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Oratio Dominica.

Polyglottos, polymorphos [graece]. Nimirum, plus centum linguis, versionibus, aut characteribus reddita & expressa. Editio novissima, speciminibus variis quam priores comitatior.

London: prostant apud Dan. Brown, & W. Keblewhite, 1700 Stock Code: 144536
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The Lord's Prayer in over a hundred languages

A remarkable publication, presenting the Lord's Prayer in over a hundred languages and dialects, a major exercise in comparative philology, and likewise offering a significant array of type specimens from multiple European and non-European languages. Wing attributes the work to the learned printer Benjamin Motte the elder.

Alongside the major European languages, the prayer is presented in languages including Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Slavonic, Hindi, Ethiopian, and Chinese, and also presented in ancient languages including Gothic, Runic, and Anglo Saxon. Of particular interest is the inclusion of the prayer in Native American languages given as Mexican, Poconchi, and Virginian. The prayers are chiefly set with type, with a smaller number using engravings where such type specimens were then non-existent and unprocurable in Britain, including Chinese, Georgian, and Armenian. Phonetic transliterations are given beneath many of the languages. The collection finishes with the word "father" presented in each language.

Stated as "editio novissima", this is the second polyglot Lord's Prayer published in Britain, preceded only by an Oxford edition of 45 forms in 1695. This much expanded edition draws on various type specimens of the former, with the sheets containing the prayer in Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, and various other non-European languages printed in Oxford re-using the types as used in the 1695 edition. In a mark of British national pride, the collection has been noted "as showing how far superior we were at that time to our neighbours abroad in the variety of our metal types" (Reed, A History of the Old English Letter Foundries, p. 174).

This is likely true, yet still should not overshadow the long tradition of continental polyglot collections of the Lord's Prayer, dating back to the first such collection, published in Zurich in 1555. Side-by-side comparisons of the Lord's Prayer - which from the beginnings of Christianity was translated into countless languages, long before the full translation of the Bible - allowed ready comparison between languages, serving as a key tool of, and basis for, comparative philology. Such collections would continue to be published throughout the two centuries following this edition, culminating in the collection of Adelung and Vater in 1806-17, which presented the prayer in around five hundred languages and dialects.

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Small quarto (197 x 144 mm). 20th-century mottled morocco by Zaehnsdorf, red morocco label, gilt in compartments, gilt fillets to covers, richly gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, gilt edges.


Bound without terminal blank. Contents clean with intermittent light browning. A very good copy.


ESTC R15295; Sabin, 57434; Wing M2944.


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