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1812: First printed grammar of Punjabi

Carey, William A grammar of the Punjabee language. Serampore printed at the Mission-Press 1812
First edition. 8vo, 21 x 13 cm; pp.iv, 5-99, [1, blank]. Text in English and Punjabi in Gurmukhi characters. Contemporary quarter roan over marbled boards; spine sunned. Ownership inscription of Fabricius Møller to front free endpaper.
Diehl 72.

The first published grammar of Punjabi, printed in Gurmukhi, the script of the Sikh scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib. The Punjabi of the grammar is that spoken by Sikhs, as the preface makes plain. Carey clearly prepared the text with an eye towards expanding British interests in the Punjab and intended it for use at the College of Fort William, Calcutta. The grammar covers the alphabet, substantives, adjectives, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, and syntax, but is meant only as a simple, accessible introduction. William Carey (1761-1834) was a Baptist missionary and linguistic scholar; inspired by the voyages of Cook, he volunteered to join an early mission to India, arriving in Bengal in 1793. Shortage of funds compelled him to work as the manager of an Indigo factory; he learned Bengali and Hindi and began to preach and translate the Bible. After the East India Company refused permission to settle a small party of missionaries in 1800, Carey, with Joshua Marshman and William Ward, moved to the Danish settlement at Serampore. There they developed a prominent network of Baptist missions; though conversions fell short of expectations, they produced a large number of dictionaries and grammars. Carey himself wrote grammars of Bengali, Bhotia, Marathi, Sanskrit, and Telinga, together with dictionaries of Bengali, Bhotia, and Marathi. In 1801 he was appointed to the faculty of the College of Fort William, Calcutta, a help given the Company's proscription of missionary activity within their territory prior to 1813. His contribution to early linguistic studies in India was immense, and his sincere interest in Bengali literature played a part in sparking the Bengali renaissance of the nineteenth century