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Angelus Francis Xavier Maffei

Die Korrespondenz zwischen Angelus Francis Xaver Maffei und Hugo Schuchardt wurde von Johannes Mücke und Hugo Cardoso bearbeitet, kommentiert und eingeleitet.

Die Edition bzw. einzelne Briefe sind zu zitieren als:

Mücke, Johannes & Hugo Cardoso. 2014. 'The correspondence between Angelus Francis Xaver Maffei and Hugo Schuchardt'. In Bernhard Hurch (ed.) (2007-). Hugo Schuchardt Archiv. Webedition available at, retrieved on 20.02.2019

Angelus Francis Xavier Maffei


Biographical Sketch

The Jesuit missionary Angelus Francis Xaver Maffei was born in 1844 in Pinzolo, a small parish in northern Italy, at this time part of Austria – in the "Holy Land of Tyrol", as it is named in an obituary (Anonymous 1899) that serves as the main source for the biographical sketch presented here. Maffei was educated in Trient (Trento). Supported through his home diocese, he studied theology and philosophy at the Jesuit-led Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Maffei joined the Society of Jesus after having finished his studies in 1871. After two years as a novice, he took his vows and assumed the additional names of Francis Xaver. From 1873 to 1878 he taught "Mathematics, History, Philosophy, and Theology" (Anonymous 1899: 8) in the Jesuit colleges of Brixen (Bressanone), Tyrol, Scutari (Shkodra), Albania, and, according to Saradesāya (2000: 71), Zara (Zadar) in Dalmatia. In 1878 he started his work as a missionary and was transferred to Mangalore (Mangaluru) in India. He engaged in missionary work for only a few months during his years in Mangalore (Mangaluru), before becoming parish priest and military chaplain at Cannanore (Kannur) for five years. In his first letter to Schuchardt from April 13th, 1884, he apologises for sending only "pochi cenni" ('a few hints') on the Indo-Portuguese in Cannanore (Kannur), as he had been residing there only "da alcuni mesi" ('for some months'), which means he must have arrived in 1883 or 1884. Subsequently, he worked at the Jesuit St. Aloysius College in Mangalore (Mangaluru) until 1898, where he worked as professor, principal and temporarily as rector (1891-1896). After his retirement, he devoted himself once again to the mission, but he died only a few months later in 1899, in a village near the South Indian town of Kasaragod (Anonymous 1899: 10-13).

Maffei was not only very interested in the languages spoken in his area of work, he was obviously also linguistically talented. A few years after arriving in India and learning Konkani among the Christian population of Mangalore (Mangaluru), he published A Konkani Grammar (Maffei 1882), An English-Konkani Dictionary and A Konkani-English Dictionary (Maffei 1883). Later on, he learnt Sanskrit, Tulu, Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam (Anonymous 1899: 9). In 1892 he published a shorter and improved version of the Konkani Grammar under the title Konkṇi ranantlo sobit sundor taḷo or a sweet voice from the Konkani Desert (Maffei 1892).

Editorial notes

The correspondence with Schuchardt took place during Maffei’s years in Cannanore (Kannur) and consists of only two letters dating from 1884 (Nr. 06771 and Nr. 06771) that are stored in the Hugo Schuchardt letter archive at the University Library in Graz. We have found no indication of any preserved letters from Schuchardt to Maffei, and therefore we do not know the content of Schuchardt’s letters to Maffei. We can only conclude that the initial letter was sent from Schuchardt to Maffei. It is interesting to note that Maffei knew Schuchardt’s consultant Mascarenhas, who was mentioned by Schuchardt in his "Kreolische Studien VI. Ueber das Indoportugiesische von Mangalore" (Schuchardt 1884: 882). Furthermore, Maffei criticises the information provided by Mascarenhas, which implies that he was familiar with Schuchardt’s study. It is possible, therefore, that Schuchardt included a copy of his study in his correspondence with Maffei. As for Maffei’s own linguistic notes from his first letter, these were published only five years later in Schuchardt’s "Beiträge zur Kenntnis des kreolischen Romanisch VI. Zum Indoportugiesischen von Mahé und Cannanore" (Schuchardt 1889).

Linguistic contribution

Maffei’s first letter contains a small set of sentences in the Indo-portuguese of Cannanore, which Schuchardt transcribes in full at the closing of his 1889 "Beiträge zur Kenntnis des kreolischen Romanisch VI. Zum Indoportugiesischen von Mahé und Cannanore". It consists of 15 sentences in "Portog. di Cannanore"('Cannanore Port.'), each one preceded by the equivalent in "Vero Portoghese" ('Real Portuguese'), i.e. European Portuguese. Maffei tells Schuchardt he studied some Portuguese in Europe before moving to India but adds that he had very little need for this language there and that he did not speak the Indo-Portuguese variety himself.

Though short, this corpus is highly significant, and not only for the fact that it is the only set of 19th-century Cannanore Indo-Portuguese linguistic data known to date. Maffei does not clarify his method of data-collection, but it seems as though native speakers were interviewed by someone not entirely familiar with the language (whether Maffei or someone else). Maffei inserts a few question marks into the corpus, reflecting some uncertainty, although one cannot be sure if this uncertainty came from his difficulty in parsing the sentences or in parsing someone else’s handwriting. At any rate, the collector apparently did not modify the input greatly and resorted to an approximate phonetic transcription of what they heard even when they were unable to parse it. As a result, this short collection of sentences appears to reflect the spoken language much more closely than other samples collected for Schuchardt elsewhere. In fact, it contains several lexemes and linguistic structures which can be recognised in the modern-day Indo-Portuguese of Cannanore, such as the word pisia 'a little', the post-nominal genitive marker -zu̥, or the attribution of dative case to experiencer arguments (e.g. Pami pisia friu te 'I[Dat.] have a little cold').


Anonymous. 1899. A short sketch of father A. F. X. Maffei, of the Society of Jesus. Mangalore: Codialbail Press.

Maffei, Angelus Francis Xavier. 1882. A Konkani Grammar. Mangalore: Basel Mission Book & tract Depository.

Maffei, Angelus Francis Xavier. 1883. An English-Konkani Dictionary [and A Konkani-English Dictionary]. Mangalore: Basel Mission Press.

Maffei, Angelus Francis Xavier. 1892. Konkṇi ranantlo sobit sundor taḷo or a sweet voice from the Konkani Desert. Mangalore: printed at the Codialboil Press.

Saradesāya, ManohaRai L. 2000. A history of Konkani literature. (from 1500 to 1992). New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi.

Schuchardt, Hugo. 1884. 'Kreolische Studien VI. Ueber das Indoportugiesische von Mangalore '. In Sitzungsberichte der philosophisch-historischen Classe der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Wien 105: 881-904.

Schuchardt, Hugo. 1889. 'Beiträge zur Kenntnis des kreolischen Romanisch VI. Zum Indoportugiesischen von Mahé und Cannanore'. In Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie 13: 516-524.