- Paperback: 1301 pages
- Publisher: Spoken Language Services; 4th edition (May 1, 1993)
- Language: English, Arabic
- ISBN-10: 0879500034
- ISBN-13: 978-0879500030
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 202 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Arabic-English Dictionary: The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (English and Arabic Edition) 4th Edition
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The reliability and completeness of the work deserve every praise, as does the practical arrangement of the entries. -- Bibliotheca Orientalis
There can be no doubt that...it is a basic tool for study of modern Arabic. -- Middle East Journal
From the Inside Flap
This edition of the Dictionary, published eighteen years after its first appearance is an enlarged and improved version of it original corpus. During the past two decades, the Dictionary has achieved widespread acceptance and use. In the interim, modern written Arabic has continued to exhibit vigorous lexical growth. Therefore, feeling the need to fill in many gaps and update the corpus, the author again undertook systematic collection of material. In addition to many neologisms of recent origin, the author has incorporated much older material attested in present-day contexts, which had not yet appeared in the Dictionary, as well as numerous improvements and corrections. The result is this revised 4th edition has nearly 200 new pages.
All new entries have been derived from primary sources, i.e. from running contexts. The source texts, predominately from the last ten years, cover a broad spectrum of content, style and origin, thereby providing a representative cross section of modern usage encountered in various fields such as technology, economics, sports, medicine, the oil industry and the natural sciences, as well as creative literature. Particular use was made of texts from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia which were drawn from newspapers, periodicals, textbooks, official and private documents and belles-lettres; some use was also made of the press of the northwest African countries. The number of new entries, including lemmata as well as compounds, idiomatic phrases and new definitions of head words, runs to approximately 13,000. Moreover, in about 3,000 instances, smaller additions (new transcriptions, plural forms, prepositional government of verbs, cross-references, etc.) have been inserted, errors corrected, obsolete entries eliminated. Some lemmata have been completely reworked.
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Small font - I wish all the Arabic dictionaries had bigger font, but alas, it is not the case. Consider it a 'feature' and not a 'bug', because unless you find some large print special editions all Arabic printed materials are in small fonts.
Paper quality - yes, the paper is rather thin, but not enough to interfere with reading it. After all, you usually do not read a dictionary from cover to cover but use it to find some specific word.
"Outdated" - it indeed contains rather arcane words, but again - I see it as a feature. If I don't read it cover to cover then why would it bother me ? The words which are archaic I would not find in the texts I read and therefore would not need to look them up in the dictionary. Sure, being written in the 60s it does not contain all the modern words and you should be aware of it. For me it was not that crucial.
It has only Arabic-English translations and not vice versa - yes, that is true, but on the other hand, it does not state otherwise.
Root ordered words - for me, as a learner of Arabic, it is actually a real boon - this way after I translate some word, I learn 'for free' few additional ones because of them being listed under the same root. In my opinion, by the way it goes the same for Hebrew, the root based dictionaries are the best.
Diacritics - the dictionary does not have them. Of course, you are not left alone to guess pronunciations - there are transliterations in English. We may call it not ideal, but as long as this brings the same result - not really a problem.
The better dictionaries - probably exist, but not in Arabic-English pairs. The next level to go is Arabic-Arabic dictionaries, but there too - you have to dig a lot (I have my own reservations about Al-Mawrid).
NB. I haven't used https://www.amazon.com/Oxford-Arabic-Dictionary-Dictionaries/dp/0199580332 Oxford Dictionary so cannot really compare, but if it is the same as they have on their premium subscription website then it is good but does not replace this one.
1. I learned Arabic in the military at DLI in Monterey. All of our professors were native speakers, some from universities in Cairo, Baghdad, etc., and this is the dictionary they prefer.
2. This is truly a dictionary, not just a lexicon. Written Arabic can be ambiguous without the diacritical markings, which are not written in this text, either, but the transliteration of the word is given and easily put to use. E.g. "صبع - ṣaba'a a (ṣab') ... to insert one's finger (ها into the hen, so as to ascertain whether she is going to lay an egg)" You finally know how to say that.
3. Once more, there are no diacritical markings in this text. I think this is preferable simply because the markings would add a lot of clutter. Keep in mind this version is the size of a handbook, so the font is necessarily small.
4. The book is easily portable, being precisely 5.14" x 8.46" x 1.38" (w x l x h). You like or no like, I don't know. I could go for a hardback or even a leather binding. There's certainly no way you would cut this and have it rebound.
5. I've used al-Mawrid, also, which is great for quick look-ups since words are ordered by their spelling, making irregular verbs easy to find, sometimes, and you can get it with the English-Arabic part. Hans Wehr, on the other hand, orders everything according to the root verb, real or implied. Sticking with the root system ensures all related words to a given root appear together. I think this makes Hans Wehr better for _studying_ Arabic, not just getting through a BBC article.
6. Hans Wehr reinforces your understanding of the measures. It does so because it usually doesn't write them out, forcing you to memorize them.
This is the standard. I had to have it again after losing my first one in a move.
Using the three consonant room system employed in this dictionary, it is easy to compare cognates between different Semitic languages. On an eccentric whim I read the beginning of Genesis (from "In the beginning" to Noah's Ark) in Hebrew, but looked up the stem of new words in Arabic using Wehr's dictionary. Especially amusing was the discovery the Hebrew word for deluge is related to the Arabic root "bwl" that is associated with urination!