Oxford Dictionaries | Arabic FAQ
Who is the Dictionary for?
Oxford Dictionaries | Arabic is intended for users of both English and Arabic, and grammatically relevant information is included for both languages.
The dictionary will serve students, translators, interpreters, teachers of Arabic or English, and anyone who is involved with either or both languages in a professional or personal capacity.
What form of Arabic does the dictionary use?
This dictionary focuses on the variant of Arabic commonly known as Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). This is the language as it is currently written and spoken in the media, and in which most literature and any other ‘formal’ written language appears. This means that we also include common loan words as long as they are used in written texts that are otherwise MSA.
Accordingly, this dictionary does not include Classical Arabic words that are no longer in modern use, or old senses of modern words.
What form of English does the dictionary use?
The English used in the dictionary is British English, with US variants marked at the English headword.
In the Arab world the language is in a state known as diglossia. This means that two varieties of Arabic are used under different conditions. The first is the ‘high’ variety of Arabic, close to Classical Arabic, which is known as Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). This is the official language of formal writing and speech, used in written media and in official speeches and lectures.
The second is the ‘low’ variety of Arabic, known as Colloquial or Spoken Arabic, which is spoken and not usually written.
This situation is in flux, however: in recent years colloquial written Arabic has become relevant on the internet, and some literature does exist in colloquial Arabic, in Egyptian Arabic in particular.
Where Standard Arabic is largely the same throughout the Arabic world, colloquial variants vary immensely from country to country and from region to region. There is no strict separation between the ‘standard’ and ‘colloquial’ languages, but instead there is a sliding scale on which any language user constantly moves.
Is colloquial Arabic included in this dictionary?
No. This dictionary focuses on using Modern Standard Arabic and therefore only includes a handful of colloquial words.
Will any regional variations of Modern Standard Arabic be available?
Although Modern Standard Arabic is largely the same throughout the Arabic world, some regional variation does occur. We have marked regional preferences where applicable, but most of the words included are non-regional specific.
Can I search the site using Classical Arabic?
Oxford Dictionaries | Arabic is focused on Modern Standard Arabic, so classical words are only included if they are still in common use today.
Can I search with/without vowels?
Yes. Our groundbreaking search can recognise words with and without vowels directing you either straight to the word you need or a selection of words that meet your criteria.
Why do you include vowels in all text?
This is to aid pronunciation for learners of MSA and to help with syntax.
Why do you include loan words when there is an MSA equivalent?
A loan word may be included in addition to the standard MSA. This occurs in instances where both are frequently used as shown by our corpus research tracking current usage of MSA.