“And he knew our language”

Missionary Linguistics on the Pacific Northwest Coast

Marcus Tomalin | University of Cambridge
ISBN 9789027246073 | EUR 105.00 | USD 158.00
e-Book Open Access
ISBN 9789027286833
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This ambitious and ground-breaking book examines the linguistic studies produced by missionaries based on the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America (and particularly Haida Gwaii) during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Making extensive use of unpublished archival materials, the author demonstrates that the missionaries were responsible for introducing many innovative and insightful grammatical analyses. Rather than merely adopting Graeco-Roman models, they drew extensively upon studies of non-European languages, and a careful exploration of their scripture translations reveal the origins of the Haida sociolect that emerged as a result of the missionary activity. The complex interactions between the missionaries and anthropologists are also discussed, and it is shown that the former sometimes anticipated linguistic analyses that are now incorrectly attributed to the latter. Since this book draws upon recent work in theoretical linguistics, religious history, translation studies, and anthropology, it emphasises the unavoidably interdisciplinary nature of Missionary Linguistics research.

As of January 2019, this e-book is freely available, thanks to the support of libraries working with Knowledge Unlatched.

Publishing status: Available

For any use beyond this license, please contact the publisher at [email protected].

Table of Contents
“Setting aside any misgivings we might have about the larger socio-political aspects of evangelism, many of us, like Boas, come away with the same mixture of respect for [missionary-linguists'] accomplishments as natural learners and guarded caution as to the quality of their technical analyses. For those of our colleagues who do not have the same experience, Tomalin's book will go a long way to providing some much-needed perspective on the relationship between the two vocations.”
Cited by

Cited by 3 other publications

Kilarski, Marcin
2014. The Place of Classifiers in the History of Linguistics. Historiographia Linguistica 41:1  pp. 33 ff. DOI logo
Zwartjes, Otto
2012. The Historiography of Missionary Linguistics. Historiographia Linguistica 39:2-3  pp. 185 ff. DOI logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 17 may 2024. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.


Main BIC Subject

CF/2JN: Linguistics/North & Central American indigenous languages

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2011007659 | Marc record