Zeinab Ibrahim
Zeinab Ibrahim

Carnegie Mellon leads team to create interactive map of Qatari dialect

Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) is leading a new research team that will create an interactive linguistic map of Qatari dialect. Zeinab Ibrahim, teaching professor of Arabic studies, is the lead principal investigator on the project that just received funding from the Qatar National Research Fund’s (QNRF) National Priorities Research Program.

The project will map the social, geographical and generational variations of Qatari dialect, and create a digital tool for exploring pronunciation, usage and expressions. Currently, the linguistic situation in Qatar is described in scattered documents, and the team’s goal is to fill this knowledge gap.

“The main goal of the research is to explore and analyze the actual dialectal situation in Qatar,” said Ibrahim. “Although we have many goals, our main purpose is to add to the knowledge base of Qatari dialect, heritage, culture and identity.”

The project will build standard written conventions for Qatari dialect, and digitize this information so they can use natural language processing and machine learning techniques in their analysis. CMU-Q’s assistant professor of information systems, Houda Bouamor, is a principal investigator on the project.

Ibrahim believes this research can help preserve and promote Arabic language learning in Qatar: “This map will be very useful to educators in Qatar, so they can create syllabi that smooth the way for Qatari students to learn Modern Standard Arabic.”

The QNRF-funded project includes two Qatari principal investigators, and all of the interviewers will be Qatari. The project is a collaboration of several institutions within Qatar. Principal investigators include Mohamed Mahgoub and Aisha Al-Sultan from Doha International Family Institute (DIFI), Hany Abdelghelel Abdelrahem from Georgetown University in Qatar, and Mohamed Al-Marri from Qatar University.

Research at Carnegie Mellon focuses on work that matters across the spectrum of human experience. In this tradition, the Qatar campus fosters an environment of curiosity, inquiry and discovery for faculty and students. Researchers at CMU-Q seek to answer questions in a variety of fields relevant to Qatar and the world.

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