Posted by: xeper | February 21, 2009

Notre Dame De Paris 1 – The Time of Cathedrals

Language is but one barrier among us who want to reach out to each other.. and while the instant communication can use translation, another more important thing can hardly be translated, the memories we have from childhood songs, the major works of art and literature that we grow up with, and that grow up in our memories as we grow up.. As we go, I will be sharing with you some of the beautiful works I know of, mainly from French, Egyptian (Modern and Ancient), and Arabic (Modern and Classical) as I remember them..

I would like first to introduce you to one of the most fascinating musicals.. it is a high quality video from a French production, subtitled in English to please your mind, just as I hope the music will please your ears and heart..

Song 1: Le Temps Des Cathedrales – The Time of Cathedrals

I appreciate the delicate usage of the story to touch on the irony of contemporary issues, such as (western) humanity’s grasping for the stars while the hungry fill the earth, and the resulting end of traditional Europe (especially France) by migration from the south. But enough of my art critique, I wish to leave a final note on translation.

The real title of the story was lost in translation to English, for “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”, in my humble opinion, misses the whole meaning of the story, for the story is not about the hunchback Quasimodo, but more about Notre-Dame de Paris, or “Our Lady of Paris”, which is the name of the famous Cathedral in Paris, named Notre Dame, or Our Lady, in honor of the Virgin Lady Mary who was accused by the impure to be impure, though she carried salvation to the world.



  1. Very intelligent reading of the meaning of “Notre-Dame de Paris”‘s symbolism! You are right: the symbolic and hidden meanings may be lost in translation. Actually, it is not only the words that are translated. The meaning itself is translated to meet the mind of the translator not that of the writer. This is always true in literature, but also in religion. When you read a translated version of the Bible or the Qura’an, or the Holy Writings of the Ancient Egyptians, you actually read the eyes of the mind that translates, not the lipses of the mind that originated the text! The problem does exist not only when you translate between different languages, but also when you translate between different cultures even when the vocabulary and grammar are the same. To the list you can add Politics, History and, even, numbers and mathematical equations!!

  2. Thank you BrainsSurfer for your comments. Been a long time I was looking forward to them 🙂

    Indeed translations are a tricky business, including translating meanings from ideas in one’s mind to spoken or other language..
    We are each an island in the end, I guess.. Alberraao..

    I think though that translation issues would be less devastating when we understand that they are so tricky, and never take translations or language in general at face value. We should try to see what lies beyond.. (yes, pun intended, cause there always is a lie in communication, even if unintended).. The more we understand and give space for misinterpretation the more we understand and appreciate each other..

    It’s sadly hilarious in a country that worshiped God in hundreds of names that today we see fights over whether the expression “Thank God” is religiously equivalent to “El hamdu le Allaah”!!! Translation dear fanatics.. its a matter of translation.. and I assure you God understands English 😛
    And you know what, Allaah even CREATED English.. as everything else..
    And.. or let’s better leave it now cause that might be another topic..

    I expected you to say that translation not only between languages and cultures, but even between different times, makes big differences.. or was this what you implied in “cultures even when the vocabulary and grammar are the same”?

    I would like to hear more about the numbers and mathematical equations.. unless of course you’re talking about finance tricks and translating financial data to shareholder versions (maximized and improved) or to tax versions (minimized and impoverished)..

    Thank you again 🙂

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