Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by moura, Mar 29, 2007.

  1. moura

    moura Senior Member

    Portuguese Portugal
    I am translating an English novel, whose scenarium is Cairo. In it there is a native person who is called (in English) by Mamdooh. I don't know if this name is a translation of an original arabic name to English or whether it is a native name.
    Could you help about this, please?
  2. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    Mamdooh is an Arabic word -- it is spelled ممدوح and means "praised." As for its use as a name I don't know, but its synonym, which is actually formed by rearranging a few letters, is a common name -- محمود Mahmood (commonly spelled Mahmoud in English).
  3. CarlosPerezMartinez Senior Member

    Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
    Spain, Spanish
    Mamdooh ( ممدوح ) is a common Arabic name of person. It is less used than Muhammad or Abdullah but it is still quite common.
  4. moura

    moura Senior Member

    Portuguese Portugal
    Thank you Josh and Carlos. I must confess you that I was tempted to "translate" this name to Portuguese, as the translation is to this language, as Mamud, but I was afraid I was doing something very wrong and I couldn't found in the internet in Portugal a Mamud. So it wil stay as Mamdooh.
  5. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    Mamdooh is a common form of the name among West African Moslems.
  6. moura

    moura Senior Member

    Portuguese Portugal
    Thank you also, Arrius.
  7. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I would not consider ممدوح and محمود synonyms.

    The former means "praised" as in "flattered" or "complimented" whereas the latter means "praised" as in "worshiped" or "glorified."

    .مَدَحْتُ (وليس "حَمَدْتُ") سعاد على إتقانها البارع في التمثيلية
    .أحْمَدُ (وليس "أمْدَحُ") الله وأسبحه
  8. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    The discussion of what constitutes a synonym has been hashed out before so no need to review it here. Anyway, all the dictionaries I check give them meaning pretty much the same thing. The Hans Wehr, for example, used the exact same English terms (to praise, commend, laud, extol) for both terms. E.W. Lane's dictionary, which gives thorough analysis to each root therein, says of the verb, as well as the usual definitions,l "حمد also implies admiration: and it implies the magnifying, or honoring of the object thereof; and lowliness, humility, or submissiveness, in the person who offers it, as in the saying of the afflicted, الحمد الله ; since in this case there is no worldly blessing, favor, or benefit."

    Lane also said, concerning the idea that حمد is a transposition of مدح ,"but it is of less common application than the latter verb." I take that to mean that مدح is used commonly (mundanely) moreso than حمد .

    Anyway, it seems to me that they have pretty much the same denotative meaning, but their connotative meanings are different. حمد is used more in conjunction with God, and مدح is, as far as I know, never used to talk about God, and has more mundane applications. This, I already knew before posting.

    Even if one denies that they can be synonyms one can't deny the fact that both roots are composed of the same letters in different positions. I at least think this is an interesting fact. I have noticed this a few verbs that exhibit a trait like this -- same root letters, different position. The only one I can think of off hand is حفر and the Egyptian Arabic فحر which both mean to dig, among other things.

    Anyway to understand the word better could/would حمد ever be used in a human sense? For example:

    حمدته على شجاعته
    حمد أولاده على نجاحهم في المدرسة
  9. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Many verbs have the same letters in different positions, thus having different meanings (كتب-بكت، شنق-نقش، رفع-عرف) and as you see, they're completly different.
    As for حفر - فحر , I'd like to note that not all Egyptians say فحر , specially not people with education. This is another linguistic feature ("displacing" letters). Like زنجبيل - جنزبيل، فانلة-فالنة ...
    But that's a topic for another thread. :)
    I think we use 7amada for God more than for people. With people we use shakar, or athna 3ala :
    شكرته على شجاعته
    أثنيت على شجاعته
    شكر أولاده على نجاحهم
    أثنى على نجاح أولاده

    Back to حمد and مدح ; I'd say that 7amada means praise in the meaning of thanking, and mada7a means praise in the meaning of commend, say the good things about something or someone.
    In poetry, we have قصائد المدح أو المديح but we I don't remember hearing or reading قصائد الحمد .
  10. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    Yes, there are only 28 letters, but thousands of roots, so many combinations of letters are used in different positions, and as you noted, their meanings are completely different. But I'm not talking about ones whose meaning are completely different. I am talking about the ones that have the same meaning. Sure, there aren't many, but there are a few. Natives may not notice things little quirks such as these as the language is innate and they are looking from the inside out, so to speak. A learner, on the other hand, may notice those quirks because s/he is looking from the outside in and thus from a different perspective. (Maybe in another thread I'll bring up some of the interesting things I've noted.) It is more than a coincidence that حمد and مدح have very similar denotative meanings (albeit with different uses) and the same root letters. Just a wild conjecture here, but maybe as حمد was used more for God the old Arab grammarians wanted another word that would be used more for mundane matters, so rather than make up a new word all together they just decided to rearrange the letters of حمد and came up with مدح .

    Yes, definitely, and mentioned that in my previous post, but I was curious if it is ever used for humans, or not at all. Would it be advisable to avoid using it in a human context, or are there situations in which it would be ok?
  11. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Yes of course, I understood that. But as I believe that these two verbs 7amada-mada7a don't mean the same things, I put them with the same "category" as the others.
    It's hard for me to accept this guess, though I can't give an exact explanation for it.
    It's true that both word not only share the same letters, but they are also very close in meaning. Yet, each of them is different from the other, not only in usage and denotation, but also of meaning.
    I find it hard to explain it; maybe it's the native ear that's getting the difference sort of intuitively, and this is why I can't explain it.
    So, again, the only differentiation I can make is this:
    7amada = he thanked
    mada7a = he praised, commended.
    The few times I've read this verb حمد used with humans was in the context of thanking/praising someone for something; something like حمد له حُسن صنيعه he praised/thanked his good deed. Usually -if not always- with the preposition لـ .
  12. moura

    moura Senior Member

    Portuguese Portugal
    Just for a complementary information, I came back to this question, as I had also put this same doubt to the Embassy of Cairo in Portugal.
    This is their answer (in Portuguese, that I translate next to English):
    "...o nome egiipcio que refere ee normalmente mencionado em documentos portugueses como Mamdouh, para
    respeitar a aspiraccaao final forte."
    "...the Egyptian name you refer is normally referred in Portuguese documents as Mamdouh in order to observe the strong aspiration at the end"
  13. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Moura, that's obviously a transliteration into English, since Arabic is written with a different script than English.

    I suppose your dilemma is: should you keep the English transliteration (which may not be the best for Portuguese speakers), or adapt it?

    It's a tough question. When translating a novel, I think one should generally be conservative, keeping transliterations close to the original. Even if they are not very adequate for Portuguese, at least this way it's easy to read commentaries about the novel in other languages without losing track of the names of the characters.

    On the other hand, I confess that I would be very tempted to change "Mamdooh" into "Mamduh", which is more in accordance with (modern) Portuguese orthography. I do not like the spelling "Mamdouh". Many Arabic names have traditional transliterations inspired in the French orthography, but that has the inconvenient of not being altogether appropriate for our language, since our pronunciation of the digraph "ou" is different from the French one.

    In the end, you must make the decision yourself, but I hope my reflections are helpful.
  14. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    You have a good point Outsider.

    My name, for example, is not always written "Cherine"; only francophone Cherine(s) write their name like this. The others may write it Shirin, Shireen, Shirine...

    So, you -Moura- don't need to stick too much to the English transliteration of the names of that novel (I'm very curious to know which novel you're translating :) ) or you can keep it and add a little note, which you may need anyway with all the cultural references you may need to explain.
  15. moura

    moura Senior Member

    Portuguese Portugal
    Hi Out,

    Your reflexions were (as always) helpfull to me. The first point is that my purpose was to find an adequate "Mamdooh" name in Portuguese. That is why I asked here and also two embassys conected to Portugal.

    The answer I received from one ot them makes me think that the option for "Mamdouh" may be a good one.
    If the name were genuinilly arabic, which I am not certain of, I should keep it as it was.
    There is, by the way, another name for a servant, not arabic at all: "Auntie". In this case, I am also using the Portuguese translation "Titi". But when the person call Miss, or Lady, I keep this words in English - the translatation to Portuguese could be desastrous (Menina - Senhora... we just don't speak usually like this...)
    So it is always a balance between what may be correctly translated or not.

    On the other hand your are right about conserving the words that in this book are written in arabic (normally in italic) . I have respected them and put some occasional footnotes, just to explain the meanings, which I think will be interesting for the future readers to know (if they want a complementar information). I found for that, among others, this interesting site


    I promise that I will tell you the name of the novell when it is published (in July, I expect) :) It is from an English writer. And so far, so good.
  16. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    What makes you doubt the name is Arabic, if I may ask?

    That's different, as it's obviously a nickname, rather than a true name. Plus, the English speaking author has already "translated" it, too. But he left Mamdooh (clearly not an English name) in the original language.

    In this case, I would translate the words. But this would be a discussion for a different thread. :)
  17. moura

    moura Senior Member

    Portuguese Portugal
    Sure (perhaps the Portuguese forum?), and an almost non-ending discussion from what I have see so far from different translation teachers or theorists... :)
  18. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Oh! I thought the answers were clear :eek: I'm sorry if we engaged in side discussions that got you lost :eek:
    So, yes Mamdooh/Mamduh/Mamdúdh ممدوح is a genuine Arabic name, based on a three-letter root like many Arabic words.
    The site is interesting indeed, but watch out for some inacuracies. If you want, we can discuss whatever Arabic word you decide to keep in your translation, so that you'll be sure about the accuracy of the explanation. :)
    Ok :) I thought it was an English translation of an Egyptian novel, this is why I was very curious. :)

    Good luck with the job :)
  19. moura

    moura Senior Member

    Portuguese Portugal
    Dear Cherine

    Thank you for your help. Of course all your answers were clear and I apologize to you and the other helpers if my words lead you to think other way.

    And therefore and to conclude this issue I will keep the Mamdooh :)

    I also thank you the offer for confirming some of the arabic terms that I have been searching in that site I referred.

    Perhaps when I have some more time, I will put here all the meanings of arabic words that I have discover so far, and then ask again your help for their meanings confirmation.


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