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|themes > Colonial bio- & bibliographies > bio-bibliographies > JOHN CARRINGTON
JOHN CARRINGTON (1914-1985): Bio-bibliography & correspondence with G. Hulstaert / by Honoré Vinck [in French only]
Repris de Aequatoria 14(1993)565-583
Il est difficile d'estimer en ce moment l'importance historique ou les aspects durables du travail de Mr Carrington. Pour l'étude de l'histoire du lingala, on devra essayer de déceler son influence sur l'édition de la Bible protestante et du Dictionnaire/Grammaire de Guthrie. Il est sûr qu'on ne peut pas se passer de ses études sur le lokele. Ses publications sur le langage tambouriné me semblent également de valeur durable.
A. RÉFÉRENCES BIOGRAPHIQUES
Monsieur John Carrington était un ancien collaborateur d'Aequatoria et il a une longue relation épistolaire avec Gustaaf Hulstaert. Ces deux missionnaires, l'un protestant, l'autre catholique, se ressemblent fortement dans leurs inspirations et dans leurs ambitions.
Né le 21 mars 1914 à Rushden, Northants, England.
2. Congo-Belge / Zaire
Premier départ en août 1938.
(1) 1938-1950: Yakusu
Responsable de l'école primaire de la Baptist Missionary Society (BMS)
(2) Conge et séjour en Belgique1950-1951
Août 1950: Mr et Mme Carrington quittent Yakusu
(3) 1951-1958 Yalemba
- Directeur de l'Ecole Grenfell (Ecole secondaire pour enseignante et catéchistes)
(4) 1958-1959 à Yakusu (depuis juillet)
- Directeur de la mission
(5) 1961-1964: Yalemba
- Destruction de la mission par la rébellion en 1964
(6) 1965-1975: Kisangani
- 1965-1974: professeur à l'Université de Kisangani. Il enseigne aussi à une école secondaire
3. ANGLETERRE: 1975-1985
- 1975: Voyage aux Etats Unis sur invitation de la Hartzler Fondation Lectures.
Dans les rubriques suivantes, les lettres et chiffres entre parenthèses renvoient à la classification des Carrington Papers aux Archives BMS à Oxford. Je remercie les responsables pour leur aimable accueil lors de mes recherches.
Études et Notes Linguistiques inédites
(Papiers Carrington aux Archives BMS, Oxford)
1) Pour l'étude de l'évolution du lingala
- Un typo script avec corrections de la Bible en lingala
(2) Sur le lokele
- Esquisse de grammaire, typoscript, 58 pages, 1972
- "Circular Letters to his friends in England". (B7, 4)
Anonym, The man who gave the drums a new message, Baptist Times 23 January 1986, p. 16
- Tone and Melody in a Congolese Popular Song,- African Music Society Journal
annexe: EXTRAITS DE LA CORRESPONDANCE CARRINGTON-HULSTAERT
Les Archives Aequatoria à Bamanya conservent 12 lettres, de J. Carrington à G. Hulstaert (Microfiches CH 17-18). Elles abordent principalement les 4 thèmes suivants:
-langues du Haut-Congo,
La lettre 9 du 2 août 1948 a trait à la botanique.
J'ai mis les noms des groupes humains en exergue pour faciliter le repérage des informations les concernant. J'ai respecté la graphie des noms ethniques comme représentée dans les originaux, même là où elle est contradictoire.
1. Lettre du 7 avril 1944
I have some enquiries about the TURUMBU language during my residence here at Yakusu, because this tribe is very near to us and has many representatives in our Mission ranks. It is very much broken up into dialectical forms I think. This is especially true of the drum language. But the spoken language is certainly kin to LOKELE. When one of the TURUMBU men leads devotional exercises in his own tongue it is not difficult for a lokele speaking person to make out what is being said, granted a certain stereotyped vocabulary for religions subjects. I am afraid I have no details of the BUDJA language and so cannot say that Turumbu is nearer LOKELE than Topoke. Although TOPOKE again is not very different from LOKELE, when the roots of the words are studied versus the BASOKO tongue, I have to admit again that I have little information, although I certainly intend to make enquiries about this language from our colleagues at Yalemba. I have recently acquired some notes on the Drum language of this area and find that it is similar in many ways to the Western TURUMBU drum... but how far this is explained by borrowing cannot say.
Discussing this "nearness" of one language to another should like to ask your advice on an idea which bas been "simmering" for a year or two now but which I hesitate to put on paper in print because of its rather unusual character (or so I believe it to be). My scientific training calls for something more definite when comparing languages than saying that such and such a language is "near" to another language but not "near" to a third one. For instance I might quite well say that TURUMBU is nearer LOKELE than TOPOKE, but if you came to study these language you might easily arrive at the opposite conclusion, and what criteria could be discover to settle the question? I have sought some kind of mathematical expression for nearness of languages. Thus I took a sample of some 500 words covering different phases of native life and different grammatical categories and wrote down the equivalents in several different languages of the Yakusu area. I then compared them in pairs, LOKELE always being one of the members of the pair, and noted words which had common roots and those which had different roots. The percentage of common roots was then worked out for each language as compared with LOKELE. Thus a kind of coefficient of similarity" was produced which showed in an objective way how near to or how far from LOKELE was the language under discussion. Unfortunately I was not able at the time to complete the TURUMBU vocabulary, but the Eso (=TOPOKE) language gave a coefficient of 53. You might be interested in other figures:
C: KINGWANA, 18
I have also tried to work out similar coefficients using he Ur-Bantu vocabulary of Meinhof instead of Lokele which is a little-known Bantu language.
This bit of work is still in progress and awaiting for its completion a time when mission routine and extra work allows on opportunity to get down to language study.
If you think this method would be of value in linguistic work I should be glad to try to put it on paper as an article for publication, but I am a little afraid of obtruding my mathematical training and outlook on to linguistic science which has little or no mathematical tradition! Some look askance at mathematics in Biological Science; how much more must one be careful of offending in Linguistic Science!
2. Lettre du 4 juin 1944
Your remarks about the suggested method of numerical comparison of Central African languages were kinder than those made by some missionary colleagues when I proposed it to them! They said (quite rightly) that such resemblance would only be superficial unless an intimate knowledge were available of each of the languages to be compared. But your phrase, underlined in your letter, gives just the point of view that I would like to make clear. This method is capable of giving results "dans sa sphère". And that sphere can only be a rather circumscribed one. I would certainly not be a party to any plan of reducing a living language to mere figures!
But for the scientific study of the language figures can give more precise information than mere word.
If I may be allowed a parallel I should like to recall the measurement of intelligence in school-boys as a mathematical attempt to give a precise value to a property of living beings. The Intelligence Quotient obtained by using the approved tests is a valuable figure to a school-master (I hope someday to see them used on the Congo!) but it has only a very limited application. I shouldn't care to use the I.Q. for instance in assessing the value of a man to the Church! So with the proposed Coefficient of Resemblance of languages, it would only do the work which we propose for it, namely to help in a more precise classification of languages; and to help in determining whether certain languages are more or less related.
In an-earlier letter I mentioned that I was attempting to make the comparison with Meinhof's UR-BANTU vocabulary as a base instead of LOKELE or another local Bantu language. I have made a trial of this now and get the rather interesting result that with this vocabulary of UR-BANTU the coefficients of resemblance are distinctly higher than with a random vocabulary such as the one-I had previously worked on.
I think I gave you some figures. Here is the comparison:
These rough figures need checking and more need to be worked out but it seems to me an objective and rather precise support of Meinhof's UR-BANTU as being what it sets out to be, namely a vocabulary of roots which are primitive. One could say that-the value of UR-BANTU is evident from mere inspection of the vocabulary Meinhof gives, but such figures as these seem, to my mind, more convincing!
A further use for the Coefficient method has occurred to me, but this time I have had no opportunity of getting even preliminary figures. The comparative work is rather onerous and a missionary's time is very limited. In botanical classification (and zoological) it is recognised that certain characteristics are more "conservative" than others and are therefore of greater value in determining relationship. The flower, more especially the ovary, is regarded as one of the most conservative regions of the plant and hence forms the basis of all botanical classifications.
Following this part of the flower, there is a whole hierarchy of "conservatisms". Now looking through my random vocabulary which I grouped according to words used in the town, in war, in the forest, on the river, part of the body, journeying, spiritual considerations and so on, it seems evident that certain groups contain many more common roots... that is, are more conservative...than others. But this is certainly very superficial and is perhaps only of a passing interest.
There were some queries at the end of your letter, which must answer. The LINGALA I have taken as standard is that given in Guthrie's "Grammaire et Dictionnaire" published in 1939 just as the KINGWALA I use is also an attempt at coordination of a large number of different forms by J. Whitehead in his "Manuel de Kingwana" published at Wayika.
I gave the name KIKOMO to the language spoken by villagers on the opposite bank of the Congo from Yakusu because this is how they pronounce their language and the name of their tribe. We have always written Bakumu, but they themselves use Bakomo. I find that is often the case up here. The villagers of what we write as Yakusu say Yakoso.
Similarly an up-river village written as Yatumbu is definitely pronounced as Yatumbo, and again what we have written as Yasendu and PIMU are really Yasendo and Pimo in the mouths of our native people. In notice that the McKittrick's Guide to Lonkundo published in 1892 gives the language as lunkundu! It is not easy to distinguish between o and u evidently.
3. Lettre du 16 juin 1946
The linguistic situation in the villages of the Aruwimi- bongo "presqu'île" is certainly complicated. I have been able to collect specimens from several of the villages around our YALEMBA (probably better written YAALEMBA) station and there is great variation. But any account of the languages spoken there would have included references to OLOMBO - as spoken nearer Yakusu and the WℇMBℇ dialect of Lokele as will as to LIANGBA (= KINGELEMA) as spoken on the Aruwimi up to Banalya. (…).
The presence of a lad from our UPOTO station in the Yakusu Medical School has given me an opportunity of noting down some elements of LINGBELE - the lad is a Mungbele. It is an interesting languae in that the nominals possess a double class prefix: ómótó, ábáto (man); ídího, ámáho (eye); oméle , inzéle (tree) for example (I do not guarantee the accuracy of the tonal values yet!)
Moeller in his "Grandes Lignes etc." signals the presence of Mangbele people near Gombari in the N-E. of the Stanleyville Province. It would be interesting to see if their language were like the specimen I have collected here. So far as I know there are no records existant of Lingbele. Have you anything in your archives? The forms idiho (eye) and -homba (buy) as well as hu (us) recall the LIANGBA (ki-Ngelema) and HℇSƆ, in which h commonly replaces the s of neighbouring languages (cf. LOKELE liso, -somba, iso). The word for plantain is remarkable - ℇhℇt - spoken quite distinctly with a final consonant. This recalls the languages of the Cameroon region.
4. Lettre du 25 août 1946
I haven't forgotten your request, in an earlier, for a copy of our LOKELE Grammar. All that we have are typed copies, mostly very tattered, and there are only a few of them. But since you said that even an old copy would do, however torn and soiled, I am daring to send you one that I have come across. Please realise that this grammar is in need of revision and I cannot accept all that is therein written - especially about the tonal structure of the language. Also I think that our present knowledge of the Lokele tongue has outstripped the stereotyped sentences of the Grammar, but no-one has yet had an opportunity to sit down and attempt to revise the work. I am quite sure bat LOKELE has a Locative class, for instance, with a characteristic prefix a- or perhaps ma-. Ur-Bantu ku- may probably be represented by our ndo- and the infinitive should really be given the prefix o- and not ndo- as our grammar has it. These are just a few of the points, which must be added to our revision when it occurs.
5. Lettre du 28 février 1947
I don't think I told you about a recent decision made at Yakusu over the use of SWAHILI by Protestant Missions in the East of Congo. Hitherto three distinct forms of Swahili have been used and the British and Foreign Bible Society has printed the New Testament in these three forms (differing in orthography, grammar end vocabulary). Now, however, the Bible Society wants a single Swahili acceptable to all Swahili users. We have come to some measure of agreement as to the form to be adopted -and we are now going ahead with the work of translation. I have S. Mark's Gospel to translate first. It is an arduous task and it remains to be seen how far we shall agree on the final result - but Swahili is certainly becoming more and more important as a "langue véhiculaire" for Mission work in the East of the colony:
6. Lettre du 2 septembre 1947
Your welcome for my notes on the OLOMBO language encourages me to put on paper notes which I have been able to amass slowly on other tongues of the area about which nothing has been published (so far as I am aware). But this will have to proceed slowly because the data must be carefully controlled and time is not easily available, as you know only too well, in missionary life on the Congo! The only linguistic work I have been able to do this term, other than the OLOMBO notes and my translation work in SWAHILI (Congo) bas been the editing of some notes I made several years ago on the libeli (initiation rites) language of the LOKELE end related peoples, et the request of Professor Doke of Johannesburg. These notes may appear in African Studies if they are deemed to be of sufficient value and interest to the readers of that Journal. But what a vast field awaits us in this small area here - KOMO, ENA (Genya et the Falls), ÁNGBÁ (Lebéo) of Gérard's work, but a dialect from rather different from that he noted), TOPOKÉ, various MBƆ́Lℇ dialects, (Hℇ)SƆ), and the fascinating non-Bantu KI(MAŊGA) or, to use the people's own name for their language, MBA.
7. Lettre du 13 novembre 1947
"(The BALÍNGÁ are a MBƆ́Lℇ group which lives in riverside village on the Lomame).
I am enclosing a sketch map of the Lomame area with what information I have been able to obtain about language areas there. It is not first hand for I have not yet had the pleasure of travelling beyond the MBƆ́Lℇ area (Yaiʃa). But I am convinced that we must distinguish between the TOPOKE (or ℇSƆ) and the FOMA people. (The State groups them together, I know). The TOPOKÉ have a distinct language which, while showing different dialect forms, is quite separate from (LO)KELE. On the other hand the FOMA speak KELE. The gong language of the FOMA people is the same as that of the LOKELE whereas the TOPOKÉ have their own gong language. In this connection I feel sure that MOELLER'S account is at fault. On page 200 of his "Migrations" he writes:
"Les Mboso de Mbelo affirment être Topoke et se donnent comme berceau la forêt derrière Yatutu (rive gauche de Lomami). C'est à tort qu'on leur applique parfois le nom de Foma, qui ne convient qu'aux Bambole. Ils ont le lilwa des Topoke, différent de celui des Bambole".
I will not quarrel with his origin of YATUTU - but the LILWA of the FOMA, while not being that of nearer BAMBOLE is actually that of the LOKELE which differ slightly from that of the TOPOKE. I agree that the FOMA are not identical with the BAMBƆLℇ but they should be separated from the TOPOKE. I must try to get evidence together on the subject.
Your surprise that the LOKELE around OPALA must be placed on the river bank only is quite correct. The LOKELE are fishing folk and despise the forest tribes. They would never live far from the riverbank. The hinterland of the area you query is populated by a section (YAKÉMBÉ) of the MBƆLℇ people. Below them is the BOLOMBOOKI group, a forest tribe population both banks of the Lomami for some distance. The TOPOKÉ have a few villages on the East bank below the BOLOMBOOKI, but the main populations here are the MBƆLℇ (Ikɔli section) and the FOMA. One TOPOKÉ village called YAMBASE has ascended the Lowae stream into Busa territory".
8. Lettre du 4 juillet 1948
When we came back from England in 1945 you met us at Coquilhatville and enquired about the fate of my suggestions for using a simple statistical method for comparing Bantu vocabularies. These suggestions had been left in the hands of Dr. Guthrie for his perusal and comment. I expected an early reply from him. But no reply was forthcoming to my letters to him for well over a year. I have recently heard from him, however, and he says, en passant, that he thinks my work was based on vocabularies, which were not large enough. This is, in my opinion, a valid criticism - but I believe that the method is still a valuable tool for comparative work even if large vocabularies are not used. In fact there are very few Bantu vocabularies published which possess a thousand items the minimum figure, which Guthrie requires for validity. I am sure too that the light thrown by the method on the nature of really a common denominator of the nature of Meinhof's Ur-Bantu (namely that the roots given by him are really a common denominator of the languages used by him and therefore not really applicable to the whole of the Bantu field) is still worth seeing. Well - I have been wondering whether you would care to publish the suggestions in Aequatoria if I made a French translation of them. The recent article (I find that I have lent my copy to a fellow missionary and cannot give the title of the article I refer to!) in Aequatoria using a similar method of comparing dialectical forms shows that readers of the review have already had the idea brought to their knowledge and would possibly favour a fuller exposition. But, if you feel that the ideas in question are rather too technical or not sufficiently interesting, or if you already have more material than you can possibly publish, I shall not resent at all your editorial request that I withhold my proposed article
9. Lettre du 2 août 1948
Owing to my earlier studies in botany I am extremely interested in medicinal plants and have read with enjoyment the articles you have published on this subject in Aequatoria. Gradually I my self am accumulating a series of herbarium specimens and notes in the medicinal plants used in our region. It will be of great interest to me to read whatever synthesis you are able to publish of your own findings in this subject in the Nkundo area and elsewhere. May I congratulate Father Verbeek (and yourself, who no doubt lent a hand which linguistics in the publication of the notes) on giving the tonal patterns of the plant names? So many excellent ethno-botanical studies are spoiled because of the failure to realise the nature of the names involved. I have indeed often toyed which the idea of writing a note for publication in a botanical review on: "De la nécessité de précision linguistique dans l'emploi des noms vernaculaires des plantes" - or some such (ameliorated if necessary) title.
10. Lettre du 29 février 1952
We are just settling down to our new task here at Yalɛmba and experiencing a certain sense of frustration in having to express ourselves in our imperfect Lingala after having been able to use Lokele et Yakusu. As Guthrie expounds it, this language is quite a useful tool for school work but I hesitate to recommend it for use in the church. As soon as possible I shall try to acquire a working knowledge of HℇSƆ - the tongue spoken by the folk around Basoko and the basis of most of the gong language of this area.
11. Lettre du 3 juillet 1953
But I will do my best to answer your questions. First of all, about BOLOMBOOKI. Until recently I had nothing at all on this language; but just before your letter arrived I was most surprised to come across a new settlement of people on the Yalemba-Basoko road who told me that the State had posted them there to make canoes for government use. They turned out to be people of the Bolombooki tribe who have been set aside by the State for this kind of work for some time. They have occupied several places in Isangi Territory before coming here. So, when your letter came with its query about the language of this group, I went along to see the leader - who speaks LINGALA and LOKELE fluently - and tried to set some specimens of the tongue; I send you these for what they are worth - I fancy that my use of LOKELE at first may have influenced some of the replies, but I switched over to Lingala when I saw that many words were being given the LOKELE values and I think that the equivalents are trustworthy.
LIUTUWA and BALUALAMBILA (that is how I hear these vocables on the lips of local people) are regarded by TOPOKE people here as TOPOKE and therefore distinct from the-BOLOMBOOKI who prefer to say that they are of the same group as the YALℇMBℇ-LOKELE. So far as my language notes go, BALUALAMBILA is indistinguishable from the other TOPOKE groups I have examined. The same would probably be true of LIUTUWA, though I have no definite information.
BAFOMA. These people live on the South bank of the river and inland from it; thus adjoining the Bambole tribe. They are called derisively by the riverine folk MBOSO (not mbɔsɔ) which of course, means "skin". Yalikoka is a "chefferie" of this group, which also includes Yalihila and Yalikanja. In earlier works this group of people were called TOPOKE - but they themselves will not admit such a relationship. They speak a language that, except for some few vocabulary differences, is essentially the same as that spoken by the Lokele. This is true of their gong words too. As you know, the group called 'Lokele" by the Arabs (?) is a composite one; one section (Yaboni) is Olombo in origin but another (Yuwani and Yaokanja) derives from the BAFOMA - which would explain the common tongue.
BASOKO. This is the language used here et Yalɛmba in the early days for mission work. We had a New Testament printed in it and also hymn-books and other literature. But today the mission had abandoned the use of this tongue for LINGALA. The decision may seem an unwarranted one to those of us (I include myself) who prefer a tribal language to a lingua franca for evangelistic as well as school work, but I think it bas been justified in practice.
The BASOKO language is spoken by a small group of villages immediately behind and to the west of Basoko. It has strangely enough become the medium of gong-converse (I don't yet know why).
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