Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This Time in Arabic

The admonition here in English, together with few words after that, is available in Arabic and Urdu, courtesy Dr Mujtaba Nadwi. When somebody speaks incorrect Urdu then the regular speakers of Urdu are appalled. Apparently Arabic speakers are much more appalled if somebody does not get their language properly. Something like that might have happened in case of these translations too (there are few more sayings that have been translated into Arabic by Dr Nadwi).

Our suggestion to native Arabic speakers: Now that you have our interpretation, or effort, in front of you why don't you polish it so that the language is pleasant to you too? It also reminds us the incident with the publication of the seminal work Islam and the World (Arabic (with apologies)=Maza khasral-alam bi inhitat al muslimeen, Urdu=Muslamanon ke urooj-o-zawal ka dunya par asar). When it was published for the first time in the Arabic in the Arab world Ali Miyan (NM) chose a famous personality to write the foreword. This person wrote the foreword and also wrote that since the author is Indian and not a native speaker of Arabic he can be forgiven for his language. An innocuous looking statement but it certainly deflated the potential of the book. For the second edition Ali Miyan (NM) chose Syed Qutb to write the foreword. And the rest, as they say, is the history. Even youngsters in the Arab world have read that book.

There is another aspect to this event. Arab world has not realized the fact that non-Arabs too can contribute to their language. English is a different story. There is a book on good English writing which has given excerpts from the writings, in English, from diverse set of non-English speaking countries. These are good writings and their English looks much different from British English but it is English nevertheless.