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Translating Ironic Arabic Politeness formulas into English
Thread poster: borini
borini
Local time: 02:30
English to Arabic
Dec 1, 2001

By way of implicature, some Arabic politeness formulas are ironically used to perform a conflictive act of insulting. In other words, we can be impolite in polite ways. For example, /alaykum assalam/ literally (Peace be upon you) is usually used for greeting. However, it can be used ironically to threat someone in a context like:

A) If you defy Ahmad, \"peace be upon you\".

In fact maintaining the literal meaning in the rendering will ignore the real intention of the speaker. Thus, the speakers intent could be maintained by paraphrasing the ironic utterance into:

- You won\'t get much peace!


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Dave Simons
Local time: 00:30
French to English
Is irony really the word? Dec 21, 2001

It seems to me that when you say \"If you defy Ahmad, peace be upon you\", you are saying \"...you\'re gonna wish peace was on you.\"

There are very similar turns of phrase in English. If you say \"God help anyone who messes with me!\", you\'re not really praying that God will come down and help the other person, are you )

Anyway, someone once explained to me that Arabic was a language that made it difficult to say things ambiguously. All I can say to that is, Where there\'s a will, there\'s a way



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Translating Ironic Arabic Politeness formulas into English

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