In the year 1842, a most generous offer made to me by the present Duke of Northumberland (then Lord Prudhoe) enabled me to undertake the composition of this work; and to His Grace's princely aid I have ever since been mainly indebted for the means of accomplishing the project thus originated.
The object proposed was not to do in English little more than what Golius and others had already done in Latin, by translating and composing from a few Arabic lexicons of the class of epitomes or abstracts or manuals; but to draw chiefly from the most copious Eastern sources; one of which, comprising in about one seventh part of its contents the whole of the celebrated Ḳámoos, I knew to exist in Cairo. There, also, I had reason to believe that I might find other sources unknown in Europe, and obtain more aid in the prosecution of my design than I could elsewhere; and thither, therefore, I betook myself for this purpose.
On my arrival at Cairo, I first had recourse, for help in making my preparations, to an accomplished Arabic Scholar, the late M. Fulgence Fresnel, with whom, during a former residence in Egypt, I had contracted an intimate friendship. Previously informed by me of my project, he had tested the qualifications of several learned natives for the task of assisting me in collecting, transcribing, and collating, the materials from which my lexicon was to be composed; and he recommended to me, as the person whom he esteemed the most fit, the sheykh Ibráheem (surnamed ʼAbd-el-Ghaffár) Ed-Dasooḳee. To have engaged as my coadjutor a sheykh respected for his character and learning, and to have been disappointed in him, and obliged to dismiss him, might have made him my enemy, and enabled and induced him to baffle my scheme; but my experience led me to believe that a person better qualified for the services that I required of him, than the sheykh Ibráheem Ed-Dasooḳee, could not have been found by me in Cairo; and I had no occasion to employ any other assistant, except, occasionally, transcribers, under his supervision.
The assistance that I received from my friend M. Fresnel was not limited to the favour mentioned above. With a generosity rarely equalled, he insisted upon transferring to me the most valuable of his Arabic manuscripts, to remain with me during the whole period of the composition of my lexicon, and in case of his death during that period to become my absolute property. Most deeply do I deplore his not having lived to see how greatly those precious manuscripts have contributed to the accuracy and value of my work, and to have them restored to him. They consist of two copies of the Ṣiḥáḥ and a copy of the Ḳámoos. One of the copies of the former lexicon is a manuscript of extraordinary excellence: it was finished in the year of the Flight 676 (A.D. 1277); and forms a large quarto-volume. The other copy of the same lexicon is in three volumes: the second volume surpasses in accuracy every other copy of the same work that I have seen, and is enriched with numerous important extracts, in its margins, from the celebrated Annotations of Ibn-Barree and El-Busṭee: the first volume is similarly enriched, and little inferior to the second in accuracy: the third is of the ordinary quality. The copy of the Ḳámoos, which is written in a very small and compact hand, and forms a single octavo-volume, I believe to be unique: it contains, in its margins, (with other annotations and with various readings,) copious extracts from the great work which is the main source of my own lexicon; and its text, of which the transcription was finished in the year of the Flight 1120 (A.D. 1708-9), has been carefully collated. These valuable acquisitions I made almost immediately after my arrival at Cairo.
It was indispensable, I believe, to the success of my undertaking, that I should most carefully avoid whatever might draw down disrespect from the ʼUlamà of Cairo, or others of the Muslim inhabitants, either upon myself or upon the sheykh who was to assist me in procuring the chief material for the composition of my work. For it was only by his means that I could reasonably hope to obtain the use of manuscripts in the libraries of mosques; that is, by his borrowing those manuscripts as though for his own use: and one of the librarians showed himself to be desirous of urging any pretext in order to refuse the loan of the work that I most needed. I therefore made my place of residence to be as far as I could from the quarters frequented by Franks, and conformed with such of the general usages of the Muslims as did not involve a profession of their religion. But my precautions did not suffice to secure me from every difficulty. Even the Viceroy, Moḥammad ʼAlee Páshá, though almost an absolute prince, could not enable me to overcome them. Hearing of my project, I know not how, he spontaneously informed me, by his Prime Minister, that he was desirous of showing his respect for my Patron by rendering me any assistance within his power. I replied that his Highness would very greatly aid me by granting me authority to demand the loan of certain manuscripts in the libraries of mosques. But it was feared that the wardens of the mosques would in this case urge the necessity of an order from the Sulṭán, or abstract considerable portions from those manuscripts and so defeat my plan. I could therefore only endeavour to obtain, according to the usual custom, through the sheykh my assistant, a small portion at a time of each of the required manuscripts: and even this I was unable to do until after the lapse of some weeks. In the mean time, however, I had the good fortune to acquire a large folio-volume, consisting of nearly the whole of the first tenth portion, of a copy of the great work to which I have alluded before as comprising in about one seventh part of its contents the whole of the celebrated Ḳámoos. This work, entitled “Táj el-ʼAroos” (تَاج العَرُوس), a compilation from the best and most copious Arabic lexicons, in the form of a running commentary on the Ḳámoos, with necessary critical and other illustrations, original, and selected from various authors of high repute, fully justified my expectation. I found, from the portion before me, that it would of itself alone suffice to supply the means of composing an Arabic lexicon far more accurate and perspicuous, and incomparably more copious, than any hitherto published in Europe. But I should not have been satisfied with making use of it for such a purpose without being able to refer to several of the most important of the works from which it was compiled.
Of these works, and others particularly deserving of notice, as well as of the Táj el-ʼAroos itself, and of the principles of Arabic lexicology, I must now endeavour to give a brief account. In doing this, I shall frequently have occasion to cite the “Muzhir” of Es-Suyooṭee, a compilation of the utmost value to students in general, and more especially to lexicographers, of the Arabic language. Its author died in the year of the Flight 911, a date to be borne in mind in perusing my extracts from it. I possess a most excellent copy of it, (written by a learned man, the sheykh Naṣr El-Hooreenee, with the exception of a portion which, while he was suffering from an attack of ophthalmia, was written for him by one of his disciples,) transcribed from the best that is known to exist in Cairo, (namely, that of Es-Sejáʼee, in the library of the great mosque El-Azhár,) and enriched with copious marginal notes.
What is called the classical language of Arabia, often termed by the Arabs “the language of Maʼadd,” and “the language of Muḍar,” is a compound of many sister-dialects, very little differing among themselves, which were spoken throughout nearly the whole of the Peninsula before the religion of Moḥammad incited the nation to spread its conquering armies over foreign countries. Before that period, feuds among the tribes, throughout the whole extent of their territory, had prevented the blending of their dialects into one uniform language; but this effect of disunion was counteracted in a great measure by the institution of the sacred months, in which all acts of hostility were most strictly interdicted, and by the annual pilgrimage, which had obtained from time immemorial, and the yearly fair held at ʼOkáḍh, at which the poets of various tribes, during a period of about a century before the birth of Moḥammad, or perhaps during a somewhat longer period, contended for the need of general admiration.(1)
“Ḳatádeh says that the tribe of Ḳureysh used to cull what was most excellent in the dialects of the Arabs, so that their dialect became the most excellent of all.” (Táj el-ʼAroos, in article عرب: and the like is said in the 9th Section of the Muzhir.) This assertion, however, is not altogether correct: for many of the children of the tribe of Ḳureysh, in the time of Moḥammad, were sent into the desert to be there nursed in order to their acquiring the utmost chasteness of speech. Moḥammad himself was sent to be nursed among the tribe of Saạd Ibn-Bekr Ibn-Hawázin, descendants of Muḍar, but not in the line of Ḳureysh: and he is said to have urged the facts of his being of Ḳureysh and having grown up among the tribe of Saạd as the grounds of his claim to be the most chaste in speech of the Arabs. It is evident, therefore, that Ḳureysh, in his time, were less chaste in speech than some other tribes; though the truth of this asserted saying of his rests, I believe, only on the authority of a Saạdee, who may have forged it in order to raise the reputation of his own tribe for purity of speech. From distant tribes, Ḳureysh probably borrowed little. The dialect of Ḥimyer, confined mainly to El-Yemen, and allied much more to the Ethiopic and the Hebrew than to the language of Maʼadd, contributed to this last language little more than a small proportion of words. For our knowledge of it, which is very scanty, we are chiefly indebted to the researches of M. Fresnel, who discovered a surviving idiom of it, spoken chiefly in the district of Mahreh, between Ḥaḍramowt and ʼOmán: hence it has been termed “Mahree;” and from the name of the tribe who speak it, M. Fresnel gave it the appellation of “Ehhkili,” or “Ehkili.” The author of the “Miṣbaḥ” (El-Feiyoomee) says, in article مهر, “The language of the people of Mahreh, which is a district of ʼOmán, is quick, and scarcely, or not at all, intelligible [to other Arabs], and is of the ancient Ḥimyeree.”
The language of Maʼadd was characterized by its highest degree of perfection, copiousness, and uniformity, in the time of Moḥammad; but it soon after declined, and at length lost almost all that constituted its superiority over the other branches of the Semitic stock in the states in which these are known to us. It is evident that all the Semitic languages diverged from one form of speech: and the known history of the Arabic is sufficient, I think, to show that the mixture of the several branches of the Shemites, in different degrees, with different foreign races, was the main cause, if not of the divergence, at least of the decay, of their languages, as exemplified by the Biblical Hebrew and Chaldee, and the Christian Syriac. That their divergence also was thus mainly caused, we cannot prove; but that this was the case I do not doubt, judging from the differences in their vocabularies, more especially from the differences of this kind in the Hebrew and Phoenician from the other Semitic languages. The existence of at least one language widely differing from the Semitic very long before the age of Moses is proved by the remains of the ancient Egyptian, from the time of the Pyramids; a language predominantly Semitic in its grammar, but predominantly Non-Semitic in its vocabulary; and evidently a compound of two heterogeneous forms of speech. The opinion, common among the learned of the Arabs, that the Arabic is the offspring of the Syriac, apparently suggested by a comparison of their vocabularies and by false notions of development, is simply absurd, unless by “the Syriac” we understand a lost language very different from that which is known to us by this appellation.(2) Every language without a written literature tends to decay more than to development by reason of foreign influences; and the history of the Arabic exhibits an instance of decay remarkably rapid, and extraordinary in degree. An immediate consequence of the foreign conquests achieved by the Arabs under Moḥammad's first four successors was an extensive corruption of their language: for the nations that they subdued were naturally obliged to adopt in a great measure the speech of the conquerors, a speech which few persons have ever acquired in such a degree as to be secure from the commission of frequent errors in grammar without learning it from infancy. These nations, therefore, and the Arabs dwelling among them, concurred in forming a simplified dialect, chiefly by neglecting to observe those inflections and grammatical rules which constitute the greatest difficulty of the classical Arabic: in the latter half of the first century of the Flight, this simplified dialect became generally spoken in the foreign towns and villages inhabited by the Arabs; and it gradually became the general language throughout the deserts, as well as the towns and villages, of Arabia itself. That such a change took place, in the language of the Arabs inhabiting foreign towns and villages, at this period, is shown by several anecdotes interspersed in Arabic works, and amply confirmed in the older Arabic lexicons and other lexicological works by instances of the necessity of appeals to contemporary Arabs of the desert, respecting points of grammar, by learned men whose parents lived in the first century of the Flight. The celebrated lexicologist El-Aṣmaʼee, who was born in the year of the Flight 123, and lived to the age of 92 or 93, was not a sound grammarian. (See De Sacy's “Anthol. Gr. Ar.” p. 49 of the Arabic text.) And even Seebaweyh, who was contemporary, during the whole of his comparatively short life, with El-Aṣmaʼee, appears to have erred in grammar. (See p. 133 of the present work.) Ibn-Seedeh says, in the “Moḥkam,” in art. سرط, (voce سِرَاطٌ) that El-Aṣmaʼee was not a grammarian: and in art. شرب, (voce شُرُوبٌ as pl. of شَارِبٌ) he remarks that Ibn-El-Aạrábee (who calls شروب, pl. of شَرْبٌ) was ignorant of grammar. In short, not a single instance is known of any one's having acquired a perfect knowledge of the grammar of the classical Arabic otherwise than by being brought up among Arabs who retained that language uncorrupted. The Khaleefeh El-Weleed (who reigned near the close of the first century of the Flight), the son of ʼAbd-El-Melik, spoke so corrupt a dialect that he often could not make himself understood by the Arabs of the desert. A ridiculous instance of the mistakes occasioned by his use of the simplified language which is now current is related by Abu-l-Fidà. The rapid progress of the corruption of the language among the learned is the more remarkable when it is considered that many of these, in the first and second centuries of the Flight, were very long-lived: for in a list of the most celebrated Arabic lexicologists and grammarians, in the 48th Section of the Muzhir, the first five whose lengths of life are defined attained the following ages: 92, 74, 93, 96 or 97 or 98 or 99, and 92 or 93: the first of these (Yoonus) was born in the year 90 of the Flight; and the last, in the year 123; this being El-Aṣmaʼee. This series of five is broken only by one, whose length of life is not known. In some few spots, the language of Maʼadd long lingered; and it may perhaps even survive to the present day; as appears from the following curious statement in the Ḳámoos (article عكد): “ʼAkád is a certain mountain, near Zebeed, [a well known city in the western seaboard of El-Yemen,] the inhabitants of which retain the chaste language:” to which is added in the Táj el-ʼAroos, that they retain this language “to the present time [the middle of the eighteenth century]: and the stranger remains not with them more than three nights, [the period prescribed by the law for the entertainment of a stranger,] by reason of [their] fear for [the corruption of] their language.” But instances of the corruption of the classical Arabic are related (in the 44th Section of the Muzhir) as having occurred even in the life-time of Moḥammad.
Such being the case, it became a matter of the highest importance to the Arabs to preserve the knowledge of that speech which had thus become obsolescent, and to draw a distinct line between the classical and post-classical languages. For the former language was that of the Ḳur-án and of the Traditions of Moḥammad, the sources of their religious, moral, civil, criminal, and political code: and they possessed, in that language, preserved by oral tradition, ―for the art of writing, in Arabia, had been almost exclusively confined to Christians and Jews,― a large collection of poetry, consisting of odes and shorter pieces, which they esteemed almost as much for its intrinsic merits as for its value in illustrating their law. Hence the vast collection of lexicons and lexicological works composed by Arabs, and by Muslims naturalized among the Arabs; which compositions, but for the rapid corruption of the language, would never have been undertaken. In the aggregate of these works, with all the strictness that is observed in legal proceedings, as will presently be shown, the utmost care and research have been employed to embody everything that could be preserved or recovered of the classical language; the result being a collection of such authority, such exactness, and such copiousness, as we do not find to have been approached in the case of any other language after its corruption or decay.
The classical language they called, by reason of its incomparable excellence, “el-loghah,” or “the language:” and the line between this and the post-classical was easily drawn, on account of the almost sudden commencement, and rapid progress, of the corruption. It was decided by common consent, that no poet, nor any other person, should be taken as an absolute and unquestionable authority with respect to the words or their significations, the grammar, or the prosody, of the classical language, unless he were one who had died before the promulgation of El-Islám, or who had lived partly before and partly after that event; or, as they term it, unless he were a “Jáhilee” or a “Mukhaḍram,” or (as some pronounce it) “Mukhaḍrim,” or “Muḥaḍram,” or Muḥaḍrim.” A poet of the class next after the Mukhaḍrams is termed an “Islámee:” and as the corruption of the language had become considerable in his time, even among those who aimed at chasteness of speech, he is not cited as an authority absolutely and unquestionably like the two preceding classes. A poet of the next class, which is the last, is termed a “Muwelled:” he is absolutely post-classical; and is cited as an unquestionable authority with respect only to the rhetorical sciences. The commencement of the period of the Muwelleds is not distinctly stated: but it must have preceded the middle of the second century of the Flight; for the classical age may be correctly defined as having nearly ended with the first century, when very few persons born before the establishment of El-Islám through Arabia were living. Thus the best of the Islámee poets may be regarded, and are generally regarded, as holding classical rank, though not as being absolute authorities with respect to the words and the significations, the grammar, and the prosody, of the classical language. The highest of all authorities, however, on such points, prosody of course excepted, is held by the Arabs to be the Ḳur-án. The Traditions of Moḥammad are also generally held to be absolute authorities with respect to everything relating to the prose of the classical language; but they are excluded by some from the class of absolute authorities, because traditions may be corrupted in language, and interpolated, and even forged. Women are often cited as authorities of equal rank with men: and in like manner, slaves reared among the Arabs of classical times are cited as authorities equally with such Arabs. (See the word شَاهِدٌ in the present work; and see also جَاهِلِىٌّ and مُخَضْرَمٌ and إِسْلَامِىٌّ and مُوَلَّدٌ.)
The poetry of the Jáhilees and Mukhaḍrams consists, first, of odes (termed قَصَائِد, plural of قَصِيدَة), which were regarded as complete poems, and which were all designed to be chanted or sung: secondly, of shorter compositions, termed pieces (قِطَع, plural of قِطْعَة); many of which were also designed to be chanted or sung: and thirdly, of couplets, or single verses. In the first of these classes are usually included all poems of more than fifteen verses: but few odes consist of much less than fifty verses or much more than a hundred. Of such poems, none has been transmitted, and none is believed to have existed, of an age more than a few generations (probably not more than three or four or five) anterior to that of Moḥammad. It is said in the 49th Section of the Muzhir, on the authority of Moḥammad Ibn-Selám El-Jumaḥee, that “the pristine Arabs had no poetry except the few verses which a man would utter in his need: and odes (ḳaṣeedehs) were composed, and poetry made long, only [for the first time] in the age of ʼAbd-El-Muṭṭalib [Moḥammad's grandfather], or Ḥáshim Ibn-ʼAbd-Menáf [his great-grandfather].” And shortly after, in the same Section of that work, it is said, on the same authority, that “the first who composed poems of this kind was El-Muhelhil Ibn-Rabeeʼah Et-Teghlibee, on the subject of the slaughter of his brother Kuleyb:” “he was maternal uncle of Imra-el-Ḳeys(3) Ibn-Ḥojr El-Kindee.” “Or, according to ʼOmar Ibn-Shebbeh, each tribe claimed priority for its own poet; and not merely as the author of two or three verses, for such they called not a poem: the Yemánees claimed for Imra-el-Ḳeys; and Benoo-Asad, for ʼAbeed Ibn-El-Abraṣ; and Teghlib, for [El-] Muhelhil; and Bekr, for ʼAmr Ibn-Ḳamee-ah and El-Muraḳḳish El-Akbar; and Iyád, for Aboo-Du-ád: and some assert that El-Afwah El-Azdee was older than these, and was the first who composed ḳaṣeedehs: but these for whom priority in poetry was claimed were nearly contemporary; the oldest of them probably not preceding the Flight by a hundred years, or thereabout. Thaạlab says, in his ‘Amalee,’ El-Aṣmaʼee says that the first of the poets of whom is related a poem extending to thirty verses is [El-] Muhelhil: then, Dhu-eyb Ibn-Kaạb Ibn-ʼAmr Ibn-Temeem Ibn Ḍamreh, a man of Benoo-Kináneh; and El-Aḍbaṭ Ibn-Ḳureyạ: and he says, Between these and El-Islám was four hundred years: and Imra-el-Ḳeys was long after these.” But this is inconsistent with the assertion of Ibn-Selám mentioned above, made also by En-Nawawee in his “Tahdheeb el-Asmà,” p. 163, that El-Muhelhil was maternal uncle of Imra-el-Ḳeys: and as the majority refer El-Muhelhil to a period of about a century before the Flight, we have a double reason for holding this period (not that of four hundred years) to be the more probably correct. According to Ibn-Ḳuteybeh, the time of Imra-el-Ḳeys was forty years before that of Moḥammad; as is stated in the Calcutta edition of the Mo’allaḳát. M. Fresnel contends that the honour commonly ascribed to El-Muhelhil is due to Zuheyr Ibn-Jenáb El-Kelbee, of whose poetry at least seventy-nine verses have been preserved, fragments of different poems, including a piece of fifteen verses, of which the first hemistich of the first verse rhymes with the second hemistich, according to rule. But this Zuheyr, during a portion of his life, is related to have been contemporary with El-Muhelhil. In a fragment ascribed to him, he represents himself (if the fragment be genuine) to have lived two hundred years: and one tradition assigns to him a life of two hundred and fifty years: another, four hundred years; and another, four hundred and fifty years!(4) ―Upon the whole, then, it seems that we may with probability refer the first ḳaṣeedeh to a period within a century and a half, at the utmost, before the Flight.
Moḥammad said, on being asked, “Who is the best of the poets?” “Imra-el-Ḳeys will be the leader of the poets to Hell.” And in the general estimation of the Arabs, he is the most excellent of all the poets. His Mo’allaḳah is most especially admired by them. Of the pagan and unbelieving poets who flourished before and during the time of Moḥammad, El-Beyḍáwee sarcastically remarks (on chap, xxvi. verses 224 and 225 of the Ḳur-án, in which, and the verse that next follows, they are censured as seducers, bewildered by amorous desire, and vain boasters,) “Most of their themes are unreal fancies, and their words chiefly relate to the description of the charms of women under covert, and amorous dalliance, and false arrogations or professions, and the rending of reputations, and the impugning of the legitimacy of parentages, and false threatening, and vain boasting, and the praise of such as do not deserve it, with extravagance therein.” The like is also said in the Keshsháf, (on the same passage of the Ḳur-án) and in too large a degree we must admit it to be just; but it is very far from being unexceptionable. The classical poetry is predominantly objective, sensuous, and passionate; with little imagination, or fancy, except in relation to phantoms, or spectres, and to jinn, or genii, and other fabulous beings; and much less artificial than most of the later poetry, many of the authors of which, lacking the rude spirit of the Bedawees, aimed chiefly at mere elegancies of diction, and plays upon words. Generally speaking, in the classical poetry, the descriptions of nature of the life of the desert, of night-journeyings and day-journeyings, with their various incidents, of hunting, and stalking, and lurking for game, of the tending of camels, of the gathering of wild honey, and similar occupations, are most admirable. And very curious and interesting, as will be shown by many citations in the present work, are its frequent notices (mostly by early Muslim poets) of the superstitions that characterized, in the pagan times, the religion most generally prevailing throughout Arabia; in which, with the belief in a Supreme Deity, with strange notions of a future state, and with angelolatry, astrolatry and idolatry, was combined the lowest kind of fetishism, chiefly the worship of rocks and stones and trees, probably learned from Negroes, of whom the Arabs have always had great numbers as slaves, and with whom they have largely intermixed. Sententious language consisting of parallel clauses, like that of the so-called “poetical books” of the Bible, was probably often employed by the Arabs of every age. It seems to be almost natural to their race when excited to eloquence. But the addition of rhyme in this style of language appears to have become common in the later times. Moḥammad Ibn-Eṭ-Ṭeiyib El-Fásee says (in article خطب of his Annotations on the Ḳámoos) that the oration termed خُطْبَة, in the Pagan and the early Muslim ages, was, in most instances, not in rhyming prose. The remains of classical prose are often used as authorities; but being more liable to corruption, they are regarded as less worthy of reliance than the poetry.(5)
Such are the principal original sources from which the Arabic lexicons and lexicological works have been derived. Another source consisted of phrases and single words transmitted from the Arabs of classical times, or from those later Arabs of the desert who were believed (though they were not regarded as unquestionable authorities) to have retained the pure language of their ancestors. The earlier of these are often called, by the lexicologists, العَرَبُ العَارِبَةُ; as in the 1st Section of the Muzhir, where it is said that the transmission (النَّقْلُ) should be “from such as العرب العاربة, like [the descendants of] Ḳaḥṭán and Maʼadd and ʼAdnán; not from those after them; after the corruption of their language, and the varying of the Muwelleds.” El-Jowharee, as will presently be seen, applies the appellation العرب العاربة even to desert-Arabs of his own time; but in doing so, he deviates from the general usage of the lexicologists. As is said in the 6th Section of the Muzhir, the transmitter must be a trustworthy person; but may be a woman, and may be a slave, as we have before stated. The degrees of credit to which the phrases and words thus transmitted are entitled are distinguished by ranging them in the following classes:
- 1st, (as is stated in the 3rd Section of the Muzhir,) the term مُتَوَاتِرٌ is applied to that which has been transmitted by such a number of persons as cannot be supposed to have agreed to a falsehood:
- 2ndly, آحَادٌ (plural of أَحَرٌ), to what have been transmitted by some of the lexicologists, but are wanting in that which is required to justify the application, thereto, of the former term; and what is thus transmitted is also termed مَظْنُونٌ:
- 3rdly, (as is said in the 5th Section,) أَفْرَادٌ (plural of فَرْدٌ), to what have been transmitted by only one of the lexicologists; and what is thus transmitted, if the transmitter is a person of exactness, as Aboo-Zeyd and El-Khaleel and others, is admitted:
- 4thly, (as is said in the 15th Section,) مَفَارِيدٌ (plural of مَفْرُودٌ), to words known to be spoken only by one Arab.
It was only when all other sources failed to supply what was wanted, that recourse was had, by the writers of lexicons and lexicological works, to contemporary Arabs of the desert; and I do not find that much reliance was often placed upon these after the end of the third century of the Flight. El-Jowharee, who died near the close of the next century, states, in the short preface to his “Ṣiḥáḥ,” that what he had collected in El-ʼIráḳ for his lexicon he “rehearsed by lip to [those whom he terms] العَرَب العَارِبَة in their abodes in the desert (البَادِيَة):” but this he seems to have done rather to satisfy any doubts that he may have had, and to obtain illustrations, than with the view of taking such persons as authorities for words or phrases or significations. It is related of Aboo-Zeyd, in the 7th Section of the Muzhir, that he said, “I do not say ‘the Arabs say’ unless I have heard it from these: Bekr Ibn-Hawázin and Benoo-Kiláb and Benoo-Hilál; or from [the people of] the higher portion of the lower region, or [of] the lower of the higher:”(6) and that Yoonus used the expression “the Trustworthy (الثِّقَةُ) told me from the Arabs;” that being asked, “Who is the Trustworthy?” he answered, “Aboo-Zeyd;” and being asked, “And wherefore dost thou not name him?” he answered, “He is a tribe, so I do not name him.”(7)
Most of the contents of the best Arabic lexicons were committed to writing, or to the memories of students, in the latter half of the second century of the Flight, or in the former half of the next century. Among the most celebrated lexicological works, general and special, of this period, are the “ʼEyn,” commonly ascribed to El-Khaleel, who died in the year of the Flight 160 or 170 or 175 (aged 74); the “Nawádir” of El-Kisá-ee, who died in 182 or 183 or 189 or 192; the “Jeem” and the “Nawádir” and the work entitled “El-Ghareeb el-Muṣannaf” of Aboo-ʼAmr Esh-Sheybánee, who died in 205 or 206 or 213 (aged 110 or 111 or 118); the “Nawádir” and the “Loghát” of El-Farrà, who died in 207 (aged 67); the “Loghát” of Aboo-ʼObeydeh, who died in 208 or 209 or 210 or 211 (aged 96 or 97 or 98 or 99); the “Nawádir” and the “Loghát” of Aboo-Zeyd, who died in 214 or 215 or 216 (aged 93); the “Ajnás” of El-Aṣmaʼee, who died in 215 or 216 (aged 92 or 93); the work entitled “El-Ghareeb el-Muṣannaf” of Aboo-ʼObeyd, who died in 223 or 224 or 230 (aged 67); and the “Nawádir” of Ibn-El-Aạrábee, who died in 231 or 233 (aged 81 or 83): all mentioned near the close of the 1st Section of the Muzhir. From these and similar works, either immediately or through the medium of others in which they are cited, and from oral tradition, and, as long as it could be done with confidence, by collecting information from Arabs of the desert, were composed all the best lexicons, and commentaries on the classical poets &c. The most authoritative of such works are the lexicons; and the most authoritative of these are, of course, generally speaking, the later, because every succeeding lexicographer profited by the critical research of his predecessors, and thus avoided or corrected errors committed by earlier authors. The commentaries on the poets and on the Traditions have contributed largely to the lexicons. They often present explanations that have been disallowed or questioned by eminent lexicographers; and therefore their statements, when unconfirmed by other authorities, must be received with caution: but in many cases their explanations are unquestionably accurate, and they afford valuable aid by giving examples of words and phrases of doubtful meanings. The danger of relying upon a single early authority, however high that authority may be, in any matter of Arabic lexicology, will be shown by innumerable instances in the present work. I here speak of errors of judgment. In addition to these, we have mistranscriptions. A word once mistranscribed is repeated in copy after copy; and at length, from its having been found in several copies, is confidently regarded as correct.(8) The value of the larger and later and more esteemed lexicons cannot, therefore, be too highly rated.
The first of the general lexicons is that which is commonly ascribed to El-Khaleel, entitled the “ʼEyn” (كِتَاب العَيْن); and this has served in a great measure as the basis of many others. In it the words are mentioned according to their radical letters, as in all the best lexicons; but the letters are arranged, with the exception of ا and ى, which are classed with و for obvious reasons, nearly in the order of their places of utterance, as follows; commencing with ع (whence the title):
ع ح ه خ غ ق ك ج ش ض ص س ز ط د ت ظ ذ ث ر ل ن ف ب م و ا ى
Under each of these letters, in the foregoing order, except the last three which are necessarily classed together, are mentioned all the words of which the roots contain that letter without any letter of those preceding it in this arrangement: first, the biliteral-radical words: then, the triliteral-radical; of which are placed first the sound; secondly the unsound in one letter; and thirdly the unsound in two letters: next, the quadriliteral-radical: and lastly, the quinqueliteral-radical. Thus, under the letter ع are mentioned all the words of which the roots contain that letter: under ح, all the words of which the roots contain that letter without ع: under ه, all of which the roots contain that letter without ع or ح: and so on. For instance, in the section of the letter ل, we find, in the first division, first, لن; then, لف and فل; and so on: and in the second division, first, نفل and فلن; then, لبن and نبل; and so on: all the combinations of the same radical letters being arranged consecutively; and the same order of the letters being observed in all cases. Respecting the question of its authorship, which is involved in much uncertainty, I have gathered from the 1st Section of the Muzhir what here follows. Es-Seeráfee says that El-Khaleel composed the first part of the ʼEyn. But most men deny [absolutely] its being his composition. Some say that it is by Leyth [or El-Leyth] Ibn-Naṣr Ibn-Seiyár El-Khurásánee. El-Azheree says that El-Leyth composed it, and ascribed it to El-Khaleel in order that it might become in much request. Some say that El-Khaleel composed the portion from the beginning to the end of the letter ع, and El-Leyth completed it; and therefore it is that the first part does not resemble the rest. Ibn-El-Moạtezz relates, on the authority of the “Moạjam el-Udabà” of Yáḳoot El-Ḥamawee, that El-Khaleel made himself solely and peculiarly an associate of El-Leyth; and when he composed the ʼEyn, assigned it to him: that El-Leyth held it in very great estimation, and gave him a hundred thousand [dirhams]; and committed the half of it to memory:(9) but it happened that he purchased a highly-prized female slave, who, becoming jealous of the daughter of his paternal uncle, [i. e. his wife,] and desiring to enrage him, which she could not do with respect to money as he would not care for her doing this, burned that book: and as no one else possessed a copy of it, and El-Khaleel had then died, El-Leyth dictated the half that he retained in his memory, and employed persons to complete it uniformly with that half: and they made this composition which is in the hands of men. To account for the mistakes occurring in the ʼEyn, Thaạlab says, “El-Khaleel sketched it out, but did not fill it up; and had he filled it up, he had spared nothing in it; for El-Khaleel was a man of whom the like has not been seen: certain learned men filled it up, on whose authority nothing has been related.” It is also said that El-Khaleel composed, of this book, only the section of the letter ع, and his companion El-Leyth composed the rest, and named himself “El-Khaleel” [i. e. “the friend”]; and that when he says, in the book, “El-Khaleel Ibn-Aḥmad says,” it is El-Khaleel; and when he says, absolutely, “El-Khaleel says,” he speaks of himself: and that every flaw in the book is from him; not from El-Khaleel. En-Nawawee says that, [according to some of the learned,] the ʼEyn ascribed to El-Khaleel is only what El-Leyth collected from El-Khaleel.(10) The mistakes in the ʼEyn are numerous; and there are many interpolations in copies thereof. Several authors have applied themselves to point out and correct these faults: some, in works specially devoted to this object: some, in abridgments of the ʼEyn or in other lexicons. But in general the mistakes are confined to matters of inflection and derivation; not extending to the insertion of false or unknown words: and such mistakes are of light account.(11)
The following notices of other celebrated lexicons, composed after the ʼEyn, so far as to include the Ḳámoos, I borrow chiefly from the same section of the Muzhir; distinguishing my own additions by enclosing them within square brackets.
Among the celebrated lexicons composed after the model of the ʼEyn, is the “Jemharah” of Ibn-Dureyd, [who is said to have died in the year of the Flight 321, and to have lived 93 years.] Some say that it is one of the best of lexicons; and it has been taken as an authority by Aboo-ʼAlee El-Fárisee and Aboo-ʼAlee El-Ḳálee and Es-Seeráfee and other eminent authors. Ibn-Jinnee disparages it for faults similar to those of the ʼEyn: and Nifṭaweyh, whom Ibn-Dureyd had satirized, pronounced it to be untrustworthy; but without justice.
The “Tahdheeb” of El-Azheree, [who was born in the year of the Flight 282, and died in the year 370 or 371. This is a very excellent lexicon, and one from which I have largely drawn, immediately and through the medium of the Lisán el-ʼArab and of the Táj el-ʼAroos. Its arrangement is the same as that of the ʼEyn, which it calls “the book of El-Leyth,” and from which its contents are in a great measure derived. I possess a large portion of this work in a volume of the “Tahdheeb et-Tahdheeb;” and a small portion, consisting of 193 pages, of a copy in large 8vo., corresponding to a part of the former.]
The “Moḥeeṭ” of the Ṣáḥib Ibn-ʼAbbád. [Ibn-Khillikán(12) states that he was born in the year of the Flight 326, and died in 385: and describes this work as “in seven volumes; arranged in the order of the letters of the alphabet; copious in words, but having few confirmatory examples:” thus resembling the Ḳámoos. Much has been drawn from it in my own lexicon.]
The “Mujmal” of Ibn-Fáris, [who died in the year of the Flight 390 or 395.] He restricted himself, in his lexicon, to the mention of genuine words; excluding the unfamiliar and ignored; on the authority of oral tradition, and from books of good repute; aiming, as he says, at abridgment and conciseness. [His work is highly esteemed. The arrangement is that of the usual order of the letters of the alphabet.]
The “Ṣiḥáḥ,” or, as some call it, “Ṣaḥáḥ,” of El-Jowharee, [commonly, now, pronounced “El-Jóharee,” who died, according to Abu-l-Fidà, in the year of the Flight 398, and “was from Fáráb, a city of the country of the Turks, beyond the river,” that is, beyond the Seyhoon: or, according to Ibn-Esh-Shiḥneh, he died in the year 397, as I find in two copies of his history in my possession: or, according to Ḥájjee Khaleefeh, in 393.] Et-Tebreezee says that it is commonly known by the title of the صِحَاح, which is pl. of صَحِيح; but that some call it the صَحَاح, which is synonymous with صَحِيح. As its title imports, the author restricted himself to the mention of genuine words, like Ibn-Fáris, his contemporary. [But his lexicon is far more comprehensive, and more excellent in every respect, than that of Ibn-Fáris.] As he says in his preface, he composed it in an order which none had before pursued, [mentioning each word according to the place of the last letter of the root, and then the first and second, in the usual order of the alphabet,] after collecting the contents in El-ʼIráḳ, and rehearsing them by lip [as I have before mentioned] to [those whom he terms] العَرَب العَارِبَة in their abodes in the desert (البَادِيَة). Eth-Thaʼálibee says that he was one of the wonders of the age. His lexicon, however, is not free from instances of inadvertence or mistakes, like all great books; and such as cannot be attributed to the copyists. Yáḳoot says, in the “Moạjam el-Udabà,” that the cause of the mistranscriptions in it was this: when he had composed it, it was read to him as far as [the section of] the letter ض, and an evil suggestion occurred to his mind, in consequence of which he cast himself from a housetop, and died: so the rest of the book remained a rough draught, not pruned, or trimmed, nor fairly copied out; and his disciple Ibráheem Ibn-Ṣáliḥ El-Warráḳ made a fair copy of it, and committed mistakes in some places in it. Ibn-Barree wrote a commentary, or series of annotations, (حَوَاشٍ plural of حَاشِيَةٌ,) on the Ṣiḥáḥ, [an extremely valuable work,] in which he reached the middle [of the section] of the letter س; and the sheykh ʼAbd-Allah Ibn-Moḥammad El-Busṭee completed it. [But I have invariably found passages from every part of it cited as the sayings of Ibn-Barree.] And Eṣ-Ṣaghánee, or, as he is called by some, Eṣ-Ṣághánee, wrote a Tekmileh (تكْمِلَة, i. e. Supplement) to the Ṣiḥáḥ; exceeding it in bulk. [Some further remarks on the Ṣiḥáḥ (my own copies of which have been already described) will be found in my account of the Ḳámoos. The abridgment entitled “Mukhtár eṣ-Ṣiḥáḥ” is well known: it is too scanty to be of much use except to those who desire to commit to memory the most usual words and significations. A very superior abridgment is the “Jámiʼ” of the seyyid Moḥammad Ibn-es-seyyid-Ḥasan, which was finished, according to Ḥájjee Khaleefeh, in the year of the Flight 854. It is copious, well digested, and enriched with additions from the Mughrib of El-Muṭarrizee, the Fáïḳ of Ez-Zamakhsheree, the Niháyeh of Ibn-El-Atheer, &c. Of this work I possess a very good copy.]
The “Jámiʼ” of El-Ḳazzáz, [who died in the year of the Flight 412. Ḥájjee Khaleefeh mentions it as “an esteemed book, but rare.” It is not unfrequently cited in the Táj el-ʼAroos.]
The “Mooʼab” (thus, with fet-ḥ to the ع,) of Aboo-Ghálib Ibn-Temám, [or, according to Ibn-Khillikán, Aboo-Ghálib Temám,] known by the appellation of Ibn-Et-Teiyánee, [who died in the year of the Flight 436;] a work of very great utility, consisting of what is correct of the contents of the ʼEyn, not omitting anything of the confirmatory examples from the Ḳur-án and the Traditions and the genuine poems of the Arabs, but rejecting what it contains of examples respecting which there is disagreement, and of mistranscribed words, and faulty formations; and adding what Ibn-Dureyd has added in the Jemharah. It is rarely found; for people have not persevered in transcribing it, but have rather inclined to the Jemharah of Ibn-Dureyd and the Moḥkam of Ibn-Seedeh and the Jámiʼ of El-Ḳazzáz and the Ṣiḥáḥ &c.
The “Moḥkam” of Ibn-Seedeh the Andalusian, who was blind, (as was also his father; and who died in the year of the Flight 458, aged about 60 years.] This is the greatest of the lexicological books (i. e. of the lexicons] composed since the age of the Ṣiḥáḥ [to the time of the author of the Muzhir, of those known to him. It follows the arrangement of the ʼEyn; and it is held in very high estimation for its copiousness, its accuracy, its critical remarks, and its numerous examples from classical poets. In copiousness and in some other respects, it is superior, and in others hardly (if at all) inferior, to the Ṣiḥáḥ. It is one of the two chief sources of the Ḳámoos; the other being the ʼObáb of Eṣ-Ṣaghánee: and I have drawn from it very largely, both immediately and through the medium of the Lisán el-ʼArab and of the Táj el-ʼAroos, for my own lexicon. I possess the last fifth part of it in a volume of the “Tahdheeb et-Tahdheeb;” and another large portion, and a smaller portion, of a most admirable copy which has been dispersed, written in the year of the Flight 675, for the library of a Sulṭán, apparently the celebrated Beybars.]
[The “Asás” of Ez-Zamakhsheree, who was born in the year of the Flight 467, and died in 538. This lexicon is a very excellent repertory of choice and chaste words and phrases; and especially and peculiarly valuable as comprising a very large collection of tropical significations, distinguished as such, which has greatly contributed, by indirectly illustrating proper significations as well as otherwise, to the value of my own lexicon, as my numerous citations of it will show, although I have generally been obliged to draw from it through the medium of the Táj el-ʼAroos, which often does not name it in quoting it. Its order is the same as that of the Mujmal, apparently in most copies: but some, which are said to be abridged, follow the order of the Ṣiḥáḥ.]
[The “Mughrib” of El-Muṭarrizee, who was born in Khuwárezm, in the year of the Flight 536, and died in 610. This is a lexicon of select words and phrases, and particularly of such as occur in books of Traditions, and other works relating to the law. It forms a very valuable companion and supplement to the other lexicons; and I have constantly consulted it and drawn from it in composing the present work. Its arrangement of the roots is that of the usual order of the alphabet, with respect to the first, second, and third letters of each. I possess a very excellent copy of it, written in the year of the Flight 977, presented to me by the Rev. J. R. T. Lieder, late of the English Church-Mission in Cairo.]
The “ʼObáb” of Eṣ-Ṣaghánee, or Eṣ-Ṣághánee, (who was born in the year of the Flight 577, and died in 660, according to the Muzhir (48th Section), or, as is said in the Táj el-ʼAroos (art. صغن), in 655, on the authority of one who attended his funeral.] This, after the Moḥkam, is the greatest of the lexicological works composed since the age of the Ṣiḥáḥ [to the time of the author of the Muzhir, of those known to him. It was left unfinished. If, as I believe is the case, it follows the order of the Ṣiḥáḥ, the portion completed was somewhat more than three fourths; for] the author reached, in it, to the section of بكم: which occasioned the saying,
* إِنَّ الصَّغَانِىَّ ٱلَّذِى * حَازَ ٱلْعُلُومَ ألْحِكَمْ * كَانَ قُصَارَى أَمْرِهِ * أَنِ اٌنْتَهَى إِلَى بَكَمْ *
[“Verily Eṣ-Ṣaghánee, who mastered the sciences and the doctrines of philosophy, the utmost of his case was that he reached to بَكَم which signifies “dumbness,” &c, — Though a man of extensive learning, he was opiniative, and addicted to unjust criticism of his superiors. A copy of the ʼObáb, and a copy of the same author's Supplement to the Ṣiḥáḥ, before mentioned, used by the author of the Táj el-ʼAroos, belonged to the library of the mosque of the Emeer Ṣarghatmish, in Cairo; but on my causing an inquiry to be made for them, the librarian declared that they were no longer found there. They have probably been stolen; or had not been returned by the author of the Táj el-ʼAroos when he died; on which occasion, it is said, his house was plundered of the books &c, that he left.]
[The “Lisán el-ʼArab” of Ibn-Mukarram, who was born in the year of the Flight 630, and died in 711. In the copy of his lexicon in the library of the collegiate mosque called the “Ashrafeeyeh,” in Cairo, consisting of twenty-eight quarto-volumes, he is styled “Jemál-ed-Deen Moḥammad Ibn-esh-sheykh-el-imám-el-marḥoom-Jelál-ed-Deen-Abi-l-ʼIzz-Mukarram Ibn-esh-sheykh-Nejeeb-ed-Deen-Abi-l-Ḥasan-El-Anṣáree:” but in the Táj el-ʼAroos, he is almost always called Ibn-Manḍhoor (اِبْن مَنْظُور), I shall give an account of this great work in describing the Táj el-ʼAroos.]
[The “Tahdheeb et-Tahdheeb” of Maḥmood Et-Tanookhee, who died in the year of the Flight 723. It is a combination of the contents of the Moḥkam and Tahdheeb (the former occupying the first place in each article) with a few additions from other sources. Thus it forms one of the best and most comprehensive of the Arabic lexicons, without any exceptions known to me but the Lisán el-ʼArab and the Táj el-ʼAroos. Of the original autograph copy of this work, in five full-paged, large quarto-volumes, I possess the last volume, consisting of 501 pages. I made a diligent search for the other volumes, but without success.]
[The “Miṣbáḥ” of El-Feiyoomee (Aḥmad Ibn-Moḥammad Ibn-ʼAlee El-Muḳri). Its full title is “El-Miṣbáḥ el-Muneer fee Ghareeb esh-Sharḥ el-Kebeer.” This is a lexicon similar to the Mughrib, above mentioned; but much more comprehensive; forming a most valuable companion and supplement to the larger lexicons. Notwithstanding its title, it comprises a very large collection of classical words and phrases and significations of frequent occurrence; in many instances with more clear and full explanations than I have found elsewhere. I have therefore constantly drawn from it in composing my own lexicon; possessing a very accurate copy of it, a full-paged quarto-volume of 742 pages. Its author states in it that he finished its composition in the year of the Flight 734.]
[The “Mughnee,” as it is commonly called, or “Mughni-l-Lebeeb,” of the celebrated grammarian Ibn-Hishám, who was born in the year of the Flight 708, and died in 761 or the following year. A large work, whereof a little more than one half consists of an elaborate lexicon of the particles and similar words, for which it is my chief authority, as it was, also, that of the author of the Ḳámoos, whose explanations of the particles are, however, very meager and unsatisfactory. I am fortunate in possessing a most excellent copy of it, a quarto-volume of 609 pages.]
The “Ḳámoos” of El-Feyroozábádee, [or, as some pronounce it, El-Feeroozábádee, (from the city of Férózábád, or Feerózábád, pronounced by the Arabs Feyroozábád, or Feeroozábád,) who was born in the year of the Flight 729, and died in 816.(13)] This, after the Moḥkam and the ʼObáb, is the greatest of the lexicological works composed since the age of the Ṣiḥáḥ [to the time of the author of the Muzhir, of those known to him]: but none of these three [he adds] has attained to be as much used as the Ṣiḥáḥ; nor has the rank of the Ṣiḥáḥ, nor its celebrity, been diminished by the existence of these; because it is restricted to what is genuine, so that it is, among the books of lexicology, like the Ṣaḥeeḥ of El-Bukháree among the books of traditions; for the point upon which turns the title to reliance is not the copiousness of the collection, but the condition of genuineness, or correctness. [The judgment thus expressed, as to the rank and celebrity of the Ṣiḥáḥ, in comparison with the Ḳámoos, I have found to agree with the opinion of the most learned men among the Arabs with whom I have been acquainted. But to insinuate that the words and significations added in the latter of these lexicons to those of the former are generally less genuine, or less correct, is not just: they may be truly said to be generally less chaste, inasmuch as they are less usual: but their collector has undoubtedly rendered a great service to the students of Arabic by these additions, which have of late years caused the copies of his lexicon to become much more numerous than those of the Ṣiḥáḥ. The value of the Ṣiḥáḥ consists in its presenting a very judicious collection of the most chaste words, with critical illustrations from the best of the lexicologists, and examples from the best of the classical poets. The Ḳámoos is little more than what may be termed an enormous vocabulary; a collection of words and significations from preceding lexicons and similar works, (for otherwise, according to the principles of Arabic lexicology as universally taught, they would be of no authority,) mainly from the Moḥkam and the ʼObáb; with very few critical observations, many of which are false,(14) and scarcely any examples from the poets. Thus it resembles the Moḥeeṭ of Ibn-ʼAbbád, before mentioned. In order to make room for his numerous additions, desiring that the bulk of his book should be nearly the same as that of the Ṣiḥáḥ, the author has often abridged his explanations in such a manner as to render them unintelligible to the most learned of the Arabs, and has omitted much of what is most valuable of the contents of the latter work. But he has frequently deviated from this his usual practice for the purpose of inserting criticisms of others, without acknowledgment, and apparently some few of his own, upon points in the Ṣiḥáḥ in which its author is asserted to have erred; and this he has often done so as to lead to the belief that the author of the Ṣiḥáḥ has affirmed what he has merely quoted from another. Many of these criticisms I have found to have been borrowed from the Annotations on the Ṣiḥáḥ by Ibn-Barree and El-Busṭee, or from the Supplement to the Ṣiḥáḥ by Eṣ-Ṣaghánee: generally when they are false, (which is often the case,) though sometimes when they are correct, from the latter of these works. I have felt it to be my duty to make these remarks in defense of El-Jowharee, and for the sake of truth. Abundant proofs of their correctness will be found in my own lexicon. They may surprise many, who have not known the fact that the Ḳámoos is very little more than an abridged compilation from other works: and another fact, to be mentioned in the next paragraph, which will be in a measure supplementary to this brief account of the Ḳámoos, will probably surprise them more. — This is the latest of the lexicons noticed in the Muzhir: therefore I have no further occasion for the use of the square brackets to distinguish my own statements or opinions from those of the author of that work, which has thus far afforded me so much aid in my account of the principles of Arabic lexicology, and of the most celebrated Arabic lexicons, as well as in my remarks on the history of the language. My own, most valuable, manuscript-copy of the Ḳámoos, which I have already described, has been of very great use to me, though its text is generally most correctly given in the Táj el-ʼAroos. I have also constantly had before me the edition printed at Calcutta. This is certainly more accurate than most of the manuscript-copies; but it contains countless false readings, which show that, in many instances, the editor, notwithstanding his unquestionable learning and his possession of eleven copies, did not understand what he edited. It seems that he must often have given the worst of the readings of his originals, from neglecting to study the passages in which they occur. I have not thought it necessary to mention all of the false readings in his edition; but I have mentioned many of them.]
The “Lámiʼ” of El-Feyroozábádee. Its full title is “El-Lámiʼ el-Moạlam el-ʼObáb el-Jámiʼ beyn el-Moḥkam wa-l-ʼObáb.” From some words in the preface to the Ḳámoos, it has been inferred that the author of that work had composed a lexicon in sixty volumes, bearing the foregoing title, from which, chiefly, he composed, or abridged, the Ḳámoos, in two volumes. But in a very learned work, of Annotations on the Ḳámoos, by Moḥammad Ibn-Eṭ-Ṭeiyib El-Fásse, it is clearly shown that the words from which this inference has been drawn really signify that the author of the Lámiʼ commenced (not that he completed) this work, and made it, as far as it extended, to surpass every other work of a similar kind; but that he imagined it would be, in sixty volumes, too large for students to acquire or read; and, being requested to compose before it a concise lexicon, he applied himself to the composition of the Ḳámoos, and abridged the matter of which the Lámiʼ was to have consisted, so as to comprise the essence of each thirty of the intended volumes in one volume. Thus the words in question are so far from being a proof of the completion of the Lámiʼ that their literal meaning indicates the very contrary of this. They are not, however, the only evidence that we have on this point: for the same eminent scholar to whose Annotations on the Ḳámoos I have referred above quotes, from the biographical memoir of the author of the Lámiʼ in the “Ṭabaḳát en-Noḥáh” of Es-Suyooṭee, the direct assertion that this work was never completed. He also states, as does likewise the author of the Táj el-ʼAroos, that more than one writer has transmitted, on the authority of the handwriting of its author, a proof of its non-completion: for they relate the fact of his having written upon the back of the Lámiʼ that, if he had been able to complete it, it would have composed a hundred volumes, [of what size he does not give the least notion,] and that he completed five volumes of it. This, it should be observed, is not inconsistent with what has been said before: it appears that the work would have consisted of a hundred volumes, each of the size of one of the five volumes that were completed; or would have composed sixty larger volumes. But I rather incline to think that its author roughly calculated, at one time, that the whole would consist of a hundred volumes; and at another time, that it would consist of sixty; and that both estimates are greatly beyond the truth. The non-completion of the Lámiʼ is therefore certain; but this is not so much to be regretted as some persons might imagine from its author's statement respecting it in his preface to the Ḳámoos; for the work appears, from its title, to have been, as far as it extended, with respect to the words and significations, mainly a compilation uniting the contents of the Moḥkam and the ʼObáb, and neither of these lexicons has been lost to the world. From a reference to it in article فكه of the Ḳámoos, (in which the author asserts his having disproved an opinion respecting the signification of فَاكِهَةٌ without stating that El-Azheree had done so more than five centuries before,) it seems that the Lámiʼ (seeing how small a portion of it was completed) followed the order of the ʼEyn and the Moḥkam; for article فكه is in the third of the main divisions of these two works, but in the last but two of those of the Ḳámoos. Considering this fact, and that the main divisions of the ʼEyn and the Moḥkam necessarily decrease in length from first to last, I suppose that the author of the five volumes of the Lámiʼ wrote them, agreeably with a common practice, with large margins for additions, and calculated that, with these additions, each of the five volumes would form at least three.
The “Táj el-ʼAroos,” the enormous extent of which I have mentioned in the second paragraph of this preface, is said to have been commenced, in Cairo, soon after the middle of the last century of our era, by the Seyyid Murtaḍà Ez-Zebeedee. At the end of a copy of it in his own handwriting, he states that it occupied him fourteen years and some days. According to the modern historian of Egypt, El-Jabartee, he was born A.D. 1732 or 1733: came to Cairo A.D. 1753: finished the Táj el-ʼAroos A.D. 1767 or 1768: and died A.D. 1791 (in the year of the Flight 1205), And the same historian says that Moḥammad Bey Abu-dh-Dhahab, for the copy of that work which is in the library of his mosque, gave him a hundred thousand dirhams (or drachms) of silver. It is a compilation from the best and most copious of the preceding Arabic lexicons and other lexicological works, in the form of an interwoven commentary on the Ḳámoos; exhibiting fully and clearly, from the original sources, innumerable explanations which are so abridged in the latter work as to be unintelligible to the most learned men of the East; with copious illustrations of the meanings &c, corrections of mistakes in the Ḳámoos and other lexicons, and examples in prose and verse; and a very large collection of additional words and significations, mentioned under the roots to which they belong. Of the works from which it is compiled, though I believe that it was mainly derived in the first instance from the Lisán el-ʼArab, more than a hundred are enumerated by the Seyyid Murtaḍà in his preface. Among these are:
- The “Ṣiḥáḥ,” a copy in eight volumes, in the handwriting of Yáḳoot Er-Roomee, with useful marginal notes determining the correct readings &c, by Ibn-Barree [and El-Busṭee] and Aboo-Zekereeyà Et-Tebreezee; in the library [of the collegiate mosque] of the Emeer Ezbek.
- The “Tahdheeb” of El-Azheree, a copy in sixteen volumes.
- The “Moḥkam” of Ibn-Seedeh, a copy in eight volumes.
- The “Tahdheeb el-Abniyeh wa-l-Afʼál,” by Ibn-El-Ḳaṭṭáạ, in two volumes.
- The “Lisán el-ʼArab,” by the Imám Jemál-ed-Deen Moḥammad Ibn-ʼAlee El-Ifreeḳee, [whose appellations I have more fully given before, commonly called (in the Táj el-ʼAroos) “Ibn-Manḍhoor,”] in twenty-eight volumes, the copy transcribed from the original draught of the author, during his life-time: [of this copy I have often made use in composing my own lexicon; and I have found it very helpful, especially in enabling me to supply syllabical signs, which are too often omitted in the copies of the Táj el-ʼAroos:] its author followed closely, in its composition, the Ṣiḥáḥ, the Tahdheeb, the Moḥkam, the Niháyeh, the Annotations of Ibn-Barree [and El-Busṭee on the Ṣiḥáḥ], and the Jemharah of Ibn-Dureyd: [he also drew from innumerable other sources, to which he refers in his work.]
- The “Tahdheeb et-Tahdheeb” of Abu-th-Thenà Maḥmood Ibn-Abee-Bekr Ibn-Ḥámid Et-Tanookhee, a copy in five volumes, (of which, as I have already mentioned, I possess the last,) the original draught of the author, who closely followed, in its composition, the Ṣiḥáḥ, the Tahdheeb, and the Moḥkam, with the utmost accuracy: he died in the year of the Flight 723.
- The “Kitáb el-Ghareebeyn” of Aboo-ʼObeyd El-Harawee.
- The “Niháyeh fee Ghareeb el-Ḥadeeth,” by Ibn-El-Atheer [Mejd-ed-Deen] El-Jezeree.
- The “Kifáyet el-Mutaḥaffiḍh,” by Ibn-El-Ajdábee, with Expositions thereof.
- The “Faṣeeḥ” of Thaạlab, with three Expositions thereof.
- The “Fiḳh el-Loghah” and
- the work entiteled “El-Muḍáf wa-l-Mensoob,” each by Aboo-Manṣoor Eth-Thaʼálibee.
- The “ʼObáb” and
- the “Tekmileh fi-ṣ-Ṣiḥáḥ,” each by Er-Raḍee Eṣ-Ṣaghánee, in the library [of the mosque] of the Emeer Ṣarghatmish.
- The “Miṣbáḥ” [of El-Feiyoomee].
- The “Taḳreeb” of Ibn-Khaṭeeb.
- The “Mukhtár eṣ-Ṣiḥáḥ,” by Er-Rázee.
- The “Asás” and
- the “Fáïḳ” and
- the “Mustaḳṣee fi-l-Amthál,” all three by Ez-Zamakhsheree.
- The “Jemharah” of Ibn-Dureyd, in four volumes, in the library [of the mosque] of El-Mu-eiyad.
- The “Iṣláḥ el-Manṭiḳ” of Ibn-Es-Sikkeet.
- The “Khaṣáïṣ” of Ibn-Jinnee, and
- the “Sirr eṣ-Ṣináʼah” of the same author.
- The “Mujmal” of Ibn-Fáris.
Many other works of great value are included in the same list. And the Annotations on the Ḳámoos by his preceptor, Moḥammad Ibn-Eṭ-Ṭeiyib El-Fásee, (before mentioned, in my account of the Lámiʼ,) must be especially noticed as a very comprehensive and most learned work, from which the seyyid Murtaḍà derived much valuable matter to incorporate in the Táj el-ʼAroos. From these Annotations of Moḥammad El-Fásee, which have often served to explain to me obscure passages in the Táj el-ʼAroos, and from several others of the most celebrated of the works used by the seyyid Murtaḍà, I have drawn much matter which he omitted as not necessary to Eastern scholars, but which will be found to be highly important to the Arabic students of Europe. He made very little use of a commentary on the Ḳámoos entitled the “Námoos,” by Mullà ʼAlee el-Ḳári, as it is not a work held in high estimation, and he was most careful to include among his authorities none but works of high repute. It must also be mentioned that he has bestowed great pains upon the important task of settling the true text of the Ḳámoos, according to the authorities of several celebrated copies; and that he has inserted the various readings that he regarded as being worthy of notice. And here I may state that most of the illustrations of the text of the Ḳámoos that are incorporated in the Turkish translation of that work, whenever I have examined them, which has often been the case, I have found to be taken from the Táj el-ʼAroos, of which the Translator (ʼÁṣim Efendee) is said to have had a copy in the author's handwriting: but generally speaking, what is most precious of the contents of the latter work has been omitted in that translation.
As the Táj el-ʼAroos is the medium through which I have drawn most of the contents of my lexicon, I must more fully state the grounds upon which I determined to make so great a use of it. Not long after I had become acquainted with this enormous work, I found it to be asserted by some persons in Cairo that the seyyid Murtaḍà was not its author: that it was compiled by a certain learned man (whose name I could not ascertain) who, coming to Cairo with this work, on his way from Western Africa to Mekkeh as a pilgrim, and fearing to lose it in the desert-journey, committed it to the seyyid Murtaḍà to be safely kept until his return: that he died during his onward-journey, or during his return towards Cairo: and that the seyyid Murtaḍà published it as his own composition. This grave accusation brought against the reputed author of the Táj el-ʼAroos, unsupported by the knowledge of the name of the person whom he is thus asserted to have wronged, I did not find to be credited by any of the learned, nor do I myself believe it: but it imposed upon me the necessity of proving or disproving, not the genuineness of the book (a matter of no importance except as affecting the reputation of the seyyid Murtaḍà(15)), but, its authenticity. I was therefore obliged to make a most laborious collation of passages quoted in it with the same passages in the works quoted: and in every instance I found that they had been faithfully transcribed. Thus the authenticity of the Táj el-ʼAroos was most satisfactorily established. But in comparing large portions of it with the corresponding portions of the Lisán el-ʼArab, I made the unexpected discovery that, in most of the articles in the former, from three-fourths to about nine-tenths of the additions to the text of the Ḳámoos, and in many articles the whole of those additions, existed verbatim in the Lisán el-ʼArab. I cannot, therefore, acquit the seyyid Murtaḍà of a want of candour, and of failing to render due honour to one of the most laborious of compilers, by not stating either that the Táj el-ʼAroos was mainly derived in the first instance from the Lisán el-ʼArab (which I believe to have been the case) or that the contents of the former are mainly found in the latter. This circumstance has induced me very often to compose articles of my lexicon principally from the Lisán el-ʼArab in preference to the Táj el-ʼAroos, comparing the contents afterwards with the latter; and when they agreed, giving the latter as my authority in most instances (though not always(16)) because I could only undertake to have the latter transcribed. The only copy of the Lisán el-ʼArab known to me is that which I have already mentioned. It was lent to me, in successive portions, from the library of the collegiate mosque called “the Ashrafeeyeh,” in Cairo. It is written in several different hands, nearly resembling one another, of a peculiar cursive kind, which none can correctly read without studying sufficiently to understand thoroughly; for which reason, if I had been able to obtain any copy made from it (for it bears statements of its having been several times partially or wholly transcribed some centuries ago) I could not have placed much reliance upon it. Since the time of the seyyid Murtaḍà, it has suffered much injury, chiefly from the rotting of the paper; in many places, the whole of the written portion of a page having fallen out, the margin only remaining.
Having fully satisfied myself of the authenticity of the Táj el-ʼAroos, as well as of its intrinsic value, my next object was to cause a careful transcription of it to be commenced without delay, although, while I remained in Cairo, I made use of copies belonging to the libraries of mosques. The following are all the copies of that work, or of portions thereof, respecting which I have been able to procure any information:
- The copy made use of by ʼÁṣim Efendee in writing his Turkish Translation of the Ḳámoos. This belonged, according to his own statement, made to me, to Yaḥyà Efendee the Ḥakeem, who for many years composed the annual Egyptian Almanac published by order of the Government. He said that it was in the handwriting of the author, in two very large volumes; which, though hardly credible, is not absolutely impossible; for the handwriting of the seyyid Murtaḍà was small and compact: that the Grand Vezeer who was in Egypt during the contest between our own forces in that country and the French borrowed it of him, and sent it to Constantinople without his permission: and that he had caused many inquiries to be made for it there, but never learned any tidings of it.
- A copy believed to have been in fourteen folio-volumes, in the handwriting of the author. Of this, the last volume and the last but two are in the library of the Riwáḳ of the Syrians in the great mosque El-Azhár. The rest of it seems to have been lost. It may be a portion of a copy which the author retained for himself. When he died, his family kept his death secret for two days; after which, the officers of the Government Treasury plundered his house of much property, among which, perhaps, was this copy; and if so, it may have fallen into different hands; one person taking a portion; and another person, another portion.
- A copy sent by the author as a present to the King of Ṣanʼà. So I was informed on the authority of a person living in Cairo, who asserted that he conveyed it for the author, and who must have attained to manhood some years before the author's death. He may perhaps be mistaken as to the work that he conveyed; but this is not probable.
- The copy in the library of the mosque of Moḥammad Bey Abu-dh-Dhahab, before mentioned; said to be in eight thick, full-paged folio-volumes;(17) not in the author's handwriting, but transcribed under his superintendence, and in part, and perhaps entirely, revised by him. This copy wants a portion from the commencement of the first main division of the lexicon; i. e., of باب الهمزة: it also wants some other, smaller, portions. I shall have to say more respecting it in the next paragraph.
- A portion in the handwriting of the author, in my possession; from the commencement of باب الهمزة to the words لغة فى رثى الميّت, in article رثأ: supplying more than the main portion that is wanting in the copy of Moḥammad Bey. It is of a small quarto-size, and ends in the middle of a page.
- A copy in the library of the late Ibráheem Páshá, transcribed from that of Moḥammad Bey, and said to be incorrectly written.
- A large folio-volume, in my possession, before mentioned, consisting of nearly the whole of the first tenth portion; evidently transcribed from the copy of Moḥammad Bey, for it wants what is deficient in باب الهمزة in the latter copy.
The copy transcribed for me, which is in twenty-four thick quarto-volumes, is partly from the portion, in the handwriting of the author, in the great mosque El-Azhár; but mainly from the copy of Moḥammad Bey; what is wanting in this last, in باب الهمزة, being copied from the MS. No. 5 in the foregoing list; and very nearly the whole of the other (smaller) portions that are wanting therein being supplied from the principal source, namely, the Lisán el-ʼArab. It is therefore far superior to the other known copies, in respect of completeness, except the first and third of the copies mentioned in the next preceding paragraph if these exist and be still entire. But it will not always serve as a perfect test of the correctness of my own lexicon, although it has been carefully collated with its originals, as I made use of the copy of Moḥammad Bey as long as I remained in Egypt, and have used the Lisán el-ʼArab and other lexicons for the supplying of syllabical signs &c. wanting in that copy and in my own. In my copy, diacritical points have often been omitted when not thought by the transcriber to be absolutely necessary; as is the case in almost all copies of lexicons: also syllabical signs that are in the originals are not unfrequently omitted: and my copy is more irregular than its originals in the manner of writing the letter hemzeh. The copy of Moḥammad Bey will probably, in a few years, be in many places illegible; for the ink with which it is written is of a corrosive nature, and has already, in those parts, eaten through the paper, though hitherto not to such an extent as to present any difficulty to the reader: or rather I should say that such was the case just before my own copy was made; for while I was translating from portions of it already transcribed for me, small pieces often dropped out from its leaves, in spite of my utmost care. I believe that if I had not undertaken the composition of the present work, the means of composing such a work would not much longer have existed. For not only was the sole copy of the Táj el-ʼAroos that was nearly complete, and that was worthy of reliance, of those known to exist, rapidly decaying; but many of the most precious of the manuscripts from which it was compiled have been mutilated; many are scattered, no one knows whither; and several, of which no other copies are known to be in existence, and for which one would have to search from city to city, exploring the libraries of mosques, are said to have perished. The transcription of my own copy, and its collation, extended over a period of more than thirteen years. It might have been accomplished in much less time, had less care been bestowed upon it: but for several years I could find no competent and willing transcriber except the sheykh Ibráheem Ed-Dasooḳee, who was unable to devote the whole of his time to this object. Upon him the task of transcription mainly devolved; and the collation was performed wholly by him in conjunction with myself or with another sheykh.
As soon as a few pages of my copy of the Táj el-ʼAroos had been transcribed, I commenced the work of translation and composition from its originals. I did not hesitate to write my lexicon in English rather than in Latin, because the latter language is not sufficiently perspicuous nor sufficiently copious. For several years I continued to collect all that I required for a lexicon as complete as it was possible for me to make it. But I then considered that about one third of what I had compiled consisted of the explanations of words rarely occurring; many of them, words that no one student was likely ever to meet with; and not a few, such as are termed آحَاد or أَفْرَاد or مَفَارِيد (before explained, in page xi. of this preface); these last being words known only as having been spoken, each by a single Arab, or as only once occurring in any writing. I considered also that the undertaking which I had thus long been prosecuting was one which would require many more years for its completion; and that it was incumbent on me to take into account the uncertain duration of my appointed term of life, and to occupy myself first with what was most important. I therefore finally determined to divide my lexicon into two Books: the first to contain all the classical words and significations commonly known to the learned among the Arabs: the other, those that are of rare occurrence and not commonly known. And I have made such subdivisions as will enable the purchaser of a copy to bind it in the manner that he may deem most convenient: in two volumes, or in four, or in eight; each to consist of a portion of Book I. with the corresponding portion of Book II; or so that all the words in Book I. of which the roots commence with one letter may be immediately followed by the words in Book II. of which the roots commence with the same letter. The Second Book will be small in comparison with the First, of which the Part to be first published (ا to ث inclusive) will form about one eighth. In order that it may be possible to bind the whole work in two volumes, I have chosen for it a thin paper.
Nearly twenty years have now elapsed since I commenced this work. Had I foreseen that the whole labour of the composition must fall upon me or the project be abandoned, and had I also foreseen the length of time that it would require of me, unaided, I should certainly not have had the courage to undertake it, I had hoped that I should have at least one coadjutor: and I continued to hope for some years that such might be the case; but by no one have I been aided in the least degree, except, occasionally, in discussions of difficult points, by the sheykh Ibráheem Ed-Dasooḳee; who has written the results of some of these discussions on the margins of pages of my copy of the Táj el-ʼAroos, generally in his own words, but often in words dictated by me. For seven years, in Cairo, I prosecuted my task on each of the work-days of the week, after an early breakfast, until within an hour of midnight, with few and short intervals of rest, (often with no interruption but that of a few minutes at a time for a meal, and half an hour for exercise,) except on rare occasions when I was stopped by illness, and once when I devoted three days to a last visit to the Pyramids: I seldom allowed myself to receive a visitor except on Friday, the Sabbath and leisure-day of the Muslims: and more than once I passed a quarter of a year without going out of my house. But I must not be supposed to claim much credit for the exercise of self-denial with respect to the pleasures of society; for during those seven years passed in Cairo, I had my wife and sister and the latter's two sons residing with me. Nor would I here make mention of the severe labour which this work has cost me but for the purpose of guarding against the imputation of my having been wanting in energy or industry. To convey a due idea of the difficulties of my task would be impossible. While mainly composing from the Táj el-ʼAroos, I have often had before me, or by my side, eight or ten other lexicons, (presenting three different arrangements of the roots, and all of them differing in the order, or rather disorder, of the words explained,) requiring to be consulted at the same time. And frequently more than a day's study has been necessary to enable me thoroughly to understand a single passage: for the strict rules of Arabic lexicology demand that every explanation be given as nearly as possible in the words in which some person of authority has transmitted it; and many explanations perfectly intelligible when they were first given became less and less so in succeeding ages, and at length quite unintelligible to the most learned of living Arabs. Even Ibn-Seedeh often confesses, in the Moḥkam, his inability to understand an explanation or some other statement that he has transmitted. Many explanations, moreover, present instances of what is termed تَسَامُح; and instances of a worse kind of license, termed تَسَاهُل, are not of unfrequent occurrence: by the former term is meant a deficiency in what an author writes relying upon the understanding of the reader,” and by the latter term, a deficiency in what he writes without relying upon the reader's knowledge. Often, two synonymous words are used to explain each other. Numerous cases of this kind occur in the Ḳámoos: such, for instance, are حُجَّةٌ and سَاوَرَهُ,بُرْهَانٌ and اِعْتَفَدَ,وَاثَبَهُ and اِعْتَفَدَ, and تَلَزَّجَ and تَلَجَّنَ: and in these cases I have not always found the information that I required by referring to other lexicons. More frequently, in lieu of an explanation, we find merely the word مَعْرُوفٌ, meaning “well known:” and in a very large proportion of such cases, what was once “well known” has long ceased to be so. Still more frequently, significations are only indicated by the context: in many instances, as clearly as they could be expressed by any words of explanation: but in many other instances, very obscurely. Many words are rendered by others which are not elsewhere explained in the same lexicon; many, by words meant to be understood in senses not elsewhere explained in that lexicon; many, by words meant to be understood in tropical senses; and many, by words meant to be understood in post-classical senses. In these last cases, I have often found in my knowledge of modern Arabic a solution of a difficulty: but without great caution, such knowledge would frequently have misled me, in consequence of the changes which have taken place in the applications of many words since the classical age. Great caution is likewise requisite in the attempt to elicit the significations of words by means of analogy; as I could easily show by giving all the principal words of one article with their significations, and then requiring any student to divine the significations of the other words of the same article by such means, and comparing his explanations with those that have been authoritatively transmitted. Perfect reliance is not to be placed upon vowel-signs and the like when they are merely written, without their being either described in words or shown by the statement that the word of which the pronunciation is to be fixed is similar to some other word well known. Even when they are described, one has to consider what rule the author follows; and in some lexicons the rules followed by the authors are not explained. For instance, when a noun of three letters is said to be with fet-ḥ, if in the Ḳámoos, the meaning is that it is of the measure فَعْلٌ: but in some other lexicons it means that it is of the measure فَعَلٌ. If we find such a noun in-the Ḳámoos written as of the measure فَعَلٌ and said to be with fet-ḥ, we must infer that فَعْلٌ (not فَعَلٌ) is the correct measure: and if in the same lexicon we find such a noun that is to be explained written otherwise than as of the measure فَعْلٌ, without its being followed by any indication of its measure, we must infer that فَعْلٌ is probably its true measure, unless it be a word commonly known. But these and other technical difficulties are comparatively small, or become so after a little time spent in the study of different lexicons with a previous knowledge of the principles of Arabic lexicology and lexicography. Among the graver difficulties are those which are often presented by verses cited as confirmatory examples, or as illustrations, without either context or explanation; many of which I have inserted in my lexicon as being either absolutely necessary or such as I could not omit with entire satisfaction. Various other obstacles that I have had to encounter I refrain from mentioning, hoping that I shall be deemed to have said enough to excuse myself for the length of time that has elapsed since the commencement of my work. I have, however, been unusually favoured by circumstances; and especially by my having acquired, in familiar intercourse with Arabs, an acquaintance with their manners and customs, and their mental idiosyncrasies, indispensably requisite to success in my undertaking. Encouraged by these circumstances, I applied myself to the working of the rich mine that I had discovered, with the resolution expressed in the saying of a poet,(18)
*لَأَسْتَسْهِلَنَّ الصَّعْبَ أَوْ أُدْرِكَ المُنَى* فَمَا اٌنْقَادَتِ الآمَالُ إِلَّالِصَابِرِ*
When I had prosecuted my task in Cairo during a period of nearly six years, I understood it to be the desire of my Patron that the British Government might be induced to recognise the importance of my work by contributing to the expense of its composition. I therefore submitted to the Head of Her Majesty's Government a request that my undertaking might be thus honoured and promoted: and I did so in a time peculiarly auspicious; the Premier being Lord John Russell, now Earl Russell. His Lordship graciously and promptly replied to my appeal by granting me an annual allowance from the Fund for Special Service; and through his recommendation, this was continued to me by one of his successors in office, another Nobleman who added eminence in letters to elevation of birth and station, the late Earl of Aberdeen. And here I must especially and gratefully acknowledge my obligations to the learned Canon Cureton, for his friendly offices on these and other occasions. I must also add that Professor Lepsius and Dr. Abeken, and the late Baron Bunsen, kindly exerted themselves to obtain permission for my lexicon to be printed at Berlin, at the joint expense of the Prussian Government and the Academy of Sciences; and several of the learned Orientalists of Germany seconded their endeavours; but conditions were proposed to me to which I could not willingly accede.
After a stay of somewhat more than seven years in Cairo, a considerable portion of which period was spent by me in collecting and collating the principal materials from which my lexicon is composed, I returned to England; leaving to the sheykh Ibráheem Ed-Dasooḳee the task of completing the transcription of those materials, a task for which he had become fully qualified.
I must now add some explanations necessary to facilitate the use of my lexicon.
The arrangement that I have adopted is, in its main features, the same as that of Golius: the words being placed according to their radical letters; and the roots being arranged according to the order of their letters (commencing with the first of those letters) in the usual alphabet.
Words of three different classes, in which the radical letters are the same, but different in number, I place in the same article. The first of these classes consists of words of two radical letters; as بَلْ: the second class, of reduplicative triliteral-radical words, in which the first and second radical letters are the same as those of the first class, and the third the same as the second of that class; as بَلَّ and بَلٌّ and بَلَلٌ &c.: and the third class, of reduplicative quadriliteral-radical words, in which the first and third radical letters are the same as the first of the first class, and the second and fourth the same as the second of that class; as بَلْبَلَ and بَلْبَلَةٌ and بِلْبَالٌ &c. These three classes are included in the same article in all the best Arabic lexicons; and two reasons may be given for my following the same plan. One reason is similarity of signification. Words of the first and second corresponding classes very seldom exhibit an alliance in signification; but instances of such alliance in words of the first and third classes are less rare; and instances of alliance in signification in words of the second and third classes are very numerous. The other reason is, that such words are generally held to be derived from the same root. Some of the Arabian lexicologists hold that a word of the class of بَلَّ is a biliteral-radical word; so that the letters of its root are represented by فع: but most of them regard it as, absolutely, a triliteral-radical word; so that the letters of its root are represented by فعل. With respect to a word such as بَلْبَلَ, the opinion held by El-Farrà and others, and ascribed to El-Khaleel, is, that it is to be represented by فَعْفَعَ; so that the letters of its root are represented by فع: another opinion ascribed to El-Khaleel and his followers among the Baṣrees and Koofees, is, that it is to be represented by فَعْفَلَ; so that the letters of its root are represented by فعل; another, ascribed to Seebaweyh and his companions, is, that it is originally a word to be represented by فَعَّلَ, and that the third radical letter is changed, and made the same as the first; so that the letters of its root are represented by the same letters as if the word itself were to be represented by فَعْفَلَ: the opinion commonly obtaining among the Baṣrees is, that it is to be represented by فَعْلَلَ; so that the letters of its root are represented, in this case also, by فعل; and as the last of these modes of representing the word is the one most usual, I generally adopt this mode in my lexicon, except in quoting from an author who uses another mode. The triliteral root, in both of these classes of words, is that which is preferred in the Muzhir, where, in the 40th Section, not far from the commencement, these different opinions are stated.
Agreeably with the same principle, quasi-quadriliteral-radical words (the conjugations and varieties of which will be found in a table inserted in this preface) I class with the triliteral-radical words from which they are derived by the Arabian lexicologists and grammarians.
What is commonly called “the Verb of Wonder” I mention among the verbs. The Koofees say that it is a noun, meaning an epithet. (See مَا أُمَيْلِحَ زَيْدًا, in article ملح.)
Dialectic variants, synonyms, and words nearly synonymous, from the same root, are mentioned and explained in one paragraph: but every word thus explained in a paragraph headed by another word is also mentioned by itself, or accompanied by a word or words nearly resembling it in form, with a reference to that paragraph. (In order to facilitate the reference, an arrow-head (↓) is inserted to render conspicuous a word explained in a paragraph headed by another word.) Several obvious advantages result from this arrangement; not the least of which is a considerable saving of room. In these cases, when I have found it possible to do so, I have placed the most common word first, or otherwise distinguished it from the rest: sometimes I have shown which words are more or less common by the authorities that I have indicated for them.
When a noun is not found at the head of a paragraph, or by itself, or with another nearly resembling it in form, it is to be looked for among the infinitive nouns, which are mentioned with their respective verbs. And plurals are to be found under their singulars.
Words that are regularly formed, ad libitum, (such as active and passive participial nouns, and nouns denoting the comparative and superlative degrees, &c.,) are not mentioned, unless for special reasons.
In respect of the places which I have assigned to arabicized words, I have generally followed the usual practice of the Arabian lexicographers; that is, I have generally placed them as though they were derived from Arabic roots; because most students look for them under the headings beneath which I have mentioned them, and because many of them have derivatives formed from them in the regular Arabic manner. But, properly speaking, every letter in an arabicized word is regarded by most of the Arabian lexicologists as radical.
When several significations are assigned to one word &c., connected by “or,” it is often the case that one is right in one instance, and another in another; and not unfrequently, that all are correct in different instances.
Whenever I have found it possible to do so, I have distinguished (by the mark ‡) what is affirmed to be tropical from what is proper; generally on the authority of the Asás. I have also generally distinguished (by the mark †) what I regard as evidently, or probably, tropical, when I have found no express authority for asserting such to be the case. Thus I have often been enabled to draw clearly what may be termed the “genealogies” of significations. Always, in the arrangement of significations, I have, to the utmost of my ability, paid attention to their relations, one to another. The mark ― is used to denote a break in the relations of significations &c.; and ＝ denotes an extraordinary, or a complete, dissociation.
Numerous words in the Ṣiḥáḥ and Ḳámoos and most other Arabic lexicons are merely said to be the names of certain plants or animals. Of these I have generally found and given explanations which have either enabled me to determine the particular species to which they apply or may enable others to do so, and which will show that the applications of many of these words have been changed in post-classical times. For the names and descriptions of plants, my chief authority is Aboo-Ḥaneefeh Ed-Deenawaree, who is generally held to have adhered to the original nomenclature more accurately than any other writer on the Arabian flora, enabled to do so in many cases by his own careful investigations, and by consulting Arabs of the desert, at a sufficiently early period, in the third century of the Flight. I have been induced to mention the properties commonly attributed by the Arabs to plants and drugs &c., though they are generally fanciful, because they sometimes help to point out what is meant by an explanation otherwise vague, and sometimes elucidate far-fetched comparisons or allusions.
The explanations of the particles are extremely defective in almost all the Arabic lexicons; but of this very important class of words, generally more difficult to explain than any other class, I have found, in the Mughnee, illustrations even more ample than I required. Though I have generally omitted the statement of opinions evidently erroneous, and refuted in the Mughnee, I have in some degree imitated the author of that work by endeavouring to treat such words rather too largely than too scantily.
Of the learning of Golius, and the industry of Freytag, I wish to speak with sincere respect, and with gratitude for much benefit derived by me from their works before circumstances gave me advantages which they did not enjoy. But lest I should be charged with omitting important matters in some of the originals from which my work is composed, it is necessary for me to state that, in countless instances, both of those lexicographers have given explanations, more or less full, as from the Ṣiḥáḥ or Ḳámoos or both, when not one word thereof, nor even an indication, is found in either of those originals:(19) and that much of what Freytag has given as from the Ḳámoos is from the Turkish Translation of that lexicon, of which I have before spoken, a work of considerable learning, but of no authority when no voucher is mentioned in it.(20) I have myself occasionally cited the Turkish Translation of the Ḳámoos, but only when I have not found what I wanted in any other work, and, in a case of this kind, only when I have felt confidence in its correctness, or when I have desired a confirmation of my own opinion. In very few instances have I adopted its explanations; having often found them to be glaringly incorrect; in some cases, from its author's having partially misunderstood what he had to translate; but in more cases, from his having altogether failed to understand, and therefore having given literal renderings which are far from conveying the meanings intended.
Proper names of persons and of places, and post-classical words and significations, I have, with very few exceptions, excluded from my lexicon. A dictionary of words of the former class, such as would satisfy the wants of students, would of itself alone form a large volume; for the sources from which it might be drawn are abundant, and not difficult of access. A dictionary of post-classical Arabic, worthy of being so called, could not be composed otherwise than by a considerable number of students in different cities of Europe where good libraries of Arabic manuscripts are found, and by as many students in different countries of Asia and Africa; partly from books, and partly from information to be acquired only by intercourse with Arabs; and several of those who should contribute to its composition would require to be well versed in the sciences of the Muslims. In excluding almost all post-classical words and significations, I have followed the example of every one of the most esteemed Arabian lexicographers; and the limits that I have assigned to my labours have certainly been rather too wide than too narrow, as will be sufficiently shown by the fact that the quantity of the matter comprised in the first eighth part of my First Book ( ا to ث, inclusive) is treble the quantity of the corresponding portion of Freytag's Lexicon, although I leave rare words &c. for my Second Book.
I have inserted nothing in my lexicon without indicating at least one authority for it, except interwoven additions of my own which I have invariably distinguished by enclosing them between square brackets. Throughout Part 1 of the First Book, I have generally made the indications of the authorities as numerous as I conveniently could; but I have not thought it desirable to do so throughout, as these indications occupy much space, and what is most important is to note the oldest authority mentioned in any of my originals, with one or more of good repute to confirm it. A table of the authorities inserted in this preface will show which of them I have cited through the medium of the Táj el-ʼAroos or the Lisán el-ʼArab. Such authorities I have often indicated without any addition.(21) When two or more indications of authorities are given, it is to be understood that they agree essentially, or mainly; but not always that they agree in words. When any authority is, in an important degree, less full, or less clear, than another or others by which it is accompanied, I distinguish it by an asterisk placed after the initial or initials &c., by which it is indicated. Frequently it happens that an explanation is essentially the same in the Lisán el-ʼArab and the Táj el-ʼAroos, but more full, or more clear, in the former: in cases of this kind I have generally indicated on the latter as my authority.
Sometimes I have been obliged to employ English terms which have not, to my knowledge, been used by any other writer; but I have been careful to invent only such as will, I believe, be easily understood. For example, I have applied the epithet “auroral” to certain risings and settings of stars or asterisms, to denote the restriction of those risings and settings to the whole period of the morning-twilight: the epithet “heliacal,” applied to such risings, would restrict them overmuch. Lexicological and grammatical terms employed in my lexicon will be found in one of the tables inserted in this preface.
I have supposed the student who will make use of this work to be acquainted with the general rules of grammar. These he must bear in mind when he meets with particular rules mentioned by me. For instance, from his finding it stated, in page 77 of this lexicon, that, when إِلَّا is used in the sense of غَيْرُ, the noun which follows it is put in the same case as that which precedes it, he must not imagine that exceptions to this rule are presented by such phrases as لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللهُ (There is no deity other than, i. e. but, God) and مَا هٰذَا شَيْئًا إِلَّا كِتَابٌ (This is not anything but a writing) and مَا جِآءَ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلَّا زَيْدٌ (No one came but Zeyd) and لَيْسَ هٰذَا بِشَىْءٍ إِلَّا كِتَابًا (which means the same as the second of these phrases): for in each of these examples the noun preceding إِلَّا is regarded as being virtually in the same case as the noun following it. (See a note in De Sacy's Arabic Grammar, 2nd ed., vol. ii. p. 404.)
Considering the size of this work, the quantity of Arabic type that it comprises, the minuteness of many of the characters employed in it, and the excessive care required in the placing of those small characters, no student can reasonably hope to find it entirely free from typographical faults, whether they be such as have originated from the compositors and have escaped the scrutiny of the author, or such as are almost inevitable in the process of printing. I shall use my utmost endeavours to detect such faults, and to note them for correction.
The following tables will, I believe, supply all further explanations that will be needed.
I have now, to the best of my ability, supplied all the necessary apparatus for the use of my lexicon, except, only, such information as I suppose the student to have acquired from other sources.
The Arabic title مَدُّ القَامُوس (which the Arabs in general, in the present day, the learned as well as the unlearned, would pronounce “Medd el-Ḳámoos,” as they deem it pedantic to pronounce the titles of books in the classical manner,) I have adopted in imitation of that given to his lexicon by El-Feyroozábádee. It has two meanings: “The Flow of the Sea” and “The Extension of the Ḳámoos.”
Not only the main expenses incurred in the composition of this work, but also the cost of the printing, and that of the Arabic type, have been defrayed by the munificence of His Grace the Duke of Northumberland. The Arabic characters have often been considerably altered by the Arabs themselves and by other Easterns; and still more by Europeans, to adapt them to the purpose of printing. For this purpose, I have myself innovated a modification of one medial form and one final form, and ح. My Nephew, Mr. Edward Stanley Poole, who possesses unusual skill in Arabic calligraphy, designed, under my superintendence, the whole of the Arabic type employed for this work; and has also assisted me occasionally in the collation of the proofs, previously to my own examination and correction of them; and often in other affairs connected with the printing of my lexicon.
E. W. L.
A calamity that has recently befallen me, in common with multitudes of other persons, ― the decease of the Illustrious Duke by whom this work was originated, and whose munificence has constantly supplied the chief means of its support, ― requires me to announce that the event so widely and deeply deplored will not cause any interruption of the publication.
His princely patronage, granted spontaneously, and with a kindness and delicacy not to be surpassed, has been continued during nearly a quarter of a century. The carrying-out of his intentions, with respect to my Lexicon, now devolves upon His Widow, Her Grace the Duchess of Northumberland, by her own particular desire.
The intense interest that has ever been felt by Her Grace in all the great deeds whereby the departed Duke has established countless claims upon the gratitude of his country is well known; and it is, to me, a source of the utmost thankfulness and pride that my own undertaking is included among the objects that have been honoured by the patronage, and stamped with the approval, of them both.
E. W. L.
- Respecting this fair, see some extracts from the first of M. Fresnel's “Letters sur l'Histoire des Arabes avant l'Islamisme” in Note 18 to the first chapter of my Translation of the Thousand and One Nights.
- Many among the Jews, the Syrians, and the Fathers of the Christian Church, held that the Aramaic or the Syriac was the language of Adam.
- This name is generally pronounced thus, or “Imr-el-Ḳeys,” by the learned among the Arabs in the present day; for most of them regard it as a pedantic to pronounce proper names in the classical manner. The classical pronunciation is “Imraü-l-Ḳeys” and “Imruü-l-Ḳeys” and “Imru-I-Ḳeys;” in the last instance without hemzeh, because (as is said in the Tahdheeb and the Táj el-ʼAroos on the authority of El-Kisá-ee and El-Farrà) this letter is often dropped.
- See the first and second and third of M. Fresnel's “Lettres sur l'Histoire des Arabes avant l'Islamisme:” the second and third in the “Journal Asiatique,” 3rd Series, vols. 3 and 5.
- Those who desire to pursue the study of the history of the classical Arabic beyond the limits to which I have here confined my remarks, together with that of its sister-languages, will find much learned and valuable information in M. Renan's “Histoire Générale et Système Comparé des Langues Sémitiques;” though his scepticism in relation to the questions merely philological (as well all to sacred matters) is often, in my opinion, ill-grounded and unreasonable. I must particularly remark upon his erroneous assertion that the poems of the age anterior to El-Islám make no allusion to the ancient religions of Arabia, and hence appear to have been expurgated by Muslims, so as to efface all traces of paganism. Many of such allusions, by pagan poets, might be adduced from lexicons, grammars, and scholia; and some examples of them will be found in the present work, in articles دور and عز and مور &c.; the first of these from the Moʼallaḳah of Imra-el-Ḳeys. It would have been strange, indeed, if this had not been the case: for, except the Ḳur-án, nothing was so highly prized by the lexicologists as the pagan poetry: every fragment of it was most valuable in their estimation, and most carefully sought after and preserved; and the intentional corruption of it they regarded as almost a crime.
- “Aboo-ʼAmr said, ‘The most chaste in speech, of men, are the higher [in respect of territory] of [the tribe of] Temeem, and the lower of [the tribe of] Ḳeys:’ and Aboo-Zeyd said, ‘The most chaste in speech, of men, are [the people of] the lower portion of the higher region, and the higher of the lower,’ meaning the rear of [the tribe of] Hawázin ; the people of the higher region being the people of El-Medeeneh, and those around it, and those next it, and those near it, whose dialect he held to be not the same as that [of Hawázin].” (Muzhir, 49th Section.) According to the Ḳámoos, the higher region (العَالِيَة) is “what is above Nejd, to the land of Tihámeh, to the part behind Mekkeh; and certain towns, or villages, outside El-Medeeneh.”
- The exclusion of post-classical words and significations in the best Arabic lexicons, or their specification as such when they occur therein, is of very great importance to us in the use that we are often obliged to make of those lexicons in interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures. Thus the triumph of El-Islám, by occasioning the corruption of the Arabic language and the composition of such lexicons, has rendered us a most signal service. I have seldom noticed correspondences between the Arabic on the one side and the Hebrew and other Semitic languages on the other, because, though these are often illustrated by means of the incomparable copiousness of the Arabic, the Arabic is rarely illustrated by them, and because we have no such authorities for the interpretation of those languages as we have for the interpretation of the Arabic.
- For instance, M. Fresnel quoted (in the second of his “Lettres sur l'Histoire des Arabes avant l'Islamisme,” in the “Journal Asiatique,” 3rd Series, vol. iii. pp. 330 et seq.,) an extract from the “Kitáb el-Aghánee,” as containing, in the phrases ما حملت واحدا منهم تصعا ولا ولدته تينا, two words supposed by him, and by his and my learned friend the sheykh Moḥammad ʼEiyád Eṭ-Ṭantáwee, (see pp. 324 et seq. of that letter,) to be wanting in all the Arabic dictionaries. One of these words is written تصعا, as above, in one of M. Fresnel's copies of the “Kitáb el-Aghánee,” three in number; in another copy, تضعا; and in the third copy, قضعا: the other is in all the copies تينا, as above: and they are explained in that work, on the authority of Abu-l-Yaḳḍhán El-Joạfee, as meaning فى دُبُر الطُّهْر وُقُبل الحَيْض and ان تخرج رجلاه قبل راسه. The former word is correctly تُضْعًا or تُضُعًا, both infinitive nouns of وَضَعَتْ. The other word is a mistranscription for يَتْنًا. My lamented friend M. Fresnel was always glad to receive and admit a correction of any of his own rare mistakes; and in his “Fourth Letter” he announced that the sheykh Moḥammad had afterwards rectified these two errors.
* كَفَى المَرْءَ نُبْلاً أَنْ تُعَدَّ مَعَايِبُة *
- Many of the Arabs have been remarkable for a tenacity of memory almost miraculous. Several of them are related to have composed and dictated from memory large works, inculding even lexicons. At school, they generally learn the whole of the Ḳur-án by heart, aided to do so by its being composed in rhyming prose: and many students, among them, when unable to purchase works necessary to them, borrow such works, a portion at a time, from the libraries of the mosques, and commit their entire contents to memory. Hence, in numerous instances, the variations in copies of the same Arabic work; copies being often written from the dictation of persons who have learned a work by heart.
- En-Nawawee also says, (see the printed edition of his Biographical Dictionary, page 231,) that, according to some of the learned, “much of what El-Azheree has transcribed in the Tahdheeb el-Loghah from the ʼEyn is of the mistakes of El-Leyth:” but this is inconsistent with the estimation in which the Tahdheeb is held by lexicographers of the highest repute. El-Azheree often points out what he terms mistakes of El-Leyth, and corrects them.
- In the present work, whatever is given as on the authority of El-Leyth is from the ʼEyn; I believe, through the medium of the Tahdheeb of El-Azheree, except, perhaps, in a very few instances: and from the ʼEyn also is generally derived (probably in almost every instance) what is given as on the authority of El-Khaleel.
- I have the express authority of the Táj el-ʼAroos (in art. خلك) for thus writing the name of this author.
- It is stated at the end of article وجر in the Táj el-ʼAroos that the author of the Ḳámoos wrote at the end of the first volume of the second copy of that work made by his own hand, which volume ended with the article above mentioned, that he finished the transcription of that volume in Dhu-l-Ḥijjeh 768.
- The judgment and memory of its author are often in fault: for instance, in article بيض he disallows the expression الأَيَّامُ البِيضُ, and in art. وضح he uses it ; and in article ضح he disallows ضِيحٌ as syn. with ضِحُّ, and in article ضيح he authorizes it: and many similar instances might be mentioned.
- By various other works, he earned a high reputation for learning; and I believe that his ability to compose such a work as the Táj el-ʼAroos was never called in question.
- In the articles of which the last radical letter is د, and in those of which the last is ذ, I have generally deviated from my usual plan by indicating the authority of the Lisán el-ʼArab rather than that of the Táj el-ʼAroos in order to convey some notion of the value of the former work.
- I was informed that the number of its volumes is eight; but I was never allowed to see the whole copy, and, in the course of transcription, I neglected to note where each volume ended.
- Cited in page 123 of this work.
- By this remark, I may perhaps provoke the retort that, in composing an Arabic-English lexicon wholly from Arabic sources, I am myself doing what may be resolved into something like reasoning in a circle. But such is not the case; for the words employed in explanations in the Arabic lexicons are generally still used in the senses in which they are there employed; and the intended meanings of words that are not still used in such senses are, with few exceptions, easily determined by examples in which they occur, or by the general consent of the learned among the Arabs in the present day. Of the exceptional difficulties of interpretation, I have already said enough; and for my own sake, as well as for the sake of truth, I by no means wish to underrate them.
- In Freytag's first volume, the authorities are seldom indicated.―Sometimes explanations given by Golius as from the Ṣiḥáḥ or Ḳámoos or both, and not found in either of those works, are copied by Freytag without his stating such to be the case, and without his indicating the authorities or authority assigned by Golius: for example, three such instances occur in the short article دبج.
- In a few instances, in the Táj el-ʼAroos, where its author has drawn from the Tahdheeb or the Moḥkam through the medium of the Lisán el-ʼArab, I have found the Tahdheeb erroneously named as his authority instead of the Moḥkam, or the Moḥkam instead of the Tahdheeb.—Sometimes an authority is mentioned by a surname borne by two or more, so that the person meant is doubtful.