Wednesday 26 August 2009

Philological soundbites

"The" sentence from Sir William Jones, at the Asiatic Society of Bengal on 2nd February 1786:

The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong, indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists.


Etymology is a science in which vowels signify nothing at all and
consonants very little.

1 comment:

panjandrum said...

But really, if Voltaire had had a sense for comic timing, he would have reversed the order of those two. It's hard to fit a rimshot in at the end as it stands.