Abstract: Early transcription methods at the K.K. Akademie Orientalischer Sprachen in Vienna according to students’ exercise books

An analysis of handwritten exercise books based on Ottoman texts of the 18th19th century

By Claudia Römer

Abstract to the lecture of Claudia Römer on 16th February 2016

Some of the books of the former “K.K. Akademie Orientalischer Sprachen” in Vienna, which was founded in 1754 by Maria Theresa, are now kept at the Oriental Institute of Vienna University. Among them, there are fifteen hand-written exercise books of students at the Academy, dating from 1758-1831. The subjects of these exercises range from special assignments, like the collection of Ottoman proverbs compiled and translated by Anton Steindl de Plessenet in 1830 or two books, each one containing one part of the 17th-century Ottoman historian Mustafā Na`īmā’s history, translated into Latin in 1796 by Joseph Hirnschall and Joseph Plenck respectively. Most students, however, copied and translated Ottoman documents into Latin, French, Italian, and German.
Within the translations, names and terms are of course rendered in Roman characters. One cannot really call these small bits of text transcription texts. However, they reflect to a certain extent, though not consistently, a transcription method of the Arabic script current from the 17th century onward, especially in Meninski’s Ottoman dictionary of 1680.
The aim of this paper is to show the consistencies and inconsistencies, which also vary from one author to the other, on the background of a discussion on transcription that was going on at the beginning of the 19th century in the first volume of Fundgruben des Orients, the first international Orientalist journal worldwide.

As it is difficult and time-consuming to collect and especially compare all the relevant material manually, the paper will also briefly discuss possibilities of gleaning the texts electronically, once the forms of the students’ different hands can be made accessible for searching.


Das Beitragsbild zeigt das Titelblatt von Meninski´s Dicitionary von 1680 (Foto der Autorin).

Univ.-Prof.in Dr.in Claudia Römer ist Professorin und Turkologin am Institut für Orientalistik der Universität Wien (AT). Ihre Forschungsschwerpunkte liegen im Bereich der Osmanische Diplomatik, der Osmanische Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte sowie der Stilistik und historische Grammatik des Osmanischen.


Univ.-Doz. Dr. Adelheid Krah ist Senior Lecturer am Institut für Geschichte der Universität Wien; sie forscht und lehrt als habilitierte Universitätsdozentin, SL, in den Bereichen Mittelalterliche Geschichte, eLearning, Geschichte Mittel/Zentraleuropas und Westeuropas. Sie arbeitete auch als Archivarin am Bayerischen Hauptstaatsarchiv in München, ist Fellow des DHI-Paris und im Vorstand von ICARUS.

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