There’s an interesting and amusing Guardian article on how easy it is to make gaffes and to make Arabs look like religious geeks — even if they are atheistic communists — by Marie Dhumières.
It’s titled Bad Translation Makes Fundamentalists Of Us All. It begins:
Religious phrases are scattered liberally throughout Arabic languages. The secret to translating is not to take them literally.
“Praise be to God” (Alhamdulilah), which can mean “I am fine”, “Cool, the electricity is back” or “Ah, you finally managed to pronounce this word”, and so many other things.
In Lebanon, they even use “May God dress you” when seeing a hot girl wearing a skirt or a top, meaning I guess, “Please God, quickly cover this great body before I jump on it.”
The same goes with insults: May God destroy your house, May God burn your religion, May God infect you with disease… It all sounds very scary, but be reassured, they don’t really mean it. And I am pretty sure that if God were actually to destroy your house at the moment they say it, they would feel kind of bad.
It’s all an enjoyable and informative read. And the comments at the Infoclearinghouse.info site are worth reading, too, for maybe a bit of balance to the article itself.
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