« AnteriorContinuar »
How far the use of prefixes and suffixes, together with these instances of analogy, and perhaps other instances, which may be traced out by those who have more leisure, go towards proving, that the North American Indians are of Hebrew, or at least Asiatick extraction, is submitted to the judgment of the learned. The facts are demonstrable; concerning the proper inferences every one will judge for himself. In the modern Armenian language, the pronouns are affixed.* How far affixes are in use among the other modern Asiaticks, I have not had opportunity to obtain information. It is to be desired, that those who are informed, would communicate to the public what information they may possess, relating to this matter. Perhaps by such communication, and by a comparison of the languages of the North American Indians with the languages of Asia, it may appear not only from what quarter of the world, but from what particular nations, these Indians are derived.
It is to be wished, that every one who makes a vocabulary of any Indian language, would be careful to notice the prefixes and suffixes, and to distinguish accordingly. One man may ask an Indian, what he calls hand in his language, holding out his own hand to him. The Indian will naturally answer knisk, i. e. thy hand. Another man will ask the same question, pointing to the Indian's band. In this case, he will as naturally answer nnisk, my hand. Another may ask the same question, pointing to the hand of a third person. In this case, the answer will naturally be unisk, his hand. This would make a very considerable diversity in the corresponding words of different vocabularies; when if due attention were rendered to the personal prefixes and suffixes, the words would be the very same, or much more similar.
The like attention to the moods and personal affixes of the verbs is necessary.t If you ask an Indian how he expresses in his language, to go or walk, and to illustrate your meaning, point to a person who is walking; he
will tell you pumissoo, he walks. If, to make him understand, you walk yourself, his answer will be kpumseh, thou walkest. If you illustrate your meaning by pointing to the walk of the Indian, the answer will be npumseh, I walk. If he take you to mean go or walk, in the imperative mood, he will answer pumisseh, walk thou,
NOTES BY THE EDITOR.
In the Introductory Observations prefixed to Eliot's Grammar of the Massachusetts Indian Language (published in the preceding volume of these Collections) it was stated to be an observation of the early American writers, that there was but one principal Indian language throughout all New England, and even in territories beyond it ; and that, this observation was in accordance with the opinions of the later writers, who had taken a more extended view of the various dialects than was practicable at the first settlement of the country. In the same place the reader was referred to ihe opinions of the Rev. Dr. Edwards and the Rev. Mr. Heckewelder; both of whom, it was observed, agreed in the fact as stated by the old writers, and only differed from one another in this circumstance, that each of them considered the particular dialect, with which he happened to be most familiar, as the principal or standard language, and the rest as branches, or dialects, of it. Dr. Edwards, therefore, as the reader will have already seen in the present work, speaks of the Mohegan as the principal or fundamental language, which “is spoken by all the Indians of New England;" wbile Mr. Heckewelder, on the other hand, considers the Delaware (more properly called the Lenni Lenape) as the common stock of the same dialects ; observing, that “this is the most widely extended language of any of those, that are spoken on this side of the Mississippi. It prevails (he adds) in the extensive regions of Canada, from the coast of Labrador to the mouth of Albany River, which falls into the furthermost part of Hudson's Bay, and from thence to the Lake of the Woods, which forms ihe north-western boundary of the United States. It appears to be the language of all the Indians of that extensive country, except those of the Iroquois stock, which are by far the least numerous.” *
* Transactions of the Historical and Literary Committee, &c. p. 106.
Although the high authority, on which we have these opinions, will hardly be thought to need any support, yet the Editor has thought it would be satisfactory to many readers, to see specimens of the dialects themselves; and he has accordingly annexed a short Comparative Vocabulary* of several, which are only mentioned by name in Dr. Edwards' work as belonging to the common stock, of which he speaks. Authentick specimens of these dialects could not easily be obtained at the period when Dr. Edwards wrote ;, and at the present time some of them, perhaps, are only to be found in the extensive collection of Mr. Du Ponceau, to whose ardour in the cause of learning our country is so much indebted for its literary character abroad as well as at home
These specimens, while they afford ample proof of the justness of Dr. Edwards and Mr. Heckewelder's opinions on this point, will not be without use in some other respects. The Editor has thought it proper to confine himself to the short list of English words given by Dr. Edwards (pp. 6 and 7) as far as the corresponding Indian words could be found in those vocabularies, to which he had access. The List might have been much enlarged; but, short as it is, it will be found sufficient for the present purpose. In this comparative view of the several dialects, the reader will, undoubtedly, be much surprised to discover the remarkable fact, that even the very
distant tribes, known to us by the name of Cree or Knisteneaux Indians (sometimes called Killistenoes) whose territories lie towards the Pacifick Ocean, nearly as far as the Rocky Mountains, speak a kindred dialect with the tribes on the coasts of the Atlantick.
In addition to this comparative Vocabulary, the Editor has thought it might be gratifying to most readers, to see some comparisons of the grammatical structure of the American languages; and he has, therefore, added some remarks on that subject also. But these remarks, though not limited to the Northern dialects alone, are necessarily confined to a very few particulars.
On the evidence of affinity or diversity of dialect, to be derived from specimens of ihe Indian Numerals, and translations of the Pater Noster.
P. 10. Dr. EDWARDS here makes a comparison of the Pater Noster and the Numerals in Mohegan and Mohawk, for the pur
* See the end of these Notes.
pose of giving his reader some general idea of the difference between those two languages. But these specimens alone were, probably, not intended as conclusive evidence on this point; for he goes on to state, from his own knowledge, that "in no part of these languages does there appear to be a greater coincidence than in this specimen." Persons who are as familiarly acquainted with any one of the Indian dialects, as Dr. Edwards was, and who have observed the manner in which translations are made into them, will not hastily draw a general inference, respecting their similarity or dissimilarity, from such specimens alone. But the student, who is just entering upon these inquiries, should attend to the following cautions of Mr. Du Ponceau and Mr. Heckewelder.
In respect to the translations of the Pater Noster, the former of those writers observes : “ Notwithstanding the strong affinity, which exists between the Massachusetts and these various languages of the Algonkin or Lenape class, is too clear and too easy of proof to be seriously controverted, yet it is certain, that a superficial observer might with great plausibility deny it altogether. He would only have to compare the translation of the Lord's Prayer into the Massachusetts, as given by Eliot in his Bible, Mat. vi. 9, and Luke xi. 2, with that of Heckewelder into the Delaware from Matthew, in the Historical Transactions, vol i. page 439, where he would not find two words in these two languages bearing the least affinity to each other. But this does not arise so much from the difference of the idioms, as from their richness, which afforded to the translators multitudes of words and modes of expressing the same ideas, from which to make a choice ; and they happened not to hit upon the same forms of expression.” Mr. Du Ponceau then further observes, that "even Eliot's own translations of the Lord's Prayer, as given in Matthew and Luke, differ more from each other than the variations of the text require.” Notes on Eliot's Indian Grammar, p. vii.
“ On the subject of the Numerals (says Mr. Heckewelder) I have had occasion to observe, that they sometimes differ very much in languages derived from the same stock. Even the Minsi,* a tribe of the Lenape or Delaware nation, have not all their numerals like those of the Unami tribe, which is the principal among them. I shall give you an opportunity of comparing them :
* Called by Edwards (p. 5) the Munsees. Edit.
Numerals of the Minsi 1 Gutti 2 Nischa 3 Nacha 4 Newa 5 Nalan (Algonk. narau) 6 Guttasch 7 Nischoasch (Algonk. nissouassou 8 Chaasch 9 Nolewi 10 Wimbat
Numerals of the Unami.
“ You will easily observe, that the numbers five and ten in the Minsi dialect resemble more the Algonkin, as given by La Hontan, than the pure Delaware. I cannot give you the reason of this difference. To this you will add the numerous errours committed by those who attempt to write down the words of the Indian languages, and who either in their own have not alphabetical signs adequate to the true expression of the sounds, or want an Indian ear to distinguish them. I could write a volume on the subject of their ridiculous mistakes.” Correspondence with Mr. Du Ponceau, in Historical Transactions, vol. i. p. 381.
As an example of the effect of the difference in orthography, to which Mr. Heckewelder here alludes, the Editor subjoins the Mohawk numerals, as given by Edwards, and as they are written in the “Primer for the use of the Mohawk Children,” published in 1786; in which last, however, it should be observed, that it is designed to give the foreign sounds to the vowels :
From the Mohawk Primer.
The Pater Noster, in the same Primer, is also very different in its orthography from the one originally published in Smith's History of New York, (afterwards published by Edwards, and