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seeing it comes from one who by his great Skill in Languages, both ancient and modern, was very well qualified to judge of this Question.
And now, Sir, I shall venture to lay down my Proposition at Length. It is this: That there was but one Language in the World, when the Progeny of Noah went down into the Valley of Shinaar to build the City and Tower of Babel ; and that then, as Moses literally informs us, there was a Confufion of Tongues inflicted upon the Workmen by the immediate Hand of God, so that they could not understand one anothers Speech; and that upon that Confusion there were new Languages instantly framed, which Languages have been the Roots and Originals from which the several Dialects that are, or have been, or will be spoken, as long as this Earth fall last, have arisen, and to which they may with Ease be reduced.
Here I beg Leave to enlarge upon what I just hinted at already, which is, that these ges neral Marks, which run through all these Tongues, and which truly separate the Eastern from the Western Languages, have none of them disappeared, or been shifted from one to the other, for near three Thousand Years. They appear in every Book of the Old Testament, from Mofes down to Malachi; in the Chaldee Paraphrafts, in the Syriac Versions of the Bible, and Liturgies; in the Misna, and the Gemara; and in every other Rabbinical
Book (as far at least as I can judge by Citations) from the Misna, which I take to be the most ancient Book next the Bible in the Hebrew Language, down to those Jewish Writers, who to this Day swarm in Holland, and Germany, and Poland, and Turkey. All the Marks of the Arabic Language before specified, are observable in the Alcoran, which is about eleven Hundred Years old, and may undoubtedly be found in every other Arabic Book that has been written fince.
On the other Side consider Homer's Poems (which are the oldest Monuments that we have of the Greek Language ;) take Theocritus for the Doric Dialect, Euripides or Thucydides for the Attic, Herodotus or Hippocrates for the Ionic, Sappho for the Æolic; and come downwards to the modern Greek now spoken in those once flourishing Regions, and you will see the general Marks of these Japhetic Languages run through them all. These Idioms Thew themselves at first Sight to be nothing more than Dialects manifestly springing from the same common Root, which never did, nor ever will (as far as we may judge by the Practice of above two Thousand Years successively) conjugate Verbs, decline Nouns, or compare Adjectives like the Hebrew or the Arabic. These Languages will always compound Verbs and Nouns with Prepositions, which essentially alter the Sense: These Languages never had any possessive Pronouns affixed to their Nouns,
to determine the Person or Persons to whom they do of Right belong: They prefix no fingle Letters to their Words which
may valent to Conjunctions, thereby to connect the Sense of what goes before, with what follows. Any Man that is but tolerably initiated in any one of the Eastern Tongues, and that compares it with any of ours, must own that what I say is so far right. And I shall readily own, that, were it not for these distinguishing Marks by which original Languages may be distinguished from one another, I thould have concurred with Stiernhielmius in affirming, that all Tongues seem to arise from one Language at first, to which they may be all reduced i.
But then again, when I reflect, that by the lowest Computation the Earth was MDCCLVII Years old, when this Confusion happened ; and that by that Account it is not fix Thousand Years old now; that, if we take the highest Account, the Matter is not much mended; that we know what the Hebrew Tongue was above three Thousand Years ago when Mofes wrote; that he gives a Specimen of some Chaldaean Words used in Jacob's Time, which correspond to what else we have of that Language at this Day; and of some Egyptian Words, which are different from Hebrew; that the Time when those two Languages were formed
i Vidcri omnes Linguas, quae in orbe cognito exstiterunt, či hodie exitans, ex una ortas, & ad unam polo se reduci. Id. ibid.
was above two Hundred Years earlier than the Time when Moses wrote k; when again I reflect that the Arabic Language from Mahomet's Time to this Day corresponds with itself in that operose and philosophical Way of forming its Verbs, which was then in Use, and that too with fo few Anomalies that the Masters say its Grammar, is one of the simplest in the World: When, I say, I put all those Things, and many more of the same Sort together, I cannot conceive that the common Changes which occur in the Dialects with which we are acquainted, are in any Measure sufficient to account for this Matter!
k Had the Ægyptian and the Canaanitis Language been the same, Joseph necded not to have spoken with his Brethren by an Interpreter; nor would they have talked so freely before him as they did, but because they firmly believed that he could not understand them, since the Ægyptian Tongue was so different from their own. Gen. xlii. 23.
Lingua Arabica eft omnium quotquot exftant longe copiofiffima; infinita fere sunt ejus Vocabula, quae quoque multiplices obtinent significationes: Tredecim habet conjugationes quae diversam plerumque fignificationem habent : Ejus Anomaliae funt pauciffimae ; nam in Grammatica Arabica plurimi Canones occurrunt, quibus nul. la eft exceptio. Idcirco licet a nonnullis propter immensam verborum copiam omnium Linguarum habeatur difficillima, nihilominus quod Grammaticas Regulas attinet, omnium (excepta forsan Persica) facillima cft & fimpliciffima. Ockleii Introduct, ad Lingg. Orient. pag. 129, 130.
For I must beseech you, Sir, to take this
that Dialects will much sooner alter now, than they would, or indeed than they could, naturally speaking, in that infant State of Mankind have done. The World was then thin, and the Dispersion would make it thinner, by scattering the People that were collected then into one Body very far asunder ; fo that for want of Commerce, which it was the Work of Ages to settle, and the mutual Arsistance which that gives, Men would be obliged to converse each one with his own Ço. lony; and consequently by not bringing in foreign Customs, they would keep their Dialects far more entire than they do now, or are ever like to do hereafter in a peopled World. And for the fame Reason, they would for some few Ages at least, be free from Foreign Conquests of People that spoke different Tongues, and, considering the Time that is elapfed fince the Confusion at Babel, those few Ages will go a great way in the Reckoning.
I have already obferved that the Chaldæan was a Language already formed in Laban's Time, and the Egyptian in Joseph's. Small and insensible Alterations, which perhaps will not be discernible in an Age or two, will undoubtedly happen; but then believe me, Sir, they will be very small and insensible, unless a People converse much with Strangers. It is Commerce, and Conquest, and Colonies planted in Regions already peopled with Nations that