Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

plicit confidence in the accounts of hasty travellers and blundering interpreters. In the MITHRIDATES, that immortal monument of philological research, Professor Vater refers to it for the information he has given upon the Mohegan language, and he has published large extracts from it.* The work, indeed, has the highest claims to attention, from the unusually favourable circumstances, in which the author was placed for acquiring a thorough acquaintance with the language, as he has particularly stated in his Preface. To a perfect familiarity with this dialect (which, it seems, he began to learn at six years of age among the natives) he united a stock of grammatical and other learning, which well qualified him for the task of reducing an unwritten language to the rules of grammar. But, though he might have relied upon his own knowledge alone, yet so extremely solicitous was he to have the work entirely free from errours, that, lest his disuse of the language for some time might possibly have exposed him to mistakes, he took pains to consult an intelligent chief of the tribe, (who was acquainted with English as well as his native language) before he would commit the work to the press. Rarely indeed does it happen to any man to be so favourably circumstanced for the acquisition of exact knowledge on these subjects; and the present work may accordingly be regarded as a repository of information, upon which the reader can place reliance.

While the present edition of the Observations was preparing for the press, it occurred to the editor, that the learned author might possibly have made a revision of the work in his life time, and that his corrections might be in the possession of his descendants. Application was accordingly made, at the editor's request (by the Rev. Dr. Holmes, Corresponding Secretary of the Society) to J.W. Edwards, Esquire, of Hartford, a son of the author, for the purpose of obtaining the use of a revised copy, if any such existed. It will be seen, however, by the following

* Mithridates, vol. iii. part 3, p. 394, note. These extracts appear to have been made from the copy in Carey's Amer. Museum, in which some slight typographical errours are to be found.

extract from the reply of Mr. Edwards, that no entire revision of the work was ever made, with a view to republication, but only a few errours of the press corrected :

The original manuscript of my father's Observations on the Muhhekaneew Language is not found among his papers.......... The original impression was taken under my father's immediate inspection, and is therefore probably pretty free from errours of the press. A copy, now in possession of Dr. Chapin, is corrected in my father's handwriting; in this, only three typographical errours are noticed. They are the following:

1. “On the 11th page, line 15 from top, the word peh

*tunquissoo is corrected to read pehtuhquissoo (the

n should be h.) 2. “On the 16th page, line 3 from top, the two last syl

lables in the last Indian word should be wukon (the original letter is erased and the letter u in

serted.) 3. “On the 17th page, line 19th from top, instead of

the third person,' read a third person? “The essay was never revised or corrected by the author, as I have reason to believe, with any view to its improvement or future publication. A few facts, tending to show my father's acquaintance with the Indian language and his means and advantages of acquiring it, are stated in a preface to the Observations. To these I do not know that I could add any thing.”

The editor has only to add, that he has thought it might be useful, in the present state of these studies among us, to add a few Notes to Dr. Edwards' work, with a view to confirm some parts of it by observations made since his time, and in different parts of the continent; and with the further view of showing the great extent of the Delaware language (several dialects of which are enumerated in the first page of the work) the editor has subjoined a Comparative Vocabulary, containing specimens of some of those dialects. In comparing the words there given, it may not be unnecessary for the

reader to be apprised, that, as they are taken from writers and other persons of different European nations, it will be necessary to give the letters the same powers which they have in the languages of those different nations. The very same dialect, as written by a German, a Frenchman and an Englishman, often appears like so many different languages; and in making an extensive comparison of the Indian dialects, the want of a common orthography is severely felt by the student. It is to be hoped, however, that, with the co-operation of European scholars, we shall be able to remedy this inconvenience.

JOHN PICKERING. Salema Massachusetts, }

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

OBSERVATIONS ON THE LANGUAGE OF THE MUHHEKANEEW

INDIANS;

In which the Ertent of that Language in North America is shewn;

its Genius is grammatically traced; some of its Peculiarities, and some Instances of Analogy between that and the Hebrew are

pointed out. Communicated to the Connecticut Society of Arts and Sciences, and

published at the Request of the Society. By JONATHAN EDWARDS, D. D. Pastor of a Church in Nero Haven,

and Member of the Connecticut Society of Arts and Sciences. New Haven, Printed by Josiah Meigs, M.DCC.LXXXVIIĮ.

it

may be

3

Preface.
THAT the following observations may obtain credit,

proper to inform the reader, with what advantages they have been made.

When I was but six years of age, my father removed with his family to Stockbridge, which, at that time, was inhabited by Indians almost solely; as there were in the town but twelve families of whites or Anglo-Americans,

- and perhaps one hundred and fifty families of Indians.

The Indians being the nearest neighbours, I constantly associated with them; their boys were my daily schoolmates and play-fellows. Out of my father's house, I seldom heard any language spoken, beside the Indian. By these means 1 acquired the knowledge of that language, and a great facility in speaking it. It became more familiar to me than my mother tongue. I knew the names of some things in Indian, which I did not know in English; even all my thoughts ran in Indian : and though the true pronunciation of the language is extremely difficult to all but themselves, they acknowledge ed, that I had acquired it perfectly ; which, as they said, never had been acquired before by any Anglo-American. On account of this acquisition, as well as on account of my skill in their language in general, I received from them many compliments applauding my superiour wisdom. This skill in their language I have in a good measure retained to this day.

After I bad drawn up these observations, lest there should be some mistakes in them, I carried them to Stockbridge, and read them to Capt. Yoghum, a principal Indian of the tribe, who is well versed in his own language, and tolerably informed concerning the English: and I availed myself of his remarks and corrections.

From these facts, the reader will form his own opinion of the truth and accuracy of what is now offered him.

When I was in my tenth year, my father sent me among the six nations, with a design that I should learn

4 their language, and thus become qualified to be a missionary among them. But on account of the war with France, which then existed, I continued among them but about six months. Therefore the knowledge which I acquired of that language was but imperfect; and at this time I retain so little of it, that I will not hazard any particular critical remarks on it. I may observe, however, that though the words of the two languages are totally different, yet their structure is in some respects analogous, particulary in the use of prefixes and suffixes.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

The language which is now the subject of observation, is that of the Muhhekaneew or Stockbridge Indians. They, as well as the tribe at New London, are by the Anglo-Americans, called Mohegans, which is a corruption of Muhhekaneew,* in the singular, or Muhhekaneok, in the plural. This language is spoken by all the Indians throughout New England. Every tribe, as that of Stockbridge, that of Farmington, that of New London, &c. has a different dialect; but the language is radically the same. Mr. Elliot's translation of the Bible is in a particular dialect of this language. The dialect followed in these observations, is that of Stockbridge. This language appears to be much more extensive than any other language in North America. The languages of the Delawares in Pennsylvania, of the Penobscots bordering on Nova Scotia, of the Indians of St. Francis in Canada, of the Shawanese on the Ohio, and of the Chippewaus at the westward of Lake Huron, are all radically the same with the Mohegan. The same is said concerning the languages of the Ottowaus, Nanticooks, Munsees, Menomonees, Messisaugas, Saukies, Ottagaumies, Killistinoes, Nipegons, Algonkins, Winnebagoes, &c.* That the languages of the several tribes in New England, of the Delawares, and of Mr. Elliot's Bible, are radically the same with the Mohegan, I assert

from my own knowledge. What I assert concern6

ing the language of the Penobscots, I have from a gentleman in Massachusetts, who has been much conversant among the Indians. That the language of the Shawanese and Chippewaus is radically the same with the Mohegan, I shall endeavour to shew. My authorities for what I say of the languages of the other nations are Capt. Yoghum, before-mentioned, and Carver's Travels.

* Wherever w occurs in an Indian word, it is a mere consonant, as in work, world, &c.

+ [See a Comparative Vocabulary of several of these languages, at the end of the Notes to the present edition. EDIT.]

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »