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LIBRARY OF AMERICAN LINGUISTICS.
AMS PRESS, INC.
FROM A MANUSCRIPT
OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.
JOHN GILMARY SHEA,
MEMBER OF THE NEW YORK, MASSACHUSETTS, MARYLAND, WISCONSIN,
MICHIGAN HISTORICAL AND NEW ENGLAND HISTORIC-GENEALOGICAL
The study of American Ethnology has always been fettered by the want of
anything like reliable grammars and dictionaries, and while compelled to
rely on scanty and erroneous vocabularies must ever remain in its
infancy. Yet a vast number of tribes were the scenes of missionary
labors of zealous and educated men who carefully studied the language of
their flocks and have left behind them grammatical treatises and
dictionaries more or less complete, the value of which in a philological
point of view over the random words taken down in a few hours by a
traveller, must be too apparent to need any discussion or proof. It is
time that ethnologists should appeal for the Algonquin to some better
authority than La Hontan, for Huron to something more full than Sagard.
Many works have fallen into my hands which I deem it important to the
cause of science to put within the reach of scholars; and the present
volume will be a specimen of this Library of American Linguistics. The
encouragement of a few will enable me to carry out the plan, and on them
I rely, promising to perform my task of editing with all possible
fidelity to the original.
The original manuscript of the present volume is preserved in the
Mazarin Library at Paris, and is supposed to be of the close of the
seventeenth century. It is apparently the work of one of the Jesuit
Fathers whose missions in New York extended from the middle of the
seventeenth to the close of the first decade in the succeeding century.
A copy was carefully made under the supervision of my kind friend, the
Rev. Felix Martin of the Society of Jesus, who on his return to Canada
submitted it to the Oblate Father Antoine, missionary at the Sault St.
Louis. This competent Mohawk scholar on comparing it with specimens of
the various dialects at his mission, and an analysis of the five
Iroquois dialects, pronounced it to be Onondaga, noting as the most
striking differences the substitution of _h_ for the Mohawk _r_, and in
the preterites of _i_ for the Mohawk _on_.
A comparison with various vocabularies of the tribes which composed the
"Complete Cabin" left me under no doubt as to the correctness of this
opinion, and I have accordingly styled it an Onondaga-French Dictionary.
The fuller and later labors of Zeisberger and Pyrlaeus give us the same
language half a century further down the stream of time, enabling the
ethnologist to acquire a full knowledge of its genius, structure and
The language as here given is singularly free from European words; not
even Ni8 the general corruption of _Dieu_ being given for God. The
conjugations are not however as full as in other treatises on these
dialects, lacking three of the fifteen persons usually given in each
tense, and what is still more peculiar all the verbs are of the paradigm
K, none being found of that in W.
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