Elementary Lessons in the Swatow Dialect with a Vocabulary Referring to Dr. Douglas' Dictionary of the Amoy Vernacular


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Elementary Lessons in the Swatow Dialect [i.e. Teochew] is an unpublished reprint of Herbert Allen Giles’ Handbook of the Swatow Dialect, done by “J.C.G.” for private use in Swatow in 1881.

 The book mainly teaches English speakers how to speak essential Teochew simple phrases and sentences.

It contains 14 lessons relating to the following topics:

  1. Domestic
  2. General
  3. General
  4. General
  5. General
  6. Relationships
  7. Opposites
  8. Monetary
  9. Commercial
  10. Commercial
  11. Medical
  12. Ecclesiastical
  13. Nautical
  14. Judicial

The contents are the same as Giles’ book except for a change in the system of spelling and marking of tones (i.e. peng-im), which markedly improved the original work. This can be seen from the transliterations of the two examples below: 

  • “Who is he?”: “E se simmy nahng” (Giles) vs. “I sĩ sĩ-mih-nâng” (J.C.G.)
  • “he isn’t coming”: “ee m li” (Giles) vs. “i m̃-lâi” (J.C.G.)

 Elementary Lessons also inherited a short grammar section as well as a long and useful vocabulary. To each vocabulary term, J.C.G. added references to corresponding pages from Dictionary of the Amoy Vernacular, a Hokkien/Taiwanese compiled by Scottish missionary Carstairs Douglas. Douglas’ dictionary can be downloaded from this link.

J.C.G. was almost certainly John Campbell Gibson of the English Presbyterian Mission in China, who started his missionary work in Swatow in 1874. 


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