Coming in the wake of the earlier grammars of Tibetan Language by scholars like Alexander Csomade Koraos, H.A. Jaschke, Rai Sarat Chandra Das, Henderson, C.A. Bell and others, Hannah's work has a definite advantage over his forerunners especially in that it is the outcome of his practical experience. The author has dealt with both Literary and Colloquial Tibetan mostly in usage around Lhasa. The important and elusive subjects of Pronunciation and Spelling are given on principles more systematic and accurate, highlighting the subtle distinctions. The so-called verb has also been elaborately treated keeping in view the genius of the Tibetan sentence, the construction of which is unique.
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For many centuries Tibet has been a term incognita - little or nothing being known about it, as regards either its physical conditions or its inner life.
Not. indeed till a few years ago, when a British force entered Lhasa, the " Place of the minor gods" was the veil withdrawn ; and even then the withdrawal was only partial, transient, and very local, As for the language, though there have been several gallant attempt-s to plunge into the labyrinthine obscurities of its construction notably on the part of Alexander Csoma de Koros in 1834 and subsequently of H. A. Jaschke-that also, it must be confessed remains more or less a mystery; for no one, l. take it: is likely to aver that the present state of our knowledge on the subject is at all satisfactory.
Much, no doubt, has been contributed by the more recent labours of Rai Sarat Chandra Das Bahadur, Mr, Vincent Henderson) the Rev, Edward Amundsen, and Mr. C. A. Bell, But, in spite of all_ even they, and every one else who has taken up the study, will admit that, wherever one treads, the ground still feels uncomfortably shaky, especially in regard to certain aspects of the so-called verb ; wherever he gropes there is something that seems ever to elude him 1 and, amid the weird philological phantoms that Hit uncertainly around in the prevailing gloom, his constant cry, I feel very sure} is still one for more light.
I do not for one moment claim for this grammar the character of scientific work. Many years ago when I was studying the language in Darjeeling, under Kazi Dawa Sam Dup-a particularly intelligent and scholarly Tibetan—it was my habit during the course of my mornings lesson to make notes of what I then learnt. After a time these notes became so numerous that for my own convenience I was obliged to reduce them to some degree of order. These ordered notes themselves growing in bulk: the idea occurred to me that I might just as well put them into the form of a book) and this I did—the result being a MS which has long lain by me, but which is new about to be published. It is merely another attempt on the part of one who has tried to profit by the works of others, to re-state (originally for his own private satisfaction) what has already been achieved in a field of obscure and somewhat difficult research; to correct or modify previous effort, wherever correction or modification seemed necessary or desirable; and even, to some extent, to supplement it in one or two respects which appeared to be susceptible of further elucidation and expansion.
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