Translating the Language of the Syrian Revolution 2011/12

Eylaf Bader Eddin (Philipps-Universität Marburg / University Aix-Marseille), Chair: Rasha Chatta (EUME Fellow 2017-20)

While the Arab revolutions have obviously provoked comprehensive social and political changes, their cultural and linguistic changes still lack to be seen in their far-reaching consequences. For activists, academics and journalists, however, it was in the first instance a revolution of the language, breaking the linguistic oppression and torpidity of the old regimes and creating new languages enabling them to inform, narrate and translate the ongoing events and transformations. Regardless of what “Thawra” means to the regime as “Corrective Revolution or Movement” for example or for Syrians, the research does not intend to show an accurate or a better term but it focuses on the act of translating the revolutionary language and its context, what was translated and by whom, world translation market, English and Arabic discourses represented by Arabic and English books and translations.

Furthermore, it uses the thick translation as a tool for dissecting the rich multi-layered language of revolution and comparing it to its translation(s) and its background represented by the English and Arabic books on Syria up to 2018. Bader Eddin argues that the revolutionary language was translated according to fit into the English dominant discourse because of the following elements: (1) the choice of terms, (2) translating out of place (translation zone and losing geographic place as a source of knowledge), (3) the reduction of performative aspects, (4) the world translation market and publishers, (5) the lack of considering Arabic/ sources as a language of knowledge production.

Eylaf Bader Eddin is a PhD candidate (Universities of Aix-Marseille and Marburg) in Arabic and Comparative Literature working on “Translating the Language of the Syrian Revolution 2011”. His research focuses on translation and the language of protests, especially in Syria, as well as on revolutionary archives and performance. His latest publication is a chapter entitled “Translating the Mourning Walls: Aleppo’s Last Words” in the Routledge Handbook of Translation and Activism (2020). He is the author of “When they Cried ‘Forever’: the Language of the Syrian Revolution” (in Arabic) published after receiving the Sadiq Jalal al-Azim Cultural Award in 2018.

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