Sunday, March 25, 2007

Beating or spanking? Big difference

Here's an interesting conundrum: you're a female working on an English translation of the Koran and you come to chapter 4, verse 34. It says - fairly clearly - that a woman who disobeys her husband should be beaten ("daraba") until she straightens up her act. For the Quagmires out there, some translators have interpreted "daraba" as "spank" - giggety! But in a move sure to spark more controversy, this translator has decided that maybe it means to abandon the wayward wife:

When she reached the problematic verse, Ms. Bakhtiar spent the next three months on "daraba." She does not speak Arabic, but she learned to read the holy texts in Arabic while studying and working as a translator in Iran in the 1970s and '80s.

Her eureka moment came on roughly her 10th reading of the Arabic-English Lexicon by Edward William Lane, a 3,064-page volume from the 19th century, she said. Among the six pages of definitions for "daraba" was "to go away."
Hmm. I predict that there's a beating in Laleh Bakhtiar's future. After all, a female translating the Koran? Bah!

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