THE FIRST TURKISH GRAMMAR TO BE PUBLISHED IN ENGLISH, 1709, FOR MERCHANTS OF THE POWERFUL LEVANT COMPANY
(TURKEY) VAUGHAN, Thomas. A Grammar of the Turkish Language. London: J. Humphreys for Jonathan Robinson and Tho. Horne, 1709. Slim octavo, contemporary full brown paneled calf rebacked in period style. $9000.
First edition of the first Turkish grammar to be printed in English, produced by the Levant Company merchant Thomas Vaughan for the use of his fellow trades, with two engraved plates illustrating the Turkish alphabet and a folding engraved plate of a tugra. Very rare.
The 18th century was a period in which Britain rose to a dominant position among European trading nations, the Levant Company enjoying a monopoly of trade with the Ottoman Empire from its three principal trading posts at Istanbul, Izmir and Aleppo. Levant Company merchant Thomas Vaughan intended his Grammar for the use of fellow tradesmen and exporters. In addition to the formal grammar, Vaughan’s work includes five dialogues incorporating useful phrases for traders with English translations, a fable, 53 proverbs, and an extensive vocabulary, including many words for commodities and dry goods. All the Turkish words and examples in the book are set in in roman type rather than Arabic type, as he probably thought familiar type would better convey pronunciation, thereby facilitating spoken business transactions in Turkish— his original purpose. His preface offers “a word of advice to the learner, who is to reside in Turky, how to use his skill in the language, so as not to render it prejudicial: for doubtless if any one should grow so fond of his proficiency, as to affect the society of the Turks, he would soon be weary of such an acquaintance; and an intimacy with them might prove as dangerous as expensive.” Following William Seaman’s grammar in Turkish and Latin, Grammatica Linguæ Turcicæ (1670), Vaughn’s work was only the second Turkish grammar to be published in England and the first in English. With errata slip affixed to final leaf. Blackmer 1720.
A nearly fine copy, with only sparse spots of foxing.