The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) has hosted the fourth meeting of the scientific council of the Doha Historical Dictionary of Arabic on Dec. 10-11, 2015 in the Ritz Carlton hotel, Doha - Qatar. The agenda of this meeting included the presentation of different committee reports, presentation of the executive board's report, discussion of the proposed internal statute of the council for its approval, studying the proposed standard guide of the lexico-semantic analysis, and deciding about the scientific issues forwarded by the scientific council by the executive board.
Dr. Ramzy Baalbaky, the head of the scientific council, inaugurated the first session with a welcome to the attendees, then he mentioned the importance of the council meetings as well as the keen efforts of the executive board that has been reinforced by a number of researchers. He stated also that the Historical Dictionary project is going to be a scientific institution with corporate personality as stated in its statute, and that the project has the full backing of Dr. Azmy Beshara; the General Director of ACRPS.
After approving the agenda and the minutes of its third meetings, the council went on discussing the report of Dr. Hasan Al-Tayyan concerning the specification of the best versions of books and other publications, where he detailed the criterion, the determinants, and the selection preferences of this work; such as accrediting the original copies of documents, authenticating the prominent figures, accrediting the error-free editions, relying on the scientifically credible publishers … etc.
Next, Dr. Abdelali Al-Oudghiri presented a report on the sources with questionable attribution, he studied 35 such titles, and he accordingly drew concise conclusions that can be used as criteria to prove or deny the attribution of a given volume with a high likelihood. His conclusions rely on clues inside and outside the subject text, with the help of other specialized sources.
In the course of forming a committee for Inscriptions and Papyri, the head of the scientific council invited Dr. Lutz Edzard from the University of Erlangen in Germany. Dr. Edzard presented a concise paper on the phonological, morphological, and semantic relations of Arabic roots with other Semitic languages, and then explained the importance of shedding light on the Arabic vocabulary from both the lineage and pattern prespectives in comparison with other Semitic and Afro-Asian languages. The council discussed Dr. Edzard's presentation in detail, giving precautions of the pitfalls that may entrap etymologists. Dr. Baalbaky proposed an integrated conception of the nature and criteria of this work, along with examples of the etymology of selected Arabic roots.
Over the second session, Dr. Ibrahim bin Murad presented a report on the figures with missing dates, and on poems attributed to more than one poet, and on the dates of authoring books. He mentioned the extreme difficulties of specifying the date of authoring a given book, and he stated that the work on this issue in its current form is not complete yet but needs more efforts on this way. The discussions of the memebrs in this session agreed with the conclusions of Dr. Bin Murad.
Over the third session, Dr. Azeddine Bouchikhi, the executive manager of the project, presented a detailed report on the achievements of the executive board since the last meeting of the scientific council. Among these achievements comes the completion of the fourth version of the fisrt phase of the bibliography based on the committee inputs, and also building a great deal of the second phase of the bibliography; where a scientific conference has been held for this purpose in Tunis on Nov. 5-6, 2014 that resulted in a proposed comprehensive bibliography of the second phase covering the history of Arabic till 500AH. The text corpus of the first phase has also been updated according to the updates made to the bibliography.
Moreover, a platform for the lexico-semantic analysis, and a website for the project have been developed. With regard to launching the lexico-semntic analysis, the linguistic experts have worked on several roots to test the lexico-semantic platform and in order to spot the most important linguistic issues seeking for decisions by the scientific council. These experiments have concluded with formulating the most challenging issues in the reality of lexico-semantic analysis, as well as the preparation of a draft standard guide of the lexico-semantic analysis, both are now being studied by the scientific council.
Dr. Bouchikhi has also mentioned that the executive board has set two tracks for managing the project; a temporary de facto track where the work is being conducted according to the currently available resources, and a strategic track where the full HR, technical, and logistic requirements get replenished which will in turn allow the work on the project at its different layers and segements get its full extents.
Dr. Bouchikhi concluded with drawing an overall pricture of the project's prospects versus its challenges, thanking the scientific council as well as all the project staff, and praising Dr. Azmy Beshara for his support and patronage of the project.
After praising the work of the executive board and its achievements, the proposed internal statute of the scientific council has been presented, discussed, amended, and approved.
The fourth session has been devoted to discussing the proposed Standard Guide for Lexico-semantic Analysis that has been presented by Dr. Muhammed Al-Obaidi on behalf of the executive board. The proposed guide that aims at regulating and standardizing the work of lexico-analysts is basd upon the findings of the experimental analysis of several Arabic roots carried out so far within the text corpora corresponding to the first phase of the bibliography.
Over the closing session, a group of linguistic issues raised through the experimental lexico-analysis of several Arabic roots has been presented by Dr. Bouchikhi in order for the scientific council to decide upon them. After prolonged discussions, the head of the council called for complementary remarks and proposals of the lexico-semantic guide, as well as the proposed solutions of the raised linguistic issues, with a prospect for accrediting the guide and making final solutions later.