Guest Editor’s Note: The Neoclassical Bias in Translation
This is the first of two consecutive issues of JLS devoted to language and translation, specifically to the relationship between Arabic and Hebrew. In the current issue, we address the limits of the neoclassical model of translation, referring to the redefinition of translation in fifteenth-century Europe and infusing it with the spirit of the Renaissance. In a nutshell, the neoclassical model tends to individualize the translator’s identity, to privatize the spatial dimensions of translation, and to eliminate verbal dialogue.Furthermore, it dictates a forward-moving unidirectional formula of translation that usurps the original text and occupies its place; it silences any form of dialogue and replaces conversation and reciprocal dialogue with philology, linguistics, and hermeneutics. Under colonial conditions, the neoclassical model aggravates these limitations, since it reproduces in the translation room the very same asymmetry that typifies the exterior conditions and the power relations between languages. I begin this discussion by examining the emergence of the effects of the neoclassical model on translation in general, and in particular its predicament in relation to translation between Arabic and Hebrew – past, present, and future.
Dialogue with Elias Khoury on Literature and Translation
This is the protocol of a conversation conducted with the famous Lebanese writer Elias Khoury, who addresses languages, literatures, and translation.
The Drowned Library (Reflections on Found, Lost, and Translated Books and Languages)
Anton Shammas’s essay “The Drowned Library” beautifully depicts the symbiosis between Arabic and Hebrew. The drowning library is a linguistic slide freely skating between the two languages.
Partitions and Translations: Arab Jewish Translational Models in Fin de Siècle Palestine
This article offers a new reading into translation works from early twentieth-century Palestine which operated in between the Arabic-Hebrew cultural and linguistic borderlands. Against the backdrop of the political and social events in that period which dominated by processes of national, ethnic, and religious partitions, the article explores the ways in which these Arab-Jewish translators fundamentally challenges the nationalistic and monolingual separatist ideology and represent an alternative political and cultural route. The article explores their unique translation methods that were based on four principles: Polyglot fusion—mixing Arabic and Hebrew, Jewish and Muslim traditions; loose distinction between oral and written traditions; dialogical approach that emphasizes the intertextuality of literary traditions and the intersections of languages and cultures; and the unfixed intersection between original source and translation. The fluidity that is inherent in these translation methods becomes a source of resistance to the dominant political force and dismantles any (national) claim over exclusive ownership of texts, traditions, or languages. In a time of struggle over the ownership of the (biblical) land and the (biblical) text, these translations focused on tales and traditions free from ownership and without any stable original source.
Transmutation, Semantic Shift, and Modification: Reading the Judeo-Arabic Kuzari in Hebrew and Arabic
This article is about the experience of preparing an Arabic edition of The Kuzari—the composition by Yehuda Halevi, one of the greatest Jewish poets of twelfth-century Andalusia—by an Arab researcher and translator. This experience raises many questions about cultural studies in general and translation in particular, which in turn bring up many other questions, such as how a work travels over time between different places, eras, and contexts. What changes, shifts, and modifications occur in it during its journeys and those transitions? Is it possible to bring a composition back to its authentic language, context, and landscapes, and if so, how? In this article I will try to offer answers to some of these questions, using The Kuzari as a case study, while wrestling with some of the historical, sociological, and intellectual layers of medieval Judeo-Arabic that are embedded in itand its Hebrew translations.
In a Third Voice
An excerpt from the introductory chapter of Elias Khoury‘s new novel Stella Maris (Beirut: Dar Al-Adab, 2019), translated from the Arabic by Yehouda Shenhav-Shahrabani.
.(إلياس خوري, نجمة البحر: أولاد الغيتو 2 (بيروت: دارالآداب، 2019
A short story by Sama Hasan, a Palestinian author and journalist living in Gaza. She has published five collections of short stories in Arabic: City of Silence (2008); Diary of a Besieged Woman (2012); Gentle Chaos (2014); Laughter and Play, Tears and War (2015); Corners (2016). Selected stories have been translated into many languages.
A short story by Atheer Safa, who was born in Baqa al-Gharbiyya in 1984. She has an MA in Arabic language and literature from Tel Aviv University, and is an author, poet, translator, and editor. Her novel Tweet (Arabic) was published in 2013 (Dar Mirit, Egypt); it was nominated for the Arabic Booker Prize.
Ice Cream in the Car
A short story by the Palestinian author Tamara Naser. She studied English literature, film, and psychology, has an MA, and is a certified bibliotherapist, providing therapy through stories and writing, at Haifa University.
The Gate to the Body
A short story by Sheikha Hlewa, who was born in 1968 in an unrecognized Bedouin village near Haifa. An author, poet, and educator, today she lives in Jaffa. She has an MA in Arabic and Islam from Tel Aviv University and is an instructor and curriculum developer. Her short stories have been translated into many languages and published in journals and websites in the Arab world and Israel. She has published four books (in Arabic): Outside of the Seasons I Learned How to Fly, poetry (Jordan, 2015); Ladies of Darkness, short stories (Jordan, 2015); The Windows Are Broken Books, short stories (Jordan, 2016); Invitation No. C345, short stories (Italy, 2018).
Amputated Tongue: On the Potential for Change in a Political Act of Translation
Be-lashon kruta (Amputated tongue) is a collection of Palestinian prose published by the Maktoobseries in 2019. It is the most comprehensive collection of Palestinian literature ever published in Hebrew, in terms of both quantity and the period covered. It is also the richest collection of its kind in terms of the variety of authors and the most complex in terms of translation methodology. In this article we focus on Be-lashon kruta, its place and importance within the local field of Arabic-to-Hebrew translations, and the new model that lies at its heart: a novel binational and bilingual dialogical approach to Arabic-to-Hebrew translation that addresses a number of lacunas that have accompanied this field. We first focus on the significance of Be-lashon kruta, looking at the collection’s title as both a metaphor and an indication of a broader process and attitude in which the Palestinian voice was not heard and remained unspoken in Hebrew. We then deal with the challenges of asymmetry in translation generally and in the Arabic-to-Hebrew field more particularly. We conclude with a survey of the Maktoob model of translation as an answer to these ongoing lacunas.
Babel by Cemil Meriç (Translation)
“Babel,” the first chapter of Cemil Meriç’s Bu Ülke, is translated here to English for the first time. Meriç, a Turkish intellectual, inspired many scholars and leaders in post-Kemalist Turkey. “Babel” is a critical discussion of Kemalist intellectuals’ cultural and political outlook and the cultural reforms they instated. Meriç refuses to accept the divisions between East and West, religious and secular, and Right and Left which he sees as straitjackets imported from Christian Europe that prevent freedom of thought. At the same time, his writing integrates a philosophy inspired by the West with one that originates in the East and creates a symbiosis between them. He challenges the premises of the Turkish modernization project and the attempt to create a new generation, new state, new language and new culture. Writing in a subversive language, Meriç contends that a reformist project disconnected from its past is doomed to a lack of substance and failure.
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