Cool stuff this site has:

Introduction: What's it all about

This site is an effort to show Arabic as a living language by allowing users to search in both a Classical Arabic dictionary and a dialect dictionary at the same time. Often Classical Arabic, or Modern Standard Arabic or اللغة العربية الفصحى , is the only aspect of Arabic that is taught, and the dialects are often ignored or only taught minimally. There are reasons for that, some practical, some not. The dialects are not as well studied, what dialects can be taught depend on what faculty is available to teach it, etc. Some see the dialects as not being real languages and not deserving to be taught and "formal" Classical Arabic is the only real Arabic. However, because of these reasons and others, often only Classical Arabic is taught. And in the Arab countries, it is seen as an abomination to teach dialects. Because of this, though, Classical Arabic is often criticized as being a "dead language."

I don't want to get into the argument about whether Classical Arabic is a dead language or not. I do want to show how alive Arabic, as both the dialects and formal language, really is, and I want to show a more complete picture of it (actually, one of the other names I considered for this site was "A Picture of Arabic"). I love the Arabic language. I love the literature, I love speaking it, I love poetry and music, I love the way it all sounds. And every Arab that I know, no matter how die-hard they are about "proper" Arabic and how much they hate the dialects, loves listening to an old person speak. An elder who is often largely illiterate and knows little to no formal Arabic except perhaps some quotes from the Qur'an and Hadith. But they all love hearing her speak and tell stories, and after listening to one such as her they will say, "I love how this woman spoke, she reminded me of my grandmother."

This site is dedicated to all the people who showed me how Arabic is a living language, and most prominent amongst are the professors I had while at university. And most prominent amongst them is the late Dr. Waheed Samy. He is the one who sparked the interest in me to learn Arabic. Without him I probably would not have continued with Arabic. He said to see Classical Arabic as the sun, with all the dialects as planets revolving around it. It was that description that planted the seed for this site. I wish he were here to see it, I wish he could give me feedback, I wish he could feel proud as a teacher that because of him I have tried to create a whole new kind of online Arabic dictionary.

A Few Practical Notes

At this point, for Classical Arabic the only thing uploaded are my notes from classes and personal studies. The Egyptian dialect dictionary is in a functional stage, meaning it has a complete set of words and the search features work pretty well (both Arabic-English and English-Arabic). Unfortunately, I've messed up the CA-ECA search page right now. This happened because ECA dictionary is far more complete than the CA dictionary, and also because as I was using the ECA dictionary as a testing ground for how to structure the database, and as I filled it in more I changed how it was structured. Though I expected this to happen, fixing it involves going back and changing the structure of the CA dictionary, as well as filling it in more fully.

However, I am instead finding myself working on the Levantine dictionary, which I am designing to include notes on subdialects, including Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian, and Jordanian, notes on origin, and other nerdy things. I'm constantly evolving the dictionary structure and search capabilities, but I think the Levantine dictionary is almost the final iteration of the database structure (or so I hope).

I would like to go back and restructure and complete the CA dictionary too, but CA is a different beast than the dialects, given the long, well-documented history, breadth of geographical usage, and necessity of reconciling all the different resources on it.

Obviously, this could all take a while. Ideally, if I can raise enough money to take a year off of work and just do this I would get a lot done, including getting the code to a really solid point and probably finishing the Levantine dictionary. بس بكرا في المشمش , right?

Having these put into a database presents a huge potential for how they can be searched, creating a whole new online Arabic dictionary. For instance, I've started labeling all the proverbs that I put in. With the database I can pull out all the proverbs with a simple search and then make a page (or at some point even a book since there are so many), with all the proverbs listed. I would also like to add pictures, as I've always been fond of the drawings in old dictionaries. But more practically, there are many objects, such as traditional musical instruments, that it is helpful to have pictures. The English search feature actually can be used to find synonyms, and potentially can be designed to populate a field with synonyms and antonyms.

When searching you can use Arabic characters or Latin characters. Here is the list of Latin characters. Please be aware that when searching for "doubled roots" (like ح ب ب) it is better to search for ح ب ب instead of simply ح ب. The search just works better for now, though hopefully I'll have that fixed up in the future.

If this site becomes unavailable or randomly changes (like if it starts turning red and green and saying hello and am I here) its because I'm working on it regularly.

The link at the top of the page for the CA-ECA search is a piece of code that (I think) is finally finished. However, as I mentioned above, I've messed it up by all the work I did on the ECA dictionary.


I'm always looking for feedback, and I'm trying to get this site shared as much as possible so that users can start to tell me what they would find useful. Also, if someone has a word they would like to add, or an example they think is useful, please send it along through the contact page and include the context you heard it under and how you confirmed the meaning (if it's not in a dictionary or easily findable online). The help is much appreciated.