Handwritten Arabic phrasebook

[Arabic and English vocabulary and phrasebook]. The Interpreter in the Arabic and English Languages, Consisting of Nouns, Epithets (or Adjectives), Verbs & Afterwards Some Compendious Examples.

N. p., ca. 1830s.

4to (215 x 270 mm). (3) ff., 237 pp., 238-266 ff., (10) pp. Arabic and English manuscript on J. Whatman 1829 watermarked paper, 17 lines written in black and red ink. With 2 folding tables. Contemporary full navy blue morocco, giltstamped title on spine, ruled in gilt. Marbled endpapers.


A unique, handwritten vocabulary and phrasebook of English and Arabic from the first half of the 19th century. This meticulously prepared manuscript is written in the fashion of a printed book, opening with a title-page and ending with an index of topics. It is divided into four main sections: nouns, adjectives, verbs, and example sentences. The vocabulary, especially in the nouns section, is arranged by subjects, which include such interesting headings as "Druggist", "Painter", "Merchant", "Cities", "the Bride's Paraphernalia", "Precious Jewels", "War", "The Church", "Clerical Vestments", "Ecclesiastical Degrees & Kinds of Sin", "Festivals", and "Monks, their prayers, and their dress". Presumably the dictionary was created to help a traveller or merchant who may have had an association with the Church.

The final section offers an interesting selection of phrases and sheds some light on the experience of foreign language learning in the early 19th century. The phrases are a mixture of sentences that would be useful in daily life and such as would be included to practice the words from the vocabulary. Examples include: "We roasted a lamb and ate the whole of it and drank wine with it"; "I descended from above with the youth, my enemy"; "I shot the bear in the water and he sank"; and "Why dost thou scratch thy head and spit in fire". As a cheat sheet for Arabic grammar, the author includes two folding tables of Arabic verb tenses and conjugations. Overall, a curious example of a 19th century Arabic vocabulary and phrasebook.


With a presentation note in English indicating it was a Christmas gift in 1881, presented by G. W. Bernard Esq.


Binding and spine worn. Browning, stains.