11 Feb /14

Samuel Purchas – Man of the Day

Samuel Purchas was an English vicar who compiled travel records from sailors and unpublished manuscripts. Ironically enough for a man who stated he had never travelled more than 300 kilometres from where he was born, his claim to fame is putting together some first-hand descriptions of early English international travel. In his comments, Samual Purchase made it clear that the main purpose of travel literature was to inspire Englishman to become involved in international trade and travel. In 1600, Great Britain still had a lot of catching up to do.

Samual Purchas first published Purchas: His pilgrimage in 1613 and continued adding to the work until his death in 1626. It is really an international compilation covering travel to Asia, the Americas as well as Russia and Greenland. The subtitles give an indication of his thinking. The 1613 version is subtitled Relations of the Worlds and the Religions, the next version, The History of Man and the final 4-volume edition History of the World in Sea Voyages and Land Travels by Englishmen.

In the process, Samuel Purchas introduces many words into English. Sprinkler was mentioned yesterday. Even though he may not have been the original author, Purchas was the first to publish documents, reports or manuscripts which contained the following words:

alligator, apeman, atoll, census, crater, ditto, emu, emir, fatwa, guru, Islam, kiosk, macaw, Mongol, moose, pariah, parka, peon, phallas, rubbish, sofa, squid, superlunary, yogi and yoghurt.

Altogether the Oxford English Dictionary cites Samuel Purchas over 2,000 times. Our Word of the Day blog will return to him regularly. Strange that a man who never left England should have introduced so many new ideas and concepts.

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