Professor James Dickins

Professor James Dickins

Profile

I have a BA in Arabic and Turkish from the University of Cambridge (1980) and a PhD in Arabic Linguistics from Heriot-Watt University (1990). I taught English in Sudan from 1980-1982, and taught Arabic and Arabic>English translation at the University of Cambridge, Heriot Watt University, and the universities of St. Andrews, Durham, Salford and Leeds. I am currently Professor of Arabic at Leeds. Publications include Standard Arabic: An Advanced Course (1998, with Janet Watson), Extended Axiomatic Linguistics (1999), Thinking Arabic Translation (2002; 2nd edition 2016, with Sandor Hervey and Ian Higgins), and Sudanese Arabic: Phonematics and Syllable Structure (2007).

Major publications
Extended axiomatic linguistics. 1998. Mouton de Gruyter.
This book presents extended axiomatic functionalism as a linguistic theory, applies the theory to various areas including incomplete neutralization, imperfect synonymy, idiom and metaphor, and proposes a new approach to the relationship between sentence-linguistics and text-linguistics. Read the Introduction to this book.

Standard Arabic: an advanced course, with J.C.E. Watson. 1999. Cambridge University Press.
This is a complete course for advanced learners of Arabic. Each chapter is structured around a particular topic (e.g. ethnicity in the Middle East, Islamic heritage, Islamic fundamentalism, folklore, economics), providing a coherent focus for student interest, as well as allowing students to acquire and practice vocabulary in a structured manner. The course deals primarily with Modern Standard Arabic, but each chapter also includes some classical material. Both expository and argumentative texts are included, and the following types of material are covered: newspapers, news broadcasts, academic and cultural writing and broadcasts, and literary writing. The course develops all four basic language skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening). It also provides extensive practice in translation and precis.

Thinking Arabic translation, with S.G.J. Hervey and I. Higgins. 2016 (2nd edition). Routledge.
This book develops aspects of Hervey and Higgins' Thinking Translation series (Routledge 1992, etc.), and contains a large amount of original research.  The chapters cover the following: 1 Translation as a process 2 Translation as a product 4 Revising and editing TTs 4 Cultural transposition 5 Compensation 6 Genre 7 Denotative meaning 8 Connotative meaning 9 Phonic/graphic and prosodic issues 10 Grammatical issues 11 Parallelism 12 Sentential issues 13 Discourse and intertextual issues 14 Metaphor 15 Language variety: register, sociolect and dialect 16 Introduction to technical translation 17 Technical translation: botanical texts 18 Technical translation: constitutional texts 19 Technical translation: Islamic finance texts 20 Consumer-oriented texts 21 Summary and Conclusion The book is used on all MA courses in Arabic/English translation in Britain and the Arab world, and a number of British undergraduate Arabic courses. Read the Introduction  to this book.

Sudanese Arabic: phonematics and syllable structure. 2007. Otto Harrassowitz.
This book expounds aspects of a functionalist model of phonological analysis  and applies the model to the analysis of the phonematics (phoneme system) of Central Urban Sudanese Arabic. It is shown that this model yields an extremely simple phonematic description of the dialect.

List of all my publications

Current research (books)

  • Sudanese Arabic: syntax
  • Thinking translation methodology

Other downloadable materials

Axiomatic functionalism
Extended Axiomatic Functionalism: Semiotics . This diagram presents the basic notions of extended axiomatic functionalism as a semiotic theory. Extended Axiomatic Functionalism: Linguistics . This diagram presents the basic notions of extended axiomatic functionalism as a linguistic theory. Extended Axiomatic Functionalism: Postulates . These postulates provide a formal statement of the semiotic and linguistic theory of extended axiomatic functionalism (EAF). Comparison between the postulates for Standard Axiomatic Functionalism and those for Extended Axiomatic Functionalism . This spreadsheet provides a comparison between the postulates for extended axiomatic functionalism, and those for standard axiomatic functionalism (SAF). The spreadsheet columns contain the following information:

Column A

'Line number' gives the linear order of the rows.

Column B

'Under EAF Axiom' identifies which axiom each definition falls under in extended axiomatic functionalism.

Column C 

'EAF Tag' identifies the number of the definition or axiom in extended axiomatic functionalism.

Column D

'EAF entity' is the notion (or entity) being defined in extended axiomatic functionalism.

Column E

'EAF definition' gives the formal definition of the notion (entity) in Column D.

Column F

'EAF comment' provides additional comments on the notion (entity) in Column D.

Column G

'Under SAF Axiom' identifies which axiom each definition falls under in standard axiomatic functionalism.

Column H

'SAF Tag' identifies the number of the definition or axiom in standard axiomatic functionalism.

Column I

'SAF entity' is the notion (or entity) being defined in standard axiomatic functionalism.

Column J

'SAF definition' gives the formal definition of the notion (entity) in Column I.

Column K

'SAF comment' provides additional comments on the notion (entity) in Column I.

Corpus-based English word-frequency lists

• Extended Version of A General Service  List of English Words 
By  Michael West (Longman, 1953) with semantic-field categories  added for all entries. The  General Service List was a pioneering  corpus-based frequency list, and has been out of print for a number  of years. It remains the only available such list to provide  frequencies for words in particular senses (word-in-sense  frequencies)  rather than raw word frequencies (or frequencies of  words according to word-class). Thus, with regard to the word ‘able’, for example, the General Service List gives  the frequency of 'able' in  the sense of 'having the ability to' as well  as its frequency in the  sense of 'competent, skilled'. I have taken the semantic-field categories from the Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English (LLCE) by Tom McArthur (Longman, 1981). List of the semantic-field categories used in the LLCE. The Extended Version of a General Service List  is currently in  Excel format, allowing for both sorting and  extraction of materials  according to the following categories: A. Line numbering (order in  which entries appear in the  printed version of the General Service  List; B. Headword as given in the General Service List; C.  Lemmatized headword, i.e. standard dictionary-type headword; D.  McArthur category; E. Word-class; F. Word count 1, as given in  the  General Service List; G. Word count 2, 'raw' word count without  additional information given in the General Service  List; H.  Percentage scores for occurrences of words in a particular sense in the General Service List; I. Word-in- sense frequency; J. Source of information (given throughout as GenSerList); K. Meaning (as in General Service  List). I thank the Institute of Education, University of London, copyright holders of the General Service List of  English Words, for permission to reproduce this material.  Further information about the organisation of the General Service List can be found in the Introduction to the printed version of the List. The work of scanning the printed version of the General Service List and converting the material to  Excel format was done by Nimish Shah.

• Frequencies in Spoken and Written English 
By Geoffrey Leech, Paul Rayson and Andrew Wilson (Longman, 2001) with  semantic-field categories added  for all entries. This list is based on the British National Corpus. Information about the corpus and electronic versions of frequency lists derived from it can be found at: http://ucrel.lancs.ac.uk/bncfreq/. I have taken the semantic-field categories from the Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English by Tom McArthur (Longman, 1981). List of the semantic-field categories used in the LLCE. The Extended Version of Rank Frequency List: Spoken English is currrently  in Excel format, allowing for both sorting and  extraction of materials according  to the following categories: A. Rank frequency order; B. Non-lemmatized head  (as given in  Leech, et al.); C. Lemmatized headword, i.e. standard dictionary- type headword; D. McArthur category; E. Word-class; F.  Rounded frequency per million words in speech; G. Log likelihood; H. Rounded frequency per  million words in writing; I.  Source of information (given throughout as WoFreSpoWriEng). I thank Geoffrey Leech, Paul Rayson and Andrew Wilson, copyright holders of Word Frequencies in Spoken and Written English, for permission to reproduce their material.
 
Sudanese Arabic

• Khartoum Arabic
This article, which appears in the Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics (Vol. 2) (Brill 2006), provides a general description of the dialect of the capital Khartoum and the major cities of central Sudan. Download the article.

• An Arabic/English Dictionary of Sudanese Arabic
This is a dictionary of the Arabic dialect of Khartoum and other urban areas of central Sudan. I thank the British Academy for giving me a Small Personal Research Grant to work on this dictionary during 1985-6. I also thank the Leverhulme Trust for granting me a Research Award from 2002-4 to work on the dictionary and on a reference grammar of Sudanese Arabic (in progress).

Download the Arabic-English version of the dictionary
Download the English-Arabic version of the dictionary.

The version of the dictionary which is made available on this page is a partial version of the overall dictionary (currently c. 31,000 entries). This online version attempts to cover the basic vocabulary of Sudanese Arabic, including almost all the vocabulary given in Rank frequency list: spoken English from Word frequencies in written and spoken English, by Geoffrey Leech, Paul Rayson and Andrew Wilson (Longman, 2001), pp. 144-180. This frequency list is also available on this webpage.

Transcription system and other symbols used for in the dictionary. The dictionary is in Excel spreadsheet format in both Arabic-English and English-Arabic versions. This spreadsheet format allows the reader to order the material in various ways (alphabetically on English entries, alphabetically on Arabic entries, by root, etc.). It also makes it possible for the reader to extract information; e.g. to look up all records (rows) in Column B (English entries) which contain the word 'clean'. I would be very pleased to receive comments on the dictionary, including information about mistakes.

I particularly thank the following for their work on the Sudanese Arabic dictionary: Elrayah Abdelgadir (dictionary consultant, 2005 and 2007), Ali Al-Rashid Al-Amin (dictionary consultant, 1985, 1986), Ashraf Abdelhay, Asjad Saeedm Awad Alhassan, Mohammed El Shazali, Taj Kandoura, Tarig Rahma, Yousif Elhindi, and Abd El Matallab Fahal.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Qualifications

  • BA in Arabic and Turkish, University of Cambridge, 1982
  • PhD in Arabic LInguistics, Heriot-Watt University, 1990

Professional memberships

  • Member of British Society of Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES)
  • Member of British Association for the Teaching of Arabic (BATA)

Student education

I am mainly involved in PhD supervision. I also teach Arabic>English translation at Masters level, and comparative Arabic/English stylistics at Masters level and Arabic stylistics undergraduate level.

Doctoral Supervision
I have been involved in doctoral research supervision since 1987, and have successfully supervised 39 doctoral theses in the following main areas:

  • Arabic and general  linguistics
  • The Arabic linguistic tradition
  • Arabic/English translation: political, literary, and religious translation (esp. Quran translation), linguistic aspects of Arabic/English translation
  • Arabic dialectology and sociolinguistics

I offer MPhil and PhD supervision in all the above as well as other areas relating to my research interests. Doctoral theses which I have supervised
 

Research groups and institutes

  • Arabic
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/research-opportunities">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>