This study examines the work of French Orientalist Adrien Barthélemy, who produced an extensive bilingual Arabic-French dictionary that was used in Greater Syria in the first half of the 20th century. Barthélemy aspired to turn the focus of translation away from the terminologies of specialties and hard sciences, concentrating instead on terms that were employed in daily life. In this way, he focused on the spoken language, which he thought best expressed and reflected the mentality of those who spoke it. Barthélemy’s work falls somewhere between the study of language in its lexicographic stability and the study of language in its dynamic evolution the moment when language is spoken. His work also reflected the rise of a new social class to the forefront of history in Greater Syria, a class who spoke local dialects and represented the vast majority of the population. In this study, Siraj also explores how translation and interpretation efforts, along with lexicographic works, showed the ability of the Arabic language (classical and colloquial) to assimilate foreign words and to coin Arabic synonyms that were adopted by the public, and that eventually found their way into dictionaries. Siraj also points to a difference between the linguistic efforts of lexicographers, who tend to take a cumulative linear view in dealing with language, and Orientalists and the authors of colloquial dictionaries, who focus on the spoken language.