A PDF copy of Primary Lessons in Swatow Grammar (Colloquial) is now available for free download on our online store.
Primary Lessons in Swatow Grammar was published by American Baptist missionary Rev William Ashmore in Swatow in 1884, despite suffering partial loss of sight for a prolonged period because of ophthalmia. He accomplished this with the assistance of Rev. William Duffus of the English Presbyterian Mission, who had charge of a small press.
In his own words, Rev. Ashmore did not intend for his book to set forth "the usages and principles of Chinese grammar in general, but of the Swatow dialect (as the missionaries referred to spoken Teochew) only". Furthermore, he meant for it to be "an elementary work designed for beginners" to "help any of them to tide over some of the difficulties which meet them at the outset".
After an introduction to the Teochew vernacular (including variations in pronunciation between the "Hu city" (府城, i.e. the old Teochew prefectural city that is now Chaozhou city)/Thenghai (澄海) and Teoyor (潮陽), the book gives an interesting overview of what is Teochew grammar.
According to Rev Ashmore, grammar is called Bun Huap (文法, "literary method") in Teochew. Under Teochew grammar, words are divided into two general classes which are called sit-ji (實字, true or substantive words) and hu-ji (虚字, empty words). The former are words that contain "anything discernible" and comprise all nouns and sometimes verbs; the latter are words that have "nothing discernible", including all auxiliaries, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, interjections etc. Besides this, words are also classified as uah-ji (活字, living characters) and si-ji (死字, dead characters).
The main body of Primary Lessons consists of 36 lessons, whose headers are shown below"
- Short sentences
- Short sentences
- Declension of Pronouns
- Other Pronominal Words
- Substantive Verb
- Possessive Verb
- Place, Direction, &c
- The Article
- Prepositions and equivalents
- Conjugational Equivalents
- Examples in the Active Voice
- Various Passive Forms
- Mood Equivalents
- Tense Equivalents
- Some Usages of Syntax
- Growth of Sentences
- Bits of Description
- Various Questions
- Words used in teaching and arguing
In addition to these lessons, there is an appended list of syllables representing the sounds used in pronouncing Teochew that was prepared by Rev. S.B. Patridge.
Read The Teochew Store review of Primary Lessons in Swatow Grammar here.
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