Le langaige du Bresil is a vocabulary produced in the 1540s, considered the oldest substantial record of a Brazilian language, specifically of Old Tupi.[1] It is contained in a manuscript located in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, cataloged as "Ms. Fr. 24269", from folio 53r to 54r, and presents 88 entries. Little is known about its compiler, a sea captain or voyage organizer, probably from Bordeaux or Rouen, named Jehan Lamy.

Le langaige du Bresil
Bibliothèque nationale de France
First folio of the vocabulary
First folio of the vocabulary
Language(s)Middle French and Old Tupi
Compiled byJehan Lamy
ScriptLatin script
Contents88 entries
AccessionMs. Fr. 24269
The full text of Le langaige du Bresil at Wikisource

Le langaige du Bresil is also important as it demonstrates social relations between the French and Brazilian indigenous people were not merely limited to commercial interactions, but, on the contrary, both peoples maintained intimate social contacts with each other.[2]

Background edit

The tribes that spoke Old Tupi were first mentioned during the discovery of Brazil in 1500, on the occasion of the voyage of Pedro Álvares Cabral, but such accounts did not include records of this language.[3][4] Toponyms, anthroponyms, as well as Tupi terms, can be found in early Portuguese shipping documents,[3] such as those from the voyage of the ship "Bretoa" in 1511, which mention several çagoys or çagoyns (Callitrichidae).[5]

However, the first attempt to prepare a list of Tupi terms occurred during the circumnavigation voyage of Ferdinand Magellan in 1519.[3][6] Collected in Guanabara Bay by Italian chronicler Antonio Pigafetta, the five or six recorded words[a] refer to the names given by the Tupinambás to the trade items brought by the Europeans, as well as the name of the food these travelers obtained through barter, that is, cassava flour.[7][b]

Manuscript edit

The manuscript is located in the Bibliothèque nationale de France,[15] cataloged as "Ms. Fr. 24269".[16] Very little is known about its author, except he was a sea captain or voyage organizer, probably from Bordeaux or Rouen, named Jehan Lamy.[17] The document, originating from the 1540s, contains a nautical compendium, a vocabulary of an African language[c] spoken on the Pepper Coast (Liberia) identified as the "Kra language" (from folio 51r to 52r),[d] and a vocabulary of Old Tupi (from folio 53r to 54r).[15][17] There are no differences between medial "u" and "n" in it.[20]

16th-century French map of Guanabara Bay

Le langaige du Bresil was probably collected in Guanabara Bay, similar to the few words recorded by Antonio Pigafetta.[15] It presents 88 entries,[15] although some words are repeated.[21] The absence of distinctions between medial "u" and "n" in the manuscript makes it difficult to precisely understand what is written, at least in the entries in Old Tupi. There is also the possibility of errors in reading sequences involving the letters "i", "u" (or "n"), and "m".[22] Among the words recorded by Pigafetta, the vocabulary of Jehan Lamy includes "knife" (original spelling taxe) and "scissors" (original spelling pyrain).[15] Le langaige du Bresil is roughly contemporaneous with the earliest Spanish records of Quechua, thus being one of the oldest documentary sources of any South American language.[23]

Vocabulary contents edit

The Old Tupi vocabulary compiled by Jehan Lamy holds historical importance in illustrating the social relations between French sailors and Brazilian indigenous people. When compared with the other vocabulary in the same manuscript, that is, the Kra one, some relevant differences can be noted.[24]

Firstly, the Tupi vocabulary, with 88 items, is more extensive than the Kra vocabulary, which has 64 entries. Le langaige du Bresil also appears to have been based mainly on non-commercial conversations. For example, there are no references to brazilwood, which was the main product exported from the Brazilian coast at the time.[24] However, there are terms related to body parts and relationships,[15][e] indicating a certain degree of intimate social contact (not necessarily always friendly).[26] Some entries refer to the society and culture of the Tupis, as well as others dedicated to the fauna and flora of Brazil.[15][27][f] On the other hand, the vocabulary of the Kra language primarily focuses on commercial interactions, with no words related to African culture, society, or slaves and their trade.[27]

The greater extent of the Tupi vocabulary can be attributed to better linguistic and climatic conditions in the region where it was collected compared to the Guinea region. Indeed, it was easier for Europeans to settle on the Brazilian coast and stay there for a longer time, and the existence of a main language spoken throughout the area made it worthwhile to master it.[27] Variations in the spelling of Old Tupi found in documents from French travelers of the 16th century, such as André Thevet and Jean de Léry, seem to indicate these materials did not come from a common source but, on the contrary, from a historical context of social interactions with the indigenous people of Brazil.[28]

Gallery edit

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ According to Brazilian linguist Aryon Dall'Igna Rodrigues, some words have been mistakenly attributed to Brazil.[6]
  2. ^ The documented words are "knife" (in the original spelling tarse, actually itakysé),[8][9] "scissors" (in the original spelling pirame, actually piranha),[10] "fishhook" (in the original spelling pinda, actually pindá),[11] "flour" (in the original spelling hui, actually u'i),[12] and perhaps "comb" (in the original spelling chipag, actually kygûaba).[13] A sixth word that could raise doubts is "jingle bells" (in the original spelling hanmaraca, actually itamaraká).[14] However, there are versions of the writing of Pigafetta where the variants itemnaraca, itenmaraca, and itanmaraca appear, confirming that it is indeed a Tupi word.[7]
  3. ^ Le langaige de Guynee is the title of this vocabulary.[18]
  4. ^ Hair describes it as "Krao, or at least one of the Kra languages."[19]
  5. ^ For example, cheroup (mon pere), ait (ma mere), and chiapt (les cheveux).[25]
  6. ^ For example, augerou coural (ung perrocquet), tabity (ung lievre), and tappire (ung chacal).[25]

References edit

  1. ^ Dalby & Hair 1966, pp. 42, 44.
  2. ^ Dalby & Hair 1966, pp. 64–66.
  3. ^ a b c Dalby & Hair 1966, p. 44.
  4. ^ Rodrigues 2000, p. 542.
  5. ^ Garcia 1942, p. 166.
  6. ^ a b Rodrigues 2000, p. 545.
  7. ^ a b Rodrigues 2000, pp. 545–546.
  8. ^ Navarro 2005, pp. 308–309.
  9. ^ Navarro 2013, pp. 191–192, 248.
  10. ^ Navarro 2013, pp. 385–386.
  11. ^ Navarro 2013, pp. 382–383.
  12. ^ Navarro 2013, p. 495.
  13. ^ Navarro 2013, pp. 247, 249.
  14. ^ Navarro 2013, p. 193.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Rodrigues 2000, p. 546.
  16. ^ Dalby & Hair 1966, pp. 42–43.
  17. ^ a b Dalby & Hair 1966, p. 42.
  18. ^ Dalby & Hair 1966, pp. 42, 50.
  19. ^ "Barbot's West African vocabularies of c. 1680 - UWDC - UW-Madison Libraries". search.library.wisc.edu. Archived from the original on 4 June 2023. Retrieved 7 September 2023.
  20. ^ Dalby & Hair 1966, p. 47.
  21. ^ Dalby & Hair 1966, pp. 57–58.
  22. ^ Dalby & Hair 1966, pp. 47–48.
  23. ^ Dalby & Hair 1966, pp. 44–45.
  24. ^ a b Dalby & Hair 1966, p. 64.
  25. ^ a b Dalby & Hair 1966, pp. 48–64.
  26. ^ Dalby & Hair 1966, pp. 64–65.
  27. ^ a b c Dalby & Hair 1966, p. 65.
  28. ^ Dalby & Hair 1966, pp. 65–66.

Bibliography edit

External links edit