Thou Shalt Not Speak My Language

Abdelfattah Kilito, Wail Seddiq Hassan (Translator)

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook

Abstract

It has been said that the difference between a language and a dialect is that a language is a dialect with an army. Both the act of translation and bilingualism are steeped in a tension between surrender and conquest, yielding conscious and unconscious effects on language. First published in Arabic in 2002, Abdelfattah Kilito’s Thou Shalt Not Speak My Language explores the tension between dynamics of literary influence and canon formation within the Arabic literary tradition. As one of the Arab world’s most original and provocative literary critics, Kilito challenges the reader to reexamine contemporary notions of translation, bilingualism, postcoloniality, and the discipline of comparative literature. Waïl S. Hassan’s superb translation makes Thou Shalt Not Speak My Language available to an English-speaking audience for the first time, capturing the charm and elegance of the original in a chaste and seemingly effortless style.

At the center of Kilito’s work is his insistence on the ethics of translation. He explores the effects of translation on the genres of poetry, narrative prose, and philosophy. Kilito highlights the problem of cultural translation as an interpretive process and as an essential element of comparative literary studies. In close readings of al-Jahiz, Ibn Rushd, al-Saffar, and al-Shidyaq, among others, he traces the shifts in attitude toward language and translation from the centuries of Arab cultural ascendancy to the contemporary period, interrogating along the way how the dynamics of power mediate literary encounters across cultural, linguistic, and political lines.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherSyracuse University Press
Number of pages144
ISBN (Print)978-0-8156-3191-0
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008

Publication series

NameMiddle East Literature In Translation

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