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Lost in Translation

The same person responsible for distracting me with various puzzles is also working on a portable English-Arabic translator for US troops: Wired article on the project. Such a technology is clearly important and could save lives, but I find the goal of translating troops amusing. I spent several of my formative years living next to Marine barracks. Are there really enough phrases in Arabic to cover the various ways that you can insult someone's mother? Perhaps, but you do you translate the insult literally or do you choose a comparable Arabic phrase with an equivalent level of insult?

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My former coworker, who is of Iraqi descent, told me about one idiomatic way to call someone "stingy" in Arabic, which translated literally to "He wouldn't even piss on your wound."

I think equivalency is your best bet.

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