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Session R6356 (The Multilingual Shift in Middle Eastern Studies), 2021
As is generally observed for the late Ottoman Empire, the nineteenth century was a period notable for the development of a modern curriculum of language learning, based especially on written grammars. Yet often overlooked in discussions of that curricular development was the use of a long-standing genre of pedagogical works, namely bilingual lexicons in verse. As part of the roundtable discussion, my presentation focuses on the use of Persian-Turkish lexicons in verse and particularly the Tuhfe, the “Gift,” produced by Sünbülzade Vehbi (d. 1809) in 1783. Vehbi’s lexicon was popular during his lifetime and remained so in the nineteenth century. More significantly, the lexicon also served as a basic text for learning Persian in the new civil schools that were established from 1838 onward. I argue that the use of Vehbi’s lexicon in these schools, beyond its practical mnemonic value, fostered poetic training in Persian and hence an Ottoman literary bilingualism.