Date: 2011.VII.5
F.R. Higgins, Amherst.

Algonquian texts: The state of the material

The texts available here are to be considered portions of work in progress, quite varied in their states of completeness: for instance, the books of the bible are as complete as I can currently make them, whereas the version of Trumbull's dictionary (Natick-English portion) changes almost daily as I find ways of augmenting or revising the entries, sometimes with quite speculative remarks. I hope to provide a new version of this particular item every few months, probably as each book of the bible is completed. The commentary files should be consulted for more information, where these exist. Some of the shorter texts are provided without comment, or with at most some commentary inserted at the start of the file.

The provenance of the texts is usually stated in fairly explicit terms, either as part of the heading internal to a text-file, or in a commentary file. As far as possible, I have used original printings or facsimiles of them.

Unless otherwise indicated, the files are in plain ASCII format. See the earlier general introduction to the texts for more information. Since it is easy to update a ZIP file to incorporate files that have been modified, I can be fairly sure that files that have been corrected or relevant new files will be present in a ZIP file, and therefore that version should be preferred for the biblical texts. I give an indication of the date and size of other large files. File sizes are those reported under DOS prior to transfer.

Progress report, 2011.V.30: Despite appearances, work on the bible text has not ceased; it has merely been delayed far more than had been expected by work on an e-text edition of the unique 1655 printing of Genesis, carried out in conjunction with a comparison with the second edition, with occasional glances at the first. It is listed below as "Genesis (E0)", using the notation that I have adopted for the two complete editions of the bible, referred to as "(E1)" and "(E2)". This has occupied me for over six years now, with the generation of a fairly large Notes and Queries file ranging over a (small) number of the issues that clearly demand attention in this puzzling translation. (It is now obvious to me that the questions that arise could keep a committee of specialists well occupied for a considerable period of time.) At this point, the text is, or would have been, about as good as I can make it, given the state of the copy from which I have been working. However, the library of King's College, London, has recently (December 2010) made available on its website a far superior digital photographic version, currently accessible from <>. I have decided nevertheless to "publish" the work in its current state, after revising the first and last pages on the basis of the new version. I have a large collection of notes on the text, which derive from fairly constant comparison of the 1655 text of Genesis with those of the first and second editions.

At present I am also working on the transliteration of the book of psalms (second edition), since it forms an obvious way of attempting to assess Eliot's translation by means of a comparison with Mayhew's.

I have recently completed an e-text version (PDF format) of the portion of Pilling's bibliography devoted to John Eliot (by Wilberforce Eames), since it provides, in addition to the bibliographical record as it was then known, a condensed summary from various sources of his life and work. See below.

Texts in Massachusett and allied varieties

The majority of the contemporary texts here are those attributed to John Eliot as author or translator, and it is convenient to list them separately. Others are in fairly closely related varieties, most notably those attributed to Josiah Cotton and Experience Mayhew. The dictionary due originally to James H. Trumbull, published posthumously in 1903, is treated separately. See the relevant section below. As time allows, the results of various kinds of work on the texts will be added, in a section of pedagogical and grammatical materials. At present (January 2009), this contains a grammatical commentary on The Book of Ruth, together with two versions of the text.

Initial note on downloading the bible texts: Owing to the large number of texts and the tediousness of dealing with each in turn through a browser, it may be found preferable to download all the relevant texts (Eliot's version, Mayhew's version, and certain ancillary files, including the commentaries and "Notes and Queries") as a single ZIP file. This can be accessed here: (ZIP file) Size: 1.39 MB; Date: 2010.I.28.. It will be updated as further books are completed or corrections are made.

Texts attributed to or written by John Eliot

The principal item, still in preparation, is the second edition of the translation of the bible (less the apocrypha), whose title page reads: MAMVSSE WUNNEETUPANATAMWE UP-BIBLUM GOD NANEESWE NUKKONE TESTAMENT KAH WONK WUSKU TESTAMENT. Ne quoshkinnumuk nashpe Wuttineumoh CHRIST noh as∞wesit JOHN ELIOT. Nahohtôeu ontchetôe Printeumuk, CAMBRIDGE. Printeup nashpe Samuel Green. MDCLXXXV. This is listed here in the usual order of the books, using the English titles. A commentary with a description of the format, provenance, and preparation of the machine-readable version is provided, and this includes some brief observations on the printing and the translation, more as a goad to those who know something about these domains to give this work the study that it has never received than as a genuine contribution. There is also a listing of the typographical errors noted in the Book of Numbers, as a step towards an assessment of the printing of the bible.

"Notes and Queries" files

Starting with Deuteronomy, I will provide files that correspond to (some of) the notes and queries that I have jotted down during the typing and editing of the bible. These collections simply reproduce my own reactions of the moment to the text at hand, and have no particular focus or systematic character. Some point out typographical errors–though not all of these, by any means, usually only those that are in some way out of the ordinary–, or differences between the two editions (1663 and 1685); others deal with morphological or syntactic points, partly with the aim of building up an easily accessible set of examples of particular problems, known or suspected; a fair number are directed ultimately at questions surrounding the translation itself, its production, and its fidelity or comprehensibility. There is far too much here for a single person to pursue, and it would in any case be premature to follow up most of them, while only a fraction of the whole text has been made available. This partial record of questions that have come up in the course of the preparation of the texts may be useful to others in one way or another in further study.

The Notes and Queries files will be listed below following the relevant book of the bible, and the names contain the sequence NQ. They are written in the usual ASCII character set with rudimentary formatting, and in future ODT versions will be made available.

Old Testament

New Testament

Other texts by or associated with John Eliot

Texts attributed to or written by Experience Mayhew

Other texts


Pedagogical and grammatical material

Various kinds of analytical work suggest themselves during the preparation of the texts, and these will be provided as they reach some state that seems likely to be useful. Most will be quite brief, either collections of fairly raw data, such as paradigms of common "hard" verbs, or collections of examples of some unfamiliar or interesting phenomenon.

Commentary on The Book of Ruth and associated texts

The three files listed below belong together, comprising an extended commentary (in pdf format) on the translation of The Book of Ruth from the second edition of the Massachusett bible attributed to John Eliot, and two versions of the text itself, one an interlinear version of the Massachusett and English texts, and the other a version (also in pdf format) of the text from a reprint of the English bible of 1611. The commentary can be searched and has been left open to being copied, to the extent that the Acrobat reader allows. Unfortunately, Acrobat does not come with any documentation that indicates what the character coding is, and various features of the pdf version such as arrows and IPA transcriptions may not survive any attempt to transfer the file to a more congenial format. It nevertheless provides the simplest general purpose compromise that I know of, and I have not been able to produce by translation from the original format an rtf or html version that is as accurate. It can of course be printed.
The commentary has undergone a number of revisions, but no doubt could do with several more. I cannot justify spending any more time on it at present. It is made available, as they say, "as is".

Data files

The files provided here for public consumption, with attendant risks of indigestion, are simply collections of examples of particular grammatical phenomena (largely morphological and syntactic) that have caught my eye while producing the e-texts. Some will undoubtedly be filled with chimeras, but they are a way of bringing together things that seem for the time being to belong together, the stuff that used to be on 3"x5" cards as a preliminary to later analytical work. They are given a rough organization as far as I can manage it in their inchoate state of existence and presented more or less in the same way as in the dictionary, with queries and comments usually in braces (curly brackets). I shall try to add examples to the more significant or puzzling collections as time allows. These are pure ASCII files, as described in the general introduction to the texts.

Texts of biographical or similar nature relating to John Eliot

These texts, including the long contribution by Wilberforce Eames on Eliot's works to Pilling's "Bibliography of the Algonquian languages", comprise as many of the significant contemporary or later items relating to his life and work other than commentary on his translations, that I have been able to find and prepare for distribution.

Texts bearing on the production or status of John Eliot's translations

Various texts in or on other Algonquian languages