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بل ليست الكتب ووزارات وإنما هي دول وأنظمة وأجهزة وأساطيل

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by Ghabi, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. Ghabi

    Ghabi Moderator

    Cantonese (Hong Kong)
    Hello! I'm reading a terrific story entitled صفحة من كتاب الموتى by the Libyan writer أحمد إبراهيم الفقيه, in which a teacher and his pupils in a all-male school are deeply affected by the arrival of a female student. At one point, thinking of all the transformations the boys have undergone since the arrival of the girl, the teacher wonders:

    من أي بلد من بلاد الجان جاءت لتفلح فيما فشلت كل كتب التربية ووزارات التعليم في العالم؟
    (I suppose فيه is omitted after فشلت here? Please correct me if I'm wrong.)

    Then the texts goes on:

    ... بل ليست الكتب ووزارات وإنما هي دول وأنظمة وأجهزة وأساطيل لم تفلح في أن تجعل الطلبة، غير أنهم طلبة، تسكنهم روح شريرة

    I'm not sure about the syntax of this part. What are the subject and the object of ليست? How are the بل part and the وإنما part related to each other? Can you shed some light on these? Thanks a lot!
  2. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    Hi Ghabi,

    I'm not quite sure, but it seems to me that the subject of ليست is just a dummy subject -- "it is not the books and the Ministries of Education, but rather..." I might be wrong, however.

    You can think of بل and وإنما as like "rather...but..." even though it sounds unnatural in English to say it that way "rather it is not the books... but..." It is more natural to use 'rather' in the subordinate clause in this type of structure, like what I wrote above.
  3. Ghabi

    Ghabi Moderator

    Cantonese (Hong Kong)
    Thanks Josh! Do you mean there's an التي omitted before لم تفلح? i.e. "[that which] failed to make students are not the books nor the ministries, but rather are [the] states, [and all their] systems, equipment, and fleet"?
  4. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    Yes, but you don't need to use it here; it still works like this.
    It's a bit of a weird sentence. For instance, I don't understand why he says
    غير أنهم طلبة
  5. Ghabi

    Ghabi Moderator

    Cantonese (Hong Kong)
    Thanks a lot Iskan for the confirmation, as I'm not familiar with the structure. And yes, I find this part weird too.
  6. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    I think I've figured it out.
    We can consider this sentence to have one مبتدأ for several ((خبر))s, one of which is in fact a مبتدأ for the sentence ((لم تفلح...)).
    غير أنهم طلبة تسكنهم روح شريرة is a sentence in and of itself. It is irritating and wrong in my view, but Arab writers use the comma even when there is no break in idea or sentence structure to indicate a pause - for dramatic effect or some other effect.
  7. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Hi! Great to see you around again, G. :)

    No, I believe you're right.
    ليست refers to الكتب ووزارات. And here too, I think وزارات is inaccurate; it should either be الوزارات or وزارات التعليم.
    And بل is استدراك (I don't know what that is in English). And إنما is like "rather" or "even".

    A rough translation of this sentence:
    From what diabolic country did she come to succeed in what the education books and ministries around the world couln't achieve. And not [only] the books and ministries, but the states, systems, policies and armies who all couldn't make the students, aside from being students/though they are students, turn into (or: be possed by) evil spirits.

    The غير أنهم طلبة part is a bit difficult; I'm not sure whether he means "though they are what they are" or "beside the fact that they are students".
  8. Tracer

    Tracer Senior Member

    Wadi Jinn
    American English
    This is the only way I could make sense of the text, though I'm not completely satisfied with it:

    "From what diabolical land has she come from? She’s been successful where book learning and ministries of education worldwide have failed miserably.
    But it wasn’t just books and ministries that failed . It was also states, systems, policies and armies that were unsuccessful creating genuine students. For these weren’t really students. These were beings possessed by an evil spirit !"
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013
  9. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    I like your translation, Tracer. Except for the last part which I think you misinterpreted. If I understood correctly, the teacher is talking about how the girl made the boys become evil. If we drop the "extra words" in the sentence, it goes:
    لم تفلح في أن تجعل الطلبة تسكنهم روح شريرة

    But maybe I'm the one who's misunderstanding the sentence. :confused:
  10. Ghabi

    Ghabi Moderator

    Cantonese (Hong Kong)
    @Iskan: Thanks for your further clarification! Yes, whether the غير أن part is related to its preceding sentences puzzled me a lot.
    @Cherine: Thanks for your insights as usual! And for catching the typo (I missed the ال, not the author:eek:)! The meaning of the text has become much, much clearer to me now!
    @Tracer: Thanks for your excellent translation!

    Taking hints from you guys, I think the last part might mean: But students are students [after all]! who are possessed by evil spirits ... (the author goes on to describe how bad students are, always causing troubles etc.)

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