Interesting early bilingual textbook

Joshua Fishman joshuaafishman at
Mon Feb 23 21:54:08 UTC 2004

Extremely interesting and important. Can you give us the full bibliographic details? JAF

"Harold F. Schiffman" <haroldfs at> wrote:Members of this list interested in early US language policy may want to
have a look at something I found recently while visiting the Rosenbach
Museum and Library in Philadelphia
( They have a copy of a book
written by a Raritan, NJ schoolteacher in 1730, entitled The English and
Low Dutch Schoolmaster. It's a book devised by him as a way to deal with
both English and Dutch-speaking children in his school, and as a resource
for teachers. It contains "certain Rules and Directions whereby the
Low-Dutch inhabitants of North-America may (in a short time) learn to
Spell, Read, Understand and Speak proper English. And by the help whereof
the English may also learn to Spell, Read, Understand and Write

Interesting, therefore, that it was intended to help the English learn
Dutch, and not just vice-versa.

I've photocopied the picture of the first pages, which shows the English
page better than the Dutch (I'm sorry to say) from the Rosenbach
catalogue, and cleaned it up a bit with Photoshop. The Rosenbach library
also contains other early books, such as the first complete bible printed
in North America ("The Indian Bible", which Bill Bright tells me is in
"Massachusett" although it's described as "Algonquin") by John Eliot, and
a grammar by Eliot called "The Indian Grammar Begun, or, an Essay to bring
the Indian Language into Rules." This is also a grammar of Massachusett,
printed in Cambridge in 1666.

In other words, early colonists attempted to deal with the Native American
languages--learn them, convert the speakers, etc.--whereas later, their
languages were ignored or attempts made to exterminate them.

The Rosenbach catalogue is not on-line, but they're working on getting it

Hal Schiffman

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