a simple test in allusions
Thread poster: fidaa2007

Local time: 12:25
English to Arabic
+ ...
Feb 3, 2009

When we read a text that is full of allusions, (proper name and key phrase allusions)we need to recognize the allusions first and then understand them and what they allude to.
in the following poitic line that is translated from Arabic into English, there are two allusions, a proper name and a key phrase, i need from you is to tell me first if you recognized them or not and if yes, to tell if you got what they allude to.
please note "that I'm posting this assignment for the purpose of study and research and that I'm not interested in any political/religious comments from others"

O my brethren in God, in blood, in Arabism, in hope,
Arise, for tyrants are laid low,
And light has dispelled the night.
Guard well the Arab revolution
That crushed the "comrades," cast down the oppressors,
For Tammuz, his splendor once stolen by the traitors,
Has arisen, and Iraq is reborn

thanks in advance

[Edited at 2009-02-03 21:06 GMT]

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Franziska Zezulka
Local time: 11:25
Arabic to German
+ ...
Allusions Mar 13, 2009

I will try to answer your question, though you posted it quite a while ago, hope this will still be useful.

Allusions are extremely difficult to translate. First, one has to recognize them, oneself. Second comes the question who the readers will be. This will influence third: there's the choice between leaving them that way (like names, dates...) or changing them.

In your example below, you obviously understood the allusions yourself, as you are a native Arab speaker, but now there's the choice to be made whether the readers of your translation will grasp it. Me having studied Arabic at university, I know at least a few things about its language, style, history, etc., so I can guess what is meant by most of the phrases. But I'm not sure what key words you are playing at - I suppose it might be the "Arab revolution" (1916) and "Tammuz" (either the Arab and Hebrew word for the month June/July or an old Babylonian/Sumeric fertility god). But in my opinion this whole short part is full of allusions.

Now it would be interesting to hear some opinions of translators not at all familiar with Arabic, whether they would understand any of the possible allusions (or the poem as a whole).

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Kathryn Sanderson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:25
French to English
My test results Mar 31, 2009


This is even later, but I hope it's still useful in a general way....

I'm American, with no knowledge of Arabic and a background in literary criticism. I recognize that the poem has allusions to history and culture, but I don't get what they allude to, except in a very general way. Without consulting any reference materials, I would conclude that the poem refers to the struggle and victory of Arabism (Pan-Arabism?) over Western colonial ("oppressors") and Soviet (" 'comrades' ") influences. I would probably look up "Arabism" and "Tammuz" as starting points to better understanding.

In short, I would understand the tone and the general subject matter of the poem, but not the specific historical and cultural allusions. I would need to look those up to make fuller sense of the poem.

Hope this helps!


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