A Handbook and Reader of Ottoman Arabic - cover image

Book Series


Esther-Miriam Wagner

Published On





  • English

Print Length

488 pages (xxii+466)


Paperback156 x 25 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.99" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 38 x 234 mm(6.14" x 1.5" x 9.21")


Paperback1503g (53.02oz)
Hardback2431g (85.75oz)



OCLC Number





  • CFF
  • CFP


  • REL006020
  • LAN009010


  • PJ7624


  • Ottoman Empire
  • Arabic language history
  • Ottoman Arabic culture
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A Handbook and Reader of Ottoman Arabic

  • Esther-Miriam Wagner (author)
Written forms of Arabic composed during the era of the Ottoman Empire present an immensely fruitful linguistic topic. Extant texts display a proximity to the vernacular that cannot be encountered in any other surviving historical Arabic material, and thus provide unprecedented access to Arabic language history.

This rich material remains very little explored. Traditionally, scholarship on Arabic has focussed overwhelmingly on the literature of the various Golden Ages between the 8th and 13th centuries, whereas texts from the 15th century onwards have often been viewed as corrupted and not worthy of study. The lack of interest in Ottoman Arabic culture and literacy left these sources almost completely neglected in university courses.

This volume is the first linguistic work to focus exclusively on varieties of Christian, Jewish and Muslim Arabic in the Ottoman Empire of the 15th to the 20th centuries, and present Ottoman Arabic material in a didactic and easily accessible way. Split into a Handbook and a Reader section, the book provides a historical introduction to Ottoman literacy, translation studies, vernacularisation processes, language policy and linguistic pluralism. The second part contains excerpts from more than forty sources, edited and translated by a diverse network of scholars.

The material presented includes a large number of yet unedited texts, such as Christian Arabic letters from the Prize Paper collections, mercantile correspondence and notebooks found in the Library of Gotha, and Garshuni texts from archives of Syriac patriarchs.

Table of Contents


Esther-Miriam Wagner

1. Vernacularisation in the Ottoman Empire: Is Arabic the Exception that Proves the Rule?

Michiel Leezenberg

2. From Means to Goal: Auxiliary Disciplines in the Ottoman Madrasa Curriculum

Necmettin Kızılkaya

3. On the Order of the Sciences for He Who Wants to Learn Them

Guy Burak

4. Rumi Authors, the Arabic Historiographical Tradition, and the Ottoman Dawla/Devlet

Guy Burak

5. Arabic Grammar Books in Ottoman Istanbul: The South Asian Connection

Christopher D. Bahl

6. Bastards and Arabs

E. Khayyat

1. Bodl. Ms. Heb. C. 72/18: A Letter by Isaac Bayt ʿAṭṭān to Moses B. Judah (1480s)

Dotan Arad and Esther-Miriam Wagner

2. The Purim Scroll of the Cairene Jewish Community

Benjamin Hary

3. Appointment Deed of a Cantor in the Karaite Community, Cairo (1575)

Dotan Arad

4. Aharon Garish, Metsaḥ Aharon

Naḥem Ilan

5. Kitāb Hazz al-Quḥūf (1600s)

Humphrey Taman Davies

6. A Weaver’s Notebook from Aleppo (10th/16th century)

Boris Liebrenz and Kristina Richardson

7. Selections from Arabic Garshūnī Manuscripts in the British Library

Michael Erdman

8. Excerpt from Yūsuf al-Maġribī’s Dafʿ al-iṣr ʿan kalām ahl Miṣr (1606)

Liesbeth Zack

9. Lebanon: Chronicle of al-Ṣafadī (early 17th century [?])

Jérôme Lentin

10. A Jew’s Testimony Regarding a Statement Made in His Presence by a Muslim, Testified on Monday 20th Kislev 5418 (1657)

Werner Diem

11. A Jew’s Testimony Regarding a Statement Made in His Presence by a Muslim (1681)

Werner Diem

12. A Basra Passover Haggadah with Judaeo-Arabic Translation (ca. 1700)

Omer Shafran

13. Qahwa ‘Coffee’ (16th–17th centuries)

Ghayde Ghraowi

14. Egypt: Damurdāšī’s Chronicle of Egypt (first half of 18th century)

Jérôme Lentin

15. Matenadaran Collection MS No.1751: A Medical Work (1726)

Ani Avetisyan

16. A Clerical Letter by Rafael al-Ṭūḵī from the Prize Papers Collections (1758)

Esther-Miriam Wagner and Mohamed Ahmed

17. A Christian Mercantile Letter from the Prize Papers Collections (1759)

Esther-Miriam Wagner and Mohamed Ahmed

18. Ḥannā al-Ṭabīb, Riḥlat al-Shammās Ḥannā al-Ṭabīb ilā baldat Istanbūl (1764/65)

Feras Krimsti

19. Syria 1: Chronicle of Ibn al-Ṣiddīq (1768)

Jérôme Lentin

20. A Letter Transmitted by Ambassador Hajj Mahdī Bargash from Sultan Muḥammad Bin ʿAbdallah to Sultan Abdul Ḥamīd (1789 CE)

Ahmed Ech-Charfi

21. Arab Merchant Letters from the Gotha Collection of Arabic Manuscripts

Boris Liebrenz

22. A Judaeo-Arabic Letter from the Prize Papers Collection, HCA 32/1208/126.2 (1796)

Matthew Dudley

23. The Cairo-Ramla Manuscripts, or the Ramle KAR, 13 (1800s)

Olav Ørum

24. A 19th-Century Judaeo-Arabic Folk Narrative

Magdalen M. Connolly

25. Libya 1: Ḥasan al-Faqīh Ḥasan’s Chronicle Al-Yawmiyyāt al-Lībiyya (early 19th century)

Jérôme Lentin

26. Libya 2: Letter from Ġūma al-Maḥmūdī (1795–1858) to ʿAzmī Bēk, Daftardār of the ʾIyāla (Province) of Tripoli (undated)

Jérôme Lentin

27. T-S NS 99.38 (1809)

Geoffrey Khan and Esther-Miriam Wagner

28. Rylands Genizah Collection A 803 (1825)

Esther-Miriam Wagner and Mohamed Ahmed

29. Syria 2: Chronicle of Muḥammad Saʿīd al-ʾUsṭuwānī (1840–1861)

Jérôme Lentin

30. Arabia: A Letter from Abdallah Ḥiṣānī to ʿAbdallah Bāšā (1855)

Jérôme Lentin

31. Excerpts from Yaʿqūb Ṣanūʿ’s Abū Naḍḍāra Zarʾa and ʿAbd Allāh al-Nadīm’s al-Ustāḏ

Liesbeth Zack

32. A Disgruntled Bishop: A Garshūnī Letter from Bishop Dinḥā of Midyat to Patriarch Peter III

George Kiraz

33. Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Jarādī: Sīrat al-Ḵawāja al-ʾAkram al-Marḥūm Harmān al-ʾAlmānī

Alex Bellem and G. Rex Smith

34. Ora ve-Simḥa (1917)

Esther-Miriam Wagner

35. A ‘Mandæo-Arabic’ Letter from Lady Drower’s Correspondence

Charles Häberl

36. An Anecdote about Juḥā (1920s)

Tania María García-Arévalo



Esther-Miriam Wagner

Woolf Institute