[INDOLOGY] language identification

Adam Bowles a.bowles1 at uq.edu.au
Mon Feb 10 23:53:49 EST 2014

Dear Colleagues,

A colleague who is not a member of this list has requested assistance with the following query:

I'm editing for a fairly soon publication a play (William Archer's The Green Goddess) which has simple short bits of dialogue in a foreign language, unidentified. The play is a melodrama set in a remote place in the north-western Himalayas, north of and so outside of the then British-ruled areas (the play's writing date is 1920).  I have the TS prompt book used by JCW for their Australian production in 1924, but of course though that gives bits of dialogue in this language, and provide translations into English, the script doesn't identify what language they are using.  It is not Hindustani, that is made clear, though that is also used here and there.

Here are a few samples from the TS along with the translations:

‘Unkeitha hu!’ (They are alive!); ‘Hub sa jumphti odt, hu keitha!’ (Two of them are alive, at least); ‘Un nukkha jan ru!’ (They are not killed); ‘Guth, baith un pai hai dosha!’ (Back, they may have the Evil Eye).

The Priest’s explanation is given:  ‘Kha hai Adythum’ (This is her temple). ‘Au ka jahah kaman sa gulbia’ (She beckoned your ship out of the sky). ‘Kha main tha hunthal Maharaj ka’ (The land is ruled by our Raja).  ‘Go hai nuxman’ (That is the palace there).  ‘Ha khaja un ka hasthi’ (I have sent for him).  ‘Kumajo heinga dha’ (He will be here soon).

Traherne is introduced ‘blindfold’ and the High (Chief) Priest curses Traherne: ‘Sat tu sicurah da non lasharay andarah, guescha bect-cha, liberal dubo toto suferanza. Kay sat ychi; kay sat ychi’ (Death to you; death by terrible torture.  You pollute our sacred temple.  The Great Roc found you.  It brought you here. Death, suffering, the curse of the Green Goddess be on you).

I rather suspect the 'liberal dubo toto suferanza' phrase: it sounds like a kind of esperanto pidgin slipped in for audience comprehension.  But I believe the rest to be a genuine local language.  Pahari?

any help in this would be most appreciated and of course acknowledged in its site of publication: the Manchester UP journal Nineteenth Century Film and Theatre.

If anyone has any insight to offer, please email Professor Veronica Kelly at v.kelly at uq.edu.au. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Adam Bowles
The University of Queensland

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