The first dictionary of Arabic published in France

Ruphy, J[acques] F[rançois]. Dictionnaire abrégé François-Arabe, a l'usage de ceux qui se destinent au commerce du Levant.

Paris, de l'Imprimerie de la République (par les soins de P. D. Duboy-Laverne), an X (1802 v. st.).

Large 4to (198 x 260 mm). (4), XV, (1), 227, (1) pp. Contemporary French half calf over papered boards with giltstamped red spine label.


Only edition. The first dictionary of Arabic published in France: a unidirectional wordbook of more than 6,000 French terms translated into Arabic (in Arabic typeface), printed in large type and generously spaced, for the use of French merchants in the orient.

In the preface, the author anticipates the concept of linguistic relativity when he observes that Arabic lacks equivalent terms for a multitude of French words, especially such as relate to everyday life, culture, and the mechanical arts, and states that it would be impossible to translate the works of Newton, Montesquieu, or Lavoisier into Arabic, for "l'ignorance d'une chose entraîne nécessairement l'ignorance du mot qui sert à la désigner" (p. ix). With the practical needs of commercial travellers and secretaries in mind, he has thus aimed to pare down the vocabulary of his dictionary to the bare essentials, so as to offer to those who would wish to use Arabic nothing but the most widely used words (p. xiii).

Ruphy, a native of Greece born Iacovos Rouvis, emigrated to France as a young man and participated in Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign before becoming secretary of the Conseil des arts et du commerce du département de la Seine in 1801.

Binding rubbed; extremeties bumped. A fairly large waterstain throughout the lower third of the book. Rare in the trade; a single copy at auction in the past 40 years.

Ersch/Gruber V, 53. OCLC 27402218. Spirgatis, Kat. 32: Grammatiken und Wörterbücher (Leipzig 1895), no. 309. Not in Zaunmüller or Vater/Jülg.