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between what is right and what is wrong in many doubtful cases.
Grammar, then, is useful as a tool. But the study of grammar is
also valuable as training in observation and thought. Language is
one of the most delicate and complicated instruments which men use,
and a study of its laws and their application is a worthy
occupation for the mind. DEVELOPMENT OF LANGUAGE. Language never
stands still. Every language, until it dies (that is, until it
ceases to be spoken at all), is in a state of continual change. The
English which we speak and write is not the same English that was
spoken and written by our grandfathers, nor was their English
precisely like that of Queen Elizabeth's time. The farther back we
go, the less familiar we find ourselves with the speech of our
ancestors, until finally we reach a kind of English which is quite
as strange to us as if it were a foreign tongue. Such changes take
place gradually, ? so slowly indeed, that we are hardly aware that
they are going on at all, ? but in the long run they may transform
a language so completely that only scholars can recognize the old
words and forms as identical, at bottom, with the new. Indeed, the
changes may go so far that entirely new languages are formed. Thus
from Latin, the language of the ancient Romans (which is now dead)
have come, by these gradual processes, a whole group of living
modern languages, including French, Italian,and Spanish, differing
from each other so much that a Frenchman cannot understand an
Italian or a Spaniard any better than he can an Englishman or a
German. The changes which a language undergoes are of many
different kinds. Most of them, however, we can observe in our own
experience if we stop to think of what takes place about us. They
affect (1) vocabulary, that is, the s...
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