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1.8.1 Collocation in Arabic (MSA) and the treatment of collocations in Arabic dictionaries

(published in: Proceedings of the Colloquium on Arabic Lexicology and Lexicography, ed. by Kinga Dévényi, Tamلs Ivلnyi & Ariel Shivtiel, 75-93. Budapest: Eِtvِs Lorلnd University & Csoma de Kِrِs Society.)


summary of this article

 

0 Introduction

1 Classification of types of collocations

2 Why concentrate on Restricted and Lexical Collocations

3 Various categories of restricted collocations

4 Treatment of collocations in bilingual dictionaries containing Arabic

5 Conclusion

Bibliography

Annex A

Annex B

Annex C

Annex D

Summary

 

0 Introduction

First of all the title of this paper should be narrowed; with Arabic dictionaries in the framework of this paper we mean (mostly) bilingual dictionaries having Arabic as one of its languages.
An impressive amount of linguistic theoretical research has been carried out in the field of collocation. Because of practical needs, we have not made a very extensive study of all these works. These practical needs will be discussed later in this paper.

We will now mention some aspects of collocation. The phenomenon of collocation means that two (or sometimes more) words appear in each other's company because the usage of a particular word (for example a noun) limits the choice of an adjective to a small number of adjectives that can combine with this particular noun. The same can count for a noun and a verb.

One might say there is a core word (the word that comes to the mind first) and a collocator that combines with that core-word. One has for example in mind the noun 'crime' in English, and looks for the verb which combines with it, and which denotes the action of 'doing it' (the crime). This has to be either the verb 'commit' or 'perpetrate'. This applies for Arabic as well. When having the noun جريمة in mind, only the verbs ارتكب or اقترف can be used. While still having the same noun in mind and seeking for an adjective that expresses the bad, violent and harmful nature of the crime one can in English choose from a limited number of adjectives like 'atrocious','vicious' and some others. The same in Arabic; with جريمة one can combine a limited number of adjectives like نكراء.

Collocations (also called recurrent combinations or fixed combinations) are specific combinations of for example a noun and an adjective, or a noun and a verb.

In a bilingual context collocations are very important for learners of a language. Usage of the right combinations, being a part of style, results in correct language production at least at this stylistic level. We will come back to this later.

 

1 Classification of types of collocations

The following classification of collocations was published by Peter Emery in ZA (Emery, Peter G.: Collocation in Modern Standard Arabic. In: Zeitschrift für arabische Linguistik 23 (1991))

 

a) Open collocations: combinations of two or more words co-occurring together, without any specific relation between those two words. Combinations in which both elements are freely recombinable. Each element is used in a common literal sense.
examples given by Emery:
انتهت الحرب, بدأت الحرب

b) Restricted collocations: combinations of two or more words used in one of their regular, non-idiomatic meanings, following certain structural patterns, and restricted in their commutability not only by grammatical and semantical valency, but also by usage.
examples from Emery:
حرب ضارّة, جريمة نكراء
examples from our corpus:
أحرز تقدما, خسارات جسمية

c) Bound collocations: a bridge category between collocations and idioms. One of the elements is uniquely selective of the other.
example by Emery:
أطرق الرأس

d) Idioms: the constituent elements of idioms are opaque, i.e. used in 'specialized' senses, together forming a single semantic unit.
Another publication on collocation is a specialized collocations dictionary of the English language: 'The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English, a Guide to Word Combinations' by Morton Benson, Evelyn Benson and Robert Ilson
     The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English, a Guide to Word Combinations' by Morton Benson, Evelyn Benson and Robert Ilson, Amsterdam/Philadelphia 1986. (a photocopy of one page has been added as Annex A).

The authors argue the existence of this dictionary as follows:
This material is of vital importance to those learners of English who are native speakers of other languages. Heretofore, they have had no source that would consistently indicate, for example, which verbs are used with which nouns; they could not find in any existing dictionary such collocations as call an alert, lay down a barrage, hatch a conspiracy... This dictionary provides such collocations; in order to enable the user of the dictionary to find them quickly and easily, they are given in the entries for the nouns.

Knowledge of other languages is normally of no help in finding English collocations. For administer an oath, French has faire prêter serment, Spanish - hacer prestar juramento, German - den eid abnemen ..

Use of the Combinatory Dictionary will help learners avoid such errors as *they mentioned him the book, *a stranger was lurking, *we are very fond, .. etc.

In this dictionary the authors make a distinction between grammatical and lexical collocations. A grammatical collocation is defined by the authors as 'a phrase consisting of a dominant word (noun, adjective, verb) and a preposition or grammatical structure such as an infinitive or a clause. About lexical combinations the authors write: 'Lexical collocations, in contrast to grammatical collocations, normally do not contain prepositions, infinitives, or clauses. Typical lexical collocations consist of nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs.

Of course both categories are further divided into subcategories.

As a teacher, and at the same time still a learner of Arabic I wished a similar work would be available in Arabic. I will come back to this wish later.

 

2 Why concentrate on Restricted and Lexical Collocations?

As announced in the abstract, we will concentrate on the category of the so called Restricted Collocations.
First we will argue why this category deserves special attention.
This attention is because of practical use: learners of Arabic as a foreign language need this since this category of collocations is very large and unpredictable.
A collocation in L1 will very often not be equal in L2.

Heliel (Mohamed Hilmi Heliel: Collocations and Translation. In: Proceedings of the FIT Round Table 'Professional Arabic Translation and New Technologies', Tanger june 1989) gives the example of seven collocations with the English adjective 'heavy' that should in Arabic be translated with seven different adjectives. Heavy rainfall, fog, sleep, seas, meal, smoker, industry are translated in Arabic as مطر غزير, ضباب كثيف, سبات عميق, بحار هائجة, وجبة دسمة, مدخن مفرط, صناعة ثقيلة.

It is this interlingual incongruence which can give rise to second-language learning difficulties and problems of translation equivalence.
Being a teacher of Arabic to Dutch students, and working as a translator himself, the present authour became very much interested in this category of word combinations, and found support with Shakir and Farghal (Abdullah Shakir and Mohammed Farghal: Collocations as an index of L2 competence in Arabic-English simultaneous interpreting and translation. In: FIT Newsletter 1992-3), who state:

Collocations constitute a key component in the lexicon of natural language. Translators and/or interpreters should, therefore, possess a high syntagmatic competence alongside their paradigmatic competence. .. Unnaturalness comes as an immediate consequence of the translators'/interpreter's inability to call up the relevant collocations in the target language.

So collocations are generally considered to be problematic to learners of foreign languages. Or, to be more exact, restricted collocations cause problems when it comes to production in the foreign language. Obviously open collocations do not deserve special attention from the teacher's or translator's point of view. Bound collocations, as marking a transitional stage, seem interesting from a linguistic scientific point of view, but rather limited in occurrence. Idioms are of interest to anyone but should be studied separately.

 

So a useful instrument for learners of Arabic would be a dictionary containing great numbers of restricted collocations. As will be demonstrated in paragraph 4, existing contemporary dictionaries contain only a very limited number of collocations, so a BBI-like combinatory dictionary for Arabic would cover the needs of many learners of Arabic.

 

It was decided to carry out a small pilot study to collect a number of collocations from authentic Arabic texts. The aim of this pilot study was to see what would be the result in terms of types of collocations found, how far these were covered in bilingual dictionaries, ways of presenting the results etc.

 

However, because of practical reasons one has to limit the scope and so we chose from Emery's various categories only the Restricted Collocations, and from the BBI's main categories we only chose the lexical collocations. Grammatical collocations in Arabic seem less frequent then in English. Of course some categories exist but for the present time we did exclude these from the study. Annex B shows part of the results.



3 Various categories of restricted collocations

About the category of Restricted Collocations Emery remarks that in Arabic, as in English, this type of collocation occurs in various types of syntactic configuration. The author mentions Subject/Verb, Verb/Object and Adjective/Noun collocations.

So Emery makes a distinction that is partly syntactic (Subject/Verb, Verb/Object) and partly based on parts of speech (Adjective/Noun).

He mentions examples to all three subcategories.

The BBI category of Lexical Collocations comprises 7 subcategories:

1) verb + noun or pronoun, the verb denotes creation or activation (reach a verdict, launch a missile)

2) verb + noun, the verb denotes eradication or nullification (reverse a decision, repeal a law)

3) adjective + noun (strong tea, not *mighty tea)

4) noun + verb, the verb names an action characteristic of the person or thing designated by the noun (bees buzz, bombs explode etc.)

5) unit associated with a noun (a school of whales, an act of violence)

6) adverb + adjective (deeply absorbed, keenly aware)

7) verb + adverb (affect deeply, appreciate sincerely)

Here we see a distinction according to parts of speech, but semantic information is also taken into consideration since the distinction between category 1 and 2 is based on the meaning of the verb: creation/activation vs. eradication/nullification.


After some contemplation, and after going through some Arabic texts, it was decided that a classification system for Arabic collocation, which aims at serving the learner of Arabic, should include both syntactical information and information based on parts of speech.

Unless contextual information is given, a user must for example know if a given noun will be the object or the subject of the verb that collocates with it.

It was also decided to treat verbal nouns (masdars) as verbs in all cases in which the noun simply denotes the action of the verb. Only in cases where a masdar has acquired an independent meaning the masdar is registered as a noun. The same rule applies for participles: only those with a separate meaning are marked as an adjective. All others as verbs.


This has lead us to the following classification:

1) noun + verb, the noun being the subject

(in some cases the verb is passive, this should be indicated)

2) noun + verb, the noun being the object

3) preposition + noun + verb, the noun being the indirect object after a preposition that comes with the verb

4) noun + adjective

5) noun + noun, a construct phrase (إضافة)

6) verb + adverb

7) adjective + adverb

8) noun + preposition + noun

9) adjective + noun, the so-called حسن الوجه construction

In addition to these categories Arabic style uses combinations of synonyms or antonyms very often. These categories can be added to the above mentioned categories:

10) word + synonym

11) word + antonym

A list of examples for every category goes separately as Annex C.


Once more it needs to be emphasized that this classification seems based on grammatical principles. However lexical collocations are identified and selected on semantical and usage-based grounds, or maybe intuitions. Two words occur in each other's vicinity because of their meanings and/or their mutual attraction.

As the word intuition indicates, a collocational list for teaching purposes is drawn up on the basis of subjective judgements: which combinations are fixed and what others are open? It would be an interesting experiment to present a short text fragment to a number of attendants and ask them to indicate which combinations of two or more words they consider to be lexical  collocations.



4 Treatment of collocations in bilingual dictionaries containing Arabic

First of all some remarks considering the representation of collocations in dictionaries in general.

Where is the dictionary maker going to store collocations, and where will the dictionary user try to retrieve a combination of words? Two essential factors influence these decisions.

First is the question whether the dictionary will comprise collocations of the source language (SL) or the target language (TL). It is most common for a bilingual dictionary to contain collocations of the source language as point of departure. A translation or paraphrase of the specific combination will then be given in the target language. However the TL expression does not necessarily have to be a collocation. So an English-Arabic dictionary will primarily contain collocations of entries in English, with equivalent translations in Arabic. These Arabic equivalents do not necessarily have to be collocations.

The second factor is the type of bilingual dictionary in question. Is it an active dictionary (for production) or a passive dictionary (for understanding). This distinction should affect the type and number of collocations contained by the dictionary. This factor also affects the question where the collocation is stored in the dictionary: with the core-word or with the collocator.

The factors and decisions described above are illustrated in the following table.

Type of dictionary

Engl-Ar active

Engl-Ar passive

Ar-Engl active

Ar-Engl passive

Target group

Foreigners writing/speaking Arabic

Arabs reading English

Arabis writing/speaking English

Foreigners reading Arabic

SL collocation

vicious crime

Vicious crime

جريمة نكراء

جريمة نكراء

Look up at

crime (core)

vicious (colloc)

جريمة (core)

نكراء (أنكر) (colloc)

Reason

not certain that the equivalent of vicious will combine with the eq. of crime

 

meaning of crime is probably known

not certain that the equivalent of نكراء combines with the eq. of جريمة

the meaning of جريمةis probably known

ideally  dictionary contains:

جريمة نكراء

(جريمة) نكراء

vicious crime

vicious (crime)

 

Collocations in Arabic Dictionaries

Emery argues that classical lexicographers of Arabic made the classical dictionaries contain a wealth of collocational information, but often in an unsystematic arrangement. Contemporary bilingual dictionaries of MSA like Wehr do not contain enough collocational information to support learners of Arabic. According to Emery up-to-date monolingual dictionaries of Arabic simply do not exist. Here an updating remark is needed because recently the ALECSO Basic Dictionary appeared. However, the amount of collocations is rather limited. We will come back to this later.


In order to compare a number of contemporal bilingual dictionaries with Arabic as their source language we made a simple statistic count of the number of combinations with some Arabic words that combine easily. Some of the resulting combinations could also be classified as compounds, but for the mere statistical comparison we did not distinguish between various categories of combinations.

An inventory of the following words has been made: جهاز, آلة, حرب.

The numbers of combinations containing these three different core-word are listed below.

core-word            
 

Schregle Ar-Ger

Mawrid Ar-Eng Wehr Ar-Ger Krahl Ar-Ger ALECSO Ar-Ar Sabil Ar-Fr

جهاز

70 19 29 7 19 27
آلة 38 20 31 8 9 14
حرب 9 18 14 12 16 31


An obvious conclusion is that the above mentioned dictionaries show considerable differences in the numbers of combinations/collocations they contain. However, many of these combinations should be considered compounds and not collocations.

A more detailed comparison of all the combinations presented by the different dictionaries goes beyond the scope of this paper.

Another, more qualitative, comparison between 5 dictionaries has also been made by the present author. A small corpus of collocations, resulting from the pilot study, has been used to test the already mentioned dictionaries. The collocations from this small corpus seem representative, without being exclusive for the given core-words. As already stated, the process of collecting collocations is intuition-based, so of some of these collations it can be discussed whether they are open collocations or restricted collocations. According to our standards they can be regarded as restricted collocations.

The results of the comparison are shown in the following table.


collocations in various dictionaries  containing Arabic as source language *

 

Mawrid Ar-Eng

Wehr '79 Ar-Eng Krahl Ar-Ger ALECSO Ar-Ar Sabil Ar-Fr

إجراءات

         
اتخذ إجراءات + + - - +
إجراءات مضادة - - - - -

إجراءات إضافية

- - - - -
علاقة          
علاقات أخوية - - - - -
علاقات صداقة - - - - -
علاقات حسن الجوار - - - + -
تعاون          
عمّق التعاون - - - - -
تعاون مثمر - - - - -
تقدّم          
أحرز تقدما - - - - +
تقدم ملموس - - - - -
موقف          
حدّد موقفا - - - - -
موقف استراتيجي - - - - -
موقف حازم - - - - -
موقف مغرض - - - - -


* There was no opportunity to include the Schregle Arabic-German dictionary in this comparison.

The results of this comparison lead us to the conclusion that contemporary well known dictionaries with Arabic as their source language do not contain a considerable number of frequent collocations, although we may assume the Arabic part of these dictionaries was selected from representative text materials.

However, the above mentioned dictionaries are passive dictionaries, and many learners of Arabic will be able to understand the meaning of combinations like  تعاون مثمر or  تقدم ملموس. But will the same learner of Arabic, when writing or speaking in Arabic, be able to produce the same combinations. And if not, will he or she first of all find a FL-Arabic dictionary that contains the collocation 'fruitful cooperation' (in English or any other source language) and secondly will this lead him to the right Arabic combination.

These uncertainties lead to a conclusion that for production of Arabic a monolingual collocational dictionary can be very useful.

Another comparison was made between three contemporary dictionaries containing Arabic as target language. By searching at the SL equivalents of إجراء, علاقة, تعاوُن, تقدُم, موفق we tried to  discover any of the collocations mentioned above. However, the results were even more disappointing than the earlier described results.

 

collocations in various dictionaries  containing Arabic as target language

 

 

Mawrid Eng-Ar

Krahl Ger-Ar

Schregle Ger-Ar

Ger: Massnahme
Eng: measure/step

 

 

 

اتخذ إجراءات

-

-

-

إجراءات مضادة

-

-

-

إجراءات إضافية

-

-

-

Ger: Beziehung/Verbindung
Eng: relation/bond

 

 

 

علاقات أخوية

-

-

-

علاقات صداقة

-

-

-

علاقات حسن الجوار

-

-

-

Ger: Zusammenarbeit/
Kooperation
Eng: cooperation

 

 

 

عمّق التعاون

-

-

-

تعاون مثمر

-

-

-

Ger: Fortschritt/Vormarsch

Eng: progress/advancement

 

 

 

أحرز تقدما

-

-

-

تقدم ملموس

-

-

-

Ger: Stellungnahme/Einstellung
Eng: position/attitude
 

 

 

 

حدّد موقفا

-

-

-

موقف استراتيجي

-

-

-

موقف حازم

-

-

-

موقف مغرض

-

-

-


The two comparisons, at the same time being a limited inventory, show us that Arabic dictionaries, both active and passive, contain very few collocations. Even FL-Arabic active dictionaries (Schregle Ger-Ar, Krahl Ger-Ar) do not offer the user a useful set of frequent collocations.

To our opinion this is a second argument to support the assumption that a monolingual Arabic collocational dictionary is urgently needed.

This will be further argued in the concluding paragraph.

 

Collocations as part of the micro structure

If a certain word occurs in may different combinations (collocations, idiomatic expressions or even compounds), a very complex lemma may be the result. A well known and qualitatively high standing dictionary like 'Hans Wehr' shows in our view a lack in systematic representation of combinations. A lemma like the noun عين is very complex and it takes the dictionary user a great effort to find a specific combination.

At the Dutch dictionary publishing house 'Van Dale Lexicografie' a so-called two-digit code has been formulated to create a hierarchy within a lemma. Different meanings of words receive a number (meaning 0.1, meaning 0.2 etc.). After the presentation of all meanings, a block of combinations and examples is printed. And here the second digit is introduced: all combinations of the headword with a noun get a 1.X code, combinations with an adjective get a 2.X code, with a verb 3.X etc. Then both codes are mixed and the dictionary user will find under 2.3 examples or combinations of the headword with meaning 0.2 in combination with a verb.

To demonstrate this in Annex D the reader will find two examples of lemmas taken from 'Wehr' but reorganized according to the two-digit system.

 

5 Conclusion

It has been demonstrated that the learner of Arabic has very little materials to consult in order to find collocations in Arabic. Ar-FL dictionaries, even though not the first category to consult when the user wants to produce Arabic, do not contain a great amount of collocations.

FL-Ar passive dictionaries meant for Arabs (to understand the foreign language) are very often used by non Arabs. However these dictionaries do not contain a great number of collocations in Arabic. FL-Ar dictionaries for non Arabs contain SL collocations with not necessarily the equivalent Arabic collocations.

Learners, teachers and translators of Arabic with different mother tongues are in need of a reliable dictionary that concentrates on collocations in a more systematic way than existing dictionaries have done so far.

To our opinion these arguments support the necessity of a monolingual combinatory dictionary of Arabic like the BBI for the English language.

The small pilot study, as carried out by the present author, has shown that such a project is feasible. A collocational list containing about 1000 collocations has so far been the tangible outcome of this study (see Annex B).

However, for such an extensive project to reach the volume that would make it useful for learners of Arabic, it cannot be carried out by one single person. It has to adopt the shape of a joint project of a number of scholars both from the Middle East and from other countries.

Advanced technical facilities would of course very much ease such a project.

To conclude we wish to express the desire that a joint project can be started in order to produce a BBI-like collocational dictionary of Modern Standard Arabic.

Bibliography


Cowie, A.P.: The treatment of collocations and idioms in learners' dictionaries. in: Applied Linguistics, Vol.II, No. 3.


Emery, Peter G.: Collocation in Modern Standard Arabic. In: Zeitschrift für arabische Linguistik 23 (1991)


Benson: The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English, a Guide to Word Combinations' by Morton Benson, Evelyn Benson and Robert Ilson, Amsterdam/Philadelphia 1986.


Farghal, Mohammed, and Abdullah Shakir: Collocations as an index of L2 competence in Arabic-English simultaneous interpreting and translation. in: FIT-newsletter, XI, 1992-3


Heliel, Mohamed Hilmi: Collocations and Translation. In: Proceedings of the FIT Round Table 'Professional Arabic Translation and New Technologies', Tanger june 1989.



Dictionaries used in the comparison

Arabic Basic Dictionary #al-mucjam al-carabi al-asasi, ALECSO, Ali Al-Kasimi (coord)

Tunis, 1989


As-Sabil, Arabe-Français, Danielle Reig, Paris, 1983


Arabisch-Deutsches Wِrterbuch, Gِtz Schregle, 1981-199?


Al Mawrid , A modern Arabic-English Dictionary, Dr. Rohi

Baalbaki, Beirut, 1988


Arabisches Wِrterbuch der Gegenwart, Hans Wehr, 5th edition, Wiesbaden, 1985


Wِrterbuch arabisch-deutsch  #al-Mugam al-Arabi al-Almani, Günther Krahl und Mohamed Gharieb, 1984


Al-Mawrid: a modern English-Arabic dictionary, Munir Baalbaki, Beirut, 1991


Deutsch-Arabisches Wِrterbuch, Gِtz Schregle, Wiesbaden, 1972


Wِrterbuch deutsch-arabisch / bearb. und hrsg. von Günther Krahl, 5th edition, 1983


Annex A

two pages from 'The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English'

page 1         page 2


Annex B

two pages from the provisional 'collocational list', resulting from the pilot study. An explanation of the codes na, nsv, nov etc. can be found in Annex C.

 

doc-file     pdf-file

 

Annex C


Examples of collocatons from different categories

These examples were taken from newspaper articles and radio news items treating general political and other issues and from written texts treating economic subjects, as those texts were used in teaching.


1) noun + verb, the noun being the subject (code nsv)

(in some cases the verb is passive, this should be indicated)

اشتدت الأزمة, تضاءل الأمل, انخفض السعر, هبط السعر, استغرقت المدة, اكتنفت الغموض, أفادت الأنباء, شُوهت الصورة, صعّدت الأوضاع


2) noun + verb, the noun being the object (code nov)

قدّم وعودا, أحلّ سلاما, أحرز تقدما, مارس تعسفا, زعزع الاستقرار, منح جائزة


3) preposition + noun + verb, the noun being the indirect object after a preposition that comes with the verb (code npv)
عبّرعن تقدير, اعتذر عن مضايقة, سعى الى غرض, اختار بين بدائل, تعرض لمخاطر

 


4) noun + adjective (code na)

اكتفاء ذاتي, جهد ضخم, أغلبية مطلقة, علاقات قوية, قضايا ملحّة, حاجز نفسي


5) noun + noun, a construct phrase (إضافة) (code nn or n1n2)

صندوق اقتراع, قائمة منتجات, تسلسل أحداث, مظاهرة احتجاج, نظام ترخيص, قطار شحن


6) verb + adverb (code va)

أنتج بالجملة, نفّذ بدقة, اتصل هاتفيا, تعارض بشدة, اعتقد واهما, علم يقينا


7) adjective + adverb (code aadv)

محدود للغاية, أقلّ قياسا ب .., صعب للغاية,


8) noun + preposition + noun (code npn)

شبكة من الطرق, خطر على استقرار, صراع على السلطة, أسلوب في التفكير


9) adjective + noun, the so-called حسن الوجه construction (code an)

حسن التجهيز, وفير الجدارة, قصير الاجل, شديد اللهجة, متعدد الجنسيات, واسع النطاق


In addition to these categories Arabic style uses combinations of synonyms or antonyms very often. These categories can be added to the above mentioned categories:

10) word + synonym (code syn)

أحداث وطيارات


11) word + antonym (code ant)

شحن وتفريغ, طار وأخفق, أقلع وهبط, زيادة وإنقاص, مقرّ وفروع


Annex D

Two lemmas from 'Wehr', according to the two-digit code.


عين 'ain f., pl. عيون 'uyûn, اعين a'yun 0.1 eye 0.2 evil eye 0.3 spring, source, fountainhead (of water) 0.4 scout, recon-noiterer 0.5 hole 0.6 mesh 0.7 flower, choice, prime (of s.th.) 0.8 - (pl. اعيان a'ya^n) an eminent, important man, used esp. in pl.: people of distinction, important people, leading personalities, leaders, notables, prominent persons 0.9 substance, essence 0.10 self, individuality 0.11 - chat-tel, object of material value, (corporeal or personal) proper-ty, personality, capital asset (Isl.Law) 0.12 - ready money, cash 0.13 name of the letter ع ¨

1.1  سَواد العينeyeball, شاهِد عين eyewitness, بأم عينه with one's own eyes, بعينَيْ رأسه do., رأى رأي العين to find out, or see, with one's own eyes, نظر اليه بعين الاحتقار to lookat s.o. contemptuously 1.7 عيون الشِعر gems of poetry, choisest works of poetry 1.8 مجلس الاعيان senate (Ir.) 1.9 للسبب عينه for the same reason 1.10 فرض عين individual duty (Isl. law) 1.11 اسم العين concrete noun (gram.) 1.¶ على العين والرأس very gladly! with pleasure ! 3.¶ وقعت العين على العين fighting broke out, ملأ عينَه to satisfy s.o.; to please s.o. 6.10 بعينه in person, personally; exactly the same, the very same thing, هو هو بعينه it's none other than he 6.11 هو شخص بعينه he is a real person, a man who actually exists, أعاده اثر بعد عين to ruin s.th. completely 6.¶ نزل من عينِي I lost all repect for him


All expressions and collocations containing the word عين with meaning 0.1 (eye) can be easily found as X.1. Surprisingly these only appear in 1.1, which means: in combi-nation with a noun. Meaning 10 (self, individuality) occurs in combination with a noun in 1.10: فرض العين and with a preposition in 6.10: بعينه. Meaning 11 (- chat-tel, object of material value ...) also occurs with a noun: اسم العين and with a preposition هو شخص بعينه.

In long lemma's this system makes it easier to find the ex-pression or combination we want to look up. Does the entry occur with a verb, look at 3.Y, with a preposi-tion at 6.Y.



نفس nafs f., pl. نفوس nufûs, أنفس anfus 0.1 soul 0.2 psyche 0.3 spirit, mind 0.4 life 0.5 animate being, living creature, human being, person, individual (in this sense, masc.) 0.6 essence, nature 0.7 inclination, liking, appetite, desire 0.8 personal identity, self (used to paraphrase the reflexive pronoun; see examples below)¨

1.2 علم النفس psychology 1.4(?) بشق النفس  or بشق الانفس with (the greatest) difficulty, barely 1.6 في نفس الامر in reality, actually, in fact نفس الامر the essence of the matter, nature of the affair نفس الشيء the thing itself, the same thing, the very thing 1.8 الثقة بالنفس and الاعتماد على النفس self-confi-dence, self-reliance محبة النفس amour propre, selfishness 1.¶ في نفس الواقع in reality, actually, in fact 2.3 صغير النفس base-minded, low-minded عفيف النفس unselfish, selfless, al-truistic كبير النفس high-minded, proud 3.4(?) بذل النفس والنفيس to make every conceivable sacrifice, sacrifice all, give up all one's possessions 4.5 جاءني هو نفسه )بنفسه( he himself came to me, he came personally to see me 4.¶ عند انفسهم in  their own opinion 6.5 بنفسه he himself, personally, in person نحن بنفوسنا we ourselves 6.7 جاء من نفسه he came of his own accord 6.8 ما وعدت به فيما بيني وبين نفسي what I had promised myself



Summary

Collocation in Arabic (MSA) and the treatment of collocations in Arabic dictionaries


0 Introduction

1 Classification of types of collocations

2 Why concentrate on Restricted and Lexical

Collocations?

3 Various categories of restricted collocations

4 Treatment of collocations in bilingual dictionaries containing Arabic

5 Conclusion


0 Introduction

The phenomenon of collocation means that two (or sometimes more) words appear in each other's company because the usage of a particular word (for example a noun) limits the choice of an adjective to a small number of adjectives that can combine with this particular noun. The same can count for a noun and a verb.

One might say there is a core word (the word that comes to the mind first) and a collocator that combines with that core-word. One has for example in mind the noun 'crime' in English, and looks for the verb which combines with it, and which denotes the action of 'doing it' (the crime). This has to be either the verb 'commit' or 'perpetrate'. This applies for Arabic as well. When having the noun جريمة in mind, only the verbs ارتكب or اقترف can be used. While still having the same noun in mind and seeking for an adjective that expresses the bad, violent and harmful nature of the crime one can in English choose from a limited number of adjectives like 'atrocious','vicious' and some others. The same in Arabic; with جريمة one can combine a limited number of adjectives like نكراء.

Collocations (also called recurrent combinations or fixed combinations) are specific combinations of for example a noun and an adjective, or a noun and a verb.


In a bilingual context collocations are very important for learners of a language. Usage of the right combinations, being a part of style, results in correct language production at least at this stylistic level. We will come back to this later.



1 Classification of types of collocations


a) Open collocations: combinations of two or more words co-occurring together, without any specific relation between those two words. Combinations in which both elements are freely recombinable. Each element is used in a common literal sense.

examples given by Emery: انتهت الحرب, بدأت الحرب

b) Restricted collocations: combinations of two or more words used in one of their regular, non-idiomatic meanings, following certain structural patterns, and restricted in their commutability not only by grammatical and semantical valency, but also by usage.

examples from Emery: حرب ضارّة, جريمة نكراء

examples from our corpus: أحرز تقدما, خسارات جسمية

c) Bound collocations: a bridge category between collocations and idioms. One of the elements is uniquely selective of the other.

example by Emery: أطرق الرأس

d) Idioms: the constituent elements of idioms are opaque, i.e. used in 'specialized' senses, together forming a single semantic unit.


2 Why concentrate on Restricted and Lexical Collocations?

This attention is because of practical use: learners of Arabic as a foreign language need this since this category of collocations is very large and unpredictable.

A collocation in L1 will very often not be equal in L2.

Heliel     Mohamed Hilmi Heliel: Collocations and Translation. In: Proceedings of the FIT Round Table 'Professional Arabic Translation and New Technologies', Tanger june 1989. gives the example of seven collocations with the English adjective 'heavy' that should in Arabic be translated with seven different adjectives. Heavy rainfall, fog, sleep, seas, meal, smoker, industry are translated in Arabic as مطر غزير, ضباب كثيف, سبات عميق, بحار هائجة, وجبة دسمة, مدخن مفرط, صناعة ثقيلة.

it:     So collocations are generally considered to be problematic to learners of foreign languages. Or, to be more exact, restricted collocations cause problems when it comes to production in the foreign language.


So a useful instrument for learners of Arabic would be a dictionary containing great numbers of restricted collocations. As will be demonstrated in paragraph 4, existing contemporary dictionaries contain only a very limited number of collocations.


It was decided to carry out a small pilot study to collect a number of collocations from authentic Arabic texts. The aim of this pilot study was to see what would be the result in terms of types of collocations found, how far these were covered in bilingual dictionaries, ways of presenting the results etc.

However, because of practical reasons one has to limit the scope and so we chose from Emery's various categories only the Restricted Collocations.


3 Various categories of restricted collocations

About the category of Restricted Collocations Emery remarks that in Arabic, as in English, this type of collocation occurs in various types of syntactic configuration. The author mentions Subject/Verb, Verb/Object and Adjective/Noun collocations.

So Emery makes a distinction that is partly syntactic (Subject/Verb, Verb/Object) and partly based on parts of speech (Adjective/Noun).

He mentions examples to all three subcategories.


After some contemplation, and after going through some Arabic texts, it was decided that a classification system for Arabic collocation, which aims at serving the learner of Arabic, should include both syntactical information and information based on parts of speech.


This has lead us to the following classification:

1) noun + verb, the noun being the subject

(in some cases the verb is passive, this should be indicated)

2) noun + verb, the noun being the object

3) preposition + noun + verb, the noun being the indirect object after a preposition that comes with the verb

4) noun + adjective

5) noun + noun, a construct phrase (إضافة)

6) verb + adverb

7) adjective + adverb

8) noun + preposition + noun

9) adjective + noun, the so-called حسن الوجه construction

In addition to these categories Arabic style uses combinations of synonyms or antonyms very often. These categories can be added to the above mentioned categories:

10) word + synonym

11) word + antonym


Once more it needs to be emphasized that this classification seems based on grammatical principles. However lexical collocations are identified and selected on semantical and usage-based grounds, or maybe intuitions. Two words occur in each other's vicinity because of their meanings and/or their mutual attraction.

As the word intuition indicates, a collocational list for teaching purposes is drawn up on the basis of subjective judgements: which combinations are fixed and what others are open? It would be an interesting experiment to present a short text fragment to a number of attendants and ask them to indicate which combinations of two or more words they consider to be lexical  collocations.



4 Treatment of collocations in bilingual dictionaries containing Arabic

First of all some remarks considering the representation of collocations in dictionaries in general.

Where is the dictionary maker going to store collocations, and where will the dictionary user try to retrieve a combination of words?

This is illustrated in the following table.

 

Type of dictionary

Engl-Ar active

Engl-Ar passive

Ar-Engl active

Ar-Engl passive

Target group

Foreigners writing/speaking Arabic

Arabs reading English

Arabis writing/speaking English

Foreigners reading Arabic

SL collocation

vicious crime

Vicious crime

جريمة نكراء

جريمة نكراء

Look up at

crime (core)

vicious (colloc)

جريمة (core)

نكراء (أنكر) (colloc)

Reason

not certain that the equivalent of vicious will combine with the eq. of crime

 

meaning of crime is probably known

not certain that the equivalent of نكراء combines with the eq. of جريمة

the meaning of جريمةis probably known

ideally  dictionary contains:

جريمة نكراء

(جريمة) نكراء

vicious crime

vicious (crime)



Collocations in Arabic Dictionaries

Emery argues that classical lexicographers of Arabic made the classical dictionaries contain a wealth of collocational information, but often in an unsystematic arrangement. Contemporary bilingual dictionaries of MSA like Wehr do not contain enough collocational information to support learners of Arabic. According to Emery up-to-date monolingual dictionaries of Arabic simply do not exist.


In order to compare a number of contemporal bilingual dictionaries with Arabic as their source language we made a simple statistic count of the number of combinations with some Arabic words that combine easily. Some of the resulting combinations could also be classified as compounds, but for the mere statistical comparison we did not distinguish between various categories of combinations.


The comparsion lead to the conclusion that the dictionaries used in the comparison show considerable differences in the numbers of combinations/collocations they contain. However, many of these combinations should be considered compounds and not collocations.


Another, more qualitative, comparison between 5 dictionaries has also been made by the present author. A small corpus of collocations, resulting from the pilot study, has been used to test the already mentioned dictionaries. The collocations from this small corpus seem representative, without being exclusive for the given core-words.


The results of this comparison did lead to the conclusion that contemporary well known dictionaries with Arabic as their source language do not contain a considerable number of frequent collocations, although we may assume the Arabic part of these dictionaries was selected from representative text materials.


However, the dictionaries used in the comparisons above are passive dictionaries, and many learners of Arabic will be able to understand the meaning of combinations like  تعاون مثمر or  تقدم ملموس. But will the same learner of Arabic, when writing or speaking in Arabic, be able to produce the same combinations. And if not, will he or she first of all find a FL-Arabic dictionary that contains the collocation 'fruitful cooperation' (in English or any other source language) and secondly will this lead him to the right Arabic combination.

These uncertainties lead to a conclusion that for production of Arabic a monolingual collocational dictionary can be very useful.


Another comparison was made between three contemporary dictionaries containing Arabic as target language. However, the results were even more disappointing than the earlier described results.

The two comparisons, at the same time being a limited inventory, show us that Arabic

dictionaries, both active and passive, contain very few collocations. Even FL-Arabic active dictionaries (Schregle Ger-Ar, Krahl Ger-Ar) do not offer the user a useful set of frequent collocations.

To our opinion this is a second argument to support the assumption that a monolingual Arabic collocational dictionary is urgently needed.



5 Conclusion

It has been demonstrated that the learner of Arabic has very little materials to consult in order to find collocations in Arabic. Ar-FL dictionaries, even though not the first category to consult when the user wants to produce Arabic, do not contain a great amount of collocations.

FL-Ar passive dictionaries meant for Arabs (to understand the foreign language) are very often used by non Arabs. However these dictionaries do not contain a great number of collocations in Arabic. FL-Ar dictionaries for non Arabs contain SL collocations with not necessarily the equivalent Arabic collocations.

Learners, teachers and translators of Arabic with different mother tongues are in need of a reliable dictionary that concentrates on collocations in a more systematic way than existing dictionaries have done so far.

To our opinion these arguments support the necessity of a monolingual combinatory dictionary of Arabic like the BBI for the English language.

The small pilot study, as carried out by the present author, has shown that such a project is feasible. A collocational list containing about 1000 collocations has so far been the tangible outcome of this study (see Annex B).

However, for such an extensive project to reach the volume that would make it useful for learners of Arabic, it cannot be carried out by one single person. It has to adopt the shape of a joint project of a number of scholars both from the Middle East and from other countries.

Advanced technical facilities would of course very much ease such a project.

To conclude we wish to express the desire that a joint project can be started in order to produce a BBI-like collocational dictionary of Modern Standard Arabic.

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last updated 04/11/2004 09:43 +0100
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