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Alvares, Manuel, 1526-1583, et al. / Ethiopia Minor and a geographical account of the Province of Sierra Leone : (c. 1615)

Chapter 2: About the character of the heathen that live in this province, so various in name and language,   pp. 1-11

Page 3

Before discussing the character (of the heathen), let us
deal with the matter of language. There are as many languages as
races or nations, each people having its own language, so that the
Bangue man speaks Bangue, the Calu Calu, the Sape Sape, etc. But
since all of the kingdoms are close neighbours, the language most
commonly used today is the native Temene language. This language
is learned by the more curious foreigners in order to facilitate
their life in these parts. It turns out to be different from all
other languages because the nouns do not decline and the verbs do
not conjugate. Hence, there is no plural form, and in order to
indicate the plural, that is, to speak of more than one, we find
it generally necessary to add adverbs. These also serve as nouns;
and in this way the verb is also a noun. As an example : for 'to
whipl-Temene says sapeco, but the noun 'whip' is sape. Thus, the
verb serves as all (the parts of speech). For tto eat', the Sape
Esicj says gri, and 'food' is Add zr sanaca. Equally lacking are
present and past tenses, indeed any tenses at all.  As an example
for 'to kill' Temene says crif, and this verb serves (in the same
form) for all tenses, so that for the past tense it is necessary
to add an adverb, apon crif perem. For this reason, just as the
heathen lack the true faith i-4e Christian st3.e, so also they
lack the words (in their languages) which would enable them to be
taught the faith adequately. Here is an instance. In order to
catechize it is necessary to refer to the Holy Trinity, but this
cannot be done (literally) in the native language because it is too
limited to express deep mysteries.   Therefore, in order to teach
the faith, to express its doctrines in the native language, and to
hear confessions, it is necessary to learn the language.(C) As I
(c) It is very important to have lessons in the language and bccome
acquainted with it, in order to hear confessions, to take the
sacrament and to spread the faith : knowledge of the language on
the part of the clergy produces many good returns, such as love
of the Gospel by the heathen wlen they see that we can declare it
in their own tongue. This is why St. Matthew wrote in the Syriac
or Hebrew language. Those already converted are not silent about
their-sins whetnthey attend confessions, they confess with more
humility and with less fear of being found out, etc.


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