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A Comprehensive Persian-English Dictionary

THE lines originally laid down for this Dictionary were, to prepare a revised edition of Johnson's enlargement of Wilkins-Richardson's Persian, Arabic, and English Dictionary, by reducing the Arabic element and increasing the Persian, so as to produce a volume of moderate dimensions and price, specially adapted to the wants of the English Student. While the work was progressing, however, it was found that the mere reduction of the Arabic portion would not suffice to answer the purpose intended. It became evident not only that much that was superfluous had to be eliminated, but that, on the other hand, many additions were urgently required, and furthermore that the material had to be re-arranged on new and distinct principles. At the same time it was soon felt that the fresh matter to be introduced in the Persian part exceeded the limits contemplated, and necessitated in this respect a considerable extension of the primary plan. A few remarks on these points will here be useful, and may also convey some idea of the amount of extra labour spent on the compilation of the work beyond that which was originally anticipated.
I. Persian is so deeply imbued with Arabic, and the two languages have, in the course of time, become so intimately connected in the literature of the former, that sooner or later the student of Persian must become a student of Arabic also, if he aspires to take rank as a Persian scholar of real eminence. When this moment has arrived, he will naturally have need of an Arabic dictionary, constructed on a plan most conducive to the acquirement of that language, and based on the knowledge of its grammar. But what he will want until then is a copious Arabic vocabulary, "chiefly in relation (to quote Johnson's words) to the indefinite extent to which the best Persian writers avail themselves of the Arabic language, either to enrich their style or to display their erudition." While fully acknowledging the legitimacy of this object, it has nevertheless been thought that the accomplished and conscientious scholar who formulated it, in carrying out his task, has partly gone beyond and partly fallen short of his own standard. He himself admits that he retained in his work not only "a large number of Arabic words of very questionable usefulness, merely because they had found a place in the former editions," but also added "many others which may possibly be foreign to Persian literature, but which may also be found in it, and of an explanation of which the student may occasionally stand in heed." To justify this somewhat haphazard mode of proceeding, the plea "that superfluity appeared preferable to deficiency," would only hold good if this very indictment of deficiency in some essential points could not be urged against his compilation.
It seemed more advisable to restrict the selection to such words as may either reasonably be supposed to occur in Persian authors, or which are actually found in the prescribed text-books, and in those productions of Persian literature, the perusal of which will be most beneficial to the student. In the former direction it appeared to the present author that a collection made by a learned Persian for the use of Persians had a paramount claim to serve as a groundwork for this part of the undertaking. ʻAbdu ʼr-Rashīd al-Ḥusainī, the author of a highly-valued Persian dictionary called the "Farhangi Rashīdī," has made a collection of this kind under the title of "Muntaḵẖabu ʼl-lug̠ẖāt," dedicated by him to Shah Jahān of Dehlī. The following reasons have induced the author to embody the whole of this compilation in the present dictionary:--
ʻAbdu ʼr-Rashīd professes in the introduction to his work to have made from the "Qāmūs," the "Surāh," the "Sihāh," and other sources, a selection of those Arabic words which are "necessary (ẓarūrīyah) and of frequent use (kas̤īratu ʼl-istiʻmāl)," and to have explained them in Persian equally "comprehensible to the popular understanding (ʻām-fahm) and approved by the educated (ḵẖāṣ-pasand)." What he means by necessary and of frequent use becomes evident from the passages which he quotes in support of his explanations, and which are exclusively taken either from the chief Persian poets, as Firdausī, Anwarī, Ḵẖaqānī, Nizāmī, Saʻdī, Ḥāfiz̤, &c., or from the Qurʼān and Ḥadīs̤. This implies that the words selected by him are indispensable to a Persian of a studious turn of mind who is anxious to understand thoroughly the poetry of his own language, or who aspires to an initiation into the knowledge most highly prized by Muhammadans, namely, that of matters theological, moral, and metaphysical, which abounds in quotations from and allusions to "the book" and the "traditions." If, therefore, an acquaintance with such words is considered indispensable to the Persian student, it must be so à fortiori to the student of Persian.
The "Muntaḵẖab," however, takes no notice of a large number of Arabic words which have become naturalized in Persian, to such a degree that a Persian of average education needed no explanation on their account. Foremost among these are many current technical and scientific terms. A discreet choice of vocables of this category was considered indispensable, especially in reference to grammatical and metrical terminology, with which a student must make himself acquainted if he wishes to understand the native commentaries on the great Persian poets.
Still greater importance has been placed on including in this dictionary Arabic words in daily use, such as in reality are met with in the best Persian authors from the days of the "Shāhnāmah" to the Rūznāmahs (Diaries) of the reigning Shāh. For this purpose their principal works, especially those read for examination, have been carefully gone through, with the result that the information given by Johnson under many of his Arabic headings has been largely supplemented by instances where the Arabic words enter into Persian phrases of a highly idiomatical character.
There is yet one other point to be noticed with regard to the Arabic element in Persian. Not only isolated words have to be explained, but in numerous cases combinations of words, that is to say, sentences or parts of sentences, either in quoting verbatim, or more frequently in merely alluding to, passages of the Qurʼān, the "Traditions," and even of celebrated Arabic poems. To give a rather striking example, the Persian poet Minūchihrī introduces in one of his odes the beginning of the "Muʻallaqah of Imru ʼl-Qais": qifā nabki, "stay ye two (friends or travelling companions) so that we may weep (in remembrance of the beloved, &c.)." The reader who would try to puzzle this out with the aid of Johnson's dictionary would find for qafā (we must remember that in the printed texts the short vowels are not indicated) the equivalent "neck," and for nabk or nabak (here again the final short i does not count) the rendering "hills." Arabic plurals being frequently used as singular in Persian, he therefore might translate "the neck of the hill," and thus, speaking figuratively, find himself fairly landed in the wilderness. Only an intimate knowledge of Arabic grammar, which he must either possess himself, or which his dictionary must supply instead, can teach him that, in the first word, the initial and, in the second, the final of the root is suppressed, and that they belong respectively to the radicals w-q-f "standing, stopping, staying," and b-k-y "weeping," while the ā at the end of qifā and the n at the beginning of nabki are extraneous signs of inflection.
It may be objected that this is an extreme case, and that Minūchihrī, although a distinguished Persian poet, is not likely to be read by a student. Granted! But in the "Sikandarnāma" of Nizāmī, in the "Gulistān" and "Bostān" of Saʻdī, in the "Dīwān" of Hāfiz, in the "Anwāri Suhailī," &c., &c., all of which form part of his curriculum, he will meet with many phrases and fragments of phrases, or even simple izāfat-constructions, which require a similar elucidation, some of which have led to quite as ludicrous blunders as the one suggested above, while others have at least been strangely misunderstood in some of the best-known translations from the Persian, because the Arabic words were rendered according to their usually current meanings in Persian, and not in the specific Arabic sense, which they bear in the particular connection or context. On this point much labour has been spent in assisting the student,--the student, be it here emphasized, who not merely crams for a more or less successful examination, but who works with steady and resolute self-exertion in order to become in time a scholar worthy of that name.
II. As for the Persian part, great obligations are primarily due and gratefully acknowledged to the excellent Persian-Latin Dictionary, published by Vullers in about 2,500 quarto pages. With infinite diligence the learned author has overhauled the Persian lexicographical sources from which his predecessors, Johnson included, had worked before him, giving their explanations in the original, and adducing numerous supporting passages from them and his own collectanea. It lay, of course, outside the scope of the present work to follow him in this latter respect, but his results, as far as they contained additional matter, were adopted, after having been in all cases verified, in some cases rectified, and supplemented with the necessary translation in other instances, where he omits to give the Latin equivalent for a Persian word or phrase, but contents himself with quoting the Persian text. By no means the least important feature of his work is the extensive use he has made of the "Bahāri ʻAjam," one of the more recent Persian Dictionaries compiled in India, and including many modern phrases, metaphors, &c. not to be found in any other lexicon. Owing, however, to the circumstance that that book did not reach Vullersʼ hand until the greater part of his first volume had been printed, he could not avail himself of the contents of its first 457 pages, and the very copious extracts given from this source in our Dictionary form not only an essential complement to Vullers, but an entirely new contribution to Persian lexicography on European soil. Other recent publications, consulted with advantage, are the Persian Dictionary "Farhangi Nāsirī," and Schlimmer's "Terminologie medico-pharmaceutique Française-Persane," both lithographed in Teheran, the former in 1871, the latter in 1874.
It need scarcely be mentioned that the course of reading undertaken to define the Arabic portion of this dictionary was equally productive in augmenting the Persian part, and it can be stated without exaggeration that thousands of words have been added from this source alone. Many of these are taken from Mirza Jaʻfar's translation of modern Plays, originally written in Turkish, a translation which, on account of its thoroughly idiomatic phraseology, has, in successive instalments within the last ten years, been re-edited, with notes and vocabularies, in England, France, and Germany. A larger and more important amount, however, has been gleaned from the Shāh's Diaries of his first two journeys to Europe in 1873 and 1878. Here we see Persia, in the person of its Sovereign, brought into immediate contact with the advanced civilization of the West; and as this Sovereign happens to be an exceptionally keen observer, who turned the immense opportunities afforded to him by his exalted position to the best account, his impressions, penned down on the spur of the moment, could not fail to enrich and fertilise the language of his country, which he uses with such unpretending ease and forcible directness.
III. There are a few more words to be said about the general arrangement of the book, in order to facilitate its use. It would have been impossible to introduce so much additional matter if all the entries under the principal headings had been given in the Oriental character as well as in transliteration. The latter had, therefore, to be framed not with a view to the exact pronunciation of the words, which in any language can only be acquired to perfection by oral teaching, but to give accurate equivalents for the graphical form of the consonants and vowels peculiar to the language in question.
To render the consonants of the Arabic-Persian alphabet in the Roman character, as employed in English, five compounds had to be used, namely ch for چ, g̠ẖ for غ, ḵẖ for خ, sh for ش, and zh (pronounced like s in "vision") for ژ. Eight letters are distinguished by diacritical points, namely for ح, for ص, for ث, for ط, for ذ, for ض, and for ظ. The Greek spiritus lenis (ʼ) and spiritus asper (ʻ) very appropriately represent اٴ (alif-hamzah) and ع respectively, and has been chosen to express the letter ن before a labial. In the comparatively few cases where sh and zh are to be pronounced as separate letters, a mark is placed between (sˌh or zˌh), showing that the s or z terminates one syllable, and the aspirated h begins another.
The original Persian vowel-system is that of Sanskrit, with exclusion of the semi- vowel ṛi, which is peculiar to the latter. It consists of the three elementary vowels a, i, u, as pronounced in pat, pit, put respectively (in the Arabic-Persian character fatḥah ــَــ, kasrah ــِــ, ẓammah ــُــ); their long forms ā, ī, ū, as in father, police, prude (ـــَ ا, ــِـ ی, ــُـ و), and their combination to mixed vowels and diphthongs, e (a + i) as in where, o (a + u) as in more, both in Persian writing not distinguished from ī and ū; ai (ā + i) as in aisle, and au (ā + u) as in German, i.e. like ou in stout (ــَـ ی and ــَـ و). This etymological groundwork of the system, and it alone, determines our transliteration, leaving, as said before, the question of the actual pronunciation at the present day, especially of the short vowels, to the grammar and the instruction of a competent teacher whose proper domain it is. As for the representation of ی and و, when used as consonants, the transliteration of the latter by w instead of v has been preferred on account of the analogy with y, except at the end of a Persian syllable or word, where v is written to indicate the somewhat stronger articulation of the letter in this case.
The same need of compactness made it further necessary to unite all the different words of the same consonantal outline, which are distinguished merely by their vocalisation, under one heading. Many articles assumed thereby an almost inordinate length; but in order to furnish the reader with a thread leading him safely through the apparent labyrinth, any shorter or longer string of constructions and phrases belonging to one word has been included in crotchets, thus [], so that, whenever the student meets with this sign, before the explanations given have satisfied his want, he has only to run down the column to the conclusion of the crotchet, when he will find another interpretation of the same outline with a different spelling and meaning, perhaps more in accordance with the exigencies of his text, and so on until the end of the article is reached. A similar use has been made of parentheses, thus (), where the same phrase may be expressed in various ways, by substituting one noun or verb for another, in which case any of the words thus bracketed may take the place of the word immediately preceding the parenthesis.
Throughout the book a strictly alphabetical order has been observed, in accordance with the following simple rules:--
1. Compounds have been given as much as possible in their proper order, unless they serve as examples under one or the other of their components.
2. Any single noun forming part of a heading is first followed by such iẕāfat constructions and phrases as begin with this noun in the order of the initial of the succeeding word; then by those in which the noun has a preposition or another noun in front, in the order of this preceding element.
3. With regard to the iẓāfat constructions of Arabic words, those in which the governed noun has the definite article al are given in their alphabetical order in the place assigned to the article, that is to say, at or near the beginning, while in absence of the article the initial of the noun itself determines the order. This has been done not only for the sake of maintaining the alphabetical principle in all its strictness, but also in order to show the student at one glance in which combinations the Arabic or Persian construction is more usual. Neither in this nor in other respects was a uniform principle of arrangement consistently adhered to by Johnson, whence arose the necessity of reconstruction, as mentioned on the title-page, and entailing an amount of labour which only one well versed in these matters can appreciate.
Words of foreign origin are indicated by capital initials in front of the article, as A. for Arabic, G. for Greek, H. for Hindī, M. for Mongolian, T. for Turkish, R. for Russian. Where merely an Arabic element, either as member of a compound or as a formative, combines with the Persian, or where a word is common to both languages without proof positive to which it belongs originally, a small a has been prefixed, and so, mutatis mutandis, in the same case with regard to other languages. The indication (m.c.) for "modern colloquialism" after a phrase, shows that it has been taken from recent writings, and does not necessarily imply that it is of modern make, but simply that it is in actual conversational use, while for all that it may be a Persian idiom already employed by Firdausī, or an Arabic importation as old as Islām itself.
It is hoped that this Dictionary will justify its claim to comprehensiveness. It is not and cannot be complete. The complete dictionary of any language has yet to be written. It far exceeds the powers of any single individual, and depends for its realisation on the modest, although imperial, motto, viribus unitis. The author's only ambition was to advance the work close to the point at which the practical adoption of this motto, with regard to Persian, becomes a necessity, and should be seriously contemplated by Oriental societies and congresses.
In conclusion, I have to express my warmest thanks to Mr. Frederic Pincott for his careful revision of the proofs, as well as for many a valuable hint on various important points, of which I have gladly availed myself; and to his well-trained printers, for their intelligent and patient industry in setting up the copy, which I am afraid must frequently have proved a most trying task.

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