Keep calm and learn Arabic!

Aliph

Senior Member
Italian (North)
How would you say in MSA : keep calm and study Arabic? Which one of these three sentences is the best? The context is simply a statement like those printed on T-Shirt or a mug.

١) أبقى هادء وتعلم العربية
٢) أبقى هادئا وتعلم العربية
٣) حافظ على هدوئك وتعلم العربية
 
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  • elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I’m afraid a literal translation would not really make sense in Arabic.

    بكل هدوء، تعلّم العربية sounds somewhat better but would probably still be unclear. :(

    Maybe لا عليك، تعلّم العربية? Which literally means (something like) “Don’t worry, learn Arabic.” I’m still not sure that would resonate with someone who doesn’t know the English phrase...
     

    Aliph

    Senior Member
    Italian (North)
    Not sure what you mean by Calque City, Elroy.
    But in a global world, isn‘t it inevitable that people transfer from one language to another some expressions?
    „Keep calm and carry on“ was originally meant by the British authorities to incourage their population during WW2. Words migrate as much as people. That makes languaged so fascinating.
    This is one of the cultural concepts that are hard to be translated as elroy pointed out, However it seems to be some initiatives out there... (i'm clueless about how people are reacting to them though )
    What do you think of their translation?
     
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    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Not sure what you mean by Calque City, Elroy.
    What I mean is that those translations are calques that, in my opinion, an Arab who wasn't familiar with the original English expression would not understand (which kind of defeats the purpose of the translation, doesn't it?). This is in line with what I said in my first post.
     

    reno33

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Actually, I'm just as clueless about the English as about the Arabic. Under what circumstances would you see or say "Keep calm and learn Arabic? Just before you get married? As your airplane is taking a nose-dive onto "terra firma", as you're just about to get run over by a train? As a doctor is about to perform triple by-pass surgery? To me, it doesn't make any sense.

    "Keep calm and learn Arabic" is not a proverb or a saying or a maxim or an adage in any language I know of, certainly not in English. It's simply a "made-up" expression with no meaning beyond its very basic admonition to stay calm and learn Arabic (which to me is totally meaningless).
     
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    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    To me, it doesn't make any sense.
    I had a similar thought. :D It doesn't really make sense in English either, you're right. It's just that in the English-speaking world, the original "Keep calm and carry on" has given rise to hundreds of parodies, so the structure is at least familiar to most English speakers. I actually looked up the origin while I was working on my first post here (I thought it might help me come up with a good translation; it didn't) -- although I've come across the structure tons of times, I've never known what the origin was.
     

    reno33

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    As to origins: two possibilities come to mind

    1- WWII British motivational poster (see below)

    2 - Variation of T. Roosevelt's foreign policy motto: Speak Softly And Carry a Big Stick (see below)

    32486
    32484
     

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    Aliph

    Senior Member
    Italian (North)
    "Keep calm and learn Arabic" is not a proverb or a saying or a maxim or an adage in any language I know of, certainly not in English. It's simply a "made-up" expression with no meaning beyond its very basic admonition to stay calm and learn Arabic (which to me is totally meaningless).
    It surely is a made-up expression, but it may have a personal meaning beyond its intrinsic meaningless. For me, language learning is one of the most relaxing activities I can indulge in.
     

    cherine

    Moderator
    Arabic (Egypt).
    There are indeed tens if not hundreds of "keep calm and" expressions, that don't make rational sense but some of them are funny or cute. Like the "walak, I'm Palestinian, we DON'T keep calm", or "keep calm لَيْطَقِّلك عِرْق", or (as we're approaching the Eid): "keep calm and give me عيدية". (all taken from the link provided by اتحادية القبائل).

    I find the best translation of keep calm is خليك هادي. Unfortunately, it's colloquial, so it's usually avoided in MSA settings. So I think حافظ على هدوئك is the best equivalent, regardless of the set phrase "keep calm and..." being meaningful to all Arabic speakers or not.
     

    reno33

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Well, just on a personal note as a non-native speaker of Arabic......I don't see how anyone can "keep calm" while "learning Arabic".:);)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I think حافظ على هدوئك is the best equivalent, regardless of the set phrase "keep calm and..." being meaningful to all Arabic speakers or not.
    I understood Aliph to be asking for an effective translation of the whole phrase, complete with contextual meaning. That's what I think is challenging, and I think calquing the phrase is a cop-out.

    If we're just translating "keep calm" as an isolated phrase devoid of context, then that's not a challenge at all.

    Perhaps I misunderstood Aliph's intention.
     

    Aliph

    Senior Member
    Italian (North)
    I think حافظ على هدوئك is the best equivalent, regardless of the set phrase "keep calm and..." being meaningful to all Arabic speakers or not.
    That’s what is written in the Wikipedia article in Arabic about the origin of the motto “Keep calm and carry on”.
    I understood Aliph to be asking for an effective translation of the whole phrase, complete with contextual meaning.
    Indeed. But I enjoy all the contributions to this thread.
     
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