DRAGOMAN (from the Arabic terjuman, an interpreter or translator; the same root occurs in the Hebrew word targum signifying translation, the title of the Chaldaean translation of the Bible), a comprehensive designation applied to all who act as intermediaries between Europeans and Orientals, from the hotel tout or travellers' guide, hired at a few shillings a day, to the chief dragoman of a foreign embassy whose functions include the carrying on of the most important political negotiations with the Ottoman government, or the dragoman of the imperial divan (the grand master of the ceremonies).
It soon became necessary to create the important post of chief dragoman at the Porte, and there was no choice save to appoint a Greek, as no other race in Turkey combined the requisite knowledge of languages with the tact and adroitness essential for conducting diplomatic negotiations.
The first chief dragoman of the Porte was Panayot Nikousia, who held his office from 1665 to 1673.
From that time until 1821 the Greeks monopolized the management of Turkey's foreign relations, and soon established the regular system whereby the chief dragoman passed on as a matter of course to the dignity of hospodar of one of the Danubian principalities.
The duties of an embassy dragoman are extensive and not easily defined.
The functions of the first dragoman are mainly political; he accompanies the ambassador or minister at his audiences of the sultan and usually of the ministers, and it is he who is charged with the bulk of diplomatic negotiations at the palace or the Porte.
Moreover, the dragoman is frequently enabled, through the close relations which he necessarily maintains with different classes of Turkish officials, to furnish valuable and confidential information not otherwise obtainable.
This is the case in the Russian and Austrian services (where more than one ambassador began his career as a junior dragoman) and generally in the German service; the French chief dragoman usually attains the rank of minister plenipotentiary.
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.
Nicolas (first dragoman at the French legation at Tehran) has published several important translations, viz.
That he acted to some degree as Peter's interpreter or dragoman (ip,usp Ein), owing to the apostle's imperfect mastery of Greek, is held by some but denied by others (e.g.
The person raised to the princely dignity was usually the chief dragoman of the Sublime Porte, and was consequently well versed in contemporary politics and the statecraft of the Ottoman government.
The functions of this tribunal are to inquire into and judge differences and suits between Persian subjects and foreigners, and it is stipulated in the treaty of Turkmanchai, which is the basis of all existing treaties between Persia and other countries, that such differences and suits shall only be examined and judgment given in the presence of the dragoman of the mission or consulate (of the foreign subject), and that, once judicially concluded, such suits shall not give cause to a second inquiry.
If, however, circumstances should be of a nature to require a second inquiry, it shall not take place without previous notice given to the minister, or the charg daffaires, or the consul, and in this case the business shall only be proceeded with at the supreme chancery of the shah at Tabriz or Teheran, likewise in the presence of a dragoman of the mission, or, of the consulate.
ALEXANDER YPSILANTI (1725-1805) was dragoman of the Porte, and from 1 774 to 1782 hospodar of Wallachia, during which period he drew up a code for the principality.
The princes who now succeeded one another in rapid succession were mostly Greeks from the Phanar quarter of Constantinople who had served the palace in the quality of dragoman (interpreter), or held some other court appointment.