Why Evolution is True now in Arabic!

Of all the 19 foreign translations of WEIT, this is the one about which I’m most excited. That’s for two reasons. First, in many Middle Eastern countries evolution simply isn’t taught, as it contravenes a literal interpretation of the Qur’an. Second, as far as I know there is no book in Arabic that comprehensively summarizes the evidence for evolution. In other words, there’s a big need for material on evolution in the Arab-speaking world.

Over the years, I’ve worked hard to find someone or someplace willing to translate WEIT into Arabic, but didn’t find much enthusiasm. Then, with the efforts of a friendly Egyptian colleague, the National Center for Translation and Publishing of Egypt agreed to translate my book into Arabic.  Sadly, the process was stopped during the Arab Spring, and then only recently got back on track. It was further delayed by the bureaucracy (the government had to assign an official number to the book and so on), and sometimes I thought it wouldn’t see the light.

Now I’m very pleased to announce that Why Evolution is True has been printed in Arabic and will be moving to the bookstores next week. I’m not sure how many copies they’re printing, and I don’t even have a link to the Arabic version, but I’m doing my best to get this information. If you are in a Arabic-speaking country, do be aware that the book now exists, and stay tuned for more information.

62 Comments

  1. Janet
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Congratulations! This is HUGE.

    • freiner
      Posted November 27, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      +++!!! And thanks to all who helped this project along.

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    تهانينا !!!

    • Mark R.
      Posted November 27, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      لماذا التطور هو الصحيح

      limadha altatawur hu alsahih

      Why Evolution is True.

      Arabic is a beautiful written language. Hope to see the book cover when/if you get it.

      • Leo H
        Posted November 28, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        Apparently, the actual title in translation is
        لماذا النشوء التطور حقيقة

        I just downloaded a pdf version. Arab translators often mutilate the original, so I will be comparing Jerry’s English text with the Arabic version. Hopefully, they did a decent job.

        • Posted November 28, 2018 at 9:05 am | Permalink

          Could you send me the link for the pdf version you downloaded? And do let us know (and Jerry via email) how good the translation is. Is this the Egyptian translated version?

    • Mark R.
      Posted November 27, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      oops…I meant for this to be a stand alone post. Oh well, since we both “wrote” in Arabic, I guess they can hang out together.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 27, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        ليس هناك أى مشكلة 🙂

  3. Posted November 27, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    If there is a charity one can donate to that will work to get copies of the book into libraries and schools in the Arabic-speaking world, please publicize info about that in a future post.

    • Laith Al-Shawaf
      Posted November 27, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      bchaller, I know of at least one. It’s called Ideas Beyond Borders. Currently translating books, wikipedia pages, and soon perhaps skepticism- and freethought-related magazines into Arabic.

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    I’m a little astonished that translations are not essentially an automatic thing. this particular one can only help….

    How can we tell if a translation is warping the meaning?

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted November 27, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      Oh no – not again- my question is so poorly formed. Sorry again.

      After submitting it, I replayed it in my head and I could see Tucker Carlson asking it.

      I’ll try to lay off commenting for a few days,

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted November 27, 2018 at 9:20 am | Permalink

        Yep – this is another bad one where I feel like I ruined a beautiful thing. The question is damn rude.

        All I’ll do is sub until I figure out what my problem is.

        Grateful if I do not get banned.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted November 27, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        I don’t think your question was rude. It’s legitimate to wonder how things are translated into other languages because typically you need to interpret meanings since language isn’t always a one to one meaning. You see this with texts of literature that are translated into English, for example, from another language like Russian or Ancient Greek.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted November 27, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

          Thank you, but I just wrote a personal apology to PCC(E), and I’m shutting down my mouth / keyboard for a while here.

          • Posted November 27, 2018 at 10:42 am | Permalink

            I’m not seeing any rudeness in your question either.

            • Posted November 27, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

              It’s not rude; I told Thyroid Planet that no apology was necessary and to keep posting.

          • Posted November 27, 2018 at 10:44 am | Permalink

            It was a fair question. Make it a short break.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted November 27, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

              I agree. I hope you don’t stay away long TP!

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted November 28, 2018 at 2:38 am | Permalink

        Sure your name isn’t ‘ParanoidPlanet’? 😉

        Honestly, nobody thought your question was rude.

        It is natural to wonder how accurate a translation is. I would say that such a thing as a 100% accurate literal translation is impossible, because words carry different shades of meaning, common phrases mean something quite different from what they literally say, and some words may have no equivalent in the other language without long-winded, hence distracting explanations.

        Incidentally, your original comment “I’m a little astonished that translations are not essentially an automatic thing.” is ambiguous. Did you mean “I’m astonished translations aren’t automatically done” i.e. as a matter of common practice. Or did you mean “I’m astonished that translations aren’t done automatically” i.e. by machine? If the latter, I’d disagree, for the reasons I cited above. Google Translate for example visibly only has a 90% success rate.

        cr

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted November 28, 2018 at 2:56 am | Permalink

          Since the question has been raised, it does occur to me to wonder whether the message of the book might have been subtly changed. That is, whether Islam’s pervasive influence in the language might subtly change meanings, to be more compatible with Islam. With or without intent. (In much the same way as Darwinism might be skewed into Intelligent Design).

          I should emphasise, out of respect for the translators, that I have absolutely no evidence or reason to think that this might have happened, other than Murphy’s Law and cynicism. And I would like to think that its probability is very low.

          cr

          • Posted November 28, 2018 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

            I think it would be difficult with the WEIT book, because it is full of facts.

        • Posted November 28, 2018 at 4:06 am | Permalink

          Just for fun, I put your post through Google Translate twice, from English to Arabic and then back again. It’s disappointingly good.

          [quote]Frankly, no one thought your question was rude.

          It is normal to wonder how accurate translation is. I would like to say that such words as a 100% literal translation are impossible because words have different meanings. Common phrases mean something quite different from what they say literally. Some words may have no parallel in the other language without long relaxation. .

          By the way, your original comment “I’m a little surprised that translations are not essentially an automated thing.” Did you mean “amazing translations are not automatically executed”, as a common practice. Or do you mean “I was surprised that translations are not done automatically” by the machine? If the latter, I do not agree, for the above reasons. Google’s translation for example is only an incredible 90% success rate.[/quote]

  5. Posted November 27, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    That is good news.

    • W.Benson
      Posted November 27, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Agree. Very good news.

  6. Posted November 27, 2018 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    A win for everyone!

  7. Mike
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Brilliant, a first step, but a big one.

  8. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Very good news. The perfect book to get further out to the uniformed and into libraries everywhere.

  9. Historian
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    This is good news, but I wonder in how many Arabic speaking nations will the book be openly available in bookstores. The book may experience an underground life as was the case with much literature in the Soviet Union.

  10. Posted November 27, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Can I draw your attention to the Iraqi Translaton Project, who will be bery interestedin spreading the word? Your colleague Neil Shubin has worked with them and I am very proud of the fact that they have translated and publicised some of my own materials.

    • Posted November 27, 2018 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      I’d be delighted if they’d either translate the book or popularize the Egyptian version, but I don’t know how to get in touch with them. If you know them and they’re interested, have them email me.

  11. Posted November 27, 2018 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Can I draw your attention to the Iraqi Translation Project, who will be very interested in spreading the word? Your colleague Neil Shubin has worked with them and I am very proud of the fact that they have translated and publicised some of my own materials.

  12. Christopher
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I don’t know much about intellectual freedom in Egypt so I cannot help but to wonder how safe will readers and booksellers be if found to be in possession of this or similar works. I’m not trying to stereotype all Muslim cultures as I know there are clear differences between say Pakistan and Algeria, so does anyone out there have some firsthand experiences? How safe and acceptable would it to have this book, or one by Dawkins, Hirsi Ali, or Rushdie? Quite honestly I don’t think of Muslim nations as big readers, beyond the Koran. How right or wrong am I?

    • Draken
      Posted November 27, 2018 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      I was just wondering, are the translators in hiding and the publisher in Switzerland now?

  13. Greg Geisler
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Bravo! Congratulations! This is an important event. I hope the book is accessible. Keep us posted!

  14. Posted November 27, 2018 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Now Urdu…?

  15. Posted November 27, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Excellent. What languages are available as a whole now?

    • Posted November 28, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      Here’s the list I have along with the publishers in each language:

      ARABIC National Centre for Translation and Publishing, Egypt

      BASQUE Universidad del Pais Vasco (hardcover and ebook)

      BRAZIL JSN Editora

      CROATIAN In.Tri d.o.o

      FINNISH Vastapaino

      FRENCH Markus Haller,

      GREEK (Diadromes)

      JAPAN Nikkei Business Publications

      HEBREW Books in the Attic

      ITALY Codice

      KOREA (Eulyoo Publishing Company)

      PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA KeAi Communications

      PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA (Simplified Chinese) Shanghai Translation Publishing House

      POLAND Proszynski i Ska

      PORTUGAL Edicoes tinta-da-china (Portugal)

      RUSSIAN (Alpina)

      SPAIN Editorial Critica

      TURKEY Palme Yayinevi

      UKRANIAN (NashFormat Publishers)

      • rickflick
        Posted November 28, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        I was expecting to see German in the list.

      • Posted November 28, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        What an impressive list! Congratulations – a real win for world science education.

  16. Dragon
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations. That is a big step. Good luck on selling many copies in Arabic.

  17. Jon Gallant
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations! May many copies be sold, insh’allah.

  18. Steve Pollard
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Many congrats. A touchstone for its acceptability might be if it is allowed to be sold in Saudi Arabia. I will ask my former colleagues to keep an eye open for it.

  19. Posted November 27, 2018 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    This is excellent news.
    I wonder… wondering….
    has Darwin’s Origin been translated to Arabic
    wondering still…. then while perusing the web, i saw this,

    “There had been no such preliminary softening of the ground in the Middle East. In 1882 Edwin Lewis, a professor of geology and chemistry at the Syrian Protestant College (the forerunner of the American University of Beirut), gave a commencement address in which, though he was chiefly concerned to emphasize the limits of scientific knowledge, he referred favourably to Darwin’s achievement “as an example of the transformation of knowledge into science by long and careful examination”. The ensuing uproar was tremendous. After the College’s Board of Managers dismissed Lewis, several other members of the faculty resigned in sympathy with him. In the decades that followed, Protestant missionaries and teachers played an important part in fuelling the Muslim and Christian Arab debates over evolution, natural selection and the descent of man, as they provided arguments and evidence both for and against the new ideas. The Jesuits in the Middle East headed by the great scholar of Arab history and literature, Louis Cheikho, tended to be more uniformly hostile.”

    ” The ensuing uproar was tremendous.”
    made me laugh, but now I wonder if Prof(E) can expect a little of this in some form, riot at the bookstore headline!
    I never did find out if the Origins was fully translated.
    Heres the link to the above piece:
    https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/darwin-in-arabia/

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted November 27, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      “Evidence…against the new ideas”. I wonder what that could possibly have been!

      • Posted November 27, 2018 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        Reading the link, Paley’s watch made by a designer, hence god, had something to do with it, creationism in other words, was “evidence”. I skim read most of it.

  20. Posted November 27, 2018 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    For a scholarly account of the very ixed reception of evolution in the Islamic world, see Marwa Elshakry’s scholarly Reading Darwin in Arabic 1860-1950. For a discussion of the sad retreat from teaching evolution in Iraq and elsewhere, see my own https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/on-learning-that-the-iraqi-government-is-dropping-evolution-from-schoolbooks/

    Generalising about the Muslim world is as naive as generalising about the (nominally) Christian world. In Saudi Arabia, I have read that evolution is considered blasphemous. Evolution is taught in schools in Iran. But it’s not just a Sunni-Shia thing, since it’s regarded as heretical in Shia parts of Iraq

    • Posted November 27, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      There are chapters on Turkey, Iran, and the Arab States in Evolution Education Around the Globe (Springer Aug 2018)

  21. Posted November 27, 2018 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Now try to get it translated into Baptist.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted November 27, 2018 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      +1 !

  22. sang1ee
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Congrats!

  23. BJ
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations! Not only is that really cool, but important as well.

  24. rickflick
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Good news.

  25. Posted November 27, 2018 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful news!

  26. Hempenstein
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Is it available in Turkish?

  27. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic! One of the languages that really needs that kind of books.

  28. David
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    “Ideas without Borders” is a project that translates secular/humanist books into Arabic.


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