Who is a Dragoman? What does it mean?

A dragoman was an interpreter, translator and official guide between Turkish, Arabic, and Persian-speaking countries, delegations and politicians of the Middle East and European embassies, consulates, vice-consulates and trading posts. Dragomans would typically speak Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and several European languages.

History records Dragomans at high government ranks like ambassadors, envoys and even ministers. There were Dragomans working for a daily fee or on a monthly allowance, although many Dragomans belonged to affluent and / or aristocratic families.

Several Dragoman houses survived to this date in Istanbul and Nicosia. Some of these curious sites serve as cultural centers like the Dragoman House at the Swedish Consulate in Istanbul.

Another site of great interest is the Dolmabahche Palace. In the original design of this Palace, there were Dragoman offices servicing to the Ottoman Sultans in foreign relations, at the four corners of the main hall.

Ottomans had used the title Dragoman for their royal interpreters for several centuries.

Online resources trace the etimology of Dragoman back to Ancient Akkadians and the Tower of Babylon. Although the Akkadian word was targuman, more close to Arabic tarjuman.

First recorded use of the word Dragoman was in medieval French and Italian circa 14th century.

Dragomans were long forgotten in the translation industry until Umit Ozaydin launched his online dictionary dragomanos.com and later founded Dragoman Language Technologies in early 2000s.