The Nazi Arabic-English Dictionary That Has The University Of Minnesota In Hot Water

This truly weird article [ ] is about the Hans Wehr Arabic-English dictionary (and presumably the Arabic-German edition too). They are complaining it was developed in Nazi Germany and therefore the dictionary is evil. However it remains an essential mainstay in Arabic language courses, and that was a cause of controversy many years ago (1970s).

The reason it is useful is that it embodies the system of radicals (2-, 3-, or 4- consonants), grouped into stems, to group similar words. Like J-H-D, Jahad, struggle, of Jihad, meaning , Wikipedia advises us, “struggle in the path of God”, adding that the Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic defines the term as “fight, battle; jihad, holy war (against the infidels, as a religious duty)”; of with Mu- affix Mu-J-H-D, or Mujahid, someone who does Jihad. Or form VIII with the “t” inserted, J-T-H-D, Ijtihad, with the technical meaning of analogical legal reasoning. This system of analyzing and grouping words was developed by ancient grammarians in Iraq a thousand years ago or so. There are as many as 12 forms for each stem, being the basis for the truly vast vocabulary of Arabic. (In modern American Arabic language teaching, the Modern Standard Arabic course developed at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor employs this ancient grammatical system as a pedagogical tool. This is very good, even if other aspects of “Modern Standard” are more problematic. Like “duals”.)r

So when the Hans Wehr Dictionary publishers secured intellectual property rights to this system of grammatical analysis there was outrage. Some dictionaries were hastily published to use that system (I have some), but all were withdrawn when the intellectual property rights of the Hans Wehr Dictionary was upheld in court.

Alternative dictionaries are just word lists with translations. Vastly inferior. I cannot help but wonder if this is another attack on the teaching and translation of Arabic. There are those who do not think Americans should know Arabic.

Addendum: The article claims that the Arabic-English dictionary was compiled in Nazi Gemany to translate Mein Kampf into Arabic which does not make any sense. Surely Mein Kampf was translated from German directly into Arabic. The main complaint against this important dictonary is, therefore, illogical and incorrect