Frequent commenter Tatyana sent me a link to a Russian blog where there was a discussion of the Arabic word SiraaT ‘path’ (famously used in the first sura of the Qur’an, the Fatiha: Ihdina al-sirata al-mustaqima ‘Show us the straight path’), mentioning that it was from Latin stratum ‘path.’ Not having any way to determine whether this was true, I wrote to an Arabic scholar about it, asking also where one could go to look such things up. He confirmed the derivation and added “There is no Arabic etymological dictionary.” I found this shocking, and am hard put to explain it. I can understand why the cultural emphasis on the Arabic of the Qur’an as the perfected form of the language might have made native speakers less likely to look beyond it and work on its Semitic connections, but how could the avid European Orientalists of the Victorian era have omitted to produce such a thing? In an age obsessed with philology, when Edward William Lane was producing his monumental Arabic-English Lexicon and men like Theodor Nöldeke and Carl Brockelmann were doing groundbreaking work on Semitic, how could no one have done an etymological dictionary? And how could no one have done one since? Get cracking, people!