Language has a history just as the living being who uses it. It has gone through periods of change and development which correspond to the many changes in the history of the race from the few words or sounds of man who lived in the cave to the complete vocabulary of the most learned American. It is of first importance to every one aspiring to success in the correct use of our language to appreciate fully what a wonderful instrument it is. This requires that a brief account be given of its history And composition.
We speak of the "English tongue" or of the "French language"; and we say of two nations that they " do not understand each other's speech." The existence of these three words - speech, tongue, language - proves to us that a language is something spoken, - that it is a number of sounds ; and that the writing or printing of it upon paper is a quite secondary matter. Language, rightly considered, then, is an organized set of sounds. These sounds convey a meaning from the mind of the speaker to the mind of the hearer, and thus serve to connect man with man.
It took many hundreds of years - pe-haps thousands - before human beings were able to invent a mode of writing upon paper - that is, of representing sounds by signs.
These signs are called letters; and the whole set of them goes by the name of the Alphabet - from the two first letters of the Greek alphabet, which are called alpha, beta. There are languages that have never been put upon paper at all, such as many of the African languages, many in the South Sea Islands, and other parts of the globe. But in all rases, every language that we know anything about - English, Latin, French, German - existed for a long time before any one thought of writing it down on paper.