Monday, January 16, 2006

Book Review: Top 1,000 Words for Understanding Media Arabic

I must first admit that I am a sucker for these types of books. This book seemed so cool on the shelf. This book is a collection of what Elisabeth Kendall considers to be the top 1,000 words you need to know to understand media Arabic. I bought this book from Powells for $11.95. The relatively cheap cost of this book is appropriate for what you get. The book is useful and does have many important words, but it also leaves much to be desired as far as organization is concerned. Here are what I consider to be problems with this book:

1) There is no mention regarding how this collection of words was gathered. I want to know whether a corpus engine was used and if so, which newspapers were harvested? The author writes the following vieled sentence in the introduction: "every effort has been made to select the most useful and/or common vocabulary items."

2) Not every effort has been made to organize this book. There are eight sections; general, politics, elections, military, economics, trade & industry, law & order, disaster & aid. Each section is anywhere from 4 to 24 pages long. The vocabulary items are not alphabetized. There are no subgroups. Each section is simply one long list of words with no apparent order.

3) This book is not a dictionary. You can't look up a word systematically. The book is listed as a reference book, though there is no index.

This book is potentially beneficial. Students, however, may want to reorganize the book in a more useful manner. The price of the book makes it worth buying. A little more information and organization from the author, however, would at least double the book's worth.


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