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The Nijmegen Arabic/Dutch Dictionary Project

1.14.2 Comparison between Existing Dictionaries

Elsewhere on this site is a list of all existing dictionaries with Arabic as source or target language that were used during the execution of this project.

It is not my intention to make a structural comparison of those dictionaries. Obviously some dictionaries appeared more useful than others, and even among the editors there might be a different view on the various dictionaries available, for example on the basis of the source language of the dictionary involved. Since our project started with the Dutch-Arabic part, it goes without saying that the dictionaries that were most intensively used were dictionaries with Arabic as source language. Likewise it seems obvious these dictionaries were consulted on 'difficult words or expressions', i.e. those words or expressions that very often had to be translated with descriptions.

On the topic of descriptions I decided to make a comparison between various dictionaries. This comparison is part of the section on descriptions.

General remarks
Some general remarks after comparing and intensively using a number of dictionaries, and after reading the introductions to these dictionaries, should however be made.

A dictionary with Arabic as target language should not present neologisms as translations to foreign language words and expressions, without presenting a clear explanation of its meaning as well. And in my opinion such neologisms should be typographically marked. More on this topic can be read in the section about neologisms.

The introduction of a dictionary should clearly indicate what is the target group of a dictionary. A unidirectional dictionary is aimed at speakers of either the source or the target language. A bidirectional dictionary tries to serve both groups in one volume. Many existing dictionaries do not make this distinction clear. Of course the language of the introduction itself can be considered a clear sign. If the introduction to a dictionary is written in Arabic only, this implies the target group is formed by speakers of Arabic. However, in practice many arabists and students of Arabic use the Al Mawrid dictionaries, although they are meant to be used by speakers of Arabic.

The number of entries should be mentioned in the introduction of a dictionary. The user should at least have to get an impression of the size of the macro structure, as well as the number of expressions and combinations. Many dictionaries do not provide this information.

New editions should contain information on the additional content in comparison to earlier editions. Some dictionaries, like Al Mawrid, seem to be published in new editions nearly each year and potential users should be able to estimate the usefulness of each new edition.

reactions to: j.hoogland@let.kun.nl
last updated 26/10/2003 15:16 +0100
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