7 Learning Arabic and Learned Bilingualism in Early Modern England: The Case of John Pell

Daniel Andersson

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Q. At the confusion of Babell, into how many languages was the world divided? 

A. Epiphanius and others doe write into 72. as many as there were workemen at the building. Others thinke 72. as many as there were Nations in the world, which Moses recites to be 72. 

Q. What preheminence have our best Linguists aboue others? 

A. The Hebrewes, that they drinke at the fountaines. The Grecians at the rivers. The Latines at the brookes. English, and some others at the Lakes. (Basse 1619, sigs. H2r-v) 

More than a hint of useless learning is attached to the polyglot in early modern England, as with the Jackdaw in a mid-century anonymous anti-courtier fable who could “spesk Latin, Greeke, Hebrew, French, Italian as easily as my mother tongue, but indeede few can understand me.”1 One stereotype flowed from once-fashionable works concerning the education of the courtier (Barnes 1606, sig. G3v). A second more learned tradition emphasized the notion, attested to by William Basse, that Hebrew lay behind all other tongues. It is presumably part of the joke against Jackdaw that he lists Hebrew as one of his “courtly” (and presumptively, oral) accomplishments. Yet Jackdaw is perhaps not so foolish. For despite the supremacy of Latin, other ways of thinking about non-Indo-European languages, and above all, may well have been useful for Arabic, the utility of which was as much practical as scholarly. 

Interest in Arabic and Islam in sixteenth-century Europe has often focused on the ideological or polemical aspects of the relationship between Eastern and Western cultures.2 There has been slightly less attention paid to the philological aspects of this interface.3 One explanation for this lacuna has been the fact that following the “second revelation” of Averroes in the West through the famous Giunta brothers edition in the sixteenth century, there was less need to learn Arabic to engage with the texts in the original languages that had earlier been deemed so essential for the scientific disciplines.4 Although this picture needs some revision in the sixteenth century (since diplomatic connection with the Ottoman empire—and even North Africa—formed an increasingly important conduit for knowledge transfer), it was in the seventeenth century that a renewed attention to the Arabic language, especially in Holland, and then England, became readily discernible.5 A number of figures from England could be used to illustrate the growing competence in Arabic, but one of the most intellectually interesting, and certainly sui generis, is John Pell, the English mathematician.6 The current chapter shows how Pell’s notes allow us to see in practice the kind of benefits, and hindrances, that the study of another non-indo-European language offered the tyro in Arabic. It also argues for the often ignored intellectual interest in the question of the choice of transliteration system. More generally, early modern England is often described as a multilingual culture with respect to individual learners and translators of texts (especially literary texts), but usually to discuss this with such terms from linguistics as diglossia or alloglottography has seemed inappropriate.7 This chapter questions that distinction. A solitary learner’s—perhaps idiosyncratic—attempts to view one language through the lens of another (here Arabic through Hebrew), is surely as part and parcel of a multilingual culture as innumerable traders slipping between one language and another for their transactions in millet or silk. 

The difficulties awaiting the student of Arabic in the earlier part of the seventeenth century were considerable. In the first place, there was considerable suspicion attaching to the study of Islam in general in early modern Europe, with the Quran itself having been placed on the Indexes at various points in the sixteenth century.8 The lack, furthermore, of an appropriate typographical technology severely hampered the progress of Oriental studies throughout Europe.9 The paucity of teachers was another major stumbling block, with Julius Justus Scaliger’s biting comment about people setting themselves up as teachers of Arabic who themselves knew barely the rudiments themselves often repeated; the intrinsic difficulty of the language did not help matters.10 The language’s difficulty, however, was often paraded as one of the best reason’s to study it, along with its utility for theological studies. 

England, at least in the sixteenth century, was rather a backwater with respect to the study of the Semitic languages, despite several distinguished medieval arabists.11 The story of England’s increasing capacity in this field is much clearer since the work of Gerald Toomer.12 More detail, however, about the Oxford career of the Dutch Orientalist Johannes Van den Driesch in the 1570s is needed (who dedicated his vast work on the Book of Ruth to Archbishop Whitgift in 1584, and the dedicatory epistle tells us that Drusius was at Lambeth Palace at this point).13 The precise scope of a mooted intellectual support grouping around Lancelot Andrewes may yet, with further manuscript discoveries, be convincingly proved. There are, moreover, a number of manuscripts that have not yet been taken account of, such as the prayer book and Koran in the Cotton collection and the seemingly seventeenth-century English compilation of semitic grammatical material in the Lansdowne manuscript collection.14 Without any institutional pedagogy, however, these could only ever be rare exceptions.15 The sudden departure of Philippus Ferdinandus in Cambridge put paid to the chance to place the study of Arabic there on a securer institutional footing.16 Whatever the large claims made for the study of Arabic in Matthias Pasor’s 1626 Oratio pro linguae Arabicae (his inaugural lecture in Oxford), there is no evidence of Pasor (a refugee from the Thirty Years War via Leiden) having pursued Arabic studies at Oxford (and indeed he supplemented his income with lectures in Hebrew at St Mary Hall, and in any case in 1629 he was back in the Low Countries).17 The market therefore for such works as Thomas Erpenius’s grammars, which soon eclipsed all other comparable works, and Agostino Giustiniani’s Psalter is all the more understandable.18 Erpenius’ Rudimenta, for example, went through three editions, and it was one of these editions, it seems, that found its way into the hands of John Pell, and from which he took careful notes. These notes form the basis of the current chapter. How he learnt Arabic tells us as much about the powerfully synthesizing mind of Pell than it does about Erpenius. 

The physical format of the notes in which John Pell’s attempts to learn Arabic were recorded deserves a word, since it complicates considerably the broader argument being made here.19 The trickiest issue is chronology. Pell regularly used little octavo pages for his notetaking activities. The handwriting itself is a model of clarity; what makes the forensic task difficult is the ordering of these notes since they do not always contain a date (in Pell’s own unusual dating system), and the pages have been stuck, sometimes seemingly in no clear order, onto the folios of their current manuscript, British Library Additional 4377. Since the argument presented in the current chapter turns, to some extent, on the issue of chronology, where relevant, these difficulties will be explicitly mentioned.20 The sheer volume and ambition of his projects must bear some of the blame for the often fragmentary and unfinished nature of his output, of which these physical traces are an apposite index. Pell may not have come up with the plan for the first department store, like Leibniz (a figure with whom he has otherwise much affinity), but there was little in the intellectual life of the time which he did not, for however a brief a time, attempt to become involved with. Although his manner of working seems to have been fairly ordered, the variety of his projects took its toll on the publication of the results of his research: many of his papers were either lost or disordered.21 As mentioned already, the notes, as currently preserved, are not in strict chronological order: for example, f. 27 (a series of observations on how to remember the different letters of the alphabet) must date from earlier on than the vocabulary lists of f.14. 

As far as the current state of the papers allows us to say, it was toward the end of the 1630s that Pell began to learn Arabic.22 In 1629, he had been teaching at Collyer’s School (a Henrician grammar school) in Horsham. Pell had just begun (perhaps in October 1629) to be acquainted with Samuel Hartlib, whose interests extended from mathematics to, most famously, universal language schemes. Hartlib is probably the most influential figure in Pell’s intellectual trajectory throughout the 1630s.23 He was a figure whose mental world was closely tied to the consequences of ideas, chiefly of the Utopian variety. Originally from Poland, Hartlib was in England from September 1628 onwards. The cause of the Palatinate was in particular close to his heart (as has been tirelessly recorded in the secondary literature), as were the possibilities for the overcoming of doctrinal differences through appropriate pedagogic (or, as we might say, “cognitive”) training.24 (It is this second part of Hartlib inheritance that is relevant to the interpretation adopted of Pell’s Arabic learning here.) These ideas soon found a practical home. By 1630, Pell was teaching in the Chichester Academy that Hartlib had founded in the same year. Even though the Chichester Academy came to grief, and Hartlib returned to London, he remained actively involved with pedagogy throughout the 1630s. Pell was already note-taking in 1631 from Helvicus’s work on universal grammar.25 The difficulty in getting away from the political aspects of the “universal reformation” requiring those involved with the Principality of Transylvania to deal with the Ottomans is underscored by Pell’s inclusion of a copy of a letter (translated into English) containing “[t]he greate Turke’s oathe to Bethlem Gaber, sente to the prince of Transylvania 1620 Jan.3.”26 

Naturally Pell, given his mathematical interests, was interested in the scientific works that a knowledge of Arabic would allow him to access. In this vein, can one read Pell’s comment on the role of Arabic as a preserver of ancient learning: 

When Greeke had been quite left out of Italy 900 years Emanuel Chrysoloras about 1399 (obtaining no help for his Greeks for which he was sent thither) stayed there & revived ye knowledge of yt language. 

But about 830 about 200 years after Mahomets death the Arabians fell a studying yt language and translated a multitude of these books into their language which though they be in things erroneous yet some way they are usefull because they are translations of books not now extant or imperfectly understood or corrupt. 

By these Arabians we may supply the 2 former defects & many times the latter preserving by their blundering what was in their coppies.27 

Such a translation of intellectual empire had already been hymned in Pell’s chief source, Erpenius, who includes an “Oration on the Arabic Language” which praises the tongue in precisely these terms. Pell’s Arabic notes, however, are more prone (as one would expect) to comment on more technical issues of the relation of script, sense and sound. But quite how much understanding of the Arabic script did Pell posses? 

Certainly, he had access also to examples of it in manuscript, for there are four leaves of a Koran (ff. 27–30), though since the paper is unwatermarked we cannot say whether these pages were imported from the East. Pell’s own attempts to write in uninterrupted Arabic script (f. 31r-v) are commendable though notably less fluent, with much clearer breaks and wider spaces between words than in the majority of early modern Arabic manuscripts, as would one expect. The passage of the Quran that he writes out is the third sura (although he stops at verse 8, out of 200). This is certainly more fluent than the presumably earlier attempt to write in Arabic (f. 24), predictably, the opening sura of the Koran, with the spaces between words even more heavily marked. Erpenius’s Rudimenta contained a section on the different scripts which was sufficiently detailed to enable Pell to make the following comment: “This manuscript of 9 crooked lines is written in Arabicke letters but not in their Sacred hand called by them [MS not quite legible here] which is best knowen to the students of Arabicke hear in Christendome. But it is the Court Hand called Diwan used by the Turkes in their ordinary affairs & law-business.”28 

As mentioned earlier, Pell’s main guide in learning Arabic in the 1630s was the Rudimenta of Thomas Erpenius.29 Pell follows his source closely but not slavishly, sometimes making notable improvements in phraseology or precision. For example, his notes on the first page of the Quran were inspired by the similar exercise of the German Kirstenius, an earlier and much less influential grammar than that of Erpenius.30 On the question of the root (and its status), Pell seems simply to follow Erpenius—his interest is here practical and not theoretical (wanting, in other words, to know how to discover it, rather than to understand its elusive grammatical quality).31 He is a careful lover of grammatical minutiae and matters of orthography. He comments on the printing conventions for dealing with quiescent consonants, for example.32 Pell’s training in, or at least familiarity with, the emendatory techniques of humanist classical scholarship is responsible for a breathtaking piece of intellectual self-confidence in the notes. Using Erpenius’s grammatical instruction, he manages to correct Kirstenius, who had translated al-fatiha (the name of the opening sura) as “caput apertionis.” Noting that the form is in fact a verbal adjective, he suggests rather the translation “caput apertivum.” Pell’s humanistic instincts cannot, however, resist suggesting to him that this was in fact a corruption “per incuriam,” leading him to say: “lego igitur SoWRaToLiΦאTiΠaTo.” Emendation of the holy word of Allah would remain, however, a minority pursuit. 

An early comment suggests that Pell had a strong sense that the “reality” that lay behind the various grammatical paradigms of Arabic was sound-based: 

To read single Arabic words, as in Grammaticall Paradigms, we must know the sound of the letters [...] “b t θ 3 כ ח {} d t z s שׁ s d t d y G F k כּ L m n w h y.change of יה into ח 

place of the accent [...] never in ultima, therefore in penultima in all disyllables as onsur, never higher than the antepenult, and there always in polysyllables as nasara, nasarta unlwaaw [y]e penult be made long by quiescent by אוי as tansoranias tansoriיna tansoraיna.33 

There is a practical reason why such a reality would be evident to the seventeenth-century student of Arabic. The grammatical inflections and conjugations of both Latin and Greek obviously involve some changes to the sound of the endings (from e.g. ambulo to ambulat), but if one ignored the auditory elements of such endings, one would not be seriously hampered in one’s linguistic progress. Furthermore, accent in Greek does not function as a marker of grammatical difference within a particular verb or noun; rather accentuation is a way of choosing between homographs, such as the two meanings of βιος.34 A glance at grammars of Latin and Greek from the sixteenth century make hardly any reference to the constitutive value of sound at all.35 The development of the discipline of phonology (usually associated with Harvey’s teacher, Fabricius da Aquadepente) may have contributed to the early seventeenth-century sense among the empirically minded of the “reality” of the sound beneath the grammatical structures.36 This seemingly novel style of physiological thinking about linguistic practice was in turn prepared for by the immensely popular work by Scaliger on Poetics, where the basic phonetic capacities of man were conceived as matter on which the form of grammatical structure was placed.37 To return to Pell, the other auditory problem that is faced by the student of Arabic revolves around what transliteration system to adopt. Questions of transliteration had even received some attention for English, as the (lugubriously black-letter) attempt of London printer William Bullokar to produce a reformed orthography in the 1580s makes clear.38 With languages, however, written in other scripts, the problem was naturally more pressing.39 Since many of the sounds of Arabic do not have exact equivalents in Latin, Greek or English, and even Hebrew does not provide an exact analogue, considerable thought had to attend the question of transliteration. 

There was no universally agreed transliteration system for Arabic in early modern Europe. The encounter with the gutturals produced a number of scholarly attempts to clear the lexicographical throat. The unwieldy Lexicon Arabico-Latinum of Franciscus Raphelengius, posthumously published in 1613, completed by his sons and by Erpenius, allowed one such system the oxygen of print.40 That transliteration system differs slightly from the adopted in the Lexicon Pentaglotton from which Pell took notes.41 A third system still is in place in Pell’s notes from the Tabula Cebetis. Although there is no date superscription for the Tabula notes, the slightly uncomfortable and awkward script suggests it is early on. Furthermore, the transliteration system that Pell uses for the Arabic words also suggests that these notes date from early on. It is, however, different again from the transliteration system of 1982. For example, Pell uses Hebrew letters first to refer to Plato (rather than the Arabic script of the book from which he is taking notes): אטנאפל first becomes אאPLTN.42 Finally, at one point (perhaps very early in his career, since it uses only Roman alphabet characters) Pell transcribes another piece of Arabic, using, it would seem, a system that distinguishes, for example, between ح and ه by using both capital and minuscule versions of the letter h: AllaHo La ilaha illa Howa: wayala-illahi FalYataWaCCaLi.43 It is an open question whether he really understood the Arabic behind this phrase. Whilst no very definite conclusions can be made about dating, given the above-mentioned difficulties, what is worth underscoring here is that Pell remains interested in the question of transliteration throughout his engagement with Arabic and that he attempts a system that is his own (in the sense of being a hybrid of other systems). Transliteration does not appear to have been simply a learner’s crib for Pell, to be kicked away as soon as he could read without it (as surely he could have done after only a few weeks of instruction, let alone several months). It was an interesting intellectual problem in itself. 

There is, furthermore, an interesting intellectual hinterland to this fact, and that revolves around Pell’s curiosity (and that of those around him) about theories of a universal language or writing system that were so marked a feature of mid-seventeenth-century life in the respublica literarum. As if to underscore this interest, the very same manuscript volume in which the notes on Arabic are found is also the home to cut out leaves from works on Universal Character, as well as some notes on shorthand. At the top of one paradigm for the passive of KWL, Pell writes two Greek adverbs: ανομαλως and αναλογικως.44 Since neither Kirstenius’Arabicae nor Erpenius’s Rudimenta mentions either words, we can be fairly sure that they are Pell’s own frame of reference for understanding his material. Although it was not the major focus of grammatical research in the Renaissance, the Alexandrian debate over anomaly versus analogy (as played out by the Stoics in the later Roman period) nonetheless was available to scholars and did become the object of some discussion. Varro’s De lingua latina contained a detailed account of both of these terms and was widely disseminated throughout Europe.45 What is at issue in the anomaly/analogy controversy may be stated, broadly, as the extent of uniformity, and hence describability of a system, at the expense of its variability. Behind this in turn lies the issue, familiar from medieval discussions, of whether or not grammar counted as a science, since, by Aristotelian lights, no science worthy of the name could consist in the recounting of linguistic particulars.46 We have already seen the intense interest in numbering and schematization that afflicts Pell. How could he fail to see the issue of the status of a grammatical system? Book X of De Lingua Latina contains a mathematical mode for four schemata of grammatical inflection. The notion of analogy is illustrated in the Renaissance editions with a mathematical table. The issue, we may say, of the analogy and anomaly distinction may thus be better described as a more general problem of Renaissance linguistics. At another point, Pell writes down a table (Table 7.1)—he transliterates the paradigm for the verb غزو (which he glosses with “oppugnavit” using the third person perfect, as being the simplest form in Arabic). We see him writing the term “αναλογικως” over the third.47 

In the light of this, the issue of Pell’s particularly careful transliteration system for Arabic becomes relevant. At one level, the transliteration system is explained by the (possible) early date of these pages of the manuscript. And yet, learning the Arabic alphabet is not so hard that Pell’s attachment to his system is not capable of alternative explanation. If the parallels with Greek linguistic usage are to be taken seriously (and are not simply aides-memoire or causa illustrationis), then we must consider that the transliteration system was another of the attempts at a universal character. 

GaZaWa oppugnavit Active Αναλογικως


A second issue, and one which connects Pell’s notes less to an ideal language than to a real one, was the proximity or otherwise of Hebrew to Arabic, and whether or not, one was in fact just a dialect of the other. Latin, after all, had since the time of Plutarch (often with political coloring) been thought of as a mere dialect of Greek and this theory resurfaced from time to elsewhere in early modern Europe.48 Scaliger (as already pointed out in the secondary literature) rejected the similarity of Hebrew to Arabic, arguing that this simply impeded the proper acquisition of each language.49 Certainly, however, Hebrew is present at every stage of Pell’s learning of the language (this, then, is the “learned bilingualism” of the current chapter’s title). Throughout Pell’s early vocabulary lists, there is nearly always a Hebrew word for every Arabic one. Much of the detail of the analogy between Hebrew and Arabic turns on phonetic qualities. Take, for example, the following comment: 

On day 10982 

_allwayes in [th]e very end of a word after the last consonant 

for the most part after קעעטטצצהה therefore one is called Kaf [th]e other Kef 

& before ym if no vowel come next after as when they are shevated as קב Bak else בק Beka 

And for [y]s reason a is used in the names of Hha, Cha, Sad, Dad, Ta, da, yain, Gain, Kaf, left out of all [y]e rest save dal Dal Lam Waw. 

The curious expression “shevated” may cause the uninitiated to pause. It derives from Hebrew grammar and has no place in Arabic. The “sheva” (in today’s terminology a “schwa”) is a symbol placed under a Hebrew letter to indicate the absence of a vowel (unless the letter is a final consonant). The parallels, grammatical and lexical and phonological, with Hebrew are a marked feature of Pell having learned this second Semitic language. 

Jackdaw thought that his polyglot abilities, comprehensible or no, qualified him to take the place of the Eagle, in the little Reynard the Fox-inspired political allegory with which we began: 

However, I hope you will consider my worthinesse, and place me as your substitute, during the time that your Eagleship shall be absent in the Desart of Arabia. And so ends Iackdaw, praying for your long life, and to give you a taste of my Languages.50 

With the Eagle in Arabia, Jackdaw need not have his knowledge of how to learn Arabic tested (or tasted). Perhaps like Pell, he would have started with a productive if unstable medley of Hebrew, Latin and Greek. 


Thanks to Arne Böge for a pleasant afternoon in Dresden back in 2006 spent in a bookshop where I picked up a copy of Johann Fück’s seminal Die Arabischen Studien in Europa. Noel Malcolm and Sam Wilder commented with their characteristic acuity and generosity. This is for Peter Chadwick, who shared my enthusiasm for finding other beginners in Arabic, and who has always supported my work. 


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ΜΕΓΑ ετυμολογικον. Etymologicum Magnum. Magnum Etymologicum Graecae Linguae, Nunc Recens Summa Adhibita Diligentia Excusum, & Innumerabilibus Pene Dictionibus Locupletatum (1549). Venice: Federicus Tarrisanus.




Pleasant History of Cawwood the Rooke (The Pleasant History of Cawwood the Rooke or, the Assembly of Birds 1640, sig. B4v).


See the otherwise excellent studies of Segesvary (1985); Bisaha (2007); Meserve (2008); Holt (1972). See also Balagna-Coustod (1989), esp. pp. 31 (on Nicholas Clenard’s now lost sixteenth-century Arabic grammar, which he wrote when in Salamanca, which was the only place by 1639 where Hebrew was taught anymore, following the closure of the Spanish mind) and 69–70 (on grammar, and the figures Arnoult de l’Isle, Etienne Hubert and Pierre-Victor Calma Cayet).


Honorable exceptions include Burman (2007), though some will find the style of this work rather plodding; Jones (1991). We now benefit from Loop, Hamilton and Burnett (2017) and Loop (2013), though these appeared far too late for me to take proper account of.


The phrase quotes, with due piety, Wolfson (1961, 373–392).


Some of these connections are illuminated in the sprawling work of Haijji (1976).


See now ODNB, sub nomine, for a recent sketch, to be supplemented by Malcolm and Stedall (2005).


See, e.g., Boutcher (2000). The traditional explanation that diglossia functions between two varieties of the same language whereas bilingualism refers to two separate languages already presupposes issues and definitions that require historicization.


See Hamilton (2001, 169, n. 3).


There is as yet no study for Arabic typography in Europe to set beside the magisterial Hebrew Typography in the Northern Nethelands, 1585–1815, Fuks (1984). See now also for another semitic language, Wilkinson (2007). The first book to contain Arabic characters was Breidenbach’s Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctam, though it was a lone outlier. The influence of the famous late Medici press of the 1590s must not be accorded undue influence given that its output was for the Ottoman market, and not a domestic European one. See Jones (1981). A better step change date is 1585, when Plantin’s son-in-law, Raphelengius, had Arabic types cut. For Holland, see de Nave (1986), for a lucid summary of the sixteenth-century material. Postel’s considerable library of Syriac and Arabic mss was left in the hands of the librarian (Franciscus Junius) of the Elector Palatine in Heidelberg.


See now Hamilton (2009).


See Burnett (1999).


Toomer (1996).


Drusius (1632, sig. A3r). The issue for further research to determine is quite how much time Drusius spent in the 1570s at Oxford and how much at Lambeth (see also A2r: “Accessit ad haec mala perigrinatio, quae animum meum a libris sic abalienavit, ut vix cum iis in gratiam redire potuerim”).


British Library, London, Cotton MS, Galba IX and X; and British Library, London, Lansdowne MS 694.


It would be good to know who was teaching Sir Kenelm Digby (according to a scrap of evidence from Hartlib in 1634) was a great student of Arabic, which would place him at just the right time and place. See Matar (1998, 83–4).


See Feingold (2017). Feingold’s story is one, strictly speaking, of the history of universities, to which Pell stands in some way oblique.


See ODNB sub nomine “Matthias Pasor.” I have found little evidence of Arabic philology in his Groningen archive papers.


See Fück (1955, 59–71). We await a full study of Erpenius.


British Library, London, Additional MS 4377.


Noel Malcolm suggests that, given how studious a person Pell was, it would be unwise to assume too much from this chronology.


On the relationship between publication and reputation, see the acute comments of Feingold (2006, 451–468).


These notes allow us to nuance Toomer’s statement (1996, 198) that we do not know how much Arabic Pell knew.


For Hartlib’s career(s), see Malcolm and Stedall’s judicious summary of the evidence (2005, 26–28, esp. n. 8), where Malcolm makes references to Polish secondary literature that I cannot read.


For the Utopian (or pre-lapsarian) character of much of the universal language schemes, see now Lewis (2007). For the importance of Transylvania as a confessional buffer state, see now Keul (2009).


Additional MS, 4377, f.147 (dated 14 May 1631).


Additional MS, 4377, f.25.


Additional MS 4377, f.19.


British Library, London, Additional MS 4377, f.15xx.


The edition that he was using was that of 1628.


On Kirstenius, see Smitskamp (1992, 118–21) (thanks to Noel Malcolm for this reference).


So f.7: “Arabicarum vocum analysis sive Radicis arabicae investigatio. Abjice initio quarumlibet praefixas.” For a survey of the different ways in which the root was analyzed in premodern grammars, see Rousseau (1984).


The relevant passages are Erpenius, Rudimenta, 1628, sigs. B5v–B6r and, in Pell, f.24.


Additional MS 4377, f.1r.


See, e.g., ΜΕΓΑ ΕΤΥΜΟΛΟΓΙΚΟΝ. Etymologicum magnum..., ΜΕΓΑ ετυμολογικον. Etymologicum Magnum. Magnum Etymologicum Graecae Linguae, Nunc Recens Summa Adhibita Diligentia Excusum, & Innumerabilibus Pene Dictionibus Locupletatum 1549, sub verbo “βιος.” We shall know more about the diffusion of this kind of exercise when Paul Botley finishes his work on learning Greek in Renaissance Europe.


See, e.g., Ramus (1578, sigs. A2v–sA3r), where the brief discussion of sound is never linked to any syntactic features, but rather provides simple definitions of terms such as liquid and vowel (e.g.: “D[iscipulus]: Quid est syllaba unius literae? P[raeceptor ] est vocalis quaelibet; ut a e i o u y.”


The works that are regularly cited are the De voce, the De loquela brutorum and the De locutione et eius instrumentis. On the reception of Paduan medical ideas in England, see now Woolfson (1999, 73–102). To Woolfson, add the early seventeenth-century notes in an English hand found in the margins of the De visione, voce, auditu...at British Library, London, shelfmark, 536 m4.


Stemming from Aristotle, Poetics, II.1.


Bullokar (1580). On Bullokar (c. 1531–1609), see now ODNB sub nomine.


For sixteenth-century knowledge of non-European languages and scripts, see Gesner’s Mithridates (1555), consisting of a range of Lord’s Prayers.


On this, see now Alistair Hamilton, “Nam Tirones Sumus.” The work was based on a manuscript that had once been in the hands of Raphelengius’s teachers, Guillaume Postel (so Hamilton).


At f.19x he copies out the transliteration system adopted by the Lexicon Pentaglotton, Hebraicum, Chaldaicum, Syriacum, Thalmudico-Rabbinicum & Arabicum. In quo omnes voces Hebreae [...] opus novum nunc post Authoris obitum.


Additional MS, 4377, f.4r.


Additional MS, 4377, f.18x.


For “analogia” in Greek in the sense of grammatical regularity, see now Lallot (1998, 80–81). For the so-called dispute between the followers of “analogy” (those of Aristarchus the grammarian) and those of “anomaly” (those of Crates), see now the sources marshalled in Dickey (2007, 6 n. 15). As to the reality of the debate, the jury is out, but for an up-to-date summary of the positions adopted in the secondary literature, see Ax (2000).


See the entry for Varro in Brown (1980). Varro’s work on the De lingua latina had been edited by Antonio Agostin, but had achieved a raised scholarly profile following the emendatory activity of Scaliger (whose coniectanea were in later editions often bound with the original text of Agostin), and then, in 1605, Gaspar Schoppe produced a new edition.


See now Beurle (2010, 105ff).


I register here Sam Wilder’s perceptively baffled comment: “Of che parsing of semitic root patterns does cut rather to the quick of that enticing area of language systems theory and controversy that gets debated along those lines. They really do: one is confronted with a promise of an almost pristine semantic calculus unimaginable in our chaotic Indo-European ‘accidental’ linguistic universe of borrowings and etymological bastardry. This is where Pell seems to be so interestingly stewing. Yet then, when he has analogikos at the top of a column in a verb-parsing table, I am a bit confused.”


See the discussion in Gabba (1963). For the marshaling of the ancient sources, see Cupaiuolo (1925).


Epistulae, 1627, 197 and 203.


The Pleasant History of Cawwood the Rooke The Pleasant History of Cawwood the Rooke or, the Assembly of Birds 1640, sig. B4v).


Multilingualism, Lingua Franca and Lingua Sacra

Table of Contents

List of Contributors

Markham J. Geller, Jens Braarvig

Markham J. Geller, Jens Braarvig

Part I: General Reflections

1 Empires and their Languages: Reflections on the History and the Linguistics of Lingua Franca and Lingua Sacra
Reinier Salverda

2 Dependent Languages
Jens Braarvig

Part II: Europe

3 Lehnübersetzung und Lehnbedeutung vs. Lehnwort: Zu den Entlehnungen aus dem Lateinischen und Französischen in das mittelalterliche Deutsch
Kurt Gärtner

4 Konrad of Megenberg: German Terminologies and Expressions as Created on Latin Models
Kathrin Chlench-Priber

5 What Language Does God Speak?
Florentina Badalanova Geller

6 Islamic Mystical Poetry and Alevi Rhapsodes From the Village of Sevar, Bulgaria
Florentina Badalanova Geller

7 Learning Arabic and Learned Bilingualism in Early Modern England: The Case of John Pell
Daniel Andersson

Part III: Ancient Near East

8 Sumerian in the Middle Assyrian Period
Klaus Wagensonner

9 The Concept of the Semitic Root in Akkadian Lexicography
Markham J. Geller

10 Multilingualism in the Elamite Kingdoms and the Achaemenid Empire
Jan Tavernier

11 Diplomatic Multilingualism in the Middle East, Past and Present: Multilingualism, Linguae Francae and the Global History of Religious and Scientific Concepts
Lutz Edzard

12 Some Observations on Multilingualism in Graeco-Roman Egypt
Alexandra von Lieven

Part IV: India and Central Asia

13 Indo-Iranian Sacred Texts and Sacrificial Practices: Structures of Common Heritage (Speech and Performance in the Veda and Avesta, III)
Velizar Sadovski

14 Aspects of Multilingualism in Turfan as Seen in Manichaean Texts
Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst

Part V: China

15 Multilingualism and Lingua Franca in the Ancient Chinese World
William G. Boltz

16 The Imprint of Buddhist Sanskrit on Chinese and Tibetan: Some Lexical Ontologies and Translation Strategies in the Tang Dynasty
Jens Braarvig

17 Classical Chinese as Lingua Franca in East Asia in the First to Second Millennia CE: Focusing on the Linguistic Situation in Traditional Korea
Vladimir Tikhonov

Part VI: The Americas

18 Multilingualism and Lingua Francae of Indigenous Civilizations of America
Lars Kirkhusmo Pharo

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