According to MENAFN (The Jordan Times) in a recently published article, Birzeit University’s, led by Mustafa Jarrar, have just finished a review of their eight year study which aimed to enrich Arabic content online through the use of a dictionary search engine, the Arabic ontology engine, and the Curras online corpus for the Palestinian dialect.
The review was presented at a symposium, organised by the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) on February 21st, titled ‘The Arabic ontology and computerising dictionaries’, and was set to coincide with the International Mother Language Day celebrated by UNESCO.
The study included 150 digitised Arabic language dictionaries and is the first of its kind to use a dictionary search engine for the Arabic language, in fact, in any language.
The engine provided accurate translations for foreign terms in a bid to avoid the common mistakes made by search engines such as Google Translate, which is based upon statistical translation, as opposed to dictionary translations which are more accurate and comprehensive.
According to the ARDD, the digitising of the Arabic dictionaries required a manual creation of an electronic database which was produced by over 300 student volunteers from the university.
This team of volunteers completed the project without any external funding, and the university was fully dependent upon them for its completion, according to Mustafa Jarrar, the Professor of Computer Science at Birzeit University, who led the study.
The Arabic ontology engine was designed to regulate the confusion which can arise in Arabic language definitions; where one term may be used to represent two differing meanings, depending upon context, the individual using the term, and Arabic dialects. These language differences can lead to confusion and misunderstandings.
The aim of the Curras engine is to improve how search engines and AI understand both written and verbal Arabic language online, including differing dialects. It also recording and documenting these dialects.
The university has made the search engines freely available online, to both the public and researchers, through the university’s website.