I understand very little, least of all the people close to me

HotIcyDonut

Senior Member
Russian - Russia
I want to say "Let me be clear: I understand very little, least of all the people close to me"

Attempt:

دعني كوني واضحًا: أفهم القليل جدًّا، وبالشكل الأقلّ من كلّهم، الأشخاصَ المقرّبين منّي​

Rewording?

شكراً مقدماً
 
  • elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    The original English is a bit odd. The "little" in "I understand very little" would ordinarily be understood to refer to things, not people, so the second part is surprising/jolting. Were you going for a surprise factor? Or is the first part supposed to refer to people?
     

    Mahaodeh

    Senior Member
    Arabic, PA and IA.
    While I can’t say that it’s grammatically incorrect, I just think that وبالشكل الأقل منهم sounds weird.

    If you really want it to be as literal a translation as possible then try:

    دعني أكون واضحا: أفهم القليل جدا، وأقلّ ما أفهم هم الأشخاص المقرّبين إلي

    If you want it to convey the meaning in a more idiomatic way then perhaps:
    أفهم القليل جدا، وخصوصا/بالأخص المقربين إلي

    You must have noticed that I replaced من with إلى. Both are correct but in Standard Arabic there is actually a difference in meaning when using the verb قرّب and تقرّب: for physical closeness you use من and for non-physical closeness you use إلى. I assume you don’t mean physical closeness here.
     

    Mahaodeh

    Senior Member
    Arabic, PA and IA.
    The original English is a bit odd. The "little" in "I understand very little" would ordinarily be understood to refer to things, not people, so the second part is surprising/jolting. Were you going for a surprise factor? Or is the first part supposed to refer to people?
    Interesting point, while I felt it in English, I also felt that it somehow works, I don’t know why. I did not feel that it works in Arabic where you have the same underlying assumption.

    However, for the purposes of this post, I just assumed thst the OP wanted little to refer to everything, people and otherwise.
     

    HotIcyDonut

    Senior Member
    Russian - Russia
    The original English is a bit odd. The "little" in "I understand very little" would ordinarily be understood to refer to things, not people, so the second part is surprising/jolting. Were you going for a surprise factor? Or is the first part supposed to refer to people?

    I took the quote from an episode of "Lie to me" (a TV series) :D I also had doubts about the reference, I thought it was about people (since went with كلهم, but I guess it can refer to anything in general, in such case I'd go with ذلك كله).
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Okay, I think they were probably going for a surprise factor.

    I suggest:
    للتوضيح: لا أفهم إلا القليل، وأقلّه المُقرَّبين إلي

    I think that could have more or less the same effect.
     

    tracer2

    Senior Member
    US English
    The original English sentence is unclear, to the point, I believe, it is incorrect. One way to correct it is like this:

    "Let me be clear: I don't understand people very well, least of all those (that are) close to me"
     

    HotIcyDonut

    Senior Member
    Russian - Russia
    I checked the subtitle files of all the episodes and I couldn't find that quote, you probably changed the wording.
    The quote is precise, I don't remember the episode, no character said it, the protagonist typed it on his laptop while trying to get himself into writing a book.
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    للتوضيح: لا أفهم إلا القليل، وأقلّه المُقرَّبين إلي
    لا أفهم إلا القليل، وأقلّ ما أفهمه القريبون مني
    or الأقربون إلي.
    Is there a reason you went for أقل ما أفهمه as opposed to أقله? To me, the former seems wordier and redundant to no appreciable benefit. 🤔 Because this is supposed to sound like a quote, I went for the most concise wording possible. The repetition of أفهم also disrupts the flow for me.
     

    wriight

    Senior Member
    English (US) / Arabic (Lebanon)
    I think the specific objection to the quote is that the first half uses "little" as a noun, but the second half refers back to it as if it was an adverb. This doesn't make it incorrect to me, though -- just artistic! Elroy's translation captures the intent perfectly if I'm not mistaken about it.
     

    Sadda7

    Senior Member
    Arabic - Algerian
    The quote is precise, I don't remember the episode
    You're right indeed. I found the quote.

    I'll provide some context to make things a little bit clearer.
    This is the show's plot:
    "About Cal Lightman, the world's leading deception expert who studies facial expressions and involuntary body language to expose the truth behind the lies."
    This man, Cal, is going to write a book, in the episode where the quote is from and his daughter is writing a foreword for his book, he asked what she wrote and she showed him this part:
    "It's not easy growing up in a house where someone knows your every thought or thinks they do."
    Then, Cal goes and starts writing:

    index.png
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    @wriight is saying that the second part makes us go back and reinterpret "little" as an adverb and not a noun, as in فهمي ضعيف and not ما أفهمه قليلٌ. That's not my interpretation. My interpretation is that the first part makes us think of things and not people, but then the second part surprises us by mentioning people.

    أقله = أقل القليل, which didn't feel accurate to me. But maybe it works.
    I meant it to be analogous to أصغر الصغراء or أعظم العظماء.

    Here's an alternative suggestion that I think/hope will be to your liking:

    قَلَّ ما أفهمه، وأقلّه المقرّبين إلي

    Here: أقله = أقل ما أفهمه

    A less poetic version would be

    ما أفهمه قليلٌ، وأقله المقرّبين إلي
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    يحق للشاعر ما لا يحق لغيره :D

    Just kidding. Of course it should.

    Do my new suggestions get your seal of approval otherwise?
     

    Mahaodeh

    Senior Member
    Arabic, PA and IA.
    I meant it to be analogous to أصغر الصغراء or أعظم العظماء.
    Yes, I still have trouble with that because I don’t feel that أقله is the same in this context, at least not in terms of meaning. Let’s try separating the sentences:

    أنا أفهم القليل
    أقل القليل المقربون مني
    This basically means “I understand those close to me most of all since I understand what is little, and they are the littlest”.

    Whereas what is meant is:
    أنا أفهم القليل من الأمور
    أقلّ الأمور التي أفهمها المقربون مني

    The way I understand it is that those close to me are part of “the things I understand very little”, not “little things”.

    I don’t know, perhaps it’s just me.
     
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