The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Monday, November 25, 2013

Untersuchungen über das Verhältnis

I have finished the first draught of those translations of Israel Frank-Kamenetzky's "Untersuchungen über das Verhältnis" and of Theodor Noeldeke's review of Schulthess's "Umayya". They are posted with my other translations - formerly, singular-translation - at academia.edu: Studies upon the Relationship of the Poems ascribed to Umayya b. Abî’l-Ṣalt with the Qur’ân.

I have included a two-page "Translator's Foreword". Please forgive the indulgence; I saw no alternative. The original essays were written in 1911, which was I'm sure you'll agree a whole world ago. In particular they each wanted the further comments of Edmond Power's "Additions" - essay #1.6 in Ibn Warraq's Koranic Allusions. I could not avoid appending my own footnotes. And once I'd done that, I got paranoid, on account that I had tromped through their pastures. At least I kept the foreword brief.

I should offer some further thoughts, here, for those who might wonder why I did this at all. These comments won't be fit for inclusion in the work itself; they're for this blog's readers (if any).

I came across the issue as of the end of last September. A book had emerged for English-speaking Islamic scholars - Koranic Allusions - with the intent to bring us to currency in the scholarship of pre-Islamic poetry (especially Umayya's oeuvre), up to now a German concern. This book is wunderbar but, in its present form, suffers from gaps. Nämlich: the second essay of Power and the essay by Seidensticker assumed that we had read Schulthess's edition (especially), and also that we had absorbed the followup-study by Frank-Kamenetzky and the correctives by Noeldeke. Unless the reader was fluent in German and knew exactly where in the Internet to get all this stuff, s/he had no hope of keeping up with this book, let alone with the current state of the question.

As a hujja of the need of Anglophone scholars for easier access to this material, I cite Gert Borg's essay in that very book (#1.9). I can only describe said essay as "broken": because Borg had not read Schulthess's book (nor anything else of the early 1910s), nor had he taken into account recent Arabic publications of primary sources like Tha'labi; and because Borg's editors (including Ibn Warraq) had not drawn the correlations between his poem 104 to Sch.'s Nr. XLVI and its evaluators from the 1911-13 Schultheßzeit.

On to why my translations are in the form they're in:

First, obviously, I posted these essays together as one document. Noeldeke's latter essay assumed and cited F-K's former, and sometimes corrected the former. Also the two were initially published almost one upon the other - actually, within a cluster of four: Schulthess's edition, Frank-Kamenetzky's dissertation, Noeldeke's corrections and - alongside Noeldeke - Power's "Additions". All three post-Sch. essays frankly belong together; perhaps as a "Section 1.6" in Koranic Allusions with Power at #1.6.3.

And since I hate it when a translator whines about how translations are soooo harrrd within his own foreword ... I'll whine about it right here in this blog. I do not actually speak German, and I am not a professional translator (or Orientalist, really). I relied on Google-Translate, and I crossreferenced the results with parallel comments in English-language articles. More, every paragraph or two, Frank-Kamenetzky and Noeldeke tended to get excited and to blurt out their thoughts in line after line of compound sentences. So I don't expect that my translations are very good. But here's the good news: the core of each respective text is basically marginalia, and those weren't as hard to do (at least, not after I'd got Schulthess's book). Also - they're free!

I certainly won't do any whining if a bilingual expert in this topic offers correctives to my translations.

And despite any quibbles with this or that feature of Ibn Warraq's collection, I owe a mighty debt to that book - for its translation of Schulthess's first article in "Orientali. Studien", without which I never would have made sense of these articles; and for its reprint of Power's "Additions", which I can't find online and which offered in many places valuable guidance.

As for whither to go next: I think that a German / English committee needs to form and then put out a second edition of Schulthess, jointly in each language. I have cobbled a RTF for my own use - again with its backbone from Google Translate - which RTF, I am filling out with whatever English-language quotes I can gather from Ibn Warraq's book and elsewhere. But there is no way I'm going to let anyone else near this mess in its current form.

But the two essays I've translated are better, swearsies.


posted by Zimri on 17:17 | link | 0 comments

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