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ΕΠΕΑ ΠΤΕΡΟΕΝΤΑ, &c.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
F. WELL: now for your four abbreviations :
' which, you say, we have adopted from those other languages.
H. That which I call the potential passive adjective is that which our antient writers first adopted; and which we have since taken in the greatest abundance : not led to it by any reasoning, or by any knowledge of the nature of the words; but by their great practical convenience and usefulness. I mean such words as the following, whose common termination has one common meaning. Admissible Audible
Incredible Affable Cognizable Culpable Ineffable Incombustible Despicable Inaccessible Incompatible
Indivisible Amiable Contemptible Indubitable Arable Incorrigible Eligible Inexplicable Invincible. Soluble Infallible Irrefragable Tangible Feasible Irremissible Tenable Inflexible Irascible
Laudable Tractable Fusible Legible
Vendible Heritable Liable
Impregnable Malleable Vulnerable
As well as the Inamissible Palpable
Facile, Intelligible Possible
&c. Interminable Probable Investigable Sensible
These words, and such as these, our early authors could not possibly translate into English, but by a periphrasis. They therefore took the words themselves as they found them: and the same practice, for the same reason, being followed by their successors; the frequent repetition of these words has at length naturalized them in our language. But they who first introduced these words, thought it necessary to explain them to their readers : and accordingly we find in your manuscript New Testament, which (whoever was the translator) I suppose to have been written about the reign of Edward the third ;(“) in that manuscript
(w) I suppose it to be about this date; amongst other reasons, because it retains the Anglo-Saxon theta, the ambiguous 3, and the 1 without a point over it. But I am not sufficiently conversant with manuscripts to say when the use of these characters ceased.
we find an explanation accompanying the words of this sort which are used in it. And this circumstance sufficiently informs us, that the adoption was at that time but newly introduced.
" I do thankingis to God up on the unenarrable, or that may not be told, gifte of hym.”
2 Corinthies, cap. 9. " Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”
Modern Version, verse 15. “ Whom whanne ye han not seyn ye louen, in “ to whom also now ye not seynge bileuen, forsoth 6
ye bileuynge shulen haue ioye with outeforth in gladnesse unenarrable that may not be teld out."
1 Petir, cap. 1. " Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable.”
Modern, verse 8. “ From hennesforth brithren, whateuer thingis “ ben sothe, whateuer thingis chaist, whateuer
thingis iust, whateuer thingis holi, whateuer “ thingis amyable, or, able to be louyd."
Philippensis, cap. 4. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, “ whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things “ are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever " things are lovely.”
Modern, verse 8. “ The whiche is not maid up the lawe of fleshly “ maundement: but up vertu of lyf insolible, or, " that may not be undon.” Ebrewis, cap, 7.
" Who is made not after the law of a carnal com" mandement, but after the power of an endless
Modern, verse 16. « Forsothe wisdom that is fro aboue, first sotheli - it is chast, attirwarde pesible, mylde, swadibile, “ that is, esi for to trete and to be tretid.”
James, cap. 3. “ But the wisdom that is from above, is first
pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be « intreated.”
Modern, verse 17. Gower, in his Conf. Amant. (written, as he informs, in the sixteenth year of Richard the second) has taken very little advantage of this then newly introduced abbreviation. He uses only six of these words, viz. credible, excusable, impossible, incurable, invisible, noble ; and one, made by himself, I believe, in imitation, chaceable.
« She toke hir all to venerie,
Gower, lib. 5, fol. 90, pag. 2, col. 1. Chaucer uses many more of these words than Gower did; but in nothing like such quantities as have been since employed in our language.
F. I understand you then to say that the words in our language with the termination BLE, are merely the potential passive adjective: and that we have adopted this termination from the Latin, for
the purpose of abbreviation. But the Latin
grammarians had no such notion of this termination. They have assigned no separate office, nor station, nor title, to this kind of word. They have not ranked it even amongst their participles. They call these words merely verbalia in bilis: which title barely informs us, that they have indeed something or other to do with the verbs; but what that something is, they have not told us. Indeed they are so uncertain concerning the relation which these words bear to the verb; that most of the grammarians, Vossius, Perizonius, Goclenius, and others, tell us, that these verbalia in bilis signify sometimes passively and sometimes actively. And I am sure we use great numbers of words with this termination in English, which do not appear to signify either actively or passively.
Vossius says....“ Hujusmodi verbalia sæpius exponuntur passivè, interdum et activè.”
Perizonius....“ Porro sunt et alia unius forma “ vocabula, duplicem tamen, tum activam, tum “ passivam habentia significationem ; veluti adjec66 tíva in bilis exeunta. De quorum passiya
significatione nullum est dubium. De activa, “ hæc exempli loco habe, &c.”
And I think I could, without much trouble, furnish you with a larger catalogue of words in ble, used in English, without a passive signification ; than you
have furnished of those with a passive signification.