British 18th-Century Orientalism and Arabic Dialectology
William Price of Worcester and his “Dialogues in the vulgar arabick of Morocco” (1797)
This article examines a relatively unknown 18th century European source on Moroccan Arabic. It is the article entitled “Dialogues on the vulgar Arabick of Morocco”, published in London in 1797 by William Price (1771–1830), a self-taught linguist and orientalist from Worcester, England. Price’s work is one of the few European texts predating 1800 focused on Moroccan Arabic, and providing some information about this linguistic variety. As we explain, Price obtained these “Dialogues” from “some natives of Barbary”, who happened to be in London. In the first four sections of the article, we examine the life and works of William Price, we place his activities as an expert in Arabic and other of the so-called “Oriental languages” in the context of 18th century British Orientalism, and we analyse the contents of the “Dialogues” provided in his article. These “Dialogues” consist of a conversation between two interlocutors who are taking a stroll in a walled coastal town of the Moroccan Atlantic strip. The fifth section of our contribution is a linguistic dialectological analysis of both the Arabic and Latin character transcriptions of Moroccan Arabic provided by Price. We analyse different issues concerning the transcriptions given, and we focus our linguistic study on phonological, morphological and syntactical issues.