The original employment of dragomans by the Turkish government arose from its religious scruples to use any language save those of peoples which had adopted Islamism.
Though such dragomans enjoyed by treaty the protection of the country employing them, they were by local interests and family ties very intimately connected with the Turks, and the disadvantages of the system soon became apparent.
Accordingly as early as 1669 the French government decided on the foundation of a school for French dragomans at Constantinople, for which in later years was substituted the Ecole des langues orientales in Paris; most of the great powers eventually took some similar step, England also adopting in 1877 a system, since modified, for the selection and tuition of a corps of Britishborn dragomans.
The subordinate dragomans transact the less important business, comprising routine matters such as requests for the recognition of consuls, the settlement of claims or furthering of other demands of their nationals, and in general all the various matters in which the interests of foreign subjects may be concerned.
The high estimation in which the dragomans are held by most foreign powers is shown by the fact that they are usually and in the regular course promoted to the most important diplomatic posts.
The more important consulates in the provinces of Turkey are also provided with one or more dragomans, whose duties, mutatis mutandis, are of a similar though less important nature.
In the same way banks, railway companies and financial institutions employ dragomans for facilitating their business relations with Turkish officials.
C. Taylor remarked (Ibis, 18 59, p. 51), that the buff-backed heron, Ardea bubulcus, was made by the tourists' dragomans to do duty for the "sacred ibis," and this seems to be no novel practice, since by it, or something like it, Hasselqvist was misled, and through him Linnaeus.