Missionary HEA Meyer

Meyer, HEA ~ Tamil Language Studies at Erlangen University in Germany, 1839

Together with his fellow mission student, Heinrich Cordes, Meyer was sent to the Erlangen University to study the Southern Indian language Tamil during the Summer Semester 1839.

This connection was established by the Dresden Mission sister society, the Bavarian Foreign Mission Society of Pastor of Wilhelm Loehe (Wikipedia) in Neuendettelsau, about 30 km SE of Erlangen.  The Dresden Missionary Society had been exploring for some time the re-development of the India Lutheran Mission field that had been established by the German Lutheran missionary Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg (1632-1719).  Cordes and Meyer were appointed for this task as the first Dresden missionaries in India.1 ]

Their lecturer, renowned Orientalist Professor Friedrich Rückert (Wikipedia), had learned the language himself only a short time earlier through books and documents collected by Ziegenbalg:  His Grammatica Tamulica, Theologica tetica written in Tamil, as well as the translation of the Old Testament and Luther’s Small Catechism. Other sources came from missionary Bernhard Schmid.   Based on these publications, Rückert created a glossary of Tamil words and a Grammar said to be still existing in the Berlin State Library. The two future missionaries participated in a Tamil language course between April to July 1839 apparently specifically designed for them by Rückert.  Whether they had formally enrolled at the University is not clear, but in August they attended the Dresden Mission AGM, as this was holiday time and Rückert would not have been at Erlangen.  It may be possible that this AGM decided to send Meyer to Australia.  Whether a private Tamil course announced by Rückert for the following Winter Semester (October 1839 to February 1840) was specifially planned for Cordes is not yet clear.2 ]

However, already in July, Meyer indicated in a letter to his mission director, Pastor Wermelskirch, that he did not feel adequate, in particular relating to the demands in acquiring languages, and asked to reconsider his appointment for India in favour of Australia.3 ]

  1. Wucherer, Johann Friedrich, Hrsg. Sonntagsblatt. Zehnter Jahrgang 1840. Beck, 1840. Page 13-14. [ ▲ ]
  2. Gupta, N. L. 1998. Cross Cultural Communication : Global Perspectives. Concept Publishing Company. Pages 220-221. - Rückert, Friedrich and Beate Hess. 2006. Kleine Schriften Zur Indologie. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. Page IX. - Bobzin, Hartmut. „Friedrich Rückert – Der ‚orientalische‘ Dichter und Philologe“. In Poeta Philologus: Eine Schwellenfigur im 19. Jahrhundert, edited by Mark-Georg Dehrmann and Alexander Nebrig, 67–82. Peter Lang, 2010. Page 80.- Lois Zweck, Personal Communication, 30 June 2012. [ ▲ ]
  3. Letter by Meyer to Wermelskirch, 2.7.1839. [ ▲ ]

For reference:

Administrator. Missionary HEA Meyer :: Meyer, HEA ~ Tamil Language Studies at Erlangen University in Germany, 1839, in: Pirltawardli Research Website. Adelaide 2020.
(Created: 14.11.2014. Last updated: 11.02.2016.)
Direct URL: <www.grweb.org/cpo-pirltawardli/en/detail.php?rubric=people_colonial_MeyerHEA&nr=419>. Viewed 04.07.2020.