Yalla! Let’s Boost Arabic e-Content!

Posted on 14. May, 2012 by in Arabic Language, Culture, Current Affairs, Language, Vocabulary

 

It was about time that some of us, Arabic speakers, took an initiative to boost online Arabic content!

After the recent decision of launching a “Center of Excellence for Arabic Language” in the UAE, around 400 Emirati volunteers announced that they will take part in editing a new global glossary that aims to standardize Arabic definitions of online e-terms.

“The glossary will break a big barrier because many users resort to combining English terminology with the Arabic text, so we want to change that and introduce the first Arabic technology and social media glossary,” said co-founder of Taghreedat Sami Mubarak to Gulf News, who emphasised that the Arabic language constitutes only 2% of online content.

Taghreedat plans to introduce the first Arabic Tech/Web 2.0 Dictionary, as well as a standard list that can be used among Arab speakers worldwide, irrespective of their local dialect.

We too have emphasized, here on the Transparent Language Arabic Blog, the need to promote Arabic online, especially through social media such as Facebook and Twitter (Check our previous posts: “Top 100+ Must-Know Arabic Words for Facebook” and “New “Arabic Twitter” To Bring “Arab Spring 2.0″?“)

The Gulf News article cites some entry words that will be included in the new online مُعجـــــم (lexicon): phishing, spam, twittering and re-tweets.

It does not mention, however, that online resources such as ويكيبيــــــــــديــــــــــا (Arabic Wikipedia) already contain many Arabic equivalents of such terms.

If you go for example to the English Wikipedia article of “Phishing“, you will notice on the left of the page a panel containing links to the equivalent Wikipedia articles written in other languages, including Arabic.

Thus, the equivalent Arabic term for “phishing” is “التَّصَيُّــــــــــد“, meaning “preying“, which comes from the Arabic trilateral root “صيــــــد“, meaning “hunting.”

An early example of التَّصَيُّــــــــــد (Phishing) in Arabic: “It looked like an email translated through Babblefish [Yahoo! Babel Fish actually does not offer Arabic translation, but Google Translate does.] This was most likely done by cyber criminals who do not understand the language. As the bad guys begin to exhaust the English speaking populations I’m sure they will start targeting emerging countries such as the Middle-East. I’m quite sure over time they will polish and improve their attacks on the Arabic community, just as we have seen here in the West.” Read more about it here

With that being said, not all English Wikipedia articles have an Arabic counterpart; either because the English article is often not linked to the Arabic one, or simply because no one has entered an Arabic equivalent in the first place.

The Gulf News article says that “Taghreedat’s other projects include increasing the number of Arabic articles in Wikipedia since there are only 154,000 articles, as well as in ويكــــي الاقتبــــــــــاس (Wikiquotes) that has only 540 Arabic quotes.”

Hence the urgent need of launching such a standardized online dictionary.

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“مجلة مجمـــع اللغة العربيــــــة بدمشــــق” (“Magazine of the Arab Academy of Damascus”), the official publication of the veteran of all Arabic language academies, which traces its foundation to 1919

But whoever says “standardized” and “Arabic“, ought to immediately think of مجـــــــامع اللغة العربيـــــــــة (Arabic Language Academies), which don’t seem to be involved with the new online initiative—or at least not as of yet.

These academies, such as their veteran مجمع اللغـــــة العربيــــــة بدمشـــــق (The Arab Academy of Damascus), whose official website warns its visitors: “ما يزال موقع مجمع اللغة العربية في مرحلة التطوير” (“The Arab Academy website is still under development”), have often come under sharp criticism for not coordinating enough their activities, and for not coming up with a unified glossary of new Arabic terms.
These academies have also been chastised for the high متوسِّــــــــــط العمــــــــر (average age) of their members, who are not always fully at ease with the new terminology and concepts related to such cutting-edge technologies as Web 2.0, أمن الحاســـــوب (cyber security), and خدمات الشبكــــــة الاجتماعيــــــة (social network services), although their knowledge of the language remains essential for forging Arabic neologisms.

Speaking of the projected online dictionary, co-founder of Taghreedat Mina Nagy Michel Takla noted that “the main idea is for it to be useful for all online users, and that the glossary will be split into the sections of social media and cyber security.”

Taghreedat has “relied on the participation of approximately 2,500 volunteers from 28 different countries, although the numbers constantly increases with each day.”

M. Takla also stressed that the project will be launched soon, and that his company aims to make it available as an online application obtained though التحميــــــل المجَّـــــــانـــــي (free download.)

So far, the website WordReference seems to be the best Arabic/English dictionary available online, although it is still in مرحلــــة تجريبيـــــــة (testing phase.)

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