626 18th St., Oakland, Cal., May 9, 1905.
Rev. William Haven, D.D.,
New York City.
Dear Dr. Haven:
I am in receipt of your letter of April 27th and also of one from Rev. Judson Smith, Secretary of the American Board, in which he states that he has a letter of inquiry from you. In answering both letters I desire to say that I have kept up my Greek ever since I left College and in recent years I have read in the Greek Testament almost every day when at home. When I went to the Islands in 1894, knowing that I would probably translate the Old Testament into the language, I secured Dr. Harper's instruction books in Hebrew and went over the entire course after reaching my field, which required about two years time. This gave me a working knowledge of the Hebrew.
As to how I made the translations: In China it was customary for the translator to dictate to a Chinese teacher, who did the writing. When I prepared a catechism on the Life of Christ in the Chinese, I was unable to speak on account of throat trouble, and so I wrote out my translations in Romanized form, which Mrs. Price pronounced to the teacher while he wrote it down in Chinese. I think in China it was the usual custom to make much use of the native teacher in making translations. In Ruk I revised Genesis and Exodus,
translated Leviticus, Ruth, Esther and nearly all the Psalms, all of which were published by you five years ago, and began a revision of the New Testament. There [in Ruk] it was very difficult to get help from natives. One had to do nearly all the work oneself. In Guam I found the conditions much more favorable. Some of our Protestant people were very well educated in their own language. As to my own knowledge of their language: I think I spoke the language fairly well. I acquire languages perhaps a little more readily than some others. The best teacher I had in Guam was accustomed to say to me: "You know more about the Chamorro language than I do." which was true and not true. It was not true that I knew more of the peculiar forms of expression in which all languages abound and with which all natives are very familiar; but it is true that I had a larger vocabulary than he did [had] and a profounder knowledge of the grammar and the structure of the language. In making my translations I had the teacher translate from the Spanish into the Chamorro as I wrote it down; but finding this very [slow &] burdensome and having received into my training school several pupils, who were mature and who understood Spanish, I had them write out independent translations and taking these I compiled from them a translation to suit my own ideas of the language. By this means I got their forms of expression and was able to secure a correct translation of the Greek text. Later I took the very best translators that I had and gave them special portions
of the scripture to translate and taking these I revised them comparing with the Greek and had copies made of them on the typewriter. I am now going over these copies comparing them carefully with the Greek text and putting them in the best shape possible. As there are Catholic priests both Spanish and native in Guam, who will do all that they can to destroy the influence of the portions of scripture that we shall publish, I am especially desirous that this translation may be as perfect as possible. In order to secure this end I propose to return to Guam go over the translations again with the very best native help I can obtain and there put them in their final form. So much for the translations.
As to the portions that should be published: when I wrote you last year I thought I should be able to spend considerable time this year in making translations; but ill health has prevented my doing so. It is only quite recently that I have been able to take up this work. I think if we should publish the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, perhaps one or two of the Epistles, [&] the Psalms in one volume[;] and Genesis and the first twenty chapters of Exodus in another volume, we should be fairly well equipped for our work there for sometime to come. The other portions of the scriptures might be translated more leisurely. As to publishing the scriptures in Japan I have had the matter in mind for sometime and I wrote to Dr. Greene of our Board more than two years ago about it.
He sent me an estimate made by the Fukuin Printing Co., which I enclose to you. From this estimate you will be able to determine what it will cost to print the portions suggested. I may say that Dr. Greene recommends this company very strongly.
The number of people that would be reached by these scriptures is not very large. There are 10,000 people on Guam and less than a thousand more on the other islands, so that 11,000 would be the highest number; still this is a large number of people to be without the Gospel and it is my hope and most earnest desire that these portions of scripture may be furnished them now and later on the entire Bible.
With regard to the first portions of scripture printed in the Chamorro of which you make inquiry I beg to say that these are the only portions of scripture that have ever been circulated among the people. There is a catechism of Christian doctrine published by the Catholics which contains the Lord's Prayer in short form and also the Ten Commandments in brief form; but in these commandments the second commandment reads: "Keep sacred the feast days." This is all the scripture that has ever been published in the Chamorro language, so that these leaflets of ours are really the first portions of scripture ever circulated in Guam.
Our people who have been deprived of the scriptures appreciate greatly these portions which have been given them and their delight is real at the assurance that someday the
entire Word of God will be given them. Do we not owe this to them?
I think I have answered all our questions and I hope that you will find it possible to make provision both financially and otherwise for the publishing of these portions of the Holy Word.
With kind regards, I am,
Your very truly,
[Signed] Francis M. Price
Note 1: Ruk: Chuuk, Chuukese, Truk, Trukese
Note 2: American Board: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions