A Grammar of the Arabic Language


The Scottish orientalist John Richardson (circa 1740–95) was born in Edinburgh. He studied law as well as Arabic and Persian in London. He was much influenced by his friend, the philologist William Jones, with whom he worked in the 1770s on A Dictionary, Persian, Arabic and English, based on Franciscus Meninski's 1680–87 Thesaurus linguarum orientalium. The grammar book presented here was first published in 1776. It is modeled after Jones’s Persian grammar of 1771, which had been very well-received by the public. Richardson’s grammar, like Jones’s, claims to mix ease with entertainment in the study of Arabic. Richardson especially hoped the book would appeal to those in the service of the British East India Company. The work is comprised of five “books,” each of which is in turn divided into several chapters. Book I is dedicated to the Arabic alphabet and pronunciation. Book II discusses nouns and declension, book III verbs and conjugations. Special prefixes are tackled in book IV, and syntax in book V. English and Arabic texts are often interwoven to complement each other, except when Richardson uses quotations from Arabic classics, in verse or prose, to highlight his points. The quotations are followed by English translations, giving the grammar a literary flavor. This 1811 edition was published in London and is dedicated to the “Chairman, Deputy Chairman, and Directors” of the “Honourable United Company of Merchants,” another name for the British East India Company.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

London, Lackington, Allen and Company, London

Title in Original Language

A grammar of the Arabic language; in which the rules are illustrated by authorities from the best writers; principally adapted for the service of the Honouable East India company

Type of Item

Physical Description

211 pages ; 27 centimeters


  1. P.J. Marshall, “Richardson, John (1740/41‒1795),” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Last updated: October 30, 2017