The Bible to set the Malagasy language

Posted on May 31, 2012

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Pela Ravalitera
Thursday, May 31, 2012
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The attachment of the Malagasy language is the subject of numerous studies. Besides the missionary Jones, it seems that the French Robin, tutor and confidant of the king, also plays a role in this area. According to Jean Valette, archivist paleographer, it is surely in Antananarivo in 1817. In any case, its presence is formally documented in 1818 and there is no doubt that he has, since then, learned the basics of French in the first Radama.
Indeed, the king wrote letters and he receives. By analyzing “school learning” Radama from his correspondence and other texts, even before 1817 – “James and Hastie is definite on this subject” – the king has studied the Arabic script. “The King, the eldest prince, two men who have two sisters of the king and one subject can write and read Arabic.” Thus, only four to six people can read and write. Cousins also attest to the number 6.
On August 11, 1817, James Hastie wrote: “The king spent much of his day with me. I traced the manual exercises for him, he can read Roman letters. ” For John Valletta, it is no doubt that Radama has already had other initiators, because it is unclear how in six days Hastie arrives in the capital on August 5 Merina-first Radama had already learned to read the Latin alphabet.
If we ignore how the preceptorship period the king was supported by Robin, we know the results yet. Indeed, the documents of the period 1820-1828 – Radama letters to the Governor of Mauritius and letters he receives, show that the European language he speaks and reads, is French. “Even when the other is an Englishman, it is not in his native language he writes, but rather in French.” Chapus cites among other writings in French written in negro boy and very funny, “I tell you there are days that amused me very happy for.”
The proof also mentions John Valletta David Jones’s letter dated October 13, 1821. The letter started reeling in a Malagasy, continues in a rudimentary French and ended in Malagasy. “I now, tompokolahy, I did not write you today and has not finished because I forgot you. No, never. I can not ever forget you because I always glad to do that which make you happy. Mifali aug carry you and your wife as well … “.
Jean Valette says that, moreover, all the letters of Jean Rene Radama are first written in French. However, the “Prince of Toamasina knows the Malagasy no doubt.”
But the work of later language and English missionaries Jones Griffiths and those who join later, remains by far the most impressive of the day, both in scale than the short time in which they perform.
By February 1824, three years after the arrival of Jones, he and Griffiths acquire sufficient mastery of the Malagasy to preach in that language.
On 21 April the same year, Jones wrote a letter to the directors of the London Missionary Society where he reveals that work on the translation of the Bible begins. “We are currently translating Genesis, Exodus, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and we hope that these four books will be completed before the end of the year.”
Another letter dated
May 23 informs on the degree of progress of their work.
“Mr. Jones has translated the first 24 chapters of Genesis and the first 11 chapters of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, and Mr. Griffiths first 11 chapters of the Gospel according to Saint Luke.” On 9 November 1827, Jones wrote, “Mr. Griffiths and I are currently reviewing our translation of the Scriptures in a way as critical as we can by comparing it with the original and other versions.” In fact, according to Cousins, “in March 1828 the translation was almost over.”
But the work of Bible translation is not only done by the missionaries. Their work focuses on two other points equally important. As we learn Coppalle in 1816,
“Mr. Canham is responsible in these leisure moments of a vocabulary ambaniandro that offers a collection of
9000 words. ” Finally, there are exercises proposed translations in schools “which were engaged this time of the Malagasy themselves.”
Pela Ravalitera
Thursday, May 31, 2012

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