To throw a spanner in the works

< Previous | Next >

Andrew___

Senior Member
Regarding the phrase: "To throw a spanner in the works", I wonder how we could express this phrase in MSA.

Context is: "I don't want to throw a spanner in the works, but have you taken into account disabled access into your architectural drawings?"

[For the benefit of non-native English speakers, the phrase "to throw a spanner in the works' means "to disrupt", "to interfere with", "to raise a problem or issue with" etc].
 
  • Haroon

    Senior Member
    Arabic-Egypt
    Hi Andrew : .....First try : لا أريد أن أعقد الأمور ......- لا أريد أن أضع العقدة في المشار ) تعبير دارج _ .... To be continued , may be . :)
     

    Andrew___

    Senior Member
    Thanks Haroon, I was just about to write an attempt as "لا أريد أن أعقد كل شيء" and then I saw your post :)

    And regarding the whole sentence, could I say "لا أريد أن أعقد الأمور، ولكن هل يوجد في مخططاتك المعمارية مداخل للعواجز"

    Many thanks
     
    Last edited:

    Haroon

    Senior Member
    Arabic-Egypt
    Thanks Haroon,

    And regarding the whole sentence, could I say لا أريد أن أعقد الأمور، ولكن هل وضعت مداخل للمعاقين في رسوماتك المعمارية أو هل راعيت أن تكون هناك مداخل للمعاقين في رسوماتك الإنشائية
    Many thanks
     

    Mahaodeh

    Senior Member
    Arabic, PA and IA.
    And regarding the whole sentence, could I say "لا أريد أن أعقد الأمور، ولكن هل يوجد في مخططاتك المعمارية مداخل للعواجز"

    Many thanks
    While technically العواجز are disabled, but the more common term for plural is عاجزين. Also, it's best to say ذوي الاحتياجات الخاصّة; so I would go with لا أريد أن أعقد الأمور، ولكن هل يوجد في مخططاتك المعمارية مداخل لذوي الاحتياجات الخاصّة.

    Previously, they used to use المعاقين or المعوّقين but it is highly discouraged these days even if many people don't know that it's politically incorrect to say it. It's actually not even accurate (a mentally retarded person is معاق but he can climb a flight of stairs, a mother with a pram is not but she needs a ramp). In most architectural schools it's called "people with special needs", it includes the disabled, the old and people with temporary special needs (like the woman with the pram).

    Also, technically plans are مخططات أفقية and can be contracted to مخططات; so I would not use رسومات as it's actually annoying to architects to call them that (I hate it when I tell someone I'm an architect and they go "يعني تعرفي ترسمي بيوت؟"!!!); plus, إنشائية is structural, which technically don't show openings (entrances and windows...etc.) at all.
     
    Last edited:

    ayed

    Senior Member
    Arabic(Saudi)
    Thanks Haroon, I was just about to write an attempt as "لا أريد أن أعقد كل شيء" and then I saw your post :)

    And regarding the whole sentence, could I say "لا أريد أن أعقد الأمور، ولكن هل يوجد في رسوماتك المعمارية مداخل للعجزة"

    Many thanks
    You can say :
    لا أريد تعقيد/عرقلة الأمور ولكن هل للعجزة مداخل/مدخل
     

    Haroon

    Senior Member
    Arabic-Egypt
    Many thanks everyone for your help.



    And Maha I was very pleased to see that you support my مخططات! :)
    with all my respect, and with refering to the famous rule of اختلاف الرأي ........, there is a subject, in faculty of engineering,called : الرسم الهندسي . However, this does not mean that I disapprove the word مخطط
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    Since enrolling in this translation class I can't help but analyze some of the posts here on the forum.

    So if you'll so indulge me, I just wanted to comment that the the Arabic translations for the English original contain significant translation loss. This can be shown by way of a back-translation of the Arabic sentences. "لا أريد أن أعقد / أعرقل الأمور" would probably be translated back into English as "I do not want to complicate matters." The original English source text contains an idiom; the Arabic target text just contains a regular word, with no indication of an idiom; and therefore, the back translation contains no indication that the original contained an idiom. This translation loss may not matter if the main goal of the translation is only to express the meaning of the original. But if it is important that the target audience be aware that the original was written with an idiom, then the translations offered fail. This can be remedied by using an equivalent idiom that approximates the meaning, if indeed, one exists. Of course, not all idioms have equivalents in other languages and so some translation loss on this level is inevitable.

    I seem to remember hearing, one time, an idiom that was similar to this English idiom, but I am not sure anymore. If I remember it I will share it.

    As an aside I just wanted to note that the American version of this idiom is "to throw a wrench in the works" (and sometimes "monkey wrench"), 'spanner' being the English and Australian name of this tool and 'wrench' being the American.

    Edit: another side comment: I like Ayed's choice of عرقل . I believe it represents the idea of the idiom better than عقد does.
     
    Last edited:

    londonmasri

    Senior Member
    English
    I just wanted to comment that the the Arabic translations for the English original contain significant translation loss.
    This is a very true and often forgotten point.

    How would you say such an expression in Egyptian arabic?

    I dont think '7atteet (spanner) fil 3amal?' lol
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    Actually, the idiom I heard (if indeed I actually heard one) that might be similar to the English one, was probably Egyptian. If I remember it I will post. Or maybe someone else will remember a similar idiom and post it.

    Interestingly, the Arabic, or maybe only Egyptian Arabic, word for spanner/wrench is مفتاح muftaaH, the same word for 'key.'
     
    Last edited:

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    While Josh's points about "translation loss" are interesting, I'd like to emphasize that zero translation loss is an ideal. All those ideas about preserving every nuance and reflecting every stylistic feature of the original belong to the realm of translation theory, but often prove to be unrealizable in practice. Particularly when translating between languages as different from each other as English and Arabic, it is very frequently the case that an idiom in one language has to be translated using ordinary language in the other. I know that Josh referred to this, but I just wanted to elaborate a little on this point as it is a very important practical consideration that theoretical discussions don't usually do more than make a passing reference to.

    Regarding عقد vs. عرقل, I actually fine عقد more appropriate in this context.

    Lastly, in Palestinian Arabic a wrench is a مفك (mafakk) and not مفتاح. The same word is used for "screwdriver."
     

    cherine

    Moderator
    Arabic (Egypt).
    As an aside I just wanted to note that the American version of this idiom is "to throw a wrench in the works" (and sometimes "monkey wrench"), 'spanner' being the English and Australian name of this tool and 'wrench' being the American.
    I didn't know what a spanner is, so I couldn't think of an equivalent. But you reminded me of the idiom. It's يضع العقدة في المنشار (used in fuS7a), and يحط العقدة في المنشار (used in Egyptian) and pronounced: yo7oTT el3o2da fel-monshaar.
    And it's used to mean: complicate [simple/ongoing] things.
     

    Andrew___

    Senior Member
    It's يضع العقدة في المنشار (used in fuS7a), and يحط العقدة في المنشار (used in Egyptian) and pronounced: yo7oTT el3o2da fel-monshaar.
    And it's used to mean: complicate [simple/ongoing] things.
    Thanks Cherine,

    Can I ask, what is the literal image being invoked by يحط العقدة في المنشار? It seems to suggest someone is putting a knot (?) on the tool we call the saw, but this doesn't make much sense to me.

    In the English idiom, the image I have is of a machine which is working perfectly, then someone throws a spanner in the machine, the spanner gets stuck in the machine and causes it to break down.
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    While Josh's points about "translation loss" are interesting, I'd like to emphasize that zero translation loss is an ideal. All those ideas about preserving every nuance and reflecting every stylistic feature of the original belong to the realm of translation theory, but often prove to be unrealizable in practice. Particularly when translating between languages as different from each other as English and Arabic, it is very frequently the case that an idiom in one language has to be translated using ordinary language in the other. I know that Josh referred to this, but I just wanted to elaborate a little on this point as it is a very important practical consideration that theoretical discussions don't usually do more than make a passing reference to.
    I should clarify that I was never advocating some idealistic notion of zero translation loss. As you say, that is an impossibility. Of course, there will always be translation loss, but the question is, how can that loss be minimized. The only reason I brought it up in this thread is that I see a situation in which there is more translation loss than there needs to be. That is, if the point was to express the idea that an idiom is used in the original text. But, if on the other hand, the purpose is only to capture the general meaning then the translations are fine.

    I didn't know what a spanner is, so I couldn't think of an equivalent. But you reminded me of the idiom. It's يضع العقدة في المنشار (used in fuS7a), and يحط العقدة في المنشار (used in Egyptian) and pronounced: yo7oTT el3o2da fel-monshaar.
    And it's used to mean: complicate [simple/ongoing] things.
    Yes! That sounds familiar. I believe that's what I heard. Thanks for sharing that with us.

    Thanks Cherine,

    Can I ask, what is the literal image being invoked by يحط العقدة في المنشار? It seems to suggest someone is putting a knot (?) on the tool we call the saw, but this doesn't make much sense to me.

    In the English idiom, the image I have is of a machine which is working perfectly, then someone throws a spanner in the machine, the spanner gets stuck in the machine and causes it to break down.
    The image I get is trying to saw through a knot in a piece of wood, which, as anyone who has tried that knows, is more difficult than sawing through the normal parts of the wood. So someone who is sawing through a knot is complicating the issue.
     
    Last edited:

    ayed

    Senior Member
    Arabic(Saudi)
    i seem to remember hearing, one time, an idiom that was similar to this english idiom, but i am not sure anymore. If i remember it i will share it.

    .
    Being a written translator, I often try to find the closer meaning as much as I can. I look for the meaning rather than a lieral translation.
    The Arabic idiom you remember could be the following:

    لا أريد أن أقف حجر عثرة
     
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top