« PrécédentContinuer »
38. We have, in this enquiry, adopted the term accusative in preference to objective, in order to avoid the harshness of talking about the subject-objective.' Although, when properly explained, that term is correct enough: it means the subject in an objective clause.'
Practically, however, I have observed that in constructions where a subject-accusative stands before an infinitive, we may distinguish two different relations.
i. Sometimes, as we have just seen, the subjective-accusative stands to the infinitive in the relation of a subjectnominative to a finite verb:
I know [him to be eloquent] is equivalent to
I know [he is eloquent.] 2. At other times, the subject-accusative stands to the infinitive in the relation of a substantive in the possessive (or genitive) case to another substantive :
I wish [him to stay] is equivalent to
I wish [his staying] :
We heard the thunder roll,
I never knew him to fail, might be paraphrased
We heard the thunder's roll,
SIMPLE SENTENCES OTHER THAN INDICATIVE.
39. Hitherto we have considered Simple Indicative Sentences, otherwise called propositions or statements. We have now to deal with other Simple Sentences, namely:
Interrogative Sentences or Questions.
Optative Sentences or Wishes. First of all, we have to remark a variety of form; a change in the order of words: as for example :
Indicative: The messenger speaks.
Does the messenger speak ?
Is the messenger speaking?
Now the method of analysis, which we have discussed, is founded
Indicative Sentences or statements; and a very important part of the sentence was termed the predicate or thing stated. We can therefore easily understand that there will be a difficulty in applying this form of analysis to sentences wherein there is no statement at all, but where a question, a command, or a wish is expressed.
40. Mr. Mason endeavours to meet the difficulty, by distinguishing between the word (or sign), and the thing signified; between the subject of a sentence, and the subject of discourse. He says:
The subject of a sentence stands for some object of thought: the predicate denotes some fact or idea which we connect with that object, and the union between the two is effected by the copula.
But this union may be viewed in more ways than one.
1. When it is our intention to declare that the connexion, which is indicated between the subject of discourse and the idea denoted by the predicate, does exist, the sentence is affirmative; as, 'Thomas left the room.'
Note.--A negative sentence is only a particular variety of affirmative sentence. If we deny that John is here by saying, 'John is not here,' we affirm that John is not here.
2. When it is our wish to know whether the connexion referred to subsists, the sentence is interrogative; as, Did Thomas leave the room?'
3. When we express our will that the connexion, between the object of thought described by the subject and that which is expressed by the predicate, should subsist, the sentence that results is called an imperative sentence; as, ' Thomas, leave the room.'
4. When we express a wish that the connexion may subsist, the sentence that results is called an optative sentence; as, “May you speedily recover!'
In some imperative sentences, the will is so weakened as to become simply a wish; as, ' Defend us, O Lord;' 'Sing, heavenly muse. The grammatical force of the sentence, however, is not altered by this.
In all the above-named kinds of sentences, the grammatical connexion between the subject and the verb is the same. It is sufficient, therefore, to take one as a type of all. The affirmative sentence is the most convenient for this purpose.-English Grammar, $ 356.
41. No doubt, the affirmative sentence is the most convenient. It is the form upon which the system is based. But we must consider, whether it be true that the grammatical connexion is the same in all these cases, and that the grammatical force is not altered.
In Interrogative sentences the order of words is changed; no statement is made, but a question is asked.
In Imperative sentences the nominative becomes vocative, and the indicative mood is changed to the imperative. surely cannot say that a noun in the vocative case forms the subject of a verb in the imperative mood. For the expression
Thomas, leave the room,' means this : “ Thomas, I address you, and my command to you is to leave the room.' This may, probably, furnish a reason why, in many languages, the infinitive sometimes takes the place of an imperative. Even if the vocative be termed the nominative of address,' that does not obviate the difficulty, unless it can be shown that the vocative becomes a subject-nominative.'
There is, no doubt, a certain analogy running through the ideas expressed in these various forms of sentence; but I think we shall find that an attempt to apply the terms subject and predicate to Imperative sentences, or even to Interrogatives and Optatives, is encumbered with difficulty.
42. Dr. Latham, in dealing with this question, is more guarded. He says:
All statements, assertions, or declarations are propositions.
or constituent elements of a proposition-the two somethings and the link that joins them—the subject, predicate, and copula—have been considered from one point of view only. Let us now, however, instead of saying
Bread is dear, say,
Is bread dear? Does this latter combination of words constitute a proposition ? It certainly has some of the elements of one, and those very impor
It contains the two words significant of the two somethings'-bread, dear. It contains the word which connects them-is.
It contains all this, and it contains nothing else. A chemist would say that a sentence, like the one in question, gave us the same elements as the other, with a different arrangement.
Nevertheless, there is no assertion, no statement, no declaration : none, at least, of a direct and straightforward kind.
Instead of this, there is a question.
Now, at the first view, few things can be more unlike each other than a question and an assertion. The latter implies knowledge, the former the want of it. The latter contains a certain amount of information, real or supposed; the former seeks for such information; and for this reason, the chief works on logic have, formally and by name, excluded Questions from the class of Propositions. All, however, that the grammarian says is, that a question is not an assertion, a declaration, or a statement. All that the grammarian says is, that whenever there is an assertion, a declaration, or a statement, there is also a proposition. He never says that wherever there is a proposition there is also a statement.
The fact is, that in grammar a Question is neither more nor less than a variety of the ordinary proposition, implying that the subject is something concerning which the speaker requires information; something unexplained, but not incapable of explanation; explanation that may possibly be supplied by the person spoken to.
The sentence-What is this?=This is what?
It may be objected, however, that it is not the habit of language to use such expressions as this is what ? but, on the contrary, to prefer the form, what is this?
All that need be said upon this point is, that it is not the general custom of the English, and certain other languages, to do so. The English, and certain other languages, transpose the predicate and subject when the proposition is a question; but there is no necessity for their doing so. It is merely a particular practice, and no general law of language.
A question, then, or interrogation, is only an ordinary asser nal, or declaratory proposition, with its parts transposed.—Logic in its Application to Language, § 17.
43. Now in comparing an Indicative with an Interrogative sentence we may, indeed, find the same words, with a different arrangement; but whether we have the same elements is quite another question, the truth of which Dr. Latham
In the indicative sentence we have the subject of a statement,' and a predicate or thing stated. But in the interrogative sentence we find the subject of an enquiry,' and something interrogated.
And even though we might allow the term 'subject' or subject-nominative' to be used in both cases, it is only by a violent extension of meaning that we can call a'thing interrogated' a predicate, when in fact nothing is predicated.
Doubtless, from the imperfection of all human language, we are often obliged to admit extensions of meaning; but this should be allowed only in cases of strong necessity, when no ingenuity can devise another term. Poverty of language should never be made an excuse for want of precision; and certainly no kind of education can be worse, than to acquire the habit of using terms without a clear perception of their meaning. But if a pupil is taught to employ the term predicate where there is no predication, he is in danger of falling into habits of inaccuracy.
44. Thus we find that there are difficulties about the socalled predicates' of interrogative sentences. But in im
' perative sentences there are difficulties about subject'as well as predicate.'
Dr. Morell says, (Grammar, p. 71): 'In an imperative sentence the subject'thou or ye is often omitted, though it is still involved in the use of the verb; as 'go (thou) home;' • hasten (ye) into the town.'
According to this, a noun or pronoun in the vocative case may be the subject of a sentence.
Mr. Mason tells us, (English Grammar, $ 380) that the subject of a verb in English is always put in the nominative case; ' and yet in § 505, he analyses thus:
“Give me that large book.' Subject .
thou' (understood). Predicate
'give.' Object of verb.
&c. Here give does not express a predication but a command; and thou, which is supplied to do duty for a 'subject,' is certainly not a subject-nominative.