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A Frequency Dictionary of Arabic: Core Vocabulary for Learners (Routledge Frequency Dictionaries) Paperback – 21 Feb 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; Bilingual edition (21 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415444349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415444347
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 17.8 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 422,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

Linguistic Data Consortium, University of Pennsylvania, USA Brigham Young University, Utah, USA

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Khalil on 1 July 2011
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be a really useful resource. I am a native speaker of Arabic and I found the mix of dialects particularly intriguing as I am currently working on dialect studies. The format of the book can be a little difficult to follow at first when you want to look up a particular word to see if it's there, but after using it a couple of times I've got the hang of it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bouhamza on 25 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
For students of Arabic, this frequency dictionary is an excellent way of accumulating vocabulary. The sentence examples are a bit odd every here and there, but they do the trick. Words are also listed according to word class (most frequent adverbs, adjectives etc) which is also helpful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ling82 on 3 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There should be more frequency dictionaries on the market for all languages. The authors should do one for each Arabic dialect too, based on a spoken corpus. Brilliant book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maria Marazaki on 19 July 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent tool for already experienced Arabic learners. Examples and theme lists help very much. Need to know the root of each word though in order to navigate through this book. It helps me a lot!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Useful tool for students of Arabic 7 Jun. 2011
By J. E. S. Leake - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Very good to have a new frequency list, particularly one covering varied genres of Arabic prose, as this one does. It is, however, unfortunate that the authors have tried to add spoken Arabic into the book - this ends up inevitably as a gimmick, reducing the written vocabulary. If they could have put the spoken data into a separate section, that would have been much more helpful; better still a separate book with individual dialects treated both individually and as a group - I certainly should have bought that. Still that's not what is being offered.

The words in the book were selected from five collections (corpora) of Arabic words of about five million words each. They were categorised as follows:

(1) News
(2) Newspaper editorials and essays
(3) Formal prose in magazines and journals on science, arts and religion
(4) Internet discussion forums
(5) literature

An additional corpus of about three million words containing spoken Arabic was also used. This was mostly mono-dialectal dialogue in Egyptian, Iraqi, Levantine, Gulf and Algerian dialect.

I do like the way that words are later presented by root and by grammatical category. The little snippets of prose that allow the student to place the word in a genuine context are also most helpful.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Now we know what words we should all learn 17 Dec. 2012
By Tim Peverill - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am an Arabic teacher and curriculum creator (at the Gulf Arabic Programme in Oman) with about 20 years of experience as an Arabic language learner, and I think this dictionary is one of the best resources a serious Arabic student can invest in. But for one flaw (see below), it would have received 5 stars. There are a number of reasons I gave this work 4 stars (and almost gave it 5!)

1) This dictionary seems to be based on the most complete word frequency study yet. I have to disagree with the reviewer who didn't like the inclusion of words from various dialects. Since these words are being used in written contexts by literate people, it is important to know them. The number of them included in the dictionary is not so great as to overwhelm the data or the user who is unfamiliar with them. For example the word Jaab (he brought) is listed as 1046, which is not all that frequent. However, in most dialects one would hear it dozens of times every day.

2) Plurals and genders are included.

3) The definitions cover the semantic range of the words including useful expressions and common idiomatic usages. For example HaaDir means present (time), attending, participant, and even OK in dialect.

4) There are supplementary lists that give the most common words in areas like religion, health, communication verbs, movement verbs, form I verbs, etc. Vocabulary research shows that after learning the first 1000 most common general words in a language, it is good to start specializing in vocabulary on the topics you need. Even though the average literate person knows at least 20,000-40,000 words in his mother tongue, he may use some of them once in a month or may not encounter some of them for years. In this study of over 30 million words, for example the word for building (binaa' - number 400) occurs about 10,000 times, and the word for trip (riHla - number 1009) occurs about 3500 times, but the word for wing (janaaH - number 2000) occurs less than 1500 times and the word for joining (Damm -number 5000) only occurs 167 times. In other words, word #2000 occurs almost 10 times as often as word #5000, and word #400 occurs 60 times as often as word #5000. So from these examples how important it is to focus efforts on learning the most common words, especially since vocabulary usage takes so much more time to master than mere comprehension.

5) There is an index where words are listed in order under their part of speech: nouns, adjectives, verbs, conjunctions, prepositions, etc. Many people find that learning vocabulary in categories can help to aid memory.

6) Another index lists the words according to root making it easy to find words.

So what is the one flaw? An English to Arabic index would have been great. So if I wanted to know, for example, what's the most common word for 'food'? Akl? Ta9aam? ghidhaa? I could have been able to see each entry and determine which word to use in which context and which word is used most often.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
First of its kind 14 April 2011
By Timothy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
That I am aware, this is the first of it's kind in Arabic. It draws from a corpus of MSA and various colloquials, including material from newspapers, literature, internet forums and speech. The list is organized by lemma, each lemma being ordered according to its coverage and raw frequency (c*f). Each lemma is also described by a part of speech, a gloss and an example sentence. Where multiple uses are associated with a single lemma, multiple glosses are provided. Coverage and frequency are also listed.

Within the pages of list are a number of thematic sublists for items like animals, transportation and clothing. The book also has two indexes: one alphabetical, the other by part of speech.

I rated this a 5 because it actually is quite good, and also because there's nothing else like it out there for Arabic yet. It's a valuable book both for learners (as the title claims) and also for curriculum designers who want to base their vocabulary on frequency.

One of this book's authors is Parkinson, who is the same author who wrote Using Arabic Synonyms.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Nothing else like it, very good, but perhaps wait for the next edition 6 Nov. 2013
By Epictetus (Hong Kong) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I give _Frequency Dictionary of Arabic_ five stars on a relative basis: relative to similar books, it gets a five because there are no similar books right now. It has helped me to improve my efficiency of learning Arabic because it has enabled me to focus on the most commonly used words. I use this dictionary in addition to my textbooks and dictionaries. It has made me feel that I have a slightly better grasp of Arabic. As other reviewers have noted, it has some shortcomings in absolute terms, and I would give it three stars on absolute scoring (two would be too harsh). It would be at least twice as useful, I feel, if it had an index of English words. Even if you can read and write Arabic, an English index would allow the learner to check very quickly whether a term is in the dictionary or not. Suppose you want to know if the concept "thin" is in this dictionary. There is no way to do this, except the impractical way of reading through the entries, if necessary until you reach the last of the 5000. What one can do is to look up in another dictionary the Arabic for "thin" and then use the Arabic index to check, but then one might also need to look up "emaciated" and other synonyms to ensure completeness. There are a couple of other areas where this dictionary, mightily and wonderful though it is, is frustratingly less useful than it could be. There is a list of thematic words for football, but none for business and none for greetings and farewells. It is also a very backward looking publisher who refuses to publish on Kindle. I am very happy with my copy, but I recommend anyone who has more patience than money to consider waiting for the next edition, or perhaps some competing title, in which these irritating limitations may be overcome.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
As an Arabic student, my fellow students are envious of this resource 21 Feb. 2013
By Jon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In addition to presenting a comprehensive list of the most common Arabic words, its myriad other features make this book invaluable. Authentic sample sentences provide essential context for word use, and alternate uses are presented with the word whenever an additional particle or other contextual cue changes the general meaning. The thematic tables included alone make for a fantastic at-a-glance guide to topical vocabulary. All in all, this book has been a great experience.
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