1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Caussin de Perceval, Armand-Pierre

CAUSSIN DE PERCEVAL, ARMAND-PIERRE (1795–1871), French orientalist, was born in Paris on the 13th of January 1795. His father, Jean Jacques Antoine Caussin de Perceval (1759–1835), was professor of Arabic in the Collège de France. In 1814 he went to Constantinople as a student interpreter, and afterwards travelled in Asiatic Turkey, spending a year with the Maronites in the Lebanon, and finally becoming dragoman at Aleppo. Returning to Paris, he became professor of vulgar Arabic in the school of living Oriental languages in 1821, and also professor of Arabic in the College de France in 1833. In 1849 he was elected to the Academy of Inscriptions. He died at Paris during the siege on the 15th of January 1871.

Caussin de Perceval published (1828) a useful Grammaire arabe vulgaire, which passed through several editions (4th ed., 1858), and edited and enlarged Élie Bocthor’s[1] Dictionnaire français-arabe (2 vols., 1828; 3rd ed., 1864); but his great reputation rests almost entirely on one book, the Essai sur l’histoire des Arabes avant l’Islamisme, pendant l’époque de Mahomet (3 vols., 1847–1849), in which the native traditions as to the early history of the Arabs, down to the death of Mahommed and the complete subjection of all the tribes to Islam, are brought together with wonderful industry and set forth with much learning and lucidity. One of the principal MS. sources used is the great Kitáb al-Agháni (Book of Songs) of Abu Faraj, which has since been published (20 vols., Boulak, 1868) in Egypt; but no publication of texts can deprive the Essai, which is now very rare, of its value as a trustworthy guide through a tangled mass of tradition.

  1. Élie Bocthor (1784–1821) was a French orientalist of Coptic origin. He was the author of a Traité des conjugaisons written in Arabic, and left his Dictionary in MS.