances of the truncation of everyday formulas, etc., illustrate the length to which the ease principle can be carried when a word has little significatory value and the intention of the speker can therefore be vaguely, but sufficiently, understood if the proper sound is merely suggested or hinted at. (Jespersen 1922: 268)

It seems to amount to an explanation for the greater rate of linguistic development in meaningless everyday rituals.

The worthlessness may affect a whole phrase, a word, or mere one syllable or sound. (Jespersen 1922: 268)

Or, per Malinowski, a whole "mode of using language".

[...] this may become a regular speech habit, more particularly in the case of certain set phrases, e.g. (Good) morning | (Do you) see? | (Will) that do? | (I shall) see you again this afternoon; Fr. (na)Turellement | (Je ne me) rapelle plus, etc. (Jespersen 1922: 273)

More evidence that "phatic utterances" used to be called "set phrases".

As many people, either from ignorance or from carelessness, are far from being precise in thought and expression - they "Mean not, but blunder round about a meaning" - words come to be applied in senses unknown to former generations, and some of these senses may gradually become fixed and established. In some cases the final result of such want of precision may even be beneficial; thus English at first had no means of expressing futurity in verbs. Then it became more and more customary to say 'he will come,' which at first meant 'he has the will to come,' to express his future coming apart from his volition - thus, also, 'it will rain,' etc. (Jespersen 1922: 274)

Relevant for the prominent representative anecdote "It rains" and the phatic trope of talking about weather. It may also turn useful in the relation between free will and futurity (e.g. determinism in theology).

But, important as they are, these are not the only changes that speech sounds undergo: there are other moods than that of ordinary listless everyday conversation, and they may lead to modifications of pronunciation which are different from and may even be in direct opposition to those mentioned or hinted at above. (Jespersen 1922: 276)

On equal footing with "free, aimless, social intercourse" (PC 1.1).

We find it in the wealth of pet-names which lovers have for each other and mothers for their children, in the nicknames of schoolboys and of 'pals' of later life, as well as in the perversions of ordinary words which at times become the fashion among small sets of people who are constantly thrown together and have plenty of spare time; cf. also the 'little language' of Swift and Stella. Most of these forms of speech have a narrow range and have only an ephemeral existence, but in the world of slang the same tendencies are constantly at work. (Jespersen 1922: 298)

More on playfulness in language. Notice, once again, the overlap with the groups and dyads variously pointed out by La Barre in his The Human Animal as representative instances of phatic communication.

'follow,' Lat. sequor, Gr. hépomai, Skr. sácate. Here belongs the Lat. socius, OE. secg 'man,' orig. 'follower.' (Jespersen 1922: 306)

One piece of etymology I'm particularly interested in. This is affirmed by Wiktionary, as opposed to socius as "friendship" (cf. Turner 2008: 18).

It is, of course, impossible to say how great a proportion of the etymologies given in dictionaries should strictly be classed under each of the following heads: (1) certain, (2) probable, (3) possible, (4) improbable, (5) impossible - but I am afraid the first two classes would be the least numerous. (Jespersen 1922: 307; footnote 1)

Perhaps the stages I should consider when dealing with the etymological question of "phatic" and whether or not it could be a play on "sympathy".

[...] often written hm or h'm, which thus becomes the interjection of an unshaped contradiction. (Jespersen 1922: 315)

As juicy a phrase as that one about the interrogative eyebrow tilt.

The common belief of linguists that one form or one expression is just as good as another, provided they are both found in actual use, and that each language is to be considered a perfect vehicle for the thoughts of the nation speaking it [...] (Jespersen 1922: 319)

An addition to the series of "communicating ideas", particularly above and in Sapir's Language.

What is to be taken into account is of course the interests of the speaking community, and if we consistently consider language as a set of human actions with the definite end in view, namely, the communication of thoughts and feelings, then it becomes easy to find tests by which to measure linguistic values [...] (Jespersen 1922: 324)

More on the "communicating ideas" (and, here, feelings; though not yet practical instructions? - too fine-grained?). PC contests the definiteness of this end.

[...] constructions like those used would be impossible to imagine in a language meant to be an intelligible vehicle of thought. (Jespersen 1922: 343)

Another "communicating ideas" phrase.

Even granted that these three arguments given at different times, each of them in turn as the sole argument, must be taken as supplementing each other, the three-legged stool on which the root theory is thus made to sit is a very shaky one, for none of the three legs is very solid, as we shall soon have occasion to see. (Jespersen 1922: 368)

Phraseology for the apophatic definition, which, too, stands on three very shaky legs.

Professor Hempl told me that one of his little daugters, when they had a black kitten which was called Nig (short for Nigger), immediately christened a gray kitten Grig and a brown one Brownig. (Jespersen 1922: 389)

A burst of laughter followed by tsk-tsk.

The ending -a serves to denote not only female beings, but also abstracts, and if in later usage it is also applied to males, as in Latin nauta 'sailor,' auriga 'charioteer,' this is only a derived use of the abstract denoting an activity, sailoring, driving, etc. (Jespersen 1922: 394)

A possible justification for Phatica.

In Rovigno the surrounding Slavs are called čuje from their exclamation čuje 'listen, I say,' and in Hungary German visitors are called vigéc (from wie geht's?), and customs officers vartapiszli (from wart' a bissl). (Jespersen 1922: 399)

Oddly similar as the Slavs calling German peoples nemets.

The verb patter comes from pater (= paternoster), and at first meant to repeat that prayer, to mumble one's prayers; but then it was associated with the homophonous verb patter 'to make a rapid succession of pats' and came under the influence of echoic words like prattle, chatter, jabber; it now, like these, means 'to talk rapidly or glibly' and is of all intents a truly symbolical word; cf. also the substantive patter 'secret lingo, speechifying, talk.' (Jespersen 1922: 407)

Similar to the Estonian vadin (vadistama).

One may here quote Whitney: "No theme in linguistic science is more often and more voluminously treated than this, and by scholars of every grade and tendency; nor any, it may be added, with less profitable result in proportion to the labour expended; the greater part of what is said and written upon it is mere windy talk, the assertion of subjective views which commend themselves to no mind save the one that produces them, and which are apt to be offered with confidence, and defended with a tenacity, that are in inverse ratio to their acceptableness. This has given the whole question a bad repute among sober-minded philologists" (OLS I. 279). (Jespersen 1922: 412)

This "windy talk" sounds like PC in its asymmetry.

If we now try to sum up what has been inferred about primitive speech, we see that by our backward march we arrived at a language whose units had a very meagre substance of thought, and this as specialized and concrete as possible; but at the same time the phonetic body was ample; and the bigger and longer the words, the thinner the thoughts! (Jespersen 1922: 432)

This is actually a more or less substantiated statement to the effect that primitive man is no great metaphysician, drawn on the evidence that the languages of "savage tribes" are more concrete than abstract.

Much cry and little wool! No period has seen less taciturn people than the first framers of speech; primitive speakers were not reticent and reserved beings, but youthful men and women babbling merrily on, without being so very particular about the meaning of each word. They did not narrowly weigh every syllable - what were a couple of syllables more or less to them? (Jespersen 1922: 432)

Huh, also PC: "taciturnity means not only unfriendliness but directly a bad character" (PC 4.3); and "Are words in Phatic Communion used primarily to convey meaning, the meaning which is symbolically theirs? Certainly not!" (PC 6.3)

They chattered away for the mere pleasure of chattering, resembling therein many a mother of our own time, who will chatter away to baby without measuring her words or looking too closely into the meaning of each; nay, who is not a bit troubled by the consideration that the little deary does not understand a single word of her affectionate eloquence. (Jespersen 1922: 432)

Getting weirder and weirder.

But primitive speech - and we return here to an idea thrown out above - still more resembles the speech of little baby himself, before he begins to frame his own language after the pattern of the grown-ups; the language of our remote forefathers was like that ceaseless humming and crooning with which no thoughts are as yet connected, which merely amuses and delights the little one. Language originated as play, and the organs of speech were first trained in this singing sport of idle hours. (Jespersen 1922: 433)

I'm not sure whether this might have influenced Malinowski but it certainly seems like a possible candidate for Jakobson's consideration of infants, who "are prone to communicate before being able to send or receive informative communication" (1960d: 24).

In primitive speech I hear the laughing cries of exultation when lads and lasses vied with one another to attract the attention of the other sex, when everybody sang his merriest and danced his bravest to lure a pair of eyes to throw admiring glances in his direction. Language was born in the courting days of manking; the first utterances of speech I fancy to myself like something between the nightly love-lyrics of puss upon the tiles and the melodious love-songs of the nightingale. (Jespersen 1922: 434)

This I've seen before, quoted in an early source (Goldberg 1938).

These utterances were at first, like the singing of birds and the roaring of many animals and the crying and crooning of babies, exclamative, not communicative - that is, they came forth from an inner craving of the individual without any thought of any fellow-creatures. Our remote ancestors had not the slightest notion that such a thing as communicating ideas and feelings to someone else was possible. (Jespersen 1922: 436)

Analogies with PC continue, culminating in the trope of "communicating ideas" that I've noted throughout the book.

One point must be constantly kept in mind. Although we now regard the communication of thought as the main object of speaking, there is no reason for thinking that this has always been the case; it is perfectly possible that speech has developed from something which had no other purpose than that of exercising the muscles of the mouth and throat and of amusing oneself and others by the production of pleasant or possibly only strange sounds. the motives for uttering sounds may have changed entirely in the course of centuries without the speakers being at any point conscious of this change within them. (Jespersen 1922: 437)

In the end Jespersen himself turns against the trope by pointing purposeless expressions.


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