Grammar of the Bengalee Language.
Serampore printed at the Mission Press 1805
Second edition, 8vo, 21 x 13 cm; pp.vii, 184. A very good copy bound in contemporary half calf over marbled boards, neatly re-backed. Corners and boards rubbed, small area of loss from upper board, minute worm-trace to rear pastedown and endpaper, final leaf soiled. Contemporary ownership inscription of J. B. Whiting to front free endpaper.
Carey judged this second edition, nearly twice the size of the first, to be "a new work", reflecting his more accurate knowledge of the language acquired since the first edition appeared in 1801. In his preface he emphasised the importance of acquiring a knowledge of Bengali. He is scathing about the limitations of Hindustani as a lingua franca in Bengal: "It has been supposed by some that a knowledge of the Hindoostanni language is sufficient for every purpose of business in any part of India. This idea, however, cannot be supposed to apply to Bengal, in which Hindoostanni is almost as much a foreign language as the French in the other countries of Europe … In all the courts of justice the poor usually give their evidence in Bengalee … All bonds, leases, and other agreements or instruments are generally written in this language. The greater part of those persons with whom a European is concerned especially in the collection of the revenue, and in commercial undertakings, speak only the Bengalee". William Carey (1761-1834) was one of the foremost missionary linguists, whose Biblical translations and associated publications provided many of the early printed texts for numerous Indian languages.