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standards for translation?
- To: doc at arabeyes dot org
- Subject: standards for translation?
- From: Moustafa Mounir Elqabbany مصطفى مني ر القباني <elqabbany at sunnipath dot com>
- Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 22:48:55 -0800
- User-agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 0.5 (X11/20040208)
This is my first post to the doc list. If these matters have been
discussed previously, please point me to a link.
Insha' Allah, as per Ahmed Al-rasheedan's request, I'm working on the B
I have some concerns about formalizing and standardizing the
translation methodology wrt the word list. We really have to design
this properly if we want the
wordlist to be truly useful. An ad-hoc translation methodology will
result in the dictionary not being taken seriously by academics or
professional translators. I have actually been quite disappointed with
many dictionaries in the past. IMO, it's better to to not produce a
dictionary than to produce a bad one. A dictionary should be a tool
educated student of the language can use to accurately understand or
translate documents. When I look up the translations, I expect
to find consistency and academic rigour.
Here are my thoughts. Some of these are so obvious, you might wonder
why I'm mentioning them. I'm doing so because it allows me to spell
out important distinctions that become not-so-obvious later on.
- In this project, there is a source (English) and a target
(Arabic) language. The entries of the source language should be
organized according to the conventions of native dictionaries in the
language. For example, in English dictionaries (as opposed to
traditional Arabic dictionaries), one typically finds an entry for many
inflections of the same word in the dictionary. This is currently
in the wordlist project, which is a good thing, alhamdulillah.
- A word can have more than one definition. e.g., "to run up
against an opponent", "to run around", "that was a good run".
- The wordlist project should aspire to provide as many translated
definitions as possible.
- As a corollary to the above, it is also absolutely critical to
include indications on how to properly use phrasal verbs, since in both
Arabic and English, the definition
of a verb can change depending on the preposition following it. e.g.,
"I ran into him", "I ran up to him".
- The goal of the wordlist is not to teach people Arabic morphology
- If an entry can act as different parts of speech, such as a verb,
noun, adjective, particle, etc., then every definition of every part of
speech that applies to the word should be translated (ideally) .
- Verbs are trickier than nouns, because an uninflected verb often
corresponds to multiple conjugations (depending on person, mood, etc.)
of the verb. Thus, when translating uninflected English verbs (e.g.
we should only translate the infinitive form, which should be fully
vowelized, and include both the present and past tenses. The benefit
translating the infinitive form is that it is the most generic and
one will usually be able to look up all other forms based on it. It
should be fully vowelized to avoid ambiguity. Finally, it should be in
both the present and
past tense because, (1) this indicates to the reader that it is an
infinitive, (2) avoids scenarios where a two verbs share a common past
tense but differ in the present, and (3) clarifies
difficult-to-determine past or present tenses, such as when one of the
letters is an alif, waw, ya, or hamza. I realize that some of the
justifications I've mentioned in this point do seem to infringe on #5.
However, #5 was never a criterion by which I concluded that we should
do anything. Rather, it was just an added bonus.
- The previous point does not apply to inflected verbs.
- Based on the above, we must have a way to distinguish between
different entries. We should either have separate entries, properly
labeled, or (better) have a convention to distinguish between the
different entries. For example, go to http://www.onelook.com and enter
the word "run", then go through some of the links to online
dictionaries that come up. You will find that they distinguish between
definitions that are intransitive verbs, transitive verbs, phrasal
verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc.
- When the inflected form of a word is a straightforward
application of the definition of the word to its inflection, then this
should be indicated as such. For example, for "ran", we should
indicate that it is a past tense verb (with a simple code that we list
in a legend) and provide a hyperlink to the particular subentry of the
uninflected word. In some cases, the inflected form carries a meaning
above and beyond a straightforward application of the definition to the
inflection, such as "runner", which is a kind of shoe, in addition to
being the active participle of "run". However, the active participle
of "run" only applies to certain definitions of the verb, and "runner"
the shoe is not a direct application of *any* of the definitions of the
verb. The dictionary entry for "runner" should make all of this clear.
- We can do the above by carefully thinking through the codes and
conventions we can use for dictionary entries. Hopefully, there will
be a concise way to represent this without confusing the reader. I'm
not very familiar with tools like kbabel yet, so maybe they already
deal with some of the issues here.
- We need a policy for removing translations from the wordlist. I
have already come by a translation that I believe to be flawed.
Moustafa Mounir Elqabbany Ù…ØµØ·ÙÙ‰ Ù…Ù†ÙŠØ± Ø§Ù„Ù‚Ø¨Ø§Ù†ÙŠ
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