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Hair, P. E. H. (Paul Edward Hedley); Barbot, Jean, 1655-1712 / Barbot's West African vocabularies of c. 1680

Appendix a [includes appendix b],   pp. 16-17

Page 16


A vocabulary of Old Calabar
Barbot included in his English account, a vocabulary of a "few words
of the Old Calabar language" (1732, 383). Barbot had never been to Old
(modern Calabar on the Cross River), nor had his brother during his visit
New Calabar in 1699, but Barbot had collected some information about trading
there from English acquaintances. The vocabulary may have been supplied to
by an acquaintance aboard a ship called the 'Dragon' which visited Old Calabar
in 1698.
The wordlist - it hardly deserves to be termed a vocabulary - bears no
comparison in correctness and value with the vocabularies he collected
himself. It includes misprints, misreadings, gross mis-hearings, and clumsy
transliterations. It almost certainly represents no single African language,
although it contains items apparently of Efik, the indigenous language of
Calabar, although the items are corrupt and mangled. However, since a few
the terms are found in earlier sources, and since some appear to derive from
other coastal languages than Efik, it must be more than one collector's
incompetent list. Instead it may have represented, at least to some extent,
a trading vocabulary of the Gulf of Guinea, that is, a limited number of
corrupt but accepted terms, the terms developed over time and used for
communication between European and African traders, not only at Calabar but
also along the coasts of Cameroons and Gabon. Doubts have, however, been
expressed about the existence of such a 'trade language': see Edwin Ardener,
'Documentary and linguistic evidence for the rise of the trading polities
between Rio del Rey and Cameroons, 1500-1650', in I.M. Lewis, ed., History
social anthropology (London, 1968), 81-126, on 101.
Barbot's vocabulary was first examined in M.D.W. Jeff reys, Old Ca7abar,
and notes on the Ibibio language (Calabar, 1935), 34, which claimed that
contained   little  Efik.   The  Efik   terms   suggested  in   the  tentative
identifications below are from Hugh Goldie, Dictionary of the Efik language
(Edinburgh, 1874, reprint Farnborough 1964). The apparently related terms
appearing in a vocabulary in Leers 1665 (see 'Works cited in the Notes to
List' above), 319, were examined in Ardener, 119-122, and Hair, 'The earliest
vocabularies of Cameroons Bantu' (note 4 above); and also by Jeffreys in
African Studies 29 (1970), 55-56.
Other sources cited below are Koelle 1854 (see 'Works cited ...' above)
and De Marees (see note 6 above).
Yo "Give me" (?? no 'to give', Efik)
Tata, bobab "Speak" (? da 'I say!', or te 'to say', bOp 'to ask',
?? ebufO 6bMp 'you plural
ask', Efik)
Singome "Shew me" (singo repeated below; cf. singa 'komt' = 'come'
language of Cameroons and
Rio del Rey, Leers 1665; ? sin 'to reach to, come to', ke 'at/to', Mi 'me',
confused with sbk mi 'bring me' Efik)
Fay-fay "To truck" (?? ea fei 'I sell' Mbe, a Cameroons language,
Koelle 1854
Yong-yong "Good and fair" (? ofon 'good' Efik)



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