A review of the Olive Tree Dictionary on Spoken Levantine Arabic

I spent several hours today at the Library getting a closer look at the various spoken Arabic dictionaries in circulation so the chapter on written resources in my upcoming book on developing high-level spoken Arabic skills is as practically useful as possible.

One resource that I had heard many good things about but hadn’t seen myself until this morning is The Olive Tree. After flipping through it for an hour, now I understand why it is so highly regarded.

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The book is truly indispensable for Arabic students. Frankly, I don’t see how anyone whose priority is Levantine Dialect can get away with not having a copy (or at least regular access to one)

The Only “Bad” News: 

It is expensive. You can get a used copy for 84 bucks on Amazon.  That’s not cheap, on the other  hand, don’t think about cost. Think about Value. If you are serious about getting good at Levantine, the Long-term ROI will exceed cost 50x over.

Let me share an example of its immediate utility. Yesterday, when writing this post on how to study media transcripts to gain a better grasp of Lebanese, I kept hearing the word  (هيك). This is not a word that is used in the non-Levantine dialects I am most familiar with. For example:

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While (هيك) isn’t a hugely important word in this context I wanted to get an exact grasp of the various contingencies for how it is used. Yet since I was dealing with spoken Arabic, you rarely find comprehensive, written explanations for terms like this in print.

So I flipped to the section on Hek in the Olive Tree. This is what I found:


HEk 2.png

It clarified everything. I have seen it on print. It has been visualized.  I personally will never have an issue with (هيك ) again.


Do you have friends who are trying to get good at Levantine Arabic who might learn something from this post? If so, please consider sharing on relevant social media feeds.

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