Published on 5/15/2015

A Report on the Training Workshop for Lexical Processing Coordinators in Arab Countries


The executive board of the Doha Historical Dictionary of Arabic has held a workshop from May 2nd to May 9th, 2015 in Doha-Qatar over seven workdays for training the external office coordinators of the project in some Arab countries. Each coordinator is to supervise a team of linguists working on the lexical processing of the material belonging to some assigned Arabic roots, and then send it to the central team in Doha where such material gets revised and edited in its pre-final format that in turn gets considered by the Scientific Council of the project for approval.


This workshop can be regarded as the start of the first phase of gradual expansion in lexical processing which is the core of the project. The executive manager Dr. Aze-Eddine Bouchikhi gave the opening speech that started with a welcome to all the attendees, and then defined the Doha Historical Dictionary  of Arabic as a dictionary that records the whole Arabic vocabulary since the oldest documented Arabic text to our time, and also traces the structural and semantic evolvement of each term on the timeline with each of the senses it has taken corroborated by an authentic citation. He then explained its overall plan, its administrative structure, and the quality of its core staff comprised of linguistic and computational experts. Dr. Bouchikhi also mentioned the many challenges of this project esp. its enormity, and expressed the commitment to attracting the high calibers from all the Arab countries in order to stand up to these qualitative, quantitative, and technical challenges. He then notified the coordinators that the expansion of lexical processing efficiently and accurately depends among several factors upon their capacity to understanding the process of lexical processing in depth via its software platform. His speech concluded by praising the continuous support of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) to this project.


The opening session has been followed by a presentation given by the deputy executive manager Dr. Mohamed Al-Obaidi on the Standard Guide to Lexical Processing which is the document stating the most important concepts, determinants, and constraints that each lexical analyst has to adhere to, and also the pitfalls he has to avoid. Upon the conclusion of his presentation he explained that future editions of this guide may respond to the progress of the project.


Mohamed Reqqas, a software engineer of the staff, then made a presentation on the lexical processing platform Doha Lex® of the project. He showed the various basic functions this platform provides, and related them to the workflow of the lexical analysts as well as the coordinators. The presentation reflected the richness and sophistication of this platform's functionality, as well as the high interactivity with its users. "This platform has been designed and implemented within this project to respond to the computational needs of building the Doha Historical Dictionary of Arabic. It will be evolving with the progress of the project and the expansion of its activities." He proclaimed.


The first day of the workshop concluded with an open discussion among all the attendees towards a deeper common understanding of the material presented over the day.


The second day of the workshop started with a presentation given by the computer science expert Dr. Mohamed Bebah who introduced the technical part of the Standard Guide to Lexical Processing. He focused on the steps of lexical processing via Doha Lex®, and explained the functions and services it affords to lexical analysts.


Sample videos capturing the working of lexical analysts on Doha Lex® during the different phases of the process have then been run for more visual explanation. The second day of the workshop has then been concluded by an open discussion among all the attendees on the material presented over the first two days of the workshop.


The third day schedule included two main sessions presenting two applied case studies of lexical processing; the first given by the Arabic linguistics expert Dr. Mohamed Al-Khateeb who introduced in depth the processing of the root (د ب ر) regarding the challenges of inferring the proper meanings to its given lemmas in their contexts, defining these meanings, and corroborating the citations … etc. He also detailed clearly his criteria to practically handle such challenges. The second session was given by the Arabic linguistics expert Dr. Abdul Raheem Rahmouny who introduced the criteria of his lexical processing of the sample root (ع ه د), and explained how he handled the aforementioned difficulties providing some useful proposals in this regard.


The open discussion session at the end of the third day showed a better understanding of the coordinators of the various aspects of the lexical semantic processing. Upon the conclusion of this session Dr. Bouchikhi explained how the rest of the training workshop will proceeds; esp. the on-site training and the assignment of trainers from the central project team to trainees from the external office coordinators.


The fourth, the fifth, and the sixth days have all been devoted to practicing the work on Doha Lex® where each linguistics expert of the central team worked hand-in-hand with one or two coordinators. Each coordinator has then acquired a total down-to-earth experience with lexical processing of 14 hours.


After the weekend on Friday, the last day of the workshop started with a session of Dr. Mohamed Al-Obaidi who interactively explained the roles and tasks of the external office coordinators in different Arab countries regarding the management of lexical analysts in their countries, the determinants of continuously following them up, the technically supervising them, and linking them to the central team in Doha-Qatar for computational and linguistic support.


During the last session of the workshop, Dr. Bouchikhi thanked the attendees over the seven days of the training, and expressed the readiness of his central team to immediately respond to the work of coordinators in various countries whom he asked to select qualified linguists as soon as possible. "Once you do, we will hold a training workshop for your linguists in each country in order to make sure of the correct understanding, and the fine quality of their prospected output." He added.


Finally, the coordinators were asked to fill a questionnaire in order to get their opinions and remarks on this crush workshop as well as their proposals for the future of this work. The executive board manager has then delivered a participation certificate to each attendee. 


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