Institutionen för lingvistik och filologi

“The Pagan Sunday which comes once in a fortnight and the Muslim Sunday that falls on Friday” : North Indian “ways of life” through the eyes of a curious young Prussian (Ketelaar 1698).

  • Datum: 21 februari, kl. 14.15–15.45
  • Plats: Engelska parken 9-3068
  • Föreläsare: Anna Pytlowany (Amsterdams universitet)
  • Arrangör: Indologi
  • Kontaktperson: Heinz Werner Wessler
  • Seminarium

The vocabulary attached to the main body of grammar of the “Instruction, or teaching of Hindustani and Persian Grammar” (1698) by Joan Josua Ketelaar contains copious cultural information. Customs and “ways of life” from North India are recorded in the form of wordlists, covering topics ranging from household utensils, to tailoring terms, to administrative jargon, to religious traditions and concepts. It is interesting to see how karmaasanatikkarotikebabhalal, nowadays common words, were introduced to European readers in the late 17th century. Perhaps even more interesting is the way Ketelaar, true to the Western “sameness-and-difference” classification principle, presented the exotic Hindustani religious and cultural concepts with the help of more familiar European ones. As a result, we have Sundays falling on Fridays, January in October, Islamic prayer beads becoming “paternoster”, not to mention curious equivalents of local food items. Yet beneath the explicit lexical level lies a wealth of implicit information from which we can get a glimpse of the world as existed in 1698: political issues, court gossip, the calendar confusion, even reflections of contemporary scientific debates. To paraphrase Hüllen (1999), this presentation will attempt to unravel ideas of which the compiler himself may not have been conscious, in order to understand Ketelar’s work “as a product of its time, coloured by the Zeitgeist as every historical artefact is.”


Ketelaar, Joan Josua. ca. 1698. Instructie of onderwijsinghe der Hindoustanse en Persiaanse taalen: nevens haare declinatie en conjugationes als mede vergelijckingh der hindoustanse met de hollandse maat, en gewigten, mitsgaders beduijdingh eeniger moorse naamen, etc.a. Utrecht University Library, Ms. 1478.

Hüllen, Werner. 1999. English Dictionaries 800-1700. The Topical Tradition. Oxford: Clarendon Press.