Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Something I wanted to add to the previous post

the Grill House of the Greek immigrant Peter Atcas in Minneapolis.
I was talking about preparations of departure, therefore the comment must be about analogies in vocabulary, which add details or leave areas of vagueness in languages and reflect a lot about history and cultural experience. I am not talking about the general notions, because after all, one can find terms and space for footnotes that give the general meaning, and this makes anyway the process of translation possible. But how are things when it comes to the special emotional gravity of preferred terms? I have been thinking about the english term "immigration" and its latin origin "immigrare"= to go into, which describes neutrally the action of moving. On the other hand, in Greek and Arabic, the terms which are popular in folk culture (songs, poems, postcards, letters to relatives on the occasions of feasts) are respectively "ξενιτιά" ξενιτειά<ξένος = stanger and ghareeb =stranger> غربة
Probably it is not a coincidence the fact of the similarity in the underlying concept. Besides, in english, I think that the terms alienation and estrangement have a broader sense, not specifically assigned to the feeling of the place that holds one's life, with uncommon streets, uncommon tastes, silences, music, arrangement of the public and the private; the details, I mean, that make the bread taste bitter in many greek songs dealing with the immigrants who lead a double life: strangers here and there. Having the same concept about the term, I rarely felt a stranger here.
(the sign of a Lebanese community in Argentina in various languages)


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