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  1. stuartnz's Avatar
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    #1

    An awkward negative construction

    I have a question about a translation. A favourite qawwali of mine starts like this:
    है अगर दुश्मन ज़माना ग़म नहीं
    कोई आये कोई जाये हम किसी से कम नहीं


    hai agar dushman zamaanaa gham nahiin
    koii aaye koii jaaye hum kisii ke kam nahiin


    I received the above lines in a daily sher email I subscribe to. The sender translated the above as:

    "No pains, even if the world is an enemy
    They may come and go, but I am less than nobody"

    It's the last phrase that I'm trying to reword. The singer is saying that he is not a lesser person than anyone, that he is (at least) the equal of anyone. So how could the technically correct but ambiguous and potentially misleading "I am less than nobody" be reworded in a compact way that gets the idea across without excessive verbiage?
    Last edited by stuartnz; 30-Mar-2008 at 22:16.

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    #2

    Re: An awkward negative construction

    How about:

    But I am more than just a nobody.

    or

    But I am somebody.


    (Sure he's not saying "I am just a nobody"?)

  2. stuartnz's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: An awkward negative construction

    Quote Originally Posted by susiedqq View Post
    How about:

    But I am more than just a nobody.

    or

    But I am somebody.


    (Sure he's not saying "I am just a nobody"?)
    Thanks, Susie. The phrase "I am less than nobody" is technically correct.He is insisting that it does not matter what the world throws at him, because there is no-one that he is less than. That's why I've avoided the "I am more than just nobody", because I'm looking for that sense of comparison, that measuring against others and not coming up short, not being less than anyone else. It's an idea that is easy to understand, but trying to find a concise way of saying it in English while preserving some semblance of a poetic or rhythmic feel to the couplet is proving that I am less than up to the task.
    Last edited by stuartnz; 30-Mar-2008 at 23:07.

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    #4

    Re: An awkward negative construction

    A "Nobody" does not exist; therefore if you are less than a nobody, you are even less than that.

    I don't think that's what you want to say.

    You have to say that this person is MORE than nothing; s/he is more than nobody, therefore, s/he is somebody

    "I am more than just a nobody" would also do.

  3. stuartnz's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: An awkward negative construction

    Quote Originally Posted by susiedqq View Post
    A "Nobody" does not exist; therefore if you are less than a nobody, you are even less than that.

    I don't think that's what you want to say.

    You have to say that this person is MORE than nothing; s/he is more than nobody, therefore, s/he is somebody

    "I am more than just a nobody" would also do.
    Thanks again. You've confirmed for me that "I am not less than any body" comes closest to the idea of the line. Your reasoning expressed what I was thinking , so it was reassuring to see that I had correctly understood the problem with the literal translation. I'm going to go with ""I am not less than any body"" to keep the negative construction over the positive, "I am more than". It's been a fun exercise, and I'm very grateful for your help.

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    #6

    Re: An awkward negative construction

    No problem!
    Last edited by Anglika; 31-Mar-2008 at 01:28. Reason: email address removed - unsafe to post on an open forum.

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