Gbesela Yeye or English-Ewe Dictionary

The first Gbesela was published in 1910; the second, which was a reprint of the first without any alterations, in 1922. The present edition (1930) is a completely new book and is more than double the size of its predecessors.

The Gbesela Yeye or New Interpreter is intended to serve both Europeans and Africans, and this purpose has governed its composition and arrangement. The Ewe reader will expect to learn from it the Ewe equivalent for an English word which he may come across in his English reading. or in conversation. In consequence the Dictionary should contain not only the English rendering of Ewe words, but should also try to explain at least the more important of such English words for which the Ewe language has not yet developed a precise expression, and for which circumlocution or approximation is necessary. The enormous difference in the development of the two languages makes it necessary very often to use in Ewe the same word or phrase for a considerable number of English expressions with their numerous fine shades in meaning, although, in justice to Ewe, it must be admitted that in certain respects the valent. Ewe language abounds in expressions for which English is hardly rich enough to offer an equivalent.

For anyone who wants to acquire the language, the marking of tones is indispensable, as every one will be aware who has ever seriously tried to approach the language. In a Dictionary, where the words stand isolated, even the Ewe Reader will in many cases not be able to find out which word is intended, if the tones are unmarked.

In books for native speakers of the language, however, that is to say in the national literature, very few tone marks are required, because the context explains what is intended to say. Both non-Ewe and Ewe speakers will find the arrangement helpful by which short phrases or sentences have been added to many words, showing how they are used. This is particularly desirable and almost indispensable in the mutual interpretation of two languages which differ so widely as Ewe and English. The Ewe word in isolation in very many cases conveys practically no meaning to the non-Ewe speaker, unless its construction and application are shown in examples.

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