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 Post subject: Verses 78:1-5
PostPosted: 04 Jun 2009, 06:09 
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Suggested translation1,2:


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1This translation may have been updated from the original suggested translation as a result of the discussions that follow.
2Click on the {verse number} of a translation to see other good translations of the verse.

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 78:1-5
PostPosted: 19 Jun 2009, 00:18 
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Quote:
{78:1} About what are they asking one another?

Well, the present continuous tense here is not the right tense given the original. I'd just translate it like this, "{78:1} About what do they ask one another?"

Quote:
{78:2} About the great news -

"News" translates /ax,ba:r/ أخبار or /xabar/ خبر, not /æn,bæ:ʔ/ أنباء or /næbæʔ/ نبأ. I'd translate it like this, "{78:2} About the grand prediction?"

Quote:
{78:3} That over which they are in disagreement.

A better translation, IMHO, would be, "{78:3} Over which they are differing?" Here is where the present continuous tense echoes the original! ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 78:1-5
PostPosted: 19 Jun 2009, 01:59 
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I'll address one verse at a time to make the posts easier to read.

Linguistic wrote:
Quote:
{78:1} About what are they asking one another?

Well, the present continuous tense here is not the right tense given the original. I'd just translate this, "About what do they ask one another?"

I feel that the tense here is secondary to the meaning. The question in the verse is rhetorical, with a connotation of exclamation or mockery. I feel that this connotation is served well in English by "What are they asking?" rather than "What do they ask?"

About "asking one another." I agree that the Arabic verb conjugation of "ask" that is used here maps to the derivative meaning "ask one another." However, certain conjugations of some verbs have assumed another, related meaning other than the literal meaning dictated by the conjugation. I feel that in this case, "wonder" is closer to the meaning than "ask one another," so I would suggest:

{78:1} What are they wondering about?

Let me now argue against my own point :). I opened the other translations window and saw that 2 out of 4 used "ask one another" or "question one another." In particular, Asad did. The reason I am singling out Asad is because he has done some research tracking back the words to the original meaning they had at the time of the revelation, which is the only meaning that counts. It is conceivable that the 'related meaning' I alluded to in the second paragraph is a contemporary meaning that wasn't there at the time of the revelation.

I certainly drew my perception of the meaning from contemporary language since that's the language I learned. I think we should look at the use of the same verb/conjugation in other verses of the Quran, and try to ascertain if the "wonder" meaning is a valid one or not.

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 78:1-5
PostPosted: 19 Jun 2009, 05:56 
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Pragmatic wrote:
I think we should look at the use of the same verb/conjugation in other verses of the Quran, and try to ascertain if the "wonder" meaning is a valid one or not.

I think that "wonder" does convey the meaning, but I tend to favor the more direct translation of the Arabic word, which in this case is "to ask each other."

Other uses of /jata,sæ:,ʔælu:n/ يتساءلون include:




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 Post subject: Re: Verses 78:1-5
PostPosted: 20 Jun 2009, 03:08 
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Linguistic wrote:
Quote:
{78:2} About the great news -

"News" translates /ax,ba:r/ أخبار or /xabar/ خبر, not /æn,bæ:ʔ/ أنباء or /næbæʔ/ نبأ. I'd translate this, "About the grand prediction?"

I can see why you chose "prediction," but I am concerned that it is too indirect a translation of /næbæʔ/ نبأ to be a compelling choice. I think it is worthwhile to investigate the words /æn,bæ:ʔ/ أنباء and /ax,ba:r/ أخبار a little bit more closely. Here are my remarks:

1. Both words are used in contemporary Arabic to mean news, with perhaps different levels of formality. I don't know if this was the case at the time of the revelation.

2. Other uses of /næbæʔ/ نبأ in the Quran suggest that it means information that is novel to the listener even if it happened ages ago.

3. Older translations use the word tiding which is a good choice in old English (it means specifically piece of news). We cannot use that word since it is not commonly used in modern English (except in some specific expressions).

Let me also remark that "grand" which you chose over "great" (the more common translation of the Arabic word "azeem") is an excellent choice, since "great news" in English has the connotation of being decidedly good news rather than just being great in magnitude.

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 78:1-5
PostPosted: 20 Jun 2009, 04:35 
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Pragmatic wrote:
I can see why you chose "prediction," but I am concerned that it is too indirect a translation of /næbæʔ/ نبأ to be a compelling choice. I think it is worthwhile to investigate the words /æn,bæ:ʔ/ أنباء and /ax,ba:r/ أخبار a little bit more closely. Here are my remarks:

1. Both words are used in contemporary Arabic to mean news, with perhaps different levels of formality. I don't know if this was the case at the time of the revelation.

2. Other uses of /næbæʔ/ نبأ in the Quran suggest that it means information that is novel to the listener even if it happened ages ago.

You are right about /næbæʔ/ نبأ meaning novel information that may have been past. My understanding of it comes from the hadeeth of the prophet, peace be upon him, in which he describes the Quran. Among the descriptions he said:
فيه خبر ماقبلكم ونبأ مابعدكم وفصل مابينكم

Meaning, "In it is news of what was before you, prediction of what will be after you and the decider of what is between you."

I'm now thinking I should use the word I used to translate the name of the chapter, i.e., Announcement!

Quote:
3. Older translations use the word tiding which is a good choice in old English (it means specifically piece of news). We cannot use that word since it is not commonly used in modern English (except in some specific expressions).

Tiding is used in the plural most of the time and almost always associated with good news, i.e., glad tidings. It wouldn't therefore be correct to use it for a prediction about the Last Day, IMHO.

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 78:1-5
PostPosted: 20 Jun 2009, 17:33 
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Linguistic wrote:
You are right about /næbæʔ/ نبأ meaning novel information that may have been past. My understanding of it comes from the hadeeth of the prophet, peace be upon him, in which he describes the Quran. Among the descriptions he said:
فيه خبر ماقبلكم ونبأ مابعدكم وفصل مابينكم

Meaning, "In it is news of what was before you, prediction of what will be after you and the decider of what is between you."

I'm now thinking I should use the word I used to translate the name of the chapter, i.e., Announcement!

Eureka! At least I think so. :)

/næbæʔ/ نبأ should be translated into prophecy. It dawned on me that the Arabic word is derived from the verb origin /næbæʔæ/ نبأ from which the word for prophet is also derived. The context here is clearly discussing a future event (hence your suggestion of prediction).

I even suggest that the translation of the name of the chapter be "The Prophecy." I was a bit concerned that prophecy might be taken in the sense of "Being a prophet," but I think this is less of an issue since prophethood is the matching word for that.

BTW, you convinced me that "asking one another" is a more appropriate, safer translation than "wondering" (also, "asking one another" sounds to me to be more suitable here than "asking each other," since it gives more of the sense of wondering). I was also convinced that starting the first verse with "About" is better than delaying it because it matches the Arabic structure without sounding odd in English, and also matches the second verse. My conclusion:

{78:1} About what are they asking one another?

{78:2} About the great prophecy

I'll think about 78:3 a bit more.

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 78:1-5
PostPosted: 21 Jun 2009, 22:14 
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Pragmatic wrote:
{78:2} About the great prophecy

"Prophecy" is a terrific translation. But it is widely understood to be a foretelling of something that will happen in this life. That is, events of the Hereafter are not associated in the minds of the English speaking masses with prophecy.

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 78:1-5
PostPosted: 29 Jun 2009, 09:05 
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Linguistic wrote:
"Prophecy" is a terrific translation. But it is widely understood to be a foretelling of something that will happen in this life. That is, events of the Hereafter are not associated in the minds of the English speaking masses with prophecy.

I agree that "prophecy" has acquired the connotation of an event that will happen in this life. However, I maintain that it is better than all the alternatives that I have seen for 3 reasons:

1. The end of the world would qualify as a "prophecy" in the mind of English speakers (not even clear that this would not be an event in this life :)).

2. Forcing the meaning towards the Hereafter, regardless of how plausible that view is, would be interpretive not linguistic.

3. The linguistic derivation of /næbæʔ/ نبأfrom the verb origin /næbæʔæ/ نبأ, from which the word "prophet" is also derived, is compelling IMHO.

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 78:1-5
PostPosted: 02 Dec 2013, 21:45 
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I suggest,

{78:1} About what do they ask one another?

{78:2} About the grand announcement,

{78:3} On which they are differing?

{78:4} No! They will soon know.

{78:5} Then, no! They will soon know.

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