Rev. Anton Tien: Interpreter and Language Instructor

From Hermeneus to Dragoman

It’s interesting how often I come across language textbooks from over a hundred years ago which are in truly excellent condition.  I’ve just found a lovely little copy of the fifth edition of Anton Tien’s Manual of Colloquial Arabic, from the 1890s.  Its owner was a Captain in the British Army in Jerusalem in 1918, who seems to have opened it only to write his name, and then given up on the project.  Crisp pages, and not a dog-ear or an ink-blot in sight.  The road to learning Arabic is paved with good intentions.

For language nerds, there are also plenty of distractions before you even reach the title page of manuals like this: two tempting double page spreads of advertisements for other language books by the same publisher.

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Perhaps our British Army Captain decided that Andamanese was more to his taste.

One name recurs among the authors of…

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