John Henry Eaton an Hugo Schuchardt (01-02653)

von John Henry Eaton

an Hugo Schuchardt


21. 05. 1884

language Englisch

Schlagwörter: Sprachprobe Sprachwissenschaft (Reflexion) Publikationsversandlanguage Portugiesischbasierte Kreolsprache (Sri Lanka/Ceylon)language Deutschlanguage Portugiesischlanguage Portugiesisch (Mangaluru/Mangalore)language Englisch Sri Lanka Schuchardt, Hugo (1882) Schuchardt, Hugo (1883) Schuchardt, Hugo (1884)

Zitiervorschlag: John Henry Eaton an Hugo Schuchardt (01-02653). Kandy, 21. 05. 1884. Hrsg. von Shihan De Silva Jayasuriya (2015). In: Bernhard Hurch (Hrsg.): Hugo Schuchardt Archiv. Online unter, abgerufen am 28. 09. 2023. Handle:


Kandy 21st May 1884

My dear Sir

It was during a very busy time of our Midland Assizes, that your letter reached my hand. Since then I went travelling down to the South of the Island, and your letter went quite out of mind. But I have been overhauling all my papers and cannot think what has become of it. However, I will no longer delay writing to you, especially as I have just received your reminder by way of a post card. I was very much interested in your pamphlets, for altho’ I do not know German, the Portuguese extracts were quite comprehensible. Those given in your last no. (no. VI) the Mangalore Portuguese were specially interesting. The language spoken there has a stronger affinity it seems to the Ceylon Portuguese, than the language spoken elsewhere. It seems to me that the specimens of lyrical poetry given in no. VI must have been copied out by a very illiterate man. He generally drops the final vowels, and in one of the lyrical pieces (IV p.9) an expletive (ai) is introduced at the commencement of each verse, which not only does not add anything to the meaning, but, destroyed the rhythm as I think. I will by and by give you a specimen of the same song as sung in Ceylon. You will have to remember that the Indo-Portuguese of Ceylon is (so far as I am aware) not taught in any of the schools of Ceylon. Those who were earliest in the field as Educators were the Missionaries, and amongst these, ever since I have known them the popular belief has been that the patois spoken in Ceylon was not worth perpetuating, that it was not worth improving, be|2|cause it was a corrupt dialect, and that in the course of a few generations, the mongrel dialect would die out. I am now over half a century old, but I do not find that these vaticinations have come to pass. The Portuguese language is as vigorous today as it were in the days of my youth, and is just as extensively used by the labouring classes (called in Ceylon by a strange anomaly, Mechanics), such as shoemakers, tailors, carpenters, tinkerers. True it is that it has nothing like a literature of its own – nor is it likely that it would have one, when so many attempts have been made to frown it out of existence. Yet the tenacity with which the classes I have above indicated have stuck to the so-called patois, shows that there is more vitality in it than some folks have imagined. I do not at all believe that there is any immediate prospect of any body having to sing a funeral dirge over the grave of Ceylon Portuguese. I would like to guarantee its life for another half century at least. If the present race of labouring men and their children, were all of a sudden to die out then I think there would be some likelihood of Ceylon Portuguese becoming a thing of the past. The English Language is no doubt making very rapid strides, and good many of the workmen of today speak it, though very imperfectly still, at least, better than their fathers did before them. Nevertheless, there is a large proportion of them, who do not speak the language at all, tho’ English has been the chief language of the country for so very many years past. I have been endeavouring, to carry on a religious work among these labouring classes, and have had some very striking cases of successful work among them. They are very tenacious of their language indeed. Tho’ I never studied the Portuguese language, but picked it up here and there during my boyhood’ years, I find |3|that I can express in this language, almost all I can express in the English language. A cossia verborum is all that one wants to make even this patois of Ceylon Portuguese, answer all the purposes that one can reasonably expect of any language. I have found it wonderfully flexible, and altho’ sometimes one cannot express his ideas while speaking in Portuguese, in as few words as he could in English – yet there is hardly any sentiment expressible in English, which cannot, tho’ in a more roundabout way, be expressed in Portuguese. You will see by the little books of Songs and Hymns I am sending you by this mail, how some of our English favourites have been made to reappear in a Portuguese dress. I cannot say whether you are conversant with our English Hymn books but if you are, you will find that the fifth of the English hymns, is preserved in the Portuguese translations. I shall mark the sources where the English hymns were taken – so that if they are at all accessible to you, you may compare for yourself the original with the translation. You will find that I have been endeavouring as much as possible, to rectify the loose spelling which is in vogue everywhere where the language is spoken and which is the result – the necessary result – of speaking and writing a language which is not taught in schools – nor as studied grammatically – nor has any literary standards of its own. I have tried therefore to assimilate the spelling as much as possible to that of the Continental Portuguese as given in Anthony Vieyra Transtagano’s Dictionary published in London in 1773. I am also indebted to his grammar for a few hints. I will just jot down a few particulars for you, which may be useful to you in the prosecution of your researches into the |4|varied dialects extant in reference to the Portuguese. In Ceylon Portuguese – there is but one article, the Definite, but it is indeclinable – having o for the singular, and os for the plural. The place of the indefinite which is supplied by hum, contraction of huma (one). Hum rainha, a queen, = one queen. O rainha, the queen. Os rainhas, the queens.

Substantives, Adjectives and Pronouns, have no inflexions. Their different cases are formed not by terminal inflexions, but by the use of prepositions. They are declined thus.

NominativeO rainha, - the queen -Os rainhas, the queens, -
GenitiveDe o rainha, - of the queenAnd so on for the different cases
DativePer o rainha, - to the queenby the addition of prepositions
AccusativeO rainha - the queenas in the Singular.
VocativeO rainha - O queen
Ablative De o rainha, from the queen, or com o rainha, with the queen.

Very frequently in ordinary conversation, the singular o goes even with the plural form of the noun, as o rainhas. The general rule for the formation of the plural is by adding s to the singular. The only exception I can recall at this moment is Deos God, which has Deoses for the plural.

Adjectives. In respect of degrees of comparison, there is no inflection of the words. So far as I can remember, there are only two adjectives, whose comparatives end in or. These are bom, good, melhor, better, and mal bad, peor, worse. The only ‘word’ in which mayor, greater, comes in is Good Friday, Sesta-feira mayor, or maior.

In all other cases the comparative is formed by mais more and the superlative by muito mais, or de todos mais.|5|

In respect of pronouns, the change of case is effected in the same way as the change in nouns is effected, by the addition of the prepositions, de, per, com. Thus

Nom. Eu. INom. Nos, We
Gen. De mi of meGen. De nos Of us

And so of Tu. Genitive de ti etc.

The pronoun si is joined invariably to mesmo. I cannot think of any instance in which it stands by itself e.g. si mesmo. Mesmo is also frequently joined to personal pronouns also, as eu mesmo, vos mesmo, elle mesmo, iste mesmo etc. I myself, you yourself, he himself, this itself etc.

In respect of possessive pronouns, meu and minha are used convertibly, irrespective of gender. Meu amor, my love, minha chasse my hat, meu ferro my iron. Meu filha my daughter. So also with teu, tua, seu, sua, vossa, nossa, they are used irrespective of the gender of the noun, and are convertible. There are only two demonstrative pronouns, iste, and aquel – this and that. They are both indeclinable, and form their plural by adding s. Sometimes aquel, in the plural is aquelles, but this has gone out of use, and appears only in the older writings. Aqui here ali or alla there – may perhaps be reckoned amongst the demonstrative pronouns.

Of the relative pronouns those in use are quem, who, que, what, quell which – and by the addition of seja, we have quemseja whosoever and queseja whatever.

Sometimes tal is also used, in the sense of such, tal pessão such a person. tal is sometimes used adverbially tal puro, entirely |6|wholly pure. I fancy this must however be a corruption of, or abbreviation for total, for we use totalmente in the adverbial form for, wholly.

The conjugation of verbs, is comparatively easy, for there are no inflections of the words representing the verbs. For example,

Indicative Mood

1. Eu te ama I love or am loving1. Nos te ama We love
2. Tu te ama Thou lovest2. Vos te ama Ye love
3. Elle te ama He loves 3. Elles or ellotros te ama They love
1. Eu ja ama I have or had loved1. Nos ja ama We have or had
1. Eu lo ama I will love 1. Nos etc
1. Eu tinha ama I was loving etc

Imperative Mood

2. Ama tu Love thou 2. Ama vossotros – love ye

Subjunctive Mood

1. Si eu te ama If I love, or am loving 1. Si vos etc

Potential Mood

1. Eu podi ou miste ama I can or must loveetc.
1. Eu podia ou mistie ama I may or must have lovedetc.

Infinitive - Gerund

Per ama to love Amando Loving

In the Passive Voice


1. Eu tem amado I am lovedetc.
1. Eu ja tem amado I have been loved etc.
1. Eu tinha amado I was loved etc.
1. Eu lo tem amado I shall or will be loved etc.


1. Eu pode tem o miste tem amado I may or must be loved etc.
1. Eu pode tinha amado I may have been lovedetc.


2. Fica vos amado Be thou loved 2. etc


1. Si eu tem amado If I be loved 1. etc

Infinitive Mood

Per tem amado To be loved Pertinha amado To have been loved


Tendo amado Being lovedTendo amado Having been loved

I think the foregoing will give you a tolerably fair idea, of what Ceylon Portuguese is like. I hardly need trouble you with any adverbs and prepositions. I omitted to mention that sometimes, instead of Desse nos|8| ama, we would, say, amamos, let us love.

I have put these grammatical notes together rather hurriedly and have no time to revise. Perhaps if I have leisure I may hereafter more carefully prepare an article for the Orientalist, on the Indo-Portuguese of Ceylon, but that must steed more indefinitely.

You will receive by this post, a Portuguese New Testament, the one I see you quote from of 1826, is out of print here, and out of use too. A very great friend of mine, and quondam teacher was the translator of the New Testament I send you. He has used a great many words taken from the Continental Portuguese (called here High Portuguese, Portugueza alto), which are not ordinarily in use; but this could hardly be avoided in a translation. Mr Blake was the name of the translator. He has now been dead some years. I will also try to send you, in addition to my little Hymn book, some manuscript songs. The song, commencing “Curre vi irmãos” is a total Abstinence song, composed by me for our Portuguese friends, and sung by me at one of their meetings to the wellknown and popular tune of “Margarita Maria, Margaritta, Margatitta Senhoras”. That is the air usually sung to your lyric piece (no. IV) in p. 9 of your pamphlet No. VI of the Mangalore Portuguese. I have jotted down the music for you. The other song I send you “Quem quer’ ovi”, has been written out for me, by a man here, who knows a good deal of the old songs. Any other information you may wish to get I shall be very glad to receive. Can you send me a complete set of your Kreolische Studien. I have parts, 2, 3 and 6.

Yours very truly

J H Eaton

Faksimiles: Universitätsbibliothek Graz Abteilung für Sondersammlungen, Creative commons CC BY-NC (Sig. 02653)