A Brief Comment on Lane’s Lexicon

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Alhamdulillâh my copy of Arabic~English Lexicon of E. W. Lane has finally arrived. First impressions? It weighs a lot! Somehow I thought that The Islamic Texts Society’s print, being only two volumes (as oppose to eight), would be pretty mobile. Yet mobile is hardly the word. But having two volumes is far more practical than eight, as it they are easier to store and refer to; two crucial elements for me. The price tag… Well let’s just say, the cheapest I saw this particular print was from a wholesalers up in Leicester for around £250. However, mine was a gift.

I have not delved into the books at all really, I used them in the past to check some rare terms (which I found), but after reading some of the preface, and what is before it, I learnt that Lane intended to write two books, a matter which I misunderstood prior. Book I is basically the Lexicon we have today, whereas Book II was to contain some irregular/rare terms. The author died upon reaching the letter Qaaf of Book II, so his Nephew, the celebrated historian/orientalist, Stanley Lane-Poole took on the task of completing the job. This means, that E. W. Lane’s second book never came. However, S. L. Poole did provide a supplementary or rare words to his part of the Lexicon.

The author drew much of the material from Al-Jawharî’s As-Sihaah and the Qamûs of Al-Fayrûzabâdî. He utilised manuscripts of these dictionaries which were supplemented with the notes of some scholars. However, the author didn’t confine himself to these and did spend over thirty years on the project. The end result is 100-200 pages of entries/articles, dedicated to each letter, an average of maybe 110 per each.

I used the dictionary ‘properly’ for the first time just two weeks ago. I checked only one word which me and some brothers had discussions about back in Cairo. I must say, I was not only impressed but relieved. Impressed with the abundance of information and the sources etc., yet relieved since it cleared any doubts I had about the term in question, it’s construction and what it signifies, and its difference to other similar words etc. Since then, I’ve gone back to it for some reference and in-depth info, but overall the Hans Wehr definitely suffices. Since this all I can really say it this stage, I’ve called this post “brief”.

Update [26/09/2010]: Since the book is out of copyright, take the chance to grab it freely as recommended by brother mumin (see comments) may Allâh reward him with good.  Also, if like me you prefer a hard copy, you can print it off and get it bound.  Costly but a lot cheaper than £300 if you get it done at the right place.

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6 comments so far

  1. Amatullah on

    Alhamdulillah I’ve been using Lane’s Lexicon for nearly 3 yrs now and I don’t know what I would do without it!

    I use the online version, inshaAllah one day I’ll buy the actual dictionary.

    • Abu Uthman on

      It is very useful I must say. But I think for the learner (like me), an Arabic dictionary like As-Sihaah is a better choice. I was accustomed to using Arabic dictionaries and had this approach encouraged and embedded into me by my teachers. The Lexicon to me feels more for translators. For learners, it replaces the benefit (and hardship) of studying Arabic through Arabic.

  2. mumin on

    You can download this for free at http://www.laneslexicon.co.uk since it is out of copyright.

    • Abû `Uthmân on

      Jazaak Allaahu khayran. I’ve linked to that site in some posts, yet I never knew it was out of copyright.

  3. Mohammed Faheem on

    http://www.tyndalearchive.com/TABS/Lane/index.htm
    You can use this link for online checking it makes the search very easy

    • altaysir on

      Jazâk Allâhu khayra. That’s very handy.


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