I have seen so many people on whom there were no clothes; and I have seen so many clothes in which there were no people.

cabbar

Member
Turkish
My question is especially to the native speakers.

I tried to translate a well-known saying of Mevlana (a Turkish thinker). Do the native speakers understand anything from my translation? Can they share their thoughts with me?

Here it is:

I have seen so many people on whom there were no clothes; and I have seen so many clothes in which there were no people.
 
  • cabbar

    Member
    Turkish
    Thanks you so much. Sometimes I just can't make sure whether a sentence, which is perfectly logical to me, is logical to others or not. That's why I have felt the necessity to get my translation checked.
     

    morzh

    Banned
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    Russian
    My understanding is that he saw many really poor folks without clothes on their backs, and he saw many clothes that people own in excess of normal human requirements, so they just sit there in closets, not being worn (a sign of waste by the rich).
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    My understanding is that he saw many really poor folks without clothes on their backs, and he saw many clothes that people own in excess of normal human requirements, so they just sit there in closets, not being worn (a sign of waste by the rich).
    Hmm, that’s not exactly how I interpreted it. I thought it was similar to the English proverb ‘Clothes do not make the man…’
    …which to me means that the real qualities of a human being are not in what he wears (i.e. in his appearance) which can be deceiving- that richness is not defined in terms of what you wear on the outside but on the inside (not to sound to cheesy):eek:
     

    morzh

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    OK, the second part (now that you've explain it to me) I get; the first I still don't see as you've explained it.

    (So, I did not understand it perfectly after all.)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'm sorry, cabbar - I would not understand it at all:(.

    Can you explain what it means?
     

    morzh

    Banned
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    Second attempt then:

    Some men in shabby clothes (no clothes) may be real men (good men with rich inner world) and some men in expensive clothes may be not much of men at all, empty inside.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I do get it, and my understanding of the saying is similar to Bicontinental's (post #5) and to Morzh's second one (post #8) except that it refers to people generally, not just men.
     

    morzh

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    I do get it, and my understanding of the saying is similar to Bicontinental's (post #5) and to Morzh's second one (post #8) except that it refers to people generally, not just men.
    I used "men" in the older sense :) (since there was the quote containing "man" in the explanation). I know...I know....
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Second attempt then:

    Some men in shabby clothes (no clothes) may be real men (good men with rich inner world) and some men in expensive clothes may be not much of men at all, empty inside.
    Why are the clothes "shabby" versus "rich"? I thought "a man with no clothes" was more like "an honest man, a candid man, someone without a disguise" - rather than the Platonic-myth-of-Socrates interpretation you're giving here (poor in body but rich in spirit).

    I just would want to make sure that I was getting at the original idea transmitted by the proverb, in case it didn't have the same cultural resonance as our very Western "clothes don't make the man" concept.

    Maybe something like: "In life, I have seen just as many people who wore no masks on their faces as people who wore masks but no longer had faces underneath them."
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    No, Loob, I think Cabbar was just asking if we understood the meaning of the text, which is an English translation of a Turkish proverb.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thanks, Parla - I'm sorry, I'd already deleted the post you were replying to.

    But my answer to cabbar remains the same: I don't understand the meaning of the [English translation of the] Turkish proverb, I'm afraid:(.
     

    morzh

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    Why are the clothes "shabby" versus "rich"? I thought "a man with no clothes" was more like "an honest man, a candid man, someone without a disguise" - rather than the Platonic-myth-of-Socrates interpretation you're giving here (poor in body but rich in spirit).
    This is why:

    I thought it was similar to the English proverb ‘Clothes do not make the man…’
    …which to me means that the real qualities of a human being are not in what he wears (i.e. in his appearance) which can be deceiving- that richness is not defined in terms of what you wear on the outside but on the inside (not to sound to cheesy):eek:
    Since this comes from the person who is the askling party, I try to use his explanation. This to me clearly points to the difference in clothing (even if only metaphorical) as the citeria that is deceving. Hence "rich" vs "shabby".
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    My response was to bicontinental's post as well. Basically, I don't necessarily see the (traditionally Western) binary between material poverty and spiritual richness, and between material richness and spiritual poverty, in this excerpt. You both read "men with no clothes" as "men with shabby clothes." I think that reading depends on an assumption that might not be in the text.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Also, just as an afterthought - Isn't Rumi pretty much entirely translated into English? If you want, cabbar, you could check in the many English translations available online to see what other translators have done with this sentence.

    (Again, I don't mean to be pedantic. I don't really know much about Sufism, but I just think the original saying is more about a contrast between candor and disguise tout court rather than anything else. For all I know, the more Platonic interpretation could be perfectly correct.)
     

    morzh

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    My response was to bicontinental's post as well. Basically, I don't necessarily see the (traditionally Western) binary between material poverty and spiritual richness, and between material richness and spiritual poverty, in this excerpt. You both read "men with no clothes" as "men with shabby clothes." I think that reading depends on an assumption that might not be in the text.
    Lucas, I do not dispute that, and you may be right, for all I know, but having no knowledge of Turkish proverbs or philosophical works, I have to go by the explanation by the native Turkish reader.
    After all, he asked if we understood what he meant us to understand, and not whether we understood what we think he meant us to understand.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Hey, we haven't quite yet had an explanation from the native Turkish reader!

    I don't think this translation is entirely successful as of yet, because natives either would immediately assimilate it to "Clothes make the man" or have to go through complicated mental gymnastics to figure out its intended sense. It would help to know what exactly "no clothes" means here (although I do remember that in various mysticisms and wisdom traditions "nakedness" is a very complicated and surprising concept).
     

    Cypherpunk

    Senior Member
    US, English
    I have heard this saying before, and I believe Cabbar's translation is very nearly the same as a version I read years ago. For that reason, I would say he's done a good job of translating it.
    I think we're getting hung up on two separate issues, here. Is the translation easy to understand? Yes. Is the translation accurate? We don't know, because none of us have read it in the original language (other than Cabbar).
    I would just say this: we don't have the appropriate cultural and historical associations to immediately understand the reference, but if an explanation will be provided, it's just fine as it is.
     
    Last edited:

    morzh

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    I have heard this saying before, and I believe morzh's translation is very nearly the same as a version I read years ago. For that reason, I would say he's done a good job of translating it.
    I think we're getting hung up on two separate issues, here. Is the translation easy to understand? Yes. Is the translation accurate? We don't know, because none of us have read it in the original language (other than morzh).
    I would just say this: we don't have the appropriate cultural and historical associations to immediately understand the reference, but if an explanation will be provided, it's just fine as it is.
    I have not read it en original: I relied on Cabbar's (he's the native Turkish speaker) explanation of the meaning, after my first attempt failed.

    Other than some colloquial phrases in some Turkic (not Turkish though) languages, I do not really speak any of them.
     

    Cypherpunk

    Senior Member
    US, English
    Loob, really? What is so hard to understand about people without clothes, and clothes with no (real) people in them?

    It's a mystical belief system, and you're supposed to connect the dots for deeper meaning, but taken at face value, the sentence is grammatically correct, and I understand every word in it.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Loob, really? What is so hard to understand about people without clothes, and clothes with no (real) people in them?

    It's a mystical belief system, and you're supposed to connect the dots for deeper meaning, but taken at face value, the sentence is grammatically correct, and I understand every word in it.
    Oh, I have no problem with the grammaticality of the sentence.

    As to its deeper meaning, you are clearly all cleverer than I am;).
     

    Cypherpunk

    Senior Member
    US, English
    Oh, I have no problem with the grammaticality of the sentence.

    As to its deeper meaning, you are clearly all cleverer than I am;).
    Oh, no, I strongly doubt that. I was forced to endure long discussions on the subject at a tender age. Unfortunately, such things tend to stick with you. :rolleyes:
     

    cabbar

    Member
    Turkish
    I am sorry for being late but I have just seen that the topic is still under discussion. And to be honest, that has suprised me. I did not think this topic would be debated this much.

    As to the meaning of the Turkish saying ''Nice insanlar gördüm üzerinde elbise yok; nice elbiseler gördüm içinde insan yok.'':

    It means that someone wearing really brillant clothes should not necessarily be thought of someone wise. In the same way, someone wearing worn-out clothes is not certainly ignorant or insufficient in some way. And, to justify his notion, he, Mevlana, says that he has seen so many people who were wearing good clothes but were not as personally good as their clothes were and has seen so many people who had virtually nothing to wear, but were much too wise.

    I am sorry, I am still a high school student, so I do not know if my explanation has been good enough to make you understand. And I also want to say that this saying, not proverb, means exactly the same as the proverb '' Clothes don't make the man'', which is also mentioned above.

    Thank you for your interest.
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thank you for your excellent explanation, cabbar:thumbsup::)

    I understand perfectly now!
     
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