The Koran in Arabic

Since we were talking about translations in the last post, what's up with god only giving directions in Classical Arabic? Lots of muslims insist you can't understand it unless you read it in the original language. Here's Quran.org barking up that tree;

Arabic is the most efficient language in the world,...
Arabic is unique
in its efficiency and accuracy.
If linguists have learned anything from studying language, it's that all languages are equal in efficiency and accuracy. That's Edward Sapir down there in the diagram, giving his smackdown of this old myth that some languages are more “primitive” than others.

We got our word barbarian from the Greeks, and it meant 'a person who doesn't speak Greek'. The history of language study has been a lot of trying to educate bigots like the people at Quran.org, who say

Any other language would have made it almost impossible to point out whose wishes are to be superseded, ...
in chapter 2 verse 228, which us primitive English speakers would grunt out as;

2:28 When a woman wants a divorce she has to wait three months, and if she's pregnant she's shit out of luck.
It's not impossible to tell, because saying who did what to whom is a defining characteristic of Human Language. But gee, maybe Arabic has some secret letters that explain how sending an abuse victim back to the guy who's going to beat her to death gives priority to the child's welfare. I doubt it, so change “bigots” to “misogynistic bigots,” and add “ignorant” too, for this;

Another possible reason for choosing Arabic is the fact that "He" and "She" do not necessarily imply natural gender.
That's actually true, but has exactly nothing to do with Arabic, or even with what the words mean. Sex exists in our bodies, gender exists in our brains, and Grammatical Gender exists in grammar books, to classify words by how they look or sound. It's from Latin genus, the same place we got genre, meaning 'kind', and there are a hell of a lot of different kinds of words. Having accidentally stumbled onto an actual fact, they immediately recover by showing just how fractally full of shit they are:

Thus, when God is referred to as "He," this does not imply gender at all. God be glorified; He is neither male, nor female. The usage of "He" to refer to God in the English language, for example, has contributed to a false image of God.
How the hell does it 'contibute to a false image' if it 'doesn't imply gender'? Either from dishonest or stupid, they switched the meaning of gender from the grammatical to the social construct. Feminists have pointed out for years that using 'he' to refer to god contributes to a false image of god as being male. In English, the obvious solution is to use the neuter form and call god “it.” But in Arabic you couldn't do that if you wanted to, because there is no neuter pronoun!

Arabic doesn't have a word for “it”. You have to call inanimate objects either 'he' or 'she', and you have to use 'she' even if there's a whole group of them. That doesn't stop them from being all 'neener neener neener our language has more words than your language':

For example, the word "they" in English does not tell you if "they" are males or females. In Arabic there is a "they" for the males, "hum," and a "they" for the females, "hunna."
A linguist would say Arabic has two 3rd person pronouns. Then they'd make a chart to show all of Arabic's 12 personal pronouns. English has 14. American Sign Language has 38! The stupid continues...

There is even a "they" for two males, "humaa," and a "they" for two females, "haataan.” This feature

does not exist in any other language in the world.

He's talking about a dual pronoun, like in Hawaiian, Lithuanian, Slovene, Old English ... in fact here is a list of languages with dual pronouns. ASL not only has singular, plural, and dual, it has a form for three people, and one for four, for five, and all the way up to nine. And if he means specifically gender-marked, Yimas has dual forms with at least nine genders, in Lardil the dual depends on what generation the person belongs to, and all those ASL pronouns are grammatically marked for the person's actual physical location, so there might be an infinite number of them. 'Any other language' my arse.

But wait! Not only is Arabic better cause it has more words, it's better because it uses less words!!!

The word "Qaalataa" of 28:23, for example, translates into four English words: "the two women said." Such is the efficiency of the Arabic language.
Do these people TRY to be illogical? Now the best language is one that uses the fewest words! That would be Polysynthetic languages, like Aleut. They can say “I am looking for something suitable to use as a fishing line” in one word: a!wlisautiss?arsiniarpunga.

You think that word's too long? Look at the first word in the Arabic version of 2:228; Waalmutallaqatuyatarabbasna. That's just as long, eleven syllables. Maybe we should count syllables? ASL is polysynthetic, and in one syllable it can say “The person hesitantly walked, in a bent-over posture, upwards toward the right rear flank of the small animal” ! How's that for efficient? Since I didn't see any Eskimoes around, I had someone translate 2:228 into ASL for comparison.


It looks like if god wanted the most efficient language he would have Signed. Really, it looks like this whole issue is a crock of shit, there is nothing special about Classical Arabic, and you might as well read the koran in translation. If you have to read it at all.


Baal's Bum said...

The problem I have is that although the koran is written in the original Arabic it is modern Arabic speakers that are reading it.So although the words are the same, meanings/nuances/subtleties change with time. Therefore whether you agree or not that the koran has come from god/allah it is now read through modern man's eyes and the men that are reading it are not the men it was written for

uzza said...

It's worse than that. Actually the words aren't the same. The language has changed so much since Mohammed's time that the Classical Arabic of the koran virtually a different language. It's like reading Chaucer's Old English.

Anonymous said...

I've heard that classical arabic, or what we math people call a "conservative extension" of it, is supposed to be somewhat of a lingua franca in the middle east. Is al-jazeera, for example, recognizable as the language of the Quran being spoken?

Also, maybe arabic isn't the most efficient language, just the best one for communicating the subtleties of god's will.

Whatever that means. It's the kind of argument I'd pull out of my ass if I were an arabic muslim.