Reviews by jjmhtp

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. 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.

3 stars
Nice selection of churches, information outdated, horrible arrangement

It is nice to have this book as a compendium on the Madrileñan churches. The texts aren’t of especially high quality, not footnotes are used. By now (2021) many of the opening hours in the 3rd edition from 2019 are wrong, I wonder if they were updated for the new edition.

Big problem is the order of the churches by style. It is hard to find a church even if you know its name – and many of the churches have more than one name. This could be fixed with alphabetical registers of persons and buildings – both are missing. The small maps for some entries and the routes at the end of the book aren’t a replacement for a map that would list the churches together, this is missing as well.

Copy-editing wasn’t too diligent it seems. Not even formats are coherent (“18:00” and “20,30” in one line (3rd edition, p. 360)).

With three quarters of a kilogram weight it is unnecessarily heavy to carry on visiting tours, lighter paper would have been better as well as a hardback format.

5 stars
Friendly fair trade fashion shop

Staff is very friendly, prices are high.

5 stars
Great encyclopedic museum

A great encyclopedic museum with well described objects and free admission.

5 stars
Friendly and good bakery

A friendly and good bakery with Turkish staff and some Turkish products like simits.

4 stars
Great collection of pre-Columbian and Spanish American objects with a ridiculous narrative framing

The museum houses objects from pre-Columbian times that are several thousand years old as well as colonial objects and 20th-century objects of native Americans, many of them beautiful and informative.

The framing of the accompanying texts and their concept of history is outrageous though. Problems of the commons American and Spanish history since 1492 are barely expounded. 18th-century paintings showing racial typologies are displayed without comment on their racist content or their context. The later parts of the recommended tour deal with aspects of culture of the Americas like “marriage”; it is quite odd to see topics dealt with for the area of countless different cultures on two continents in thousands of years.

Fortunately most objects have labels with a title, material description, origin and inventory number, sometimes also a descriptive note.

5 stars
Great museum

Great place, awesome objects, well lit, well described.

The Spanish and English object descriptions on the website are often more detailed than those of the printed guidebook. So if you have internet connection and read Spanish or English they deliver profound and free information.

A few more benches inside would be nice. Unfortunately, there are no lockers for small bags. As with many museums nowadays the security check-in is annoying.

National Archaeological Museum
4 stars
Great objects, mediocre presentation

It seems everything in this museum has been recently reworked – the building, the texts, the flat screens – without saving money. And without question the museum holds a great collection of objects. Their presentation though is very insufficient in many ways, the museum labels don’t even display inventory numbers, some showcases like one with Sephardi objects don’t even have object level description labels.

The advertised app is available in Spanish, English and French. On iOS, it can only be used in landscape mode and with running screen. It doesn’t save video positions if you leave a video.

The richness of the collection is worth the visit.

5 stars
Great place for coffee and working

The cafe is a great place to have coffee of fresh pressed orange juice and work a bit in the shadow of the Alameda trees. At the street tables the wifi is quite weak. There are sockets inside and a couple of books.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
3 stars
Un paseo por la historia del arte …

Beyond question, the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza holds an extraordinary collection. The objects are well lit, object descriptions are available online via QR codes on the museum labels. Information on the objects feels like well finished.

That said, the collection is advertised as “Un paseo por la historia del arte” and indeed it is “a walk through the history of art” if we count only European and Western art from medieval times and mainly paintings though the collections has a couple of sculptures and objects of decorative arts as well. The paintings feel like a who’s who of this history without too many surprises of less known names.

For many of the works the visit is worthwhile of course. The compilation of objects is one not too fruitful for me. Of two days off in Madrid, I’d rather spend both in the Prado than one here.