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Leonardo di San Luigi

Die Korrespondenz zwischen Leonardo di S. Luigi und Hugo Schuchardt wurde bearbeitet, kommentiert und eingeleitet von Ana Krajinovic.

Die Edition bzw. einzelne Briefe sind zu zitieren als:

Krajinovic, Ana. 2015. 'The correspondence between Leonardo di S. Luigi and Hugo Schuchardt'. In Bernhard Hurch (ed.) (2007-). Hugo Schuchardt Archiv. Webedition available at, retrieved on 27.02.2020

Leonardo di San Luigi


1          Biographical Sketch

Leonardo Mellano was born in 1826 in Carrù, Italy (Annuario Pontificio 1885). In 1851 he went to the Malabar as a priest of the Order of Discalced Carmelites (Payyappilly 2008:112). He served as rector of the Seminary at Puthenpally from 1853 to 1863 and, in 1868, he was consecrated titular bishop of Olympus and the co-adjutor of Archbishop Baccinelli, Vicar Apostolic of Verapoly[1] (Payyappilly 2008:113, Annuario Pontificio 1885). Later the same year, he became the Vicar Apostolic of Verapoly and, in 1870, was appointed the title of Archbishop of Nicomedia (Annuario Pontificio 1885). Leonardo Mellano contributed greatly to the administration of ecclesiastical goods in the Malabar with his canonical work Decrees and Statutes of Verapoly, promulgated in 1879 (Changankary 2012). In 1886, the Vicariate of Verapoly was raised to the status of an Archdiocese and Leonardo Mellano di S. Luigi became the first Archbishop of Verapoly (Pylee 1977, Annuario Pontificio 1885).

2          Editorial notes

The correspondence between S. Luigi and Schuchardt dates from 1883 and consists of two letters from S. Luigi (Hugo Schuchardt Archiv, No. 06407, 06408, see Wolf 1993). From the content of these letters, one can conclude that they were written in response to Schuchardt, who initiated the correspondence, although we have not found any indication that his letters to S. Luigi have been preserved. The letters by S. Luigi date from July 4th and September 12th, 1883, and in both he refers the date of Schuchardt’s letters to which he is responding, the first being from May 29th and the second from July 29th. S. Luigi’s remarks indicate that Schuchardt had asked him for linguistic data of the Portuguese creoles spoken around Cochin (Malabar), where S. Luigi was situated as Vicar Apostolic of Verapoly.

3          Linguistic contribution

Although the letters by S. Luigi do not contain any linguistic data, they offer interesting information about the sociolinguistic reality of the Indo-Portuguese creoles of the Malabar at the end of the 19th century.

In the first letter, S. Luigi gives some valuable information about the extension of the Indo-Portuguese language in the Vicariate of Verapoly. He was of the opinion that the number of speakers of Indo-Portuguese did not exceed a thousand families. Interestingly, S. Luigi notes that this number would be even smaller if he excluded the “puramente Indiani, e per lo più, di casta bassa, che per nobilitarsi si sono trasformati in Indo portoghesi, adottando il vestito all’Europea” (“pure Indians, mostly of a low caste, who transformed into Indo-Portuguese to ennoble themselves, adopting the European dress”). The ones who adopted the “European dress” were usually called by the “popolo malabarico col titolo di Paranghi” (“Malabaric people with the title of Parangi”) or “dagli Inglesi chiamati East Indians, ed anche Eurasians” (“called ‘East Indians’ and also ‘Eurasians’ by the English”). We can see that, in the end of the 19th century, Indo-Portuguese people were already recognized as a separate group associated with European ancestry. In fact, the name “Paranghi”[2] is still used nowadays for Portuguese descendants in Kerala, while the term “East Indians” now usually refers to Portuguese descendants around Mumbai (Baptista 1967). European descendants of mixed European origin (Portuguese, Dutch, English), or “Eurasians”, are nowadays more commonly known as “Anglo-Indians” (Dias 2013:118) in many parts of India.

S. Luigi also informed Schuchardt that the Indo-Portuguese were scattered in various parts of the mission, but were found in a larger number in Cochin, with 150 families. In its vicinity, in Vypin (“Vaipim”), Mattancherry (“Mattincheira”), Saude and Ernakulam (“Ernacollum”), he estimated a total of around 350 Indo-Portuguese families.

When it comes to the “dialetto portoghese di Cochin”, as is called by S. Luigi, he claimed that by that time it could be considered dead, because except for a few families that still used to speak it at home, the Indo-Portuguese “non conoscono che la lingua malabarica, e per lo più, anche la lingua inglese” (“they speak only the Malabaric language and, most of them, also the English language”). Nevertheless, he admits that many old Indo-Portuguese people still spoke the “dialetto antico portoghese di Cochin” (“old Portuguese dialect of Cochin”), but their children usually did not. We can see that, at this time, use of the Indo-Portuguese of the Malabar was already limited to the home and, therefore, its social utility was very restricted. Concerning the linguistic data, S. Luigi adds that he had never seen anything written in Cochin dialect “fuori di un libercolo vecchio, e di nessuna importanza” (“except one old booklet of no importance”).

Clearly, the booklet intrigued Schuchardt, leading him to ask for more information about it in his response to S. Luigi. This is clear from S. Luigi’s second letter, in which he regrets not having found the booklet, despite all the efforts. We find out that the booklet was of a religious character and that it belonged to a protestant minister who had to get it translated “da qualche nativo East Indian di Cochin” (“by some native East Indian from Cochin”). In fact, it was a common practice among protestant missionaries in South and Southeast Asia to translate religious books into a local language (Irving 2014). Since the translation and printing of such religious books was done in order to spread Protestantism, it is understandable that S. Luigi expresses a negative attitude towards it.

S. Luigi’s data about the number of speakers and the vitality of the language at the end of the 19th century has a bearing on the present situation of the Indo-Portuguese creoles of the Malabar[3]. Although at the time the language was still being acquired by some children, several decades later the language ceased to be transmitted to the new generations (Cardoso, forth.).

4          References

Annuario Pontificio 1885. 1888. Tipografia Vaticana, Rome.

Baptista, Elsie Wilhelmina. 1967. The East Indians: Catholic Community of Bombay, Salsette and Bassein. Bombay East Indian Association, Bombay.

Cardoso Hugo C. forthcoming. The Indo-Portuguese Creoles of the Malabar: historical cues and questions. in Pius Malekandathil (ed.), Minutes of the XIV International Seminar on Indo-Portuguese History. Primus Books.

Cardoso, Hugo C. 2014. Factoring sociolinguistic variation into the history of Indo-Portuguese. In Revista de Crioulos de Base Lexical Portuguesa e Espanhola 5: 87-114.

Changankary, Matthew. 2012. Finance officer in the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Church. A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Canon Law, Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Canada.

Dias, Charles. 2013. The Portuguese in Malabar. A Social History of Luso Indians. Manohar Publishers, New Delhi. 

Dictionaries available online: ;

Irving, David R. M. 2014. The Genevan Psalter in Eighteenth-Century Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Eighteenth Century Music 11.2: 235-255.

Kanjamala, Augustine. 1996. Integral Mission Dynamics: An Interdisciplinary Study of the Catholic Church in India. International publications, New Delhi.

Nourai, Ali. 2013. An Etymological Dictionary of Persian, English and other Indo-European Languages. Available online:

Pylee, Lenthaparambil Mani. 1977. St. Thomas Christians and the Archdiocese of Verapoly: A Short Historical Study. St. Joseph's Industrial School Press, Ernakulam.

Payyappilly, Sebastian. 2008. Mixed-marriage in the code of canons of the Eastern Churches and the particular law of the Syro-Malabar Church. A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Canon Law, Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Canada.

Schuchardt, Hugo. 1882. Kreolische Studien II. Über das Indoportugiesische von Cochim. Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Wien (Philosophisch-historische Klasse) 102: 799-816 (HSA 133).

Schuchardt, Hugo. 1889a. Beiträge zur Kenntnis des kreolischen Romanisch. V. Allgemeineres über das Indoportugiesische (Asioportugiesische). Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie 13: 476-516 (HSA 219).

Schuchardt, Hugo. 1889b. Beiträge zur Kenntnis des kreolischen Romanisch: VI. Zum Indoportugiesischen von Mahé und Cannanore. Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie 13: 516-524 (HSA 220).

Wolf, Michaela. 1993. Der Hugo Schuchardt Nachlaß. Schlüssel zum Nachlaß des Linguisten und Romanisten Hugo Schuchardt (1842-1927). Leykam, Graz.

[1] The Vicariate Apostolic of Verapoly of the Roman Catholic Church originated from the Vicariate of Malabar, erected in 1659, shortly after the arrival of Carmelite Missionaries (Pylee 1977, Kanjamala 1996). It comprised the area of the Malabar coast (present-day Kerala), with a population of native Christians of the Syrian Rite and the Roman Catholic converts. In 1887 Syro-Malabar Catholics obtained their own vicariates of Kottayam and Trichur (Changankary 2012:38) and a few decades later they constituted their own hierarchy. Today the Syro-Malabar Church is recognized as one of the sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches.

[2] The name originates from the Old French Frankon, referring to the Germanic tribe, which then entered Persian (farangî) and Arabic (faranji) languages, being used to denominate French people and Europeans in general (Nourai 2013:134). Through Persian or Arabic, the word farangî /faranji spread to languages of India and many other Asian languages (e.g. Thai farang). In Malayalam it resulted in a form paranki (“the Portuguese, westerner, one who wears the western dress”), given that the language lacks the sound [f] in its phonemic inventory. The word Paranghi, therefore, has most probably originated from the Malayalam version, and refers to the “Europeans” of the region.

[3] The Indo-Portuguese of the Malabar became extinct in Cochin (Vypin) with the death of its last speaker in 2010, but there are a few last speakers in Cannanore and possibly a few other locations.

Briefedition und Kommentare

Die Briefedition wurde unter Mitarbeit von Johannes Mücke erstellt.