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(For SPECIMEN of this Version, see Plate VI.)
GEOGRAPHICAL EXTENT AND STATISTICS. - The Island of Ceylon lies at the entrance of the Bay of Bengal, between the 6th and 10th degrees of north latitude, and the 80th and 82nd degrees of east longitude. Its area has been estimated at 25,000 square miles, and by the last census in 1835, the returns gave the amount of population at 1,250,000. The Cingalese language is only predominant in the interior of the island, and on the southern coast from Battycola on the east, to the river Chilaw on the west. Tamul, as before mentioned, prevails on the northern coast, and IndoPortuguese is spoken by the descendants of European settlers in many of the seaport towns. Pali, as we have already had occasion to state, is the learned and religious language of the Buddhists of Ceylon.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LANGUAGE.— The remarks already made on the peculiarities of the Tamul language are almost equally applicable to the Cingalese, which closely resembles the Tamul in construction and idiom. In Cingalese, as in the languages of the Deccan, there are two distinct dialects; namely, the dialect employed in books, properly called Elu, but more commonly high Cingalese, and which offers very few points of approximation to the Sanscrit, and the vulgar or colloquial dialect, in which nine out of every ten words are derived either from Sanscrit or Pali.? The Elu, it is generally supposed, was the language of the aborigines of the island, and the colloquial dialect is thought to be a modification of the Elu, altered by the intermixture of Pali words, and by other causes. The Cingalese alphabet contains fifty letters, arranged very much upon the Devanagari system; but upon examination of their powers, the number of articulate sounds may be reduced to seven vowels and twenty-three consonants.
me; I. P. Weton of the the view of di The Dutch version
VERSIONS OF THE SCRIPTURES IN THIS LANGUAGE. — The first Cingalese version of the Scriptures was made when Ceylon was in the possession of the Dutch. The Dutch Governor Von Imhof established a printing press at Colombo in 1737, with the view of disseminating the knowledge of the Gospel among the natives. In 1739 an edition of the Four Gospels in Cingalese was completed at this press, under the care of the Rev. J. P. Wetzel, a minister of the Dutch church at Colombo. The translation had been executed from the original Greek by the Rev. W. Konym, a minister of the same church. It was reprinted at Colombo in 1780, after having been revised and corrected by the Rev. Messrs. Fybrands and Philipsz. These two ministers likewise superintended an edition of the Acts, printed at Colombo 1771 : two learned Cingalese natives had executed this translation, under the direction of the Rev. S. Cat. The Epistles to the Galatians and Corinthians were translated by Mr. Philipsz, and printed in 1773; he then completed the translation of the remaining books of the New Testament, and committed them to the press in 1776. Of the Old Testament, a metrical version of the Psalter was printed at Colombo in 1775, and republished in 1768. The books of Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus were published in 1783. Mr. Philipsz appears to have continued the version as far as the book of Job; and after his death the manuscript was deposited among the archives of the Dutch church at Colombo. The Colombo Auxiliary Bible Society was formed in 1812, and one of the first measures adopted by the Society was the examination of the state of the Cingalese version of the New Testament. It was found so replete with errors, that a thorough revision, or a new translation, was deemed indispensable, and the execution of this important work was intrusted to a Committee of Cingalese interpreters, under the superintendence of Mr. Armour, an English schoolmaster, well-versed in the language, and W. Tolfrey, Esq., a civil officer under government, and an eminent Cingalese scholar. As it had been, however, previously ascertained that a most deplorable scarcity of the vernacular New Testament existed in Ceylon, a reprint of the former text was made by the Calcutta Auxiliary Society: this edition, consisting of 1000 copies, was printed at Serampore in 1813, and was presented to the Colombo Society for the purpose of meeting the urgent wants of the people, while the revised edition was in course of preparation. As many alterations were
1 Eleven Years in Ceylon, by Major Forbes, vol. i. pp. 12, 15, 2 Clough's Cingalese Dictionary, Introduction.
8 Tenth Report of British and Foreign Bible Society, p. II.
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requisite in the printed text, the work of revision progressed but slowly; constant reference was made to the Sanscrit and Bengalee versions, whence many appropriate words and phrases were obtained. The Tamul version was also of much assistance, for owing to the affinity between the two languages, the form of expression in Tamul was often found to run easily into Cingalese. The Pali was likewise consulted in order to give clearness and precision to the translation; and Mr. Tolfrey declared that it was expedient to render every chapter into Pali, before it could be revised with effect in Cingalese. The whole revision was conducted with continual reference to the Greek text and the English version. In 1815, 200 copies of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark were struck off for circulation among Cingalese scholars, and the criticisms and opinions thus elicited were decidedly in favour of the work, which was declared to be free from the low and familiar words which disfigured the former text, and which, though of constant occurrence in the colloquial dialect, ar deemed peculiarly reprehensible in the Cingalese written composition. The lamented death of Mr Tolfrey occurred just as the revision had reached the Second Epistle to Timothy. The prosecution of the work then devolved upon the Rev. Messrs. Chater and Clough, in conjunction with Mr. Armour, and by their united exertions a complete edition of 5000 copies of the New Testament left the Colombo press in 1817. They then applied to the preparation of a version of the Old Testament Scriptures, which they conducted on the same plan as that on which the revision of the New Testament had been executed. By the aid of grants received from the Parent and Calcutta Bible Societies, and from the American Board of Missions, 1000 copies of the book of Genesis were printed at Colombo in 1818; and in the following year, a second edition of 3500 copies of the revised New Testament was published. This was soon followed by 2000 copies of the Psalter, and by 1000 copies of each of the other books of the Old Testament, and the entire version was completed at press in 1823. Some assistance to this work was granted by the British Government. As the supplies of the Scriptures was still found inadequate to meet the urgent demands of the people, another revised and cheaper edition was undertaken with the aid of the British and Foreign Bible Society; it consisted of 2500 copies of the Old Testament and of 6000 of the New. The Pentateuch and Gospels left the press in 1828, and the entire edition was completed in 1830.
Another translation of the Cingalese Scriptures was undertaken by the Rev. Mr. Lambrick, of the Church Mission, at Cotta, a village near Colombo. The first portion of this version that passed through the press was the Gospel of St. Matthew, 100 copies of which were printed for the use of the schools at Cotta. Other portions of the Scriptures were successively issued, and in 1833 the New Testament was completed at press, followed in 1834 by an edition of the Old Testament, printed at the expense of the Church Missionary Society. This translation, which is generally distinguished as the “Cotta Version,” differs from the version set forth by the Colombo Bible Society in the following particulars :-“1. All the honorific terminations, that is, peculiar terminations of the verbs, nouns, and pronouns, indicative of respect, used in books in the high Cingalese dialect, are omitted in the Cotta version. 2. Those terminations of nouns, etc. in common use in the colloquial dialect are adopted. 3. One pronoun for the second person singular (there are twelve others in use in Cingalese books) is uniformly used throughout the Cotta version, whoever may be the person spoken to, human or divine. 4. Words in common use are invariably substituted for learned ones."? The aid of the British and Foreign Bible Society has been extended to both these versions ; and in 1838, 2000 copies of the Cotta version were ordered to be printed at their expense. Although considerable difference of opinion has hitherto existed among the missionaries respecting the use of honorific terminations, yet it is now felt to be extremely desirable on all sides, that there should be but one standard version of the Cingalese Scriptures ; and it is hoped that the negociations now pending between the Church Missionaries at Cotta and the members of the Colombo Translation Committee will result in a unity of judgment and feeling on this important point.
e portions, followediety. Thith by theeculiar tenlese dialect colloquie in Cin
A1 theers from the Society. 1934. by an successively ikere printed rosion that
RESULTS OF THE DISSEMINATION OF THIS VERSION. — Ceylon is the venerated seat of Buddhism, and one of the chief depositaries of Buddhistic learning ; yet in no country of the East has the distribution of the Scriptures been attended with more abundant manifestations of the divine blessing. Many individual instances of conversion resulting from the perusal of the word of God in this language are dispersed throughout the records of the Bible, Church Missionary, and Wesleyan Societies. The following statement by Mr. Clough, one of the translators, shows the rapid progress of truth through the length and breadth of the island :-" The Bible in Ceylon is working a great change in the views and feelings of the heathen. Formerly the priests and others felt but little at its circu. lation ; but since the people have got a more extensive supply, and the effect of their reading is become apparent, the priests have taken the alarm, and have endeavoured to thwart the circulation. But the matter has gone too far, and this they now see ; for in our schools in the southern part of Ceylon we have, by the blessing of God, raised up in the midst of the population not less than 30,000 native Christian readers, who do read, and will read, in spite of the opposition of the heathen."! And in the last reports received from Ceylon, the Rev. Mr. Gogerly writes " The number of Cingalese readers is increasing daily ; there is much more of a spirit of inquiry than was formerly apparent, and a greater willingness to read the word of God. In some instances, especially about Morotto, even Roman Catholics apply for the New Testament. Vital Christianity has not spread among the people so much as we desire; yet, in the Wesleyan body alone, nearly 1000 sincere Christian men and women, without enumerating their children and family connexions, besides the members of other sections of the church, daily receive instruction in the Holy Scriptures." 2
1 Twelfth Report of British and Foreigu Bible Society, p. 230. ? Recollections of Ceylon, by Rev. James Selkirk, p. 344.
3 Thirty-fourth Report of British and Foreign Bible Society, p. lxxiv. 4 Forty-third Report of British and Foreign Bible Society, p. ciii.
THE Maldives are a chain of islands, supposed to be about 1200 in number, in the Indian Ocean. extending between the 1st degree of south, and the 7th of north, latitude, and between the 72nd and 73rd degrees of east longitude. They are of coralline formation, and many of them are little else than reefs. They have been seldom visited by Europeans, and the amount of population is unknown. The rulers are Mahommedans, but it is thought that the people are pagans.
The language is a very mixed one, and contains a far greater number of Cingalese, Hindustani, Sanscrit, and Arabic words, than of Malay, among the dialects of which some have wished to class it.' Dr. Leyden considered that it bears a distant relation to Cingalese. The Maldivians have an alphabet of their own, said by the Serampore Missionaries to resemble the Persic in name and form.
The Four Gospels were translated into Maldivian by Dr. Leyden, who presented the MS. to the Calcutta Bible Society. The death of that eminent scholar arrested the further progress of the version, but the native whom he had employed in making the translation was retained at Serampore. A fount of types was cast for the purpose of printing the Gospels, but through some cause now unknown, no portion of the version appears at any time to have passed through the press.
1 Twenty-ninth Report of British and Foreign Bible Society, p. lxiv.
4 Balbi's Atlas Ethnographique.