It’s all Arabic to us

Led by literary translator Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp


This workshop draws on students’ existing deductive and creative writing skills to translate a Syrian Arabic picture book with no previous knowledge of the language. Students will gain a sense of sounds in Arabic, the script and certain structures, as well as an in-depth experience of literary translation. They will infer the plot from the illustrations and from a ‘performance’ of the original story, and go on to produce an English translation using a glossary of vocabulary and brief notes about Arabic syntax. In editing the translation, we discuss many factors such as register, target readership and the literary and stylistic devices of traditional fairy tales. Students will discuss the assumptions associated with gender roles, ability/disability, as well as the responsibility of the translator as a co-author.

“The workshop was really interesting and I would love to explore different languages like Arabic in the future.”
– Student, Queen’s College

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