A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, April 26, 2013

Egyptian Twitter Fad: Translating Colloquial Proverbs into (Literal) English

 A hot hashtag on Egyptian twitter yesterday: #كلام_مصري_مترجم ["Egyptian words translated"]. Most posters are posting proverbs or colorful metaphors, translating them into English, usually quite literally, and without any exegesis. Only a handful post the original Arabic; sometimes the meaning is obscure if you don't know the original. But the hilarity of the literal translations seems to be part of the joke.
(Huh?) Others are slightly more obvious if still a bit awkward in English.
Or maybe not:

Some are clumsy translations of curses:
And at least one person who may not have gotten the idea clearly has translated a common obscenity known to every speaker and student of Arabic:
I'm not sure that was the idea of the exercise. I doubt if anyone with even a modicum of Arabic needs to ask what the original Arabic is for this one. At least they used the "polite" clinical term in the English translation.

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