The Mood In Language -- By: Henry N. Day

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 004:13 (Feb 1847)
Article: The Mood In Language
Author: Henry N. Day


The Mood In Language

Henry N. Day

Language is the body of thought. It is something more than the mere dress of thought. It has an internal, vital connection with it. As the living spirit, in assuming to itself a body, penetrates what was before inert, dead matter with its own peculiar life, fashions, organizes and animates it according to its own proper nature, so thought enters sounds in speech with a vital, determining, organizing power. It exists before language in order of nature. It makes language what it is. In order to determine the properties and laws of language, the nature and uses of its various functions or members, we must accordingly, first go to the thought which is the organic principle of speech, and ascer-certain what are the actual or possible characters of thought which may be incorporated and expressed in speech. It is in this view of the relations of language to thought that the follow-

ing theory of mood has been conceived and developed; and from this view it must derive, to some extent at least, its justification and support.

We shall present our views under the following heads: The proper function of the mood in speech; The possible kinds of moods as determined by this view of their functions; The forms of moods in their proper import in actual use in speech; The abnormal use of moods.

1. The Proper Function Of The Mood

Thought never properly appears in speech but as an expressed judgment; and logic teaches us that a judgment necessarily contains three members, the subject, the predicate and the copula. In every thought expressed in speech, there must necessarily be these three members. If each of these essential members have not an actual form appropriated to itself in every uttered sentence, it must be ever implied. It was to be expected that in expressing itself, thought would ever seek to secure for each of these independent and yet essential members its apppropriate form; and that we should find in language the proper sign and expression of each. The mood is the proper expression of the copula. This is its distinctive office.

The copula has no other proper expression. If it may sometimes express its peculiar character through the use of other functions of speech, of adverbs, tenses, by periphrastic expressions, it does this only as other specific functions sometimes borrow help of their fellows to do their own work. There is no form of periphrastic expression appropriated to the expression of the copula. Adverbs and tenses have their own office-work.

The mood, further, actually expresses the copula. The indicative mood as truly expresses that form of the copula which appears in a real judgment,...

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