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A Handbook of the English Language by Latham

Trithen's on the Slavonic praeterite


409. Some remarks of Dr. Trithen's on the Slavonic praeterite, in the "Transactions of the Philological Society," induce me to prefer a different doctrine, and to identify the -d in words like _moved_, &c., with the -t of the passive participles of the Latin language; as found in mon-it-us, voc-at-us, rap-t-us, and probably in Greek forms like [Greek: tuph-th-eis].

1. The Slavonic praeterite is commonly said to possess genders: in other words, there is one form for speaking of a past action when done by a male, and another for speaking of a past action when done by a female.

2. These forms are identical with those of the participles, masculine or feminine, as the case may be. Indeed the praeterite is a participle. If, instead of saying _ille amavit_, the Latins said _ille amatus_, whilst, instead of saying _illa amavit_, they said _illa amata_, they would exactly use the grammar of the Slavonians.

3. Hence, as one class of languages, at least, gives us the undoubted fact of an active praeterite being identical with a passive participle, and as the participle and praeterite in question are nearly identical, we have a fair reason for believing that the d, in the English active praeterite, is the d of the participle, which in its turn, is the t of the Latin passive participle.

s. 410. The following extract gives Dr. Trithen's remarks on the Slavonic

verb in his own words:--

"A peculiarity which distinguishes the grammar of all the Slavish languages, consists in the use of the past participle, taken in an active sense, for the purpose of expressing the praeterite. This participle generally ends in l; and much uncertainty prevails both as to its origin and its relations, though the termination has been compared by various philologists with similar affixes in the Sanscrit, and the classical languages.

"In the Old Slavish, or the language of the church, there are three methods of expressing the past tense: one of them consists in the union of the verb substantive with the participle; as,

_Rek esm'_ _chital esmi'_ _Rek esi'_ _chital esi'_ _Rek est'_ _chital est'_.

"In the corresponding tense of the Slavonic dialect we have the verb substantive placed before the participle:

_Ya sam imao_ _mi' smo imali_ _Ti si imao_ _vi' ste imali_ _On ye imao_ _omi su imali_.

"In the Polish it appears as a suffix:

_Czytalem_ _czytalismy_ _Czytales_ _czytaliscie_ _Czytal_ _czytalie_.

"And in the Servian it follows the participle:

_Igrao sam_ _igrali smo_ _Igrao si_ _igrali ste_ _Igrao ye_ _igrali su_.

"The ending -ao, of _igrao_ and _imao_, stands for the Russian _al_, as in some English dialects a' is used for _all_."

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