The launch in 2015 of the online Arabic-Hebrew dictionary—a massive, fully searchable database complete with notes, examples, and expressions drawn from many historical layers of the Arabic language—capped many years of dedicated labor by Menahem Milson, professor of Arabic language and literature emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In the essay below, adapted from remarks delivered on the 90th anniversary of the university’s Institute of Asian and African Studies, Milson reflects on the opening stages of his lifelong involvement with the language.
My Early Life with Arabic
We were the descendants of Isaac. The Arabs, descendants of Ishmael, were therefore not only our neighbors but also our family members, our cousins.