Arabic poetry and English rap are strikingly different products owing to the divergent language pairs and genre pairs. This study examines the nature and degree of change in translating the content of Arabic poetry into English rap. It studies three main content-based elements in the original Arabic poem and attempts to identify any changes in the target rap song in light of the conventional rap themes. The authors gathered study evidence from the translation of Nizar Qabbani’s famous poem “Qariat il-Finjan” into the rap song “Finjan” by the Syrian-American translator and rapper Omar Offendum. The data provides ample evidence that rendering Arabic poems into English rap songs can be achieved with a high level of success, yet with a considerable degree of adaptation to fit the target genre’s thematic conventions. The study points to how the considerable thematic adaptations fit into identity politics, youth culture and liberation theology which are distinctive features of the rap impulse.
Keywords: Arabic poetry, genre shift, rap songs, hip hop culture, translation strategies, chansons rap, poésie arabe, culture du hip hop, transfert de genre, techniques de traduction
Published online: 26 November 2018