The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) announced yesterday Sat. May 25th, 2013 in the Ritz-Carlton hotel – Doha the official launching of the "Doha Historical Dictionary of Project" that came after a series of preparatory meetings and scientific gatherings incorporating an elite of linguistic, lexicographic, and computational experts from all around the Arab world over about two years. This launching came through the first meeting of the dictionary's Scientific Council headed by Dr. Azmi Bishara the general director of ACRPS. Later in the meeting, Dr. Beshara passed the council's lead to Dr. Ramzy Baalbaky in the presence of the council members.
This civilization project is to fill a big gap in the history of Arabic language, and to enable the Arab nation with its successive generations to understand their language, as well as their intellectual and scientific heritage. The project is also prospected to link the past of this nation to its presence, and contribute in elevating the Arab nation from its current status of degradation and dependency towards a more promising future. The project has been adopted by his highness Shiek Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani the crown prince of Qatar who generously affords the auspices and funding of this project.
Building this long awaited historical dictionary that chronicles the Arabic vocabulary over twenty centuries will take about 15 years on multiple phases whose accomplishments are presented each three years. On top of the multitude of big goals targeted by this dictionary come the enabling of researchers to make research evaluating our intellectual and scientific heritage in light of the new findings of this dictionaries, and the investment of the dictionary's comprehensive digital text corpus in developing a number of Arabic NLP tools such as MT, dictation machines, syntax checkers, as well as morphological, syntax and semantic analyzers. The project will afford a number of subsidiary dictionaries that are badly needed for the Arabic library such as a dictionary of the Terms of Civilization, Scientific Terminology dictionaries, a Comprehensive Dictionary of Modern Arabic, and Tutorial Dictionaries.
Dr. Beshara in his speech on this event emphasized the importance of the Historical Dictionary project as a dream of generations of Arab experts, linguists, and even orientalists. He mentioned the achievements made so far during the preparatory stage of the dictionary, assuming this moment as a superbly historical one, and that the project is a one for all Arabs not a one of a single state. He also considered the Historical Dictionary of Arabic as a renaissance project based on the Arabic language; i.e. such a dictionary will enable the language to evolve with a smooth continuation of its history, and with a firm understanding of the Arabic vocabulary and its semantics. "It is a shame on a nation with such a historical and civilization extension to still be lacking for a historical dictionary", he stated. He then added that "With the start usually makes for half of the work, the accomplishment of the rest of this project is a due with the opportunity of this distinct presence of scientists and experts from all around the Arab states. Each of these scientists participates in the project as an Arab not as a national representative of his country."
Dr. Baalbaky mentioned the serious beginnings of the project along with the accomplishments realized so far that both promise a great yield of this work. He also summarized the factors that paved the way towards these accomplishments into three elements:
- The first is Dr. Azmi Bishara; the vigorous figure backing and leading the project persistently and confidently.
- The second is the team behind the idea whose members are undertaking the technical and executive management of the project.
- The third is the elite of Arab scientists and experts selected carefully for their scientific capacity and field expertise.
Dr. Baalbaky also mentioned that funding is the lifeline for carrying out this project, "The state of Qatar – represented by the crown prince; his highness Shiek Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani - has granted the sponsorship of this project as part of support the Arabic identity and reinforcing the spirit of the belonging to the Arab nation.", he added.
Dr. Azeddine Bouchikhi, the executive manager of the project, presented in his speech a definition of the Historical Dictionary of Arabic, and explained its importance, its feasibility, and its implementation phases. He also noted that building a Historical Dictionary of Arabic is building the nation's linguistic memory, and building the linguistic memory is the same as building the intellectual memory.
Chronologically documenting this memory makes the linguistic and intellectual developments the Arab nation went through over about twenty centuries easy to observe and recognize. This will in turn allow us to understand our intellectual and scientific heritage through the actual senses of its vocabulary and the concepts of its terminology, "We will really know ourselves after building this dictionary", he added. Dr. Bouchikhi concluded his speech thanking those figures with elan and determination esp. Dr. Azmi Bishara who will be mentioned in history with honor for backing this dictionary. He also praised the sponsorship of the crown prince of Qatar his highness Shiek Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, assuming the dictionary name "Doha Historical Dictionary of Arabic" a gesture of gratitude for this generous sponsorship of the project.
Upon this celebration, the temporary web page of the dictionary has been unleashed on web site of ACRPS at the link http://www.dohainstitute.org/dohadictionary.
Next, the scientific council went on discussing the work plan, and the project structure set by the experts and the executive team.