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A DISSERTATION

ON THE

ORTHOGRAPHY OF ASIATICK WORDS

IN ROMAN LETTERS.

BY

THE PRESIDENT.

EVERY man, who has occasion to compose tracts on Afiatick Literature, or to translate from the Asiatick Languages, must always find it convenient, and sometimes necessary, to express Arabian, Indian, and Persian words, or sentences, in the characters generally used among Europeans; and almost every writer in those circumstances has a method of notation peculiar to himself; but none has yet appeared in the form of a complete system; fo that each original sound

may

be rendered invariably by one appropriated fymbol, conformably to the natural order of articulation, and with a due regard to the primitive power of the Roman alphabet, which modern Europe has in general adopted, A want of attention to this object has occasioned great confusion in History and Geography. The ancient Greeks, who made a voluntary sacrifice of truth to the delicacy of their ears, appear to have altered by design almost all the oriental names, which they introduced into their elegant, but romantick, Histories; and even their more modern Geographers, who were too vain, perhaps, of their own language to learn any other, have so strangely disguised the proper appellations of countries, cities, and rivers in Asia, that, without the guidance of the sagacious and indefatigable M. D'Anville, it would have been as troublesome to follow AlexANDER through the Panjab on the Ptolemaick

map

of AGATHODÆMON, as actually to travel over the same country in its present state of rudeness and disorder. They had an unwarrantable habit of moulding foreign names to a Grecian form, and giving them a resemblance to some derivative word in their own tongue: thus, they changed the Gogra into Agoranis, or a river of the asembly, Uchab into Oxydracæ, or sbarpsighted, and Renas into Aornos, or a rock inaccessible to birds; whence their poets, who delighted in wonders, embellished their works with new images, distinguishing regions and fortresses by properties, which existed only in imagination. If we have less liveliness of fancy than the Ancients, we have more accuracy, more love of truth, and, perhaps, more solidity of judgement; and, if our

works shall afford less delight to those, in respect of whom we shall be Ancients, it may be said without presumption, that we shall give them more correct information on the History and Geography of this eastern world; since no man can perfectly describe a country, who is unacquainted with the language of it. The learned and entertaining work of M. D'HERBELOT, which professes to interpret and elucidate the names of persons and places, and the titles of books, abounds also in citations from the best writers of Arabia and Persia; yet, though his orthography will be found less defective than that of other writers on similar subjects, without excepting the illustrious Prince KANTEMIR, still it requires more than a moderate knowledge of Persian, Arabick, and Turkish, to comprehend all the passages quoted by him in European characters; one instance of which I cannot forbear giving. In the account of Ibni Zaidùn, a celebrated Andalusian poet, the first couplet of an elegy in Arabick is praised for its elegance, and expressed thus in Roman letters :

Iekad hein tenagikom dhamairna;
Iacdha klaïna alassa laula tassina.

“ The time, adds the translator, will soon come, when you will deliver us from all our “ cares: the remedy is assured, provided we

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