Sunday, May 27, 2007


Two weeks back, I was helping my younger sister (PiXiE) on her essay that worth 20% from the final grade and since she was busy with her final exam and that she's graduating this summer, she told me to work on most of her essay. She's studying English Specialization (or it's called English Sepcialist??) and as you all know that I'm doing Industrial Engineering, so writing an essay for English Specialist student is not like doing that for an Engineering student. Surprisingly, I managed to do the essay the way she told me, and she was caring less and wanted to submit anything because she was busy preparing for her finals. The point is, she got the highest mark and best essay and I honestly, I was surprised myself, are they joking?? The english I used was simple and the whole eassy-structure is obviously not of an English Specialist student, but duh! :D Lucky her, she have a brother like me (e7m :p)

Here's the essay. Enjoy ;)

Dictionaries were used since many centuries and are still being used till now which implies the importance of dictionaries as a rich source for educational purposes. Noticeably throughout the years, dictionaries have been developed and improved and many new types of dictionaries have evolved since then like the bilingual dictionaries and trilingual dictionaries beside the monolingual dictionaries. This research aims to study one of these types, which is the bilingual dictionary and to indicate the comprehensiveness of its contents. Two bilingual dictionaries, "Al-Mawrid Al-Akbar" dictionary and "Al-Muhit Oxford Study Dictionary" will be compared to a monolingual dictionary "Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary" through extensive study of the entry of the word "cyber-" and the words derived from it. The study will try to look at the elements of the entry that include the phonological, semantic, morphological, syntactic and etymological information, and the contextual usage.

There is an obvious difference between the monolingual dictionary and the bilingual dictionary in the coverage of words. The head-words coverage by the monolingual dictionary extends far more than the other two bilingual dictionaries and this can be shown by looking at the extra words that the monolingual dictionary provides like the words cybercafé, cybernaut, cybersex and cybersquatting. However, by going through each bilingual dictionary, we find that "Al-Mawrid Al-Akbar" dictionary covers the words cybernation, cybernetic(s), cybernetician and cyberneticist, whereas "Al-Muhit Oxford Study Dictionary" only covers the three words cybernetics, cyberpunk and cyberspace. Moreover, "Al-Mawrid Al-Akbar" dictionary treats each of the words above as a head-word and not as words that should go under the head-word cybernated. It then lists the words cybern (ation), cybern (etics), cybern (etician) and cybern (eticist), which are nothing but morphological information of the same word 'cybernated'. Nevertheless, this may be due to the fact that word meaning can be more extensive when it is shown as a head-word and more elaborated information could be given.

The phonological information is an essential part that each dictionary should provide. Here, the monolingual dictionary illustrates two types of pronunciations which are the British and the American pronunciation. "Al-Mawrid Al-Akbar" dictionary demonstrates clear British pronunciation, whereas "Al-Muhit Oxford Study Dictionary" does not provide any phonological description except for the word 'cybernetics' by breaking it into three syllables using alphabetical letters not phonetic symbols.

The semantic of a dictionary is primarily the imperative aim and is a measure of power of any dictionary that gives a proper and concise meaning for each of its words. Each of the dictionaries used provides the semantic information for its words, but the bilingual dictionaries present unclear definitions and could not achieve a user friendly meaning. For example, the word 'cybernation' is defined like this:

"السبرنه: الضبط الاوتوماتي لعملية ما في حقل الصناعة مثلاً من طريق إستخدام الكومبيوترات"

The word "السبرنه" does not reflect any Arabic terminology that any reader can thoroughly understand. It may have been derived by direct phonological transfer of the word 'cybernation' and arabized to the word "السبرنه". Moreover, weak Arabic grammar is used like in "من طريق"; it should be grammatically structured as "عن طريق". Besides, "الاوتوماتي" and "الكومبيوترات" are not originally Arabic words and any good dictionary should provide clear meanings using well formulated standard Arabic. Another point, none of the words is provided with examples to illustrate its contextual meaning with clearer picture and that is why there is a lot of vagueness. Last but not least, the word 'cyberspace' has two senses in the bilingual dictionary, "Al-Muhit Oxford Study Dictionary", whereas it has just one sense in the monolingual dictionary. Subsequently, the senses of the word 'cyberspace' in the bilingual dictionary count for an extra credit towards the clarity of its meaning and make it more informative.

Syntactic information is needed by any user of the language in order to produce understandable utterances or any piece of writing and here each type of the dictionaries used provides this information, either the word is noun, verb or adjective. The monolingual dictionary even provides more information of either the word is countable or uncountable.

It is important for language user to know whether a word is formal, informal or slang in order to be able to use it appropriately, but the bilingual dictionaries used in this research do not provide any information about the usage and neither provides any etymological information. This can be explained by knowing that the words used in this study do not have definite origin or previous usage that can lead through to its etymological information.

In conclusion, by studying the two types of dictionaries, it has been found that the monolingual dictionary is more comprehensive than the bilingual dictionary in terms of the phonological and semantic information. However, the bilingual dictionary can also be useful for beginners and for those who are not frequent users of English and do not want to go into details about the language, especially it is easier to capture the meaning when it is provided in one's mother tongue.

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