A Linguistic Analysis of Old Omagua Ecclesiastical Texts (Michael & O'Hagan 2016)

Cadernos de Etnolingüística
Série Monografias, 4, March/2016
ISBN 978-0-9846008-3-0

A Linguistic Analysis of Old Omagua Ecclesiastical Texts

Lev Michael & Zachary O'Hagan

This monograph presents a detailed philological study of the oldest known texts written in Omagua, a Tupí-Guaraní language of western Amazonia. Produced in the 17th and/or 18th centuries by Jesuit missionaries as a central component of their evangelical work in the Gobierno de Maynas, these texts include: 1) a version of the Lord's Prayer (Pater Noster); 2) a short fragment of a longer catechism; 3) a second complete catechism; and 4) a Profession of Faith. In addition, we present an analysis of brief Omagua passages found in the diary of Manuel Uriarte, a Jesuit missionary active among the Omaguas during the mid-18th century. Each text is presented in a detailed interlinear format that allows the reader to follow, from the original lines of each text, analytical decisions regarding the successive steps of resegmentation of word boundaries, phonemicization, morphological segmentation and glossing, and generation of free translations. Each text is footnoted extensively with bibliographic and interpretive annotations. In addition to philological analyses of each text, we present a substantial grammatical sketch of Old Omagua (i.e., 17th- and/or 18th-century Omagua) as attested in these texts, drawing comparisons where helpful with modern Omagua, its sister language Kokama, Proto-Omagua-Kokama, and colonial-era Tupinambá, the next most closely related language. This grammatical sketch not only serves as the basis for insights into how Omagua has evolved since the early colonial period, and helps to clarify the relationship of Omagua and Kokama to other Tupí-Guaraní languages (a subject of much controversy), but also allows the reader to critically evaluate the interlinearized and annotated ecclesiastical texts presented in the volume. We conclude by historically contextualizing the production and circulation of Omagua ecclesiastical texts, summarizing Jesuit engagement with the linguistic diversity of the Gobierno de Maynas, and discussing the strategic role played by successively reworked and re-edited ecclesiastical texts in surmounting the evangelical challenges posed by this diversity. We further show how a close examination of the texts themselves yields additional insights into Jesuit linguistic and text development practices.

© 2009-2011 Cadernos de Etnolingüística (ISSN 1946-7095). As idéias defendidas nos artigos são de inteira responsabilidade de seus autores, não refletindo necessariamente as opiniões dos membros do corpo editorial dos Cadernos de Etnolingüística.