On Thursday 5th March I decided to visit the “Emirates Airline Festival of Literature” which was held at Intercontinental, Dubai Festival City. The festival is a yearly event and it was held from 3-7 March this year.
I tried my level best to avoid book temptations, but ended up buying 4 books (and got one signed by the author as well!) the smell of books in the air was too strong to avoid, bookaholics beware you -will- spend money at the festival of literature!
After browsing/buying a few books and roaming around the crowds I decided to attend one of the talks offered that day, a panel discussion called “The Sticky Arts of Interpretation and Translation” caught my interest and I went ahead and got my ticket, the hour long panel talk was moderated by Kamal Abdel-Malek and on the panel were Leslie McLoughlin, Yasir Suleiman and Inaam Kachachi.
The panel discussion was very interesting and from the start Leslie mentioned an Italian phrase “traduttore tradittore” which literally means that a translator is a traitor, to highlight the difficulties that translators face, and even Yasir mentioned that a translator is at fault whether he get’s it right or get it’s it wrong.
One of the few valuable nuggets of knowledge that Leslie shared during that session was that a translator must have a high sense and regard to each language he’s translating to, to enable him to translate in an efficient way.
He said one of the difficulties he faced during his early translation years was trying to translate the different forms of the Arabic dialect and carry on the meaning to English. He gave an example of a sentence in Arabic “Ya Shab” which if translated directly would be “Hey Boy” but it won’t carry the intended weight nor meaning of the full text, so he translated it to “Hey young man” and Yasir added that in Scotland “Hey Jimmy” would be the equivalent to that phrase.
Yasir mentioned that the translation must carry the effect from the original text, and this is the tricky part, there’s a word by word translation and a meaning translation, and some things can’t be directly translated. I was very amused when he mentioned that when he flirts he does it in Arabic and how some languages are better suited for a topic than the other.
I liked how Inaam agreed that a translator is a traitor, but it can be a beautiful traitory, as a translator can take a text that she described as “coal” and turn it into a beautiful diamond and sometimes visa versa!
Kamal added that languages can get jealous of each other and the translator can get caught between them.
The panel discussion could have carried on for another hour and I wouldn’t have noticed, honestly I truly enjoyed the session and I learned so many things and they made me think of transnational in a whole different sense.