Top Media Vocabulary for understanding Arabic media texts
What is the Top Media Vocabulary (TMV)?
The TMV is a list of approximately 2600 Arabic words that can be considered the most frequent words in Arabic media texts. These words comprise about 95% of the content of normal news reports, by which we mean factual reports and political news, but not background articles, analyses, interviews or columns. The TMV does not contain function words like pronouns, prepositions, etc. It consists of verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs.
These 2600 words were selected from a frequency list containing 5000 words, made by Dilworth Parkinson and Tim Buckwalter. From these 5000 words I have selected the words you will encounter frequently in news reports in written or spoken form.
The TMV is a project under construction. In the future it will be expanded with additional information.
You can consult this web page on a regular basis to verify new developments or you can send an email to ReadingArabicMedia at gmail dot com to receive updates.
At an advanced stage of development is a collection of sentences which illustrate the use of the 2600 words. These sentences use only the TMV words – no other words occur. Also under development is an online tool for learning and memorising the words used in the sentences.
Using the TMV
Anyone wishing to read Arabic media texts or listen to Arabic news programs would benefit by memorising as much of the TMV as possible. This would avoid the time-consuming and tedious task of repeatedly consulting a printed or online dictionary (which may not be easily available if you are reading Arabic media on paper, or listening to media broadcasts). The TMV words cover around 95% of all vocabulary used in general media coverage.
To illustrate this coverage: the text above is an authentic text retrieved from Al Ahram and is 100% covered by the TMV.
If you have not yet internalised the TMV when you start reading Arabic Media texts, I advise you to use the online edition of the Oxford Arabic Dictionary or an extension or plug-in like 'Arabic Dictionary' for Chrome. It performs much better than Google Translate in looking up isolated words. This plug-in or extension is available for different browsers. In the image below you can see how this extension works. The popup appears when you move the mouse over a word. The word becomes highlighted.
To help you memorise the words of the TMV I have created a group of courses in the online vocabulary training platform Memrise. This tool consists of a group of 5 courses (grouped together in the group Top Media Arabic Vocabulary 2600 words) containing all words of the Top Media Vocabulary, a list of 2560 words as described above.
This link will lead you to the first course.
The TMV in its present form only contains basic information on words:
Arabic spelling, root, morphological information, English (or Dutch) translation.
Some words represent two separate records in the list, providing two different senses of the word.
Additional information about these words (different senses, collocations and multi-word expressions) can be found in a recent dictionary of Modern Standard Arabic like the Oxford Arabic Dictionary or the Bulaaq Arabic-Dutch dictionary.
The current TMV is available in three different versions, one sorted by the Arabic root, another sorted by frequency and a third sorted alphabetically by the Arabic word. These versions are available as an Arabic-English list or an Arabic-Dutch list. These are pdf files and you can download them here.