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the lower rank in the country. So those words of Rabshakeh, Isa. xxxvi. 12. in our translation, (eat their own dung, &c.) were doubtless decent and clean language, when our translators wrote them above a hundred years ago. The word dung has maintained its old secondary idea and inoffensive sense to this day; but the other word in that sentence has by custom acquired a more uncleanly idea, and should now rather be changed into a more decent term, and so it should be read in public, unless it should be thought more proper to omit the sentence*.
For this reason it is, that the Jewish rabbins have supplied other chaste words in the nargin of the Hebrew bible, where the words of the text, through time and custom, are degenerated, so as to carry any base and unclean secondary idea in them; and they read the word wbich is in the margin, which they call keri, and not that which was written in the text, which they call chetib.
Sect. IV.-Of Words common and proper. III. Words and names are either commou or proper. Common names are such as stand for universal ideas, or a whole rank of beings, whether general or special. These are called appellatives; so fish, bird, man, city, river, are common names, and so are trout, eel, lobster, for they all agree to many individuals, and some of them to many species: but Cicero, Virgil, Bucephalus, London, Rome, Ætpa, the Thames, are proper names, for each of them agrees only to one siogle being
Note here first, that a proper name may become in some sense common, when it hath been given to seve. ral beings of the same kind; so Cæsar, which was the proper name of the first emperor, Julius, became also a common name to all the following emperors. And tea, which was the proper name of one sort of Indian leaf, is now-a-days become a common name for many infusions of herbs, or plants, in water; as sage-tea, 1. So in some places of the sacred historians, where it is writ. ten, every one that pisses against the wall, we should read every uale,
ale-hoof-tea, limon-tea, &c. So Peter, Thomas, John, William, may be reckoned common names also, be. cause they are given to many persons, unless they are determined to signify a single person at any particular time or place.
Note in the second place, that a common name inay become proper by custom, or by the time or place, or persons that use it; as in Great Britain, when we say the King, we mean our present rightful sovereign King George, who now reigns; when we speak of the Prince, we intend his royal highness Frederick Prince of Wales : if we mention the city when we are near London, we generally mean the city of London; when, in a country town, we say the parson or the esquire, all the parish knows who are the single persons intended by it; so when we are speaking of the history of the New Testament, and use the words Peter, Paul, John, we mean those three apostles.
Note in the third place, that any common name whatsoever is made proper, by terms of particularity added to it, as the common words pope, king, horse, garden, book, knife, &c. are designed to signify a singular idea, when we say the present pope; the king of Great Britain ; the horse that won the last plate at Newmarket; the royal garden at Kensington; this book; that knife, &c.
Sect. V.-Of concrete and abstract Terms. IV. Words or terms are divided into abstract or concrete.
Abstract terms signifying the mode or quality of a being, without any regard to the subject in which it is; as whiteness, roundness, lengih, breadth, wisdom, mortality, life, death.
Concrete terms, while they express the quality, do also either express, or imply, or refer to some subject to which it belungs; as white, round, long, broad, wise, mortal, living, dead: but these are not always noun adjectives in a grammatical sense ; for a fuol, a knave, a philosopher, and many other concretes, are substantives, as well as folly, knavery, and philo
sophy, which are the abstract terms that belong to them.
Sect. VI.-Of univocal and cquivocal Words. V. Words and terms are either univocal or equiyocal. Univocal words are such as signify but one idea, or at least but one sort of thing; equivocal words are such as signify two or more different ideas, or different sorts of objects. The words book, bible, fish, bouse, elephant, may be called univocal words ; for I know not that they signify any thing else but those ideas to which they are generally affixed; but head is an equivocal word, for it signifies the head of a nail, or of a pin, as well as of an animal ; nail is an equivocal word, it is used for the nail of the hand or foot, and for an iron nail to fasten any thing; post is equivocal, it is a piece of timber, or a swift messenger. A church is a religious assembly, or the large fair building where they meet; and sometimes the same word means a synod of bishops or of presbyters, and in some places it is the pope and a general council.
Here let it be noted, that when two or more words signify the same thing, as wave and billow, mead and meadow, they are usually called synonymous words: but it seems very strange, that words which are direcily contrary to each other, should sometimes represent almost the same ideas; yet tlius it is in some few instances: a valuable, or an invaluable blessing; a shameful, or a shameless villain; a thick skull, or a thin skulld fellow, a mere paper skull; a man of a large conscience, little conscience, or no conscience: a famous rascal, or an infamous one: so uncertain a thing is human language, whose foundation and support is custom.
As words signifying the same thing are called synnnimous; so equivocal words, or those which signify several things, are called homonymous, or ambigu. ous, and when persons use such ambiguons words, with a design to deceive, it is called equivocatiou.
Our simple ideas, and especially the sensible qualities, furnish us with a great variety of equivocal or ambiguous words; for these being the first and most natural ideas we have, we borrow some of their names, to signify many other ideas, both simple and com. plex. The word sweet expresses the pleasant perceptions of almost every sense; sugar is sweet, but it hath not the same sweetness as music; nor hath music the sweetness of a rose: and a sweet prospect differs from them all. Nor yet have any of these the same sweetness as discourse, counsel, or meditation hath: yet tbe royal Psalmist saith of a man, we took sweet counsel together; and of God, my meditation of him shall be sweet. Bitter is also such an equivocal word: there is bitter wormwood, there are bitter words, there are bitter enemies, and a bitter cold morning. So there is a sharpness in vinegar, and there is a sharpness in pain, in sorrow, and in reproach; there is a sharp eye, a sharp wit, and a sharp sword: but there is not one of these seven sharpnesses the same as another of them, and a sharp east wind is different from them all.
There are also verbs, or words of action, which are equivocal, as well as pouns or names. The words to bear, to take, to come, to get, are sufficient instances of it; as when we say, to bear a burden, to bear sor. row or reproach, to bear a name, to bear a grudge, to bear fruit, or to bear children; the word bear is used in very different senses : and so is the word get, when we say, to get money, to get in, to get off, to get ready, to get a stomach, and to get a cold, &c.
There is also a great deal of ambiguity in many of the English particles, as, but, before, beside, with, without, that, then, there, for, forth, above, about, &c. of which grammars and dictionaries will sufficiently inform us.
SECT. VII.--Various Kinds of equivocal Words. It would be endless to run through all the varieties of words and terms, which have different senses applied to them; I shall only mention therefore a few of the most remarkable and most useful distinctions
ist, The first division of equivocal words lets us know that some are equivocal only in their sound or pronunciation; others are equivocal only in writing; and others both in writing and in sound.
Words equivocal in sound only, are such as these ; the rein of a bridle, which hath the same sound as the reign of a king, or a shower of rain, but all three have different letters, and distinct spelling. So might, or strength, is equivocal in sound, but differs in writing, from mite, a little animal, or a small piece of money. And the verb to write, has the same sound with wright a workman, right or equity, and rite or ceremony, but it is spelled very differently from them all.
Words equivocal in writing only, are such as these; to tear to pieces has the same spelling with a tear: to lead, or guide, has the same letters as lead the metal : and a bowl for recreation, is written the same way as a bowl for drinking; but the pronunciation of all these is different.
But those words, which are most commonly and justly called equivocal, are such as are both written and pronounced the same way, and yet have different senses or ideas belonging to them; such are all the instances which were given in the preceding section.
Among the words which are equivocal in sound only, and not in writing, there is a large field for persops who delight in jests, and pups, in riddles and quibbles, to sport themselves. This sort of words is also used by wanton persons to convey lewd ideas, under the covert of expressions capable of a chaste meaning, which are called double entendres; or when persons speak falsehood with a design to de. ceive, under the covert of truth. Though it must be confessed, that all sorts of equivocal words yield sufficient matter for such purposes.
There are many cases also, wherein an equivocal word is used for the sake of decency, to cover a foul idea : for the most chaste and modest, and well-bred persons, having sometimes a vecessity to speak of the things of nature, convey their ideas in the most inoffensive language by this means.
And indeed, the mere poverty of all languages makes it necessary to use equivocal words upon many occasions, as the