The Aryanpur progressive Persian-English dictionary, one-volume, concise

The Aryanpur progressive Persian-English dictionary, one-volume, concise. By Manoochehr Aryanpur-Kashani (with the collaboration of S. M. Assi). Tehran: Computer World, 1384 Sh/2005. Pp. iv, 1596. ISBN 9648603200. 109,000 Rials.

Reviewed by Muhammad-Reza Fakhr-Rohani, University of Qom

The above dictionary (henceforth APPED) is an abridged edition of an earlier work, viz. The Aryanpur progressive Persian-English dictionary (4 vols, 2003). Unlike its predecessor, the APPED is designed to be affordable for students. Regarding coverage, it can be compared, and ranked, with Francis Steingass’s Comprehensive Persian-English dictionary (1892) and Solaiman Haim’s New Persian-English dictionary (1934–36).

The APPED offers several notable features. It gives equivalents of the vocabulary and idioms of current Persian as spoken in Iran. In addition to Persian cultural terms, a large number of newly coined words and phrases are also included with equivalents and/or translations. Notable is the inclusion of modern technical terms in a wide variety of disciplines. It renders several English equivalents for any given Persian headword, though the various meanings are not discriminated. It would have been more useful for the Persian-speaking user if the equivalents were either divided according to their senses or supported by some usage notes or synonym-discrimination paragraphs.

There are some shortcomings in the APPED as well. It seems that it was written with the assumption that only Persian-speaking users would consult it, though this is certainly not the case. The key to the transcription system offers no sample words in English to assist the English-speaking user with the phonetic value of the Persian pronunciations given. It is surprising that the six-vowel system of Persian phonology is represented by seven vowel symbols, and the glottal stop is represented by a single inverted comma. The Persian dental plosives are represented by their alveolar counterparts, which may easily mislead a person new to Persian. In addition, there are diphthongal transcriptions, but there are no diphthongal phonemes in Persian phonology (though phonetically some vowels may sound diphthongal). Given that the phonetic and phonological systems of Persian and English are different, an attempt to inform the English-speaking user of such delicate points as, for example, there being only dental and not alveolar plosives in Persian would have been useful. Moreover, the transcriptions hardly reflect the pronunciations of Persian-speaking readers, though the pronunciations given do reflect those of the written forms.

The example sentences provided should be revised and edited. Besides the sentences beginning with proper names, the rest rarely begin with capital letters, and, surprisingly, a great majority of them lack a full stop. These deficiencies, no doubt, will certainly mislead beginners who wish to consult the dictionary.

The APPED demands revision with regard to the Oriental loanwords in English. Although many such loanwords, particularly from Arabic or Persian origins, are recorded in great English dictionaries, most of them are not recorded in the APPED. These include words that pertain to religious, social, and cultural institutions. Despite the practice of some dictionaries, such as Steingass’s and Haim’s, which provide etymological information, however brief, the APPED remains reticent in this regard.

The APPED could be improved in many ways and prove to be a more reliable dictionary, serving its users for a longer period of time.