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Knowledge of the World

A technical dictionary for the Arab world

Arabic – German – English – French
Language barriers inhibit development
Access to knowledge of the world is the prerequisite for
sustainable development. Young people in the Arab world
face huge obstacles in gaining access to such knowledge.
A significant hurdle is the
Access to knowledge of the language barrier between the
world is the prerequisite for Arab world and the industri-
sustainable development. alised nations to the north
that generate the majority of
technical innovations. Many companies only publish their
manuals or provide user interfaces for electronic devices
in English. Because of this, it is imperative for most
experts to attain a basic knowledge of technical English

However, this is complicated even more by the lack of

clarity regarding the correct Arabic equivalent for numer-
ous technical terms. Given the diversity of the many spo-
ken dialects in the region, there is often no distinct or
standard term for technological innovations. Often, the
lack of specific technical terms in Arabic can be particu-
larly felt in everyday business matters. It is not uncom-
mon for Arabs from different countries in the region to be
forced to use a third language in order to communicate in Frank Renken
Technical Dictionary
technical dialogue.
Project Coordinator
Mediterranean Region
Even at many universities in the Middle East and North and Middle East Division

Africa much of the teaching material for engineering is

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische
only available in either English or French as there are no Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH
Arabic translations. Students are often given texts in P.O. Box 51 80
English or French while receiving instruction in Arabic T + 49 (0) 61 96 79-2878
F + 49 (0) 61 96 79-7231
during class time. This ultimately contributes to a
reduced level of employability for many young Arabs. I
The objective is to improve Who can afford a twenty-volume When will the dictionary be
access to global knowledge technical dictionary? available?

The Arab Human Development Report Whoever has access to the internet, The first two volumes on automotive
of 2004, which featured contributions as the dictionary will be made avail- engineering and the water sector,
from numerous researchers from the able to all users at no cost. Simply respectively, are to be completed by
region, called for an increased effort enter the search term and click. In 2010 and will be made available on
in building a modern Arab knowledge addition to glossary lists in German, the internet. By 2015 the technical
society. The authors call for introduc- English and French, a translation in dictionary will successively be ex-
ing modern information technologies Classical Arabic is provided along panded by eighteen additional vol-
and the Arabisation of imported with a short definition and illustra- umes, covering a wide range of fields
knowledge. This ‘enables young minds tion of the term. In an adjacent col- such as energy and environment,
to develop firm critical and creative umn, examples are given of terms transport, construction, information
capacity in their own language and that are more commonly used in var- technology, finance and law.
to assimilate the rising volume of ious Arab countries. An interactive
scientific knowledge’. discussion forum offers each user the How can I find out about it?
opportunity to exchange ideas on
Drawing on these demands, the proj- language problems within the various In future, an electronic newsletter
ect for creating a multilingual tech- disciplines as well as provide addi- will be sent out periodically with
nical dictionary was initiated. It was tional comments or more detailed news about the dictionary. Those
commissioned by the German Federal definitions. A team of specialists will interested can receive regular up-
Ministry for Economic Cooperation be created for each discipline and dates on the project's progress and
and Development (BMZ) and is will regularly moderate the entries notification of access to new vol-
implemented by GTZ together with and update the database. umes.
the Goethe-Institut in Cairo and
Arab partners. Appearing in twenty Making a contribution to Arab- Please send an email to:
volumes, the dictionary will provide German understanding
the basis for the standard translation
of textbooks, curricula and technical German-Arab partnerships in the Additional information is available
handbooks. It will offer young Arabs education and university sector have upon request.
in training or studying at a universi- intensified in recent years. The open-
ty, from Morocco to the Persian Gulf, ing of the German University of Cairo
a quick reference aid for the many and the German-Jordanian University
language problems that arise. of Amman are just two examples of
the roughly eighty cooperation ar-
rangements between German and
Arab universities. However, an up-to-
date Arabic-German technical dic-
tionary still does not exist. The proj-
ect will help to close this gap and
aid partners in learning the language.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für
Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH

– German Technical Cooperation –

Dag-Hammarskjöld-Weg 1–5
65760 Eschborn, Germany
T + 49 (0) 61 96 79-0
F + 49 (0) 61 96 79-11 15