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The Nijmegen Arabic/Dutch Dictionary Project

1.6.3 the lack of genuine native speakers of MSA

Editors of bilingual dictionaries should be native speakers of at least one of the languages involved. And of course perfect balanced bilinguals, with a number of extra characteristics, would be ideal editors.

However, in the case of Arabic, native speakers in the strict sense of the word do not exist. Any speaker of Arabic was in his pre-school age raised in one of the colloquial dialects that exist in the diglossic situation of the Arab world. In some cases the real mother tongue of an Arab could even be a non-Arabic language like Berber, Koptic or others.

This was reflected in the fact that editors who were hired as native speakers in many cases wanted to consult each other, printed dictionaries or the text corpus to seek confirmation for the translations they proposed. As mentioned elsewhere, the time needed for such consultations was far beyond the amount we had anticipated in the planning stage. Consequently this fact contributed heavily to the exceeding over the originally planned period of execution.

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last updated 26/10/2003 13:37 +0100
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