- An interpreter or guide, especially in countries speaking Arabic, Turkish, or Persian.
“We were met at the train station by a dragoman who guided us to the hotel and then met us again in the morning before our tour began.”
“The dragoman at the embassy spoke English with a British accent.”
“I can trace my family lineage back to a dragoman in the Ottoman Empire.”
Arabic, 14th century
Why this word?
“Dragoman” can refer to any guide or interpreter, but traditionally it was a person who translated Middle Eastern languages and served as a guide for visiting Europeans. However, it was also an official title in the Ottoman Empire. From 1661 to 1822, the Ottoman government was represented to the West by various holders of the title Dragoman of the Sublime Porte. There were other forms of dragomans, but this one acted as both an interpreter and an assistant foreign minister. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, the tradition of the official dragoman disappeared and the term fell out of widespread use.
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