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Principes algonquins


DomaineTraditions non-occidentales
SecteurGrammaires amérindiennes [4638]


Datation: fl. 1660

The work is anonymous. It is not unlikely that the author was one of the predecessors listed in the prologue of Nicolas’ grammar. Nicolas mentions the following fathers who wrote papers and note-books on the Algonquian language: Quain, Buteux, Gabriel Drouilletes, Albanel, Aloës, Henry Nouvel, Claude d’Ablon, Jacques Frémin, Julien Garnié, Pierre Bailloquet. To date, the author of this anonymous grammatical sketch has not been identified.

Titre de l'ouvragePrincipes algonquins
Titre traduitPrinciples of Algonquin
Titre courtPrincipes algonquins
Remarques sur le titre
Période|17e s.|
Type de l'ouvrageManuscript
Type indexéGrammaire descriptive | Grammaire didactique | Grammaire élémentaire
Édition originale1661 (the date appears on the first page of the manuscript)
Édition utiliséeAubin (1997)
VolumétrieThe Principes algonquins appears at the end of the “Dictionnaire Algonquin”, which is housed at the Archives Indiennes, Notre-Dame de Montréal. According to Hanzeli (1969, p. 126), the physical description is as follows: 67 leaves, 9¼ X 6¼. The Manuscript is registered as ASSM Manuscript 104 (Archive of the Society of the priests of Saint-Sulpice Province of Canada).
Nombre de signes8500
Reproduction moderneAubin (1997)
DiffusionAs far as we could trace, the work has been ignored in earlier studies, antedating Aubin (1997).
Langues ciblesAlgonquin. (Endonym, which is also used as ethnonym: Omàmiwininìmowin), also called Ojibwa (Black 2016), Algonquian family, also called Algic family (Mithun 1999, p. 333), Central branch, Middle Tier.
MétalangueFrench, with Latin used in several places (verb possum, habeo) (p. 12).
Langue des exemplesAlgonquin/ Ojibwa
Sommaire de l'ouvrageAccording to Aubin (1997, p. 2-3), the work is divided into four unequal and unnumbered sections: (1) an untitled introduction, (2) “Regles generalles pour les verbes algonquins”, (3) “formaison de plusieurs verbes algonquins”, and (4) “Remarques generalles pour lusage des noms & des verbes”.
Objectif de l'auteurMs 1661: The work is unfinished and is “very much a working document rather than a finished product” (Aubin 1997, p. 3), unlike Nicolas’s grammar which was intended to be printed.
Intérêt généralThe 1661 manuscript is, according to Aubin (1997, p.1), “purportedly the oldest Ojibwa/Algonquin document in existence”, and in particular, the 1661 version has been “largely neglected by modern Algonquian scholars” (Aubin 1997, p. 5), or entirely “skipped” by Hanzeli (1969). In spite of the fact that the work is unfinished (it hardly contains information on orthography and phonology), “the four major verb classes are clearly recognized, as are many of the major features of the independent, conjunct, and imperative modes” (Aubin 1997, p. 3). According to Hanzeli (1969, p. 84), the Ms ca 1662 “appears to be the earliest organized grammar sketch of Ojibwa-Algonkin which attempts to cover all essentials of the morphology”. The Ms 1661 seems to be earlier than the one described, transcribed and edited by Hanzeli.
Parties du discoursThe text concentrates primarily on nouns, verbs, and particles. Since the Manuscript appears to be unfinished, we do not know if the anynmous author(s) devoted other sections to other parts of speech. The anonymous author(s) do(es) not sum up the parts of speech as a whole at the beginning of the grammar. There is no separate paragraph devoted to the pronouns; the affixed pronouns are described in the section on nouns and verbs “Quand les noms sont joinds aux pronoms ils se coniugent comme les verbes & prennent i pour figurarive” (p. 6).
Innovations term.Mœfs (meaning ‘moods’). The use of this term, instead of ‘mode’, is remarkable, although not unique in French grammars; the history dates back to Johan Barton and is also used by Jean Bosquet, Abbé Louis de Courcillon de Dangeau and others, usually spelled as meuf (cf. Grand Corpus des grammaires françaises). Three “subjonctifs” are distinguished: “Laffirmatif, Le douteux & le formé” (“sert a exprimer les participes”); verbe seul (inanimate intransitive or an animate intransitive verb); verbe de suite (transitive inanimate or a transitive animate verb); verbe affirmatif, verbe negatif; ignoble (inanimate) versus noble (animate). The anonymous author gives definitions of these categories: “Les noms nobles sont des choses animez ou considerables; les Ignobles sont des choses inanimez; Les verbes nobles sont ceux qui aguissent sur un nom noble et les verbes ignobles sur les choses ignobles”; Lettres figuratives; article de personne. Finally, this text is the earliest text in which the so-called ”tu-me-verbs” (p. 8) and the “je-te verbs” appear (p. 10).
Corpus illustratifAlgonquin/ Ojibwa. The examples are “word-based”, almost no phrases are given, as is usual in these grammatical sketches.
Indications compl.
Influence subieIn this sketch, generally French is used (1661) as the source language, for instance, the French form “Jaurois aime” is selected in order to give the equivalent in Algonquin (“La façon de parler francoise ‘Jaurois aime’ sexprime par Limparfaict auec le ga suiui de kich exemple nigakichsakihaban ‘Je laurais aimé’” (p. 7). In the section “Remarques generalles”: French (vouloir) is the source language, and also Latin (possum, habeo). It is a commonly used teaching practice in the Jesuit tradition of teaching Latin, to devote a final section to particles. These are not chosen at random, but are generally those which are also used at the seminars order to teach how to translate from French into Latin. The ‘particles’ here are: ‘particule on’, ‘la particule cela est’, ‘la particule un peu’, ‘particule pour marquer Lhabitude’, ‘marque de petitesse’, ‘marque daffirmation’; ‘particule ‘peut estre’, ‘il faut’. The work seems to follow European models of teaching Latin, although no specific references are given, as is usual (for more details related to the use of particles at the Jesuit seminars, see Zwartjes 2020, in press).
Influence exercéeIn the grammar of Nicolas, we find some terms which also occur in the anonymous grammars (in the 1661 Ms, or in the Ms ca 1662, or in both); such as mœf, the dichotomy noble vs ignoble, and the “lettres figuratives”. It is not clear if Nicolas followed one of the anonymous sources directly, or if the three grammars (1661, ca 1662 and Nicolas’s grammar) were inspired by another sources, which has been lost.
Renvois bibliographiques→ Références
Anonyme 1661; Anonyme 1662 {ca 1662}; Aubin G. F. 1997; Black M. J. 2018; Daviault D. (éd.) 1994; Hanzeli V. E. 1969; Mithun M. 1999; Zwartjes O. 2020 {en préparation}

Case, Justin · Zwartjes, Otto

Création ou mise à jour2020-01