In the course of cataloguing my language books, I hit a snag with the English-Arabic Conversational Dictionary, said in my Ungar edition (1955, 1978 paperback reprint) to be by Richard Jaschke. Now, I like to include the date of original publication in my listings, and this was clearly published long before 1955—aside from the fact that the phrases include things like “Ho there! you! boatman! put me ashore” and “three petticoats,” the introduction begins “This little book, one of the best pocket guides to Arabic ever published, has been out of print for too long a time.” It boggles my mind that it was considered useful in 1955, let alone now (and it’s apparently still in print), but it’s a lot of fun to leaf through. Anyway, I’m normally good at finding out when first editions were published, but I’ve drawn a blank here, and it’s not helping that some sources refer to the author as “Richard Jasch,” which in fact gets twice as many Google hits as the Jaschke version. (The Library of Congress doesn’t recognize him under either name.) So can anyone let me know when Jasch(ke)’s original “little book” was published and what it was then called? Thanks in advance.


  1. I can’t figure out how to make a permalink, but if you go to http://library.ox.ac.uk/ and navigate into OLIS search, you find Jäschke, Richard. English-Arabic conversation dictionary, with a grammar. Lond. 1909 From the serial Nutt’s conversation dictionaries.
    The same author seems to have done French (1892), German (1893), Italian (1894), Spanish (1899), and French bis (1915).
    Can LibraryThing use Z39.50 like Alexandria? OLIS seems to offer it. (In addition to queries via TELNET!)

  2. This article from SaudiAramco World magazine seems to corroborate the 1909 date. I assume it’s the same book, unless “Ho there! you! boatman! put me ashore” is standard for English-Arabic conversational dictionaries.

  3. I wonder if he’s any relation of Heinrich August Jäschke, the Moravian missionary who produced a Tibetan grammar (deeply obsolete) and dictionary (long standard, and still sometimes used) in the 1880s. I encountered the former in a 1954 reprint (with, as I recall, something like “This classic text has been too long out of print” on the cover) which is the only work on Tibetan grammar in the local library catalogue. The list of useful phrases at the back, which I made a note of, rather gives the impression that the reader will spend much of their time in Tibet yelling at incompetent servants, although this is in part due to the translator (from German)’s ending all commands with an exclamation point. “Not cutting the liver, bring it as a whole!” “Wash it with sand!” “Unless I tell you, do not bring wood!”

  4. Ah, the old Central European way: if you want something done, shout at the buggers in German.

  5. I tried a worldcat search on author “Richard Jasch*” and title “arabic.” Sure enough, earliest hit is 1909.

  6. I’m putting 1909 in the date field, and I express my deep gratitude to all who resolved this burning issue for me.

  7. “Unless I tell you, do not bring wood!” strikes me as one of the most wilfully perverse orders you could give a servant (without venturing into actual abuse).

  8. Michael Farris says:

    Now I’m dying to know how to say “Ho there! you! boatman! put me ashore” in Tibetan …. (are you sure you didn’t leave off an exclamation point after “ashore”, the ending seems puny without one.

  9. Isn’t Tibet landlocked?

  10. But they have rivers and lakes.

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