Spain to England: A Comparative Study of Arabic, European, and English Literature of the Middle Ages

Spain to England: A Comparative Study of Arabic, European, and English Literature of the Middle Ages

Spain to England: A Comparative Study of Arabic, European, and English Literature of the Middle Ages

Spain to England: A Comparative Study of Arabic, European, and English Literature of the Middle Ages

Excerpt

Dealing in English with languages having sounds for which there is no English equivalent is always a problem. Some writers simply use the closest English approximation, which can be confusing-- as in the case of t for the two t sounds in Arabic, ت and ط. For accuracy, the latter should be distinguished from a regular t in English since it has a separate character in the Arabic alphabet. T. E. Lawrence, in his correspondence with the publisher who was concerned about his erratic English spellings of Arabic names in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom , remarked that Arabic sounds could not be represented in the English alphabet. That is nonsense. They can be, and there is a standard manner of representing them. I have therefore followed the transliteration system recognized by the United States Library of Congress, with one exception: for ظ, instead of ẓ, I use dh since it is a closer approximation of the sound in Classical Arabic. In the dialect which I learned to speak, that of Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya), the ظ is not always slurred into a z sound as it is in other dialects which are less close to the Classical pronunciation. For those readers not familiar with Arabic, the alphabet and the standard English transliteration can be found in most large dictionaries, such as the new American Heritage Dictionary .

Many Arabic works have been translated into French and a few into English. Where an English translation of either primary sources or critical discussions was available, I have used that translation; where the only available translation of works was French, I used the French. I have also either summarized or tacitly translated comments from those critical studies written in French, German, and Spanish which I have cited. I have not, however, translated or modernized the Middle-English passages . . .

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