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as soon as he role. This is what I claim as my discovery. If the ancients knew it, it must have been long since forgotten, for it certainly was unknown to the moderns, at least to the Parisians; whiclı to prove, I need use but one plain simple argument. They are as well instructed, judicious, and prudent a peuple as exist any where in the world, all profelling, like myself, to be lovers of economy ; and, from the many heavy taxes required from them by the necessities of the state, have surely reason to be economical. I say it is impossible that so sensible a people, under such circumstances, should have lived so long by the smoky, urwholesome, and enormously expensive light of candles, if they had really known that they might have had as much pure light of the sun for nothing. I am, &c.
ON MODERN INNOVATIONS IN THE EN
GLISH LANGUAGE AND IN PRINTING.
To NOAH WEBSTER, jun. Esq. at HARTFORD.
Philadelphia, Dec. 26, 1789.
I RECEIVED, some time since, your Dissertations on the English Language. It is an excellent work, and will be greatly useful in turning the thoughts of our countrymen to correct writing. Please to accept my thanks for it, as well as for the great honour you have done me in its dedication. I ought to have made this acknowledgement sooner, but much indisposition prevented me.
I cannot but applaud your zeal for preserving the purity of our language both in its expression and pronunciation,
and Give me
and in correcting the popular errors several of our states are continually falling into with respect to both. leave to mention some of them, though possibly they may already have occurred to you. I wish, however, that in some future publication of yours, you would fet a discountenancing mark upon them. The first I remember, is the word improved. When I left New-England in the year 1723, this word had never been used among us, as far as I know, but in the sense of ameliorated, or made better, except once in a very old book of Dr. Mather's, entitled Remarkable Provi. dences. As that man wrote a very obscure hand, I remember that when I read that word in his book, used instead of the word employed, I conjectured that it was an error of the printer, who had mistaken a short l in the writing for an r, and a y with too fhort a tail for a v, whereby employed was converted into
improved : but when I returned to Boston in 1733, I found this change had obtained favour, and was then become common; for I met with it often in perusing the newspapers, where it frequently made an appearance rather ridiculous. Such, for instance, as the advertisement of a country house to be sold, which had been many years improved as a tavern ; and in the character of a deceased country gentleman, that he had been, for more than thirty years, improved as a justice of the peace, This use of the word improve is peculiar to New England, and not to be met with
among any other speakers of English, either on this or the other side of the water.
During my late absence in France, I find that several other new words have been introduced into our parliamentary language. For example, I find a verb formed from the substantive notice. hould not bave noticed this, were it not
that the gentleman, &c. Also another verb, from the substantive advocate ; Tb: gentleman who advocates, or who has advocated that motion, &c. Another from the substantive progress, the most awkward and abominable of the three : The committee having progressed, resolved to adjourn. The word opposed, though not a new word, I find used in a new manner, as, The gentlemen who are opposed to this measure, to which I have also myself always been opposed. If you pen to be of my opinion with respect to these innovations, you will use your authority in reprobating them.
The Latin language, long the vehicle used in distributing knowledge among the different nations of Europe, is daily more and
neglected ; and one of the modern tongues, viz. French, seems, in point of universality, to have supplied its place. It is spoken in all the courts of Europe ; and most of Vol. I.