The most important picture is seldom a good picture

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Finland

Senior Member
finnois
Hello!

I have often struggled with superlatives in Arabic. I mean, I know the basic rules, but they often seem to be quite awkward in sentences. My hunch is that imperatives are used quite a bit less in Arabic than in many Western languages. That's why it is probably a good idea in translations at least to some extent to try to come up with some other, more typical ways of expressing the idea. I was translating a text to someone out loud, and there was this sentence in English:

The most important picture is seldom a good picture.

(The text is about photography, and how one can identify, for example on one's mobile phone, a picture one holds the dearest of all, and then it doesn't matter if that picture is technically not a very good one.)

My first attempt is:

نادرا ما تكون الصورة الأهم هي صورة جيدة
or
الصورة الأكثر أهمية هي نادرا ما صورة جيدة
I don't find this elegant at all, and I'm not even sure if it's entirely correct. But I find it really hard to find ways to make أهم صورة or الصورة الأهم work... In another contexts I would prefer to find another way of expressing the gist (e.g. الصورة المفضلة), but in this particular text I would find it important to insist on the idea of *the most important picture*.

Any suggestions?

S
 
  • I.K.S.

    Senior Member
    Moroccan Arabic
    My humble suggestion : قلما تكون الصورة الأهم صورة متقنة
    Your suggestions are not bad ,but you just need to do small corrections,
    نادرا ما تكون الصورة الأهم صورة جيدة
    نادرا ما تكون الصورة الأكثر أهمية صورة جيدة ( you don't need a logical link in Arabic ;i mean هي )
     
    Last edited:

    Finland

    Senior Member
    finnois
    Very interesting, thank you إتحادية قبائل الشاوية!

    So since you gave a suggestion without the superlative, do you also feel that superlatives are sometimes a bit clumsy in Arabic in sentences such as these? I really think your suggestion sounds good, probably in part because it has no superlative.

    Another question: by متقن, did you mean متقَن or متقِـن? I suppose mutqan, because it refers to an object, because mutqin would refer to humans, or am I mistaken?

    Thanks,
    S
     

    I.K.S.

    Senior Member
    Moroccan Arabic
    Very interesting, thank you إتحادية قبائل الشاوية!

    So since you gave a suggestion without the superlative, do you also feel that superlatives are sometimes a bit clumsy in Arabic in sentences such as these? I really think your suggestion sounds good, probably in part because it has no superlative.
    Actually i edited it into a superlative as you can notice ,after thinking for a while i thought i should be fair in the translation, because this picture might be amongst other pictures that are good and less important than it,see what i mean .
    Another question: by متقن, did you mean متقَن or متقِـن? I suppose mutqan, because it refers to an object, because mutqin would refer to humans, or am I mistaken?
    Yes it is mutqanah ,and I chose this word because a good picture could also be an important picture especially in Arabic perception ,so متقنة means technically good and well made .
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Finland, I don't understand your frustration. :confused: There is nothing awkward or unnatural about superlative constructions in Arabic, and they are very common.

    There is no reason to avoid using them. It seems you are imagining an issue where one does not exist.
     
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