Introduction

‘Owing to all these incongruities of language existing in con­temporary literature, any man—particularly a man from races not included among the representatives of contemporary civilization—who has a more or less normal thinking faculty and is able to give words their real meaning, will of course, on hearing or reading any word used in an incorrect sense, as in the example just given, perceive the general thought of a sentence according to this incorrectly employed word, and as a result will grasp something quite different from what the sentence was intended to express.

‘Although the ability to grasp the meaning contained in words differs in different races, the data for sensing the repeated experienced actions which are already well established in the process of the life of people are formed in all of them alike by life itself.

‘The very absence, in the present-day Russian language, of a word exactly expressing the meaning of the Persian word diaram, which I have taken as an example, can serve to confirm my seemingly unfounded statement that the illiterate upstarts of our time, who call themselves grammarians, and what is worse, are considered such by those round them, have succeeded in transforming even the language elaborated by life itself into, so to say, German ersatz.

‘I must tell you here that when I began to study Russian grammar and also the grammars of several other modern languages in order to determine the causes of these numerous incongruities, I decided, being in general attracted to philology, to acquaint myself also with the history of the origins and development of the Russian language.

‘And my study of its history proved to me that formerly it had contained exactly corresponding words for all the experienced actions already fixed in the process of the life of people. And it was only when this language, having reached a relatively high degree of development in the course of centuries, became in its turn an object for the “sharpening of the beaks of ravens”, that is to say, an object of wiseacring for various illiterate upstarts, that many words were distorted or even entirely ceased to be used, merely because their consonance did not answer to the requirements of civilized grammar. Among these latter was the very word I searched for, which exactly corresponded to our diaram, and which was then pronounced skazivaiou.

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