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DEFINITIONS OF LINGUISTIC TERMS IN AN ENGLISH-ARABIC DICTIONARY MOHAMED H. HELIEL Several attempts have been made to help Arab translators and students of linguistics understand modern linguistic terminology : Bakalla, et al., Mseddi, and Baraké. All of these dictionaries include glossaries of linguistic terms with Arabic equivalents but without definitions. Such specialized dictionaries lacking definitions, explanations, and examples may, at best, be useful for highly trained specialists. However, for average users, whether translators or students, their usefulness is doubtful. Al-Khuli's English-Arabic dictionary has a major advantage over the other specialized English-Arabic dictionaries of linguistic terms. It contains definitions, explanations, and examples. It concerns itself with theoretical linguistics, including phonetics, phonology, historical linguistics, semantics , morphology, and grammar. The terms are alphabetically arranged, with definitions in Arabic, illustrative examples, and Arabic equivalents. The dictionary is meant to serve students and specialists of English, students and specialists of Arabic, linguists, and those interested in translating linguistic research from English into Arabic. It is not our aim in this paper to discuss the linguistic definitions in al-Khuli's dictionary from the point of view of the methods, i.e., the means the definitions adopt to achieve their purpose (cf. Robinson, Wierzbicka, and Benson, et al.). Our aim is rather to discover how far these definitions communicate , how far they would help the student of linguistics and the translator. Through a careful study of the definitions of a large number of terms in al-Khuli's dictionary we have managed to collect sufficient data for our analysis, covering different areas of linguistics . The definitions of the terms presented and analyzed below are merely illustrative examples. 133 134 Linguistic Terms in an English-Arabic Dictionary Analysis By definition we mean the description of the concept to which the term is assigned. Thus, the importance of definition lies in: (a)helping to establish easy and unambiguous communication between specialists and to transfer specialized knowledge to Arabic; (b)determining the position of the term in a system of other related terms; (c)determining the Arabic equivalent for the English term. For a definition to be adequate it should explain those aspects of the concept that are necessary and sufficient for its contents to be unravelled and distinguished from other concepts. Al-Khuli's definitions have been found to suffer from the following defects: 1. Opacity Reference number Term The Arabic Definition Translated into English incompatible words: (128) words that cannot refer to one thing at the same time because they do not occur together for the same thing in the same place or at the same time, e.g., green and blue. layering: (151) that a linguistic structure is embedded in another. Mohamed H. Heliel 135 closed class word: (44) a word that belongs to a closed type such as a conjunction, preposition, or auxiliary verb. See junction word. pharyngealized consonant: (208) a consonant during the pronunciation of which the pharynx is somewhat constricted. collocation: (46) the succession of words in a sentence according to a particular order. 6 (a) (b) simple wave: (258) a sound wave that is not complex. complex wave: (50) a sound wave that is complex. intensional definition: (134) to define a class through stating its distinctive characteristics . It contrasts with extensional definition. 136 Linguistic Terms in an English-Arabic Dictionary marked: (165) a property of a linguistic unit with a mark that distinguishes it from an unmarked unit, e.g., boys, which is marked, and boy, which is not marked. The examples above range among vagueness, indefiniteness, and incomprehensibility. Term 1 The definition is hard to understand. It sounds like a puzzle, and the examples given do not disambiguate the definition. The term is used in semantics to indicate the relationship that can be established between sets of lexical items where the sense of one item is said to delimit the sense of the other. The idea of sets is not indicated in the definition though it is an essential component of incompatibility as a term (cf. Lyons 288; Crystal 182). Term 2 There is no reference to tagmemic grammar, where the term is used to refer to the inclusion of a tagmemic construction within another construction at...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 133-148
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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