|English to Arabic translations [Non-PRO]|
|English term or phrase: good|
|referring to a place/city/town/country|
كريم? جيد? خير? طيب? صالح?
كريم? جيد? خير? طيب? صالح?
عمل الخير? عاطفية مفرطة?
طيب، حسن، فاضل
Pronounced: TAYYIB, HASAN, and FADHIL
This is a delightful question. When I interview job applicants at the Language Assistance Department at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, I sometimes ask them to give me ten different ways of saying “good” in Arabic. Most of them are surprised to find out that they already know more than ten ways.
In logic, we call “good” an analogical term. That means that although its basic meaning retains an abstract kernel of sameness in different contexts, its concrete meaning varies widely depending on the noun it modifies. Consider for example the difference between a good person, a good house, a good wine, a good cry, and a good beating.
In articulating this analogical aspect, ethicists often speak of the difference between the “pleasurable good,” the “useful or utilitarian good,” and the “moral or transcendent good.”
It does not take a philosopher to know the difference, but seeing it articulated with a ready-made nomenclature has helped me appreciate why it takes special care to translate something as simple as the word “good.”
The contextual hint that you provided (“referring to a place/city/town/country”) is helpful in narrowing down the choices, but not sufficiently. You have left a few questions unanswered:
1. In what way is the place good? If by “good” you mean nice, pleasant, appealing, or congenial, I would recommend the terms
حَسَـن or مَليح
HASAN (both syllables are short and equally stressed), or MALEEH (the A is short, and sthe stress is on the second syllable). The feminine terms are HASANA and MALEEHA.
Both terms are used for “good” or “beautiful.” This double meaning should not be surprising. In metaphysics, we refer to unity, truth, goodness, and beauty as transcendental predicates: they are all aspects of being, so it is natural that they bespeak each other. In English, the word “fair” has some of that versatility.
In contemporary Arabic, the word JAMEEL (the feminine form is JAMEELA) has largely lost that dual aspect. Today, it is most often used for “beautiful” and rarely for “good.” The word MALEEH has almost gotten that way.
On the other hand, If by “good” you mean a certain moral quality, such as the prevalence of social justice, social cohesion, solidarity, tolerance, democratic institutions, good laws, good schools, etc., then I would recommend the terms
FADHIL or SALIH (in both terms, the A is long as in “father” and the stress is on the first syllable) .
The feminine forms are FADHILA and SALIHA.
There are a couple of terms that straddle both meanings:
TAYYIB and JAYYID (the feminine forms are TAYYIBA and JAYYIDA)
JAYYID is most often used when the object in question meets a certain predefined standard of goodness. In referring to a place, the word JAYYID is most likely to be used to describe not the place itself, but a particular aspect of the place, such as unpolluted air.
2. Gender: Some of the nouns you enumerated (place/city/town/country) are masculine, while others are feminine. Which of these nouns is masculine and which is feminine, you may ask. That would depend on which Arabic equivalent term you are going to use. For instance, the classical term for “country” is BALAD, which is a masculine term. In contemporary Arabic, the plural of that term (BILAD) is often used as a singular term, in which case it is treated as feminine.
3. Did you mean written Arabic or spoken Arabic? If you are a frequent visitor to the Arabic subcommunity on ProZ, you may have come across some comments about the difference between the two (roughly equivalent to the difference between the English of Geoffrey Chaucer and that of Maya Angelou).
All the terms I have suggested above fall within standard (written) Arabic, but they are acceptable in spoken Arabic. If you are going to use the term in conversation only, then other terms may be more idiomatic. For instance:
ZAYN (the feminine form is ZAYNA): Common in the Persian Gulf Region. In Iraq, it is pronounced more like ZEEN and ZEENA.
KHOSH: This is used in Iraq and the Persian Gulf region, and is Farsi in origin. It is placed prior to the noun it modifies (contrary to the standard Arabic pattern), and is used for both masculine and feminine nouns alike.
KWAYYIS (the feminine form is KWAYYISA): Common in Egypt. The term seems to be derived from the term KAYYIS, which, according to Al-Mawrid, has two distinct sets of meanings:
A. refined, elegant, graceful, delicate, nice, kind, charming, cute, etc.
B. smart, astute, sagacious, shrewd, etc.
HILW (the feminine form is HILWA): Common in Egypt. Derived from the term for “sweet,” it is used in many regions to mean “pretty” but in Egypt, it is also used for “good” in the sense of “nice.”
‘AL (the A is long as in Sally): Commonly used in Egypt, it is derived from the word for “high” or “superb”. Its usage is rather peculiar, because it is not used to modify a noun, but rather to comment on it. As used, it is devoid of gender distinction.
MNEEH: Used in the Eastern Mediterranean regions, it is derived from MALEEH, explained above.
BAHI: In some North African regions, this is common for “good” or “well.”
I know this was an overkill, but I hope you got something out of it.
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