Online dictionary is improving training of Arab technicians and engineers
For many technical terms, there is no generally valid equivalent in Arabic. At universities, English or French-language text books are often used, while lectures are in Arabic. In many Arab countries, this lack of technical terms makes it difficult to train young technicians and engineers, as well as to introduce technical innovations.
In 2010, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH began assisting the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (ALECSO) to set up a four-language online dictionary. The commission was issued by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Operated under the name ARABTERM, the platform currently comprises more than 500,000 entries. Users can access specialist dictionaries on civil and hydraulic engineering, automotive technology, renewable energies, and electro or information technology and search for terms in Arabic, English, French and German free of charge.
‘For translators like me, ARABTERM is a dream come true,’ enthuses Nicole Zarzar, who helped develop the dictionary, which already has some 350,000 regular users, including teachers, students, trainees, translators and engineers. Around half of them use their smartphone and a dedicated app to access ARABTERM.
For the first time ever, consistent translations for technical terms are available in modern standard Arabic thanks to ARABTERM. At the last Arabisation Congress in 2013, four of the total of nine specialist dictionaries were declared mandatory for all 22 Arab League Member States. Moreover, discussion forums allow users to supplement translations, comment on dialect-specific versions or provide further clarifications. Specialist groups, each responsible for a specific discipline, regularly suggest new terms and additions so that the dictionary continues to grow and stays up to date.