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ARABIC COLLOCATIONS:

IMPLICATIONS FOR TRANSLATION

By

A S Brashi

A thesis presented to the

University of Western Sydney

in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

2005

© A S Brashi 2005

ARABIC COLLOCATIONS: IMPLICATIONS FOR TRANSLATION By A S Brashi A thesis presented to the University of

STATEMENT OF AUTHENTICATION

The work presented in this thesis is, to the best of my knowledge and belief, original except as acknowledged in the text. I hereby declare that I have not submitted this material, either in whole or in part, for a degree at this or any other institution.

A S Brashi Date:

ii

STATEMENT OF AUTHENTICATION The work presented in this thesis is, to the best of my knowledge

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This study would probably not be what it is now without the help, encouragement, and advise of so many people. I would like to thank all those whose contribution made this piece of research possible. I am greatly indebted to my principal supervisor, Professor Stuart Campbell, who has always encouraged me and inspired me during the years of my candidature. His valuable suggestions and constructive criticism led to improve earlier versions of this thesis.

I am also deeply indebted to my co-supervisors, Associate Professor Sandra Hale and Associate Professor Paulin Djité, for their support and advice. I am also grateful to the examiners of my thesis, especially Professor Ian Mason and Professor Basil Hatim, for their valuable suggestions and comments.

I am grateful to all the participants of this study, who have voluntarily and passionately agreed to participate. Special thanks to Saud Al-Inizi and Aqeel Al-Shihri, Arabic teachers in Al-Faisal College, Sydney, Australia, and Dr Zeid Al-Dakkan of the Australian Islamic Cultural Centre, for their participation in the pilot study. Their expertise has greatly helped me in reshaping the instruments used in this study.

I also thank my colleague and friend Dr Kelvin McQueen for commenting on and editing some chapters of this thesis. Thanks are also due to my friend and colleague Dr Michael Kennedy. I benefited immensely from discussions I had with him.

Finally, I cannot forget to thank my dear wife, my daughter, and my son for their constant love, support and patience throughout the duration of the project. They have been looking forward to seeing this mission accomplished.

iii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This study would probably not be what it is now without the help, encouragement, and

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PAGE

LIST OF TABLES

ix

LIST OF FIGURES

xii

CHAPTER

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

1

  • 1.1 Justification of the study

3

  • 1.2 Aims of the study

6

  • 1.3 Arabic used in this study

7

  • 1.4 Presentation of Arabic examples in the study

8

  • 1.5 Scope of collocations

9

  • 1.6 Layout of the study

11

CHAPTER TWO: COLLOCATIONS IN ENGLISH

13

  • 2.1 Introduction

13

  • 2.2 Collocation as a phenomenon

13

  • 2.3 The notion of collocation

14

  • 2.4 Boundaries of collocations: differences between linguists over

19

collocation

  • 2.5 English collocations in lexicography

25

  • 2.6 English collocations in computational linguistics

26

  • 2.7 Conclusion

32

CHAPTER THREE: COLLOCATIONS IN ARABIC

33

  • 3.1 Introduction

33

  • 3.2 Collocations in the Arabic language

33

  • 3.3 Arabic collocations in lexicography

46

  • 3.4 Arabic collocations in computational linguistics

50

  • 3.5 Some sources for Arabic collocations

52

  • 3.5.1 Collocations in the Quran

53

  • 3.5.2 Borrowed collocations

54

iv

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE LIST OF TABLES ix LIST OF FIGURES xii CHAPTER CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

3.6

Conclusion

57

CHAPTER FOUR: COLLOCATIONS AND TRANSLATION

59

  • 4.1 Introduction

59

  • 4.2 Collocations: a translation problem

60

  • 4.3 Translating English collocations into Arabic

66

4.3.1

Translating English verb plus object collocations into

67

Arabic

4.3.2

Translating English adjective plus noun collocations into

71

Arabic

  • 4.4 Empirical research into the translation of collocations

74

  • 4.5 Conclusion

83

CHAPTER FIVE: AN OVERVIEW OF THE PROFESSIONAL TRANSLATION ENVIRONMENT IN AUSTRALIA

84

  • 5.1 Introduction

84

  • 5.2 Historical background of immigration to Australia

84

  • 5.3 Australia’s multicultural policy

86

  • 5.4 The Need for English-Arabic translation in Australia

87

  • 5.5 Translator accreditation in Australia

89

5.5.1

NAATI accreditation

90

5.5.2

Obtaining NAATI accreditation

90

5.5.3

NAATI levels

91

5.5.4

NAATI tests

93

5.5.5

Translator training

94

  • 5.6 Conclusion

97

CHAPTER SIX: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

98

  • 6.1 Introduction

98

  • 6.2 Research design

98

6.2.1

Research questions

98

  • 6.3 Setting of and participants in the study

101

6.3.1

Part one: The Questionnaire of Arabic Collocations

101

(Arabic Control Group)

v

3.6 Conclusion 57 CHAPTER FOUR: COLLOCATIONS AND TRANSLATION 59 4.1 Introduction 59 4.2 Collocations: a translation
  • 6.3.2 Part two: The Translation Test of English Collocations

104

into Arabic (Professional Translators’ Group)

  • 6.3.3 Part three: The Translation Test of English Collocations

105

into Arabic (Student Translators’ Group)

  • 6.3.4 Part four: The Questionnaire of Arabic Collocations

106

(Professional Translators’ Group) and (Student Translators’ Group)

  • 6.4 Data collection

107

  • 6.4.1 Instruments

107

  • 6.4.2 Pilot studies

112

  • 6.4.3 Administrative procedures

113

CHAPTER SEVEN: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION:

118

QUESTIONNAIRE OF ARABIC COLLOCATIONS, CHARACTERISTICS AND SEMANTIC PATTERNING OF ARABIC COLLOCATIONS

  • 7.1 Introduction

118

  • 7.2 Section one: Results of the questionnaire of Arabic collocations

120

  • 7.2.1 Arabic control Group (21 respondents)

122

  • 7.2.2 Professional translators’ Group (16 respondents)

129

  • 7.2.3 Student translators’ Group (8 respondents)

136

  • 7.2.4 Decisiveness versus indecisiveness

143

  • 7.3 Section two: Characteristics of Arabic collocations

156

  • 7.3.1 Collocations consist of two or more words

157

  • 7.3.2 Semantic transparency

157

  • 7.3.3 Arbitrariness

158

  • 7.3.4 Unpredictability

158

  • 7.3.5 Language-specificity

159

  • 7.3.6 Flexibility of word order

160

  • 7.3.7 Cannot be replaced by a synonym

161

  • 7.3.8 Formality

161

  • 7.3.9 Possibility of addition

162

  • 7.3.10 Possibility of a change in tense

162

  • 7.3.11 Possibility of passivization

163

vi

6.3.2 Part two: The Translation Test of English Collocations 104 into Arabic (Professional Translators’ Group) 6.3.3
  • 7.3.12 Possibility of pluralization

163

  • 7.3.13 Possibility of collocational range expansion

164

  • 7.4 Section three: Semantic patterning of Arabic collocations

166

7.4.1

Strong collocations

167

7.4.2

Unique collocations

173

7.4.3

Metaphorical collocations

179

7.4.4

Idiomatic extensions of collocations

182

7.4.5

Unacceptable collocations

184

  • 7.5 Conclusion

188

CHAPTER EIGHT: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: TRANSLATION TEST OF ENGLISH COLLOCATIONS INTO ARABIC

190

  • 8.1 Introduction

190

  • 8.2 Section one: Results of the translation test of English collocations

193

into Arabic

8.2.1

The outcomes of translating the English verb + object

194

collocations

8.2.2

The outcomes of translating the English adjective +

199

noun collocations into Arabic

8.2.3

Acceptable versus unacceptable translation outcomes

204

  • 8.3 Section two: Translation outcomes

207

8.3.1

Translating English verb + object collocations into

208

Arabic

8.3.2

Translating English adjective + noun collocations into

221

Arabic

  • 8.4 Conclusion

231

CHAPTER NINE: CONCLUSION

235

  • 9.1 Introduction

235

  • 9.2 Summary

236

  • 9.3 Implications for translation

241

  • 9.4 Contributions made by this study

243

  • 9.5 Final remarks and directions for further research

245

vii

7.3.12 Possibility of pluralization 163 7.3.13 Possibility of collocational range expansion 164 7.4 Section three: Semantic

BIBLIOGRAPHY LIST

249

APPENDICES

270

APPENDIX A: Information sheet and demographic questionnaire:

271

Arabic Control Group APPENDIX B: Questionnaire of Arabic collocations

273

APPENDIX C: Information sheet and demographic questionnaire:

295

Professional Translators’ Group APPENDIX D: Demographic questionnaire: Student Translators’

298

Group APPENDIX E: Translation test of English collocations into Arabic

299

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BIBLIOGRAPHY LIST 249 APPENDICES 270 APPENDIX A: Information sheet and demographic questionnaire: 271 Arabic Control Group

LIST OF TABLES

Table

Page

1.1

Arabic

consonants.......................................................................................

8

  • 1.2 Arabic vowels and diphthongs

....................................................................

9

  • 4.1 Examples of translating English collocations into Arabic (Baker, 1992)

.........................................................................

63

  • 4.2 Examples of translating English collocations into Arabic (Heliel, 1990)

.........................................................................

64

  • 4.3 Examples of translating Arabic collocations into English (Heliel, 1990)

........................................................................ 4. 1 Examples of English collocations that have identical equivalents in

65

Arabic (Ghazala,

1993b).................................................................................

67

  • 4.5 Examples of English collocations that do not have identical equivalents in

Arabic (Ghazala,

1993b)................................................................................

68

  • 4.6 Examples of English verb + object collocations translated into Arabic (Ghazala, 1995)

.........................................................................................

70

  • 4.7 Examples of English verb + object collocations translated into a verb in Arabic

.........................................................................................

70

  • 4.8 Examples of English collocations and their identical equivalents in Arabic (Ghazala, 1995)

.........................................................................

72

  • 4.9 Examples of English collocations and their non-identical equivalents in Arabic (Ghazala, 1995)

.........................................................................

73

  • 4.10 Responses provided via reduction strategies in simultaneous interpreting (Shakir & Farghal’s study,

1992)........................................

78

  • 4.11 Responses provided via reduction strategies in translation (Shakir & Farghal’s study, 1992)

............................................................

78

  • 6.1 Item example of questionnaire of Arabic collocations

...........................

109

  • 7.1 Verb + object Arabic collocations’ results: Arabic Control Group (n=21)

.................................................................

123

  • 7.2 Noun + adjective Arabic collocations’ results: Arabic Control Group (n=21)

.................................................................

126

  • 7.3 Verb + object Arabic collocations’ results:

ix

LIST OF TABLES Table Page 1.1 Arabic consonants....................................................................................... 8 1.2 Arabic vowels and diphthongs .................................................................... 9

Professional Translators’ Group (n=16)

.................................................

130

  • 7.4 Noun + adjective Arabic collocations’ results:

Professional Translators’ Group (n=16)

133

  • 7.5 Verb + object Arabic collocations’ results:

Student Translators’ Group

137

  • 7.6 Noun + adjective Arabic collocations’ results:

Student Translators’ Group

140

  • 7.7 Results of the questionnaire of Arabic collocations

(part one: verb + object collocations)

143

  • 7.8 Results of the questionnaire of Arabic collocations

(part two: noun+ adjective collocations)

.................................................

147

  • 7.9 Part one: verb + object collocations. Summary table of numbers and

percentages of preferences among the three groups

150

710 Part two: noun + adjective collocations. Summary table of numbers and

percentages of preferences among the three groups

150

  • 7.11 Verb + object strong collocations in Arabic

168

  • 7.12 Noun + adjective strong collocations in Arabic

....................................

170

  • 7.13 Verb + object unique collocations in Arabic

175

  • 7.14 Noun + adjective unique collocations in Arabic

...................................

176

  • 7.15 Verb + object metaphorical collocations in Arabic

180

  • 7.16 Noun + adjective metaphorical collocations in Arabic

.........................

181

  • 7.17 Examples of idiomatic extensions of collocations

................................

183

  • 7.18 Unacceptable verb + object collocations in Arabic

..............................

185

  • 7.19 Unacceptable noun + adjective collocations in Arabic

.........................

187

  • 8.1 Translation outcomes of verb + object collocations:

Student Translators’ Group

195

  • 8.2 Translation outcomes of verb + object collocations:

Professional Translators’ Group (n=16)

197

  • 8.3 Translation outcomes of adjective + noun collocations:

Student Translators’ Group

200

  • 8.4 Translation outcomes of adjective + noun collocations:

Professional Translators’ Group (n=16)

................................................

202

  • 8.5 Outcomes of translating English verb + object collocations

into Arabic

..............................................................................................

205

  • 8.6 Outcomes of translating English adjective + noun collocations

into Arabic

..............................................................................................

205

x

Professional Translators’ Group (n=16) ................................................. 130 7.4 Noun + adjective Arabic collocations’ results: Professional Translators’ Group

8.7

Examples of the strong collocation translation outcome

(Translating English verb + object collocations into

210

  • 8.8 Examples of encapsulation

(Translating English verb + object collocations into

212

  • 8.9 Examples of neutralizing verb + object

213

  • 8.10 Examples of paraphrasing verb + object collocations

215

  • 8.11 Examples of malapropism (Translating English verb + object collocations into

216

  • 8.12 Examples of the translation outcome of calquing (Translating English verb + object collocations into

217

  • 8.13 Examples of mistranslation (Translating English verb + object collocations into

218

  • 8.14 Examples of unacceptable collocations in Arabic (Translating English verb + object collocations into

221

  • 8.15 Examples of strong collocations (Translating English adjective + noun collocations into Arabic)

..........

222

  • 8.16 Examples of neutral collocations (Translating English adjective + noun collocations into Arabic)

224

  • 8.17 Examples of the translation outcome of paraphrasing (Translating English adjective + noun collocations into Arabic)

227

  • 8.18 Examples of calques (Translating English adjective + noun collocations into Arabic)

..........

228

  • 8.19 Examples of mistranslations (Translating English adjective + noun collocations into Arabic)

230

xi

8.7 Examples of the strong collocation translation outcome (Translating English verb + object collocations into 210

Figure

LIST OF FIGURES

Page

  • 2. 1 A sample page from Collins COBUILD

English Collocations on

28

  • 2. 1 Results from Collins COBUILD English Collocations on CD-Rom

showing the collocates of the word "pact"

...............................................

29

  • 2. 2 A list of short examples from Collins COBUILD English Collocations on CD-Rom of the word "pact" collocating with the word "made"

.........

30

  • 2. 3 A window from Collins COBUILD English Collocations on CD-Rom showing an expanded example and an indication of the genre of the text 31

xii

Figure LIST OF FIGURES Page 2. 1 A sample page from Collins COBUILD English Collocations on

ABSTRACT

The topic of collocability has been a common concern among linguists, lexicographers and language pedagogues recently. They find the linguistic aspect of collocation interesting, because words do not exist in isolation from other words in a language. They exist with other words. In every language, the vocabulary consists of single words and multi-word expressions. Collocations are among those multi-word expressions.

The aim of this thesis is to characterize collocations in the Arabic language, to devise a classification of the semantic and distributional patterns of collocations in the Arabic language and to examine the problems encountered in translating English collocations into Arabic. This will require an analysis of the collocational patterns in both English and Arabic, a classification of the translation outcomes and, therefore, types of errors adopted by translators, an indication of how frequent and significant each error is, and an analysis of the causes of each error.

xiii

ABSTRACT The topic of collocability has been a common concern among linguists, lexicographers and language pedagogues

Chapter one: Introduction

1

INTRODUCTION

This thesis defines a collocation as the tendency for certain words in a language to combine with one another, as against others that do not have this tendency of combining together, and the meaning of which can be deduced from at least one of the components of the collocation. Benson, Benson, and Ilson (1986), in their BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English, categorize collocations into two major groups:

lexical collocations and grammatical collocations.

Both categories are further divided by Benson et al. (1986) into subcategories. Lexical collocations consist of nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs. They normally do not contain prepositions, infinitives or clauses. In English, for example, the collocation rich imagination is translated into Arabic by the equivalent collocation خيال واسع xayaalun waasi3un (wide imagination) or the collocation خيال خصب xayaalun xiSbun (fertile imagination). The meaning association between the components of a collocation is apparently arbitrary and non-predictable.

For example, the adjectives rich and wealthy are synonymous, however, most native speakers of English are unlikely to produce a collocation such as wealthy

1

Chapter one: Introduction

imagination. The noun imagination, in English, collocates with the adjective rich, which means ثري/ غني/ وافر tary / gany / waafir (rich) in Arabic. However, in Arabic, the noun خيال xayaal (imagination) collocates with the adjective واسع waasi3 (wide), which means wide in English, or the adjective خصب xiSb (fertile), which means fertile.

A grammatical collocation, in contrast to a lexical collocation, is a phrase that consists of a noun, an adjective, or a verb plus a preposition or grammatical structure such as an infinitive or clause (Benson et al., 1986). Chomsky (1965:191) gives the following example of a grammatical collocation (a close construction in Chomsky’s terminology): decide on a boat, meaning ‘choose (to buy) a boat’, but on the other hand, decide on a boat, meaning ‘make a decision while on a boat’ is a free combination (a loose association in Chomsky’s terminology). Native speakers of English feel that the components of decide on collocate with each other, and they will most likely reject violations of collocability such as decide at a boat.

The interest for this research in the translation of collocations arises from their great importance in language. They play an important role in the coherence and cohesion of language. In addition, they are present in all text types. The translation of collocations is a constant problem—to match the appropriate nouns with the appropriate verbs, the

2

Chapter one: Introduction

appropriate verbs with the appropriate nouns, the appropriate nouns with the appropriate nouns, and so on and so forth.

The approach to translation taken in this research is essentially phrase and sentence- based rather than text-based. The justification for this approach is twofold. First, we locate the phenomenon of collocation between syntax and lexis (see Chapter Four), although we concede that a text- or discourse- approach could throw further light on the topic. Secondly, the research comes down on the side of an experimental rather than a naturalistic methodology because of the problem of gathering sufficient data (see Chapter Four).

  • 1.1 Justification of the Study

The importance of collocations and the problems they cause to English-Arabic translators has been underscored by many researchers in the fields of linguistics and translation. The translators’ knowledge of collocations (collocational competence) is an essential requirement for the overall mastery of the target language.

Below is an example from the introduction of Charlotte Bronte’s (1847) novel Jane Eyre of translating an English adjective + noun collocation into Arabic:

3

a-

...

,

there was a large public eager to read good novels.

Chapter one: Introduction

The adjective + noun collocation in English was translated into Arabic by Abdulkhaliq (1994) as follows:

جمهور واسع jamhuwrun waasi3un (a wide public)

In this example, the translator rendered the English adjective + noun collocation a large public into the Arabic noun + adjective collocation ﻊﺳاو رﻮﮭﻤﺟ jamhuwrun waasi3un (a wide public), which sounds unnatural to a native speaker of Arabic. In Arabic, the noun جمهور jamhuwr (public) usually collocates with the adjective ﺾﯾﺮﻋ (wide).

Another example is taken from Charles Dickens’ (1839) novel Oliver Twist:

b- to call tears into his eyes.

4

Chapter one: Introduction

The verb + noun collocation to call tears is translated literally into Arabic by Dar Al- Bihar Publishing House (1997) 1 as follows:

دعوة الدموع da3watu ad-dumuw3 (to call tears)

A native speaker of Arabic would, most likely, expect the verb ذرف darafa (to shed) to collocate with the noun دموع dumuw3 (tears).

From the above two examples a and b, it is obvious that translators with different levels of proficiency face many difficulties in combining words together, resulting in target texts that do not sound native-like nor natural. This phenomenon is mainly due in part to a deficiency in their knowledge of collocations and also to differences in the collocational patterns of the source and target languages. It may be also due to source text interference. Another reason for this difficulty in translation could be the lack of studies into Arabic collocations, resulting in an absence of resources for understanding Arabic collocations. The need for such resources inspired the questionnaire of Arabic collocations used for this study.

1 The name of the translator is not mentioned.

5

Chapter one: Introduction

Despite their important role in translation, collocations have not received much attention to date. There has been little research on how collocations are used by translators and no study has investigated the knowledge of collocations by English- Arabic translators. For this reason this study attempts to investigate the problems of translating English verb + noun and adjective + noun collocations among English- Arabic translators.

  • 1.2 Aims of the Study

The principal questions addressed in the present investigation are concerned with how student and professional English-Arabic translators use Arabic collocations in translation and how their usage of Arabic collocations relates to their overall knowledge of Arabic collocations. Answers to certain interesting questions were sought by using elicited collocational competence and collocational performance data among English-Arabic student and professional translators. The main purpose was thus to make a general contribution to the understanding of the mechanisms underlying translating English collocations into Arabic. More explicitly, the following general aims were set up for the study:

  • 1- To characterize collocations in the

6

Arabic language.

Chapter one: Introduction

2-

To devise a classification of the semantic patterns of collocations in the Arabic language.

  • 3- To examine the problems encountered in translating English verb + object and adjective + noun collocations into Arabic.

The empirical data of the study were collected from among postgraduate students of English-Arabic translation and professional English-Arabic translators in Australia, in addition to a control group of monolingual, native speakers of Arabic in Saudi Arabia.

  • 1.3 Arabic used in this study

The type of Arabic that will be under investigation in this study is referred to as Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Sa’id (1967) refers to MSA as that variety of Arabic found in contemporary books, newspapers, and magazines, and used orally in formal speeches, public lectures, learned debates, religious ceremonies, and news broadcasts over radio and television. Al-Johani (1982:7) adds to what Sa’id said by stating that MSA “conforms to the norms of Classical Arabic grammar”. From here onwards, the terms ‘Modern Standard Arabic’ and ‘Arabic’ will be used interchangeably.

7

Chapter one: Introduction

  • 1.4 Presentation of Arabic examples in the study

Arabic examples in this thesis are first presented in Arabic script and then transcribed. Following the transcription, and between parentheses, the examples are translated into English.

In order to avoid orthographic difficulties in reading these examples, the phonemic

inventories of Arabic consonants and vowels are illustrated in Table 1.1 and Table

  • 1.2 respectively, using the transliteration guide suggested by Campbell (1998).

Arabic consonant

Transcription

أ

?

ب

b

ت

t

ث

t

ج

j

ح

H

خ

x

د

d

ذ

d

ر

r

ز

z

س

s

ش

s

ص

S

ض

D

ط

T

ظ

Z

ع

3

غ

g

8

Chapter one: Introduction

ف

f

ق

q

ك

k

ل

l

م

m

ن

n

ه

h

و

w

ي

y

   
   

Table 1. 1 Arabic consonants

Arabic vowels and diphthongs

Transcription

fatHah

a

ا

aa

kasrah

i

ي

iy

Dammah

u

و

uw

   

أي

ay

او

aw

Table 1. 2 Arabic vowels and diphthongs

  • 1.5 Scope of collocations

The present study uses verb + object and adjective + noun English collocations to examine student and professional translators’ performance with regard to translating these types of collocations.

9

Chapter one: Introduction

Collocations were chosen as special objects for scrutiny in this study, because it was believed that data derived from student and professional translators’ performance would be ideal in many respects. Some of the reasons for choosing collocations are listed below. Firstly, as is commonly known by linguists (e.g., Hill, 2000), collocations are very frequent in the English language. Secondly, they are probably the most common and most representative of English multi-word expressions. Thirdly, collocations fall between lexis and syntax, which seems to be in line with the current view that language competence is to be described as an interactional process between lexis and syntax. Fourthly, collocations occur in languages with varying degrees of restrictedness. Fifthly, they are evident in all text types. Sixthly, collocations occur in both of the languages involved in this study, English and Arabic. Seventhly, and most importantly, the study of collocations has largely been neglected in translation in general and in English-Arabic translation in particular.

This study will focus on lexical collocations only. Abu-Ssaydeh (1991:66) suggests that more attention in research should be given to lexical collocation because “grammatical collocation has received its fair share of emphasis in the work of grammarians and lexicographers”. Moreover, Newmark (1988:32) states that “the chief difficulties in translating are lexical, not grammatical – i.e. words, collocations and fixed phrases or idioms”. Therefore, this study is concerned with lexical rather

10

than grammatical collocations.

Chapter one: Introduction

Since this thesis is concerned with lexical collocations, there will be only limited reference to grammatical collocations. Following from this, the two terms lexical collocations and collocations will be used interchangeably.

  • 1.6 Layout of the study

A brief presentation of how this study is structured will be given in this section. As was shown earlier in this introductory chapter, this study arises from the fact that there has not been much previous research that has investigated the translation of English collocations into Arabic. By using an empirical study, it is hoped that new insights into the strategies of translating collocations in general, and English collocations into Arabic in particular, will be achieved.

From a review of the literature, research questions were derived. Answers to the questions were sought by collecting data by means of specifically designed test instruments. First, a translation test of English collocations into Arabic was given to two different groups: a Student Translators’ Group and a Professional Translators’ group. The translation test was followed by a questionnaire of Arabic collocations

11

Chapter one: Introduction

that was given to the same two groups in addition to an Arabic Control Group. The main empirical results are presented in the thesis in tabular form. Finally, the results are discussed with reference to the definition of collocation proposed in this study and some conclusions and implications for translation are suggested.

The study begins with a chapter discussing the literature on collocations in the English language (Chapter Two) followed by another chapter discussing the literature on collocations in the Arabic language (Chapter Three). Chapter Four discusses the translation of collocations. Chapter Five presents a brief overview of the professional translation practice in the Australian context. Chapter Six presents the research methodology proposed by this study. Chapter Seven presents three issues: (1) the results and discussion of the Questionnaire of Arabic Collocations; (2) the characteristics of collocations in the Arabic language; and (3) a semantic classification of collocations in the Arabic language. Chapter Eight introduces the results and discussion of the Translation Test of English Collocations into Arabic. Finally, Chapter Nine concludes the thesis.

12

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

  • 2 COLLOCATIONS IN ENGLISH

  • 2.1 Introduction

This chapter investigates the study of collocations from a linguistic point of view. It reviews the main theoretical studies on collocations that have taken place since 1938. It was then that the term collocation was first introduced by Harold E. Palmer. The chapter also includes recent research on collocations. All these studies are reviewed from the viewpoint of their contribution to the study of the notion of collocation.

  • 2.2 Collocation as a phenomenon

Greek Stoic philosophers studied collocation as a linguistic phenomenon in association with lexical semantics as early as 2,300 years ago (Robins, 1967:21; Gitsaki, 1999:10). Robins (1967) states that Greek Stoic philosophers rejected the equation of “one word, one meaning” and suggested an important aspect of the semantic structure of language. They believed that “word meanings do not exist in isolation, and they may differ according to the collocation in which they are used” (Robins, 1967:21).

The

study of

word

collocability has

remained

an

important

field

of

13

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

language research. The notion of collocation has achieved importance because many linguists have surmised that there are fixed forms of expression in every language that are stored in the minds or memories of native speakers of each language as whole chunks of language forms and not as single words. These fixed expressions are used in speech and writing as such. Among these fixed expressions are collocations.

  • 2.3 The Notion of collocation

A collocation is mainly a lexical relationship between words. This lexical relationship is said to be subject more to arbitrariness arising from common usage than from rules. The notion of ‘collocation’ has been familiar since the pioneering work of Palmer (1938) who defined collocations in his dictionary, A Grammar of English Words, as “successions of two or more words the meaning of which can hardly be deduced from a knowledge of their component words” (1938:iv). He gave examples such as: at last, give up, let alone, go without, carry on, as a matter of fact, all at once, to say the least of it, give somebody up for lost, throw away, how do you do, and let us make it do. He emphasized that each must be learnt in the same way as one learns single words.

Later, Firth (1957:194) advanced the word ‘collocation’ as a technical term, so that ‘meaning by collocation’ became established as one of his ‘modes of meaning’. He wrote: “I propose to bring forward, as a technical term, meaning by ‘collocation’” (Firth, 1957:194). The term ‘collocation’ only became well known as part of the technical terminology of linguistics after the work of Firth. He

14

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

suggested that ‘meaning by collocation’ is a lexical meaning “at the syntagmatic level” not at the paradigmatic level (Firth, 1957:196). The paradigmatic relationship of lexical items, on the one hand, consists of sets of words that belong to the same class and can be substituted for one another in a specific grammatical and lexical context. On the other hand, the syntagmatic relationship of lexical items relates to the ability of a word to combine with other words. Therefore, the attempt made by Firth to explain the meaning of a word on the collocational level was unique, because it was concerned with the meaning relationships between lexical items from the level of syntagmatic relationships, not from the traditional view of paradigmatic relationships such as synonymy and antonymy. The syntagmatic relationships between words in a sentence have been extensively discussed in structural linguistics.

Firth (1968:182) gives the example of dark night as an adjective + noun collocation and asserts that one of the meanings of night is its collocability with dark, and one of the meanings of dark is its collocability with night. In other words, any complete description of the meaning of a word would have to include the other word or words that collocate with it. He later (1968:182) defines collocation as “the company that words keep”. Firth considers a collocate of a word as an order of mutual expectancy. He states that it is important to recognize the company that a word keeps.

Lyons (1966) seemed critical of Firth’s argument that a ‘word’s collocations are part of its meaning’ by introducing ‘meaning by collocation’ through the distributional theory of meaning. However, he later explained that “there is

15

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

frequently so high a degree of interdependence between lexemes which tend to occur in texts in collocation with one another that their potentiality for collocation is reasonably described as being part of their meaning” (1977:613).

A number of linguists, known as Neo-Firthians, adapted Firth’s theory and expanded on it. Halliday (1966) considered lexis as complementary to, but not part of, grammatical theory. He introduced the notion of ‘set’ as an extra dimension of the collocability of words. A collocation, in his definition, is “a linear co-occurrence relationship among lexical items which co-occur together”, whereas the set is “the grouping of members with like privilege of occurrence in collocation” (1966:153). For example, bright, hot, shine, light, and come out belong to the same lexical set, since they all collocate with the word sun

(1966:158).

Sinclair (1966:411) also regards grammar and lexis from “two different, interpenetrating aspects”. He states that language patterns are treated, in grammar, as if they could be described by a system of choices. However, for Sinclair, the key issue is the tendencies of lexical items to collocate with one another. These tendencies, argues Sinclair (1966:411), “ought to tell us facts about language that cannot be got by grammatical analysis”. He, then, gives the illustration that the contrast between lexical items is more flexible than that of grammatical classes, for “there are virtually no impossible collocations, but some are much more likely than others” (1966:411). Sinclair even describes the structure of a collocation:

We may use the term node to refer to an item whose collocations we

16

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

are studying, and we may then define a span as the number of lexical items on each side of a node that we consider relevant to that node. Items in the environment set by the span we will call collocates

(1966:415).

For example, if we want to study the collocational patterns of the word accident, then accident is the ‘node’. If we decide to have a ‘span’ of four, it means that we study the four lexical items that occur before and the four lexical items that occur after the word accident. All the lexical items that are within the ‘span’ of the word accident are considered to be its ‘collocates’.

An important issue in Sinclair’s theory is that he distinguishes between casual and significant collocations. A significant collocation, he explains, is a collocation that occurs more frequently than would be expected on the basis of the individual items.

In 1976, Halliday and Hasan talk about ‘collocation’ or ‘collocational cohesion’, in their book Cohesion in English, describing it as:

a cover term for the cohesion that results from the co-occurrence of lexical items that are in some way or other typically associated with one another, because they tend to occur in similar environments (Halliday & Hasan, 1976:287).

They give examples like:

17

  • - candle- flame- flicker

  • - hair- comb- curl- wave

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

  • - poetry- literature- reader- writer- style

  • - and sky- sunshine- cloud- rain (Halliday & Hasan, 1976:287).

Such patterns, they say, “occur freely both within the same sentence and across sentence boundaries; they are largely independent of the grammatical structure” (Halliday & Hasan, 1976:287). This again points to them oscillating around a more fixed meaning.

Nevertheless, their interpretation could be expressed in other terms in semantics. For example, it may be expressed in lexical fields or relations like synonymy, antonymy or hyponymy. Hasan (1984) subsequently rejects this use of collocation as too broad and uses the term ‘lexical chain’.

Mitchell’s (1971) approach is different from that of the Neo-Firthians. He considers lexis and grammar as one entity and argues for the “oneness of grammar, lexis and meaning” (1971:43). He suggests that collocations have to be described as ‘lexico-grammatical’. He notes that they are to be studied within grammatical matrices, for example, adjective + noun: heavy drinker; verb + adverb: to drink heavily; and adjective + gerund: heavy drinking. The importance of this is that it adds a further dimension to understanding the way collocations

occur. This returns to the earlier notion of language existing in ‘chunks’, but with

a considerable amount of variability. It

presupposes that collocations exist as

18

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

variant forms of meaning forming structures used in expressed language to create nuance.

Newmark (1988:212) classifies collocations in English as follows:

  • 1- Adjective plus noun, e.g., heavy labour.

    • 2- Noun plus noun (i.e. double noun compound), e.g., nerve cell.

3-

Verb plus object (which is normally a noun that denotes an action), e.g., pay a visit.

He mentions that these are the most common collocation types, because all three types are centred on the noun, being the second component of these three types of collocations in English. He then stresses that a distinction should be made between collocations and words in a semantic field (e.g., colours, ranks, etc.) and suggests that collocations are always linked with the concepts of usage and naturalness (Newmark, 1988:214).

  • 2.4 Boundaries of collocations: differences between linguists over collocation

It is obvious that there is significant disagreement and a lack of clarity in the definition of collocations among different linguists. What makes the issue unclear is the fact that sometimes collocations are categorized as idioms, since it is often thought that no clear distinction can be made between a collocation and an idiom

19

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

(e.g., Smith, 1947; Wallace, 1979; Sinclair, 1991; Pederson, 1986).

Smith (1947) considers collocations as idiomatic expressions, in which two words are habitually combined together for the sake of emphasis. For example, far and away (emphatic), over and over (emphatic repetition), part and parcel (emphasis by alliteration), fair and square (emphasis by rhyme), heads or tails (emphasis by the contrast of two words), now and then (emphasis by inclusive phrases).

Similarly, Wallace (1979) does not seem to differentiate between collocations, proverbs and idioms. He perceives collocations (e.g., to be honest with) and proverbs (e.g., don’t count your chickens before they are hatched) as subcategories of idioms.

Sinclair (1991) also gives a very general definition of a collocation: “A collocation is the occurrence of two or more words within a short space of each other in a text” (1991:170). He suggests, as a measure of proximity, a maximum of four words intervening together. Certainly, this definition suggests that all occurrences of two or more words, including idioms, are considered to be collocations. Again, this dissipates the technical usefulness of the notion of collocation to the point where almost any fixed forms of expression can act as such.

However, there are other linguists who draw a clear line between collocations and idioms (e.g., Mitchell, 1971; Bolinger, 1976; Shakir & Farghal, 1992; Bahns, 1993; Fontenelle, 1994b). Bolinger’s (1976) criterion in distinguishing collocations from idioms is based on whether the meaning of the whole

20

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

idiom can be derived from its components. For example, in the idiom spill the beans, the meaning cannot be derived from its components. On the other hand, in the collocation indelible ink, the meaning can be derived from its components.

Likewise, Fontenelle (1994b) states that collocations are ‘non-idiomatic expressions’ on the one hand and ‘non-free combinations’ on the other. This gives a more precise and useful definition of collocation. For example, sour + milk, bad/addled/rotten + egg, and rancid + butter. Fontenelle argues that the adjectives sour, bad, addled, rotten, and rancid can all be combined with nouns denoting food items, but are by no means interchangeable. Therefore, the collocations *rancid egg, *sour butter or *addled milk are unacceptable in English, except that they could be used in slightly poetic forms to add emotive meaning. Fontenelle also gives an example of the idiomatic expression to lick somebody’s boots and suggests that what characterizes idiomatic expressions is the fact that they constitute a single semantic entity, and the fact that their meaning cannot be derived from the sum of the meanings of the words of which they are made up. Thus, in the above example, there is no actual licking taking place and the expression is not about boots either. Idioms sit at a greater distance from the signified than collocations.

Following Benson et al. (1986), Bahns (1993) also argues that in order to obtain a clearer understanding of collocations, it is helpful to try to distinguish them from idioms on the one hand and from free combinations on the other. Free combinations are the least cohesive type of word combination. The noun murder, for example, may be used freely with many verbs (analyze, boast of, condemn,

21

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

discuss, investigate, etc.), and, of course, these verbs can combine freely with other nouns as well. Moreover, idioms are relatively frozen expressions whose meanings do not reflect the meanings of their component parts. To scream blue murder (to complain very loudly) is an example of an idiom. Collocations come somewhere between idioms and free combinations. They have a tendency to more directly approximate the signified, i.e., they add explication rather than reduce it to a less explicit stock phrase. They are loosely fixed combinations, as in to commit murder. What makes collocations different from idioms is that their meanings reflect the meaning of their constituent parts, and what makes them different from free combinations is that they are used frequently, springing to mind in such a way as to be said to be psychologically salient.

Collocation, according to Robins (1967:63), is the “habitual association of a word in a language with other particular words in sentences”. He gives the following examples: white coffee, green with jealousy and maiden speech, and makes a distinction between collocations like bright day and dark night and word groups like bright night and dark day. This shows that Robins does not use the term ‘collocation’ for all kinds of word combinations.

Aisenstadt (1979:71-2) distinguishes between idioms, restricted collocations and free word combinations in the following manner:

Idioms: An idiom is ‘one semantic unit and its meaning is not composed from the sum of the meanings of its constituents’ (e.g., face the music, which means ‘display courage’ or ‘show no fear’).

22

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

Restricted collocations: They are ‘combinations of two or more words used in one of their regular, non-idiomatic meanings, … and restricted in their commutability’ (e.g., the verb face can collocate with four different nouns:

the fact, the truth, the problem, and the circumstances).

Free word combinations: They are different from restricted collocations ‘by their commutability restrictions which are conditioned by usage’ (e.g., the verb carry in its basic meaning of ‘supporting the weight of something’ can collocate freely with almost any noun denoting the thing to be supported or moved: carry a book/ bag/ chair/ torch/ table/ etc.) (Aisenstadt, 1979:71-2).

According to van der Wouden (1997:8-9), collocations are not the only fixed expressions in languages. He suggests the following six categories:

Free combinations: Their components combine most freely with other lexical items. For instance, the noun murder can be freely used with many verbs, such as to analyze and to describe. These verbs combine with a large number of other nouns.

Idioms: They are relatively frozen expressions. Their meanings do not reflect the meaning of their component parts. For example, to kick the bucket.

Proverbs/ sayings: These expressions are usually more frozen than idioms and they are complete sentences (e.g., A friend in need is a friend indeed).

Collocations:

They

are

loosely

fixed

combinations.

Collocations

fall

23

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

between idioms and free combinations. For example, to commit a murder.

Transitional combinations: These combinations appear to fall between idioms and collocations. They are more frozen than ordinary collocations and, unlike idioms, these combinations seem to have a meaning close to that suggested by their component parts. For example, to catch one’s breath, all dressed up, and to foot the bill.

Compounds: Compounds are totally frozen. With these combinations, no variations are possible at all. They can consist of an adjective + noun (e.g., definite article), noun + noun (e.g., aptitude test) or verb + one or two adverbs or prepositions (e.g., add up, put up with) (van der Wouden,

1997:8-9)

Another definition of collocation is given by Cruse (1986:40). He argues that collocations are “sequences of lexical items which habitually co-occur, but which are nonetheless fully transparent in the sense that each lexical constituent is also a semantic constituent”, and suggests that the lexical items have semantic cohesion, as the items are mutually selective to a varying degree. On the other hand, an idiom is “an expression whose meaning cannot be inferred from the meaning of its parts” (Cruse, 1986:37).

Cruse’s notion of mutual expectancy between the collocates is relevant to the research undertaken in this thesis, because it mainly concerns the adjective + noun and verb + object constructions. All examples of collocations used in this research meet Cruse’s basic criterion of a collocation, that is, there must be a

24

syntagmatic association between the words.

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

  • 2.5 English collocations in lexicography

In the last three decades, the interest in collocations and other fixed expressions led lexicographers to compile specialized dictionaries. Among those lexicographers was Hornby (1974), who includes a large number of collocations in his dictionary entitled Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English. This dictionary was followed by that of Cowie, Mackin and McCaig (1975), The Oxford Dictionary of Idiomatic English.

The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English (more commonly known as the BBI Dictionary - the initials are those of its compilers: Benson, Benson and Ilson) was released in 1986. A later revised edition was released in 1997. The BBI Dictionary is completely devoted to English collocations. The compilers believe that even in language learners’ dictionaries, the treatment of collocations is insufficient and inconsistent. The dictionary contains 90,000 combinations and phrases under a total of 18,000 entries. The introduction to the dictionary explains how these entries have been organized and demonstrates the breakdown of word combinations into lexical and grammatical collocations. The former comprise verb + noun, or adjective + noun collocations, while the latter consist of a ‘dominant word’ + a preposition or grammatical construction. Users are advised to look up the ‘dominant word’ in each case, or the second noun if the collocation is noun + noun. For instance, the ‘dominant word’ in the BBI’s terminology is the noun, verb, or adjective in the following grammatical collocations: acceptable to,

25

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

by accident, eager for. In lexical collocations such as, to put up resistance, a herd

of cattle, deeply absorbed, users are directed to find the word combination in the

dictionary by looking up, in the following order, the noun, the second noun (if

there are two), the adjective, and the verb.

Another dictionary that is fully dedicated to English collocations is Hill and

Lewis’ (1997) Dictionary of Selected Collocations. It is divided into an adverb

section, which lists verbs, adjectives, and their adverb collocates, and a substantial

section on nouns, where the headwords are all nouns. In the latter section, verb

collocates are listed according to whether they come before or after the noun. For

example:

CRISIS: cause

,

escalated

Adjective collocates and phrasal collocates are also listed, for example:

CRISIS: dangerous

,

__

in the wake of __

The shorter section on adverbs similarly is clear in layout. It suggests which

adverb goes with a particular verb or adjective; for example:

ABANDON: __

completely,

completely __.

  • 2.6 English collocations in computational linguistics

The growing interest in the study of collocations as an important component of

language has made computational linguists think of using large corpora to

26

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

study collocations. It has also made lexicographers think of compiling dictionaries

of collocations.

In 1995, Sinclair led a project entitled Collins COBUILD English Collocations on

CD-Rom. It is regarded as the largest lexicographic analysis of a language in the

world. The collocations used in the database are extracted from the Bank of

English, a corpus of more than two hundred million words (and continually

expanding). The Bank of English is a unique computer database that monitors and

records the way in which the English language actually is used. This CD-Rom

gives the user access to 140,000 English collocations and 2,600,000 sentences

with these word combinations. A sample page from Collins COBUILD English

Collocations on CD-Rom is shown below:

27

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

Chapter Two: Collocations in English Figure 2. 1 A sample page from Collins COBUILD English Collocations

Figure 2. 1 A sample page from Collins COBUILD English Collocations on CD-Rom

Using this programme is easy. The user types a word in the Node text box, or

selects a word from the list box by clicking once on the word. After that, the user

clicks on the <Show Collocates> button to view the list of collocates for the word

they selected. See below the collocates of the noun pact, for example:

28

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

Chapter Two: Collocations in English Figure 2. 2 Results from Collins COBUILD English Collocations on CD-Rom

Figure 2. 2 Results from Collins COBUILD English Collocations on CD-Rom showing the collocates of the word "pact"

The user can select one of the collocates from the list by clicking on it and, then,

clicking on the button <Show Examples>. This will show a list of short examples,

showing the selected word and collocate in use from the Bank of English:

29

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

Chapter Two: Collocations in English Figure 2. 3 A list of short examples from Collins COBUILD

Figure 2. 3 A list of short examples from Collins COBUILD English Collocations on CD-Rom of the word "pact" collocating with the word "made"

By double-clicking on any one of the example lines, the user can view the same

example with a more extensive context in a separate window. The expanded

example window also includes an indication of the genre of the text in which this

example occurs:

30

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

Chapter Two: Collocations in English Figure 2. 4 A window from Collins COBUILD English Collocations on

Figure 2. 4 A window from Collins COBUILD English Collocations on CD-Rom showing an expanded example and an indication of the genre of the text

Another computer programme is WordPilot 2000 by Milton (2000). Milton

suggests that this programme is designed for English-as-a-Foreign/Second-

Language (EFL/ESL) students, English language teachers, researchers and

translators into English. The user of WordPilot 2000 can select a word or phrase

from word lists or can simply type a word or phrase, and the programme searches

for examples of these in nominated types of texts. A summary of common

collocates of the word or phrase is generated using the <Collocation> button. This

programme can also be used as a writer’s helper when drafting a document, using

Microsoft Word 7 or Microsoft Word 2000. When the programme is installed, a

new button <Examples> appears in the Microsoft Word menu bar. By selecting

31

Chapter Two: Collocations in English

a word or phrase from the opened Word document, and clicking on <Examples>,

a search for the selected items is launched. The programme is based on a corpus

that can be increased to 50,000,000 words.

2.7

Conclusion

Chapter two summarised the main theoretical studies on collocations that have

taken place since 1930’s. It also showed that there is a significant disagreement

and a lack of clarity in the definition of collocations among different linguists, as

some linguists make no clear distinction between a collocation and an idiom,

while others do. The interest in collocations by lexicographers was also discussed.

The chapter has also shown the importance of computational linguistics in

collocational research, and how it made the study of English collocations easier.

This chapter suggested that although a collocation is a combination of at least two

lexical items that demonstrate a level of frozenness/restrictedness and, like

idiomatic expressions, show a resistance to substitution of the constituents of the

combination. Nevertheless, collocations are semantically transparent, that is, one

can tell the meaning of the whole collocation from at least one of the constituent

parts of the combination. Therefore, collocations are not idiomatic expressions.

This chapter has examined the ways collocations have been treated by linguists in

the English language. The next chapter will discuss collocations in the Arabic

language.

32

Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

  • 3 COLLOCATIONS IN ARABIC

  • 3.1 Introduction

As was shown in the previous chapters, collocation is a lexical relationship

between words in a language. A collocation is the habitual co-occurrence of two

or more words together in a language, the meaning of which can be deduced from

at least one component of the combination. This lexical relationship is more the

co-occurrence of a word with other words than a series of extensive formalisable

rules. Arabic is one of the languages that are rich in collocations. However, not

many researchers discuss word combinations in the Arabic language in general,

nor collocations in particular. Some of the available literature is derived from

linguistic research, such as that by Emery (1988a, 1988b; 1991), Husamaddin

(1985), Ghazala (1993a), Hoogland (1993), and Hafiz (2002).

  • 3.2 Collocations in the Arabic language

In a unique book totally devoted to fixed expressions and multi-word units in

Arabic, Husamaddin (1985) considers collocations (ﺔﯾﻮﻐﻠﻟا ﺔﺒﺣﺎﺼﻤﻟا al-muSaaHabah

al-lugawiyyah) to be one simple form of idiomatic expression. He defines

collocations as:

.ﺔﻨﯿﻌﻣ ىﺮﺧأ تﺎﻤﻠﻜﺑ ﺔﻐﻠﻟا ﻲﻓ ﺎﻣ ﺔﻤﻠﻜﻟ ﺔﯾدﺎﯿﺘﻋﻻا ﺔﺒﺣﺎﺼﻤﻟا

33

Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

al-muSaaHabatu al-i3tiyaadiyyatu li-kalimatin maa fiy al-lugati bi-

kalimaatin ?uxraa mu3ayyanah. (The normal occurrence of a word with

certain other words in a language) [Author’s translation] (Husamaddin,

1985:257).

Husamaddin (1985) argues that words do not appear together in a language just by

chance and that there are ﺔﺒﺣﺎﺼ娃 娃 娃 ﻤﻟا ﻂﺑاﻮ娃 娃 娃 ﺿ DawaabiT

al-muSaaHabah

(collocational restrictions) that govern their usage. These collocational

restrictions, according to Husamaddin (1985), are:

1- ﺒﺣﺎﺼﻤﻟا ﺔﯿﻘﻓاﻮﺗ tawaafuqiyyat al-muSaaHabah (Association agreement):

This means that there has to be an agreement between words that collocate

with each other. This agreement depends on one’s linguistic knowledge or

is constrained by the nature of the signified. For example, one could say

ﻖھﺎﺷ ﻞﺒﺟ jabalun saahiq (a high mountain), but not ﻖھﺎﺷ ﻞﺟر * rajulun

saahiq (a high man). Rather, one would say ﻞﯾﻮﻃ ﻞﺟر

rajulun Tawiyl (a

tall man) because the word ﻖھﺎﺷ saahiq (high) collocates with the word

ﻞﺒﺟ jabal (a mountain), but not with ﻞﺟر rajul (a man), although the

words ﻖھﺎﺷ saahiq and ﻞﯾﻮﻃ Tawiyl have almost the same meaning.

Another example illustrating this point is ﻢﯿﺳو ﻞﺟر rajulun wasiym (a

handsome man) and ﺔﻠﯿﻤﺟ ةأﺮﻣا imra?atun jamiylah (a beautiful woman),

but not vice versa.

2- ﺔﺒﺣﺎﺼﻤﻟا ىﺪﻣ madaa al-muSaaHabah (Collocational range): A

collocational range is the number of collocates a word can have in order to

produce acceptable collocations. The verb تﺎﻣ maat (to die), for example,

34

Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

has a wide collocational range. It can collocate with many different words.

It can be used with the noun نﺎﺴﻧإ ?insaan (a human being), ناﻮﯿﺣ

Hayawaan (an animal), and تﺎﺒﻧ nabaat (a plant).

3- ﺔﺒﺣﺎﺼﻤﻟا ﺔﯾﺮﺗاﻮﺗ tawaaturiyyat al-muSaaHabah (Co-occurrence): By co-

occurrence we mean words that appear together regularly in a language.

This co-occurrence is not governed by grammatical rules. However, it

depends on convention and what speakers feel should be said

(Husamaddin, 1985:258-9).

Husamaddin (1985) later classifies examples of collocations in Arabic into a

number of categories, one of which is words representing different sounds made

by different animals or different objects. In Arabic, we call the sound made by a

lion ﺪﺳﻷا ﺮﯿﺋز za?iyr al-?asad (the roaring of a lion), the sound made by a horse

ﻞﯿﺨﻟا ﻞﯿﮭﺻ Sahiyl al-xayl (the neighing/whinnying of a horse), that of a donkey

رﺎﻤﺤﻟا ﻖﯿﮭﻧ nahiiq al-Himaar (the braying of a donkey), that of a cow ةﺮﻘﺒﻟا راﻮﺧ

xuwaar al-baqarah (the mooing of a cow), that of a sheep ﻢﻨﻐﻟا ءﺎﻐﺛ tugaa? al-

ganam (the bleating of a sheep), that of a wolf ﺐﺋﺬﻟا ءاﻮﻋ 3uwaa? al-di?b (the

howling of a wolf), that of a dog ﺐﻠﻜﻟا حﺎﺒﻧ nubaaH al-kalb (the barking of a dog),

that of a cat ﻂﻘﻟا ءاﻮﻣ muwaa? al-qiT (the meowing of a cat), that of a pigeon ﻞﯾﺪھ

ﺔﻣﺎﻤﺤﻟا hadiyl al-Hamaamah (the cooing of a pigeon), that of a crow باﺮﻐﻟا ﻖﯿﻌﻧ

na3iyq al-guraab (the cawing of a crow), and that of an owl مﻮﺒﻟا ﺐﯿﻌﻧ na3iyb al-

buwm (the hooting of an owl). Examples of different sounds produced by

different objects are: ﺪﻋﺮﻟا ﻢﯾﺰھ haziym al-ra3d (the rumbling of thunder), and ﻒﯿﻔﺣ

ﺮﺠﺸﻟا Hafiyf al-sajar (the rustling of trees).

35

Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

Another category of examples is that of different verbs related to the act of cutting

various objects, depending on the nouns with which they collocate: فﻮﺼﻟا ﺰﺟ

jazza al-Suwf (to cut wool), ﺮﻌﺸﻟا ﺺﻗ qaSSa al-sa3ar (to cut hair), ﻢﻠﻘﻟا ىﺮﺑ baraa

al-qalam (to sharpen a pencil), ةﺮھﺰﻟا ﻒﻄﻗ qaTafa al-zahrah (to pick a flower),

and تﺎﺒﻨﻟا ﺪﺼﺣ HaSada al-nabaat (to harvest plants). The following are examples

of collocations associated with cutting parts of the body: ﮫﻔﻧأ عﺪﺟ jada3a ?anfuh

(to cut one’s nose), ﮫﻧذأ ﻢﻠﺣ Haluma ?udunah (to cut one’s ear), ﮫﺘﻔﺷ مﺮﺷ sarama

suffatah (to cut one’s lip), ﮫﻨﻔﺟ ﺮﺘﺷ satara jifnah (to cut one’s eyelid), and هﺪﯾ مﺬﺟ

jadama yadah (to cut one’s hand).

Husamaddin also gives examples of the names of places where animals or insects

are found: ﻞﯿﺧ ﻞﺒﻄﺻا iSTabl xayl (a horse stable), ﺔﯿﺷﺎﻣ ةﺮﯿﻈﺣ HaZiyrat maasiyah

(a cattle pen), ﺪﺳأ ﻦﯾﺮﻋ 3ariyn ?asad (a lion’s den), ﺮﯿﻃ ﺶﻋ 3us Tayr (a bird’s

nest), ﺐﺿ ﺮﺤﺟ juHr Dab (a lizard’s hole), and ﻞﺤﻧ ﺔﯿﻠﺧ xaliyyat naHl (a beehive).

Another group of examples is related to a group of objects: درو ﺔﻗﺎﺑ baaqat ward

(a bouquet of flowers), ﺐﻨﻋ دﻮﻘﻨﻋ 3unquwd 3inab (a bunch of grapes), ﺐﻄﺣ ﺔﻣﺰﺣ

Hizmat HaTab (a bundle of wood), and ةرﺎﺠﺣ ﺔﻣﻮﻛ kawmat Hijarah (a pile of

stones).

Another group of examples is related to parts of objects: ﺰﺒﺨﻟا ﻦﻣ ةﺮﺴﻛ kisrah min

al-xubz (a piece/slice of bread), ﻢﺤﻠﻟا ﻦﻣ ةرﺪﻓ fidrah min al-laHam (a piece of

meat), ﺮﻤﺘﻟا ﻦﻣ ﺔﻠﺘﻛ kutlah min al-tamur (a piece of a date), and ﻖﯿﻗﺪﻟا ﻦﻣ ﺔﻔﺴﻧ nasfah

min al-daqiyq (a measure of flour).

Another group of examples is related to uncovering or exposing different parts of

the body: ﮫﺳأر ﻦﻋ ﺮﺴﺣ

Hasara 3an ra?sih (to uncover one’s head), ﮫﮭﺟو ﻦﻣ ﺮﻔﺳ

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Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

safara min wajhih (to uncover one’s face), ﮫﻗﺎﺳ ﻦﻋ ﻒﺸﻛ

kasafa 3an saaqih (to

uncover one’s leg), ﮫﻋارذ ﻦﻋ ىﺪﺑأ ?abdaa 3an diraa3ih (to uncover one’s arm),

and ﻞﻌﻨﻟا ﻦﻣ فﺎﺣ Haafin min al-na3l (to be bare-footed).

Another group of examples is related to the movements of different parts of the

body: ﺐﻠﻘﻟا نﺎﻘﻔﺧ

xafaqaan al-qalb (the beating of the heart), ﻦﯿﻌﻟا جﻼﺘﺧإ

?ixtilaaj

al-3ayn (the ticking of the eye), and ﺪﯿﻟا شﺎﻌﺗرا

irti3aas al-yad (the trembling of

the hand).

While Husamaddin (1985) classifies collocations in the Arabic language

according to meaning only, Ghazala (1993a) classifies ﺔﯿﻈﻔﻠﻟا تﺎﻣزﻼﺘﻤﻟا al-

mutalaazimaat al-lafZiyyah (collocations) according to three different categories.

The first classification is made according to ﺔﯿﻈﻔﻠﻟا تﺎﻣزﻼﺘﻤﻠﻟ يﺪﻋاﻮﻘﻟا ﺐﯿﻛﺮﺘﻟا al-

tarkiyb al-qawaa3idiy lil-mutalaazimaat al-lafZiyyah (grammatical patterns), the

second according to ﺔﯿﻈﻔﻠﻟا تﺎﻣزﻼﺘﻤﻠﻟ ﻲﻈﻔﻠﻟا ﺐﯿﻛﺮﺘﻟا al-tarkiyb al-lafZiy lil-

mutalaazimaat al-lafZiyyah (the relationship between the constituents of the

combination), and, finally, the third according to ﺔﯿﻈﻔﻠﻟا تﺎﻣزﻼﺘﻤﻠﻟ ﻲﺑﻮﻠﺳﻷا ﺐﯿﻛﺮﺘﻟا al-

tarkiyb al-?usluwbiy lil-mutalaazimaat al-lafZiyyah (stylistic patterns).

According to Ghazala (1993a), collocations in Arabic fall into twenty different

grammatical patterns:

  • 1- noun + adjective, for example, ﺪﯾﺪﺳ لﻮﻗ qawlun sadiyd (a right saying);

2-

noun + noun (ﺔﻓﺎﺿإ iDaafah or annexation), for example, ﺲﻤﺸﻟا قوﺮﺷ

suruwq al-sams (sun rise);

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Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

3-

noun + conjunction + noun, for example, ﺮﺸﻟاو ﺮﯿﺨﻟا al-xayr wa al-sar

(good and evil);

4-

adjective + adjective, for example, ﻢﻟﺎﻇ ﺮﺋﺎﺟ jaa?ir Zaalim (despotic and

oppressive);

5-

verb + noun (non-figurative meaning), for example,ﺎﺗﻮﺻ ﻊﻤﺳ sami3a

Sawtan (to hear a sound);

6-

verb + noun (figurative meaning) , for example, ﺎﺳرد ﻦﻘﻟ laqqana darsan

(to teach someone a lesson);

  • 7- verb + verb root (verb echoing) , for example, اﻮﻠﻋ ﻰﻠﻋ 3alaa 3uluwan (to rise high);

    • 8- verb + adverb, for example, ﺎﻧﺎﻌﺒﺷ تﺎﺑ baata sab3aanan (to sleep with a full stomach);

      • 9- verb + preposition + noun, for example, ءﺎﻜﺒﻟﺎﺑ ﺶﮭﺟ jahasa bi al-bukaa? (to burst into tears);

10- verb + relative pronoun + verb, for example, رﺬﻧأ ﻦﻣ رﺬﻋأ ?a3dara man

?andar (he who warns is excused);

11- verb + conjunction + verb (antonym) , for example, ﻊﻨﻣو ﻰﻄﻋأ ?a3Taa wa

mana3a (to give and prevent);

12- time/place adverbial + conjunction + time/place adverbial, for example,

اﺮﯿﺧأو ﻻوأ ?awwalan wa ?axiyran (first and last);

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Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

13- preposition + noun + noun, for example, ﺔﻓﺪﺼﻟا ﺾﺤﻤﺑ bi-maHD al-Sudfah

(by sheer coincidence);

14- negative particle + noun + noun + negative particle + noun, for example,

ﻂﯾﺮﻔﺗ ﻻو طاﺮﻓإ ﻻ laa ?ifraT wa-laa tafriyT (neither excess nor neglect);

15- noun + verb, for example, قزﺮﯾ ﻲﺣ Hayyun yurzaq (alive and kicking);

16- noun + preposition + noun, for example, ﷲ لﺎﻤﻜﻟا al-kamaal li-llah (only

God is perfect);

17- particle (functioning as a verb) + noun, for example, يﺮﻌﺷ ﺖﯿﻟ layta si3riy

(would God);

18- arbitrary grammatical patterns (oath), for example, هﺪﯿﺑ ﻲﺴﻔﻧ يﺬﻟاو wa

alladiy nafsiy bi-yadihi (I swear);

19- arbitrary grammatical (swearing/cursing), for example, ﺔﻨﻌﻠﻟا ﻚﯿﻠﻋ 3alayk

al-la3nah (curse on you); and

20- arbitrary grammatical patterns (compliment) , for example, كاﺪﯾ ﺖﻤﻠﺳ

salimat yadaaka (thank you/ well done).

In Ghazala’s (1993a) grammatical classification of collocations in the Arabic

language, the last three grammatical patterns (18, 19, and 20), which he suggests

are arbitrary grammatical patterns, seem to elide meaning with grammar.

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Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

The second classification made by Ghazala (1993a) is according to the

relationship between the constituents of the combination. He classifies Arabic

collocations into ten different patterns:

1-

homogeneous collocations, for example, ﺮﻃﺎﺧ ﮫﻟ ﺮﻄﺧ xaTara lahu xaaTir

(an idea occurred to him), and ﺪﯿﮭﺟ ﺪﮭﺟ ﺪﻌﺑ ba3da juhdin jahiyd (after a lot

of trouble);

2-

non- homogeneous collocations, for example, رﺎﺣ لﺎﺒﻘﺘﺳا istiqbaal Haar (a

warm reception);

3-

emphatic collocations, for example, اﺰھ ﺰھ

hazza

hazzan

(to shake

strongly);

4-

direct collocations, for example, ﻦﯿﻣﺪﻘﻟا ﻲﻓﺎﺣ Haafiy al-qadamayn (bare-

footed);

5-

figurative collocations, for example, ﮫﺑاﻮﺻ رﺎﻃ Taara Sawaabuh (to lose

one’s senses);

6-

complimentary collocations,

for

example,

نﺎﺴﻠﻟا

يﺮﻃ

Tariy

al-lisaan

(sweet-tongued);

  • 7- uncomplimentary collocations, for example, ﺔﯿﺻﺎﻗ ﻢﻨﻏ ganamun qaaSiyah

(straying sheep);

  • 8- neutral collocations, for example, تﻮﻤﻟا ةﺮﻜﺳ sakratu al-mawt (agony of

death);

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Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

  • 9- uncertain or indecisive collocations, for example, ﻞﯾﻮﻃ ﺚﯾﺪﺣ Hadiyt Tawiyl

(a lengthy talk);

10- ironical collocations, for example, لﺎﻄﺑﻷا ﻞﻄﺑ baTal al-?abTaal (the hero

of heroes).

Ghazala (1993a) considers his second classification of collocations in the Arabic

language as categorized according to the relationship between the constituents of

the combination. However, it is difficult to differentiate between some of the

apparently dissimilar patterns. That is, some of his apparently differentiated

examples overlap even though classified as different patterns. Furthermore,

Ghazala does not give a detailed explanation for his different patterns of

collocations in Arabic. For instance, ﺪﯿﮭﺟ ﺪﮭﺟ ﺪﻌﺑ ba3da juhdin jahiyd (after a lot of

trouble) is classified as a homogeneous collocation, while he later considers اﺰھ ﺰھ

hazza hazzan (to shake strongly) to be an emphatic collocation.

Finally, the third classification by Ghazala (1993a) is made according to stylistic

patterns. Ghazala classifies Arabic collocations into five stylistic patterns. These

patterns are:

  • 1- emphasis, for example, ﺔﻠﯿﻠﻗ ﺔﻠﻗ qillah qaliylah (very few);

  • 2- exaggeration, for example, بﺎﻃو ﺬﻟ lada wa Taab (delicious and delicate);

    • 3- aestheticism, for example, ﻢﻀﺧ ﻲﻓ fiy xiDam (in the course of);

4-

euphemism, for example, ﺔﻓﺮﺸﻣ ﺔﻤﯾﺰھ haziymah musarrifah (an honorable

defeat);

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Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

  • 5- standard versus colloquial, for example, ﻒﺘﻜﻟا ﻞﻛﺆﺗ ﻦﯾأ ﻦﻣ فﺮﻌﯾ ya3rifu min

?ayna tu?kalu al-katif (to know how to seize opportunities).

Although Ghazala (1993a) makes an effort to classify Arabic collocations into

three different categories, some of his patterns are unclear. For example, the

pattern that he calls neutral collocations cannot be understood easily within the

classification based on the relationship between the constituents of the

combination that he gives. Ghazala does not explain the patterns in further detail.

Moreover, some of the examples provided by Ghazala are semantically

transparent and some are opaque, for example, ﻒﺘﻜﻟا ﻞﻛﺆﺗ ﻦﯾأ ﻦﻣ فﺮﻌﯾ ya3rifu min

?ayna tu?kalu al-katif (to know how to seize opportunities). In the present

study’s understanding of the definition of collocation, this example could not be

described as a collocation. Rather, it is an example of an idiom in Arabic. That is,

the meaning of the whole expression cannot be deduced from the meaning of the

constituent parts. It becomes apparent that Ghazala’s definition of collocation

does not differentiate between collocations and idioms.

Emery (1988a; 1991) makes a distinction between four types of word

combinations. The distinction is made according to the restrictedness between the

constituents of the combination. The four types of word combinations are:

  • 1- Open collocations: These are characterized as being combinations of two words that are freely re-combinable. In open collocations, each element is used in a common literal sense (Cowie, 1983:xiii). For example, ﺖﮭﺘﻧا /تأﺪﺑ

ﺔﻛﺮﻌﻤﻟا/بﺮﺤﻟا + bada?at/intahat + al-Harb/al-ma3rakah (the war/battle +

began/ended).

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Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

2- Restricted collocations: These are “combinations of two or more words

used in one of their regular, non-idiomatic meanings, following certain

structural patterns, and restricted in their commutability not only by

grammatical and semantic valency (like the components of so-called free

word combinations), but also by usage” (Aisenstadt, 1979:71). These types

of word combinations occur in Arabic, as in English, in various types of

syntactic configurations: a- verb + subject, for example, بﺮﺤﻟا + ﺖﺒﺸﻧ

nasabat + al-Harb (the war + broke out). b- verb + object, for example,

ﺔﻛﺮﻌﻤﻟا + ضﺎﺧ xaaDa + al-ma3rakah (he engaged in + the battle). c-

adjective + noun, for example, ﺔﻨﺣﺎﻃ + ﺔﻛﺮﻌﻣ ma3rakah + TaaHinah (a

damaging + battle).

3- Bound collocations: These are “a bridge category between collocations

and idioms” (Cowie, 1981:228). In this category, one of the components is

uniquely selective of the other. In such cases the adjective collocates

uniquely with a specific noun, for example, سوﺮﺿ + بﺮﺣ Harb + Daruws

(vicious + war), and the verb collocates uniquely with a particular noun,

for example, ﮫﺳأر + قﺮﻃا aTraqa + ra?sah (he bowed + his head), and ﺮﻤﺷ

هﺪﻋﺎﺳ + ﻦﻋ + sammara 3an saa3idih (he bared + his forearm).

  • 4- Idioms: In contrast to the previous three types, the constituent elements of idioms are opaque, that is, they are used in ‘specialized’ senses, together forming one single semantic unit. Illustrative examples are calques like: ةدرﺎﺒﻟا بﺮﺤﻟا al-Harb albaaridah (the Cold War), and مﻮﺠﻨﻟا بﺮﺣ Harb al- nujuum (Star Wars) (Emery, 1991:60-62).

43

Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

Hoogland (1993:75) suggests that collocation is a lexical relationship that can be

defined as “two (or sometimes more) words appear in each other’s company

because the usage of a particular word (for example, a noun) limits the choice of

an adjective to a small number of adjectives that can combine with this particular

noun”. He gives an example of the English noun crime and states that the first

verb that would come to mind when mentioning it would be either commit or

perpetrate. He then argues that this applies to Arabic as well. With the noun ﺔﻤﯾﺮﺟ

jariymah (crime), the first two verbs that would come to mind are فﺮﺘﻗا iqtarafa

(commit) or ﺐﻜﺗرا irtakaba (commit). He then uses the same classification of

word combinations made by Emery (1988a; 1991).

On the other hand, Hafiz (2002), in an attempt to compile a dictionary of Arabic

collocations, explains that collocations play a very important role in language. He

distinguishes between twelve different types of collocations in the Arabic

language. The distinction by Hafiz (2002) is made according to grammatical

patterns. The twelve types of collocations are as follows:

1- Verb + noun, where the noun can act as a subject, for example, جﻮﻤﻟا أﺪھ

hada?a al-mawju (the waves subsided); an object, for example, ﺔﻤﯿﺨﻟا بﺮﺿ

Daraba al-xaymata (he pitched the tent); or a state (لﺎﺣ), for example,

ﺎﺒﻀﻏ طﺎﺸﺘﺳا istasaaTa gaDaban (he was inflamed with rage). This type of

collocation accounts for a large part of Arabic collocations, as almost

every single verb in the Arabic language has its own numerous noun

collocates.

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Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

2-

Verb + prepositional noun phrase, where the noun is the indirect object,

for example, ﻞﻤﻌﻟا ﻦﻣ لﺎﻘﺘﺳا

istaqaala min al-3amal

(he resigned from

work).

3-

Verb + prepositional noun phrase, where the phrase acts as an adverb, for

example, ةﺪﺸﺑ ﺬّﻔﻧّ naffada bi-siddah (he precisely implemented).

 

4-

Verb +

noun

phrase, where the noun

is

in

the form

of an adverbial

condition,

for

example,

ﺎﯿﻔﺗﺎھ

ﻞﺼﺗا

ittaSala

haatifiyyan

(he

made

a

telephone call).

 

5-

Verb + conjunction + verb, usually with synonymous verbs, for example,

ﻖﻠﺣو رﺎﻃ Taara wa Hallaqa (he flew and soared).

 

6-

Noun + noun in a construct state (ﺔﻓﺎﺿإ iDaafah or annexation), for

example, ثاﺪﺣﻷا حﺮﺴﻣ masraH al-a?Hdaat (the theatre of events).

 

7-

Noun + conjunction + noun, for example, راﺮﺻإو مﺰﻋ

3azm wa ?iSraar

(intention and insistence).

 

8-

Noun + adjective, for example, ﻰﻤﻈﻋ ةﻮﻗ

quwwah 3uZmaa (a supreme

power).

  • 9- Noun + prepositional noun phrase, for example, بدﻷا ﻲﻓ ﺔﯾﺎﻏ gaayah fiy al-

?adab (extremely polite).

10- Noun + preposition, for example, ـﺑ ﺔﻧرﺎﻘﻣ muqaaranah bi- (in comparison

with).

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Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

11- Adjective + noun, قﻼﺧﻷا ﻦﺴﺣ Hasan al-?aaxlaaq (having high morals).

12- Adjective + adverbial phrase, where the adverbial phrase consists of a

preposition + noun, for example, ةﺪﺸﺑ ﺮﻜﻨﺘﺴﻣ mustankir bi-siddah (strongly

condemns).

The wide variety of Arabic lexical and grammatical combinations categorized by

Hafiz (2002) would benefit foreign language learners of Arabic and translators by

making the structure and word combinations of that language more apparent.

Apparently, all these collocational forms will be included in the dictionary of

Arabic collocations that Hafiz is compiling.

  • 3.3 Arabic collocations in lexicography

Arabic is a language rich in lexical and derivational resources. It has collocations

in abundance. Emery (1988a, 1991) states that classical lexicographers, such as,

Al-Thaalibi 1 (1986) and Ibn Sidah 2 (1996) were keenly aware of the phenomenon.

Another two early lexicographers were Ibn Qutaybah 3 (1963) and Al-Iskafi 4

(1906). These lexicographers included a wealth of collocational information in

their “dictionaries of meaning”, or as described by Haywood (1965a) “general

classified vocabularies”. The arrangement of these dictionaries of meaning was

not in alphabetical order but according to meaning. Although the compilers of

such dictionaries of meanings arranged words under subject headings, those

dictionaries still cover the same ground as current ordinary dictionaries. These

  • 1 Died in 1008.

  • 2 Died in 1066.

  • 3 Died in 889.

  • 4 Died in 1030.

46

Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

dictionaries of meaning, in their time, reached a peak of completeness and skill

with the al-muxaSSaS (the categorized or specialized) dictionary by Ibn Sidah

(1996). However, there were other earlier, but smaller-scale, efforts of this type,

such as, ?adab al-kaatib (the writer’s literature) by Ibn Qutaybah (1963), fiqh al-

lugah (philology) by Al-Thaalibi (1986), and mabaadi? al-lugah (principles of

language) by Al-Iskafi (1906). Haywood describes the aim of these Arabic

lexicographers as follows:

It is a remarkable fact that, almost from the start, the compilers of Arabic

dictionaries aimed at registering the complete vocabulary material of the

language. Indeed, they were obsessed by the copiousness of the language….

In this, they differed from earlier lexicographers of other nations, whose

chief aim was to explain rare and difficult words (Haywood, 1965a:2).

Arabic lexicographers, according to Haywood, were proud of the richness of their

language. They were proud of its many features, for which they revealed a clear

fondness. It may be supposed that this led them to produce such dictionaries of

meaning.

Ibn Qutaybah wrote books on different subjects: history, literary criticism,

grammar and philology. He compiled ?adab al-kaatib (the writer’s literature) as a

guide for the secretary (Haywood, 1965a). The arrangement of Ibn Qutaybah’s

dictionary of meaning is not in a clearly logical order. However, its logic appears

to be based on a mixture of word-measure and meaning (Haywood, 1965a).

Considerable sections are devoted to words that could be pronounced with

47

Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

alternative short vowelling, for example, ﻖﺷ saqq (a crack) and ﻖﺷ siqq (half of

something).

Al-Thaalibi’s fiqh al-lugah (philology) is an important store of Arabic words and

expressions. It gives synonyms and differentiates between dissimilar meanings for

words that are roughly synonymous. The dictionary is classified into thirty

chapters. Each chapter contains a large number of related sections.

Haywood (1965a) suggests that mabaadi? al-lugah (principles of language) by

Al-Iskafi is arranged fairly logically. It begins with natural phenomena: stars,

constellation, time, night and day. It moves on to clothes, implements, food, drink

and weapons. Then it contains a large section on horses, shorter ones on camels,

lions, and other animals, then birds, agricultural implements, trees, plants, trade

and illnesses. Finally, it includes a few rare words from poetry and their

explanations.

Dictionaries of meaning, at that time, reached their peak in completeness, skill,

exactitude and authoritativeness with the al-muxaSSaS (the categorized or

specialized) dictionary by Ibn Sidah (Haywood, 1965a). Ibn Sidah gave precisely

the prior authority for nearly every word and meaning in his dictionary of

meaning. Though Ibn Sidah was blind, he was a very talented poet, lexicographer,

and grammarian. He compiled an exhaustive reference dictionary, which he called

al-muHkam wa al- muHiyT al-?a3Zam (the perfect and the greatest ocean). After

completing this dictionary, he rearranged its contents to form a large-scale

dictionary of meaning (seventeen volumes) for the use of writers and orators. This

was al-muxaSSaS (the categorized or specialized) dictionary. It was categorized

48

Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

according to subject headings and was arranged according to the author’s own

logical system. He started with human beings and the things that concerned them,

including: clothes, food, sleep, weapons and fighting. Then he moved on to

animals and plants; then man in social life: travel, work and play. The last section

presented morphology and syntax, and several other linguistic matters.

Unfortunately, the arrangement of the material in all these dictionaries of meaning

al-muxaSSaS (the categorized or specialized) dictionary by Ibn Sidah (1996),

?adab al-kaatib (the writer’s literature) by Ibn Qutaybah (1963), fiqh al-lugah

(philology) by Al-Thaalibi (1986), and mabaadi? al-lugah (principles of

language) by Al-Iskafi (1906) – is often idiosyncratic and, from a modern

linguistic point of view, unsystematic (Emery, 1991).

At the present time, translators and students of Arabic are in need of a dictionary

that provides lexical combinations in the Arabic language; a dictionary that is easy

to consult and is arranged in alphabetical order. Hafiz (2002) notes that he is in

the process of compiling a monolingual dictionary of Arabic collocations. He

argues that a dictionary of Arabic collocations would be of great benefit to foreign

learners of Arabic and even native speakers of Arabic. A dictionary of Arabic

collocations, according to Hafiz, would help learners and users avoid making

mistakes such as using ﺎﻔﻗﻮﻣ ﻞﻤﻋ * 3amila mawqifan instead of ﺎﻔﻗﻮﻣ دﺪﺣ Haddada

mawqifan (take a stand), and using ﺪﯾﺪﺷ ﻒﻗﻮﻣ * mawqifun sadiyd instead of ﻒﻗﻮﻣ

مزﺎﺣ mawqifun Haazim (a strong stand). However, translators are still in need of a

bilingual dictionary of collocations.

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Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

  • 3.4 Arabic collocations in computational linguistics

The interest in studying and analyzing the Arabic language is growing. This is due

to the recent availability of Arabic corpora (Van Mol, 2000). However, Ditters &

Moussa (1995:123) argue that although a number of electronic Arabic text

corpora have been compiled, these corpora are raw, which means that the

exploration of these corpora is still problematic.

Van Mol (2000) states that analyzing Arabic corpora is more complex than that of

the corpora of some other languages. He gives three main reasons for this. First,

the Arabic language is very polysemic. New meanings for words are often given

by expanding the old meaning of an existing word to a new meaning. This means

that the external morphology of a word does not change. For example, the word

ﺔﺨﻀﻣ miDaxxah (pump) does not only mean pump but also bicycle pump.

A second reason for Arabic being more difficult to analyze than other languages is

that it is usually not vowelized when written, i.e. written without the short vowel

strokes (ﺔﺤﺘﻓ fatHa, ﺔﻤﺿ Dammah, and ةﺮﺴﻛ kasrah). This means that there is a

higher degree of ambiguity in Arabic words than found in other languages such as

English. Words in their raw form in Arabic can belong to different grammatical

categories. For example, the word ﺐﺘﻛ has three meanings in Arabic based on the

vowelization; kataba (he wrote) as a verb in the past tense, kutiba (has been

written) as a verb in the passive voice, and kutub (book) as a plural noun. Another

example that illustrates the same point is given by Hasnah & Evens (2001:5). The

word ﻢﻠﻋ could be pronounced in several ways: 3ilm (science or knowledge)

making a noun; 3alam (flag) again making a noun; 3alima (he knew) making a

50

Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

verb in the past tense; and 3allama (he taught) also making a verb in the past

tense. This complicates the search for particular words and word types in an

Arabic corpus. Searching for the word ﺐﺘﻛ kataba (he wrote), will not only give

the other words mentioned above but also a lot of other words that have nothing to

do with the appropriate verb sought for. For example, the search for the verb ﺐﺘﻛ

kataba (he wrote) will end up with results including words like ﺐﺘﻜﻣ maktab

(office), and ﺔﺒﺘﻜﻣ maktabah (library or bookstore).

A third reason for the difficulty in analyzing Arabic text corpora, and therefore

making the search for words simpler, is that in Arabic a number of prefixes and

suffixes are directly linked to the words. This makes searching by computer even

more difficult. For example, the word ﻢﮭﻓ can have four different meanings:

fahima (he understood): a verb in the past tense; fahhama (he made someone

understand): also a verb in the past tense; fa-hum (and they): a prefix and a

pronoun; or fa-hamma (and he began): a prefix and a verb.

Khoja (2001) designed and trialed a corpus of 50,000 words (based on extracts

from the Saudi Arabian Al-Jazirah daily newspaper archives). She found that

because of the frequent occurrence of prefixes and suffixes in the Arabic language

it was difficult to look up words in the corpus. For example, ـﻟا al (the), the

definite article in Arabic, is a two-letter prefix at the beginning of the noun.

Similarly, the conjunction و wa (and) appears in Arabic attached to a word. This

word could be a definite or indefinite noun, a verb, a particle, or a number.

Another problematic component discussed by Khoja is the common orthographic

mistakes that may occur in Arabic text. She gives an example of the placement of

51

Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

the ةﺰﻤھ hamzah (glottal stop) on the alif (first letter in the Arabic alphabet).

Sometimes the letter alif requires a hamzah and at other times it does not. Another

example of the same type given by Khoja is the placement of the two dots under

the letter ي ya (the last letter in the Arabic alphabet), which is regular when that

letter appears at the end of words. Another example that could be added to

Khoja’s is the common mistake of using the letter ـھ ha (letter 26 in the Arabic

alphabet) instead of ة ta marbuwTah at the end of a word and vice versa.

For the reasons above, a conclusion that can be reached is that Arabic text is

difficult to search and analyse in the form of a corpus. When searching for a word

in an Arabic text corpus, in our results we would find many words that are not

related to the word sought for. It would be a waste of time reading sentences in

which the wrong word was found. The development of more accurate software

that avoids the difficulties stated above would be essential.

  • 3.5 Some Sources for Arabic Collocations

Arabic today uses collocations that have come from different sources. One of the

sources of collocations in Modern Standard Arabic is the Quran. Another way in

which collocations have become established in Arabic is through borrowed

collocations. The following subsection discusses collocations in the Quran as one

source of collocations in the Arabic language used today. This will be followed by

another subsection that discusses how borrowed collocations have become

established in the Arabic language.

52

  • 3.5.1 Collocations in the Quran

Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

Many expressions and phrases that are still used in Modern Standard Arabic today

come from the Quran. Collocations are one of those types of expressions. The

Quran has always been known for its richness of expression, including

collocations. This has continued to influence the use of language until nowadays.

The following examples of collocations are from the Quran and are still used in

Modern Standard Arabic today:

1- Verb + object collocations

a- اﺪﮭﻋ ﺪھﺎﻋ 3aahada 3ahdan (to make a pact)

b- اﺪﮭﻋ ﺾﻘﻧ naqaDa 3ahdan (to break a promise)

c- ﻼﺜﻣ بﺮﺿ Daraba matalan (to give an example)

d- ﺎﻈﯿﻏ ﻢﻈﻛ kaZama gayZan (to suppress rage)

e- ﺔﺼﻗ ﺺﻗ qaSSa qiSSatan (to tell a story)

f- ارﺬﺣ ﺬﺧأ ?axada Hadaran (to exercise caution)

2- Noun + adjective collocation

a- مﺮﻋ ﻞﯿﺳ saylun 3arim (a raging flood)

b- ﺮﯿﺒﻛ ﺄﻄﺧ xaTa?un kabiyr (a serious mistake)

c- ﻢﯿﻤﺣ ﻖﯾﺪﺻ Sadiyqun Hamiym (a close friend)

d- ﺰﯾﺰﻋ ﺮﺼﻧ naSrun 3aziyz (a great victory)

e- ﻦﯿﺒﻣ وﺪﻋ 3aduwwun mubiyn (a bitter enemy)

f- ﻢﯿﻈﻋ ﻆﺣ HaZZun 3aZiym (good luck)

53

  • 3.5.2 Borrowed Collocations

Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

Borrowed words have always enriched languages and borrowed collocations have

enriched languages even more, especially with concepts that do not exist

originally in those languages or are new to them. An example that illustrates this

point is: ةدرﺎﺒﻟا بﺮﺤﻟا al-Harb al-baaridah (the Cold War) (Emery, 1991). Arabic

had no equivalent collocation before the outbreak of the Cold War after World

War II. Therefore, borrowed collocations are a major source of Arabic

collocations that cannot be ignored.

Translation has played an important role in bringing new collocations into

Modern Standard Arabic. Some collocations transferred into the Arabic language

now form a standard part of the native speakers’ language repertoire. Aziz (cited

in Emery, 1988a:54) gives the following two examples: ارود ﺐﻌﻟ la3iba dawran

(to play a role) and رﺎﺒﺧﻷا ﻰﻄﻏ gaTTaa al-?axbaar (to cover the news). He

suggests that these examples are now commonly found in journalistic style and

have become established in Arabic.

In the same way, Blau (1981b:60) states that widespread loan translations from

European languages have not only become part of the Modern Standard Arabic

vocabulary, but also phraseology. He suggests that European influence is strong in

journalistic style, especially when journalists translate from European languages

into Arabic. This journalistic style in return has influenced users of the language,

including authors (Blau, 1981b:61).

Blau (1981b) then gives a great number of examples of words and phrases that

represent this influence on Modern Standard Arabic. Among these unclassified

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Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

examples can be found collocations in different genres, such as: ﻲﻋﻮﻟا رﺎﯿﺗ tayyaaru

al-wa3iyi /رﻮﻌﺸﻟا رﺎﯿﺗ tayyaaru al-su3uwri (spiritual current), ﺔﯿﺳﺎﯿﺳ ﺔﻛﺮﺣ Harakatun

siyaasiyyah (political movement), ئدﺎھ ﻮﺟ jawwun haadi? (quiet atmosphere), خﺎﻨﻣ

ﻲﻔﻃﺎﻋ munaaxun 3aaTifiy (emotional climate), ﺎﻔﻗﻮﻣ ﺬﻘﻧأ ?anqada mawqifan (to save

a situation), ﻰﺿﻮﻔﻟا تدﺎﺳ saadat al-fawDaa (anarchy prevailed), ﺖﻤﺼﻟا دﺎﺳ saada

al-SamT (silence obtained), ﺖﻗﻮﻟا ﻞﺘﻗ qatala al-waqt (to kill time), بﺎﺼﻋأ بﺮﺣ

Harbu ?a3Saab (war of nerves), ﻦﺧﺎﺳ مﻮﯾ yawmun saaxin (a hurtful day), ةرﺎﺣ ﺔﯿﺤﺗ

taHiyyatun Haarrah (warm greetings), ﺾﯿﺑأ حﻼﺳ silaaHun ?abyaD (naked steel),

درﺎﺑ مد damun baarid (cold-blooded), ﺔﺑرﺎﺿ ةﻮﻗ quwwatun Daaribah (striking

force), لﺎﻔﻃأ ﺔﺿور rawDatu ?aTfaal (kindergarten), تﺎﻧاﻮﯿﺣ ﺔﻘﯾﺪﺣ Hadiyqatu

Hayawaanaat (a zoo), ﻞﺻو ﺔﻘﻠﺣ Halaqatu waSl / لﺎﺼﺗا ﺔﻘﻠﺣ Halaqatu ittiSaal

(connecting link), ﺔﺴﻛﺎﻌﻣ ﺔﻤﺠھ hajmatun mu3aakisah (a counter-attack), رﺎﻨﻟا طﻮﻄﺧ

xuTuwT al-naar (fire lines), ﺔﺳﺎﯿﺴﻟا طﻮﻄﺧ xuTuwT al-siyaasah (lines of policy),

ﺐﯾﺮﻘﺘﻟا ﺔﺳﺎﯿﺳ siyaasatu al-taqriyb (policy of rapprochement), ﻲﺋﺎﺑﺮﮭﻛ ﻞﻘﺣ Haqlun

kahrubaa?iy (electric field), ﺮﯿﻤﻀﻟا ﺾﻘﯾأ ?ayqaDa al-Damiyr (to arouse

conscience), ﺮﯿﻤﻀﻟا ﺰﺧو waxzu al-Damiyr (pricking of conscience), مﺎﻤﺘھا ىﺪﺑأ

?abdaa ihtimaam (to show interest), ﺔﺑذﺎﺠﻟا تﺎﻋﻮﺿﻮﻤﻟا al-mawDuw3aatu al-

jaadibah (attractive themes), ﻲﺒھﺬﻟا ﺮﺼﻌﻟا al-3aSru al-dahabiy (golden age), ﺮﺼﻌﻟا

يﺮﺠﺤﻟا al-3aSru al-Hajariy (stone age), مﺎﻌﻟا ىﻮﺘﺴﻤﻟا al-mustawaa al-3aam

(general level), ىﻮﺘﺴﻤﻟا ﻊﻓر rafa3a al-mustawaa (to raise the level), ﺮﻜﺸﺑ ﮫﻟ ناد

daana lahu bi-sukrin (he owed him thanks), ﺔﻣﺎﮭﻟا طﺎﻘﻨﻟا al-niqaaTu al-haammah

(important points), ﻞﯾﻮﺤﺗ ﺔﻄﻘﻧ nuqTatu taHwiyl (a turning point), ﺮﻔﺼﻟا ﺔﻋﺎﺳ

saa3atu al-Sifr (zero hour), ﺮﻈﻧ ﺔﮭﺟو wujhatu naZar (point of view), لﺎﻤﻟا ﻢﻟﺎﻋ

3aalamu al-maal (the financial world), ﺔﯾرﺎﺠﺗ ﺔﻓﺮﻏ gurfatun tujaariyyah (chamber

of commerce), ﺮﻔﺳ ﺐﺘﻜﻣ maktabu safar (a travel agency), ﺔﻠﺌﺳأ ﮫﺟو wajjaha

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Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

?as?ilah (to address questions), ﺔﯿﻤﺳر ةرﺎﯾز ziyaaratun rasmiyyah (an official

visit), ﻲﻋﺎﻤﺘﺟﻻا ﻢﻠﻈﻟا al-Zulmu al-ijtimaa3iy (social injustice), ﻊﻤﺘﺠﻤﻟا تﺎﻘﺒﻃ

Tabaqaatu al-mujtama3 (social levels), ﺔﻄﺳﻮﺘﻣ تﺎﻘﺒﻃ Tabaqaat mutawasiTah

(middle class layers), تﺎﻘﺒﻃ بﺮﺣ Harbu Tabaqaat (social class war), تﺎﻘﺒﻃ عاﺮﺻ

Siraa3u Tabaqaat (social class conflict), ﺔﯾﺪﯿﮭﻤﺗ تﺎﺜﺣﺎﺒﻣ mubaaHataat

tamhiydiyyah (preliminary talks), ﺔﻛﺮﺘﺸﻣ قﻮﺳ suwqun mustarakah (a common

market), ءادﻮﺳ قﻮﺳ suwqun sawdaa? (a black market), لﺎﺒﻘﺘﺳا ةﺮﺠﺣ Hujratu

istiqbaal (a reception room), ﺔﯾﺮﺨﻓ ةارﻮﺘﻛد duktuwratun faxriyyah (honorary

doctorate), ﺔﺋدﺎھ ﺔﻣﺎﺴﺘﺑا ibtisaamatun haadi?ah (a calm smile), ﮫﺴﻔﻨﺑ ﻰّﺤﺿ DaHHaa

bi-nafsih (to sacrifice one’s self), ﺎﺘﻗو سّﺮﻛ karrasa waqtan (to devote time), ﺔﻗﺮﻔﺘﻟا

ﺔﯾﺮﺼﻨﻌﻟا al-tafriqatu al-3unSuriyyah (racial discrimination), ﻰﻤﻋأ ﺪﯿﻠﻘﺗ taqliydun

?a3maa (blind imitation), ﺔﻠﻣﺎﻌﻟا يﺪﯾﻷا al-?aydiy al-3aamilah (manpower), ةﺪﺣو

ﺔﯾدﺎﺼﺘﻗا wiHdatun iqtiSaadiyyah (economic unity), ﺞﺿﺎﻧ ﻞﺟر rajulun naaDij (a

mature man), تﺎﺑﺎﺴﺣ ﺐﻗاﺮﻣ muraaqibu Hisaabaat (a controller of accounts), ﺰﯾﺰﻌﺗ

ﺪﻘﻨﻟا ta3ziyzu al-naqd (strengthening of currency), ﺔﺳﺎﯿﺳ ﻢﺳر rasama siyaasatan (to

draw up a policy), حﺎﺠﻨﻟﺎﺑ ﻞﻠﻛ kullila bi-l-najaaH (crowned with success), ﻦﯿﺴﺤﺗ

ﻊﺿﻮﻟا taHsiynu al-waD3 (to improve the situation), ﻢﺋﺎﺘﺸﻟا ﻦﻣ ﻞﺑاو waabilun min

al-sataa?im (a torrent of abuses), ةﺮﺠﺤﺘﻣ ةﺮﻈﻧ naZratun mutaHajjirah (a petrified

look), ﻞﺋﺎﺳر قوﺪﻨﺻ Sanduwqu rasaa?il (a letter box), ﺪﯾﺪﮭﺗ بﺎﻄﺧ xiTaabu tahdiyd

(a letter of intimidation), ةﺪﯾﺪﺟ قﺎﻓآ ﺢﺘﻓ fataHu aafaaqin jadiydah (opening fresh

horizons), قﺎﻓﻵا ﻊﺳاو waasi3u al-aafaaq (broadminded), ءﺎﻀﻓ ﺔﻨﯿﻔﺳ safiynatu

faDaa? (a spaceship), ﺔﯿﺴﯿﻟﻮﺑ ﺔﯾاور riwaayatun buliysiyyah (a detective story), ةﺎﯿﺤﻟا

ﺔﯾﺮﻜﻔﻟا al-Hayaatu al-fikriyyah (intellectual life), ةراﺮﺤﻟا سﺎﻗ qaasa al-Haraarah

(to measure the temperature), ﻒﯿﻄﻠﻟا ﺲﻨﺠﻟا al-jinsu al-laTiyf (the fair sex), ﻊﻣﻻ ﺮﻋﺎﺷ

saa3irun laami3 (a brilliant poet), ﻲﺒﻠﻗ ﺮﻜﺷ sukrun qalbiyun (hearty thanks), دﺎﯿﺤﻟا

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Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

ﻲﺑﺎﺠﯾﻹا al-Hiyaadu al-?ijaabiy (positive neutrality), ﺮﯿﺑاﺪﺗ ﺬﺧأ ?axada tadaabiyr (to

take measures), اراﺮﻗ ﺬﺨﺗا ittaxada qaraaran (to make a resolution), ﺎﯾﺪﺟ ﺬﺧأ

?axada jiddiyyan (to take seriously), ﺎﻋوﺮﺸﻣ ﻰﻨﺒﺗ tabanna masru3an (to adopt a

plan), ةﺎﯿﺤﻟا ﻰﻠﻋ ﻦﯿﻣﺄﺗ ta?miyn 3ala al-Hayaat (life insurance), ﻲﻤﺳر ﺢﯾﺮﺼﺗ

taSriyhun rasmiy (an official declaration), ﻲﻤﺳر رﺪﺼﻣ maSdarun rasmiy (an

official source), ﺔﯿﻟﺎﻤﻟا ةرازو wizaaratu al-maaliyyah (Ministry of Finance), ةرازو

ﻞﻇ wizaaratu Zil (shadow ministry), ةرﺎﺠﺘﻟا تﺮھدزا izdaharati al-tijaarah (trade

flourished), رﻮﻌﺷ حﺮﺟ jaraHa su3uwr (to hurt someone’s feelings), مﺪﻘﻟا ةﺮﻛ kuratu

al-qadam (football), ﺔﯿﻣﻮﻤﻋ ﺔﯿﻌﻤﺟ jam3iyyatun 3umuwmiyyah (general assembly),

ﺔﯿﻌﯾﺮﺸﺗ ﺔﯿﻌﻤﺟ jam3iyyatun tasriy3iyyah (legislative assembly), ةﺮﯾﺪﺘﺴﻤﻟا ةﺪﺋﺎﻤﻟا ﺮﻤﺗﺆﻣ

muw?tamaru al-maa?idati al-mustadiyrah (round-table conference), ﻦﻣ ﺔﻔﺻﺎﻋ

ﻖﯿﻔﺼﺘﻟا 3aaSifah min al-taSfiyq (an outburst of applause), ﻲﺳﺎﯿﺳ ﺮﺗﻮﺗ tawaturun

siyaasiy (political tension), ﺔﺒﺗﺎﻛ ﺔﻟآ aalatun kaatibah (a typewriter), نﺎﻣﻷا مﺎﻤﺻ

Sammaamu al-?amaan (safety valve), and ﮫﺘﻟﺎﻘﺘﺳا مﺪﻗ qaddama istiqaalatahu (he

presented his resignation).

3.6

Conclusion

This study reveals that there has not been much research into the area of Arabic

collocations. It also shows how various researchers have categorized collocations

in the Arabic language. This study suggests that freely combined collocations in

Arabic do not deserve much attention because they do not pose much difficulty

for translation. However, semantically restricted collocations are the word

combinations that are most problematic in translation and, therefore, deserve

special attention. Idiomatic expressions should be studied separately, and are

beyond the scope of this research.

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Chapter Three: Collocations in Arabic

The section on Arabic collocations in lexicography emphasizes that Arabic is rich

in collocations. It displays that Classical Arabic lexicographers were aware of the

phenomenon of collocations and included collocations in their dictionaries of

meaning.

The inspiration for the efforts made by Arabic linguists came from the need to

produce reference material that language learners and translators would find of

practical use. However, English-Arabic translators are still in need of a reliable

bilingual dictionary of collocations; a dictionary that would enable them to

produce Arabic collocations that would sound natural and native-like when read

by a native speaker.

The section on Arabic collocations in computational linguistics notes the

difficulty of processing Arabic on computers, which in turn led to a dearth of

searchable corpora. The development of more accurate software would be

essential to avoid the difficulties of searching for a word, resulting in

inappropriate lists of words.

The last section in this chapter discusses some of the sources of collocations in

Modern Standard Arabic. It states that the Arabic language used today includes

collocations that are derived from different sources, including the Quran and

borrowed collocations.

The next chapter, Chapter Four, will discuss the translation of collocations.

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Chapter Four: Collocations and Translation

  • 4 COLLOCATIONS AND TRANSLATION

4.1

Introduction

Different languages distribute meaning across different semantic fields, have

different usages of words, and have different types of relationships between

words. Collocation is one type of relationship between words that tells us the

words that are likely to co-occur with certain other words in a language. The

interest in the translation of collocations emerges from their great importance in

language. Collocations play a vital role in the coherence and cohesion of texts

(Hatim & Mason, 1997; Al-Zahrani, 1998). They are present in all text types. On

the other hand, the translation of collocations is a constant problem — translators

find it difficult to match the appropriate verbs with the appropriate nouns, the

appropriate adjectives with the appropriate nouns, the appropriate nouns with the

appropriate nouns, and so on and so forth. What creates this problem is that

different languages configure collocations differently. Moreover, the equivalents

of words that collocate in one language do not necessarily collocate in another

(Zughoul, 1991). Therefore, some collocations may sound strange and be

misapplied when translated (Zughoul & Abdul-Fattah, 2003).

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Chapter Four: Collocations and Translation

  • 4.2 Collocations: a translation problem

A translation problem is defined as “an objective problem, which every

translator… has to solve during a particular translation task” (Nord, 1991:151).

Several linguists have considered collocation to be a problematic area in

translation. They suggest that it is difficult to translate collocations from one

language into another and have emphasized the importance of collocations in

translation. Some of the most significant works on collocations as a problematic

area in translation are those by Newmark (1988), Emery (1988a; 1988b), Baker

(1992), Smadja (1993), Dollerup (1994), Beekman and Callow (1974), Hatim and

Mason (1990), Smadja et al (1996), Heliel (1990), and Chukwu (1997).

According to Newmark (1988:213), recognizing a collocation is one of the most

important problems in the process of translating. He states that:

Translation is sometimes a continual struggle to find appropriate

collocations, a process of connecting up appropriate nouns with

verbs and verbs with nouns, and, in the second instance, collocating

appropriate adjectives to the nouns, and adverbs or adverbial groups

to the verbs; in the third instance, collocating appropriate

connectives or conjunctions (the prepositions are already in the

adverbial groups) (Newmark, 1988:213).

He further emphasizes the importance of collocations by describing them as the

“nerves” of a text: “If grammar is the

bones of a text, collocations are the

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Chapter Four: Collocations and Translation

nerves, more subtle and multiple and specific in denoting meaning, and lexis is

the flesh” (Newmark, 1988:213).

Beekman and Callow (1974) consider translating collocations to be a fascinating

aspect in the work of translators and a measure of their overall competence in

translation. Translating collocations takes a high degree of expertise because there

is often little or no equivalence between collocational ranges across languages,

just as there is a discrepancy in the collocational range of the equivalent words

within languages (1974:163).

Hatim and Mason (1990) also argue that one of the major problems that a

translator encounters is coming up with appropriate collocations in the target

language. They note that “there is always a danger that, even for experienced

translators, source language interference will occasionally escape unnoticed and

an unnatural collocation will flaw the target text” (Hatim & Mason, 1990:204).

There is evidence that even native speakers have difficulty with collocations in

formal written contexts (Benson, 1985; Baltova, 1994; Aghbar, 1990; Hussein,

1990; Chukwu, 1997), because they are not predictable on the basis of syntactic or

semantic rules.

Some linguists feel that it is advisable to see that ‘collocation rules are faithfully

applied’ in translation (Snell-Hornby, 1995:122). What they mean is that a

collocation should not be automatically transferred from the source language into

the target language. Barnwell (1980) suggests that transferring the source

language collocation into the target

collocation will result in a collocation

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Chapter Four: Collocations and Translation

that is ‘unnatural and obscure’ (1980:56). However, unfortunate collocations may

be necessary when there is no other way to transfer the original collocation into

the target language, especially with concepts that do not exist or are new to the

target language. An example given by Izwaini (2000:28) that illustrates this point

is: the Cold War translated into Arabic by the calque ةدرﺎﺒﻟا بﺮﺤﻟا al-Harb al-

baaridah (the Cold War). Before the outbreak of the Cold War after World War

II, neither English nor Arabic had a term for it.

Baker (1992:49) argues that the patterns of collocation are largely arbitrary and

independent across languages. She gives the following examples of translating

English collocations into Arabic. In English, the verb deliver collocates with a

number of nouns, each of which is translated into a different verb in Arabic. The

examples are illustrated in Table 4.1 below:

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Chapter Four: Collocations and Translation

English collocation

Arabic equivalent