YATES, William. Loughborough, Leicestershire 15.12.1792 — on sea 3.7.1845. Rev. British Missionary and Indologist in India. Son of a Baptist shoemaker, went school in Leicestershire. Intended to follow in his father’s profession, but became engaged in religion and started in the age of 18 the study of classical languages with the support of his friends. After a brief while as schoolteacher went in 1812 to Baptist College in Bristol. Now he started with Oriental languages and soon decided to make career as a Bible translator. Ordained in 1814. Discarding university studies he left for India in 1815 as a missionary. In Serampore he learnt Sanskrit and Bengali from Carey, but when Serampore community in 1817 parted from the Baptist Missionary Society, WY did not follow and moved to Calcutta. He founded a school, toured preaching and wrote in 1817-27 a number of manuals of languages, a Bengali translation of the Psalms and missionary biographies. He became kown as an ardent critic of the suttee. After a visit to the U.S.A. and Europe in 1827-28, he returned to Calcutta in 1829 as Minister of the English Church. From 1839 on he concentrated solely on translating. Left for England because of health problems, but died on sea. A.M. 1831 Brown University (U.S.A.), D.D. 1839 ibid. Married in 1816 Catherine Grant, widower 1839, married again 1841 Martha Pearce.
Besides a missionary, WY was a many-sided linguist, who knew Greek, Latin and Hebrew, several Indian languages and even Chinese.
Publications: A Grammar of the Sunscrit Language. 28+428 p. Calcutta 1820.
– A Sunscrit Vocabulary, containing the Nouns, Adjectives, Verbs and Indeclinable Particles most frequently occurring in the Sunscrit Language, Arranged in Grammatical Order with explanations in Bengali and English. 13+220 p. Calcutta 1820.
– The Sunscrit Reader, or easy Introduction to the Reading of the Sunscrit Language. In five parts I. Select Sentences II. Dialogues III. Duties of Young person IV. Fables V. Poetical Extracts. 64 p. Calcutta 1821 (in Bengali letters, very rare), 2nd ed. (in Devanāgarī) Calcutta 1822.
– Bible translations: Psalms in Bengali. 182?; the whole Bible in B., ed. by J. Wenger. 1852; Psalms in Sanskrit. 184? (in śloka metre), some other parts in Sanskrit.
– Introduction to the Hindoostanee Language, viz. Grammar with vocabulary and Reading Lessons. 1-3. 1827, 2nd ed. 1843, 3rd 1845, 6th 1855.
– “Essay on Sanskrit Alliteration”, As. Res. 20:1, 1836-39, 135-160; “Review of the Calcutta edition of the Naishadha Charita”, As. Res. 20:2, 1836, 318-337.
– The Nalodaya, or history of king Nala, a sanscrit poem of Kalidasa, accompanied with a metrical transl., and Essay on alliteration, etc. 11+404 p. Calcutta 1844.
– A Dictionary in Sanskrit and English. Edited by J. Wenger. 928 p. Calcutta 1847; A Dictionary, Hindoostany and English. 608 p. Calcutta 1847.
– Introduction to the Bengali Language. Ed. by J. Wenger. 1-2. 1850, 2nd ed. 1874, rev. ed. as Bengali Grammar. 1864.
– a study of Hebrew verbs; a grammar of Arabic; schoolbooks in Bengali; polemics against suttee; also wrote on religion, education, nature, and history.
Sources: Buckland, Dictionary.; *J. Hoby, Memoir of William Yates D.D. L. 1847; D.S.M., D.N.B. 63, 1900, 304f., *rev. version by L. Milne, Oxford D.N.B. 2004; Wikipedia with portrait.
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