French-Arab-Berber Wiktionary

A French-Maghreban dictionary of social science & humanities

As part of the FSP-Maghreb programme, FMSH has begun a project to create a multilingual, multicultural dictionary of social science and humanities, in collaboration with the CEDRIC laboratory based at the French National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts, among other partners.

The aim of the project is to foster dialogue between Maghreban and French researchers, to pool knowledge about cultures on both shores of the Mediterranean and to create a springboard for discussion around the terminology used in these different scientific and cultural contexts.

The FSP-Maghreb scientific committee identified the need for a dictionary of social science & humanities for researchers in the Maghreb and other French-speaking countries. The project began in 2014 and the task of producing the dictionary was entrusted to FMSH, which chose the format of a semantic wiktionary; in other words building up a structured, standardised body of multidisciplinary, multilingual, multicultural content with semantic explanations added so as to define the concepts as they are used in specific social science & humanities contexts.


It aims to promote discussion between Maghreban researchers and their French-speaking colleagues, to enable them to ‘speak the same language’, and to understand the inherently difficult task of translating in disciplines whose vocabulary is based partly on natural language and partly on several different scientific languages that have been codified at various times in history and in various political and cultural contexts. Each term can mean several different things in the other languages; hence the need to add a representative selection of examples of usage, which have been taken from works by well-known authors in each language and discipline concerned.

A dictionary in the operating and production phase

The results are now at the production and operation stage. A network of active French and Maghreban researchers has been formed to work on an IT platform set up to provide total management of the data. The platform adheres to linked open data (LoD) dictionary standards. At present, the database contains over 700 entries in the three languages (French, Arabic and Berber), and translations such as the concepts of Bourdieu and Durkheim, for example, have already been included. Some researchers belonging to the network have recently translated Oswald Ducrot’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Sciences of Language, which will be add to the wiktionary.

A multilingual solution

It is proposed that the end result should encompass different languages. Initially, these will be the languages currently used by researchers working in the Maghreb countries (English and French, Arabic in both its classical and dialectal forms and Berber in its different forms).

At a later date, it could be extended to include other Mediterranean languages, such as the Latin languages (Italian, Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese).

An interoperable tool

The SHS dictionary complies with the ISO 1952 standard, which can be integrated into the LOD (Linked Open Data). It is thus compatible with the existing dictionaries and potentially integrable in the new mode of publication, the Web data, which represents today the new evolution of the Web of the classical documents.


IRCAM (Rabat) | CRASC (Oran) | CREAD (Alger) | Ecole Normale Supérieure en Informatique (Alger) | Universités  de Tizi-Ouzou | Universités  de Fez | Universités Paris-Sorbonne | INALCO | FMSH | CNAM

Published at 12 December 2016