The meaning, neither abstract nor concrete, neither
literal nor figurative, which the source words of a language once possessed
when man was still part of the primal unity of things. It is from these
original meanings which those words that now have merely material references
or abstract contents alike descended as a result of the evolution
The "error" of linguists, who routinely assume
a development from simple, 'root" words, is the result, according to Barfield,
of "supposing that life actually created language after the manner in which
their logic constructed it. They mistook the elements
for seeds and called them roots" (PD 82).
|See in particular "Meaning
and Myth" (PD 77-92).