Re: Readings on Islamic History and/or Arabic in English

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Post by JachinandBoaz » July 4th, 2020, 1:06 pm

I have 3 general questions on some pieces I was thinking of recording. The texts are all on Gutenberg and are on issues related to Islamic history. Most of these I plan to read as contributions to the short non-fiction collections, etc. The articles or chapters are in longer works that I don't envision reading myself, and which I doubt will be recorded anytime soon.

1.) When Arabic terms are written in a form that is more in line with Turkish or outdated English spelling conventions, is it considered permissible to pronounce them in the recording in the more contemporary Arabic pronunciation? For example, when the name "Muhammad" is rendered as "Mehemet" or when Islamic canon law, "shari'ah" is rendered as "sheriat"?

2.) Is it permitted for the recorder to add a footnote to explain a term that an author may have used earlier in the work but which is not explained in the section being read and which might be confusing without some kind of explication? For example, one of the articles refers to the Mu'tazilites, which the author discusses at length in the introduction to the book. However, it might be unclear to a Western listener who exactly the Mu'tazilites were without some brief comment. So would it be permitted to add something along these line: "Comment by the Librivox reader: Mu'tazilism was a medieval school of Islamic philosophy that favored the application of reason to theological questions. End of Comment"

3.) In some of these writings the authors permit certain editorial remarks to creep into their otherwise objective analyses, things like commenting on "racial characteristics" and "personality traits" of Semitic peoples or the "puerility" of certain religious ideas and notions that the subjects of the study hold. Is it permitted to pass over sentences like these in silence or does that kind of sanitization come too close to censoring a text and are the guidelines for Librivox recordings such that the integrity of the text should be preserved in its entirety, even if some issues discussed might now be deemed insensitive, objectionable and/or inflammatory?

Thank you!


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Post by TriciaG » July 4th, 2020, 1:24 pm

1) I'd say no, read them as written.

2) We do not allow such readers' notes. I suppose this is one of the hazards of excerpting a chapter out of a book. :)

3) We read the texts as written, without omissions such as you describe, exactly for the reason you give.
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Post by mightyfelix » July 4th, 2020, 1:34 pm

Pretty much the answer to all three of these questions boils down to the same thing, the way I see it: We don't add, subtract, euphemize, paraphrase or in any other way alter what's written. :)

EDIT: As to your first question specifically, I'd say it's the same as when English texts use "thou hast" kinds of constructions. We wouldn't want readers to read it as "you have."

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Post by Kazbek » July 4th, 2020, 2:26 pm

On the subject of pronunciation, while we don't want to cross the line between reading aloud and editorial work, for Islamic terms there's a often significant leeway in how to pronounce any given Latinized spelling, and professional anglophone readers will often deviate from the native pronunciation of either Arabic or Turkish variant more than the two variants differ from one another, simply due to lack of knowledge. There's often some balance to be struck between fidelity to foreign pronunciation and intelligibility to the listener. For example, the Turkicized form "sheriat", if you put the stress not on the "at" as in Turkish, but on the "i", will probably be easier to understand than its Arabic equivalent, if actually pronounce it like it's supposed to sound in Arabic.

Regardless, it would be great to have more texts on Islamic history in the catalog (although, yes, Islamic studies have made great strides over the last century, and most English PD texts on the subject are outdated in various ways).


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Post by JachinandBoaz » July 4th, 2020, 6:12 pm

Thank you, everyone. This was very, very helpful. I was going to start a recording now, but the air is litterally crackling with the sound of fireworks. :wink:


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