Review: Lughatuna

4 stars
Very useful bidirectional online dictionary for Egyptian, Levantine and Maghrebi Arabic

(This is a probably very subjective review by a novice student of Ammiya (colloquial variety of Arabic).) Though – of course – not exhaustive the website is a very useful dictionary for looking up words or phrases in Egyptian, Levantine and Maghrebi Arabic. Arabic words are given with Tashkil and plurals are provided. Partly, very colloquial words or phrases can be found, which is especially useful.
Things that could be better:

  • The data isn’t published under an open license, but “All rights reserved” (unlike for Wiktionary).
  • The direction of language of input isn’t recognized automatically, so it has to be set and possibly switched manually.
  • The source of the data isn’t really clear to me. https://livingarabic.com/about is only partly helpful. It seems the main author, Hossam Abouzahr, isn’t a philologist, that might be an advantage, but also a risk so to say. And unlike for Lane’s Lexicon which is quoted on the page this dictionary hasn’t been printed by a 19th-century publishing house. So here we don’t have any external warrantor for the accuracy of the information. Also, what are the criteria for a word or phrase to be added? Are there any corpora used? Would be good to know.
  • The roots take to much space, on a small (phone) screen this means a lot of scrolling and less overview.
  • JavaScript is needed for the website to work (unlike for Wiktionary).
  • The website sends data to Google.
  • Abbreviations like “ECA” (Egyptian Colloquial Arabic), “S”, “P” etc. should be linked to some place or use the <abbr> HTML tag to resolve them. There should at least be a list of them and their full representation.
  • British English spelling like “labour” doesn’t find anything.

Specific advantages:

  • Handy implementation of (parallel or single) variety lookup. Keyboard navigation isn’t possible to select the checkboxes though.
  • Website without (external) ads.

There is also an app for Android and iOS (the latter for $3.99 in the US App Store), seemingly also no open source version of the app.

Altogether, for me, the website has become indispensable for studying and to augment my vocabulary of spoken Arabic. As is good on itself, but especially good in the face of the sparseness of alternatives for the varieties of Arabic.