Wednesday 30 September 2020 - 9:06:03 pm

Sharjah spearheads monumental project to chronicle 17 centuries of Arabic language


SHARJAH, 9th August, 2020 (WAM) -- Heralding a new era for the Arabic language lexicon, Sharjah has embarked on a landmark project to chronicle 17 centuries of development in the Arabic language, spanning five distinct time periods. The Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language is a monumental undertaking that will offer unparalleled insight into the world’s fifth most widely spoken language, and serve as a linguistic resource for researchers, academia, linguists and students worldwide.

Under the supervision of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the Arabic Language Academy, ALA, in Sharjah will lead the management and coordination of the project, with the full support of the Union of Arab Scientific Language Academies, based in Cairo, Egypt.

Hundreds of senior researchers and linguists, editors, and experts from 10 Arabic language academies across the Arab world are currently documenting and researching the history and evolution of all Arabic words.

Upon completion, at an estimated timeframe of six years, this will be the most comprehensive historical corpus of the Arabic language, and also the first to cover its evolution from the pre-Islamic period through its growth during the Islamic era and several dynasties, to its modern form.

Documenting 17 centuries of the Arabic language, with roots that lie in classical and modern Semitic, African and Asian languages, Arabic is a rich and sophisticated language that has had an enduring legacy in shaping civilisations across the Middle East and Africa. Spoken by more than 400 million people in these regions, it was also the medium through which philosophers, mathematicians, and astronomers pursued knowledge during the Golden Age of Islam.

Since the dawn of the 20th century, efforts have been underway to document the ancient Arabic language in an all-encompassing corpus. However, the massive scale of such a project, coupled with sub-par planning and financial constraints, brought such initiatives to a halt, until it was resumed following the directives of the Ruler of Sharjah.

With the digitisation of nearly 20,000 Arabic books, manuscripts, sources, and historical documents, the Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language will be a portal into 17 centuries of the Arabic language, which includes Arabic engravings and antiquities dating back to the third century before Islam.

Created using a fully digitised platform with state-of-the-art technology, the Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language will be easy to access and navigate for both linguists and the public. The use of optical character recognition technology for all documents will further enable researchers to find information they require quickly, within a broad historical context.

WAM/ /Tariq alfaham/Hassan Bashir