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.

  11. Fifteen years later, I have found an extended discussion of Jäschke in Nigel Vaux Halliday’s More than a Bookshop: Zwemmer’s and Art in the 20th Century:

    Richard Jäschke’s shop was at 78 Charing Cross Road. A German immigrant, long-established in London, he never sought naturalisation, a fact of great importance for Zwemmer’s future. Jäschke described himself as an ‘Importer of Foreign Books’, but he specialised in philology and linguistics, with particular interest in Slavonic languages: judging from his name, it is possible that he was of Polish-German extraction. In his field he was a noted scholar: Stanley Morison, the noted typographist at the Cambridge

    Infuriatingly, the preview cuts off there, but if Halliday couldn’t find out any more about him, I guess I’m unlikely to. You’d think there would be more information about a noted scholar; at least I’ve learned that he died in 1934 (at any rate, that’s the year his goods were offered for sale by tender).

  12. John Cowan says

    “Unless I tell you, do not bring wood!”

    Sounds like something you’d say to a Sorcerer’s Apprentice-style daemon.

  13. David Eddyshaw says

    I think it betrays poor man-management. Here is the loyal servant, eager to impress with his devotion to duty and his capacity for forward planning: and his reward is merely to be brutally snubbed. Poor show, I say.

  14. Philip Parr says

    For what it’s worth on the subject of Richard Jaschke, I am working on the Everything to Everybody project connected to the Shakespeare Library in Birmingham, and Jaschke was a major supplier of copies of European translations to the library, along with some very interesting Shakespeariana.

  15. Thanks for that, and if you find out more about him, please leave a comment about it. It’s frustrating to know so little!

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