U.S. Government Pays for Book Translations into Arabic
Thread poster: Edward Potter

Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:16
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
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Feb 22, 2011

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052748703310104576134730199899702-lMyQjAxMTAxMDIwMTEyNDEyWj.html

I found this article interesting for many reasons. The most striking thing to me was how such important books about the United States and what it stands for are mostly unavailable in Arabic. It sheds some light on how the U.S. is so badly understood in the Arabic world.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
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300 books annually into Arabic Feb 22, 2011

I found this figure a few years ago. I don't know if it means translations from all languages or only from English. In any case it is far too little.
Into Finnish (5 million speakers world-wide) more than 10.000 titles are translated each and every year from other languages.


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TargamaT  Identity Verified
Syria
Local time: 09:16
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English to Arabic
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Don’t play it again Sam... Feb 22, 2011

Translating limited-interest books is the best way to spend money without obtaining results.

This make the happiness of some officials, gives the opportunity to have some articles in politically correct newspaper, and then nothing or almost nothing…

I need to know how to develop my "basic" life and these people translate De Tocqueville. This let me think about Mary-Antoinette!

[Edited at 2011-02-22 15:08 GMT]


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
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Basic things Feb 24, 2011

Indeed, these documents talk about some of the most basic things.

All throughout we read about self-determination and limited central government. And, very importantly, individual property rights.

These concepts seem to be foreign in many parts of the world where the U.S. is judged harshly. People in these places should be able to access the case made by Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison and Jay.

The result of the application of these ideas seem to be prosperity, brotherly love, optimism and happiness. Basic life things, indeed.



[Edited at 2011-02-24 00:31 GMT]


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
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English to Arabic
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Begging to differ... Feb 27, 2011

I don't agree with you there Usama (TargamaT).
In my opinion, books that lay the foundation of the Western/ American/ European civilization and mentality must be translated and understood.

I don't completely see it from Edward's point of view either though. It's not so much about bringing foreign ideas to countries with limited concepts of self-determination and government. These ideas are already there, and there are very healthy discussions around them going on as we speak.

My point of view is this: wherever you go in Europe and North America, you find universities that have "Centres for Middle Eastern Studies", "Department of Islamic Studies", "Institutes of Arab and Islamic Studies", not to mention government thinktanks. These centres study that part of the world inside out: not just current events, but history, literature, philosophy, thought, economics, anthropology, ethnology and sociology. Now I'm not suggesting that this thirst for studying that part of the world has purely evil imperialistic goals, but knowledge is power, and the Western knowledge of this part of the world has turned the West into the more powerful party in this relationship.

Again, I'm not suggesting that the Arab should study the West for the purpose of "overpowering" it, but it would create a balance in the relationship. And a greater understanding is sure to benefit all parties.

[Edited at 2011-02-27 20:04 GMT]


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Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
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how it's supposed to work Feb 28, 2011

Edward Potter wrote:

All throughout we read about self-determination and limited central government. And, very importantly, individual property rights.

These concepts seem to be foreign in many parts of the world where the U.S. is judged harshly. People in these places should be able to access the case made by Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison and Jay.


I'll put it the best that I can.

Is your point that when people who don't like the United States read those books, they will realise how detached U.S. politicians are from the old ideals, so they will start hating the political elite instead of the society as a whole?

That would indeed be beneficial.


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:16
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TOPIC STARTER
Good discussion going here Feb 28, 2011

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:

Edward Potter wrote:

All throughout we read about self-determination and limited central government. And, very importantly, individual property rights.

These concepts seem to be foreign in many parts of the world where the U.S. is judged harshly. People in these places should be able to access the case made by Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison and Jay.


I'll put it the best that I can.

Is your point that when people who don't like the United States read those books, they will realise how detached U.S. politicians are from the old ideals, so they will start hating the political elite instead of the society as a whole?

That would indeed be beneficial.


That is close to what I am saying. Indeed, many or most U.S. politicians are very far removed from the original ideas of Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, etc.
However, the U.S. people also should take some of the blame, for electing them.

Right now we are seeing an under-reported civil rebellion in the U.S. Last November we saw the biggest power shift the country has ever seen, as measured by number of new party representatives. I know of no other country whose citizens are demonstrating against collectivism.

The civil rebellion is based on the ideas we see expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, etc. DeTocqueville can shed a lot of light on what is happening. Individual empowerment, self determination and personal strength, are all over these writings.


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:16
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General agreement Mar 2, 2011

Nesrin wrote:
Again, I'm not suggesting that the Arab should study the West for the purpose of "overpowering" it, but it would create a balance in the relationship. And a greater understanding is sure to benefit all parties.

[Edited at 2011-02-27 20:04 GMT]


I think you are right that at the moment the West is studying the Arabic world much more than vice-versa. And I also think you are right that the Arabic world ought to do the same about the West. It leads to mutual understanding.

I suppose you are right about "knowing thy enemy" being a motive for the West pursuing knowledge about the Arabic world. But in the process, enlightenment and understanding may diffuse problems that otherwise might have arisen without this knowledge.

And may the people in the Arabic world read all about the Western thought. They may be enlightened as well.

The thought that these ideas are irrelevant since they don't provide for our day-to-day necessities is a mistaken one. Central to these writings are individual property rights. It clearly answers the question who has the right to own things. Now that is very basic.

Returning to the original subject, the U.S. government seems to know that if these writings are made available to Arabic speakers they may come to understand better what the West and the U.S. are about. It is paying Arabic translators to do so.


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U.S. Government Pays for Book Translations into Arabic

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