1. Introduction

The first centuries of Portuguese presence in India – styled as the Golden Era of Christian Konkani Literature by SarDessai (1992: 206) – gave rise to a corpus of five native languages: Tamil (composed in 1549 by Henrique Henriques), Konkani (composed in 1580 by Thomas Stephens and published in 1640), Bengali (composed by Manoel da Assumpçam and printed in 1743), Marathi (composed by an anonymous author and printed in 1778) and Hindi (also composed by an anonymous author and printed in 1778) (see Zwartjes 2011: 23–91). Although other Indian languages like Malayalam were described,1 the early Portuguese works produced by missionaries at the service of the Portuguese Patronage studied deeper Tamil, spoken in the southeast region, at the Pearl Fishery Coast (“Costa da Pescaria”), and Konkani, spoken in the region of Goa. Tamil, a Dravidian language, is the statutory provincial language in Tamil Nadu State, whereas Konkani is an Indo-Aryan language and the official provincial language of the Indian state of Goa since 1992. Present-day, Konkani is written in the Devanagari script, while the Kannada and Latin scripts are no longer in use (see Lewis, Simons & Fennig 2016).

The first five Provincial Councils of Goa (1567, 1575, 1585, 1592 and 1606) were essential to the recognition of the native languages in India. The main objective consisted in safeguarding the adequacy of the rules of the Council of Trent (1545–1563) or the Counter-Reformation for the Eastern realities. One of the recommendations, for example, of the third Provincial Council of Goa (1585) was the publication of catechisms in Portuguese and in local tongues in order to teach better the Catholic faith (see, for details. Faria 2013: 227; Fonseca 2006: 87):

O 3.º Concilio (1585) no Decreto 25 da Accção 2 = Ut idem sentiamus omnes, et idem dicamus, como diz o Apostolo S. Paulo, ordena o Concilio que se faça um compendio da doutrina christãa em lingua portugueza, a qual (doutrina) se ensinará geralmente em todas as partes da India, para se guardar a conformidade em todos, e esta se tresladará nas linguas das terras, onde houver conversão, e se ensinará nellas; e da mesma maneira se fará um breve cathecismo conforme ao cathecismo Tridentino accomodado ás nações destas partes, e approvado por este Concilio, ou com sua authoridade, pelo qual os Vigários e Ministros da conversão cathequizarão e ensinarão [The 3rd Council (1585) in Decree 25 of Action 2 = Ut idem sentiamus omnes, et idem dicamus [in order to all of us feel the same, and say the same], as the Apostle Paul says, orders to make a compendium of the Christian doctrine written in the Portuguese language. This doctrine will generally be taught in all parts of India, to keep conformity everywhere. It will be translated into the indigenous languages of the places where there is conversion. It will also be taught there. In the same way, it will be composed a brief catechism according to the Tridentine catechism adapted to the nations of this side, and approved by this Council, or by its authority, by which the vicars and ministers of conversion will instruct and teach]. (quoted by Rivara 1858a: 16)

In fact, during the first centuries, Portuguese favored the study of the native languages for practical and religious reasons, in order to convert the indigenous people to the Catholicism:

(…) durante o primeiro século da conquista, assim o governo politico, como o ecclesiastico recommendavam e favoreciam o estudo das línguas do paiz, com o principal, e quasi único intento da propagação da Fé […during the first century of the conquest, so the political and ecclesiastical government recommended and favoured the study of the languages of the country with the principal and almost sole intention of the dissemination of the Faith]. (Rivara 1858a: 17).

However, beyond the fact that Portugal had lost its settlements of the Tamil Coast to the English, French and Dutch mainly in the 17th century – the official presence of Portuguese in Santhome of Mylapore ended in 1749 when it felt into the hands of the British East India Company –, Portuguese missionary linguistics in India suffered massive setbacks mainly in 1684, 1759 and 1834.

First, on 27 June 1684, Francisco de Távora (1646–1710), who was the Governor of Angola (1669–1676), and the 56th Governor of India and the 33rd Viceroy of Portuguese India (1681–1686), published an order (“alvará”), which, in addition to allowing the marriage of Indian widows, forbade the use of the mother tongues in the public services, teaching and public acts of the religion:

Francisco de Távora, Conde de Alvor, do Conselho de Estado de S.[ua] A.[lteza] V.[ice-] Rey, Capitão Geral da India & c. Faço saber aos que este Alvará virem que (…) não sendo menos conveniente que os naturaes dellas [destas terras] deponhão o uso do idioma natural, e se appliquem todos a fallar a lingua Portugueza, com que cessarão os inconvenientes, que se considerão de estarem no mesmo tempo fallando a lingua materna e a Portugueza, para não serem entendidos; alem de ser assim mais conveniente para melhor os Parochos os doutrinarem e instruirem nos misterios da fee, em que talvez se não explicão como pede a importancia delles, ou porque o Parocho não he perito no idioma da terra, ou porque os Freguezes não tem licção da lingua portugueza; com que uma ou outra falta sempre he nociva, não só ao trato politico, senão ainda ao bem espiritual das almas…E para se facilitar mais esta communicação entre todos, se applicarão os naturaes a fallarem a Lingua Portugueza, e os Parochos e mestres das escholas ensinarão aos meninos a doutrina christã no mesmo idioma, para que pelo tempo em diante fique sendo para todos commua (sic) sem mais usarem da materna; e para este effeito em todas as praticas e congressos, que tiverem, usarão da Lingua Portugueza até se fazerem correntes nella, para o que lhes assigno tres annos de tempo, dentro dos quaes fallarão todos geralmente no idioma Portuguez, e della (sic) usarão somente em seus tratos e contratos, que fizerem em nossas terras, e de nenhum modo da lingua da terra, sob pena de se proceder contra eles com a demonstração e severidade de castigo, que parecer… [Francisco de Távora, Count of Alvor, from the Council of the State of His Highness Viceroy, Captain General of India, etc. I want to inform those who will see this Order that … it is not less convenient for the natives [of these lands] to dismiss their mother tongue, and all shall apply to speak the Portuguese language. Its usage will cease those inconveniences which occur using both the mother tongue and Portuguese since they are not understood. Furthermore, it will be more convenient for the parish priests who have to teach and instruct them in the mysteries of the Faith. It happens that they are not able to explain themselves properly as the importance of the faith requires either because the parish priest has no expertise in the local language either because the parishioners do not know the Portuguese language. One or another fault is always harmful, not only to the political treatment but also to the spiritual good of the souls… And to facilitate this communication among all, the natives will apply to learn the Portuguese language, and the parish priests and the primary school teachers will teach the children the Christian doctrine in the same language. So that from time to time Portuguese will be the common language for all without further use of mother tongues. And for this purpose in all the practices and conferences which they have, they shall use the Portuguese language until they become usual in it, for which I assign them three years’ time. Within this time they all will generally speak in the Portuguese language, and they only will use it in their agreements and contracts made in our lands. In no case they will use the native language, under the penalty of proceeding against them with the demonstration and severity of punishment, that will seem (more appropriate)…]. (quoted in Rivara 1858a: 255–258)

Second, the Portuguese King D. José I (1714–1777) banished the Jesuits from all Portuguese territories in 1759. This was followed by banishment of the Jesuits in France in 1762, in Spain in 1767 and universally in all Catholic countries in 1773 by the papal brief Dominus ac Redemptor (21 July) of Clement XIV (1705–1774). The Jesuits were only able to continue their activities in Russia under Catherine II (1729–1796) and Prussia under Frederick II (1712–1786). The Society of Jesus was universally restored 40 years later, in 1814, through the papal bull Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum (31 July) of Pope Pius VII (1742–1823).

At last, in 1834, the Portuguese Minister of Justice Joaquim António de Aguiar (1792–1884), known by the nickname “The Friar-Killer,” extinguished all Portuguese convents, monasteries and religious orders, after the Portuguese Liberal Revolution (1820) and the Liberal Wars or the Miguelite War (1828–1834).

As a consequence, the Jesuits were banished from India in 1759 and all other religious orders in 1834. This meant that the teaching of general education needed to be assured by the civil society and laymen, and it was absolutely necessary to reorganise teaching contents and methods, not only in Portugal but also in the Portuguese colonies. It was also essential to preserving the linguistic material written mainly by the expelled missionaries. Hence, in 1857, the governor-general of Goa, António César de Vasconcelos Correia (1797–1865), nominated a special committee, led by Joaquim Heliodoro da Cunha Rivara (1809–1879), to coordinate, prepare and print Portuguese-Konkani and Konkani-Portuguese dictionaries and other Konkani “monuments”:

Sendo da maior importancia a cultura da Lingua Concani, por ser a materna dos naturaes de Goa e paiz circumvisinho: Hei por conveniente nomear uma commissão composto do secretario do governo geral Joaquim Heliodoro da Cunha Rivara, do tenente de artilharia Bernardino Camillo de Sant’Anna Pacheco, e do cirurgião ajudante do 2.º batalhão de infanteria Francisco Luis Gomes, para coordenar e preparar para a impressão os Diccionarios Portuguez-Concani, e Concani-Portuguez: e bem assim para procurarem e colligirem quaesquer outros monumentos da mesma lingua, que forem dignos de ser impressos ou reimpressos. As authoridades, a quem competir, assim o tenham entendido e executem. Palacio do governo geral em Nova-Goa, 28 de novembro de 1857. – O governador geral, Visconde de Torres-Novas. (Boletim do governo do Estado da India, n.º 94, 1857). [Being the maternal one of the natives of Goa and the neighbouring country, the culture of the Konkani language is of the utmost importance. For this reason, I found convenient to appoint a commission – composed of the secretary of the general government Joaquim Heliodoro da Cunha Rivara, the artillery lieutenant Bernardino Camillo de Sant’Anna Pacheco, and the assistant surgeon of the 2nd Infantry Battalion, Francisco Luis Gomes – to coordinate and prepare for the printing Portuguese-Konkani and Konkani-Portuguese Dictionaries. Furthermore, [I appointed the commission] to search for and collate any other “monuments” of the same language, which are worthy of being printed or reprinted. The authorities, who will be responsible for that, should understand so and perform [according to this]. Palace of the General Government in Nova-Goa, November 28, 1857. – The Governor-General, Viscount of Torres-Novas. (Bulletin of the Government of the State of India, no. 94, 1857)]. (quoted in Rivara 1868: 3, footnote a)

2. Joaquim Heliodoro da Cunha Rivara

Joaquim Heliodoro da Cunha Rivara, known merely as Cunha Rivara, was a physician, professor of philosophy in the high school of Évora (“Liceu Nacional de Évora”), palaeographer, correspondent associate of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences, correspondent associate of the Brazilian Historic and Geographic Institute, and deputy of the Portuguese parliament (Liberal Party). As the first lay director of the public library of Évora between 1838 and 1855, he invested thoroughly in reorganising the entire library after having incorporated more than 10,000 volumes from extinct convents and in publishing several catalogues. In 1855, he was appointed secretary of the governor-general of Goa, occupying that post until 1870. In 1877 he returned to his hometown, Évora, where he died two years later.

As a secretary of the governor-general of Goa, he was nominated to lead a special committee to preserve local linguistic “monuments”, like Portuguese-Konkani dictionaries and Konkani grammars. This commission also included the Portuguese Lieutenant of Artillery Bernardino Camilo de Santana Pacheco (1822–1918) and the Goan-born physician Francisco Luís Gomes (1829–1869),2 a native speaker of Konkani. This committee edited three grammars and one dictionary of Konkani, written respectively by Thomas Stephens S.J. (1549–1619) (2nd edition), by an anonymous Portuguese missionary living in the Salsette Island and perhaps by the Discalced Carmelite Francesco Saverio di Sant’Anna (1771–1844). It seems that they had more manuscripts at their disposal, as it can be inferred from, for instance, the Ensaio Histórico da Língua Concani (see Rivara 1857b and Rivara 1858a) as well as from the final observations (“notas”) by Francisco Gomes (1857: 169). However, as Cunha Rivara states in the preface of the dictionary, they decided to publish, on the one hand, only the works written by the “competent masters,” and to re-edit Stephens’s grammar because it was almost sold out (see Rivara 1868: 3). To the best of my knowledge, none of these manuscripts has survived, and probably they would be lost if this committee has not published them.

We cannot know what the effective work of each member of the commission was in these editions, or whether Cunha Rivara worked alone, because the forewords are signed only by him and he saw himself as the editor of all books. However, he was not an expert on the Konkani language, while Francisco Luís Gomes was a native speaker of Konkani, born in Salsette, and proficient in Portuguese3 and French. Gomes also wrote an entire chapter at the end of Thomas Stephens’s grammar, named “notas” (Gomes 1857), where he analyses specific topics and linguistic solutions to Stephens’s grammar, such as the phonetics of Konkani, its declensions, numbers, gender, verbal conjugations, and some syntactic issues. These notes are mainly based on the Konkani grammar written by the Italian missionary (Sant’Anna) that would be published two years later. However, Francisco Gomes discusses the arguments of both, adding as well, once in a while, the opinion of other anonymous authors. For example, concerning the number of declensions in Konkani, Francisco Gomes states that it was impossible to harmonise all theories. Thomas Stephens describes six, the Italian grammarian five and the authors of another (currently lost) Konkani dictionary nine. But for Francisco Gomes the correct perspective was the one adopted by Stephens, which could solve all linguistic problems of Konkani:

São tão diversas, ao menos apparentemente, as opiniões dos Grammaticos ácerca do numero das declinações concanís, que chega a perder-se a esperança de as conciliar. O texto admitte seis; um Padre Italiano moderno, que escreveo em portuguez, cinco, talvez por se accommodar isto mais com as pretenções que tinha, de infundir ao concani a indole do latim, pretenções em que muitas vezes se achou enganado; os auctores de um Diccionario, escripto no anno de 1695, na Grammatica, que antepuzeram ao mesmo Diccionario, elevam esse numero a nove. Sem que por isso disconsideremos alguma das opiniões citadas, seja-nos licito dizer que subscrevemos inteiramente ao voto do texto… [Grammarians’ opinions about the number of the Konkani declensions are so diverse, at least apparently, that it is impossible to reconcile them all. The text admits six declensions; a modern Italian priest, who wrote in Portuguese, admits five [declensions], maybe because he had the pretension to adapt the Konkani declension to the Latin one. Pretensions in which he was often mistaken. Hence, the authors of a Dictionary written in the year 1695 elevated the declensions to nine in the Grammar which preceded the same Dictionary. Without disregarding any of the opinions mentioned above, let us say that we subscribe entirely to the “choice” of the text…] (Gomes 1857: 169)

It should be highlighted that all three grammars and the dictionary were written in Romanised scripts. Rivara says explicitly that he followed the Romanised system the author used in the grammar and it was approved by the Puranas [ancient religious texts] (Rivara 1868: 4).

Cunha Rivara wrote and published a Historical Essay on Konkani Language (Ensaio Histórico da Língua Concani), first as an introduction to Stephens’s grammar (1857) and, in the following year, as a book of its own (see Rivara 1858a), in which he inserted two chapters by Erskine Perky (1806–1882) (see Perky 1857a; Perky 1857b; Perky 1858a; Perky 1858b) and John Stevenson (1798–1858) (see Stevenson 1858), concerning the geographical distribution and the grammatical structure of the languages of India.

Ensaio Histórico da Língua Concani explains the history of Konkani, the Portuguese presence in India, and the action of missionaries from the Portuguese Patronage, among other subjects. It also has the first list of primary sources of Konkani, the Bibliotheca Concani, ou subsídios para o estudo methodico da língua concani [Konkani Library, or contributions to the methodological study of the Konkani language] (Rivara 1858a: 79–201), a handbook for Konkani studies (and not only for its grammatical study), indicating many manuscripts and printed books in Konkani, most of them are currently lost. According to Saldanha (1936: 716), Rivara’s bibliography has not lost its accuracy or importance. It should be emphasised that they were necessary almost 80 years to appear an improvement of this list of Konkani’s primary sources. In fact, only in 1936 this list was corrected and amended by Saldanha’s paper História da Gramática Concani [History of Konkani Grammar], but only for grammatical works. Cunha Rivara also published other books with the primary sources of the Portuguese history in India he found in Indian archives and libraries, mainly the Archivo Portuguez Oriental [Portuguese East Archive] in six volumes and ten issues (1857–1876). They do not have any linguistic description but they “will remain a classic source of primary Documentation for the history of the Portuguese in India during 16th to 18th centuries” (Souza 2005: 22).

Cunha Rivara did not know Konkani and, therefore, he needed interpreters (see Machado 2009: 32), and he:

… never wrote in Konkani …, he prepared the way for the Konkani Renaissance of the twentieth century. All those who followed him, Dr Gerson da Cunha, Mgr Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado, Joaquim António Fernandes, Dr Mariano Saldanha and Shennoi Goembab have taken inspiration from him (SarDessai 2000: 76).

For example, the Indian-born and native Konkani speakers José Gerson da Cunha (1844–1900), Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado (1855–1922) and Mariano José Luís de Gonzaga Saldanha (1878–1975) referred to him as:

  • – “the distinguished Portuguese savant Mr. J. H. Da Cunha Rivara” (Cunha 1881: 196);

  • – “investigador incansavel e espirito de longo alcance e largos horizontes” [tireless researcher and spirit of long-range and wide horizons] (Dalgado 1905: XIII);

  • – “venerando” [venerable] and “inesquecível concanófilo” [unforgettable Konkanophile] (Saldanha 1936: 716) and “dedicado campeão da cultura e progresso do concani” [devoted champion of the culture and improvement of Konkani] (Saldanha 1945: X).

Indeed, Cunha Rivara’s intense editorial activity, which aimed at protecting the Konkani language and preserving these “monuments” of Konkani literature, allows us to consider Cunha Rivara “undoubtedly the pioneer of the movement for the resurgence of Konkani language and literature” (SarDessai 1992: 207). Dalgado argues that Cunha Rivara deserves a special reference:

… não só pelo muito que trabalhou para attrahir a attenção do publico ao estudo systematico do konkaní, mas, sobretudo, por ter com admiravel perseverança desencantado e dado á estampa valiosos manuscriptos vernaculos, que, aliás, teriam ficado em perpetuo olvido […not only for how much he worked for bringing the public’s attention to the systematical study of Konkani, but, above all, for having with admirable perseverance disenchanted and given to print valuable vernacular manuscripts, which, in fact, would have been in perpetual oblivion]. (Dalgado 1905: XIII–XIV)

3. Stephens’s grammar (1857)

Stephens’s 1857 grammar contains 160 pages and was based on the posthumous 1640 edition, as Rivara (1857a: III) writes in the foreword, the main differences being related to the formal aspects and not properly to the contents: “nella não tivemos que fazer expurgações no sentido” […in which we had not to do purges of meaning] (Rivara 1857a: III). He just cleaned the text, separated various paragraphs, inserted new orthographic signs and diacritics (Rivara 1857a: III), translated certain Latin words into Portuguese and developed some abbreviations. Despite presenting some popular uses of the language, it primarily describes the language of the Indian chief caste, namely the Brahmins (converted to Christianity), as it is clear in the License of the Jesuit Superior. The grammar is divided into three parts and consists of alphabet and pronunciation (“Do alphabeto”) (Rivara 1857a: 1–9), the description of the eight parts of speech (“Das oito partes da oração”) (Rivara 1857a: 9–117) and syntax (“Syntaxis”) [Rivara 1857a: 117–160):

In the first part the author distinguishes vetroflex (sic) consonants from the dentals by the use of double letters (tt, tth, dd, ddh, nn, ll). The author however, does not indicate the distinction between single and germinate consonants. In part 2 the noun declensions and verb conjugations are described at lingh (sic). A long list of indeclinable parts of speeches (sic) are also given. The part 3 deals with the rules of agreement. (SarDessai 2000: 45)

Stephens’s grammar is, indeed, influenced by the Latin grammar.4 Whenever possible, he compares Konkani with the Latin language. For example:

Inda que nesta lingoa não se achem propriamente nomes communs de dous, como se achão na latina, com tudo pela semelhança, que em alguns nomes desta lingoa se acha aos communs de dous da latina, lhe poderemos chamar comuns de dous, e em particular por seruirem os taes nomes. [Although in this language are not appropriately found common nouns of two, as they are established in Latin, however, because of the similarity of some nouns in this language with the Latin common nouns of two, we can call them common of two, and, in particular, because they serve as such nouns.] (Stephens 1857: 123)

However, today it is very difficult to say which grammar he used as a model. Mainly after the end of the 16th century, the Jesuits normally used Manuel Álvares’s (1526–1583) De Institutitione Grammatica Libri Tres (Lisbon, 1572), the Jesuit official Latin grammar after the final version of the Ratio Studiorum (Rome, 1599). The version used as a model in missionary grammars was usually its abridged or simpler edition, or ars minor (Lisbon, 1573), without the scholia, which the missionaries should know from memory (see Fernandes 2015; Kemmler 2013; Kemmler 2015). Nevertheless, I did not find any correspondence between Manuel Álvares’s grammar and Stephens’s (see also Zwartjes 2011: 49).

4. Anonymous grammar (1858)

The author of the 1858 grammar was maybe, according to Rivara, an anonymous Portuguese Franciscan or Jesuit missionary, living at Thane (“Tanná”), near Mumbai a town in Salsette Island, in Maharashtra State in Western India, in the 17th century. He says that he discovered this manuscript by a happy coincidence:

… um feliz accidente nos trouxe á mão o manuscripto desta Grammatica da mesma Lingua no Dialecto do Norte, a qual nunca havia sido impressa, nem della havia noticia alguma.

Não poderemos affirmar que este manuscripto seja o original; mas he certo que pelos seus caracteres extrinsecos, e dicção, se conhece haver sido escripto no seculo XVII. Quem fosse o seu auctor não nos foi dado até agora descobrir; o que pode proceder de estar corrupta a primeira folha do texto do codice, e de se haverem talvez perdido outras, em que o auctor désse razão da obra, e declarasse o seu nome. Mas segundo conjecturamos foi o auctor algum Religioso Franciscano, ou da Companhia de Jesus, residente em Tanná, na Ilha de Salcete, onde sem duvida foi composta a obra.

[…a fortunate accident brought us the manuscript of this Grammar of the Northern Dialect of this same language, which had never been printed before, nor described previously.

We cannot state that this manuscript is the original one; but, according to its visible features and dictions, it was certainly composed in the seventeenth century. Whoever was its author, he has not been given to us until now to discover. Indeed, the first folium of the text of this codex is damaged, and perhaps others in which the author presents the reason for his work and declares his name has been lost. However, according to our conjectures, the author was a Franciscan religious, or a religious from the Company of Jesus resident at Tanna, in the Island of Salsette, where undoubtedly it was composed the work]. (Rivara 1858b: II)

Rivara also states that it is a linguistic “monument” and an excellent complement to Thomas Stephens’s grammar and that it reveals a different Konkani “dialect”:

Pareceo-nos que esta, alem de ser um novo monumento dos trabalhos litterarios dos Portuguezes no Oriente, seria um complemento não só util, mas indispensavel, á Grammatica do Padre Thomaz Estevão; pois sendo ordenada pelo mesmo plano e systema, facilmente se confrontarão por meio della as differenças dos Dialectos Concanis de Goa e Baçaim, e se elucidarão e confirmarão mutuamente as regras e idiotismos da Lingua geral. [Besides being a new “monument” of the literary works of the Portuguese in the East, it seemed to us that this would also be a tool not only useful but indispensable to the Thomas Stephens’s grammar. Being ordered by the same structure and system, the differences of the Konkani dialects of Goa and Baçaim will be quickly compared using it, and the rules and idiomatic expressions of the common language will be elucidated and mutually confirmed]. (Rivara 1858b: II)

However, Mariano Saldanha (1878–1975) argues that it is the first grammar of Marathi and represents the dialect from the north or the colloquial Marathi:

Esta é a primeira gramática marata, escrita em lingua europeia e representa o dialecto concânico do norte, ou o marata coloquial de Bagaim, Bandora, Bombaim, e outros territórios do norte do Concão, ao tempo sob o domínio português. [This is the first Marathi grammar, written in a European language. It represents the Northern Konkani dialects or the colloquial Marathi spoken in Bagaim, Bandora, Bombay, and other territories in the North of the Konkani [area] at the time of the Portuguese dominion]. (Saldanha 1936: 721)

It is also divided into three parts, consisting of warnings about the phonetics and orthography (“advertencias”) (Anonymous 1858: 1–4), the accents and parts of speech (“accentos”) (Anonymous 1858: 4–138) and syntax (“Syntaxis” (Anonymous 1858: 138–181). The influence of the Latin grammar is also evident throughout the book. Beyond the division into three parts, like Manuel Álvares’s grammar, it follows the Latin model, for example, in the description of the constitution of the declensions, and seems that it used Thomas Stephens’s Arte Canarina de Goa as a model:

Assim como no Latim, ainda que os nomes discrepem no Nominativo, todavia se concordão no Genitivo, vão pela declinação, com quem concordão neste caso: assim mesmo se observa nesta Lingua. v. g. Crupi, ainda que discrepa de váttó, com tudo por concordar no Genitivo Crupé, vai por Vàttò, Vàtté. Mas estes nesta Lingua do Norte são pouco; por isso não faço particular terminação, como na Arte Canarina de Goa. [Even though the nouns differ in the Nominative, as it happens in the Latin language, if they agree in the Genitive, they go by the declension with which they agree in this case. So it is observed in this language. v. g. Crupi, although it differs with váttó, it agrees with the genitive Crupé, hence one goes through Vàttò, Vàtté. But there are few cases in this Northern language. For this reason, I do not focus particularly on the ending, as in the Konkani grammar of Goa]. (Anonymous 1858: 4)

5. Francesco Saverio di Sant’Anna’s grammar (1859) and dictionary (1868)

According to Rivara, the 1859 grammar and the 1868 dictionary were perhaps written by the Italian Discalced Carmelite (Teresian Carmelite) Francesco Saverio di Sant’Anna (Francis Xavier of Saint-Anne), O.C.D. (1771–1844), Vicar Apostolic of Verapoli, near Cochi at Kerala, in the southwestern Indian Malabar Coast, from 1831 to 1840, who is many times misidentified as the Spanish Jesuit Saint Francisco de Javier (Saint Francis Xavier) SJ (1506–1552). Mariano Saldanha, however, has many doubts concerning this authorship and he presents four arguments or “reparos” [repairs] against it, but he does not present another hypothesis. On the other hand, the Dizionario di Erudizione Storico-Ecclesiastica [Dictionary of Historical-Ecclesiastical Erudition], printed in 1845, confirms that Francesco Saverio di Sant’Anna was, in effect, Vicar Apostolic of Verapoli between 1831 until 1840:

Notizie sul vicariato apostolico di Verapoli ossia del Malabar.

Questo vicariato comprende le diocesi di Cranganor e di Coccino, e si estende dal promontorio di Comorino fino al Canarà o Kanarà. Verapoli è una piccolissima isola, distante tre leghe da Coccino, ed è residenza del vicario apostolico …

Il regnante Pontefice Gregorio XVI, agli 8 marzo 1831 fece vescovo di Amata in partibus e vicario apostolico monsignor Francesco Saverio di sant’ Anna dell’ordine dei carmelitani scalzi, che poi ai 10 aprile 1840 traslatò all’ arcivescovato in partibus di Sardia. Il medesimo Papa nominò Ludovico di s. Teresa dello stesso ordine, fatto vescovo di Europa in partibus ai 7 giugno 1839, il quale è succeduto al precedente che morì ultimamente.

[News on the apostolic vicariate of Verapoli or Malabar

This vicariate includes the dioceses of Cranganor and Cochin. It extends from the promontory of Kumari to the Kanara or Canara. Verapoly is a tiny island, three leagues distant from Cochin, and it is the residence of the apostolic vicar…

The governing Pope Gregory XVI made Bishop of Amata in partibus and apostolic vicar Monsignor Francesco Saverio from St. Anna of the order of the Discalced Carmelites on March 8, 1831. Hence, he moved to the archbishopric of Sardia on the 10th April 1840. The same Pope named Ludovico di Santa Teresa, who belonged to the same order and was named as bishop of Europe in partibus on the 7th June 1839. He succeeded the previous one who died recently]. (Moroni 1845: 242)

The grammar has a different structure and the author had other concerns: it is introduced by some observations concerning the Marathi or Devanagari scripts, syllables, pronunciation, accents, diacritics and punctuation (“Caracteres Marattas”) ([Sant’Anna] 1859: 1–27), and the grammar itself is divided into 46 items about the eight parts of speech (“Das partes da oração”) ([Sant’Anna] 1859: 29–143), ending with a special chapter with some general observations about the study of this language (“Observações geraes sobre o estudo desta língua”) ([Sant’Anna] 1859: 144–145). According to Rivara, the manuscript was ready to print and he just had to correct a few words or sentences:

O manuscripto do Diccionario não estava como o da Grammatica prompto para a impressão, carecendo apenas da versão de alguma palavra italiana intermeiada, ou do retoque de alguma phrase de portuguez menos genuine. [The manuscript of the Dictionary was not ready for printing, like the Grammar, lacking only the version of some intermediated Italian word, or the retouching of some sentence of less genuine Portuguese.] (Rivara 1868: 4)

Interestingly, this grammar does not describe an old or classic language, like the other grammars, but a modern version of the spoken language in southern India:

Como obra moderna he composta por um systema mais claro e comprehensivel, do que a antiga Grammatica do Padre Thomaz Estevão; mas nem por isso deixa de ser mui digna de andar na mão dos estudiosos juntamente com a outra Grammatica do Dialecto do Norte, que já tambem publicamos [Being a modern work, it is more systematic and understandable than the former Grammar by Father Thomas Stephens. Despite this, [Stephens’s grammar] is still worthy to be used by scholars along with the other Grammar of the Northern dialect, which we have already published]. (Rivara 1859: [IV])

The main sources of the 1859 grammar are, indeed, also a Latin grammar. The author used the expression “como em latim” [like in Latin] many times, and he tried to adjust the Konkani language to Latin. For example, he describes the same five declensions and the same six cases as in Latin:

  1. O nome ou he substantivo, ou adjectivo. O substantivo se declina pelos géneros, números, e casos. Os generos são três, masculino, feminino, e neutro como em latim (…). Os números são dois, singular, e plural. Os casos em quanto ao sentido podem dizer-se 6 como em latim, mas em quanto á declinação, ou mudança material da palavra são só dois, a saber, caso recto, ou nominativo, e caso oblíquo, que compreende todos os outros cinco.

  2. Ha cinco modos diversos de declinar, ou inflectir os nomes, segundo a diversidade delles, ou são cinco as declinações dos nomes substantivos. Como em latim estas cinco declinações se distinguem huma da outra pela desinencia do genitivo, ou caso obliquo.

  3. A primeira declinação tem o caso obliquo terminado em a, a 2.ª em e, a 3.ª em i, a 4.ª em ea, e a 5.ª em u.

  • [1. The noun can be substantive or adjective. The substantive is declined in gender, number, and case. The genders are three, male, female, and neutral as in Latin… The numbers are two, singular, and plural. Considering the meaning of the cases, they can be said to be six like in Latin, but, according to the declension or the material change of the word, there are only two [cases], namely a rect [straight] or nominative case, and an oblique case, which comprises all the other five.

  • 2. There are five different ways of declining or inflecting the nouns. It depends on their diversity. [Or one can also say that there] are five declensions of the substantive noun. As in Latin, these five declensions are distinguished from each other by the ending of the genitive, or [also said] the oblique case.

  • 3. The first declension has the oblique case ending in a, the 2nd in e, the 3rd in i, the 4th in ea, and the 5th in u]. ([Sant’Anna] 1859: 30)

In fact, Sant’Anna applied semantic criteria to find the Konkani six cases and not morphological criteria because the oblique cases were identical for him. Thus, Sant’Anna only distinguishes between the nominative and the oblique cases, such as, for instance, the masculine noun “putrŏ” (nominative singular and plural), and “putra” (oblique cases, singular), and “putrã” (oblique cases, plural) (‘son(s)’), and the feminine noun “cŏlŏvŏntŏ” (nominative singular), “cŏlŏvŏntã” (nominative and oblique cases plural), and “cŏlŏvŏnta” (oblique cases singular) (‘female dancer’).

Also, however, Sant’Anna often uses the Portuguese grammar as an example. For example, about the correct pronunciation of the vowels and consonants, he always uses Portuguese phonetics, in order to say that is a similar or different sound (see [Sant’Anna] 1859: 3–9). His description of the parts of speech has another interesting comparison with Portuguese:

  1. Como em outras línguas do mundo, assim nesta ha 8 diversas especies de palavras ou partes da orações, a saber, Nome, Pronome, Verbo, Participio, Adverbio, Preposição (para melhor dizer Postposição), Conjunção, e Interjeição.

  2. A diferença da Lingua Portugueza a esta he que a preposição nesta sempre se pospõe ao seu caso, como se dirá em seu lugar, e não se prepõe, excepto em algumas compositivas.

  3. As primeiras 4 partes são declinaveis, as outras 4 são indeclinaveis como em Portuguez.

  4. Nesta Lingua não ha artigo, a não se chamar artigo o adjectivo hum, que se usa nesta Lingua como em Portuguez hum homem, huma mulher & c.

  • [1. As it occurs in other languages of the world, so in this language, there are 8 different species of words or parts of speech, namely: Noun, Pronoun, Verb, Participle, Adverb, Preposition (to better say Postposition), Conjunction, and Interjection.

  • 2. Compared to the Portuguese language, this one has the preposition always postponed to its case, as it will be said in its place. And it is not placed in front, except in some compositions.

  • 3. The first 4 parts of speech are declinable, the other 4 are indeclinable as in Portuguese.

  • 4. In this language, there is no article, and cannot be called article the adjective hum (a), which is used in this language as in Portuguese a man, a woman & c. ] ([Sant’Anna] 1859: 29–30)

Sant’Anna also compares Konkani with other European languages, including French, English, and Italian, although only a few times; I did not find any comparison with Spanish. His main difficulty was to analyse and systematise the verb. He tells, for example, that the Konkani verb is a labyrinth and he does not know if it is a linguistic issue or a bad pronunciation of the speakers:

  1. A doutrina dos verbos parece hum labyrintho. Se esta difficuldade resulta da mesma natureza da lingua, ou da corruptella de quem a falla, ou se de ambas estas causas, não o sei dizer. Ouço cada dia novas vozes, novas inflexões, de sorte que em muitas cousas, depois de pensar muito para as reduzir a ordem, não o tenho podido.

  2. Comtudo não quero dizer com isto que toda a doutrina dos verbos, ou a sua maior e principal parte nesta lingua seja obscura, embrulhada, e incerta; em muitas cousas he clara, e certa, de sorte que sem diffículdade maior a tenho podido reduzir a ordem, e regras geraes, e que não difficeis de aprender-se. Estas são aquellas que exporei nos seguintes paragraphos, e posso assegurar que o estudioso por meio dellas poderá em breve tempo fazer-se sufficientemente entender de todos, ainda que para entender todos os discursos dos outros requer muito uso, e tempo.

  3. Tenho procurado quanto me foi possivel reduzir os verbos desta língua á forma das conjugações, que commumente se achão nas grammaticas das linguas europeas, mas, como se verá, escapão estes tão fóra daquellas regras, que muitas vezes não se podem reduzir a ellas.

  • [1. The doctrine of verbs seems a labyrinth. I do not know if this difficulty results from the same nature of the language, or from the corrupted way in which people speak it, or from both these causes. Every day, I hear new expressions, new inflexions, so that in many ways I tried to reduce them, without succeeding.

  • 2. However, I do not mean by this that all the doctrine of verbs, or the majority of it in this language, is obscure, wrapped, and uncertain. In many things, it is clear and precise, so that without greater difficulty I have been able to reduce the order, and the general rules, which are not difficult to learn. These are the ones I will explain in the following paragraphs, and I can assure that the scholar through them will soon be able to make himself mostly understood, although to understand all the discourses of others requires much use and time.

  • 3. I have tried as much as possible to reduce the verbs of this language to the form of conjugations, which are commonly found in the grammars of the European languages, but, as will be seen, these escape so often from those rules, that they cannot usually be reduced to them]. ([Sant’Anna] 1859: 72)

The dictionary (Sant’Anna 1868) has 268 pages and a supplement with six pages. According to Rivara (1868: 4), it was written first in Italian, and not mainly in Portuguese, and thus Rivara had to translate it. Rivara also says that another dictionary written by the Jesuits existed. Based on Thomas Stephens’s grammar, it was written many years beforehand, probably in the 17th century, and represented the classic age of the Konkani language.5 Thus, his option was to publish a modern version with the current common language (see Rivara 1868: 3–4). It should be noted that the first edition of the Konkani-Portuguese dictionary was only printed 25 years later (see Dalgado 1893) and another Portuguese-Konkani dictionary 12 years after that (see Dalgado 1905).

6. Concluding remarks

Joaquim Heliodoro da Cunha Rivara, as a secretary of the governor-general of Goa (1855–1870) and mainly as the leader of a special committee nominated to publish “monuments” of the Konkani language and literature, edited three grammars of Konkani – one is, in effect, of Marathi – and a Portuguese-Konkani dictionary, which had previously circulated merely as manuscripts among the missionaries from the Portuguese Patronage in India. This editorial work was an extraordinary contribution to the dissemination of the linguistic knowledge of Indian languages spoken in Goan region. It is safe to say that without the committee’s editorial intervention, these works would probably no longer exist. Cunha Rivara can therefore be seen as one of those intermediaries through which “previous knowledge” became available to some later public and different cultural environments. He worked on what had been produced for practical reasons for the sustainment of a language policy toward the maintenance and the promotion of the local languages. In fact, in the middle of the 19th century, Konkani was not recognised as the official provincial language of the Indian state of Goa (this would occur only in 1992), and was also despised among many native speakers in Goa. Hence, Cunha Rivara’s work was also essential to fight against this contempt for Konkani by Goans themselves and to dignify their mother tongue.

These grammars were edited in three consecutive years (1857, 1858 and 1859) in the same city (New Goa), but they represent different stages and dialects of the same language from diverse castes and related languages (Konkani and Marathi). Thane and Verapoli are at a distance of approximately 1,300 km, and the Stephens’s grammar was written at the beginning of the 17th century while the grammar and the dictionary by Sant’Anna were written nearly two centuries later. It is therefore difficult to correlate them and to find the same linguistic issues. In fact, they are relevant sources to explore the varieties of Konkani and Marathi in terms of diachrony, diatopy, and diastraty of the Indian society. All of them were based on Latin grammar and their main concerns were to describe the parts of speech, the correct orthography (in Romanized scripts), and the appropriate pronunciation. Furthermore, Cunha Rivara wrote and published a Historical Essay on Konkani Language, which is still one of the main sources of Konkani primary sources. This list of manuscripts and published works in Konkani was only updated almost 80 years later.

In sum, Joaquim Heliodoro da Cunha Rivara, who never spoke or wrote in Konkani, created the conditions for a dynamic dialogue between past and present. By actively reinterpreting old linguistic source-materials within new perspectives, he gave a relevant contribution to scientific, religious, cultural, and linguistic contemporary needs. As a pioneer of the 19th-century Renaissance of Konkani studies, Rivara paved the way for other scholars who were inspired by his publications and had a substantial impact on the overall development of the study of Konkani, by, such as, José Gerson da Cunha (1844–1900), Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado (1855–1922), Waman Raghunath Shennoi Varde Valaulikar (1877–1946) known commonly as Shennoi Goembab, Mariano José Luís de Gonzaga Saldanha (1878–1975) and Joaquim António Fernandes (1889–1975).


O.C.D.: Ordo Carmelitarum Discalceatorum [Order of Discalced Carmelites]

S.J.: Societas Jesu [Society of Jesus]


  1. The first grammar of Malayalam was written in Latin by the German Johann Ernst Hanxleden, S.J. (1681–1732): Grammatica Malabarico-Lusitana (see, v.g., Zwartjes 2011: 24). [^]
  2. For the life of Francisco Luís Gomes, see Vaz (1997: 250–252). [^]
  3. We do not know whether Francisco Gomes belonged to the Indo-Portuguese community of Goa, but he studied and was teacher in the Portuguese Escola Médica [Medical School] of Goa where he became the Chief Surgeon in 1860. In 1861, he was elected by Goans to the Portuguese Parliament (see Vaz 1997: 250). [^]
  4. Concerning the Latin sources of these three grammars, see, for details, Fernandes (2017). [^]
  5. As far as I know, this dictionary written by the Jesuits disappeared and was never published. [^]


I would like to acknowledge Dr. Cristina Muru (Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Italy) for her support and suggestions, and to both anonymous referees, whose recommendations I have tried to implement in the latest version of this paper.

Funding Information

This research was funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), under the Center for the Studies in Letters (CEL), with the reference nr. UID/LIN/00707/2016.

Competing Interests

The author has no competing interests to declare.


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