A shell word; not a term by itself
The word يَتمّ in the phrase يَتمّ تَطبيق is not to be translated at all because it has no meaning in and of itself (regardless of its lexical definition). The two-word phrase is translatable as a single unit. The phrase as a whole is construed as a passive verb whose meaning is derived from the noun that follows the word يَتمّ. The verb tense will depend on how you understand the sentence. If it is declarative (descriptive, reporting a fact), then يَتمّ تَطبيق can be translated “are applied.” If it is prescriptive (like a stipulation in a contract), then يَتمّ تَطبيق can be translated “shall be applied” or “are to be applied.”
The use of the verb يَتمّ (or تَمّ, in the past tense) in the manner exemplified in your text is a feature found in the vast majority of contemporary written Arabic. It is so pervasive as to be unavoidable. It is also grossly cumbersome, totally uncalled for, and downright annoying.
In this type of construction, the verb يَتمّ is used as an empty shell. As such, it has no meaning of itself. Its meaning comes from the object noun that follows, which is always a verbal noun (a noun formed by inflection of a verb). In Arabic, a verbal noun is called مَصدَر. The combination of the verb يَتمّ and the verbal noun that follows is equivalent to a passive verb. Let us look at this example:
“The troops are transported by air.”
In honest-to-goodness Arabic, this would be translated:
يُنقَلُ الجنودُ جَوّاً.
In the atrocious style that has now become the bane of contemporary written Arabic, the passive verb يُنقَل is banished from the dictionary. In its place, you will find the verb يَتمّ followed by the verbal noun نَقْل as an object:
يَتمّ نَقْلُ الجنودِ جَوّاً.
Literally, this would be the equivalent of saying, “the troops undergo transportation by air” or “the transport of troops is carried out by air.” If the sentence is not reporting a fact but is prescribing a procedure, the translation would be, “the troops shall undergo transportation by air” or “the transport of troops shall be carried out by air”
Based on this example, if you must assign a meaning to the verb يَتمّ, it would be “is done” or “is carried out,” “is performed,” “is accomplished,” etc., or “is to be accomplished,” etc., depending on the sentence’s function.
Why, you might ask, would anybody express a simple thought like “the troops are transported” in this ridiculously convoluted way? The answer is a sad story of cultural degeneration, technological shortcomings, and economic necessity. If you are serious about pursuing Arabic-English translation as a profession, it would not hurt to be acquainted with the general story line.
In Arabic, the passive voice is achieved by inflecting the vowels of the first and second consonants of the verb root. If we use the root [ن-ق-ل] as an example, we can build two verbs in the past tense:
Active voice: نَقَلَ
Passive voice: نُقِلَ
Without the diacritical marks that indicate short vowels, these two verbs would look like Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Nobody could tell them apart unless the context is sufficiently clear one way or the other. Considering how Arabic morphology as a whole is strongly dependent on the manipulation of short vowels, the presence of at least the key diacritics would seem necessary to ensure proper reading comprehension.
Considering that the purpose of diacritics is to aid reading comprehension by supplying explicit vowels to eliminate textual ambiguity, it would stand to reason that the supplying of diacritics should be handled by professionals whose knowledge of Arabic is of the highest caliber. Unfortunately, in the second half of the twentieth century and beyond, very few Arabic writers, reporters, columnists, and editors, as well as translators into Arabic, could meet this requirement. People who claim Arabic as their native tongue do not actually speak it. They learn it in school at about the age of six, but they never actually use it in the minute-to-minute speaking tasks of daily life, so they never really internalize it as a mother’s tongue.
Seen in this light, the expression “Arabic-speaking person” is an oxymoron, because the last time somebody spontaneously spoke Arabic to accomplish a mundane daily task was in 1258 when the Mongols sacked Baghdad. Today, nobody speaks Arabic to order food at a restaurant, to haggle over the price of watermelon, to argue with drunken neighbors, to tell a bawdy joke while playing a board game, to cheer on a favorite soccer team, to quiet the children down, to counsel a friend in distress, to take down a patient’s medical history, to force a confession out of a political prisoner, to mumble sweet nothings to a sweetheart, or to say, “pass the salt, please!”
At best, the Arabic language is an Arab’s second language, learned relatively late in life and then never practiced except in reading and writing, which do not effectuate adequate assimilation of the language by the cerebral cortex. In fact, for a well-educated Arab professional, Arabic is usually a third or fourth language, depending on how many other languages the individual has learned and how well. An Arab’s first language is an unwritten regional language, typically referred to as a dialect, that shares a great deal of vocabulary with Arabic but does not have the syntactical structure of Arabic. Why this is the case is an epic tragedy, and this is not the right place to narrate that story. The point is that the people who provide written or translated texts could not be relied upon to supply diacritics to their own texts.
What is even worse is that, even if correct diacritics could be guaranteed, the pre-digital printing technology (pre-1995) was just incapable of handling the task with commercially feasible efficiency. Moreover, many readers find that diacritics make the text look cluttered. They would rather read and understand less than read a text with diacritics.
Due to all of these factors, the generally acceptable practice came to this: use as few diacritics as possible. There is no universal standard defining what “as few as possible” means in practical terms, but the idea is to use no more diacritics than necessary to aid reading comprehension.
Based on this rule of the thumb, it would seem that distinguishing passive and active verbs would be one of the few areas where diacritics would be helpful and could be tolerated even by people who find diacritics messy and distracting.
Alas, people engaged in the writing arts wanted every last vestige of diacritics wiped out – with Clorox, if necessary. Could there be a way to distinguish passive and active verbs without the use of diacritics? As explained above, a diabolical scheme was set in place by the Chinese Communist Party. . . . Sorry, that was just a joke to see if you are still reading.
Nobody really knows who started this monstrous scheme or when, but once it was set in motion, it spread like a virus from Wuhan. The scheme involves a two-move trick. First, eliminate all verbs, or as many as you can. That’s drastic, you say. It is like eliminating food poisoning by banning food. Ah, but wait to see the second move: replace all active verbs with the verb قام (or يقوم for the present tense, and so forth), and replace all passive verbs with the verb تَمّ (or يتم for the present tense, and so forth). We have seen above how the verb تَمّ replaces passive verbs. Now, let us demonstrate how the verb قام replaces active verbs. Let us use the verb “visit” as an example.
“Visit me once a year, y’all.”
An honest-to-goodness translation could be:
زُورُوني كُلّ سَـنة مَرّة
That is, of course, the title of the ever popular Sayyid Darweesh ditty.
Under the new scheme, there is no such thing as زُورُوني. The sentence becomes:
قوموا بزيارتي كل سـنة مرة
Poor Sayyid Darweesh would have to re-write his song.
The verb قام, when followed by the preposition بِ, means to carry out the action stated in the verbal noun that follows. The re-written sentence literally says, “Undertake visiting me once a year, y’all.”
Under this scheme, you never do anything, and nothing is ever done to you. You never, ever kiss anyone, but you can undertake the kissing of someone. And you are never kissed, but you undergo kissing. So you are either undertaking something or undergoing something, and that something cannot be stated as a verb. It is always a verbal noun following one of the two allowed verbs, قام, and تم
Verbs in this Newspeak are enemies of the State. You shoot them at sight. More accurately, you undertake the shooting of them. I remember about eighteen years ago I was assigned a job to edit a translation of a manual for the training of first responders to terrorist attacks. The manual depicted different scenarios. Each situation was followed by multiple-choice questions. In one scenario, a woman slept in a car. The question that followed was, “who slept in the car?” The translation was:
من الذي قام بالنوم في السـيارة؟
That is when I realized that Arabic, although not dead, was basically on life support. Since then, I have been abusively referring to this style of writing as القمقمة والتمتمة
When explaining the ridiculous implications of this new style to young English-Arabic or Arabic-English translators, I find it helpful to use a verse from the Quran to illustrate my point:
يَرفعِ الله الذين آمَنُوا مِنكُم والذين أُوتُوا العِلمَ دَرَجات
If the Quran had been written in contemporary Arabic, this verse would read as follows:
يقوم الله برفع الذين قاموا بالإيمان منكم والذين تم إتيانهم العلم درجات
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Arabic, English
PRO pts in category: 30