Saturday, September 27, 2008

Robert Worth is one leave for one year from the New York Times to study Arabic. His editors expect him to start composing classical Arabic poetry after that one year. But I notice that he is already assigned stories that deal with Arabic culture: take this one on Arabic TV serials in Ramadan. And then Worth said this: "Many of the shows are religious...." Where on earth did you get that, Mr. Worth? Did you get that from MEMRI by any chance? I dare say that I can't think of one hit Ramadan serial that was religious in the last 25 years. Not one. But Mr. Worth: if you see some characters in Ramadan wearing turbans, it does not mean that the show is religious. These are historical shows like the current one about an Arab caliph. Religious shows are way too boring for popular taste to be included in Ramadan serials. The shows are either historical or social: that is it. The most popular ones this season are social-artistic (about the signer Asmahan), and historical-political (about Nasser), or comedic. And then Worth introduces the worst transliteration of an Arabic word since the Washington Post spelled the name of the Libyan dictator. Worth wrote "muselselaat" for musalsalat (TV serials). We may put Robert Worth on a decade-leave from the New York Times to really learn Arabic.