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The treatment of terms relating to Islam and the Arab World in English dictionaries

H Ajmi, A Otaibi


This article investigates the treatment of vocabulary items relating to Islam and the Arab world in three major English dictionaries: Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, New Oxford Dictionary of English, and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. The three dictionaries are compared with regard to their inclusion of 73 Arabic items (including loanwords) used in texts on Islam and the Middle East at the Google news file. With religion as theme, eight of these terms have been examined and compared across their entries in these three dictionaries to determine the closeness of the lexicographic description of these terms to their original meanings among native speakers of Arabic and to detect, from these speakers' viewpoint, any deficiencies in the defining language of their respective entries. The examination of the definitions of terms relating to Islam and the Arab world in the three dictionaries has revealed a number of pitfalls that may require editorial reconsideration. These include circularity, insufficient information, negative contexts, very general definitions, ambiguity, incomplete information, narrow definitions and encyclopedic re-dundancy.

Keywords: arabic loanwords, cultural terms, definition, islam, repre-sentation, lexicography
AJOL African Journals Online