Kiöbenhavnime [Copenhagen]: C.F. Skubartimit, 1827.
Third edition. viii, -1072 pages. 8vo. The New Testament in Greenlandic. Contemporary calf, expertly rebacked, spine title in blind. Bookplate and withdrawn stamp on front pastedown (Bowdoin College), binder's ticket on front pastedown. Occasional light foxing and even light tanning throughout, light pencil annotation to titlepage. One gathering unopened. Very good Ayer Indian Linguistics, Eskimo 20; Pilling, Proof-Sheets 1256; Darlow & Moule 3500; Sabin 22874. Item #332984
The third edition of Otho Fabricius' translation of the New Testament into Kalaallisut, or West Greenlandic, revised by Niels Giessing Wolf. Fabricius first published his translation in 1794, improving on Poul Egede's 1766 translation, the first appearance of any part of the Bible in Kalaallisut. Fabricius made substantial improvements to the language's orthography, and deliberately avoided reliance on loan words to designate things or ideas foreign to Inuit experience. Instead, he constructed new words based on existing language patterns, a method still used to introduce foreign concepts to Kalaallisut. His grammatical constructions, on the other hand, relied heavily on Latin.
Fabricius (1744-1822) was born in Rudkøbing on the island of Langeland, Denmark. He attended the University of Copenhagen, and then the Greenland Mission Seminary (Seminarium Groenlandicum) where he studied under Poul Egede, son of Hans Egede the "Apostle of Greenland." In 1768, he was sent as a missionary to the southwestern coast of Greenland. During this period, he perfected his understanding of Kalaallisut, the language spoken by the majority of the indigenous people of Greenland. Fabricius also made extensive observations of the wildlife in the region surrounding his turf house. He published FAUNA GROENLANDICA in 1780, detailing 473 species, primarily marine, 130 of which he proposed as new to science. He included information on the habitat and behavior of each animal, its vernacular Kalaallisut name, as well as how the Inuit caught or trapped the creatures and how they used them. He left Greenland in 1784, but continued his language work, publishing several editions of a Kalaallisut grammar: FORSØG TIL EN FORBEDRET GRØNLANDSK GRAMMATICA, and a Greenlandic dictionary: DEN
Fabricius began work on translating the Hebrew Bible and was reviewing proof pages for the book of Genesis when he died. This work was taken up by Wolf, also a missionary and Greenlandic language scholar. Johan Kleinschmidt and H.F. Jorgensen followed on Wolf's work, though a translation of the entire bible was not published until 1893. Supposedly, the 1794 edition of Fabricius' New Testament was almost entirely destroyed in the Copenhagen Fire of 1795, and so the 1799 and 1827 editions have been the only attainable editions. Even so, both are very rare in the trade, and only the 1827 edition has ever appeared at auction.
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