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I want to find out what the word сафиръ means in this passage from an old textbook. I cannot find the word in any dictionary. I think it might mean "ambassador" but am not sure.

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    Reading exercise from XIX century??? – shabunc Mar 29 '16 at 5:10
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    It is name of some person (It is why it capitalized) – talex Mar 29 '16 at 12:22
  • @talex is right. It is a name. So correct question is who is this Saphir, which is not question about language. In this passage it is just a name of a character. – Andrey Mar 29 '16 at 14:41
  • Could you point me to this book, please? – svavil Apr 1 '16 at 23:39
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САФИР Мориц Готлиб (Moritz Gottlieb Saphir, 1795-1858) - немецкий юморист и журналист. Впервые обратил на себя внимание сборником стихов «Poetische Erstlinge» (1821). Издавал театральные и юмористические журналы, пользовавшиеся большим успехом. В Берлине издан был против С. памфлет, на к-рый он ответил брошюрой, выдержавшей 4 издания за неделю: «Der getodtete und dennoch lebende Saphir» (Убитый, но тем не менее живой Сафир, 1828). Литературная производительность С. весьма велика. В 1884 было издано собрание его избранных сочинений в 12тт., в 1890 - сочинения в 26тт. Наибольшим успехом пользовались «Fliegendes Album fur Ernst, Scherz, Humor...» (Летучий альбом серьезного, шуток, юмора и жизнерадостности, 1846), «Conversations-Lexikon fur Geistwitz und Humor» Словарь остроумия и юмора, 1851-1852, 2 Aufl., 1860, 3 Aufl., 1893), а также «Humoristische Abende» (Юмористические вечера, 1830), «Dumme Briefe» (Глупые письма, 1834) и др.

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The dictionaries say it's an alternative spelling of сапфир "sapphire", which makes no sense. On the other hand, safîr سفير means "ambassador" in Arabic, from the root S-F-R meaning "travel", and it could be a term with a more specific meaning back in the day. I've never come across it in Russian, though.

  • Oh well, at least now I know that it wasn't a completely stupid question. I typed it (including the hard sign) into a search engine and the only other place I found was a play from 1815. – Flounderer Mar 29 '16 at 2:51
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    I'm also reminded of Nasreddin Hoja — a popular folk character across the Near East and Central Asia whose characteristic is this exact sort of dry wit (when he isn't just being silly). – Nikolay Ershov Mar 29 '16 at 2:54
  • Oh, I see! It's a proper name. – Flounderer Mar 29 '16 at 3:11
  • @NikolayErshov Do you think that it could be the meaning? Why is it capitalized then? Looks more like a name. – Baskakov_Dmitriy Aug 5 '16 at 13:31
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    @Baskakov_Dmitriy It is in fact a name, and my guesswork here wasn't altogether relevant. – Nikolay Ershov Aug 6 '16 at 18:41

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