Title Page
 Table of Contents
 The nature and origin of langu...
 The physical basis of language
 The mental basis of language
 The forms of language
 Internal change in language
 External change in languages
 The teaching of languages
 The study of language
 The study of language
 Back Matter

Group Title: introduction to the study of language
Title: An Introduction to the study of language
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00023408/00001
 Material Information
Title: An Introduction to the study of language
Physical Description: x, 335 p. : ; 20 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Bloomfield, Leonard, 1887-1949
Publisher: Henry Holt and company
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1914
Copyright Date: 1914
Subject: Language and languages   ( lcsh )
Grammar, Comparative and general   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 313-318.
Statement of Responsibility: By Leonard Bloomfield.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00023408
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAB3066
notis - ACS0526
oclc - 02232251
alephbibnum - 000500882

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
    The nature and origin of language
        Page 1
        Page 2
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    The physical basis of language
        Page 18
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    The mental basis of language
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    The forms of language
        Page 73
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    Internal change in language
        Page 195
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    External change in languages
        Page 259
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    The teaching of languages
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
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        Page 297
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    The study of language
        Page 307
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    The study of language
        Page 327
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    Back Matter
        Page 337
        Page 338
Full Text



Ph. D., Assistant Professor of Comparative Philology and German
in the University of Illinois




6. J5

This little book is intended, as the title implies, for
the general reader and for the student who is entering
upon linguistic work. Its purpose is the same, according-
ly, as that of Whitney's Language and the Study of Lan-
guage and The Life and Grouth of Language, books which
fifty years ago represented the attainments of linguistic
science and, owing to their author's clearness of view
and conscientious discrimination between ascertained fact
and mere surmise, contain little to which we cannot to-
day subscribe. The great progress of our science in the
last half-century is, I believe, nevertheless sufficient ex-
cuse for my attempt to give a summary of what is now
known about language.
That the general reader needs such information as is
here given was recognized by Whitney, who wrote, in
the preface of his first-named book: 'It can hardly admit
of question that at least so much knowledge of the na-
ture, history, and classifications of language as is here
presented ought to be included in every scheme of higher
education.' While questions of a linguistic nature are
everywhere a frequent subject of discussion, it is surpris-
ing how little even educated people are in touch with
the scientific study of language. I hope that my book
will furnish a simple aid for those who choose to make
up this deficiency in our scheme of general education
Students whose vocation demands linguistic knowledge
are subjected in our universities to a detached course or


two on details of the phonologic and morphologic history
of such languages as Old English, Gothic, or Old French,
- details which are meaningless and soon forgotten, if
no instruction as to their concrete significance has pre-
ceded. To this method of presentation is due, I think,
the dislike which so many workers in related fields bear
toward linguistic study. I hope that this essay may help
to introduce students of philosophy, psychology, ethnol-
ogy, philology, and other related subjects to a juster
acquaintance with matters of language.
In accordance with this twofold aim, I have limited
myself to a presentation of the accepted doctrine, not
even avoiding well-used standard examples. In a few
places I have spoken of views that cannot claim more
than probability, of hypotheses, and of problems yet to
be solved, but I have done this explicitly and only be-
cause I think it fitting to indicate the direction in which
our study is at present tending. Consequently the matter
here presented is by no means my own, but rather the
property of all students of language. It will be found in
fuller form and with bibliographic support in the books
mentioned in Chapter Ten, and these books I may there-
fore name as my more immediate sources.') It will be
apparent, especially, that I depend for my psychology,
general and linguistic, entirely on Wundt; I can only
hope that I have not misrepresented his doctrine. The
day is past when students of mental sciences could draw
on their own fancy or on 'popular psychology' for their
views of mental occurrence. L. B.

1) Of Sweet's Primer of Phoneties the first, and of Meillet's
Introduction the second edition was used in compilation, but
the later editions do not, I believe, differ materially as to any-
thing here discussed.

1. Expressive movements . . . . . . 1
2. Gesture-language. .. .. . . . . . 4
3. Writing .... ................. 7
4. Audible expressive movements . . . . 8
5. Development of language in the child. .. ... 10
6. The origin of language . . . . . .... 13
7. Language constantly changing . . . . ... 16
8. Social character of language . . . ... 17

1. Unconsciousness of speech-movements . . ... 18
2. Writing an imperfect analysis . . . . .... 19
8. The vocal chords .. ...... ........ 24
4. The velum ............... .... 26
5. Oral articulation . . . . . . . .. 27
6. Oral noise-articulations. . . . . . 28
7. Musical oral articulations . . . . . .. 33
8. Infinite variety of possible sounds .. . 38
9. Glides and mixtures of articulation ... . .. .40
10. Syllables . . . . . . . . . . . 41
11. Stress . . . . . . . . . . . 43
12. Pitch. ..................... 51
13. Duration . .. . .. . . . ... 62
14. Limi-tation of articulations in each dialect . . . 53
15. Automatic variations . . . .. .54

1. The place of language in our mental life . . .. 56
2. Total experiences. . . . . . . . .. 56
3. The analysis of total experiences .. . . ... 59
4. The naming of objects. .. . . . . .63
5. The development of abstract words . . . .. 65
6. Psychologic composition of the word. . . . .66
7. Grammatical categories . . . . . ... 67
8. Psychologic character of the linguistic forms . . 69
9. Psychologic motives of utterance. . . . . . 70
10. Interpretation of the linguistic phenomena . . .. 71

1. The inarticulate outcry . .. .. . . 73
2. Primary interjections . .. . . .. 73
3. Secondary interjections . . . . . . . 76
4. The arbitrary value of non-interjectional utterances 77
5. The classifying nature of linguistic expression . . 82
6. Expression of the three types of utterance . 90
7. The parts of utterances . . . . . .. 92
8. The word: phonetic character . . . .. 97
9. The word: semantic character . . . . 103
10. Word-classes ........... ........ 108
11. The sentence. . . . . 110

1 The significance of morphologic phenomena . .. 120
2. Morphologic classification by syntactic use (Parts of
speech) . . . . . . . .. .. . 120
3. Classification by congruence . . . . . .. 127
4. Phonetic-semantic classes .. . . . . ... 131
5. Classes on a partially phonetic basis . . . .. 136
6. Difference between morphologic classification and non-
linguistic association. ..... . . . i139
7. Classes by composition . . . . . . 140

8. Derivation and inflection . . . ...... 140
9. The semantic nature of inflection: the commonest cate-
gories ................ . ..... 141
10. The semantic nature of derivation ......... 150
11. The phonetic character of the morphologic processes 151
12. Word-composition: semantic value . . . . . 159
13. Word-composition not a phonetic process. . . . 162
14. Simple word: compound: phrase. . . . . . 165

1. The field of syntax . . . . . . .... 167
2. The discursive relations . ... . . . . . 168
3. The emotional relations. . . . . . . . 170
4. Material relations ..... .... ...... 171
5. Syntactic categories. . . . . . . .. 174
6. The expression of syntactic relations: modulation in the
sentence . . . . . .. . . . 176
7. Cross-referring constructions. . . . . . . 178
8. Congruence . . . . . . . .... 180
9. Government .................... 182
10. Word-order .................... 186
11. Set phrases: the transition from syntax to style. . 18S
12. The complex sentence ...... ..... .. 190

1. Language constantly changing. . . . . .... 195
2. Causes of the instability of language. . . . . 19
3. Change in articulation .. . . . 202
4. Analogic change . . . 221
5. Semantic change . .. 237
6. The ultimate conditions of change in language . . 251

1. Language never uniform . . . 259
2. Increase of uniformity . ... 262

3. Decrease of uniformity does not offset the increase. .. 263
4. Inferences from historic conditions . . . ... 265
5. The process of differentiation. . . . .. . 273
6. Deduction of internal history from related forms .... 274
7. Interaction of dialects and languages .... ... 280
8. Standard languages ............... 288

1. The purpose of foreign language instruction . .. 292
2. Character of the instruction . . . ... 293
3. Age of the pupil. . . . . . . . . 295
4. Equipment of the teacher . . ... .. 297
5. Drill in pronunciation . ...... . . . 299
6. Method of presenting semantic material. . . .300
7. Grammatical information. . . . . 302
8. Texts . . . . . . . . . . . . 304
9. References .......... ....... 306

1. The origin of linguistic science. . . . . . 307
2. How to study linguistics . . . . 313
3. Relation of linguistics to other sciences .. .. 319

1 Authors, etc......... ........... 326
2. Languages ....................327
3. Subjects ..... ................. 331


1. Expressive movements. In the animal world every
mental process is accompanied by a corresponding phys-
ical process. Some of these physical processes are express-
ive movements. Investigation has shown that the express-
ive movements are most directly co-ordinated with the
emotional element that is present in every mental process.
In man as well as in the lower animals it is primarily
the intensity of the emotional element which appears in
the expressive movements. Everyday observation recog-
nizes the intensity of emotion of monkeys, dogs, or birds
and even of such distant forms as the ant or the fly. In
man and in the animals nearer to man a mild emotion
is accompanied on the physical side by a hurrying of
pulse-beat and respiration. If the emotion is more violent,
the expressive movements extend, successively, to the
facial muscles, then to the Lands and arms, and finally
to the legs and feet, embracing a set of actions well
known to common observation. As the violence of the
emotion increases, these movements also grow more ener-
getic. When a certain extreme, however, is reached, the
mental turmoil suddenly ceases and, in exact correspond-
ence with this, there is a stopping of all the physical
manifestations: the muscles grow slack, the legs often
refusing support, and heart-beat and respiration may tem-
porarily or even permanently stop.
Bloomfield, Study of Language 1


While the expressive movements are thus chiefly de-
pendent on the intensity of emotion, some of them, espe-
cially in the monkey and in man, have come secondarily
to indicate also the quality of the emotion. The quality
of the emotion shows itself in the play of the facial
muscles. The various facial expressions are probably
mechanized forms of what were once instinctive efforts
at dealing with experiences of taste. The familiar 'sweet'
or pleasurable expression brings any substance that may
be in the mouth as much as possible into contact with
the tip of the tongue, which is most sensitive to sweet
tastes. Similarly, the 'bitter' or abhorrent expression
withdraws the back of the tongue, which is most sensi-
tive to a bitter taste. Sour tastes are most felt by the
sides of the tongue: a pleasantly sour taste can be best
perceived in the position which we know as a 'smile' and
an over-sour one best avoided by the 'weeping' grimace.
These responses have, in the history of the rce, become
purely reflex and hereditary, appearing even in new-born
Owing, moreover, to association between these move-
ments and the emotional qualities in these taste-experiences,
the movements have come to be constant attendants of
all experiences, even other than of taste, which involve
such qualities of emotion. That is, the 'sweet', 'bitter',
'smiling', and 'weeping' expressions are now the phys-
ical concomitants of any and all experiences whose emo-
tional quality resembles that, respectively, of a sweet,
bitter, sour, or over-sour taste. Thus any pleasure is ac-
companied by the first of these expressions and any
abhorrence by the second; the uses of the smile and of
the weeping grimace are too well known to need descrip-
tion. It is not known to what extent this associational
extension of these movements is hereditary.


Beside these expressions we find tension, pleasant
or unpleasant anticipation, expressed by the inner-
vation of the cheek-muscles, and relaxation, satiation
or disappointment, by their loosening. Perhaps these
reflexes originated in the use of these muscles in eating.
Another specialized type of expressive movements are
those which indicate the perceptual content of an ex-
perience. In every experience there is present, beside the
emotional elements (with which the expressive movements,
we must suppose, are most directly connected), a series
of perceptual impressions, whether of outer sensation or
of imagery. In fact, it is only by an abstraction that we
can separate the emotional and the perceptual contents
of our mental life. Just as certain expressive movements
originally connected with experiences of taste have come
to indicate the emotional quality of an experience, so
certain other movements, especially of the hands and
arms, have come to indicate its perceptual content.
Such a movement is that of pointing at things. When
a child grasps at things which it cannot reach, its mis-
judgment of distance results, in each case, in a mere
movement of the hand in the direction of the object
desired. As the child grows in intelligence it performs
this movement even when it knows it cannot reach things,
and finally also uses the movement to indicate things which
it does not want, things which merely excite its cu-
riosity or interest, the subjects of its discourse. This de-
velopment of the deictic expressive movement, which
occurs in every child, is peculiarly human; the monkey
does not get beyond the first stage of sometimes grasping
at things which it cannot reach.
Another type of expressive movement that indicates
perceptual content is the imitative movement. Imitation
is a term that can be applied to many phenomena of ex-


pressive movement throughout the animal kingdom. When
we find numbers of ants or bees, for instance, congruently
performing some one task, we must suppose that an in-
stinctive action of some individuals called forth the same
action in all the others. The explanation seems to be that
the bodily movements have become so closely associated
with the mental processes which they accompany, that
the sight of a fellow-individual going through the former
at once awakens the same mental state in the beholder.
Thus a child, seeing another child weep, enters at once
upon the state of anguish associated with this expression,
and consequently weeps in sympathy, as we say, with
the other child. In a grown civilized man these imitative
actions are, however, usually suppressed and even the
sympathetic emotion is reduced to a minimum. This sub-
jection of the imitative movements to the will allows
them to become expressive of perceptual contents. For
we may now accompany any chosen perceptual element
of our mental state by imitative gestures, provided
only that this element is sufficiently charged emotionally,
for, after all, these movements are at bottom indicative
of intensity of emotion. Especially in speaking of actions
we accompany our picturing with imitative gestures. Also,
anyone asked to define the qualities 'compact' or 'spiral'
will resort to imitative movements. The prevalence of
these varies greatly as a matter of communal habit or
good form among different nations.
2. Gesture-language. Gestures are frequently used as
the means of communication where vocal speech is im-
possible or undesirable. The systems of gesture-language
thus used by different peoples are strikingly uniform.
The gesture-language of certain of the American Indians,
used where tribes of different language wished to com-
municate, is closely like that which has been current in


southern Italy since Roman times (and no one knows
how much earlier), or like that used by the lower classes
in Japan, or by the Cistercian monks under their vow of
silence; and all these forms closely resemble that which
a company of untaught deaf-mutes will, in the course
of a few years, produce for themselves.
Gesture-language is so uniform because it consists
everywhere chiefly of the universally human expressive
movements voluntarily used for communication. The origin
of the communicative use is psychologically intelligible.
An individual sympathetically taking up another's emo-
tion might yet reproduce an entirely different perceptual
content. In so far as his expressive movements indicated
the latter they would differ from those of the first indi-
vidual. This already would be rudimentary communica-
tion. It would develop into more and more deliberate
and explicit forms as the race attained to voluntary use
of expressive movements for any chosen part of one's
ideas, and as individuals, after repeated occurrence of the
divergence of gesture, should foresee this divergence and
make gestures in order to call forth divergent gestures
from their fellow, in other words, as the exchange of
messages became a motive. We must suppose that all
this took place in connection with vocal language, but
even where gestures are used without vocal language
they remain close to their character of expressive move-
The deictic movement is of very limited use in gesture-
language. Objects which, under circumstances, may be
absent cease to be designated by pointing gestures even
when they are present. The deictic gesture thus comes
to be used only of certain constant relations: for express-
ing the I', the 'you', the 'here' or 'this', and the 'there'
or 'that'.


The imitative movements, on the other hand, receive
a wide development in the depicting gestures. These have
been divided into three classes. The simplest kind are
the representative, which depart but little from primitive
imitative movements, as, for instance, when 'joy' is
expressed by a glad grimace or 'sleep' by closing the
eyes and inclining the head to one side. Like all depicting
gestures, representative gestures are either graphic as
when one draws the outline of a 'house' in the air (gable-
roof and side walls), or plastic, as in the above gestures
for 'joy' and 'sleep' or when one joins first finger and
thumb in the shape of a circle to indicate 'coin' or 'mon-
ey'. Suggestive gestures depict not the thing intended
but some part or accompaniment of it that brings it up
by association. Graphic examples are the outlining of a
beard under one's chin to express 'goat' or of a hat over
one's head to express, among the Indians, 'white man'.
The plastic type appears in the gesture for 'silence' in
which the lips are compressed and a finger raised or in
that for 'hunger' in which the cheeks are hollowed and
two fingers, as if grasping a morsel, are held before the
open mouth. Symbolic gestures, finally, arise when still
further associational processes have removed the gesture
from all resemblance to the thing intended or any part
of it. Thus the deictic gestures for space may be used
for time: one points backward for the past and forward
for the future, or, as a plastic example, the suggestive
gesture for 'hunger' may be used for 'wish' or 'desire',
or the suggestive gesture for a 'bad smell', raising of
the nostrils, may be used to express anything arousing
The transition from the immediately significant gestu-
res, the deictic and the representative, to the suggestive
and the symbolic is a process of association. The gesture


is closely associated with a type of experience, and a
new experience with the same dominant features calls
forth the same gesture, without any consciousness of a
transference on the part of the speaker. We shall meet
similar inevitable transferences or rather extensions of
meaning when we speak of vocal language. In gesture-
language they are limited, however, by the immediate
and apparent connection or identity of most gestures
with the natural expressive reaction to the experience.
Because most gestures are so immediately intelligible a
gesture not immediately intelligible is but slowly adopted,
and the number of such never becomes very great. The
main stock of every system of gesture is made up of
such original forms as the deictic and the graphic re-
presentative gestures, which are practically identical with
natural expressive movements.
3. Writing. The expressive movements so far discuss-
ed have given rise not only to gesture-language but
also to writing. Picture-writing is originally the tracing
of an expressive movement on a permanent material.
Its close kinship with gesture results in the transference
of symbols from one to the other. We find not only
delineations of objects (such as a house) made with
exactly the same strokes as are used in representative
gesture, but even symbolic gestures are indicated in the
picture. Among the Indians a hand-movement upward
from the head means 'big man' or 'chief': in picture-
writing the same meaning is expressed by a line drawn
upward from the head of the figure. Similarly, we find
transference of pictorial symbols to gesture. The picto-
rial symbol for 'exchange' among the Indians consists of
two crossed lines, significant either of the act of ex-
change itself or of the crossing of paths at which barter
between primitive communities usually takes place In


gesture-language this symbol is used in the form of two
crossed fingers.
The further development of writing takes place, as
we shall see, entirely under the influence of vocal lan-
4. Audible expressive movements. We have seen
how the expressive movements have developed in man
into a voluntarily used set of symbols by which even
abstract meanings may be communicated. The principal
development of expressive movements in this direction
did not, however, take place in connection with the noise-
less movements which we have so far considered. These
are in several respects under a disadvantage. It is per-
haps rash to say that they are not capable of sufficient
variation to be fully adequate to our needs; perhaps,
if vocal speech had been denied us, they would have
shown themselves modifiable enough to serve for com-
munication in all respects. There is no question, how-
ever, but that they are laborious and slow, demand-
ing a great amount of muscular action on a large scale
for even the briefest utterance. They appeal, moreover,
to the sense of sight, which is not so powerful an arouser
of the attention as hearing and must, indeed, be turned,
often by movement of the entire body, to receive an im-
pression from a new direction. Opposed to all this, the
sound-producing expressive movements are performed by
a delicate machinery requiring but little muscular effort
and appeal to the attention by a channel that is nearly
always open and requires no adjustment of the receiving
Expressive movements producing sound occur widely
in the animal kingdom. Such insects as crickets make
noise by rubbing together parts of their bony covering;
this type of audible expressive movement has nowhere


reached a high development. The more familiar type,
in which air expelled from the lungs meets with obsta-
cles in the breath-passage, appears in amphibians, such as
the frog, and especially, of course, in birds and mammals.
The original form seems to be the cry of pain or rage.
Under a violent unpleasurable emotion the breathing
apparatus and trachea are suddenly contracted. The
breath, hereby forcibly expelled, sets into vibration cer-
tain elastic protuberances within the breath-passage, the
vocal chords, and is further forced through the mouth
and nose. The result is a penetrating noise.
Such animals as the mouse and the rabbit utter sound
only under extreme emotion. The development from this
primitive outcry seems to occur in two directions. Among
gregarious animals the primitive outcry becomes an in-
stinctively used call for help or for the presence of a
fellow-individual. On the other hand, the cry of anger
of the fighting males at mating-time develops into a
general vocal expression of the emotions of this period.
By a further transition this vocal expression accompanies
any lively pleasant emotion, as in the male song-bird.
The development in this direction brings it about that
the vocal utterance is used not only under extreme stress,
but also for lesser and for pleasurable emotions. Thus
there comes about a differentiation between the utterance
of highly unpleasant emotion on the one hand and that
of lesser pleasant or unpleasant feelings on the other.
The latter, less violent expressions tend to include some
repeated movement of the mouth or some periodic change
in the production of the voice-sound itself. No better
example of this differentiation could be found than the
squeak of a bird in extreme fright or pain and, under
less emotional stress, its regular song. The less violent
kind of utterance may be modulated predominantly as to


pitch or as to the noise-quality of the sound. Pitch-mod-
ulation is, of course, characteristic of the song of birds,
noise-modulation of the dog's bark or of human speech. In
our song we combine the two; it has been thought that
our unmelodious speech is a degeneration from an earlier
singing habit of expression, but extended research has
shown that this is not the case, human song having prob-
ably originated in the chant of rhythmic labor. The me-
lodious quality of the bird's song is due to the position
of its vocal chords at the very bottom of the trachea,
which leaves a long sounding-tube for the pitch-modifi-
cation of the sound; our speech, on the other hand, re-
ceives its great scope of variation as to noise-character
from the extreme mobility of our tongue and other oral
muscles. The various movements of these were, no doubt,
in their origin, expressive movements like those of the
'sweet', 'bitter', and 'sour' or 'tense' and 'relaxed' types.
The effect of the sound upon the producing individual
and his fellows was, however, so forceful, as opposed to
that of the mere movement and grimace, that the acoustic
impression of the sound and not the movement itself be-
came the basis for further associational development.
5. Development of language in the child. The
different stages of vocal utterance appear very clearly
during the growth of a child. The new-born child shrieks
with wide-open mouth when in pain. By the end of the
first month it yells also under other sensations of dis-
comfort and soon afterwards it croons when it is con-
tented. As these less violent emotions are accompanied
by less violent muscular effort, there is already some
differentiation in the sound produced. Gradually modi-
fications of these less violent oral movements set in and
are furthered not only by the growing practice of the
mouth-muscles, but also by the appearance of the teeth,


which makes articulation of tongue-tooth sounds possible.
Up to about the end of the first year the child performs
an increasing variety of articulatory movements, especial-
ly during pleasurable emotion. There can be no question
that the tendency to this form of expressive movement,
and especially to the great variety of these movements, is
inherited from the past generations of speaking ancestry.
The element of mimicry that is, of imitation of
the speech of the surrounding adults becomes more
and more prominent toward the end of the first year,
until the child finally succeeds in repeating, with no
consciousness of their meaning, to be sure, syllables
and words that are spoken to it.
At about the same time the child begins to understand
gestures; that is, to associate people's gestures with emo-
tional and even perceptual experiences. It begins by
connecting facial expression with states of emotion, rec-
ognizing, as we say, an angry or a cheerful countenance.
Then comes the association of deictic gestures with ob-
jects, the child's eyes following the direction in which
one points. At last words begin to be understood: aided,
at first, by pointing gestures, the child begins to associate
such sound-sequences as the nursery words for 'mother',
'father', 'good', 'bad', 'bed', or 'sleep' with the corre-
sponding experiences.
As yet, however, the child does not utter these sound-
sequences to express the experiences. When it utters them
at all, it does so purely in mimicry. Even in a normal
child the end of the second year may arrive before the
cross-association between the sounds which it imitatively
utters and the significant sounds which it understands
when others speak them, becomes lively enough to en-
able the child to repeat words with consciousness of their
significant value. When this cross-association has been


formed speech may be said to have begun. To be sure,
the child's reproduction of what it hears is for a long
time imperfect. It is no simple task to associate correctly
a sound heard with the articulatory movements that will
produce it, even though, in the case of some, such as the
lip-closure sounds p, b, m, the eye aids the ear. The child
is very much in the position of the adult who hears a
foreign language; its perception is often wrong. Such
mistakes as the confusion of t and k, of f and th are due
to the unsureness of the perceptive habit: the child actu-
ally hears the wrong sound, so far as consciousness is con-
cerned. Only after long practice do hearing and articula-
tion become accurate and closely associated with each other.
The child's associating the sounds it hears with certain
experiences is due, of course, to the fact that grown-ups
are constantly producing the sounds in connection, and
in as plain connection as possible, with the proper ob-
jects and actions. The association, for instance, between
mama and the child's mother is presented entirely by the
child's elders. In many cases the child will be led to
form a wrong association, which is gradually corrected,
as when it at first calls every man papa. In no case does
the child itself invent a word, in the sense of spontaneous-
ly giving meaning to a sound-sequence. Mother or nurse,
to be sure, will often connect some one of the child's
meaningless sound-productions with some person, object,
or other experience and then teach the child so to connect
it: it is in this way that our nursery-words have arisen.
They are sound-groups which are uttered by most chil-
dren and have come to be traditionally connected by the
adult speech-community with certain meanings; the child,
however, learns to give them these meanings just as it
learns the value of any other words. The connection be-
tween sound and sense is in no case originated by the child.


While we thus see in the child the development of
sound-producing expressive movements from the unmodi-
fied yell of pain to the most manifold varieties of articu-
lation, differentiated in general character to correspond
to different emotional states, the spontaneous rise of the
use of certain fixed sounds for certain fixed types of ex-
perience does not occur in the child. The significant use
of sounds is, so to speak, prematurely forced upon the
individual, who has no opportunity of arriving by his
own powers at the goal of actual language. How the
human species arrived at this significant use of sound-
utterance is therefore not explained by the development
of the individual under normal circumstances. There are
some accounts, most famous among them that of Hero-
dotus (Histories, II, 2), of children who, for the purpose
of ascertaining the original development of language,
were left to grow up without hearing anyone speak.
The experiment is really impossible, for, to be signifi-
cant, it would have to be made with a large group of
people left to themselves for generations and even cen-
turies, since the development of language in the race can
not have been other than gradual and communal.
6. The origin of language. The question remains,
then: How did man come to associate fixed sound-se-
quences with fixed types of experience? The older an-
swer to this question was based on the individual's learn-
ing of language. According to earlier theories the place
of the child's elders was filled, with regard to the race,
by divine care: a divinity directly gave men the use of
speech. A more materialistic but essentially identical
notion was that man himself invented the trick of attach-
ing significance to sounds; some genius of primitive times,
for instance, may have conceived this brilliant idea.
More tenable was the view that the speech-sounds were


originally imitations of what they denoted (Stoics, Herder),
or the view that they were originally the natural and
inevitable emotional responses to the corresponding ex-
periences (Epicureans, Rousseau).
The evolutionary point of view has shown the falsity
of the first two explanations and growing psychologic
insight has deprived the last two also of probability.
Gesture-language is in this connection especially instruct-
ive. Gesture-language, as we have seen, is nothing but
a higher development of the expressive movements com-
mon, in their basis, to many animals. Vocal language
is not essentially different. It consists, at bottom, of ex-
pressive movements. In the case of gesture-language the
expressive movements themselves remained the means of
communication; consequently the connection between a
gesture and the original expressive movement is nearly
always apparent, as when the deictic gesture is plainly
a weakened grasping movement and the depicting gestu-
res scarcely differ from natural imitative movements. In
the case of vocal speech, on the other hand, it was not
the movement itself that attracted attention and became
the starting-point for further development, but the sound
which the movement produced. This sound is an effect
which bears only in respect to emotional intensity any
distinct and recognizable relation to the experience
calling it forth. The 'sweet' face-gesture, for instance,
accompanied by production of the voice-sound gives a
sound in no way directly related to the experience of
something sweet or otherwise pleasant. Now, so long as
the face-gesture remained in use, the importance of the
sound could always be secondary, the gesture actually
conveying the message. The sounds themselves were
neither directly significant of the experience, nor could
they, in any conceivable way, have been imitative of most


experiences: only the movements which produced the
sounds were the expressive correspondents and, therefore,
the indications of the experiences. After the sound, how-
ever, had entered into association with the gesture (and,
thus, with the experience), it gradually usurped the more
important place, owing to the adantages already set
forth, and finally came into independent use, without the
gesture. This use of the sound alone opened the road
for unlimited transferences of meaning of the same kind
as those which produce symbolic gestures. In the case
of the latter the predominant direct connection between
an experience and a gesture, a connection obvious to
all and constantly refreshed, forbade too divergent a
development. In vocal speech, however, where direct
connection between experiences and sounds was never
felt, the further development by means of associational
shifts of meaning has been unlimited. The connection be-
tween sound and meaning, thus, which cannot even in its
origin have been a direct one, is further destroyed by the
freedom of transference due to the lack of any immediately
felt connection between experience and utterance, such as
prevents too free a development of symbolic gestures.
It is clear, therefore, that even if one could survey
the whole evolution of sound-producing expressive mo-
vements from the single cry of pain to which some ani-
mals are limited, up to the present speech of man, there
would be no point at which one could say: Here lan-
guage begins. Expressive movements are the physical phase
of mental processes: whatever the mental processes, the
expressive movements correspond to them. Man's mind
and his expressive activity have developed in indissol-
uble connection. In the animal world, as we know it,
the evolution of one phase without the other is inconceiv-
able. This, indeed, is why it is impossible to set up a


strictly logical definition of language as opposed to ex-
pressive movement in general. Language is the form of
expressive movement adequate to the mentality of man.
This mentality is defined no less than man's language
in the aphorism that 'Man is a speaking animal'.
7. Language constantly changing. The absence of
immediate connection between sound and experience
appears in the fact that, unlike gesture-language, vocal
language differs vastly in different times and places, -
a fact too familiar to need exposition.
The change of language in time is of interest in the
present connection because its phases again illustrate the
absence of any conservative relation between sound and
sense. The sounds habitually uttered under a given type
of experience are in an unceasing process of change:
those which we utter today are not like those which
speakers of English uttered a thousand or even a hundred
years ago. On the other hand, the transference of mean-
ing also is unlimited; the history of languages shows us
innumerable associational changes of meaning, which in
gesture, where some connection between expression and
experience is upheld, would be impossible. It would be
difficult to find an English word which, if it existed at
all a thousand years ago, has not since then in some
way changed its meaning. All this is due to the fact that
there never was a stage in which a hearer could recognize
any but an arbitrary connection between sound and sense.
The change of language is not a mere endless shifting
of sounds and meanings: we find speech rising in the
course of time to the power of more delicate and abstract
expression and to greater brevity. This development is
due to the assimilating effect, which we shall study in
detail, of experience upon expression; in return the grow-
ing power of expression, as we shall see, reacts favor-


a ly upon the mental processes. Thus the freedom in
which vocal language differs from that of gesture has
made possible a much higher development.
8. Social character of language. We have seen that
the greatest stimulus toward the development of express-
ive actions is their emergence into voluntary communi-
cative use. Language has been developed in the inter-
change of messages, and every individual who has learned
to use language has learned it through such interchange
The individual's language, consequently, is not his cre-
ation, but consists of habits adopted in his expressive
intercourse with other members of the community. The
result of this is the individual's inability to use language
except in the form in which the community as a whole
uses it: he must speak as the others do, or he will not
be understood. As a matter of fact he does not, in nor-
mal cases, try to speak otherwise, but unquestioningly
follows his and his fellow-speakers' habits. The change
which occurs in language is thus never a conscious alter-
ation by individuals, but an unconscious, gradual change
in the habits of the entire community. The motives
which cause it are not individual reflective considerations
of the result, but new associative tendencies or new con-
ditions of innervation due to some change in the cir-
cumstances of life affecting the community. As we
examine more closely the different aspects of language,
we shall again and again find the same characteristic: as
the individual speaker receives his habits from the com-
munity, individual motives do not come into play, but only
causes affecting the community as a whole. And as, more-
over, the individual, from childhood, practices his speech
until the details of it are mechanized and unconscious, he
is rarely aware of the specific characteristics, such as the
phonetic or the grammatical, which are involved in it.
Bloomfield, Study of Language 2

1. Unconsciousness of speech-movements. The in-
dividual's unconsciousness of the details of his speech-
activity appears strikingly when we inquire into the
movements by which speech sounds are produced. While
we know that we speak with the mouth, tongue, and
larynx, the separate movements of these organs rarely
or never enter our consciousness. If we are asked to
describe them, we answer in vague, metaphoric expres-
sions or say things that are altogether wrong. In fact,
as to some of these movements not only the normal
speaker but even the scientific observer is at a loss. For,
in spite of the fact that all these muscles are ultimately
at the command of the will, the innervations which con-
trol them have become mechanized; we consciously give
the impulse for whole words and phrases, but the details
of their utterance always proceed unconsciously. The
impulse, moreover, is given in terms of sound, for, in
the association of articulatory movements with sounds,
which is formed very early in life (p. 11) and is, of
course, constantly practised, the latter are entirely domi-
nant, the former almost forgotten. It appears, then, that
even as regards our own speech-movements of every
day, some scientific examination of the facts is necessary.
It happens, moreover, that not only different languages
but even different local variations of the same language


use different sounds. When the normal speaker hears a
foreign dialect or language, he encounters a twofold
difficulty. His perceptive habits lead him to hear sounds
that merely resemble those of his own speech as if
they were identical with the latter; and where two or
more of the strange sounds resemble one of his own, he
may fail to distinguish between them. Thus a German
who is picking up English will confuse our v, w, and wh
sounds, our d and th (as in then), our t and th (as in
think), and our sh and z (as in azure), for in his own
language he has but one sound resembling each of these
groups. The second difficulty lies in producing the for-
eign sounds even when their distinctive character is
heard: thus our German may in time come to appreciate
the distinctions we have mentioned, but will still be un-
able to produce the English sounds.
These difficulties usually prove fatal to the efforts of
those who try to describe languages without adequate
knowledge of phonetics. From nearly all the published
material about American Indian languages, for instance,
it is impossible to get any adequate conception of how
these languages are pronounced. So great a Chinese
scholar as Joseph Edkins was unable to describe some
of the commonest Chinese sounds. It is for this reason
that even teachers who have spoken a language from
childhood are often unable to impart their information
to others. No one can teach a foreigner his language,
unless he can tell his pupil exactly what to do with his
vocal organs to get the proper effect: and this, we have
seen, he cannot do without a certain amount of scientific
2. Writing an imperfect analysis. There is one
activity in the course of which nearly all civilized peo-
ples have made some analysis of the sounds of their


speech, and that is writing. This analysis has, however,
been gradual and incomplete. In its most primitive form
writing is simply the drawing, carving, or painting of
the visible features of an experience or of symbolic ele-
ments representing it (p. 7). When this method of
communication is frequently used, certain elements in
the pictures come to be drawn always in a certain way
and to have a fixed meaning. Gradually such elements
may come to be used as symbols for corresponding words
of the vocal language and to be arranged in the order
that these words have in speech. As the association be-
tween written symbol and spoken word becomes fixed,
the symbol may come to be drawn without reference to
its original pictorial value, and to deviate from its older
form, associating the word rather than, in a more direct
sense, the experience. When this has happened, the asso-
ciation may grow to be simply one of written symbol
and sound, regardless of the meaning borne by the sound,
until, after a time, the symbols are used purely in their
phonetic value. The number of symbols may then be
lessened to the point where there is a single character
for every syllable used in the language. Such syllabariess'
are a very common form of writing; examples are the
alphabets of India (derived from ancient syllabic forms
of Semitic writing), and the national alphabets of the
Japanese. It is a further simplification when these
characters come to be used not for whole syllables but
for single sounds of the language, as in the Greek, Latin,
and derived alphabets, including our own.
All this development is, of course, gradual. There is,
in most instances, at no time a deliberate and system-
atic examination of the sounds of the language and an
assigning to each of a written symbol. Accordingly, we
hardly ever find perfect consistency in thO relation be-


tween sound and writing. There are two factors which
lessen even such consistency as might otherwise develop.
One of these is the use of foreign alphabets. When the
English, for instance, took over the Latin alphabet, the
sounds of English were so different from those of Latin
that consistency was impossible, a difficulty under
which we labor even today, for our alphabet has not
enough signs for our vowels, and none for our th-sounds,
our sh, our z as in asure, our wh, or our ng as in sing,
and, on the other hand, contains the superfluous char-
acters c, q, and x. The second factor interferes even
more seriously with the regularity of alphabetic writing:
it is the necessary conservatism of orthography. Read-
ing and writing would be very slow processes, if, every
time we read or wrote, we actually stopped to analyze
each word into its component sounds; moreover, accord-
ing to emphasis, speed, personal habit, and so on, the
spelling of each word would then be variable, a con-
dition which would further militate against ease. Such
a state of :r,;', never continues long, for the spellings
of whole words are of course remembered and become
ireditional. Opposed to this necessary conservatism of
writing, there is the fact that all language at all times
is in an unceasing process of change, a process so
gradual and subtle that no speaker, through all his life,
is aware of it, yet so unceasing that the orthography of
every language becomes in a few hundred years thor-
oughly antiquated even in those features which were for-
merly consistent.
This, of course, is a reason why writing, though in-
volving to a certain extent an analysis of the physical
phase of language, does not satisfy scientific requirements
in this direction. Indeed, so far as the linguistically
untrained person is concerned, writing is often mislead-


ing, for the individual movements of writing are so much
more consciously performed than those of pronunciation,
that the naive speaker will often think that he speaks
as he writes, when this is not the case. He will think, for
instance, that passed and past or close (verb) and clothes
are pronounced differently, when actually he may never
in his life have heard or made such distinctions.
There are other reasons, too, why writing cannot and
need not accurately analyze the spoken sounds. Although
the human vocal organ can produce an infinite number
of different sounds, each language uses but a limited set.
Given, therefore, an alphabet of a limited number of
symbols, it could be used by all languages, though no
two of them would give each symbol the same value.
Now, within limits this is actually the case: thus letters
like p and t are used by both English and French, but
with different values, v and z by both English and Ger-
mans, but again with differing values in the two lan-
guages. This circumstance may be convenient, on oc-
casion, to printers; it would be absurd, at any rate, for
us to request the Germans and the French to give up
their use of these letters because it does not agree with
ours. Consequently there are differences between the
pronunciations of different languages which do not appear
in writing. The same is true, moreover, of the different
local variations of the same language. The words of
the English language are pronounced very differently,
let us say, by a Chicagoan and by a Londoner. These
dialectal differences of pronunciation may be so great
that scarcely a word will be pronounced alike over all
the territory in which a language is spoken. In the case
of Chinese, in fact, distant dialects are mutually unintelli-
gible, though the writing is the same. It would obvious-
ly be a great inconvenience and a source of much con-


fusion, if such variations appeared in the writing: it
would mean, for instance, that a Chicagoan could only
with difficulty read a book printed in London. Thus we
see that much of the value of writing is actually depend-
ent on its not conveying the exact manner of pronuncia-
More than this, there are in the language even of one
and the same person many subtle and complex variations,
which do not demand notation for the practical purposes
of reading and writing. Thus we pronounce our vowels
longer before d than before t, the o in rode longer,
for instance, than that in wrote, but it would be super-
fluous to indicate this difference, for every English-speak-
ing person regularly and unconsciously speaks his vowels
longer before d than before t. An orthography which
actually indicated all the phonetic facts of speech would
be a very cumbersome affair, difficult for even an expert
phonetician to handle, and requiring, above all, close
attention to every single utterance that one wanted to
represent in writing.
It is obvious, then, that even a regular and consistent
orthography for practical purposes would not contain a
full analysis of the pronunciation of a language, such as
is often needed by the scientific investigator and, in some
degree, by the teacher of languages. For scientific use
several such fully analytic alphabets have been devised;
today the standard one is that of the International Pho-
netic Association, which shall be used in this book (pho-
netic characters being printed in square brackets). It is cus-
tomary, however, even in scientific discussions, to avoid a
constant complete analysis by describing, at the outset,
the sounds and regular variations of a language and as-
signing a simple character of the phonetic alphabet to
each typical sound. Such a simplified phonetic alphabet


is of course best for teaching the pronunciation of a for-
eign language, and, if it can be made to fit all the local
variations of pronunciation, would be the ideal practical
3. The vocal chords. The human vocal organ is a
wind instrument which produces sounds by interfering
with the breathed air that is being driven from the lungs
in expiration. The first interference which the expired
breath meets is at the head of the trachea, in the larynx
or Adams's apple. Within the larynx, to the right and
left, are two muscular protuberances, the vocal chords,
between which the breath must pass. In ordinary breath-
ing the muscles of tlhe vocal chords are relaxed and the
breathed air passes freely through the aperture between
them, which is called the glottis. When one holds one's
breath with open mouth the vocal chords are stretched
so as to close the glottis firmly. Owing to their delicate
musculature, and to two movable cartilaginous hinges,
the arytenoids, in which they terminate at the rear of
the larynx, the vocal chords can be set also in a number
of positions intermediate between that of breathing and
that of firm closure.
Firm closure of the glottis, suddenly opened, occurs
just before coughing or clearing the throat, also under
any strain, as in lifting a heavy weight. As a speech-
sound it is used in German initially in the pronunciation
of words that in writing begin with a vowel. The sound
so produced is called the glottal stop, and its phonetic
symbol is [9]; a German word like arm 'poor' is therefore
pronounced [,arm]. The glottal stop occurs also in a
great many other languages, such as Danish, where hand
'dog' is pronounced [hu9n], but hun 'she' [hun], Lettish,
Hebrew ('aleph'), Arabic ('hamza'), and some Chinese
dialects. Its frequent occurrence in such languages as


Danish produces in English ears the effect of constant
intfrruption by little hicconghs.
If the v',al chords are a little less firmly closed, the
compression gives way, from instant to instant, to the
pressure of the breath, so that a vibration productive of
musical sound results. This musical sound we call voice.
The pilch of the voice is modulated by changing the length
of the chords, for this of course controls the rapidity of
vibration. The loudness or stress of the voice depends on
the violence of the vibration, and may therefore be regu-
lated in two ways. In singing the regulation is (or ought
to be) chiefly e t ..-t..1 by varying the breath-pressure, that
is, by expiring more or less rapidly; in ordinary speech
the less cumbersome method prevails of l,-ightly widening
the glottis for a less loud sound and slightly narrowing
it for a louder; for, as the narrowing of the glottis allows
less breath to pass through, the accumulated breath under-
neath exercises pressure, against which the vocal chords
vibrate under tension, producing a loud sound.
The voice is not heard in every sound of speech. In
the glottal stop, for instance, it obviously is absent. Many
of the other speech-sounds, also, are unaccompanied by
the voice. If one places a finger on the Adam's apple or
stops up one's ears, the voice will be felt as a buzz or
trembling; if one now speaks, such sounds as p, t, k, /; s
[p, t, k, f, s] will be found to lack this buzzing accompa-
niment, while such as b, d, g, v, z [b, d, g, v, z] have it: the
former are unvoiced or breathed, the latter voiced sounds,
as are also, for instance, our accented vowels.
If the vocal chords are so far separated that the voice
no longer sounds pure, but is accompanied by a friction
sound produced by the breath as it passes through the
glottis, we get a murmur. Most of our unaccented vowels
in English are spoken with murmur instead of voice. As


an independent speech-sound the murmur is heard in the
'voiced h' of Cech and of Sanskrit, symbol [fi]. If the
glottis is still farther opened, the voice ceases and only
the friction-sound remains: this is the sound of our h [h].
Still another position of the vocal chords is represent-
ed by the whisper, in which only the cartilage-glottis,
that is, the space between the arytenoids, is open, the vo-
cal chords themselves being in contact. In what we ordi-
narily call whispering the whisper is substituted for the
voice, the unvoiced sounds remaining unaltered.
Both in whispering and in ordinary speech the unvoi-
ced sounds are pronounced with the glottis in its widest-
open position, the muscles of the vocal chords being re-
laxed and the breath passing freely through the larynx:
this, as we have seen, is also the position for regular
The remarkable delicacy and rapidity of adjustment of
the vocal chords in passing from voice to breathing, from
either of these to murmur, whisper, or h, and in changing
the pitch and stress, requires no further comment. It is
to be remembered, of course, that the details of all these
movements, in spite of complete subjection to the will,
are so mechanized as to be unconscious: anybody can speak
an h, but it takes careful scientific observation to deter-
mine exactly how the sound is produced.
4. The veluin. When the breath leaves the larynx it
passes, in normal breathing, through the nose. During
most of the sounds of speech it is, however, precluded
from doing so by the raising of the soft palate or velum,
which now cuts off the nasal passage from the throat and
mouth. If one stands with open mouth before a mirror,
breathing through both nose and mouth, and then sud-
denly pronounces a pure, long 'ah...' [a:], the raising of
the velum can be easily seen, especially if one watches


the uvula. Most speech-sounds are thus purely oral. In
a few, such as m [m] or n [n], however, the breath es-
capes entirely through the nose, the velum being lowered:
such sounds are called nasals. There are other sounds in
which the breath escapes through both mouth and nose:
these are called nasalised (symbol ~), e. g. the vowel in
the Fiench cent [sa] 'a hundred'. Most speakers are, of
course, quite unconscious of the movements of their velum;
yet it is lowered and raised again every time they speak
an m or n.
5. Oral articulation. The mouth performs a double
function in speech. It serves, in the first place, as a re-
sonance-chamber for the musical sound of the voice or
for the whisper. By changing the shape of this resonance-
chamber we vary the tone-color of the sound: thus by
narrowing and flattening it we get the high tone-color of
the vowel-sound in fee, by hollowing it, the low tone-col-
or of the vowel in foe.
Secondly, by moving the tongue and the lower lip dur-
ing the passage of the breath, we can produce noises.
Most of these depend on the resistance of the breath-stream,
but noises can also be produced by suction (symbol [*]),
as in the sound with which we urge on a horse by
'snapping' the tongue against the palate [c*]. Such suc-
tion-noises occur as regular speech-sounds in the langua-
ges of the African Bushmen and the Hottentots. Where
the noises are produced by means of the breath, voiced
or unvoiced, there are two principal methods: either a
complete closure is made and then explosively burst, as
in our p, b, t, d, k, g [p, b, t, d, k, g], stops, or explosives;
or the closure is incomplete and the noise is produced by
the friction of the breath passing through the aperture,
as in our f, v, th as in think, th as in then, s, z, sh, z as in
azure [f, v, , 0 z z, 3], spirants or fricatives. Both


stops and spirants may be modified by lowering the ve-
lum; in the case of tle former the breath escapes entirely
through the no-, anil we hear the nasals, such as in, n,
ng [m, n, ij]; in tile case of the spirants it escapes through
both mouth and iose, producing nasalized spirants.
6. Oral noise-articuLtaions. The noise-articulations
can be produced in various parts of the mouth.
a) Laials. '"..-. produced by closure of the two lips, -
bilabial articulation, are our unvoiced p [p] and voiced
b [b]. The corresponding nasal is our voiced m [m]. Bila-
bial spirants are not common; a ,oiced one [n] occurs in
Dutch (written w) and in Spanish (written b, v).
Our English unvoiced [f] and voiced [v] are labiodental
spirants, in which the friction is produced between the
lower lip and the upper teeth and accentuated by the col-
lision of the escaping stream of breath with the upper lip.
b) Dentals. Most of the oral noise-articulations are made
with the tongue. The tongue produces noises with either
the tip or the back articulating against the teeth or the
palate: articulation with the tip is called coronal, with the
back, dorsal.
Coronal articulation against the upper teeth or the gums
just behind them is called dental; it produces, of stops,
the unvoiced [t] and the voiced [d]. These occur in sev-
eral varieties, such as the interdental, against the lower
edge of the upper teeth, the post-dental, against the back
of the upper teeth (thus in Spanish and in many modern
languages of India, and, in a different variety, in French),
against the border of the upper teeth and gums (so in
German), or a little farther back still (as in the English
t and d), the last two variants being specifically called
alveolar. Such variations are indicated, where necessary,
in phonetic writing by diacritical marks such as [-] for
articulation with the tongue drawn back, [-] for articu-


nation with the tongue advanced, [1] for greater raising
of the tongue, and [T] for greater lowering; but these signs
can usually be dispensed with by stating beforehand what
varieties are current in a given language. The voiced na-
sal corresponding to these stops is our n [n], which often
occurs unvoiced [n] in such words as mint, snow, where
it is spoken just before or after unvoiced sounds. Dental
spirants, more specifically interdental or post-dental, are
our unvoiced [0] as in think and voiced [L] as in then.
Dental articulation is used also in the trills or r-sounds
of most languages. These sounds are produced by tighten-
ing the tongue-muscles so that they elastically resist
the pressure of the breath from instant to instant; an
example is the Slavic or Italian 'rolled' r [r], which is
used also in the stage-pronunciations of French and Ger-
man. The r-sound of American English [.i] is pronounced
with the tongue relaxed, so that there is no trilling and
even very little breath-friction; in consequence the acous-
tic value of the sound is as much musical as noise-like.
An unvoiced [.i] with increased friction often occurs in
such words as try. The friction element of a trilled [r]
reaches a maximum, if the tongue is held close to the roof
of the mouth, especially at the sides, where it touches
the upper teeth; if the friction-noise is very great, we seem
to hear a trilled [r] and, simultaneously, a spirant resem-
bling the sound of z in azure: this strongly spirant trilled
[i] is heard in Cechish.
Another dental articulation is that of the 1-sounds or
laterals. In these also friction is so slight that it would
be as well to class them with the musical sounds as with
the noises. Their characteristic resonance is due to the
fact that the breath escapes at the sides of the tongue,
the tip of the tongue being pressed tightly against the
upper teeth or gums. The tone-color of such nn [!] ran


be varied by raising or lowering the back of the tongue, -
that is, altering the shape of the resonance-chamber. Very
high tone-color, due to raising of the tongue, is heard in
the 'light' I of the Slavic languages; less high is that of
German or French 1, while that of English is especially
dull, owing to the lowering of the middle of the tongue.
c) Cerebrals. Leaving the dental position, we come to
another form of coronal articulation, the cerebral. In this
the tip of the tongue is drawn up and back, so as to articu-
late against the highest point of the palate. Many lan-
guages of India possess these cerebrals [t, d, n] by the
side of the dentals, distinguishing between the two as sharp-
ly as they or we should distinguish between, say, t and k.
Some of these languages have cerebral [.] and [1] which
may also be heard in the English pronunciation of many
d) Blade-sounds. We come now to the dorsal tongue-
articulations, in which parts of the upper surface of the
tongue (as opposed to the tip in coronal articulation) are
brought into contact with the teeth, gums, or palate. The
dorsal articulations that are made farthest forward are
produced, naturally, by the front of the upper surface of
the tongue, which is called the blade. In these sounds the
tongue is contracted so as to form a furrow along the
median line: the breath passes along this furrow, which
directs it against the edge of the upper front teeth. Here
the narrow, strong stream of air produces a sharp, hissing
noise, whence these sounds receive the name of sibilants:
unvoiced [s], voiced [z]. They occur in several varieties: in
French they are post-dental, the tip of the tongue touch-
ing the lower teeth, and the blade, except in the center,
where the furrow is formed, touching the upper teeth.
The English and German sibilants are alveolar; in Swedish
there is even a cerebral variety.


The distinctness of the sibilant hiss is lessened, if the
tongue is moved so as to displace the furrow from its
proper relation to the upper teeth, for then the narrow
stream of breath is not accurately directed against the
edge of the teeth, but, instead, eddies round, producing
a peculiar muffled hiss. These abnormal sibilants are usual-
ly produced by drawing the tongue back from the [s]-
position: so in our English unvoiced [J], as in shall and
voiced [3], as in azure, vision. The exact nature of the
eddying current of the breath in these sounds is not known.
The 'kettle' or 'gorge' of the eddy can be enlarged by
protruding and rounding the lips [f)], as in the German
sch-sound. The French varieties lower the tip of the ton-
gue and slightly raise the back.
The front articulations may be formed in more pronoun-
cedly dorsal variations. Such are our [tf-] and [d3i] as
in cheap and jump, the palatalizedd' Russian [ti], [d-],
and [si], the Russian and Polish [tfj-], the Polish 'pala-
talized' s [f-], the Norwegian [fI], and the German [f-]
before consonants. These more dorsal varieties of dental
and blade sounds are often conveniently indicated, both
in practical and in phonetic writing, by placing an accent-
mark over the letter, e. g. t' [t], rather than by fully in-
dicating the tongue-position, e. g. [ti-]. It is also some-
times convenient to express them by the signs of the se-
ries of sounds to be next spoken of, provided the condi-
tions of the language do not make such expression mis-
leading or ambiguous.
e) Palatals. Dorsal articulations against the hard pal-
ate are called palatal. As the hard palate is comparati-
x ely extensive, they occur in several varieties. The stops,
unvoiced [c] and voiced [j], are heard in French dialects,
in Lithuanian, and in Hungarian, the nasal [p] also in
Spanish (written ii), Italian (written gn), and French (gn),


the French variety being pronounced farther back than
the others. The spirants of this position are unvoiced [9],
as in the German ich [7G] 'I' and voiced [j], as in many
German pronunciations of such words as ja 'yes' and legen
'to lay'. Palatal trills cannot occur, for the back of the
tongue has not enough elasticity to vibrate. A palatal lat-
eral [S] occurs, however, in southern French, Spanish
(written 1), and Italian (written gl). Those who have not
in their native language the habit of palatal articulation
best learn it, if they produce the sounds with the tip of
the tongue pressed against the lower teeth, but this is not
necessary to the articulation.
f) Velars. Dorsal articulations against the soft palate
again allow of a great deal of variation, owing to the ex-
tent of this region. The sounds here produced are called
velars. In English the velar stops, kh [k] and g [g], are
produced farthest forward before the i-vowel heard in kin
and give, farther back in can and gap, and farthest back
before back vowels as in coop, goose; the same habit pre-
vails in German. The velar nasal occurs in English, written
ng, as in sing, symbol [ij]1). The spirants are: unvoiced
[x], as in the German Bach [bax] 'brook', and voiced [g],
which occurs in modern Greek and in many German pro-
nunciations of such words as sagen 'to say'. A very open
[x'], with little friction, is heard in the Slavic languages.
A velar trill is impossible, but a velar lateral [1] is pro-
duced in Polish by raising the back of the tongue: while
accurate median contact with literal opening is here im-
possible, the general effect still resembles that of the ton-
gue-tip [1], as well as that of an English w.
g) Uvulars. The hindmost of the dorsal articulations

1) In such words as finger, however, the spelling ng repre-
sents two sounds, [1g]].


is that of the rear upper surface of the tongue against
the uvula, the little pendent part at the back of the soft
palate. Of these uvular articulations the unvoiced stop [q]
occurs in Arabic and in Greenlandish; the latter language
uses also the voiced nasal [N]. In the trill [n] it is the
uvula and not, as in the dental trill, the tongue, which
vibrates. This uvular trillis the regular r-sound in Northum-
brian English (the 'burr'), in Danish, and in the city
pronunciations of French and German. In French and
Danish it occurs also unvoiced [n]; in these languages it
is often pronounced without the trill-vibration, as a uvu-
lar spirant, both unvoiced [u] and voiced [u].
In connection with the oral noise-articulations we may
again mention the laryngeal, produced by the vocal chords;
of these the stop ['] and the spirants, unvoiced [h] and
voiced [F] have already been mentioned (p. 24, ff.). Two more
laryngeal spirants can be produced by compression of the
entire musculature of the larynx: the 'hoarse h' [H] and
its voiced form, the ayinn' [Q] of the Semitic languages.
7. Musical oral articulations. We may turn now to
the musical articulations or 'vowels'. It is important to
observe that there is no definite boundary between the
noise-articulations and the musical articulations. Any spi-
rant can be articulated with varying degrees of closure:
as the pressure of the tongue is relaxed the friction-noise
decreases and the element of musical resonance becomes
more and more audible. Such spirants as the American
English [.], the laterals, and an open [j] are on the bor-
der line; if anything, the resonance-element is, in the [.l] and
[1] at least, dominant. The traditional division of sound;
into 'consonants' and 'vowels', while often convenient,
is therefore untenable for purposes of exact terminology.
Instead, the sounds of speech represent an unbroken series
of relations between noise and resonance: the latter ele-
Bloomfield, Study of Language 3


ment is at a minimum in the unvoiced stops; then come,
in order, the voiced stops, the unvoiced and the voiced spi-
rants, the nasals, the laterals, the r-sounds, and, finally,
the most open musical sounds, in the production of which
the mouth is merely shaped into a resonance-chamber.
In this shaping the chief factor is the tongue-position.
It is customary to distinguish nine typical tongue-positions,
three along the horizontal plane, front, mixed, and back,
and three along the vertical, high, mid, and low. The for-
mer three indicate the region in which the tongue approach-
es most closely to the roof of the mouth, the latter
three, the degree of approximation. Other factors modi-
fying the quality of the resonance are the tensity or re-
laxation of the oral muscles, especially those of the ton-
gue, and the position, normal, drawn back, or rounded,
of the lips. It is customary to distinguish two typical
states of each of these factors: wide (that is, loose) and
narrow (that is, tense) vowels, and rounded (lips protru-
ded and rounded) and unrounded vowels.
a) Front vowels. A high front vowel, narrow and un-
rounded, is produced, if one pronounces the spirant [j]
more and more openly, so that the friction-sound disap-
pears. This vowel [i] occurs in a very characteristic form
in French, where the corners of the mouth are drawn back
to emphasize the shape of the resonance-chamber: this
is the regular French i, as in fini 'done'. In German the
lips are not so far drawn back; the sound so produced
is the German long i-vowel, spelled ie or ih. In English
it is the initial sound of such words as year, yes.
The corresponding articulation with muscles relaxed
produces a very different acoustic effect, for the resonance-
chamber in a high vowel is so narrow tha~ even the slight
increase in width produced by the relax.tion of the ton-
gue-muscles is a relatively large change. This w-ile ]g :h


unrounded front vowel [i] is the German short i, as in
bin 'am' and, in slightly lower position, the English short i,
as in bin.
If, while pronouncing [i], one strongly rounds the lips,
the result is the high front narrow rounded vowel [y],
as in the French l e 'moon'. Decidedly lower, but still
of the same type is the German long ii, as in kiihn 'bold'.
The rounded wide vowel of this position [f], i. e. a
rounded [1], appears, in a lowered variety, in the Ger-
man short it, as in Hiitte 'hut'.
If the tongue is lowered to mid-position from these vow-
els, the narrow unrounded vowel is [e]. This vowel oc-
curs in German, as in geht 'goes', and in French, as in etd
The corresponding wide vowel [e] does not differ from
[e] so characteristically as does [i] from [i], for, what with
the greater width of the resonance-channel, the width add-
ed by the loosening of the tongue-muscles is here not
so apparent. The [e] occurs in standard German and (slight-
ly lower) in American1) English as the regular short e-
vovel, as in the English men, get.
The rounded form of [e] has usually less lip-rounding
than that of [i], but a form with as great lip-rounding is
conceivable, since this factor is in no wise bound to that
of tongue-position, but can vary freely. The typical mid
front narrow rounded vowel [0] is the French vowel in
such words as peu 'little', jeune 'young'. A lowered varie-
ty is the German long o-vowel, as in schiin 'beautiful'.
The wide form of this vowel occurs, again in a lower-
ed variety, as the short German 6-sound, e. g. in G6iter

1) By 'American English' I mean my own Chicago pronun-
ciation, common generally to the North Central States.


The low front position, which is reached from that of
the preceding vowels by lowering the tongue, scarcely ad-
mits of any distinction between narrow and wide vowels.
The unrounded vowel produced in it, [s], is the British
English vowel in men, get; in both British and American
English it is the long vowel before r in such words as
air, care; it occurs in French in such words as lait [1s]
'milk' and pare 'father'. A wide and lowered variety [oa]
is the American English vowel of such words as man, can.
The narrow rounded vowel [oe] occurs in French, as in
peur 'fear' and seul 'alone'.
b) Back vowels. It will be simplest to speak next of
the back vowels. In these the rear of the tongue is near
velar articulation and the front concavely lowered, so that
the mouth is in the shape of a long, wide, hollow reso-
nance-chamber. This shape is accentuated, in most cases,
by protrusion and rounding of the lips. The unrounded
back vowels are very hard to analyze, owing to the in-
accessibility to touch and sight and to the relatively un-
developed muscular consciousness of the back of the mouth.
The high back narrow rounded vowel [u] is typically
represented by the French sound in tour 'tower', pousse
'grows'. The German long u has a little less characteristic
lip-rounding; it occurs, for instance, in du 'thou'.
The wide rounded vowel [t] is the short sound in Eng-
lish words such as book, foot and is the German short u,
as in Mutter 'mother'.
The unrounded vowel in this position is rare; it oc-
curs as a variant of another vowel in Russian and is said
also to be spoken in Armenian and in Turkish; its sym-
bol is [m].
The mid back narrow rounded vowel [o] is most typi-
cally represented by the French o as in rose 'a rose'. The
German long o, as in Rose, has less distinct rounding; in


Norwegian and Swedish, on the other hand, there is an
[u)] with the extreme lip-rounding which French, for in-
stance, gives to [u].
The wide form [6] is the German short o, as in Golt
The same wide vowel, unrounded, [1], is in American
pronunciation the vowel of such words as cut, but.
The low back rounded vowel [o] occurs in English be-
fore r in such words as hoarse, more. Within the sphere
of this symbol, though perhaps lower than the preceding
sound, is the British English vowel in got, cular, and the
like. A narrower forward variety is spoken in such French
words as mort 'death' and one still more forward, al-
most a mixed vowel, in such as come 'how'. A lower-
ed variety of [o] sometimes expressed by the special
symbol [D] is the English vowel in such words as all, law.
It exists in Swedish and Norwegian with the greater lip-
rounding normally given to [o].
The unrounded vowel corresponding to [o] is the [A-]
in the British pronunciation of cut, but. Much commoner
is the unrounded vowel corresponding to [n], namely [a].
We may take the variety which occurs long in English
father, car as the normal type. Then the German long
vowel in Kahn 'skiff', Staat 'state' and its wider short
form in kann 'is able', Stadt 'city' are a little lower and
the French vowel in pas 'a step' and pdte 'dough' is a
little lower and a little farther back. Higher than this
normal type is the [an] in the American pronunciation
of such words as got, collar. A divergent variety of this
vowel is [a], pronounced much farther forward than [a];
it is the vowel of such French words as patte 'paw', part
'part', and, slightly fronted and raised, of the British pro-
nunciation of man, can, and the like.
c) Mixed vowels. The mixed vowels are less common

than the front or the back. The high mixed vowel, nar-
row and unrounded, [i], alternates with [m] in the Russian
vowel of such words as [sin] 'son'; it is pronounced
somewhat back of the ideal mixed position.
Its rounded correspondent is the [ii] of Norwegian, writ-
ten u, as in hus 'house'.
The mid mixed unrounded vowel [e], in both narrow
and wide pronunciation, is found in German unaccented
syllables where e is written, as in alle 'all'.
The low mixed vowel, unrounded, [E] is used in the
British pronunciation of such words as heard [hgid], nurse
I shall not attempt to discuss the vowels of the un-
accented syllables of English and some other languages,
as they present many and complicated problems and have
been but imperfectly analyzed. It is customary to express
the commonest unaccented vowel of a language, such
as in the second syllable of the English started (really
[L]) or the German [e], as in alle, or the French 'e-mute'
(really [& -]), as in je 'I', by the symbol [e], which
thus has different values for different languages and is a
practical rather than a descriptive symbol.
There remain the nazalized vowels, of which French
can give us good examples. In these the velum is well
lowered, so that much of the breath escapes through the
nose, producing the peculiar nasal resonance. Thus in
French there is a nazalized [o], [5], as in bon [b5] 'good',
an [a], as in bane [b~] 'bench', an [E], as in bain [be] 'bath',
and an [6e], as in brun [bre] 'brown'.
8. Infinite variety of possible sounds. It will be
seen that even the comparatively few of the most typical
sounds here described form a large list. By way of sum-
mary we may unite the most important of them in the
following table.


Nasals, voiced . N n m

Spirants, unvoiced. . h, x 9 Js f
Spirants, voiced. . q j z t v

Laterals, voiced.. . I 1
C -

Trills, voiced. . . r
Musical sounds, high.. uf i yi
Musical sounds, mid.. o A 0 e
Musical sounds, low.. o 0 (6
Musical sounds, lowest, n a a a

We have seen that these sounds, which may be select-
ed as typical, are only single instances from among an
infinite variety. Even the stops, which might seem fairly
inflexible, occur in a number of varieties. We have al-
ready spoken of the many variations as to point of articu-
lation and of the difference of voiced [b, d, g] and unvoi-
ced [p, t, k]. In English, standard German, and French
this difference is accompanied by another, that of energy
of articulation: the unvoiced stops of these languages are
pronounced with greater muscular tension at the point
of closure than the voiced stops. Our [p, t, k], therefore,
are fortes, our [b, d, g] lenes. These two differences do
not always go hand in hand: in many German dialects,
for instance, there are unvoiced lenes. Another kind of
variation in stops will appear in 9. The various possi-


ble pronunciations of spirants, trills, vowels, and so forth,
and their variations as to place of articulation are more
obvious and have in part been mentioned.
9. Glides and mixtures of articulation. In the ac-
tual current of speech another factor of variation ap-
pears: the transition or glide from one sound to another, or
from inactivity of the vocal organs to the production of
some sound (or vice versa). I shall mention only the two
most important instances. In passing from an unvoiced
stop to a vowel, we have to perform two movements: to
change the mouth-position and to begin voicing. If these
two movements are performed simultaneously, the result
is a pure stop, as spoken in the Romance languages (e.
g. French) or in the Slavic (e. g. Russian). If the stop
is opened before voicing is begun, so that a puff of un-
voiced breath first escapes, we hear an aspirated stop [p',
t, k'], as in English and German, or, even more pro-
nouncedly, in Danish. Finally, the glottis may be closed
during the stop and opened at the same time with the latter,
- this is the pronunciation in some Armenian dialects, -
or shortly after it, this type occurs in Georgian, -
producing choke stops. The other instance I shall mention
is the on-glide of initial vowels. Here the oral vowel-po-
sition is first taken: if voicing now begins immediately,
we hear a pure vowel initial, as in American English or
French; if the vocal chords are gradually brought from
the breathing-position into that for voicing, they must
pass through that of an [h] (p. 26), producing the aspi-
rated initial of our words such as heel, have, hoop, etc. If,
finally, the vocal chords are first closed and then suddenly
opened into the voicing position, we hear a choke initial,
the glottal stop followed by the vowel: this is the way
German words written with initial vowel are pronounced,
such as arm [9arm] 'poor' (p. 24).


While there are a number of other instances, notably
in connection with stop-articulation, of various glide-possi-
bilities, the glide is in the majority of cases determined
by the positions of the two successive sounds. In passing
from [a] to [u], for instance, there is only one movement
to be performed and only one path for that movement;
similarly, in passing from [n] to [d] all one needs to do
is to raise the velum, and this can be done in only one
Beside glides from articulation to articulation there is
often possibility of mixture of articulations. An [m], for
instance, before an [i], may be pronounced either indiffer-
ently or with the tongue-position and lip-widening of the
[i]. The latter is the habit of the Slavic languages. This
mixing in of part of the position of a front vowel, called
palatalization, is very common. In English it occurs only
in the case of [k] and [g], which are pronounced farther
forward before [i], as in kin, give (p. 32). In the Slavic
languages almost every consonant can be palatalized; in
writing an accent mark may be used to indicate this (cf.
p. 31), for instance, in Russian [p'i fu'] 'I am writing -
[p'] spoken with the tongue-position of [i] and the cor-
ners of the mouth drawn back for the articulation of this
vowel. In labialization sounds are pronounced with the
lip-rounding of a rounded vowel. An instance is the Amer-
ican pronunciation of wh, as in which, whale: the vocal
chords are pronouncing an [h] while the tongue and lips
are in the [u]-position, [h)] or [hv].
10. Syllables. While much more could be said about
the different articulations and their glides and mixtures,
it must suffice for our purpose to understand how varied
the possibilities are. Great as is this variety, everyone
who has heard a foreign language spoken will realize
that, aside from the strange sounds, the general manner


of pronunciation or 'accent' of a language is even more
characteristic. Here, of course, the possibilities are again
unlimited. Pitch, stress, kind of voice (e. g. full voice
and murmur), and duration (speed) are all variable
Even aside from the factors just mentioned, a sequence
of articulations never appeals to the ear as a series of
coordinate sounds. Some sounds are, in themselves and
aside from any distinction of stress or pitch we may
give then, more sonorous than others. Voiced sounds
are more audible than unvoiced, for the obvious reason
that to the oral noise they add the tone produced in the
larynx. It is equally obvious that the more open a sound,
the greater its volume. In a sequence of articulations,
accordingly, we hear a constant up and down of sonority.
The less sonorous articulations are heard, to speak met-
aphorically, as valleys between crests of greater sonority.
The sound-sequence between the least sonorous instants
of two such successive valleys we call a syllable. The
most sonorous sounds are the low vowels. Even in a
word like away [euei] or [ouei], which is composed en-
tirely of vowels, we hear two syllables, for the [u], less
sonorous than the preceding and following lower vowels,
is heard as a valley; similarly the [i] is less sonorous
than the preceding mid vowel [6]: we write [em iie] or
[a iiei]. The lower sonority of the [i] appears in a com-
bination like away again [9a iei a gen]. The most sono-
rous sound of a syllable is called the syllabic, the others
are the non-syllabics. Vowels used as non-syllabics, like
the [u] and [i] above are often called semi-vowels. The
semi-vowel [ii] is often, especially if the lips are tenser
than in the syllabic occurrence of [u] in the same langua-
ge, written [w], and, as ['], if the friction is at all above
a minimum, approaches a [j], this character is often used


to express a non-syllabic [i]. The combination of non-
syllabic with syllabic vowels is called a diphthong. If
the syllabic vowel precedes, as in the English he [hi],
do [duti], day [dei], toe [toti], boy [bDn], die [dai], how
[hai], we speak of a falling diphthong; if the semi-vowel
precedes, as in yes [ies], year [Ii.i], your [iua], wag [5iig],
wall [infl], of a rising diphthong. A triphthong occurs,
for instance, in use [Luuz], [iuilsj, wait [teit], etc. One
can also write [hij, duw, dej, tow, jes, jij, ju, waeg, wol,
juwz, juws, wejt].
Next to the vowels in sonority are the trills, laterals,
and nasals; all of them may figure as syllabics. Thus
the American pronunciation of words like sir, skirt, heard,
nurse is [s.i, sk.it, hbi, nas], and words like bottle, butter,
button, bottom are pronounced [batj, bAtj, bAtn, batrp].
In work [w.k], the [u] or [w] is non-syllabic, the [a]
The boundary between two natural syllables is thus
always the least sonorous sound between the syllabies:
in bottle, butter, etc. it is the [t].
11. Stress. a) Syllable-stress. The inherent sonority
of the speech-sounds is partly offset by the possibility
of speaking one sound more loudly than another, -
that is, of distributing the stress (p. 25). Thus the se-
quence [ui] can be spoken with the [u] louder, so that
the [i] becomes non-syllabic: [uj], or with the [i] louder
and the u non-syllabic: [wi], for the most sonorous
sound is always the syllabic. Even an [ab] may thus be
turned into an [le] and an [6a] into an [ed] by speaking
the [e] more loudly than the [a]. On the other hand,
stress cannot wholly offset natural lack of sonority: in
an [as], no matter how loud we try to make the [s], the
[a] will always be the syllabic, for any voiced [a] is ap-
preciably louder than the loudest [s]


Some languages regulate the stress within the syllable
in conformity with the natural sonority, pronouncing the
syllabic of each natural syllable with greater stress than
the non-syllabics. This, for instance, is the case in the
Romance and the Slavic languages. In all languages
there is some approximation to this distribution. English
and German depart from it as far as any. In these lan-
guages it often happens that a succession of two or even
more natural syllables is spoken with but one effort of
stress. While in French, for instance, one would say
[3e ma pls so ls:j], 'I am called the sun', with higher
stress on each syllabic than on the preceding and follow-
ing non-syllabics, an English word like utter [Ata] begins
with highest stress, which is maintained through the
syllabic [A], and then sinks steadily to the end of the word,
without regard to the presence of the second syllabic.
In a word like pity [piti] the stress rises through the [p],
reaches its height at the beginning of the first [i], main-
tains it through this syllabic, and then uninterruptedly
sinks. The same is true of German words like bitte
[bita] 'please' or hasse [haso] 'hate'. There are in all
these words two natural syllables, but they consist of
only one stress-syllable. Since stress-weakening by means
of separation of the vocal chords (p. 25) easily passes
over into the slightly wider-open murmur-position (p. 25),
the unstressed parts of such words are often spoken with
murmur instead of voice.
The distribution of stress may thus conflict as to
syllable-boundaries with the inherent relations of natural
sonority. The boundary between natural syllables is, of
course, within the least sonorous articulation that inter-
venes between the syllabics. Thus in utter, bottle, butter,
button, bottom, pity it is in the [t], in the German hasse
[hasa] in the [s], in the German bitte [bita] in the [t]:


in short, the least sonorous sound belongs as much to
one syllable as to the other, it is the valley between
the two crests of sonority. In these words there is, how-
ever, as we have just seen, but one stress-syllable and
therefore no valley or boundary of stress. The boundary
between two stress rises may, on the other hand, coincide
with the natural sylln. le-bounda-y. That is, the stress
of one stress-syllable :ray come to its minimum and that
of the next stress-syllable begin to rise within the least
sonorous sound. This is the case in such Italian words
as anno [an no] 'year' and atto [at to] 'act'. The effect
on the ear is that of a definite separation between the
beginning and the end of the articulation concerned.
Hence we write the symbol twice, once for each stress-
syllable, and call such sounds double or geminate sounds.
In by far the most instances, however, the minimum
of stress does not fall within an articulation: English,
German, and French, for instance, have no double sounds.
In the Romance and the Slavic languages the stress-
boundary falls, when there is but one non-syllabic, al-
ways before the latter: the minimum of stress is reached
at the end of the preceding syllabic, and the new stress
begins to rise with the non-syllabic. He nce the division
in the preceding French sentence, or in such Russian
words as [vo" di] 'waters', [ba ba] 'woman', [po to ra p'i's']
'hurry up'. When there is more than one non-syllabic
these languages recognize certain groups of articulations
which may begin a stress-syllable: such groups are treat-
ed like a single sound; thus in French [a ple] 'to call'
or in Russian [pra fStS'j t's] 'farewell'. Sequences of
sounds which may not begin a stress-syllable must be
divided: thus in the above French sentence [Is] cannot
begin a stress-syllable, hence the division [psl so]. In
English and German, on the other hand, the conditions

are not so simple. 1. In passing from a less highly
stressed syllable to one more highly stressed, we usually
pronounce a single non-syllabic with the following stress-
syllable, as in away [o wej], again [o gen], a name [o nejm];
but we do not always do so, certain meanings demand-
ing a different division, as in an aim [en ejm], in contrast
with a name. 2. In passing from a stressed syllabic
followed by a single non-syllabic to a less stressed syl-
labic, we ignore the natural syllable-boundary, as in utter,
pity, bottle, etc. above, speaking but one stress-syllable.
3. If two or more non-syllabics intervene, we put the
stress-boundary between them, as in until [on till, hating
[hej tij], wholesome [howl sem]. German differs from
English only in that in case 2 it does make a stress-
boundary (taking the non-syllabic with the following
stress-syllable), provided the preceding syllabic is long;
thus, in contrast with bitte [bite], hasse chase] spoken as
but one stress-syllable each, it says biete [bi: te] 'offer',
Hase [ha: zo] 'hare' with two each. After the longer
English vowels the same distribution is often made; one
may say [fa: .1, Ea pi] as well as [fa: j, epl].
Within each stress-syllable also, different relations of
stress are possible. Two forms are common: the syl-
lable either begins with highest stress, which then decrea-
ses, or it begins with less than the highest stress, rises
to the highest, and then falls off. In each case the high-
est stress may for a short time be maintained. In Eng-
lish we use the former type for syllables beginning with
the syllabic, such as all, are, utter, apple, the latter for
those beginning with a non-syllabic, in which we reach the
highest stress only at the beginning of the syllabic, as in
midid, id, pity, bottle, etc. (It is best to try these and the fol-
lowing examples of stress-relations in a whisper, as pitch-
variations see next may otherwise be confusing.)


In all the preceding instances the stress is maintained
at its height throughout the syllabic and sinks only after
the following non-syllabic is reached. This is why the
[d] in lid, for example, is so much more stressed than
that in lead (verb) [lijd], the [n] in bin so much more
than that in bean [bijn]: the former [d] and [n], respec-
tively, begin with highest stress and descend, but those
in lead and bean begin only after the stress has already
decreased during the preceding non-syllabic, [j]. This
maintenance of highest stress throughout the syllabic is
called close syllable-stress.
The decrescendo of the stress may, on the other hand,
take place within the syllabic. In the Romance and the
Slavic languages this is almost always necessarily the
case, for most of the stress-syllables of these languages
end with the syllabic. This is called open syllable-stress.
In English it is less common, occurring chiefly in our
longer vowels, which often stand at the end of a stress-
syllable and therefore must needs include the descres-
cendo, as in mama [mama:] and frequently (cf. above)
in father fa: o], apple [epf]. German has open syllable-
stress in syllables with long syllabic, as in Wien [vi:n]
'Vienna', Kahn [ka:n] 'skiff, and in the first syllable of
biete [bi:ta] 'offer', Hase [ha: zo] 'hare', and close in syl-
lables with short syllabic, as in bin [bin] 'am', kann [kan]
'is able', bitte [bite] 'please', hasse [hasa] 'hate'.
The stress may, further, rise, reach its highest point,
and fall within the syllabic; this is called compound
stress. It is found regularly in certain syllables in An-
cient Greek and in Lithuanian. In English it is heard
in a surprised, displeased What!? and in a peeved,
irritable No! (most clearly if the whispering test is used).
These differences in syllable-stress constitute one of the
chief difficulties in acquiring a foreign pronunciation


and are perhaps the most important factor in the pecu-
liar 'accent' of a language.
b) Group-stress. Of the several stress-syllables in an
utterance some receive louder stress than others. In this
distribution of varying degrees of stress among the syl-
lables, group-stress, the different languages also diverge.
In French the last syllable of an utterance or of such
parts of an utterance as are fairly independent in mean-
ing, alone receives higher stress, the other syllables being
fairly equal. Thus the French sentence above quoted, re-
ceives, in contrast with the English equivalent, I am
'called the'sun, but one highest stress: [39 mapelso'ls:j],
or at most also a weaker secondary stress on [pel], the
last syllable of the part of the utterance which corre-
sponds in meaning to 'I am called': [3e ma 'pl so "l:j].
In Japanese there is even less difference between the
syllables. English and German, on the other hand, divide
every utterance into small groups of syllables within each
of which there is one highest stress, stress-groups.
But even these two languages differ from each other;
English, for instance, normally gives highest stress to
one syllable each of an adjective and a following noun,
as in a 'young 'man or 'rotten potato, so that such a com-
bination contains two stress-groups, while German nor-
mally gives higher stress to the noun: ein hungerr "Herr,
'faule Kar"toffel, one stress-group each. Russian also, in
spite of its entirely different syllable-stress, has much
the same group-stress as English or German, but differs,
for instance, in often giving higher stress to a preposition
than to a following noun, as though we should say 'at
the foot, 'under the head: ['zct no gu, 'po-d go lo vu]. English,
German, or Russian, with their frequent high stresses,
can distinguish different meanings by their distribution
of group stress; thus in English 'torment noun, but tor-


'ment, verb; in German iibersetzen [" y: br 'zst s] 'to set
across' but ['9y: bi "zst si] 'to translate'; in Russian
['mu- ka] 'torment' (noun) but [mu'kac] 'flour'. Other
languages with frequent high stress give it a uniform
place with regard to the word, which, as we shall
see, is a division based entirely on meaning. Thus
Cechish and Icelandic have highest stress on the first
syllable of every word; short words of relational mean-
ing, such as pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, may,
however, lack this stress. In Polish the next-to-last syl-
lable of words is similarly, in almost all instances, accent-
ed. Gexman departs widely and English very widely
from a fundamental principle of stressing the first syl-
lable of every word. There remains, however, the princi-
ple that in these languages every word is a stress-group,
containing one syllable with highest stress and, in longer
words, one or more with intermediate stress (the degrees
of stress are indicated by the varying number of accent
marks before the syllable), e. g. procrastination ["paA
'k.~es ti "'nej Si], with four d :rees of stress, highest on
[nej], least on [ti] and [SfJ] and intermediate degrees on
[p.A] and [k.aes]. Short relational words, such as a, the,
he, her, in, and the like, have, however, as a rule, low
stress and stand to the preceding or following higher
stress in the same relation as do less stressed syllables
of the same word. Further, the highest stress of some
words is in certain connections weaker than that of others,
so that the stress-groups which represent words fall
under a higher unity of the phrase; examples are the
German combinations of adjective with noun (see above)
or such expressions as a 'great 'big "man, which, how-
ever, in nearly all cases, are really examples of sentence-
stress, to which we shall now turn.
c) Sentence-stress. Among stress-groups the LiULest
Bloomfield, Study of Language 4

stress of some is in turn higher than that of others. This
highest stress or sentence-stress is in all languages given
to the emotionally most vivid part of the sentence, -
a result of the fundamental character of speech as an
expressive movement varying in intensity according to
the intensity of emotion (p. 1). We may illustrate this
by speaking an English sentence with emotional stress
on different words, as though in answer, for instance,
to various contradicting statements. E. g.: "I 'saw the
'young 'man, I "saw the 'young 'man, I 'saw the
"young 'man, I 'saw the 'young "man, and even I'saw
"the 'young 'man.
We find, thus, a threefold distribution of stress. First,
there is the up-and-down of stress within the syllable,
fixed for each language. Secondly, every language ha-
bitually gives certain syllables higher stress than others:
we have our accented and unaccented syllables and our
unaccented short words. Finally, the emotionally dom-
inant elements of the sentence receive higher stress than
all others. Usually these elements are words, in which
case the emotional stress is given in most languages to
the syllable which otherwise also bears higher stress than
the others. Thus when we say It 'wasn't dishonesty, it
was "sheer procrasti"'nation, the emotional stress of pro-
crastination is placed on the same syllable which habitu-
ally has highest stress in this word. If, however, the
emotionally most charged part of the sentence is not a
word, but only part of a word, the emotional stress may
conflict with the group-stress. Thus, while we say for-
'give, as in forgive and forget, we say forgivee in "give
and forgivev. In French, where not a syllable of every
word, but only the last syllable of sentences and phrases
receives habitual group-stress, the emotional sentence-
stress is given to the first syllable that begins with a


consonant of the dominant word. Thus it is almost al-
ways a part of a sentence or even of a word which usual-
ly is unstressed, that now receives highest stress, 'It's
the same person' is [sa la mE:m psr'son] but 'It's the very
same person' is [sa la "ms:m per 'son]; 'It's impossible' is
[sa tg po'sibl] but 'It's impossible' is [sa ti: "po'sibl].
The rhythmic effects of stress-distribution are heightened
in English and Russian by the habit of speaking in the
less stressed syllables shorter and less extreme vowels
than in the stressed. Other languages, like German, go
still farther and restrict the least stressed syllables to a
single vowel, in German [a].
12. Pitch. Pitch, like stress, can be infinitely varied.
The modulation of pitch may correspond to the syllable-
division, each syllable being spoken with a unified pitch-
scheme. This is the case in Chinese; thus in Peking
[Fxuial] with even high pitch means 'flower', [Lxtaj] with
low falling pitch, 'speech' or 'picture', [ty/] with low
rising pitch means 'rain' and [rjy/] with high rising pitch
means 'fish'. While the Peking speech has only these
four pitch-schemes, some dialects have as many as nine.
In Norwegian and Swedish stress-groups (words) of one
syllable are spoken with rising pitch and stress-groups
of two or more syllables (corresponding in most, but not
in all cases, to words) are spoken with either rising or
falling and then rising pitch, according to fixed habits;
thus in Norwegian [btin/] 'ground', ['bi nan/] 'the ground',
["bfii'nen/] 'bound'. In Lithuanian, Ancient Greek, and
the oldest Sanskrit we find compound (rising-falling)
pitch belonging habitually to certain syllables.
In other languages, such as English, the different syl-
lables have no fixed pitch-relations, but pitch is used in
the whole sentence to express emotional relations. We
use falling pitch for statements, as in lie came back or

the answer-word Yes, rising pitch for questions that
contain no question-word, such as Did you say that? or
for question-words used alone, as What?; the compound
pitches are similarly used, thus rising-falling in questions
that contain a question-word, such as What was he doing?,
or in an irritated No, and the falling-rising in an angri-
ly surprised What? Compound pitch is usually, if con-
fined to one syllable, accompanied, as in these examples,
by compound stress (cf. p. 47).
13. Duration. Duration or quantity, that is, the
length of the different sounds, syllables, and stress-groups,
- is another important factor.
Thus in English some of the vowels are longer than
others, [ae] and [n], especially, longer than [i] and [A]. All
our vowels, moreover, are longer before voiced sounds,
as in bid, than before unvoiced sounds, as in bit. In one
case only have we, in American pronunciation, approxi-
mately the same vowel in two distinct quantities, namely
[a:] long, as in father, and the same sound (with a slight
difference, p. 37) short [a], as in got, collar, god; in ac-
cordance with the preceding rule the [a] before the voiced
sounds in the last two examples is, however, longer thai
in got. In standard German the tense vowels are long,
the loose vowels short; in the case of [a] there is, however,
scarcely any difference except that of quantity, e. g. Stadt
[ftat] 'city', Staat [fta:t] 'state'
In English our non-syllabics are longer, the shorter the
preceding syllabic; thus the [n] in bin is longer than that
in men, which is in turn longer than that in man. In
other languages the duration of non-syllabics is not auto-
matic (i. e. does not depend on the surrounding sounds)
but is fixed for each word. Such long non-syllabics differ
from doubled sounds (p. 45) in that no stress-boundary
occurs during their articulation. Accordingly a difference


exists between the Norwegian otte ["o\ 't:o/] 'eight' with
long [t] beginning the second syllable and the Italian otto
['ot to] 'eight' with double [t], the stress-boundary com-
ing after the closure and before the opening of the [t]-stop.
The duration of the various parts of a sentence is less
fixed. Certain tendencies, however, such as that to speak
a parenthetic clause very rapidly (as in This man, who
for that matter, had very little to do with the affair, ...),
can here be distinguished. No doubt there are also differ-
ences between the different languages, but they have never
been ascertained, owing to the difficulty of abstracting
from factors of mood, personal habit, and the like, which
here have comparatively free play.
14. Limitation of the articulations in each dialect.
A language which significantly used any considerable part
of the articulations and variations of stress, pitch, and
quantity that are possible, could be understood only by
the closest application of the attention, and, if it used too
many, could not be understood at all, for the intelligi-
bility of language depends, of course, on repetition and
As a matter of fact every language limits itself to cer-
tain sounds and to certain ways of combining them. Some,
like English and German, employ constant stress-relations
for certain syllables, leaving pitch-modulation for the sen-
tence as a whole; others, like French, use both pitch and
stress only in the sentence; still others, like Chinese, as-
sign a definite pitch-relation to each syllable and use
stress only to modulate the sentence; Norwegian and Swe-
dish use pitch and stress both for the syllable and for
the sentence. The same is true of the individual articu-
lations. Thus English and standard German use unvoiced
aspirated fortis [p', t', k'] and voiced plain lenis stops [b,
d, g]; the Romance and the Slavic languages use only


plain stops, unvoiced fortes [p, t, k] and voiced lenes [b,
d, g]; the Peking pronunciation of Chinese uses only un-
voiced stops, aspirate fortes [p', t', k'] and plain fortes
or lenes [b, 1, g]; other languages, such as the Polyne-
sian, have but one series of stops; Sanskrit had four, un-
voiced fortes and voiced lenes, each in aspirate and plain
form. Such distinctions are recognized by speakers of
the language, and forms not so recognized are interpret-
ed as standard forms by the hearer. Thus, though un-
aspirated [p, t, k] and unvoiced lenes [b, d, g] are oc-
casionally spoken in English, they are not recognized as
different from the more usual forms; such a distinction
as that between [p'] and [p] is not even noticed. Whether
we speak a [t, d, n, 1, a] a little farther forward or a little
farther back is a matter of indifference in English; it is
left to personal habit, mood, or the influence of the sur-
rounding sounds; but in Sanskrit and in many modern lan-
guages of India the difference between dental and cerebral
articulation is as important as that between any other
sounds; thus in Canarese kondu means 'killed' but koCu,
'taken'. Whether we pronounce a k farther forward or
back depends mainly on the following vowel and is never
significant, but in Greenlandish or in Arabic [k] and [q]
must be strictly kept apart.
In other words, each language, or, better, each dialect
distinguishes only a limited number of places of articu-
lation, and in each place only a limited number of manners
of articulation, and any variations from these are never
15. Automatic variations. The variations that occur,
while not significant, may be very regular. Our English
vowels, for instance, are longer in final position and be-
fore voiced sounds than before unvoiced, longer, to repeat
our example, in bid than in bit, in bee, bead than in be':f,


and English spoken without this variation would strike
our ear as very foreign-sounding, even though most of us
would be unable to determine exactly what the peculiarity
was. Yet in spite of this universal occurrence, really
because of it, this difference of vowel-quantity is never
significant. It depends solely on the following sound and
can never be determined by the meaning of the word: it
is an automatic sound-variation. Before and after unvoiced
sounds we renouncee our [m, n, 1, i] partly or wholly
unvoiced, e. g. in try, belt, hemp, sent, snow, but we are
not even conscious of this variation: it also is purely au-
tomatic. So is the German and English variation between
[k, g] farther forward or back according to the following
vowel, as in kin, give, cap, gap, -- coop, goose, but in
Arabic, as above mentioned, such pairs as [ka:la] 'he spoke'
and [qa:al] 'he measured' could never be confused.
Every language has, further, limitations as to what
combinations of sounds can occur and as to where, in the
syllable, a given sound or combination may be spoken.
Thus no English syllable can begin with the combinations
[kn, gn, ts, fpi, tsv, fv], which are common in German,
- even though, disiribted between two syllables or at
the end of a syllable, all of these do occur in English, as
in acknowledge, bigness, its, cash price, it's very cold, cash
value. The sound [g] cannot occur at the beginning of
a German or an English syllable but it does so in many
languages. In Peking Chinese a syllable can end only in
a vowel, [n], or [rj]. In the Polynesian languages no
syllable ends in any other than a vowel sound.
Each language, therefore, has a limited sound-system,
which, if only "-:'i ii I distinctions arc counted and non-
significant variations, whether automatic or merely casual,
are ignored, is never very great.


1. The place of language in our mental life. Lan-
guage plays a very important part in most of our mental
processes, few of which, indeed, are entirely free from
linguistic elements. While it is possible, for instance, with
some effort, to picture in purely visual terms the actions
we have in mind for the morrow, we hardly ever do so,
but rather plan our day not only by visualizing but also
by wording what we intend to do. If, further, we try to
think of our reasons for these intended actions, or of
their effects, or of anything else not in immediate physical
connection with them, we must resort to language, fram-
ing our thought in words and sentences. In short, a very
little introspection shows that nearly all of our mental
life contains speech-elements. We cannot conceive of the
human mind without speech. The development of lan-
guage, accordingly, must have advanced in inseparable
connection with that of the mental powers generally. To
demonstrate in detail the role of language in our mental
processes would be to outline the facts of psychology. We
are here concerned, of course, only with those mental process-
es which most immediately underlie the use of language.
2. Total experiences. The animals have in common
with us a process which may be called the formation of
total experiences. Like us, they experience the outside world
not as a chaotic jumble of sensations, but as a system of


complex recurrent units, as a world of objects. The per-
ceptual and emotional elements which we group together,
for instance, as a rabbit, appear to a dog also coherent
and distinct from other perceptions and emotions, such
as those of the surrounding trees, the sky, other smells
and noises, the internal bodily sensations, and so on. Like
ours, the dog's apperception, or, as we subjectively say,
his attention, may focus the rabbit as the central ob-
ject, for the time being, of consciousness. The coherence
and unity of such a total experience are due to habits of
association formed in earlier related experiences: in our
instance the surrounding trees and the sky, the bystanders,
and those of our internal sensations and emotions that
are not connected with the present experience, have all,
entered into various combinations in earlier experiences
and have thereby become familiar enough not to be irrel-
evantly confused with the present one.
Animals respond to a total experience by an expression
varying at lest for a few widely distinct emotional qual-
ities; thus the dog barks at the rabbit as he does at a
great many other things. Man differs from the animals
first of all in that he has a distinctive sound-reaction for
each one of a great many types of experience, e. g.
for the type of experience which we call a 'rabbit'. When-
ever an experience of a given type occurs, the sound-re-
action connected with that type is associatively recalled
and reproduced. When we saw the rabbit, for instance,
we did not 'inarticulately' cry out, but exclaimed 'a rabbit.'
This also, to be sure, is not an exact way of dealing
with experiences. We react to countless experiences of
a single type (such as 'rabbit') with one and the same
utterance, while in fact no two experiences are wholly
alike. When we associate the present experience with
certain past experiences and utter with it the sound-se-


quence which we heard and uttered with them, we do so
not because the present experience is exactly like the past
ones, it is not, but because certain elementary fea-
tures are common to it and each of them. These elemen-
tary features are known as dominant elements. Thus a
rabbit of different size or color, or one running in the
opposite direction might call forth the same utterance.
We use the word 'book' for objects of many sizes, shapes,
and colors, provided they present certain features. Even
a clearly defined scientific term, such as 'triangle' applies
to an infinite variety of experiences with but a simple
common element. In short, our reaction to experiences,
though much more differentiated than that of animals,
is not just to the individuality of each experience, but
groups great numbers of experiences together under types
within each of which all the experiences are designated
by one and the same reaction.
The association of experience-types with fixed and dis-
tinctive sound-utterances represents an important step in
mental progress. It makes possible attentive and connected
thought. When we recall the experience, we repeat, ac-
tually or in imagination, the sounds with which it is con-
nected. They are a convenient means of holding the ex-
perience in the attention; by recalling the sounds (or their
visual symbols) over and over again, at first as young
children do, aloud, but, after practice, in imagination alone,
- we can keep the experience before us much longer
than is possible in speechless picturing.
An advantage of the grouping together of hosts of in-
dividual experiences under one type is this, that all ex-
periences belonging to the type can be dealt with en masse
and need not be recalled one by one, if we use the lin-
guistic expression, which deals with all of them alike.
This is conceptual or general thinking.


3. The analysis of total experiences. The existence
of a fixed sound-reaction, which enables us to hold an
experience vividly in our attention, also makes possible
the analysis of experiences. Every experience is composed
of a number of elements whose individuality is due to
their having occurred in other contexts in past experiences.
Thus we have seen the color of the rabbit, other four-
footed animals, other running animals, and the like. Each
element recalls those past experiences in which it figured.
But it does this obscurely, until language has given the
experience a fixed and easily handled symbol with which
we can keep it from slipping, as it were, through our
fingers. Once language exists, however, the analysis of
the experience into these elements is bound to develop.
At least it takes place in all known languages and is in
all of them, as time goes on, being perfected by a grad-
ual but unceasing process of development, to which we
must ascribe also its origin.
This process is the assimilation of expression-relations
to experience-relations. We may illustrate it by a sche-
matic example. Suppose that in some language the ut-
terance connected with the experience of a white rabbit
is patilu and that connected with a white fox is melko, -
in other words, that these experiences, of different emotional
value, are attended by two totally unlike expressions.
Nevertheless, owing to such elements as they have in
common, whenever a white rabbit is seen, not only the
past white-rabbit experiences, with their pariiiu, but also,
among others, the white fox experiences, with their meko,
will be awakened. Sooner or later one of these types will
assimilate the other's expression; such assimilative pro-
cesses are constantly occurring, as we shall see, in every
language, as when, in English, Chaucer's word faJer
became the father of present English, under the influeno


of mother, brother. For instance, instead of patilu, someone
will, under the influence of meko, say metilu. At first this
will happen occasionally, but it will be the more likely
to happen again when one has once spoken or heard the
new form. The associational circumstances are all in favor
of it. Finally the new habit will completely supersede the
old. When this has happened, there are two utterances:
me-tiu 'white-rabbit' and me-ko 'white-fox'. Corresponding
to the perceptual element 'white' is the phonetic element
me-. When one now utters me-tilu a certain amount of
analysis is involved: me- expresses the color, -tilu (or -ko)
the kind of animal. These phonetic elements may ulti-
mately attain independent use: in answer to such a question
as 'What kind of a rabbit (fox) did you see?' one may
say me 'White', and one may designate 'rabbit' in general
by tilu, 'fox' in general by ko.
When this development has taken place, such an ut-
terance as me tilu or white rabbit involves an analysis of
the total experience into these two elements. When we
say white rabbit we more or less vividly separate the two
elements of the total experience. Sometimes we may not
attend closely to the analysis, but at others we shall in-
sist on it, as when we say 'No, a white rabbit' or 'No, a
white rabbit'. Such an utterance analyzing an experience
into elements we call a sentence.
The relation of the elements of a sentence to each other
has a distinctive psychological tone. It is called the log-
ical or discursive relation. It consists of a transition of
the attention from the total experience, which throughout
remains in consciousness, to the successive elements, which
are one after another focused by it.
The attention of an individual, that is, apperception,
- is a unified process: we can attend to but one thing
at a time. Consequently the analysis of a total experience


always proceeds by single binary divisions into a part
for the time being focused and a remainder. In the pri-
mary division of an experience into two parts, the one
focused is called the subject and the one left for later
attention the predicate; the relation between them is called
prediction. If, alter this first division, either subject or
predicate or both receive further analysis, the elements
in each case first singled out are again called subjects
and the elements in relation to them, attributes. The subject
is always the present thing, the known thing, or the con-
crete thing, the predicate or attribute, its quality, action,
or relation or the thing to which it is like. Thus in the
sentence Lean horses run fast the subject is lean horses
and the horses' action, run fast, is the predicate. Within
the subject there is the further analysis into a subject
horses and its attribute lean, expressing the horses' qual-
ity. In the predicate fast is an attribute of the subject
Constant repetition, to be sure, mechanizing these pro-
cesses, saves us the trouble of repeating the entire dis-
cursive analysis in every sentence we utter. Such groups,
especially, as are very common are no longer felt as attri-
butions predicationn is always vividly discursive), the con-
crete relation alone remaining uppermost. Thus, in a sen-
tence such as A white rabbit ran across the field, the first
three words are plainly felt to be the subject, and the
rest the predicate, and within the subject white, within
the predicate across the field are in vivid attributive re-
lation, respectively, to a rabbit and ran; but the groups
across the field and a rabbit are not by the normal speaker
felt as discursive relations. He would say simply that a
expresses the 'indefinitiness' and that the expresses the
'definiteness' of the thing, while across is expressive of
local relation. It is only when we give the parts of the


utterance much more than the usual degree of attention,
that we may feel these relations as discursive, as, for
instance, when we say 'It was a house, but I don't think
it was the house', where a and the are plainly attributes.
In short, a frequently recurring arrangement of elements
may become habitual and not require a vivid discursive
analysis for its utterance.
As this circumstance shows, discursive analysis is not
an absolute thing: associational identification shades into
it. In most languages we find, accordingly, elements that
are but partially independent. In our schematic represen-
tation above, the stage in which me-tilu 'white-rabbit' and
me-ko 'white-fox' are used, but neither me- nor -tilu nor
-ko are as yet used independently illustrates this. In such
an English sentence as He suddenly ran across the field
there are several such partly analyzed elements. The element
suddenly, for instance, divides itself into sudden and -ly, but
since the latter cannot be used alone, the analysis is not dis-
cursive but merely associative. The same is true of across,
where cross does, in related senses, occur alone, but not
so a-. The r-vowel-n of ran occurs also in run, and the
vowels [oe] and [A] of these two forms are felt to express
the relative time of the action, but neither is an abstract
r-vowel-n, as a term for the action itself regardless of
time, in English conceivable, nor is an [ae] or an [A] ever
spoken separately to express the time alone. In father,
mother, brother, the -ther is common to all and thus ex-
presses a common element of all three; or, if we add sister,
we may say that dental-plus-r does so, but neither -ther
nor a dental-plus-r can be used alone in some such sense
as 'near relative': there is but the suggestion of an ana-
lysis. Such imperfectly separable elements are called for-
mational elements, as opposed to the independently re-
current units of analysis, words. Words only and scarcely


ever formational elements, can be dealt with as conceptual
units of general thinking.
4. The naming of objects. If we look into concrete
experience, we find that all of it centers round objects.
An independent (or, as we say, abstract) quality, action,
or relation never occurs. The sound reactions, therefore,
which form language can originally have been called forth,
in so far as they refer to perceptual experience, only by
objects. Words for qualities, actions, and relations we
must suppose to have been evolved in the later course
of speech-history.
The linguistic expression of an object-experience, then,
is the simplest type, psychologically, of such expression.
It is a sound-complex heard and uttered in connect on
with a number of successive concrete experiences, each
of which exhibits certain dominant elements. The words
rabbit or book are associated for each speaker with a long
series of experiences having certain dominant features in
common, much as these experiences may have diverged
in their other features.
Even here we see a certain degree of abstraction. In
speech or thought the sound-expression may be used not
only for a given object exhibiting the dominant features,
but also as a representative of all objects exhibiting them.
In a general statement about 'the rabbit', 'books', or 'a
triangle' these words save us the task of picturing suc-
cessively all the rabbits, books, or triangles we can re-
call or imagine: we need only dwell on the word and
the associated dominant features, such as a vague visual
image of a rabbit, a book, or three intersecting lines.
Thus, to repeat, the easily handled general concept,
- the basis of logical thought, is a product of lan-
There are numerous languages, especialy on the Ameri-


can continent, which have not gone beyond the naming
of objects. In these languages the qualities and actions
of objects, which in concrete experience never occur apart
from objects, are in expression also always connected
with them. Thus one cannot, at this stage, speak of
'white' or of 'runs', but only of such objects as 'white-
rabbit' or 'running-rabbit', or, at best, of 'white-thing'
or of 'running-thing' in terms of our diagram, of me-
tilu or me-ko, never of me. Every word is an object-ex-
pression; qualities or actions are never as such expressed
by separate words. One cannot say 'kills' or 'killing',
for instance, but only 'his-killing-of-it' or the like. This
state of things forbids any distinction in speech between
predication and attribution, for, as predication usually
has as its subject an object and as its predicate an action
or quality, its explicit expression depends on the exist-
ence of action-words and quality-words as separate words.
Hence in these 'nominal' or 'attributing' languages such
utterances as 'white-rabbit' correspond equally to our
predication 'It is a white rabbit' and to our attributive
'white rabbit', and such a locution as our 'The rabbit is
white' is inconceivable: one could only say 'This-rabbit
(is a) white-rabbit' or 'This-rabbit (is a) white-thing'.
Owing to the constant possibility of use as what we feel
to be complete predications, the words of such languages
are often called 'sentence-words'
In addition to the object-expressions such languages
have only pronominal words. These are expressions of
purely deictic value, referring to the speaker in words
for 'I', the one spoken to in words for 'you', the object
near the speaker in words for 'this', the object farther
away in words for 'that', and so on. Their origin is
probably to be sought in sounds uttered in connection
with deictic movements. At any rate, in most languages


they resemble exclamations: as in English, they are usual-
ly short words, and'occasionally they differ phonetically
from the rest of the word-stock, as when in Russian the
word for 'that', ['s- tet], is the only native word beginning
with the sound [s]. These pronominal words thus re-
semble the purely emotional responses to experience which
we shall meet as 'interjections'.
5. The development of abstract words. Language
at the nominal or attributive stage has not attained a
habit of abstraction which English, for instance, has, -
namely the habit of separating, as independent expressions,
the qualities and actions of objects. That our concepts
of quality and action are purely linguistic is evident upon
a little introspection. Experience contains qualities and
actions only in connection with objects. If we try to
think, apart from the word, of 'white', we can do so only
by picturing an object (such as a flat surface) or a suc-
cession of fleeting objects whose white color we hold
dominantly in our attention, neglecting their other features.
Similarly, the concept of 'run', 'running', if we exclude
word-images, can be pictured only as a man or an ani-
mal or a succession of such running. This is due to the
fact that in actual experience there is no such thing as
a quality or an action apart from an object. What lan-
guage does is to furnish a fictitious object, namely the
word-symbol, by which we represent the unimaginable
abstract concept of quality or action.
The historical origin of words independently expressing
quality.or action is various. In English such words as
white used to mean 'white-thing', the'thing' being defined
as to gender, number, and case, and such words as 'runs'
used to involve also an actor, meaning 'he-runs'. As to
the psychologic character of the expressions as we have
them today, the historic origin is, however, immaterial.
Bloomfield, Study of Language 5


In the words expressive of quality the dominant element
is a single common feature, permanent in each of a
number of objects whose other elements are various.
This permanence of the dominant element allows it, in
its association with the word, to remain vivid: such a
word as white is joined to a lively image of a single ob-
ject or of successive shifting objects of white color. In
the action-words the dominant element is a feature also
common to a number of objects, but in all of them im-
permanent. As soon as we attempt to picture the object
vividly, the action is lost: the object stands immovable,
however suggestive of action we may allow its pose to
be. Consequently the perceptual dominant element, aside
from the word, of an action-word is never vivid: as a
rule, in fact, we do not attend, in thought, to any element
except the word itself, which has thus become dominant
in the whole complex. That is why the experiment of
thinking of an action-concept without using words is
much more difficult than in the case of a quality-concept.
The psychologic character of the more abstract words,
such as in English, the prepositions (e. g. under, over,
in, by, across), the conjunctions (e. g. if, though, because),
and the abstract nouns (e. g. cause, result, essence, being,
relation), while in itself interesting, need not further con-
cern us here, if we remember that the principle is the
same as in the case of action-words. The dominant ele-
ment when these words are used is always the word it-
self; in any given occurrence they resolve themselves into
concrete collocations or successions of objects, which ob-
jects we do not stop to picture more than vaguely when
the word is being used.
6. Psychologic composition of the word. The word
is thus psychologically a complicative association of those
perceptual and emotional elements which we call its


meaning or experience-content with the auditory and
motor elements which constitute the linguistic symbol.
Where reading and writing are practised the visual and
motor elements of the printed and written word join the
auditory and motor of the spoken. Disturbances of these
associational habits are the much-discussed phenomena of
the aphasias.
Among the elements constituting this complex the
dominant may, according to individual disposition, be
visual, auditory, or motor; whether the linguistic elements
alone or the experience-elements also shall be dominant,
depends, as we have seen, on the character of the word:
in object-words, and, in a different sense, in quality-words,
elements of perceptual experience may dominate, while
in action-words and more abstract expressions the lin-
guistic symbol is dominant, the experience-elements being
but vaguely imaged. This is why in absent-mindedness
or aphasic conditions the most concrete object-words
(such as proper names) are first and most frequently
forgotten, the quality-words next and the abstract words
last of all. In learning languages, on the other hand,
we succeed better in remembering object-words and
quality-words, which we can associate directly with per-
ceptual images, than action-words and abstract words
(prepositions, conjunctions, particles, etc.) which we tend
to associate only with words of our own language which
either do not correspond exactly, or, in any case, remain
dominant to the exclusion of the foreign words.
7. Grammatical categories. In the analysis of the
total experience into independent elements and in the
partial analysis of the latter into formational elements,
certain types may become habitual and finally universal
in a language. For instance, in analyzing a total ex-
perience we who speak English always speak of an actor

performing an action. Many total experiences really are
of this type, e. g. The rabbit ran; in English, however,
this type has been generalized to furnish the mould for
expressing all total experiences, that is, for all sen-
tences, including those which really involve no actor
or action, such as The rabbit is white. Here we use a
fictitious action-word, is, of whose action the rabbit is
supposedly the agent. In Latin, for instance, this would
not have to be done: one could say Cuanculus albus, liter-
ally 'Rabbit white'5 where no such fiction is maintained,
- and the same would be true in Russian. In short,
actor and action are grammatical categories in the English
language. Categories like this one, which universalize
certain relations between words, are syntactic categories.
In the imperfect analysis of words into formational
elements also there may be categories. These are called
morphologic categories. An English verb-form, for instance,
always contains an imperfect analysis into a formational
element expressive of the action itself and one expressive
of its relative time: one can say he runs or he ran, but
there is no indifferent form, as, for instance, in Chinese,
where [Lp'io/]j means, from our point of view, 'runs',
'ran', or 'shall run', indifferently, but, if the element of
time is vivid in the total experience, one can say also,
in two words, [Lp' a / la] 'ran' or [ja p\ L a 5/] 'will run'.
That is, just as we always express future time in a sepa-
rate word (will run), so Chinese also analyzes out the
past-element as a separate word. Latin, on the other
hand, has also a future category: currit 'he runs', cu-
currit 'he ran', current 'he will run'. We say, then, that
the formational expression of present or of past time
with actions is a morphologic category in English, that
of present, past, or future time, in Latin.
The grammatical categories, then, though always based


on relations common in experience, universalize these, so
that they must be formally expressed even where they
are not actually present or where there is no occasion
for focusing them, even though they are present. We
must express actor and action in a sentence and tense
in a verb even where they are not very vivid in the total
experience, where, respectively, a Latin or a Chinese
speaker could ignore them, just as we ignore numerous
unessential elements of every experience, and also
where they are not present at all, as in Mount Blanc is
high, where the experience presents neither action and
actor nor any particular tense.
The normal speaker, however, blindly accepts the
categories of his language. If he reflects upon them at
all, he usually ends by supposing them to be universal
forms of thought. In linguistics, of course, we must be
careful to distinguish between categories of a language,
be it our own or another, and the features of experience,
as apart from any particular language.
8. Psychologic character of the linguistic forms.
The categories of a language originate in the extension
of some oft-repeated type of expression. In this they
are like all linguistic forms. To the speaker they seem
fixed and universal forms of expression and even of
thought; actually they are habits of association in vogue
in a community. Owing to the similarity of dominant
elements, an experience awakens a series of past ex-
periences and is designated by the same word. Owing
to the uniformity of the process of analyzing a total ex-
perience, all such analyses, that is, all sentences, -
may receive the form of certain numerous past ones:
thus arise our syntactic categories. All words present-
ing certain common features, belonging, for instance
to a certain class, may take on formational features


that corresponded to experience in only a limited part of
their occurrences, such features as time-expression:
morphologic categories.
The best evidence of the purely associational nature
of linguistic forms lies in their change in history. The
word dog once meant 'mastiff'; it came, however, to
awaken predominantly the idea of dogs in general, with
the species, not the breed, as dominant feature, until it
became the universal expression for all these experiences.
At one time English sentences could be formed without
an actor and an action, but the process of forming a
sentence came, in the course of time, always to awaken
the process of forming actor-and-action sentences, until
this type became universal. Similarly, when a new action-
word comes into the language, such as the German waltz
or the Japanese hara-kiri, it recalls the verbs of our lan-
guage with their time-forms and unconsciously and imme-
diately submits to the morphologic tense-categories, re-
ceiving the past-forms waltzed, hara-kiried.
Thus language is not, as the sight of a grammar and
dictionary might lead us to suppose, a system of unalterably
fixed and indivisible elements. It is rather a complex set
of associations of experiences in groups, each of which
is accompanied by a habitual sound-utterance, and all
these associations are, like all others, certain of displace-
ment in the course of time.
9. Psychologic motives of utterance. True to its
original form of an outcry under the most violent ex-
periences, language is most easily realized under emotion-
al stress. Some violence of experience must normally
be present to call forth loud expression. If this emotion-
al violence is the dominant cause of the utterance, we
speak of exclamation. Under the social conditions of lin-
guistic development utterance with predominantly con


municative motive, declarative utterance, is a natural sequel.
Likewise the question, an utterance expressive of uncer-
tainty or incompleteness of an experience, is a weaken-
ing, as to dominance of the emotional motive, and a trans-
ference to communicative use, of the exclamation.
10. Interpretation of the linguistic phenomena. I
have troubled the reader with a psychologic description
which, though perhaps difficult, would have been all the
more so, had there been appended to each step the ex-
amples from various languages that would illustrate the
specific linguistic phases of the phenomena in question.
The most important of these shall in the next chapter
be so illustrated. After what follows the reader may find
the psychologic description more intelligible, if he will
go back to it; so much is certain, however, that the phe-
nomena themselves, without consideration of their mental
significance are unintelligible or rather, what is worse,
liable to a post factum logical interpretation which sub-
stitutes for the actual state of things our reflections upon
The points of view from which linguistic phenomena
can be regarded are of course various. For those un-
familiar with them the greatest importance lies in the
realization that the categoric and other distinctions of
one's own language are not universal forms of expression
or of experience. It is important also to remember that
the meaning of any linguistic expression is due to the
associative habits of those who use it. A deictic or a rep-
resentative gesture is intelligible at once, because it owes
its meaning to universal psycho-physiologic characteristics
of man. Even a suggestive or symbolic gesture hardly
ever fails of immediate understanding, for the constant
analogy of the simpler gestures predominates over associa-
tive transference. Vocal language, quite otherwise, though

it has its origin in the direct reactions of our organism
to experience, is the result of a very different develop-
ment. The reactions which gave rise to it were reactions
of movement, but the effect which became of self-satisfy-
ing and of communicative value, was the acoustic effect
of these movements. Consequently even the simplest
utterances furnished no analogy, comparable to that of
the simplest gestures, by which every kind of associative
transference and innovation might have been counteracted.
The result is that no language has the character of a set
of sounds in some way logically derivable from the ex-
periences which they express.


1. The inarticulate outcry. We have seen that our
linguistic utterances are part of the expressive movements
which attend every experience. In many lower animals
also some of the expressive movements produce sound.
The bodily expression of experiences of pain, for instance,
may include not only a sudden withdrawal, but also a
contraction of the thorax forcing out breath through the
glottis, which, likewise contracted, produces the sound
that we describe as a cry of'pain. We have seen that
human language is a developed and varied form of such
vocal reflexes.
Even where language in the highest form exists, how-
ever, these most primitive reflexes occur by its side;
the inarticulate cry of pain or anger is uttered by human
beings under an extremely violent experience. As a di-
ret result of this experience, this cry has nothing to do
with any earlier experiences of the individual. It is in-
dependent, accordingly, as to its form, of the utterer's
personal or social history: its sounds need not be speech-
sounds used in his community, and it is no more intelli-
gible in his speech-community than in any other; even
an animal may utter its like.
2. Primary interjections. It is only under the most
violent experiences that such purely reflex vocal utterances
are used by man. If the experience is somewhat less rad-


ical, the vocal utterance is less completely dependent
upon it alone, for, owing to the universal laws of habit,
the utterance now tends to take that form which the in-
dividual happens to have most used or heard under sim-
ilar conditions. This factor will, of course, vary accord-
ing to the earlier history of the individual. Another in-
dividual who has had, in this respect, the same history
and has, accordingly, formed the same habit of association,
will, on hearing the utterance, at once associate the same
experience: that is, he will understand. An individual,
on the other hand, who has not had the same history,
and has never heard the utterance in question, will make
no such association, and will not know what kind of an
experience the utterer is undergoing. Hearing the ex-
clamations of a Zulu or a Fiji-islander, we may be in
doubt as to whether it is joy, sorrow, anger, or surprise
that he is expressing.
Even in these less radical vocal expressions there is
some element of direct reflex. This appears, on the one
hand, in the rather extended intelligibility of these inter-
jections, as we call them, and, on the other, in their occasion-
ally departing somewhat from the regular sound-system
of the language. An example of both features is the la-
bial trill, which is used all over northern Europe as an
expression of intense cold and of abhorrence, although
as a regular speech-sound it does not occur in the lan-
guages concerned; in writing it is usually reproduced as
brrr! Similarly, various sound-complexes with the unusual
feature of a syllabic [s] or [f], written Sh..! or Pst! are
used as an urgent demand for silence. Our peculiar whist-
ling expulsion of breath, written Whew! to express ex-
treme heat as well as surprise, is another instance of di-
vergence from the usual sound-system. On the other hand,
interjections may remain within the usual sound-system


and may also vary in the different communities; thus the
interjection of pain is in English ouch! and in German
an! This, indeed, is by far the commoner case.
In the utterance of an interjection there is thus beside
the mere vocal reflex another element: the experience is
lived through as similar to certain earlier experiences,
and is accompanied by the same vocal utterances as were
these earlier experiences. We may say that these ex-
periences together constitute a class recognized by the
speech-community, in that they are always accompanied
by the utterance of these particular sounds. A certain
degree of pain might, for instance, be called in English
an ouch!-experience.
3. Secondary interjections. Experiences less intense,
- that is, having less predominantly emotional value, -
than those so far discussed, are accompanied by utterances
of more specific descriptive value. While a person who
inadvertently got his hand into the fire might give an
inarticulate shriek, and one who got his finger blistered
might utter the interjection ouch!, one who merely saw
a fire where he did not expect it, saw, for instance,
that a barn was burning, would utter the more delib-
erate and specific, though still exclamatory cry of Fire,
The more specific character of this utterance consists
in its perceptual value. In the inarticulate cry and such
interjections as ouch! only an emotional element of the
experience is expressed; in the utterance Fire! the sounds
uttered are associated by speakers of the language with
the specific perceptual content of fire. Exclamatory utter-
ances of this kind are called secondary interjections. There
is no limit to the amount of material detail which they
may contain. Other examples are cries of THep!, nMurder!,
Mian overboard., and the li]i e; also exclamations decribing


noises or movements, such as Bang!, Crash!, Snap!, Fizz!,
Puff!, Whoop!, Rip! Here belong also utterances which
name the principal object concerned in the experience,
such as The child, the child!, Gold!, Forgery!, MJother!,
A shooting star!, A white rabbit! The calling of descrip-
tive names is, of course, also exclamatory: You thief!,
Villain!, Generous man! Of especial importance are com-
mands: M]arch!, Get zup!, Bring me a glass of water,
please!, or the use of people's or animals' names to call
their attention: 0 stranger!, John!, Child!, Doggie!
The reflex element may here be present in various degrees
and find expression in modulations of pitch, stress, duration,
and the like. The modulations so permissible are different
in different languages: the articulations which form the
basis of the utterance, however, are in each case determined
by their association with the kind of experience concerned.
A foreigner does not understand them, because he possesses
an entirely different set of associative habits in this re-
gard. It will be noticed, also, that some of these secondary
interjections involve a considerable degree of discursive
analysis (though not, usually, a predication); in so far as
they do so, they are exclamatory sentences.
The same articulations may be used at other times with
a minimum emotional content. A chemist, after long in-
vestigation of what a certain component of a preparation
was, could turn to his client or his pupils and, holding
up a test-tube, quietly say Gold. A lawyer, after some
consideration of the technical validity of a paper, could
say, with very little emotion, Forgery. The significance
of all these utterances, in other words, is due not to the
emotional value with which they may be used, but only
to their association, in speaker's and hearer's mind, with
certain material contents of experience. This association
has to be formed by every member of the speech-com-


munity before he can speak or understand what is spoken.
It is only in the inarticulate outcry, and, to a lesser extent,
in the primary interjection, that the universal reflexes of
the human body undergoing an experience determine the
form of utterance; in the words of material content this
association is, so to speak, an external one and differs
greatly in the different speech-communities.
4. The arbitrary value of non-interjectional ut-
terances. We saw in Chapter I how most new members
of a speech-community, namely children, are taught to
make these associations. The problem of the origin of
language, we further saw, resolves itself into the question
as to how these associations originally came into being.
The answer we found (p. 14, f.) was that the movement
which produces the sound was originally an expressive
movement, but, as the sound produced by the movement
was in communication the striking element, further devel-
opment proceeded from the sound and not from the move-
ment. As no essential connection between sounds and ex-
perience was felt by the speaker, transferences and changes
had free play, so that even between movement and ex-
perience there soon remained no recognizable connection.
For instance, the experience of a bitter taste produces a
very characteristic expressive movement of the facial and
oral muscles which, if the experience is violent enough,
may be accompanied by sound-production. The sounds
resulting from this expressive movement may have been,
in some time and place, the current expression for 'bitter'.
As time went on, however, there happened that which,
as we shall see, is universal in language: the manner of
articulating the sounds gradually changed until they were
very different from those formerly spoken. Even by this
time the movements which made up the articulation of
the sound-sequence were no longer those of the 'bitter'


face-expression. But another, even more radical and equally
universal kind of change must also be considered: people
do not go on using the same expressions for ever. There
is a constant tendency, as we have seen and shall in
greater detail later see, to assimilate expressions to one
another when the experiences are at all alike. Thus our
expression for 'bitter' might be somewhat changed so as
to resemble the expression for 'sharp', or 'bad' or even
'sweet', for 'almond-like' or 'uneatable' or 'nasty'. Of
these processes we shall see many examples when we
come to speak of the changes of language. For the pres-
ent it is clear that the immediate physiologic connection
between expression and experience, which at some particu-
lar time must have existed in a great many expressions, can
in the case of no expression be of indefinite duration. The
English word bitter, for instance, cannot be interpreted
as an expressive movement, for we know that thousands of
years ago, if it then existed at all, it had some such form
as bhidrom and further that, whenever it began to be
used, it was not an expression arising directly from the
experience of a bitter taste, but rather a descriptive term
which meant literally 'biting', for it was originally an
adjective derived from the verb to bite. The expressive
habits of the community, in other words, are in a con-
stant process of change, and though, for language to be-
gin, it was necessary that certain sound-sequences should
be called forth by certain stimuli, it was neither necessary,
once given this beginning, nor even possible that this
direct connection should continue to exist.
It may be asked, then, if there are in use to-day any
expressions which are still at the stage where there is a
direct connection between experience and movement. If
we look into our own feeling with regard to certain of
our words, there might appear in English to be a great


many such. For instance, our words flame, flare, flicker,
flimmer, flash seem to us highly expressive of certain fea-
tures of the experience of fire. Other words that might seem
directly expressive are puff, fizz, bang, zip, diddle, snap,
smash, whack, squeak, and so on. We are very much surpris-
ed to learn that to a foreigner these words are as unintel-
ligible as any others, until, of course, he learns English.
Let us look a little more closely at these expressions.
In the words flame, flare, flash, flimmer, flicker we find,
corresponding to the common half-emotional, half-percep-
tual element of meaning, the common initial sound-group
fl-. In flare, flash, flimmer, and flicker the rest of the
meaning also seems to be directly and immediately ex-
pressed; and here again, if we look for words with simi-
lar meaning, we shall find the same sound-groups recur-
ring. Thus flare relates itself to glare and blare. The
-icker of flicker, which expresses to our feeling the small
repeated movements of the flame, performs a similar
function in snicker. The -immer of flimmer, expressive to
us of a quiet, small, continued action, is similarly expres-
sive in simmer, shimmer, glimmer. In flash the sounds
-ash express to us a very different, more rapid and violent
kind of movement also conveyed in clash, crash, dash,
lash, mash, slash, smash, splash. Or, to leave our fl- words,
the articulation of b- in bang, biff, bump, buffer, box, beat
corresponds to a common element of meaning which, we
feel, is directly expressed by all these words. In the
common parlance of school-room and dictionary they are
This peculiar feeling on the part of those who know
the language is in all probability, however, due to
nothing other than the existence of parallel words
expressing the same shade of meaning with the same
sounds. When we utter any such word the other words


of similar meaning are awakened, and their similarity
of form adds corroborative strength to the impulse of
articulation. That is, if we had only flash and not the
other words in fl- and in -ash, it would not seem to us
any more aptly and immediately expressive of its meaning
than such terms as chair, throw, combustion. In short,
there is no ulterior connection between these words and
their meanings, or even between such formational sound-
groups as fl- or -ash or b- and the elements of meaning
conveyed by them. Even if it should be found with any
certainty that the movements producing these sounds
are, in a psycho-physiologic sense, the natural expressive
movements attending the experiences which they in present
English express, this would not alter the case. We might at
first wonder at the correspondence and then realize that a
selective process by which associations and assimilations
occur had favored in each case the mostsuitable articulations.
All this, however, would not change the fact that these
words, like others, are limited to their language and out-
side of it are understood no more than others, and that
these words have arisen and changed in the course of time
by exactly the same processes that affect all words. The
peculiar feeling of directness of meaning which they give
us is due, then, entirely to the associative conditions of
our vocabulary and not to these words' being any such
thing as primitive reactions to experience: their history
is the same as that of other words. Aside from primary
interjections, the forms of language owe their function
entirely to their association with experiences in the speak-
ers' minds. The peculiar value in the speakers' feeling
of such expressions as the above, is called sound-symbolism,
- a term which is useful, if we remember that the 'sym-
bolism' is such only within the expressive habits of the
given community.


There are still other cases in which there seems to be an
actual connection between the sounds uttered and the
experience, this time in the sense that the experience
contains a noise which is imitated in the expression. This
is especially the case in bird-names, such as cuckoo. Such
investigation as there has been shows that among the
Germans, for instance, there have been in use great num-
bers of bird-names explicable only in this way, that
is, as onomatopoeias. This, however, is not a general prin-
ciple, but only a special instance of the way in which
language is expressive. It happens that some birds,
- and there are probably few other such fields in human
experience, are naturally recognizable by their calls,
and it is not surprising that, if the call became the dom-
inant element in these experiences, the expressive habit
of designating the birds by a more or less rough imita-
tion of it should have come into currency. In English
this is far less the case, our bird-names being mostly de-
scriptive of the birds' appearance or habits (red-breast, blue-
bird, mocking-bird), and, where an onomatopoetic name
seems to exist, its form is usually determined by associa-
tion with usual words of the language, as in the case of
Bob- White and whip-poor- Will. The range of onomato-
poeia is thus at best very limited, and where it occurs
it can take rank only as one of the many forms of as-
sociational habit that occur in language.
As we look first at inarticulate outcries, then at inter-
jections, and finally at the words of ordinary speech, we
thus find a continuous gradation. The outcry is entirely
the product of the present circumstances, of the primary
interjection this is not fully true, and the utterance with
material content depends for its form entirely on the
habits of the speaker, which he shares with his speech-
community. These habits are in a sense arbitrary, differing
Bloomfield, Study of Language 6


for the different communities and changing gradually in
the course of time. A new member of a community must
learn its speech-habits as he would any other set of
communal habits.
5. The classifying nature of linguistic expression.
The arbitrary nature of speech-expressions is directly due
to the fruitful principle which makes communication by
means of any such expressions possible. If each speaker
reacted under each experience in such a way that no trace
of his earlier history affected the reaction, communication
would be impossible. No two speakers would ever react
alike and no one speaker would ever react twice alike.
Fortunately we are so constituted that our past does
unceasingly modify our present: a present experience is
inevitably assimilated by past ones of a similar nature
and is attended by the same or similar expressive actions
as were these. Thus the circumstance that an English-
speaking person and a German will express similar ex-
periences, respectively, by horse and Pferd, an arbitrary
divergence, is due to the very fact that each expression
is moulded by the past history of the speaker. The one
has heard and spoken horse when such an experience oc-
curred, the other Pferd.
The identity of the several experiences that are in each
case designated by the same expression (e. g. horse or firc)
is not actually inherent in them. This is obvious, if we
recall the psychologic truth that no two experiences,
whether belonging to one person or to different persons,
are ever exactly alike. When we express each of a great
number of experiences by the sound-sequence fire, we are
associating them on the basis of an only partial similarity.
In our survey of the sounds of speech we saw that
language would be unintelligible, if all of the infinity of
possible sounds were employed, that the difficulty of


under training would grow as this infinity were approached,
and that actually each community uses only a limited
number of the possible sounds; that this limitation alone
makes possible well-fixed habits of articulation and hear-
ing. We are now again face to face with this principle.
If each experience, owing to its indisputable individuality,
were to be accompanied by a special utterance, no sound-
sequence would ever be uttered more than once, and
communication by means of speech would be impossible.
It is the habitual inclusion under one form of expression,
- that is, under one specific sound-sequence, of vast
numbers of experiences presenting certain dominant fea-
tures, which enables us to understand one another.
We are so accustomed to think and express ourselves
in the terms of our language that we are not ordinarily
conscious of the subjective character of this inclusion or
classification. Only the poet, who looks directly at the
experience and seeks for an exact expression of it, must
constantly realize this fact. Science also, on the basis of
objective analysis, can make an extended classification of
experiences and then arbitrarily determine that a given
expression shall be used whenever certain features are
present: this, of course, is the process of scientific defini-
tion. In ordinary life no such analysis is made: certain
general, often very complex features are associated with
the expression and all experiences in which these features
are dominant are classed together and expressed alike.
Yet, even in ordinary life, there are circumstances when
the uncertain character of our classifications is thrust
upon our notice, and that is in the face of some novel
experience. A man who for the first time confronts a
phenomenon which, let us say, looks like fire but gives
out no heat, or one that presents a different exterior,
being, say, a liquid, but produces the same charring effect,


combined with smoke, as a fire, this man will ask 'Is
this fire or not?' or, if he is more philosophical, 'Am
I to call this fire or not?' The answer to the question
must come, if it be given at all, from the consensus of
the speech-community, which may or may not in turn
call upon a scientific definition to settle the usage by
determining a logically recognizable dominant feature.1)
The subjective character of our speech-classifications is
brought home most of all, however, by the study of
language itself; for here we constantly find that different
speech-communities make very different classifications.
There may be languages, for instance, where no such
classification as 'fire' is made, but where there is an en-
tirely different expression for each of such classes as
'camp-fire', 'cooking-fire', 'forest-fire', and so on: in such
a language experiences which we should regard as falling
into a single class would fall into several distinct classes.
In other words, a number of experiences that are classed
together in one speech-community may not be classed
together at all, or may form but a small part of a larger
class, or may be in some other way distributed in another
speech-community. All depends on the expressive habits,
- that is, on the linguistic tradition, of the speech-

1) The vagueness with which these dominant features may
be defined is the motive in the anecdote of the traditional
Irishman who for the first time in his life saw a parrot. It had
escaped from its owner and perched in a tree, which the Irish-
man at once climbed. As he was about to lay his hand on the
parrot, it exclaimed 'Hands off! Hands off!' The Irishman was
dumbfounded, raised his hat, bowed, and said, 'Excuse me, sir;
I thought ye were a bird.' That is, speech was for him a
dominant feature of human beings, dominant even to the exclu-
sion of factors of visual appearance. General usage could have
corrected him by changing his associational habits, the science
of zoology, by giving him criteria of logical validity.


community. It is especially important to remember that,
except for the case of terms of purely scientific character,
this classification is due to associative tendencies and is
not affected by any logical considerations which individual
speakers may undertake. People of a nation whose language
had no expression for 'fire' but only for 'camp-fire', 'forest-
fire', 'cooking-fire', and so on, might know very well that
all these have certain features in common, and might
even study physics and chemistry and arrive at the scien-
tific concept of combustion, but their language would
remain the same It would provide, always in accordance
with its existing habits, some analytic expression, such
as 'camp-fires, kitchen-fires, forest-fires, and the like',
which would be used for the scientific concept of 'fire'.
This may be illustrated by a few actual instances.
In Malay the experiences which may be logically de-
fined by us as 'offspring of the same parents' are classed
together, and for such an experience is used the word
sudara. In English we form no such class; we form two
classes, according to the sex, and speak of a brother or a
sister. Now, it would be manifestly absurd to say that
a Malay does not know his brother from his sister; it
would be no less absurd, however, to say that English-
speaking people are unable to form the general idea con-
veyed by the Malay word. Both languages can express
the experiences for which no single designation exists by
a compound expression which analyzes them, the Malay
by saying sudara lakilaki and sudara perampuwan, where
the added modifying words resemble our terms 'male' and
'female'; and the English by saying brother or sister or
child of the same parents.
There are still other possibilities. In Chinese the ex-
periences of which we are speaking fall into four classes:
[rFur1j, Lti\, rtsz)1, Lmel\]. The first two denote males, the


second two, females; and in each of these pairs the former
denotes an older, the latter a younger member of the
family. While we make no such classes, we can analyti-
cally designate these relatives by saying older brother,
younger brother, older sister, younger sister. The Chinese,
on the other hand, can express the idea of 'brother' by
saying [Curg1 Lti\], of 'sister' by saying [rtszo1 Lme,], and
of the Malay sudara by [r1ujl Lti\ rtsza' Lmei\], all of
which expressions are comparable to our expression of
the Malay term by brother or sister. It would be as absurd
to say that the Chinese classification shows the Chinese
to lack power of generalization or else to have a partic-
ularly strong feeling for relationship as it would be to
say that we have less power of generalization than a
Malay or more feeling for the difference of sex; or else
that we have little feeling for the distinction between
older and younger brothers and sisters, when, to take
the last point, English law has from time immemorial
made much of it.
If any final demonstration were needed of how inde-
pendent linguistic classification is of logical insight, it
would be furnished by the German form of these words.
This language, when speaking of one person, makes the
same classification as English: Bruder, Schwester, but
when speaking of more than one, makes also that of the
Malay, using the term Geschwister, for experiences which in
English would have to be analyzed into brothers and sisters,
brothers or sisters, brother and sister, brother and sisters,
brothers and sister, as the case might be. It is evident that
whatever hasty conclusions were drawn from the contrast
between the Malay and English expressions would have
to be applied in turn to one and the same German, from
moment to moment, according to the number of people
he happened to be talking about.


The English translations given for the German Ge-
schwistcr, however, show that, where a classification is not
made and an experience is instead expressed by some
analytic phrase, the analysis is constantly open to the
speaker. If the expression is very frequently used, it may,
to some extent nevertheless become mechanized, and need
not involve the entire conscious analysis every time it is
A few more instances of divergent classification may
be of value. The general word in English for locomotion
is go, in German gehen. To begin with, however, while
we can say Igo, a German cannot say ich gehen, but must
in this connection use a slightly different form, gehe: ich
gehe. Aside from this, the German word is more inclusive,
in that it is used also of the specific form of locomotion
separately classed in English as walk. On the other hand,
our word ride is more inclusive than the German terms
reiten, used of riding on the back of an animal, and fahren,
of riding in a vehicle or vessel. A black horse is in
German Bappe, a white horse Schimmel; compare our
bay, roan, sorrel when used as nouns. The relation ex-
pressed by our on in on the table is in German auf, but
that in on the wall is in German an: auf dem Tisch, an
der Wand. It will also be seen from this example how
our word the corresponds to an element variously expressed
in German. In French there are no simple expressions
corresponding to our stand or sit; the idea must in each
case be analyzed into ilre debout (assis) 'be upright (sit-
ting)', restcr debut (assis) 'remain upright (sitting)', se
Icnir debout (assis) 'hold oneself upright (sitting)'.
Even pronominal expressions (p.64), in which the simple
deictic value might lead us to expect entire uniformity,
differ greatly. Three 'persons', that of the speaker, the
one spoken to, and the person or thing spoken of, are


everywhere distinguished. Some languages, however, use
material object-words instead of the first and second per-
sons; so the Malay for '1' sahaya 'companion', hamba,
beta, or patek 'slave', rather than the purely pronominal
akcu, and for 'you' rather the name of the person addressed
or tuwan 'master' or datoh 'grandfather', than ankau 'you'
In Japanese such object-expressions are exclusively used,
no purely pronominal terms for 'you' and 'I' being known.
Similarly, Polish uses pan 'gentleman', 'sir', pani 'lady',
'mistress', 'madam' to all but intimates and servants,
rather than ty 'you'. Other languages identify different
persons: thus the Italian uses ella or lei, literally 'she',
'it', for 'you', the German similarly Sie 'they' for 'you';
these pronouns originally referred to such nouns as 'your
grace', singular and plural, and are thus results of the
preceding type of usage. All these forms had their origin
in polite phrases. The same was once true of the English
you: it was the plural, politely used instead of the singu-
lar thou, a use which finds its parallel today in the
French vous instead of singular tu and the Russian [v']
instead of singular [ti]. In Italian, German, and French
the substitute-forms are almost universal, the old words
for 'you' (singular), German du, French ti, Italian
tu, being used only to intimates, children, and in prayer.
In the plural some languages differ from ours in distin-
guishing two kinds of 'we', one including, the other ex-
cluding the person or persons addressed: thus, in Malay,
inclusive kita, exclusive kami.
Related to this is the expression of varieties of deixis,
such as the 'here' and 'this', the 'there' and 'that'. In
this, too, languages differ somewhat. In the Scotch dialects
of English three types of deixis occur: not only a 'here'
and a 'there', but also a 'yonder', and not only a 'this'
and a 'that', but also a 'yon'. Likewise in Latin one used


hic for an object near one, ille for one farther off, and
iste for one near the person addressed; in German, too,
one says hier 'here', da 'there', and dort 'yonder'.
Beside the deictic expressions most languages distinguish
anaphoric reference: mention of things known or spoken
of, as, for instance, in English: he, she, it, they; other
languages make no distinction between anaphoric and
deictic reference. Within the anaphoric relations a single
instance may be cited of a distinction absent in some
languages (including English) but observed in others;
namely, the distinction between anaphoric reference to
an object immediately concerned and that to another
object. So in Latin: Amat sororem suam 'He loves his
sister', that is, his own sister, but Amat sororem eius 'He
loves his sister', that is, someone else's (who has been spoken
of) sister. Similarly in Norwegian 'he took his hat' is
IIan tok sin hat, if the hat belongs to the one who took
it, but Han tok hans hat, if it belongs to someone else.
The same distinction is made in the Slavic languages.
A striking example of differences in classification is
furnished by the numerals. In most languages the numbers
are divided, as in English, into series of ten, the multiples
of ten receiving analytic expression: the decimal system.
This had its origin in counting on the fingers, an
origin plainly apparent, also, in the quinary or fives system
of the Arowak, a Carib language, in which the expression
for 'five' is the same as that for 'one hand', aba-tekabe,
for 'ten' as for 'two hands', biaman-tekabe; that for 'fifteen'
means 'one-foot-toes' (sc. 'added'), aba-maria-kutihibena,
while 'twenty' is 'one man', aba luku. Our peculiar words
eleven and twelve (instead of oneteen, twoteen) may be traces
of a duodecimal system with which speakers of English
may have come in contact in prehistoric times. In French
one counts from sixty twenty units to eighty: 'sixty-nine,


seventy, seventy-one' are soixante-neuf, soixante-dix ('sixty-
ten'), soixante-onse ('sixty-eleven'), and so on; 'eighty' is
quatre-vingt ('four-twenties'). This is a trace of a vigesimal
system, probably used by the prehistoric inhabitants of
France. At any rate, in the Basque (which probably rep-
resents the speech of prehistoric times in this part of
Europe), the vigesimal system prevails, though the dec-
imal has encroached upon it. Thus 'twenty' is hogei,
'twenty-one' hogei-ta-bat, 'twenty-two' hogei eta bi, 'thirty'
hogei eta hamar ('twenty and ten'), and so on, while'forty'
is be-ogei, 'sixty' hirur-ogei ('three twenties') and 'eighty'
laur hogei ('four twenties'). Wild peoples who have little
occasion for systematic use of numbers, often have less
extensive systems. Thus the Kham [t*kham] Bushmen in
South Africa have a trial system, with words for 'one',
'two', and 'three'; higher numbers are expressed by com-
binations: 'four people' are 'two people, two people', 'five
people' are 'two people, two people, one person', or
else one simply uses the word for 'many'.
In short, just as each language uses only a limited set
out of the infinity of sounds possible to the human vocal
organ, so each language divides the infinitely various
experiences of life into a limited number of classes within
each of which all experiences are named by the same
expression. The classes so recognized by the different
languages are, as we have just seen, very different. It
need hardly be said that the description of the various
experience-classes and of the sound-complexes used to
express them, constitutes the lexicon or dictionary of a
6. Expression of the three types of utterances.
There are, as we have seen, three types of psychic con-
ditions under which speech occurs (p. 70). The simplest
and most fundamental one is that in which an experience

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