Old Arabic Sayings, Similes, and Metaphors


58 pages
ISBN 0-919966-81-0
DDC 398.9'927





Translated by Saad Elkhadem
Reviewed by James Peters

James Peters was a professor of Languages at the Ryerson Polytechnical


Over the years, a surprising number of books of Arab proverbs have been
published in the West. This collection can be enjoyed on several
different levels: the anthropological (how Arabs view the world); the
writer’s (new images that enliven a text); and the moral (what moral
attitudes are encapsulated in these sayings). Many of these bits of
condensed wisdom will be valid in any culture, although occasionally
those such as “like a camel driver who just lost his caravan,” or
“longer than the month of Ramadhan,” (the month of fasting in Islam)
may require explanation.

The material is set down in side-by-side English and Arab columns (many
of the Arabic rhymes, however, defy parallel translation into English).
The items are listed according to the first letter of the English
translations. Elkhadem has made an excellent translation of the cryptic
and sometimes difficult old and dialectal words. The similes and
metaphors are short and to the point.

This slim, well-printed book is a rich item for any bookshelf devoted
to works on the Middle East.


“Old Arabic Sayings, Similes, and Metaphors,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/11294.