Compendious Syriac Grammar/Translator's Prefatory Note

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It appears desirable that the leading modern grammars of the four best-known Semitic languages, in their classical forms, should be readily accessible to English-speaking students. And in this connection, probably few competent judges will dispute the claims of the following treatises to be regarded as authoritative and leading, viz:—Wright's Arabic Grammar (as revised by Robertson Smith and De Goeje); Kautzsch's Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar; Nöldeke's Syriac Grammar; and Dillmann's Ethiopic Grammar. Of these the first two already exist in English, Wright's work having been in that form from the outset, at least under his own name, and Kautzsch's Gesenius' having been presented in a similar form a few years ago, in Collins and Cowley's excellent translation. The grammars of Nöldeke and Dillmann, however, have not hitherto appeared in English, although their pre-eminent position in their respective departments of Semitic philology is perhaps even less open to challenge, than that of the other two. It is to supply this want in the educational apparatus available for English students, so far at least as Noldeke's Grammar is concerned, that the present translation has been attempted.

Of course it may be said, that students of Syriac will in all liklihood be sufficiently well acquainted with German, to be able to consult the original for themselves. I trust that such is the case; but those students and scholars amongst us, who are most familiar with German, will probably be the first to welcome a translation of such a work, if only it has been executed with reasonable fidelity and care. There are obvious advantages in an English version for an English eye, however accomplished a linguist its owner may be. At all events it is in that belief, and with no other desire than to do something for this branch of study, that I have ventured upon the present edition.

No attempt has been made to alter in any way either the substance or the arrangement of the Grammar. Citations, it is true, have been again verified, and slight errors here and there have been tacitly corrected. To facilitate reference, not only has the very full Table of Contents been set in its usual place, but its items have also been applied throughout the book, in the form of rubrics to the several sections. With a similar design an Index of Passages, wanting in the original, has been drawn up and placed at the end of the volume.

Among other friends who have been helpful towards the preparation of this version, I have specially to thank Professor Robertson of Glasgow University, for much kindly encouragement and wise counsel. Above all I must express my deep indebtedness to the distinguished author himself, Professor Nöldeke, for the unfailing courtesy and unwearied patience with which he lent his invaluable guidance and assistance, as the proof-sheets passed through his hands. Thanks are also due to Herr W. Drugulin and his staff, for again encountering, with a very considerable measure of success, the typographical difficulties, which a work of this nature must present.

James A. Crichton.