“Wattan”: An Arabic Word with no suitable Equivalence in English

“Wattan”: An Arabic Word with no suitable Equivalence in English
“Wattan”: An Arabic Word with no suitable Equivalence in English

In an article entitled “The Dignity of Nations”, Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, the chairwoman of the board of trustees at Wathiqat Wattan Organization, spoke about the “the long discussion that took place amongst the members of the board of trustees concerning the name of the research centre, currently called “Wathiqat Wattan Organization”.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaban added in her article that “when we decided to name the research centre “Wathiqat Wattan”, we felt more comfortable because the word “wattan” is loaded with many emotional, historical, and cognitive meanings that the research conducted at this centre will hopefully reflect.”

Dr. Shaaban has also noted to the difficulty encountered by the board of trustees in translating the word “wattan” into English. Dr. Shaaban pointed out that “Although all the members of the board trustees master English, all suggested terms and vocabularies failed to convey the several meanings that the word “wattan” reflects.

According to Dr. Shaaban, the difficulty in translating the word “Wattan” lies in the fact that “wattan reflects history; the past and present, as well as everything we inherit from the elders including culture, science and morals and anything we will pass to the younger. Wattan also represents our joy, grief, dignity which would make it impossible for us to find an equivalence that carries all these emotive meanings.”

Dr. Shaaban continued that “after hours of discussion, we found out that the word” wattan “is deeper, and more comprehensive than what we thought and therefore, we decided not to translate the name of the organization, and instead keep it as it is in Arabic and transliterate it in English so that its exact meaning is transferred with no distortion.”


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