Arabic translation is an open window through which we see and explore the world, on the one hand, and on the other it lets air and light enter to purify and renew the place. There are a lot of shapes and forms of windows we make; and according to each, the vision by which we explore other types of knowledge is determined.
We talked much about Arabic translation, held conferences, authored books, introduced institutions, institutes and awards, and sometimes included it in curricula.
I will not discuss here types of Arabic translations, their value or their relationship to honesty or dishonesty. Nor will I talk about their effects on the Arabic language, or the extent to which recipients will benefit from it if they lack another language. These are issues that have long been studied and researched and are still under discussion. I would like to raise a complex question about Arabic translation strategy adopted by Arabs, and I formulate it as follows: Why do we translate what we translate? What is the relationship between what each of us translates? This question relates to all kinds of Arabic translations in any field of knowledge or science. There is no difference between natural, human or social sciences. I will focus on Arabic translation of literary studies in general, especially narratives, in order to answer the question posed.
What urged me to raise this question about Arabic translation strategy is based, in my opinion, on the fact that its absence can lead to the absence of ability to benefit from it as a window through which we interact with human knowledge. In the absence of this positive interaction, we can never contribute to that knowledge, no matter how we talk about Arabic translation, exercise it or stress on its necessity and importance. My specialization in narratives has allowed me to get to know most writings about Arabic translation that have been written since its beginning to date. I read various writings about translation in French and English as well as writings translated from German, Spanish, Italian and other languages. In English writings, whatever the origin of the writer, I have always found most, if not all, writings have originally been written in French and then translated into English.
Some of these references appeared in magazines, in the sixties or seventies, and they were not collected in a book, and sometimes they are written by writers who do not have a lot of contributions. Some of these magazines were difficult to obtain. The same can be said about Spanish. When I read the book «Structural Theory in Literary Criticism» by Salah Fadl, which has a Spanish reference, I found all that was written about structuralism in French was translated into Spanish, very shortly after it had been issued in French.
With the development of narratives on the emergence of “Post-Classical Narratives” in current English writings, structural foundations of narratives are needed. I always find the same thing: most of references to the classical stage (which are French) are translated into English. I simply conclude that there is a strategy for Arabic translation and that there is a comprehensive survey of what is written in a particular discipline to be translated into another language to contribute to the development of knowledge. We cannot deny great efforts made by Arabs in translation, for example without limitation, efforts made by Egypt’s National Center for Translation, Kuwait’s “Knowledge World”, Lebanon’s “Arab Organization for Translation”, Tunisia’s Bait Al Hikma for translation and other Arab institutions, in addition to translation magazines or magazines that set a special section for translation. All such efforts are sporadic and have no specific strategy to open knowledge windows, enabling us to obtain full knowledge necessary to make achievements in fields of knowledge or science. If we look at classical narratives translated into Arabic, we find that they are very few. While post-classical narratives, which have become a true heritage, in which researchers contribute globally, are totally absent. Arabs tritely talk now about digital literature and digital culture, and what has been achieved within the scope of “digital narratives” is endless.
We look at Arabic translation as an individual process that is subject to the translator’s desire, temperament and culture. It does not pay attention to transferring original books, but it pays attention to simplistic or secondary books. Arabic translations do not integrate and do not consolidate. We translate the book that we see useful in itself, not according to its value in the discipline to which it belongs. We do not translate books while they are new and of interest, but we translate them when they become old. For example, what has been translated into Arabic for Jean Genet, father of narratives, or for Greimas? We find the same thing in various scientific and cognitive disciplines. The absence of a specific strategy for Arabic translation according to fields makes our relationship with translation very limited and incomplete, and as a result we do not benefit from it, and therefore we cannot have sciences or intellectual currents. When Arabic translation is not an appropriate window, it does not contribute, whatever its size, to seeing the world, or letting air in.
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