Saturday, 22 February 2014

Review - Proverbs of old by Fakira-Wassila Douar

"Qallek : buss l kleb men femmu 7ta teqdi 7djetek mennu"

"Embrasse le chien sur son museau jusqu’à ce que tu ais obtenu ce que tu désires"
"Kiss a dog on his muzzle until you obtain what you want from him"

no. 201

Great way to say 'do what you have to do'! Old proverbs and wisdoms are always so charming and visual, as is this collection of Algerian proberbs in Derja. l-klam fi weqtu dewa.

Lemtoul enta3 'z'men (Proverbs of old) is a small book packed full of Algerian proverbs collected by Fakira-Wassila Douar, a researcher who has concentrated on wisdoms that are, or were, used specifically in Algiers.

This 122 pages book was published by Dar El Othmania in 2013, and contains 337 sayings, plus 12 buqalat (بوقالات).  Each proverb is given in the Algerian language, written in latin transcription and in Arabic transcription. The proverb is then translated into French (by M. Amine Mehrez), and many of them are followed by a small explanation of what the saying means (still given in French). Like this:

no. 277 : "I do not fear the ox, but its horns"
Is said of a person who is feared only because of his family, allies, friends or protectors."

The wisdoms collected are fun and witty.  Here are a few examples of what you'll read. Do you use these expressions, I wonder?

no. 72 : They say: bragging doesn't build a home, and poverty is no dishonour.

no. 3: They say: follow the advice of the one who makes you cry, not the one who makes you laugh.

no. 265: They say: trust no one, betray no one.

In the book's introduction Dar El Othmania specifies two things: one, that Mme Douar's concern is to record, and save, part of Algeria's culture, here common sayings and proverbs that made a whole generation think and ponder on their actions. This effort is made for the next generation, for them to find their treasure trove, when the old generation is no longer around to tell them about it or where it might lay. Second, on the back cover, Dar El Othmania adds that this book should be on every library's bookshelves and yes, it should, with others like it.  But I have to be a pest and ask: to whom is this book addressed?  If it is to an Algerian audience, then why is it written in French?

Well, the answer is coming soon...


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