Arabic Study Group

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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby eskandar » 2018-12-16, 2:38

Now I have to catch up to you! For now, I've read الأسد وأصحابه part 1 and encountered some difficulties in understanding. What do you think about this bit? I was unsure about the camel's response:
قال الاسد: "وماذا تريد؟" قال الجمل: "ما يأمرني الملك"

The lion said: "what do you want?" The camel said: "whatever the king orders of me."

And how did you understand "لا تهمنا انفسنا، وسنفعل ما يريد الملك و نبحث له عن طعام"?
My attempt at translation: "we don't care about ourselves [lit: our selves don't concern us], and we will do what the king wants and we will search for food for him."

Is the lion the king? It took me a while to even realize that, and it's the only way this story makes sense to me.
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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby voron » 2018-12-16, 10:56

I understand both sentences the same way. And yes, the lion is the king. It reminds me of how Italians use 3rd person singular feminine "Lei" when saying polite "you", which AFAIK stands for "Majesty" or "Highness" or something along the lines. (So it's literally "Would She (=the Highness) like a glass of wine"?)

One thing I don't understand in your translation, and it's something about English, not Arabic, why is it "the king orders of me" and not just "orders me"?
(tr) 120 pages, (ku) Hînker 3: Unit 5/8, (ar) Kalila wa Dimna: p.74/196

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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby Saim » 2018-12-16, 11:28

voron wrote:One thing I don't understand in your translation, and it's something about English, not Arabic, why is it "the king orders of me" and not just "orders me"?


I'm not sure what the exact rule here is but I can tell you that it follows the same structure as ask (in the sense of prosić).

These sentences are all OK:

1.[I want] whatever the king orders of me.
2. " whatever the king orders me to do.
3. " whatever the king asks of me.
4. " whatever the king asks me to do.

I'd say 2. and 4. are probably more common in everyday colloquial English. I kind of prefer 2,3,4. to 1.

The following fragments sound incomplete to me:

5. " whatever the king orders me.
6. " whatever the king asks me. [if the meaning is prosić and not pytać]

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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby voron » 2018-12-16, 11:34

Saim wrote:The following fragments sound incomplete to me

I was assuming both "orders me" and "orders me to do" sound fine because of the interference from Russian, probably, where both of these sound complete:
всё, что он приказывает мне
всё, что он приказывает мне сделать

Thanks for the explanation!
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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-12-16, 22:22

Why does everybody keep calling it القرد النجار? Isn't it القرد والنجار? Or is that a clue to what the story's about? :idea:

Also, incidentally, it helps that there are several illustrated versions of Kalila wa Dimna spanning hundreds of years! Here's a nice illustration of the story about the thief and the skylight from a much older version that shows more clearly what was actually going on: https://artsandculture.google.com/asset ... 7449%7D%7D.

Also also, why does this book seem to keep dropping initial hamzas below alif? E.g. الى instead of إلى.
eskandar wrote:I read الرجل الذي قتله الحائط . The stories are still pretty short and simple, but good for picking up a new word or two in each story.

I guess the story is pretty easy, but I read and then listened to this story, and I'm baffled by what the point of the story is. At least it's possible to argue that the other stories we read before that had a point: don't blindly believe whatever you hear about how magic will save your life, plan out time-sensitive tasks in advance (e.g. don't try to rob someone and iron out the details as you go :P), and don't get distracted by trivialities (like how cute cymbals sound when you're trying to get someone to make beads out of that jewel you got lying around). But what's the point of a story about some guy coming across a pack of wolves, trying to escape across a river to a village, nearly drowning, coming across robbers, and then getting killed by a falling wall? Life's a bitch and then you die? :lol:

EDIT: I thought about it some more, and I think maybe the point is that death tends to occur as a result of unpredictable circumstances? Because the guy could have died in so many ways in this story - the wolves could've eaten him, he could've drowned, the thieves could've killed him, he might have died while hastily running away from them - yet in the end, he was randomly killed by a falling wall.

I have to say, all four of those stories are kinda silly. :P Some of the later ones y'all have read or started reading are clearly based on Panchatantra stories I used to read in bed when I was growing up (I can tell immediately from the pictures...even الغراب والحية is clearly one of those - the one about the bird's trick to get the men to kill the snake that kept eating all the eggs, right?).
voron wrote:Suprisingly many stories from this book end with: فمات

That's just how a lot of fables in general end. There's not much that can be a stronger motivator from deciding not to do something than hearing that someone else who already tried it died in the process!
It reminds me of how Italians use 3rd person singular feminine "Lei" when saying polite "you", which AFAIK stands for "Majesty" or "Highness" or something along the lines. (So it's literally "Would She (=the Highness) like a glass of wine"?)

In Malayalam, you have to address almost everyone in the third person, kind of like Polish, I guess (though unlike any other Dravidian language I can think of). The Spanish equivalent of Lei is usted, which is from Vuestra Merced, i.e. Your Grace.

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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby eskandar » 2018-12-19, 0:01

vijayjohn wrote:Why does everybody keep calling it القرد النجار? Isn't it القرد والنجار?

Sorry, no, it's just a typo! I accidentally omitted the و and then voron probably reproduced my mistake without even noticing.

Also also, why does this book seem to keep dropping initial hamzas below alif? E.g. الى instead of إلى.

They're often dropped, especially with words like الی where there's no homonym with which it could be confused (so the initial hamza is basically as inconsequential as the i3raab which are also left unwritten).

But what's the point of a story about some guy coming across a pack of wolves, trying to escape across a river to a village, nearly drowning, coming across robbers, and then getting killed by a falling wall? Life's a bitch and then you die? :lol:

EDIT: I thought about it some more, and I think maybe the point is that death tends to occur as a result of unpredictable circumstances? Because the guy could have died in so many ways in this story - the wolves could've eaten him, he could've drowned, the thieves could've killed him, he might have died while hastily running away from them - yet in the end, he was randomly killed by a falling wall.

Yeah, I think those are the morals of the story - la tierra da muchas vueltas and كل نفس ذائقة الموت .

Some of the later ones y'all have read or started reading are clearly based on Panchatantra stories I used to read

You know that Kalila wa Dimna is the Arabic translation/adaptation of the Panchatantra, right?
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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby voron » 2018-12-19, 0:12

eskandar wrote: I accidentally omitted the و and then voron probably reproduced my mistake without even noticing.

I have to admit, I just copy-pasted it. :P

Yeah, I think those are the morals of the story - la tierra da muchas vueltas and كل نفس ذائقة الموت .

Isn't it also didactic that he died after refusing to help someone else who was in need? The story teaches us: ok escape dangers, but to a reasonable degree, don't be a coward. That's the moraI I saw, anyway.
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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby eskandar » 2018-12-19, 0:58

Good point!

I read الاسد واصحابه part 2 and السلحفاة والبطتان and الطائر والقرود . In the latter, I had to look up حطب HaTab "firewood" (pl. احطاب aHTaab) as well as تقويم ("correction" - I only knew it in the sense of "calendar"). I also wondered why there was a shadda on لكنّ in the penultimate line - maybe a typo?
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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-12-19, 8:09

I read القرد والنجار, الغراب والحية, and طائر البحر وسرطان.The only stories that you've read in this group so far that I'm already familiar with are these five:

الغراب والحية
طائر البحر وسرطان
الأسد والأرنب
الأسد وأصحابه
السلحفاة والبطتان

طائر البحر وسرطان seems to depart from the original in a few interesting ways, mostly just simplifying the story for the audience. In this version of the story, IIUC it's about a seabird crying out of genuine sorrow and lying about fishermen wanting to eat all the fish in the forest and a crab who happens to pass by and who almost faces a moral dilemma regarding whether to kill the seabird. In the original from the Panchatantra, it's about a stork living in a tree near a pond (there's no mention of a forest in the original) who merely pretends to cry as part of his trick (despite his genuine worry about starving) and doesn't even try to catch the other animals. Puzzled by the sudden change in the stork's behavior, the animals themselves send a crab to ask him what's wrong (I guess because they figure he can't eat the crab as easily as he could eat them). The stork says he overheard two astrologers predicting a drought. The crab even tries to suggest going to another pond, but the stork insists he's become so attached to this one over the years that he's chosen to starve rather than witness the drought. The crab takes time not to decide whether to kill the stork or not, but merely to figure out how to do it.

الغراب والحية also departs from the original but mostly by leaving out the details regarding the humans (the "rich woman" is the queen of a nearby kingdom who visits a Shiva temple near the crows' nest and bathes in a pool on the temple grounds along with the women accompanying her). Apart from that, in the original, the crow consults a fox, not a jackal, and doesn't propose any alternative plans for getting revenge.

Are storks by any chance relatively uncommon in the Middle East?
voron wrote:
eskandar wrote:I read القرد النجار as well and encountered some issues.
This one was a little harder to understand completely. What do you all think of this translation?
وكان كلما عمل شقاً في الخشب وضع فيه وتداً حتی لا يلتصق الخشب ببعضه
and everywhere he made a cut in the wood, he would put a wedge in it so that the wood doesn't stick to itself/stick together

That's my understanding, too. I'm also ignorant about woodworking. I can only tell from my experience that, in order to split a piece of wood into two, it's easier to make a cut with an axe, insert a wedge, and then hit the wedge from both sides, than to use the axe only.

I don't know anything about woodworking, either, and was wondering about exactly this thing. I guess if we were cutting down a tree, we'd look like this (I know I've already been making too many non-Arabic references in this post, but I couldn't resist one more). :P Then I tried looking for some helpful woodworking tips, but no luck. Finally, I did what I should have done and just look for an alternative version of this story, and I finally found a version of the Panchatantra story in English that explains that the carpenter "first forced the smaller wedge into the crack, so as to keep it open." That makes a lot more sense.

Eskandar bhai, I think your translation makes as much sense out of that sentence as possible. I just still didn't get what the author meant by that. :P
eskandar wrote:You know that Kalila wa Dimna is the Arabic translation/adaptation of the Panchatantra, right?

That's what I thought until I started reading it and finding that none of the stories seemed like anything even remotely close to the stories I read in the Panchatantra! :shock: (Until of course I looked at الغراب والحية and felt more relieved :)).
voron wrote:Isn't it also didactic that he died after refusing to help someone else who was in need?

You mean by running away from the thieves instead of helping the trader they were robbing?

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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby eskandar » 2018-12-20, 1:40

I read الخداع والمغفل and الجرذان والحديد . I have a question about plurals like جرذان or غربان , etc. Does the dual look identical when unvocalized? In other words, do we have:

جرذ juradh singular
جرذان juradhaan dual
جرذان jurdhaan plural
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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby Ser » 2018-12-20, 1:50

eskandar wrote:I read الخداع والمغفل and الجرذان والحديد . I have a question about plurals like جرذان or غربان , etc. Does the dual look identical when unvocalized? In other words, do we have:

جرذ juradh singular
جرذان juradhaan dual
جرذان jurdhaan plural

Yes. Also, I remember the plural was jirdhaan...? :hmm:

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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby eskandar » 2018-12-20, 4:14

Ser wrote:Yes. Also, I remember the plural was jirdhaan...? :hmm:

Thanks. According to Hans Wehr, both forms (jurdhaan and jirdhaan) are possible. That kind of variation is pretty common in Arabic.
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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby eskandar » 2018-12-20, 23:34

I read الاسد والثور part 1 which turned out to feature the book's eponymous characters.
Looked up نَشَفَ يَنشُف nashafa yanshufu "to dry, dry up". Here it appeared in the passive يُنشَف yunshaf "it becomes dry".
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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby eskandar » 2018-12-22, 20:24

Read الاسد والثور parts 2, 3, and 4.
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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby voron » 2018-12-23, 23:36

I read الخداع والمغفل.

It's interesting that I can usually guess the meanings of the words marked with the asterisk without a problem because the same words exist in Turkish. For example, in this story we have:
مبلغ - meblağ - amount
أنكر - inkar (etti) - denied

And I also read الجرذان والحديد.

Btw I never realized that the Latin taurus comes from Arabic (it does, doesn't it? because ثور sounds too similar to be a coincidence).
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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby Ser » 2018-12-24, 3:04

voron wrote:Btw I never realized that the Latin taurus comes from Arabic (it does, doesn't it? because ثور sounds too similar to be a coincidence).

Not from Arabic, as the word is attested in Latin and Greek before Arabic basically existed (Greek ταῦρος is attested in the Iliad and the Odyssey), but yes, the Latin/Greek word is likely borrowed from a Semitic language.

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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby eskandar » 2018-12-24, 4:33

Wiktionary gives the Latin etymology and says it's "possibly of Semitic origin, borrowed into Semitic, or both from a separate, unknown source" which seems like the safest approach to me - in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it could even be a coincidence.
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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby voron » 2018-12-25, 16:59

I read الأسد والثور part 1.

There was a construction which took me some thinking to parse.
و كان الأسد لا يسمع رأي تلك الوحوش ولا يأخذ بنصيحتها مع أنّها تجيء له بالطعام و هو لا يترك مكانه

The part that starts with مع، is it like "even though"?
And the lion didn't listen to the opinion of those animals, and didn't take their advice, even though they brought him food and he never left his place.

I was surprised that ان can immediately follow مع.
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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby eskandar » 2018-12-25, 22:15

I read الاسد والثور part 5. How many parts does this story have!?
In the first sentence, انتظر دمنة مدة طويلة حتی زار الاسد , it seemed a bit ambiguous who زار refers to? I assume it means "Dimna waited a long time until he visited the lion" (zaara'l-asada) but I wonder if "Dimna waited a long time until the lion visited" (zaara'l-asadu) is also a possible reading? (Or if the lion was doing the visiting, would you have to change زار to زاره ?)

Looked up احتال - يحتال : "to resort to tricks; to deceive, outsmart."

voron wrote:The part that starts with مع، is it like "even though"?

Yes, exactly. مع انّ means "even though".

Edit: I read part 6 as well. There were a couple bits I struggled with:

إن السلاطين في قلة اخلاصهم مثل المومس كلما ذهب عنها رجل جاء رجل آخر
Indeed, in their insincerity [paucity of sincerity], the sultans are like a prostitute, whenever a man leaves her another man comes to her :?:
I guess Dimna is complaining about the lion, saying he's insincere, like a prostitute who pretends to love whatever man is currently her client.

قد اعجبني سُمن الثور ولست بحاجة له
I like bull fat and I don't need him [the bull] :?:
Does this mean "I don't need the bull around and I'd like to eat his fat" ?
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Re: Arabic Study Group

Postby eskandar » 2018-12-27, 21:46

Finished الاسد والثور parts 7 and 8, completing the story.
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