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Richard Jacquemond

Translation in the Arab World Policies and Practice

The Center for Translation Studies hosted Professor of Arabic Literature and French translator Richard Jacquemond. In his lecture, the renowned scholar presented a comprehensive survey of the various translation policies at work in the Arab World since World War II. In particular, Jacquemond addressed the methodological and statistical shortcomings of the 3rd Arab Human Development Report (2003), and then went on to highlight a range of translation programs undertaken by foreign cultural institutions in the region as well as locally-run programs overseen by Arab states and organizations. He argued that indigenous translation programs were premised upon two complementary goals: a humanistic one that strove to translate into Arabic the masterpieces of world literature and thought and a developmentalist one that sought to make available the latest scientific developments to an Arab readership.
Highlights from the Lecture
“On the whole, according to my own research, the total number of translations published in the Arab World during the current decade amounts to around 2000 titles a year, compared to the 330 according to the AHDR.”
“In the last few decades, a growing number of states in Europe and elsewhere have launched translation programs to promote their literary and intellectual production, among them states that have no or very little experience in cultural diplomacy… However… none has had the scope of the American, French, and Soviet programs as far as the Arab World is concerned.”
“One is left with the impression that the work accomplished by Arab translators over the last decades is considerable, severely underestimated and largely unrecognized.”
“Comparing the translation market in different Arab countries reveals a close relationship between both [translation and Arabization] policies: the more the Arabic language imposes itself in all sectors of communication, the more the translated book market is bound to grow.”
About the Speaker
Jacquemond is professor of modern Arabic language and literature at the Université de Provence, Aix-en-Provence (France).  He has spent more than 15 years in Egypt as a student of Arabic language, a program officer at the French cultural mission and a researcher. Since his first stay in Cairo, he has been an active translator of modern Arabic works, mainly Egyptian fiction (15 books published to date). His doctoral thesis on the modern Egyptian literary field has been published by AUC Press in an updated English translation as Conscience of the Nation: Writers, State and Society in Modern Egypt (translated by David Tresilian, 2008). He is currently working on a new book on the politics and poetics of modern Arabic translation.

To view the lecture click here