Historic Arabic dictionary unveiled in UAE

First 17 volumes of the Historical Dictionary of the Arabic Language revealed during the 40th Sharjah International Book Fair

Dubai ,United Arab Emirates- March , 08, 2011:  Old Arabic Script at the  Juma Al Majid Centre for Culture & Heritage   in Dubai .  ( Satish Kumar / The National )

A historical dictionary of Arabic has been unveiled in Sharjah, charting 17 centuries of the language’s development, from pre-Islamic times to the modern day.

Work on the document has been in progress for years, and was compiled under the direction of Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah.

The first 17 volumes of the Historical Dictionary of the Arabic Language were unveiled during the opening of the 40th edition of Sharjah International Book Fair on Tuesday.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, who attended the launch ceremony, said the dictionary will be available via a website and an app.

Its contents chronicle Arabic language and culture in three research stages – old inscriptions, the Semitic branch of languages with a focus on Arabic, as well as the practical use of the language.

It encompasses five ages: pre-Islamic, Islamic (Umayyad and Abbasid), separatist dynasties, the Mamluk Sultanate, and modern history.

More than 300 senior Arabic researchers and linguists, editors and experts from nine countries worked on the dictionary, according to an announcement in 2019.

It was edited by specialists at the Union of Arab Scientific Language Academies in Cairo, Egypt.

The dictionary details the history, origins, meanings and explanations of words, as well as information on the nation, while celebrating the achievements of Arabs. It is considered to represent the collective memory of the Arab world, and documents its news, literature, history and language.

"There are many dictionaries in the Arab world, but none as comprehensive as this one, which documents the history and evolution of all Arabic words," Dr Mohamed Al Mosteghanemi, secretary general of Sharjah's Arabic Language Academy, told an audience at an Arabic language festival in Milan in 2019.

"This project faced challenges, especially those that were related to its massive scale. The historian or linguist cannot build on specific references and leave others. They should not include books on literature and its genres and ignore books on philosophy, history and other sciences."

He said the Germans were among the first to write a comprehensive historical dictionary.

The Brothers Grimm began one in 1838, but the project stalled when they died. It was finally completed 120 years later by a succession of scholars.

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Updated: November 3rd 2021, 11:03 AM
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