Sentences in the Fernandian Tongue

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Printed at the Dunfermline Press, 1846 - 16 pages
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A vocabulary/phrasebook of the Bube language, compiled by a Scottish Baptist missionary, the Rev. John Clarke (1802-1879). Bube is a language spoken by the Bubi, a Bantu people native to the island of Bioko, known by Europeans as Fernando Po. In the early 1840s both Britain and Spain had a presence on the island, just off the coast of Cameroon, the British leasing naval bases on the island as part of their efforts to stop the slave trade in West Africa. Clarke's interest in African languages had developed in the 1830s, after he had been sent out to Jamaica by the Baptist Missionary Society of London and had encountered slaves of West African descent speaking a variety of languages and dialects. For his own personal recreation, Clarke had compiled vocabularies of these languages and passed on his interest to a young Jamaican protégé, Joseph Merrick, who became a pastor in the Baptist church. The Baptist missionaries appear to have brought a printing press along with them, or acquired one after they arrived, leading to the establishment of the Dunfermline Press in Bimbia. The press operated in Bimbia from 1846 to 1848, printing four Scripture translations by Merrick into the Isubu language and also Clarke's 16-page vocabulary, which contains a list of useful sentences and phrases in Bube with accompanying English translations. Clarke's works on the Bube language are some of the earliest works on the North West Bantu language. Although his publications were soon surpassed by those of more accomplished linguists, his pioneering efforts showed the link between the languages of the Cameroon coast and the Bantu languages of the Congo and South Africa.

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