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JOHN BELLENDEN KER, Esq.
Wat is de taal dan de innigste Redeneerkunst van hart end verstand
What is language else than the inmost reasoning of the heart and
Want, daar wij de zaken-zelve niet dan door zekere hare hoedanigheden kennen, zoo moeten wij ons wel by het gene zij voor ons kennelijk hebben bepalen, en dus wordt in daad en wezen het voorwerp der Taal tot niets dan abstractien van hoedanigheden beperkt.
As we can only know things by their qualities, so is our conception things necessarily confined to that which is perceptible to us in them; and thus the object of all language is, in fact and essence,
limited wholly and solely to ABSTRACTIONS of qualities.
THE SECOND VOLUME.
The present Volume was ready for the press at the same time with the other; but circumstances, of no interest to any one but the Publisher, have prevented its appearance till now. One of the critics who have favoured the first Volume with their notice, rebukes it for being an illusive, unsatisfactory developement of our PROVERBS ; ignorantly (I will not suppose intentionally) mistating the expressed object of this Essay, in which not only no one Proverb is contained, but in which no such subject is even alluded to, by the title or in any one paragraph in any of its pages. In the
page of the Volume, “ Phrases and Sayings, which, by their literal form, do not bear out the meaning they are used in, and terms not yet satisfactorily acounted for,” are announced as the object of this Essay. How, then, can the illustration of PROVERBS be foisted in as any part of the design, unless through sheer ignorance or purposed misrepresentation.
Of the term PROVERB, I am in charity bound to suppose the above critic is the only Englishman who does not know the meaning, or else I should
tax him with a designed mis-statement of the fact. Of the etymology of the term PROVERB, I have found no trace in any work known to me; but take it to be as the Dutch phrase proeve werpe ; q.e. experience sends forth; proof produces; tried fact produces ; ascertained truth is the mother, or parent, always implying, of the subject or question in view, when the sentence is used. Thus, a PROVERB is as a sentence grounded in or produced by experience ; an expression founded in and approved by proof or trial of the matter in point. Proeve, proef, proof, experience, trial. Werpe, the third person potential mood of werpen, to produce, to give birth to, to send forth, to put out or forwards. P and 6 are well-established intermutating sounds. V and w are a same aspirate, and, when pronounced continuously, as here, a same sound. F, v, and p, also interchange in use; fife and pipe are a same word, and so are the Dutch vigghe, bigghe, pigghe, and our pig. Er proeve werpe (here experience teems) sounds a proverb [in French proverbe], of which proverbium is the Latinized form. So that if I am right in this view of the word, to develope or account for our proverbs, would be to develope or account for tried truths, truths produced by the general experience of society, consequently well known to all, and thus a task of no great urgency at least, if not a supererogatory concern altogether.
It may be observed, that some of the phrases, accounted for in these pages as travesties, are to be found in equivalent terms in other languages (especially in the French), carrying a same general implication of sense as the travesties do with us. Such are evidently translations from the English, as bearing, in form of words, no relation in the general sense in which they are used, to the special import, the separate terms convey, in the language where they stand.