By the term potentiality we mean, for the present moment, static oscillation, i. e. instability at the given period; it is opposed to dynamic changeability, manifested by alterations occurring in the course of time. In linguistics, the term de- notes two kinds of phenomena.
First, one can speak about static [ = synchronistic, J. V. ] oscillation of speech among the individuals inside the communities of language. This phenomenon concerns not only the difficult problem of the dialects but also language as the proper object of linguistic research. It is true, linguistics necessarily takes as its starting point the speech of an individual but it is in no way confined to it. Linguistics pro- ceeds from the concrete utterances of an individual to his speech- habits, to his speech, and finally to dialect and language, i. e. to language usage existing in a narrower or wider language community. Language thus includes, theoretically, all the phenomena of language that occur in concrete utterances of all individual speakers, belonging at that time to the same broad language community, called a nation. In reality, of course, linguistics can never do justice to this fact, not only on account of the astonishing richness of language phenomena in general, but mainly in view of the fact that such a community - especially a culturally highly active one - witnesses the rise of new, even if transient, language phenomena day by day. For this reason, from its very beginnings linguistic analysis has almost invariably concentrated on the main outlines of languages, the more so that such outlines usually prove to be more accessible to primitive methods of analysis. This simplification (the degree of which naturally differs in different languages and in the examination of different kinds of language phenomena) mostly originated unconsciously and has been as unconsciously handed down to the following generations. As a result of this, the seeming simplicity of language phenomena is not infrequently regarded not as a consequence of the employed method, but as an actual quality of the examined phenomena, and this often leads to regrettable errors. The very development of linguistics thus reveals that linguists should not only try to discover regularities as general as possible but also to fight, even more intensely, against the excessive, mechanical simplification of language phenomena.
Even more important - at least in the present-day stage of linguistic research - than the protest against mixing up the methodological simplification of language with its actual makeup should be the emphasis to be laid on the manner in which the potentiality of language phenomena is actually manifested, i. e. on the static oscillation of the speech of an individual. It may seem that this issue is virtually identical with the issue pointed out in the preceding paragraph. As a matter of fact, however, there are linguists who are fully conscious of the differences existing among the speech habits of individual speakers of the community, but regard the speech habits of an individual as too stable. One may only quote Oertel, who in his Lectures on the Study of Language (New York and London, 1902) very aptly discusses the problem of dialect and language, but believes that, on normal conditions, the speech habits and the utterance of an adult individual must be constant.1 Both scholars quoted by Oertel, Bourdon and Rousselot, use much more cautious language than may appear from the incomplete quotations given by Oertel on p. 104; the original writings by these authors speak differently. Bourdon’s paper L’évolution phonétique du langage (Revue philosophique de la France et de l’étranger, 26, 1888) admittedly says on p. 344 that the speech of an adult person is a complex of actions fixed by habit, 2 but if one reads, in the final paragraphs, that the speech of an individual is apt to be modified, if very slightly, 3 one sees that, after all, Bourdon does not consider individual speech to be so constant as Oertel’s words might make one think. And as for Rousselot, he himself, in his well-known monograph Les modifications phonétiques du langage (quoted here according to the original wording found in Revue des patois galio-romans, IV-V, 1891-2), limits the validity of his thesis, stating that the dialect is fixed in one and the same individual, 4 by three exceptions. The fixed character, that is, applies only to the qualities of the primary sounds themselves, not to secondary qualities, such as quantity, ‘sharpness’ and intensity, further that it is interfered with by analogy, and finally, that it does not apply at all to non-domestic words. Non-phonetic aspects of language, naturally, are left unnoticed by Rousselot. Obviously, even a modern linguist so well informed as Oertel in his above-mentioned book regards the oscillation of individual speech as so slight and unimportant that he declares the constancy of individual speech as a principle, despite the hints to the opposite by Bourdon and direct limitations by Rousselot. The more justified, it is believed, appears to be the present paper, which intends to prove that static oscillation is, in many respects, an important feature of language phenomena, and that the recognition of this fact may be of some help in solving a number of important linguistic problems.
We will start from the phonetic aspect of speech, in which constancy appears to be the greatest. To make our evidence as exact as possible, we will quote, in the first place, the data obtained by experimental methods.
Very instructive are the results of more recent research into the quantity of sounds in Southern English of educated speakers. For our purpose it will suffice to notice stressed vowels in monosyllabic words. Handbooks of historical grammar, such as Kaluza’s Historische Grammatik der englischen Sprache, distinguish three categories of vowels in stressed syllables: short (e.g., æ in back, bag, etc., I in it, bid, etc.), long (such as ɑ: in staff, ask, etc., ə: in stir, dirt, herd, etc.) and diphthongs (e. g. ai in dry, bite, bride, etc.; ei in way, gate, made, etc.). Phoneticians, however, have long been conscious of the fact that things are much more complicated. Already in 1877, in his Handbook of Phonetics, Sweet was the first to discuss in some detail the quantity of English sounds in monosyllables. With regard to length, he distinguishes three kinds of vowels: long, half-long and short. Long are only the diphthongs and the so-called long vowels at the end of words (from the above-quoted instances belong here the cases of stir, dry, way) and before voiced consonants (as in herd, bride, made). Half-long are the diphthongs and the so-called long vowels before voiceless consonants (thus, in the above items staff, ask, dirt, bite, gate), and the so-called short vowels before voiced consonants (thus, in bag, beg, bid). Finally, as short are handled by Sweet only the so-called short vowels before voiceless consonants (as in back, set, bit). Viëtor went further than Sweet in that he subjected English quantity to experimental analysis (Elemente der Phonetik, 3rd. ed., p. 271): this revealed even greater differences. But Viëtor’s materials were only scanty, and the person whose pronunciation was recorded was an Englishman born in Australia. His findings were, therefore, aptly supplemented in a thorough monograph by E. A. Meyer (Englische Lautdauer. Eine experimental - phonetische Untersuchung. Skrifter utgifna af K. Humanistiska Vetenskaps-Samfundet i Uppsala, VIII, 3, Uppsala - Leipzig, 1903). The writer is registering the results of almost 5000 measurements taken on the pronunciations of two Englishmen born in Southern England; from his results we may select the following data giving the length of Sweet’s three categories of quantity in figures (in hundredths of seconds):
Results of this kind have led Meyer, naturally, to a new wording of Sweet’s rule. The most important part of his wording is the statement asserting that, caeteris paribus, the vowel is pronounced the shorter the higher is the position occupied by the tongue in pronouncing it. But even if one grants all the fine consequences derived by Meyer from his measurements, the quantitative differences of individual vowels and diphthongs are seen to persist. Not only have identical vowels and diphthongs been found to differ even before identical consonants in words of different lengths, but even in pronouncing one and the same word twice or three times (which is indicated in the above instances by the use of braces) the length of the vowel was different each time although the words were always pronounced in isolation, by one and the same speaker, and, as the author puts it, with the natural intensity of sound and in the tone of calm statement. We see thus that even on quite identical conditions the quantity of stressed vowels in monosyllabic words is not constant but variable, potential.
The extent of oscillation in the length of vowels in words reoccurring in connected speech (although the words were used in the same context and syntactic position) was revealed in the analysis of American English speakers presented by Scripture, Elements of Experimental Phonetics (New York, 1902). One finds there three times, in the same sentence and always immediately before a pause, the same word glæs (in British English, gla:s); the length of æ is found to be, in hundredths of a second, 57-45-35. The word rabin (Br. E. robin) occurs there twice, each time before a pause; the measurements of ɑ revealed 14 and 10.3 hundredths of a second, while the corre- sponding figures for the i-vowel were 5.6 and 8.2. The results of measurements done by Victor oscillate so as to be most surprising. In the pronunciation of one and the same person, e. g., the vowel æ in pad listed, in successive measurements, 55, 35, and 25 hundredths of a second; the diphthong ai in bide, again, 25, 20, and 15.
But the oscillation of quantity is not entirely free in the English sounds. It moves within the limits pointed out by Meyer in his chapter entitled “Der zeitliche Spielraum der Artikulationen”. It should be added that the extent of oscillation is different in different sounds. According to Meyer (who, how- ever, admits that his materials are scarce), the tense vowels (“gespannte Vokale”, i.e. ij, uw, ou, ei, ai, au, o:, ɑ:, ə:) display less oscillation than the lax vowels (“ungespannte Vokale”, i.e. i, u, ɑ, e, o, æ). It also seems that the amount of oscillation is directly proportionate to higher tongue position. From a different angle the oscillation of English quantity is analysed by Verrier in one of the chapters of his Essai sur les principes de la métrique anglaise, vol. I (Paris, 1909). He, however, presents only the results of his subjective, auditive observation and is mainly concerned with syllables. Just as Sievers, in analysing the German syllables (Phonetik, §707), so Verrier in his research into the English syllables distinguishes between syllables that can and that cannot be prolonged. Into the latter category are said to belong all long stressed syllables: if the vowel is long “by nature”, then it is the vocalic element that is prolonged, while in the case of a vowel long “by position” the prolongation affects the following consonant (e. g., ɑ- • • mz ‘arms’, la• • f ‘laugh’, nou ‘no’ wel ‘well’, wan• • • də ‘wonder’, etc. ). The short stressed syllable cannot be prolonged; instead, the prolongation sometimes affects the following unstressed syllable, the vowel of which can always be prolonged (píti• • • ‘pity’, stédi• • • ‘steady’, etc.). But the vocalic oscillation does not constitute the only limitation of the potentiality of English quantity. This is shown by the table given by Meyer on p. 101, showing the oscillation in the lengths of the initial consonants p, b, i, l
Most interesting is here the comparison of the results obtained in b and f, both of which cover the same area of oscillation but differ greatly by the inner distribution of the registered results. The cases of b reach their maximum frequency when the length of the vowel amounts to 10 hundredths of a second, while in f this maximum frequency is reached at the length of 12. This agrees with Meyer’s other data, showing that the average length of word-initial b in his experiments amounted to 11.8 hundredths of a second, while for the word-initial f the corresponding length was 12.5. One can say, then, that the length of present-day English sounds potentially oscillates but that this oscillation varies in individual sounds. Within the limits of this oscillation, individual concrete instances are seen to form a distinct line which can be established by statistical methods. The direction of the line is determined by influences which are not strong enough to fix the oscillation of quantity quite constantly or to make possible, e. g., exact calculation of the results of the given forces (as, for instance, in physics), but which, for all that, are manifested quite distinctly. The application of the term ‘law’ to such linguistic relations would suggest a wrong idea of an influence too absolute, and thus it is better to denote them by some other name and cadi them, say, ‘static [ = synchronic, J. V. ] tendencies.’
What has been said above may suffice to prove that potentiality is not an impossible or unknown fact on the phonic level of language. Similarly, many interesting materials might be found in the data concerning the pitch and intensity of sounds occurring in identical words of identical meanings and in identical contexts. The quality itself of the sounds is declared by Rousselot (l. c.) to be constant. Against this should be pointed out the statements by Scripture in a number of his writings, e. g., in his analysis of the diphthong ai contained in Researches in Experimented Phonetics (First Series. Stud. Yale Psych. Lab. 1899), and again in the summary printed as the second Appendix to his Elements of Experimental Phonetics, and in his discussion of the so-called qualitative analysis of sound curves in Researches in Experimented Phonetics, published by the Carnegie Institute, Washington, in 1906. Here Scripture characterizes, in a general way, the American English spoken sounds as phenomena the very essence of which consists in being changed from moment to moment (p. 41). The sound curves - and, thus, the sounds recorded by them - are said to be as irregular as the leaves of the trees: no two of them are exactly alike, but the individual curves of that variety resemble one another and differ from the varieties of other curves (p. 49)• Thus, one is again faced with potentiality, enclosed, however, within definite limits and certainly revealing, again, some static tendency.
The phonic level of language has afforded us materials delimiting the term of the potentiality of language. The morphological level, by which we mean all facts concerned with the forms of words and sentences, will show that the acceptance of the potentiality of language can help to solve some controversial points of linguistic theory.
First, there is the important problem of the independence of the word5 within the sentence. The history of this problem is closely connected with the history of linguistic research in the last fifty years. The examined linguistic materials used to be drawn from the earlier periods of languages, where they appear to be simplified and fossilized by conventional spelling and, certainly, by logical analysis as well; for this reason, the independence of the word within the sentence used to be taken as a matter of course. This explains why, besides the later favored historical phonology, morphology ranked as an im- portant branch of grammar. This explains, e.g., Miklosich’s conception of syntax as a part of grammar dealing exclusively with the meanings of word-categories and word-forms (Vergleichende Syntax, IV, 1 ). Ries voiced an energetic protest against Miklosich’s definition (Was ist Syntax? Marburg, 1894), but he did not discuss the problem of the word’s independence: he, too, regarded it as a matter of course.
If linguists started to take an interest in our problem, this was the merit of the phoneticians. In their examination of actual speech they realized that the independence of the word within the sentence is by no means certain. In his interesting attempt at a static analysis of Modern English (Words, Logic and Grammar, Transactions of the Philological Society 1875-6, London, 1877, pp. 470-503), Sweet appears to have been the first to declare that the word is not a unit of actual speech. For this reason, in his Elementarbuch des gesprochenen Englisch (3rd ed., Oxford, 1904), he divides the spoken chain into the socalled stress-groups; following the analogy of musical notation, he usually starts such a group with a stressed vowel. Sweet was followed by Sievers (Grundzuge der Phonetik, 4th ed., 1893), who, however, with his keen sense of reality, instantly found that words must not be apodictically denied even phonetic independence. He says, therefore, that a spoken sentence is, from the phonetic viewpoint, homogeneous in naïve speech, that the degree of its phonetic homogeneity increases with the degree of the naïveté of the utterance, and that even with the grammatically trained speakers the division of the utterance into stress-groups often asserts itself more strongly than the etymological and logical division into words and word-groups.
Sievers’ and partly also Saran’s theses (Deutsche Verslehre, Munich, 1907) have inspired Dittrich (see, most recently, his paper Konkordanz und Diskordanz in der Sprachbildung, Idg. Forschungen 25, pp. 1-37) who derives syntactic consequences from the phonetic theory of the non-independence (or even non- existence) of the word. On the basis of only a few instances given by Sievers he construes a whole theory of syntactic dis- cordance, implying the existence of wordless sentences (e. g. wosìntigə . . . fáŋənən?). Such radical syntactic conclusions have brought the problem, originally concerning only narrow phonetic circles, to the attention of wide circles of general linguists, who, until that time, had been taking the independence of the word, upon the whole, as self-evident. Its problematic character is mentioned, e. g., by Brugmann, who, however, merely states that the analysis of sentences into words may not be entirely successful (Kurze vergleichende Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen, Strassburg, 1902-4, pp. 281-2), and by Meillet (Introduction à l’étude comparative des langues indoeuropéennes, Paris, 1908, pp. 108-111), who admits that the word as a phonetic phenomenon cannot be strictly defined, but adduces two circumstances proving its definite delimitation also on the phonetic side, viz., the specific character of wordfinal sounds and the frequent occurrence of fixed word-stress. Finally, it should be recalled that psychologists and psycholog- ical linguists, analysing the psychical processes taking place in speaking, have attacked the problem of the independence of the word by trying to answer the question of how the spoken sentence is produced, tet us only mention Wundt’s chapters, stressing rather the historical aspects of the problem (Wort und Satz. Ursachen der Wortsonderung, in Völkerpsychologie, I. Die Sprache I, Leipzig, 1900, pp. 560 ff. ), and Finck’s theses, using also purely linguistic criteria. (Die Aufgabe und Gliederung der Sprachwissenschaft, Halle 1905, pp. 29 ff. ) In the following lines we shall attempt to give a general solution of the problem; only linguistic facts will be employed for the purpose.
There are many such facts, supplying evidence both for and against the independence. Phoneticians arguing that the word becomes completely absorbed by the sentence can justly refer to the acoustic impression preventing the foreigner ignorant of the language from distinguishing its individual words. This impression is confirmed (see Scripture’s Researches 1906, p. 45) also by objective recordings made by registering machines. The phoneticians can also refer to the fact, found in the development of some languages, that two words, closely united phonetically, are subject to a new, erroneous dissociation. Thus, in English an efeta > an ewte > a newte, a newt; a nadder (cf. Germ. Natter) > an adder, etc. (see Ch. Scott, English words which have gained or lost an initial consonant by attraction, Transactions of the American Philological Associ- ation 1892-4, and B. Fehr, Zur Agglutination in der englischen Sprache, Festschrift zum 14. Neuphilologentage in Zürich, 1910). It can also be pointed out that sometimes even linguists are not agreed whether, in a given case, one has to do with one or two words. Misplacing of word-limits in written sentences, such as is often committed by unlearned persons, is adduced as an argument against word independence, e. g., by Passy (Petite phonétique comparée des principales langues indo- européennes, Leipzig, 1906). This, however, does not prove more than that the word limits are not obvious, not that they are non-existent; admittedly, there are in any language many kinds of phenomena not obvious to a linguistically untrained speaker.
The arguments against the theory asserting the complete disappearance of words within sentences are no less weighty. We will discuss them at some length because, as the problem stands today, more importance should be attached to them. First we will mention those which are suggested by the development of language. Various changes of final syllables will not be analysed here, because they are often caused not so much by the final position in the word as by lack of stress and by a big distance from the main stress. More interesting appears to be the stress in Czech and Polish, the rules of accentuation in Greek, and possibly the Germanic stress shift, if it consisted, as some recent writings try to show, in the mechanical transfer of stress on the first syllable, not just on the stem syllable. Most convincing, however, appear to be those cases in which the development of the word was influenced by the length of the word; such instances were, most recently, pointed out especially by J. Wackernagel’s paper Wortumfang und Wortform (Nachrichten von der kgl. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Gottingen, Philologisch-hist. Klasse, 1906, pp. 146 ff. ). The paper shows that the length of the verbal form determined the presence or absence of the augment in Old Armenian, in Homeric Greek, in the Rg-Vedas and in Middle Indian dialects. Of some interest is also Wissler’s account of a popular Swiss dialect developed from standard French (Das schweizerische Volksfranzosisch, Romanische Forschungen 27, pp. 723 ff. ). The original local dialect of that place contained, like 0111 Franco- Provençal dialects, many paroxytones, due to the fact that the final unstressed vowel was often preserved (alia > ala, gutta > gŎta, fenestra > fənītra, etc. ). This word-scheme was upheld in the above-mentioned popular Swiss dialect with the result that to the final consonant of the French words (if that consonant had been preserved) an ə-vowel came to be added, transforming the word into a paroxytone: en casse de malheur; œn çmə də sǭrt, etc.
From the static arguments for the independence of the word within the sentence should be mentioned the fact that the words within the sentence can, more or less, mutually exchange their places but the syllables within the word cannot do so. The weightiest, however, are direct phonetic arguments which most conclusively disprove the statements of those phoneticians who deny the existence of words in actual speech. First, there is evidence of the kind supplied, for French and English, by experimental phoneticians: Rousselot (Principes de phonétique expérimentale, Paris, 1901-8, pp. 972-4) established objective differences in the pronunciations of the speech chains comte Roland - contrôlant, donne à Pierre - donna Pierre, and E. A. Meyer (Englische Lautdauer•, p. 33) in a name - an aim. Experimental evidence of the kind for other languages is unknown to us (French and English, too, will have to be examined for further evidence of the sort); but, on the other hand, anotherinteresting, valuable piece of evidence for the independence of the word within the sentence can be found in German and Czech. It is the so-called glottal catch (coup de glotte, symbolized as ?, cf. Jespersen, Lehrbuch der Phonetik, Leipzig, 1904, §76; for Czech, Frinta, Novočeská výslovnost [Modern Czech Pronunciation], Prague, 1909, pp. 41-47).
The glottal catch is, in general, eminently suited to display various forms of the potentiality of language. In educated Southern British pronunciation of English it is unknown (hi⏝ɑ:nsəz, ət⏝ↄ:l), unless the words are forcefully separated from one another (see Scripture, Elements, pp. 278-279); in the common pronunciation of Danish (Rigssproget), on the other hand, the “ stϕd” is a constant feature of whole word-categories (an?n ‘duck’, ann ‘different’; see, e.g., Dahlerup-Jespersen, Kortfattet Dansk Lydlœre, 2nded., Copenhagen, 1898, pp. 27-30); potential is the occurrence of st<pd, e. g., in expressions like af, der. In Czech and German words beginning in a vowel, however, the glottal catch is a potential phenomenon. To take up German first, one finds the glottal catch almost regularly in stressed words beginning in a vowel (but it is not universal there; in Maître Phonétique 1909 we read: mit den ý:brigan hεrəan, and in Viëtor’s Elemente: hεtən aiηge:ən zolan), while in the unstressed words with vocalic beginnings, and in the second component parts of compounds (if this second part begins in a vowel) its potentiality is far more obvious. In his phonetic transcriptions of German conversation (Deutsche Gesprâche mit phonetischer Einleitung und Umschrift, Leipzig, 1906), E. A. Meyer registers the glottal catch very rarely in unstressed words. In Viëtor’s transcriptions (Deutsches Lesebuch in Lautschrift, two parts, Leipzig, 1909), the glottal catch is registered more frequently, but the often added brackets indicate the possibility of the pronunciation lacking it. It appears that there exist two main, interdependent tendencies determining the said potentiality. In rapid speech, in which sentences count more than individual words, the glottal catch is apt to disappear on a large scale, while in solemn addresses or recitals, as in extracts from Shakespeare transcribed by Viëtor, or in measured, restrained speech (whether this restraint is due to pedantry or to emphasis; see O. Schroeder, Vom papiernen Stil, 5th ed., Leipzig, 1902, Chapter III), it almost invariably accompanies the vocalic beginnings of words.
In Czech one finds an analogous situation. In going through Frinta’s lists (pp. 45-6), containing instances of glottal catches found inside the words, one easily discovers its potentiality and the tendencies determining it. Those speakers who have been accustomed to analyse compound words into their component parts use the glottal catch much more frequently than ordinary speakers: thus, na:?ušni:, né?esteticki:, etc., but na:ušnice, sóužit, podučitel, pouka:ska, etc. In stressed words with vocalic beginnings the glottal catch is almost universal (though contrary examples, like baâňi, pudaa:leji have also been registered by Frinta), while in unstressed it is usually absent. Both these variable factors, word-analysis and emphasis, combine in producing the following groups: aside of common weldings like panúčitel, páneučitel, mocamóc, one finds distinct word-groups such as pan?ambroš, paňi?úrva:lkova:, moc?úzdravovat, though the pronunciation without ? can also be heard. Emphasis also determines, for the greatest part, the Central Bohemian pronunciation in vocalically beginning words preceded by prepositions. The comparison of interesting forms f?ita:liϳi, f?ohňi, s?okna, s?ucha with two of Frinta’s examples přέzεmauzi, nâu:sta, and some others, of a similar kind, póduterkou, náuhli:, dóuhli:, záouvali (záouvalama), úouval, dóura:nije, etc., reveals that the glottal catch is more apt to disappear after syllabic prepositions which bear stress in the Czech pronunciation than after non-syllabic prepositions which cannot bear it. The said phenomenon might be explained by a theory which, of course, is suggested here as a mere hypothesis. The often quoted E. A. Meyer (in his paper Beitrage zur deutschen Metrik, Die neueren Sprachen VI) asserts, on the ground of his experimental analysis, that in the German stress the maximum emphasis rests in the initial consonant, the glottal catch ranking as a consonant, too. This should mean that German possesses what is called consonantal stress, discussed, to our knowledge, for the first time by Ginneken (Principes de linguistique psychologique, Paris, 1933, §333 f. ). It is quite possible that Czech, too, is characterized by the consonantal stress. If, then, a word, apparently beginning in a vowel but actually in the glottal catch, is preceded by a non-syllabic preposition, the consonantal stress resting on the glottal catch is upheld. As a result of this, the glottal catch persists, and even assimilates the preceding voiced preposition, while if the preposition is a syllabic one, the stress is shifted on to it, and the glottal catch, deprived of its importance, is apt to disappear.
To go back to the main problem concerning us here, that of the independence of the word, we can derive the following consequences from what has been said here about the glottal catch in different European languages: the fact that in Czech and in English the glottal catch exists, as a rule, only at the beginning of words or in the limits of compounds, while in Danish it occurs mostly in the middle of words, reveals that both in Czech and in German the word constitutes a formed unit, and the potentiality of the glottal catch in both languages is, at the same time, demonstrative of the potentiality of the independence of the word in them. This thesis, which can also be bolstered by psychological observation of normal speaking and reading as well as of pathological disturbances of speech (for the former cases see Ginneken’s introductory chapters, for the latter, Scripture’s Elements, pp. 128 ff. ), is able to reconcile the above-mentioned arguments adduced both for and against the independence of words. One should not forget that the extent of this potentiality differs in different languages, and that, besides, it often changes in the course of the development of one and the same language. We tried to examine the independence of words in different languages in our paper Poznâmky o substantivních složeninâch a sdruženinâch v současné angličtinë [Notes on Substantival Compounds and Collocations in Contemporary English] (Sborník filologický I, pp. 247-257); the conclusion arrived at was that, in comparison with Czech and German, the independence of the word in English appears to be weakened. Another evidence of this weakening we see in the ModE gemination of words for the purpose of emphasizing their meanings. It occurs, as far as can be seen, only in adverbs and adjectives, i. e. in word-categories most frequently employed for emotional evaluation, and it must be strictly kept apart from accidental gemination of words, such as occurs also in other languages and is characterized by slow, reflective speed, coupled with the intonational fall and pause separating the two elements of the geminated word group (e. g. in the Czech song Vsadila, vsadila fialinku v poli ‘She planted, planted a tiny violet in the field’). In English, we heard most instances of gemination in rapid colloquial speech; the members of the geminated word-group were pronunced without any pause with even or falling emphasis: many many more examples, very very often, very very well, very very familiar indeed, very very foreign, always always, three hundreds of poorest poorest Jews, a great great friend of yours.
If one turns to older stages of languages, it seems that especially Old Latin and Greek on the one hand, and Old Indian on the other, show interesting instances of different approaches to the independence of words, as has already been observed by James Byrne in General Principles of the Structure of Language (2nd ed., London, 1892). On the historical development of the independence of words one can only mention what was said on the problem by Yossler in his book (to be discussed more fully later) Sprache als Schopfung und Entwicklung (Heidelberg, 1905). Speaking about the development of sentence analysis in French, he says that the old word-order qui moult|fu sage was analysed in more groups than the modern summarizing qui était très sage, and that the same is true of del olifan| haltes | les menées sunt compared with modern le s sons du cor sont forts. One might perhaps mention here, as an analogy, a speech habit which the present writer has himself experienced. If he formulates a sentence slowly, he usually puts enclitic pronouns and verbal forms behind the word form to which they belong. In reading such sentences for the second time, however, he always shifts such enclitics to the front of the sentence, before the concerned words. In other words, when the sentence is being formed for the first time, it is analysed into its parts more sharply, and as an enclitic is not allowed to stand at the beginning of a sen- tence section, it has to be placed behind the word to which it belongs. When, however, the formed sentence is implemented, it is experienced more as a coherent whole, and thus the en- clitic is shifted to the first word of the whole sentence. The potentiality of the sentence analysis can be seen here quite clearly.
Another interesting controversy that can be settled by ap- plying the principle of potentiality to it is whether individual word-categories have their own specific degrees of stress. The question has its importance for the analysis of rhythm of a language and of the influence exercised by rhythm on word-order; in our studies in ModE word-order the matter was stressed several times. Here, however, we shall deal not with English but with German materials, because in the analysis of German the problem was clearly formulated. In his monograph Deutsche Verslehre (Munich, 1907, p. 40 f.), Saran presents a short survey of the theories explaining the regulation of stress in German by the semantic side of the words. He shows that, after Gottsched’s and Klopstock’s suggestions, especially Moritz (Versuch einer deutschen Prosodie, 1786) and Benedix (Der mundliche Vortrag, 4th ed., 1888) tried to prove that the stresses of individual word-categories display some inherent differences.
Moritz discussed monosyllables only and he established a descending scale of word-categories, according to their inherent stresses, starting from nouns and adjectives and ending in proclitic and enclitic pronouns and particles. Benedix proceeds in a similar manner; he establishes an analogous scale, taking into consideration various contextual circumstances. Saran de- nounces these theories of the specific stress degrees inherent in different word-categories as untenable. In his opinion, stresses are not determined by word-categories or by syntactic functions; they correspond to the degrees of importance and contiguity of meanings united in one whole. Not wishing to analyse the positive part of Saran’s theory, we wish to express our conviction that the discussed problem is adequately solved neither by those who believe in the constant inherence of a certain degree of stress in each word-category nor by Saran, who denies any connection whatsoever between the degrees of stress and the differences of individual word-categories. In reality, the degree of stress of each word is more or less potential; the mutual relations of stresses on the one hand and different word- categories on the other hand are reflected in tendencies which, naturally, are not so absolute as was believed by Moritz or Benedix but, at the same time, are far more distinct than was admitted by Saran. This is clearly revealed by a small statistical survey based on the first ten paragraphs of E. A. Meyer’s Deutsche Gesprâche (see next page).
As we are only interested in broad outlines (for this reason we also do not define in detail the terms denoting the categories), it will suffice to consider here the data giving the numbers of fully stressed and unstressed instances: in the one category we observe a steady decrease, in the other an increase from the substantives to personal pronouns.
That this scale is by no means a fortuitous feature of Meyer's transcription is shown by analogous statistics of a number of prose specimens, phonetically transcribed by Viëtor in the Appendix to his book Die Aussprache des Schriftdeutschen (7th ed., Leipzig, 1909).
A comparison with the table based on Meyer’s data reveals that the different scale of stresses and the different style of pronunciation (this term will be explained below) have brought about some changes in the distribution of stresses but that the general decreasing trend from the substantives to the personal pronouns has been upheld. Thus the two small statistical tables given above furnish additional evidence for the thesis formulated above that although word-stress in German is potential, some tendencies can be established in it with regard to individual wordcategories. Analogous statistical results are contained in our paper on new literature on the rhythm and word-order in Modern English (Véstnîk České Akademie XIX).
In both problems discussed above we have observed that the theory of potentiality was well able to reconcile the two opposed opinions. Many problems of word-order can be treated analogously. Here we want to confine ourselves to one of them only. We should like to call attention to the able criticism by John Ries of Braune’s theory asserting the free position of the verb in Proto-Germanic (W. Braune, Zur Lehre von der deutschen Wortstellung. Forschungen zur deutschen Philologie, Festgabe fur Hildebrand, Leipzig, 1894 - John Ries, Die Wortstellung im Beowulf, Halle, 1907, Introduction). Ries denied that the wordorder would have been absolutely free but admitted that it had been relatively free, i. e., admitted its potential character, and worked out the statistical method for examining the tendency of the word-order. The same theory and method is, naturally, indicated for the analysis of word-order wherever the latter is not absolutely fixed.
Just as the theory of potentiality helped to establish some regularity of a word-order apparently quite free, it can also discover unsuspected formal regularities that remain hidden to a scholar who, in analysing language, is content only when he finds absolute laws. L. A. Sherman, Professor at the University of Nebraska, was examining statistically the length and complexity of sentence periods and of the amount of predication in individual English and American authors (see his monograph Analytics of Literature, A Manual for the Objective Study of English Prose and Poetry, Boston, 1893, and University of Nebraska Studies, vol. I). The results of his analysis are surprising: although, naturally, both phenomena occur in varying numbers, yet in the writings of one and the same author they oscillate within certain limits and display a certain tendency which can be expressed by an average number. Thus the analysis of de Quincey’s 2225 periods has revealed that the average numbers established for sets of hundred instances each oscillate between 29.09 and 40.29 words. In ten such sets the average numbers are 31-35, and the average number for the whole complex is 33.25. The examination of Macaulay’s History of England, comprising 41,579 periods, has yielded the following results: the average numbers for sets of 1000 instances each oscillate between 19.62 and 26.09, but in thirty such sets the oscillation is only between 21 and 25, and the average numbers for sets of ten thousand periods display surprising uniformity: 23.33, 23.18, 23.32, 23.72. The average number for the whole complex is 23.43. Similarly, Sherman has succeeded in finding some regularities in the structures of the periods and in the numbers of the occurrence of predication (it is interesting to find that in modern literature the periods are being simplified but, at the same time, predication is becoming less frequent, so that style does not gain in clarity). Sherman’s pupils, whose writings were reviewed by R. E. Moritz, On a Quantitative Relation Governing Certain Linguistic Phenomena (Modern Language Notes 24, pp. 234-241), have added to this their examination of the length of words. Analyses of this kind include also the problem of the regularity in the stress organization of sentences; such regularities were discussed in some detail in our papers referred to above (Véstník České Akademie XIX).
The theory of potentiality is also indispensable for an adequate evaluation of the semantic side of speech. Here we must confine ourselves to a few remarks. Already Wundt, discussing the naming of objects in the widest sense of the word (Die Sprache II, pp. 4 64 ff. ), says that the name given to the object is usually connected only with one dominant feature of the general idea of that object, but that, later on, the name is applied to the whole of that general idea; when, still later, psychological factors have led to some changes of various elements of the general idea, the semantic content of the name is correspondingly changed too. Wundt is concerned, of course, mainly with the semantic changes occurring in the development of language. A really thorough analysis of the semantic side of language was supplied only by the Geneva linguist Ch. Bally in his monograph Traité de stylistique française (Heidelberg, 1909). This book, fortunately, is no stylistic manual in the usual sense of the word and its importance is not limited to French; it presents a really static [ = synchronistic, J. V. ] semantic analysis based on reliable linguistic, not psychological, foundations. The rich chapters of this book constantly remind the reader of the semantic oscillation in speech, i. e. of another of its aspects of potentiality. Let us only note here what is perhaps the most important phenomenon of the kind, viz., the oscillating relation of intellectual and emotional elements in the semantic content of a large part of lexical and other units. This is shown, e. g., in Czech by the use of some diminutives both for denoting actually small objects (domek = a small house, klícka = a small cage) and for denoting objects dear to the speaker, irrespective of their sizes (domek = a lovely hquse, klícka = a lovely cage). If, then, we take as our starting point a given lexical unit, the semantic potentiality of language is manifested as actual oscillation of meaning. If, on the other hand, we take as our starting point a given idea and try to find its expression by means of language, the potentiality of language will be manifested as a plurality of expressions, i. e. a possibility of expressing one and the same idea in a variety of ways.
This, however, leads us to another problem the solution of which can be facilitated by the theory of potentiality, viz., the problem of the mutualrel ation of linguistics and sty1istics (or rhetoric). In syntactic monographs we often read a note to the effect that this or that feature in the speech of an author belongs not to grammar but to stylistics or rhetoric. In our view, this is a wrong procedure. If a linguistic analysis of individual speech is undertaken, all its phenomena constitute linguistic materials, and it is not feasible to relegate some of them into stylistics. Linguistics is a science whose task is to analyse, in a static [ = synchronistic, J. V. ] manner, the language materials used by a language community at a given time, and, in a dynamic [ = diachronistic. J. V. ] manner, its historical changes. Consequently, linguists are obliged to ascertain the nature of these materials by means of examining the speech of individual speakers, so that the results of such examination may reveal the full extent of the potentiality of the concerned language.
Stylistics and linguistics thus differ in their aims, not in their materials. While linguistics examines the speech of the individuals so as to determine the language materials used in the language community, stylistics examines concrete literary works in order to find out how the given language materials were used in making an individual work of art. Stylistic analysis thus always concentrates on an individual; at most it can apply its examination to several individuals for the purpose of studying their stylistic dependence, either mutual or on some other individual. As a consequence, stylistics can never be concerned with the whole of the social community, and titles of books like 'Czech stylistics', 'German stylistics,' etc., are self-contradictory. A book of the kind either displays the possibilities of expression in the given language, and then it constitutes the linguistic analysis of its potentiality; or else it juxtaposes the findings that are really stylistic, and then one has to do with a collection of instances which cannot be systematized. Both approaches are often mixed up, as in the well-known R. M. Meyer's Deutsche Stilistik (Munich, 1906), a book which, otherwise, is commendable as a rich store of materials. In its first chapter the author gives two mutually contradictory definitions of stylistics, viz., as "vergleichende Syntax, d. h. Lehre von den normalen Cestaltungen der syntaktischen Miiglichkeiten", and as "die Lehre von der kunstmässigen Anwendung der fertigen Rede". Clearly, the former of the two definitions refers to a linguistic branch of study (notice the word "normalen", by which the author wants to bridge, in a surreptitious manner, the gap between the two approaches), while the latter is a problematic research into artistic literary creation. A truly scientific system cannot be arrived at by any "national" stylistics, compiled from the artistic viewpoint. At best, it can present a good survey of the results of individual stylistics: such a survey can prove useful as a methodical handbook for practical purposes.
On the other hand, language does contain phenomena whose examination appears to resemble stylistic analysis: they are the so-called styles of speech. By this term we mean not the individualizing character of artistic literary creation but simply the fact that specimens of actual speech possessing analogous character or analogous aims, display some common features in different speakers of the language. The influence upon language materials exercised by the said determining forces is made possible exactly by the potentiality of language, and by the continuous mixing of the social dialects and slangs existing in the given community. It has so far been examined in a few examples only, but these will suffice to demonstrate how the styles of speech are manifested in the pronunciation of language, in the stock of words, and in syntax.
The phonetic character of the given dialect becomes manifested in two ways: purely phonetically, by its inventory of sounds, and in a formal phonetic manner, by the distribution of these sounds in words. If any dialect were absolutely constant from the phonetic viewpoint, this would imply the constancy of its inventory of sounds and of the phonetic make-up of each individual word; on the contrary, phonetic potentiality of a dialect implies potentiality of the inventory and/or of its distribution in words. The styles ascertainable in Contemporary English, it should be added, are functional; some scholars admit the existence of three of them (Jones, Phonetic Transcriptions of English Prose, Oxford, 1907), others four (Lloyd, Northern English, 2nded., Leipzig, 1908), and their influence on pronunciation can be observed in both the above-mentioned respects.
The inventory of sounds is discussed mainly by Jones, who points out, e. g., that in the style used in solemn recitals the trilled r-sound is often used instead of, or beside, the fricative r, and that one may find in it also the voiceless w-sound, regarded as archaic in the Southern British pronunciation. Both authors describe the oscillation of the phonetic make-up of the words in different styles of speech (this oscillation is mainly reflected in the reductions of unstressed syllables). Specimens of these different styles of pronunciation were adduced in our paper in Vësínîk České Akademie XVIII, pp. 4-5. We only want to add that side by side with normal styles of pronunciation there also exist what might be called pathological styles, caused either by defects of speech or by temporary pathological states, e. g. drunkenness. None of them, of course, are of any direct importance for linguistics. (On the influence of drunkenness on the pronunciation of English, see Rippmann, Specimens of English, London, 1908, p. 26, and in Fijn van Draat’s paper Drunkard’s English, Englische Studien 34. )
The influence of functional styles on the lexical and semantic aspects of speech was emphatically stressed especially by Gröber in his paper Methodik und Aufgaben der sprachwissen-schaftlichen Forschung (Grundriss der romanistischen Philologie, 2nd éd., I, pp. 267 ff. ). He distinguishes the subjective expression, expressing also the emotions evoked in the speaker by the theme of the talk, and the objective expression, confined to the expression of the idea conveyed. The subjective expression differs from the objective both quantitatively (inasmuch as it expresses by a pause, by tone or gesture what the latter expresses by words, further, as it repeats what could be expressed only once) and qualitatively (by chosing other words than factual names of the things referred to), and, finally, locally (by placing sentence elements into positions not pertaining to them in ob- jective speech). Both ways of expression are often combined in actual speech. If, however, a speaker tends to prefer one of the two (or, in general, any definite style of expression), then the tendencies of his speech reflect his personal character.
The problem was very aptly concretized in a book by N. Bøgholm, Bacon og Shakespeare (Copenhagen, 1906), in which the author solves the ‘Bacon or Shakespeare’ problem by an analysis of the speech of both writers, i. e., by a method suggested by one of Jespersen’s footnotes in his book Growth and Structure of the English Language (Leipzig, 1905, p. 48). All the differences established by Bøgholm between Bacon’s and Shakespeare’s speech - not style! - have nothing to do with the potentiality of language: if Bøgholm states as the main difference that Bacon is more conservative and, besides, a stricter grammarian, while Shakespeare’s speech habits are more popular, then the characterology of their styles of expression is here obviously connected with reference to the differences of class dialects which were spoken by the two writers. Thus if Shakepeare is a fairly frequent user of the original nominative ye in the function of an accusative (cf. Franz, Shakespeare-Grammatik, 2nd ed., Heidelberg, 1909, pp. 251-2) 6, while Bacon never uses the form as an accusative, this may certainly be taken as evidence of the more popular speech habits of Shake- speare, and of the greater elegance of Bacon’s dialect. If, however, one finds that the so-called double comparison - using both the suffixes -er, -est, and the adverbs more, most - is abundant in Shakespeare (see Franz, pp. 206 f. ), but in Bacon can claim only a few examples, this certainly cannot be attributed to difference in dialects (the said phenomenon was to be opposed even later by Pope), but to a difference of two individualities, one of whom belonged to a man of vivid fantasy and strong interest in life, whose speech is not so much concerned with logic as with emphasis, and the other to a thinker whose words are subjected to the laws as strict as are those governing his thoughts. The same conclusions are obtained if one compares the stocks of words of the two writers. Whole series of expressions stigmatized by Shakespeare in his plays as pedantic are used by Bacon very freely, and compound conjunctions expressing the mutual relations of two sentences all too exactly, and thus too clumsily (as, e. g., inasmuch as) are very frequent in Bacon but very rare in Shakespeare.
So much had to be said to make clear the difference between the study of styles of speech and stylistics. Bally’s book is, of course, stimulating in many other respects, but their analysis must be left to some other occasion.
In concluding we should like to add that we are fully con- scious that the theory of potentiality is not an entirely new idea: some of its theses can be found to be present, implicitly or explicitly, in the writings of quite a number of other linguists, and one could discover others, if one could go through all the rich, unsystematic, and scattered linguistic literature that was published in the course of the last fifty years and contains many quite modern and progressive ideas. Our own theory, however, differs from those of our predecessors, sometimes by its basic conception, sometimes by its strictly inductive method applied to language materials. For this reason, we want to add some remarks concerning the literature and the history of the problem.
The main feature of linguistic research in the nineteenth century was the isolation of speech from the spe;iking individual: the material of this research was language as an objective fact, constant in a given place and at a given time. In the analysing linguists this point of view was closely linked with the historical approach, going back mainly to Jakob Grimm and, as has already been said here, often unduly simplifying language materials. The influence of natural history and exact sciences, most drastically manifested by Schleicher’s conception of language as a biological organism, has led, in the Neogrammarian school, to an aprioristic belief in the absolute regularity of sound-laws and thus acted in the same direction. The psychologizing linguists, on the other hand, were far more attentive to the very rich oscillation found in speech but they barred their way to deriving the due consequences from this fact by the too one-sided emphasis that they laid on the social character of language (this emphasis goes back to Wundt, Steinthal, and even to W. von Humboldt). The overcoming of this anti-individualistic bias has been very difficult, in view of the partial correctness of such theories, and their exact scientific appearance. And yet such an overcoming did take place more than once.
The first source of the opposition to the established views can be denoted as close and devoted attachment to language realities. It emerged in individual linguists and was prompted by various interests. Thus the young and prematurely deceased Baudouin’s pupil Kruszewski (whose Ocherk nauki o yazyke, Kazan, 188 3, is known mainly from its German version published in the first five volumes of Techmer’s Internationale Zeitschrift fur allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, 1884 ff. ) was led by his effort to build up his own linguistic theory on the resuits of his direct observation of Russian. Kruszewski regards as the basic features of language the complexity and indefiniteness of its units, which also call forth the fact of the variability reflected in the development of language. The sentence, the word, and the morphemic elements are indefinite as to their content. The sound, again, is indefinite physiologically, i.e., its articulation can oscillate in certain limits; but the very large oscillation of articulation is said to be reflected in a relatively small oscillation of the sound, as our hearing organ is not capable of distinguishing so many fine shades of sound qualities. This, at least, appears to be Kruszewski’s theoretical basis, because he says in another place that for want of exact experimental methods one cannot ascertain whether a sound that is acoustically constant at a given time is just as constant also physiologically. He, however, believes that the thing is probable, so that the constancy of the sound-system in a given dialect at a given time can be held as a static [ = synchronistic, J. V. ] law of linguistics. This constancy is said to be due to inherited dispositions and by the preservation in memory of former articulations: this idea reappears in Karsten’s paper Sprecheinheiten und deren Rolle im Lautwandel und Lautgesetz (Phonetische Studien III, 1890), translated from Transactions and Proceedings of the Modern Language Association of America (vol. Ill, 1887).
H. Schuchardt was not so much an author of his own linguistic system as a critic of the Neogrammarians; his criticism was rooted in the reality of language. From the first of his two books belonging here, Slavo-deutsches und Slavo-italienisches (Graz, 1884) we may adduce his statement that in our brain there exists an endless world of ideas connected with speech. Each of them is associated with many others in most multiform ways; the intensity of these associations is constantly changing, which causes numerous important changes in language. In the other book, über die Lautgesetze (Berlin, 1885) Schuchardt says that, as far as observation goes, individual pronunciation is never free from variation. Hand in hand with this unending splitting of speech is said to go the unending mixing of speech.
Influenced by Schuchardt’s writings as well as by its author’s opposition to Nyrop’s Neogrammarian attitude, but mainly by his fine phonetic observation, a new voice came to be heard in 1886. It was Jespersen’s study printed originally in Nordisk tidskrift for filologi, ny række VII, and then reprinted as the first of the two papers united in the book Phonetische Grundfragen (Leipzig, 1904) under the common title Zur Lautgesetzfrage. In it Jespersen emphatically points out that no speaker will ever succeed in speaking in exactly the same way as any other speaker, both as regards the sounds and the content associated with them; one always has to do here with approximations. Even more important is, however, what Jespersen says about the styles of speech. Just as different positions in the sentence give rise to phonetic doublets of one and the same word, so such doublets are said to be due to different styles of speech and to co-exist in the speech of one and the same individual. Jespersen adduces here illustrations from Danish; he also quotes a pas- sage from Wegener’s well-known book Untersuchungen iiber die Grundfragen des Sprachlebens (Halle, 1885) which says that in the family and in other narrow communities one articulates far less distinctly and with lesser expiratory force than in the conversation of persons mutually less acquainted. Also Sievers’ Grundzuge der Phonetik (4th ed., Leipzig, 1893) presents some observations concerning the oscillation of language phenomena (apart from the above-quoted remarks on the mutual relation of the word and the sentence, see also §§ 669 and 682). On the facts adduced by Sievers is also based Jespersen’s other paper on sound-laws; it was written in 1904 and discusses, in some detail, the so-called “Richtigkeitsbreite”, i. e. the limits of the potentiality of individual language phenomena, this time considered from the point of view of intelligibility. It is said here that for each element of speech there exist the limits with- in which it can be identified. Such limits differ not only in different languages but even in one and the same language for its different elements.
Finally, Wundt, a representative figure of socially-psychological linguistics, has proved to be an individual psychologist intent both on observation and on experiment. He makes the potentiality of pronunciation (Spielraum der normalen Artikulationen) an essential part of his linguistic theories, and he mentions it as the first of the causes of individual sound-changes. He distinguishes between the individual and general potentiality, i. e., one indicating the oscillation of the pronunciation of individual speakers belonging to one and the same dialect, and comments on the potentiality of separate sound qualities, on the potentiality of the place of articulation, of quantity, stress and pitch (Völkerpsychologie I, Die Sprache, pp. 364 ff. ).
The other source of opposition to objective, anti-individualist linguistics has been modern idealist philosophy (cf. G. Villa, L’idealismo moderno, Torino, 1905), which influenced linguistics mainly by the writings of B. Croce and his German followers Finck and Vossler. B. Croce (whose main book belonging here, Estetica come scienza dell’espressione e linguistica generale, 2nded., Milan, 1904, was partly translated into Czech by E. Franke, Prague, 1907, and commented upon by the same author in Česká Mysl 9, 401-414) sees the essence of speech in the inner expression which is entirely individual and identical with art. Croce’s philosophical theories were transposed into concrete linguistic analyses by K. Vossler, whose views were presented most extensively in his abovementioned book Sprache als Schopfung und Entwicklung. Eine theoretische Untersuchung mit praktischen Beispielen (Heidelberg, 1905). As individual activity, language is artistic création (Sprache als Schopfung). But as soon as language is used in the mutual intercourse of individual speakers, it is no longer an individual but a collective creation which becomes an empir- ical reality and is subject to changes (Sprache als Entwicklung). Individual speech is newly created again and again, an old word used in a new context is not the same as it was, not even phonically, and thus individual speech displays incessant, infinite changing; in Vossler’s opinion, the changes in speech are bound by no limits at all. Thus the theoretical factor of pure intuition is said to divide individual speakers from one another, and to infinitely differentiate their individual ways of speaking; on the other hand, the practical factor of free analogy is said to group the speakers into language communities.
The problems were put still more concretely by F. N. Finck, whose book Die Aufgabe und Gliederung der Sprachwissenschaft was mentioned above, Note 5 (cf. also Finck’s obituary by E. Franke, Přehled VIII, pp. 649-651). He, too, stresses the individual character of speaking but says expressly that it would be wrong to identify the individuality of language with absoluteness, autonomy, independence. For all the subjectivity of actual speaking, the ways of speaking of the members of a given language community are characterized by a high degree of uniformity, due to recollections of earlier language usage, both of the speaker and of his or her fellow speakers. Linguistics should examine the language as a sum total of such expressions of viewing the outside world as are common to the majority of speakers of the given community. Strongly individualistic expressions of the kind should be examined by the theory of literature. Finally, one should register here a paper by R. M. Meyer, Gibt es Lautwandel? (Zeitschrift fur vgl. Sprachforschung 42, pp. 28-38), the theses of which are obviously based on Vossler’s work, and are probably directed against a paper by Delbruck (Das Wesen der Lautgesetze, in Annalen der Naturphilosophie, 1902). Meyer gives in it some evidence for his thesis that no sound-changes really exist but only a choice between parallel forms. His arguments are based on materials whose selection was probably inspired by Delbruck’s example but which is most unsuitable for the verification of his theses, viz., on the very defective knowledge we possess of Middle High German sounds.
The above handful of references may sufficiently characterize both main currents in linguistics research in their relation to the problem discussed here. Two contributions to the problem have unfortunately been unaccessible to us, viz., Axel Kock’s Om språkets förândring (Göteborg), in which the author, availing himself of James’ psychology, is reported to discuss the continual changing of speech, and Jan Rozwadowski’s survey of the present-day state of comparative Indo-European studies (published in Eos, Czasopismo filologiczne, 1910); according to J. Janko’s account in Časopis pro moderní filologii I, p. 175, its author declares that contemporary linguists are attentively reconsidering the problem of the certainty attaching to the phenomena of language.
A final remark concerns che problem of the regularity of sound-laws, with which the problem of the potentiality of language has often been associated in linguistic writings. To simplify the involved issues, we have confined our observation to the static [ = synchronistic, J. V. ] aspect of the problem, in accordance with our belief that the procedure leading from the static to the dynamic issues [i. e., from synchronistic to diachronistic issues, J. V. ] is the safest in linguistics. 7 We expressly state this so as to dispel the mistaken idea that the present study has also been intent on the solution of dynamic [ = diachronistic, J. V. ] problems. This is by no means so: in our opinion, the dynamic issues can only be solved after a more thorough research in individual languages has firmly established which phenomena can have been regarded in them, at the given time, as constant and which as potential. Only then will one be in a position to ask how long a potential phenomenon α can still have been regarded as basically the same phenomenon, only slightly affected by a shift of its potentiality, and when one must have already admitted the existence of a new phenomenon β, replacing α. The necessary investigations will be very difficult, but after they have been carried out we shall be better informed of the fundamentals of what is going on in language than we have been so far. The road leading to such investigation is foreshadowed, to some extent, by Rozwadowski’s paper Ein quantitatives Gesetz der Sprachentwicklung (Indogerm. Forschungen 25, pp. 38 ff.) .
1. “The first utterance creates a weak diathesis ( = a certain psycho-physiological disposition, p. 102, V. M. ), on account of which a second utterance will be similar to the first; but, like every utterance, the second will react on the diathesis and strengthen it. In the adult, therefore, the diathesis, under normal conditions, must be constant, and the utterances belonging to it alike” (p. 103).
2. “On peut cónside’rer tout le langage d’un homme adulte comme un complexus d’actions organisées en lui par la répetition, devenues habitudes. “
3. “Remarquons pourtant que la recherche serait plus difficile encore si elle portait sur le langage d’un seul individu et sur toutes les modifications à peine perceptibles que sa prononciation peut subir aux divers moments de son existence” (p. 369).
4. “Le patois est fixe dans le même individu” (p. 228).
5. It will be noted that we consider the word as a formal, not a semantic, phenomenon of language. A formal definition of the word is given, e. g., by Finck: “Das Wort ist der kleinste, nicht in bestimmter Weise an andere Lautkomplexe gebundene Bestandteil der Rede. “ (Die Aufgabe und Gliederung der Sprach- wissenschaft, Halle, 1905, p. 30.) This definition, excluding, in fact, the existence of the so-called “distant compounds”, fully conforms to what we have written on compounds and collocations in Sbornfk filologick/, 1910. The definition given by Dittrich (Idg. For schungen 25, p. 16) mixes formal and semantic criteria.
6. Franz’s thesis that ye here arose from you by way of reduction is contradicted byrhymes in ï. < ê; cf. Viëtor, A Shakespeare Phonology (Marburg, 1906), pp— 162 ff.
7. It is fair to state that the difference between static and dynamic [ = synchronistic and diachronistic, J. V. ] linguistic problems was first clearly envisaged by the present writer when he was reading, during his university studies, T. G. Masaryk’s remarks on linguistics in his Versuch einer concreten Logik (Vienna, 1887).
*Presented on February 6, 1911. Originally published in Czech under the title “O potenciálnosti jevů jazykových, “ VëstniK Krâl. české společnosti nauk (Prague), třída filos. -histor. 1911, section II. Translated by J. Vachek.