Significance of Kurdish Writer’s Translation of Orwell’s Animal Farm Cannot Be Overstated

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Yesterday brought us in my view a greatly significant event–the Ebril, Iraq book launch of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, translated into the Kurdish Language.

The book was formerly banned under the Saddam Hussein regime; rather obviously for its negative portrayal of how a dictatorship can emerge in a nation or community. Coupled with the dark history that for decades nations such as Turkey proscribed the Kurdish language, the fact that such a work can be sold publicly shows the remarkable transformation that has taken place in the former dictatorship.


The translation was penned by Rewshan Husen who teaches English in Ebril, though originally she was a native of Qamishlo, Rojova (Syrian Kurdistan).

In an interview with Kurdistan24, she related how her experiences and her profession exposed her to various international works of literature missing from libraries and repositories within the Kurdish Language community.

“As an English teacher, I have seen many international books which our Kurdish libraries are missing,” Husen stated. “I wanted to bring these important and well-known books to Kurdish readers.”

In my view two prevailing notions show the significance of this event. First is the fact that the Kurds in Iraq have achieved a degree of normality that we in the West largely take for granted. In this respect it is remarkable in that translating a previously banned book does not only fail to result in immediate jailing or confrontation by the government, but the unveiling can be openly celebrated when launched in a very public manner.

There also were no immediate calls for her punishment among opportunists, political or religious leaders for her having the will to bring a controversial work to the populous. I do not fully know, of course, the conditions on the ground in Ebril if her authorship was a brave act or just a labor of love. I would hope that it would be the latter for the sake of the ordinary person there.

Secondly there is the victory of being able to write this in a dialect of a language that historically has been suppressed by authoritarian governments. In a way, just the words themselves shed light to liberty.

Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey prosecuted an ethnic erasure of Kurdish culture and its language. In fact, the mere mention of the word “Kurd” or “Kurdistan” or even singing in the language could result in imprisonment. With the publication of translations such as this that serve to grow the literary foundation within the Kurdish Language, my hope is that it will serve to not only preserve the heritage and its culture, but also craft itself as a righteous insult thrown at the type of oppression that unfortunately still plagues the Kurdish People.

Perhaps they should send a signed, first edition to Turkish President Erdoğan.

By Darren Smith

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

46 thoughts on “Significance of Kurdish Writer’s Translation of Orwell’s Animal Farm Cannot Be Overstated”

  1. “Yesterday brought us in my view a greatly significant event…”

    What terrible writing.

    So many ways to pick the first half-sentence apart — why read the rest of the post?

    Darren tries so hard to present an illusion of knowledge for himself by substituting verboseness for conciseness.

    To wit:

    1. There is no need for, ‘in my view’, as we all know Darren is the author given his name on the post. There is rarely a need to state authorship in words authored — it is obvious. When one does, it exposes a feeble mind planting avenues of escape.

    2. If one does insist on self-reference Darren’s quoted half-sentence should at least have commas delineating his view from the ‘us’ before the self-reference, e.g. ‘Yesterday brought us, in my view, …’

    3. Which brings ‘us’ to: Who is Darren’s ‘us’? The world? Darren’s friends? People somewhere, someplace? Darren does not define ‘us’, which can lead to many assumptions.

    4. ‘[G]reatly significant…’? Is the event ‘great’, or, ‘significant’? Adjective redundancy should be avoided for the hyperbole is usually is.

    Darren’s first half-sentence could be reduced to:

    ‘Yesterday brought a significant event…’.

    These are some of the reasons Darren’s posts are not taken seriously; most people recognize adjective filler for what it is.

    Have fun, Darren.

      1. David Benson is the God Emperor of Making Stuff Up and owes me twenty-four citations (one from the OED, one from the town ordinances and two from the Old Testament), an equation and the source of a quotation, after twenty-eight weeks, and needs to cite all his work from now on. – if doxxing were not improper I would look up your dissertation. I would love to see your writing style that you used to wow your committee. Did you cite your sources then?

    1. 3. Which brings ‘most people’ to: Who is WWAS’s ‘most people’? The world? WWAS’s friends? People somewhere, someplace? WWAS does not define ‘most people’, which can lead to many assumptions.

      Does this idiot understand the irony here?

  2. Iraqi Kurdistan profile – BBC News – BBC.com
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28147263

    Apr 25, 2018 – 1991 – After the Gulf War, coalition forces create a safe haven for Kurds, who in effect gain autonomy. 1994-97 – Civil war involving forces of the rival Kurdish Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
    Creating an Independent Kurdistan: The History of a Hundred-Year …
    https://www.themaydan.com/…/creating-independent-kurdistan-history-hundred-year-…

    Oct 19, 2017 – It has been often postulated that Kurdish nationalism and, accordingly, a desire for an independent Kurdish state dates back to centuries before …
    Learn About Kurdish History | The Kurdish Project
    thekurdishproject.org/history-and-culture/kurdish-history/

    … region and the Kurdish people have a history that dates back thousands of years. … As a result, the Iraqi Kurdistan Front established the Kurdistan Regional …

    1. Michael Aarethun,

      Ẏѳự ӎїǥħţ ƞѳţ Ƀϵ αѡαᴦϵ Ƀựţ ţħїṩ ѡϵɃ łѳǥ ѳƞłƴ ᴘϵᴦӎїţṩ ţѡѳ ħƴᴘϵᴦłїƞҟṩ ᴘϵᴦ ḉѳӎӎϵƞţ. Ї ϵđїţϵđ ƴѳựᴦṩ ţѳ αłłѳѡ ţħїṩ ţѳ ᴘѳṩţ. Їƒ ƴѳự ѡїṩħ ţѳ ħαⱴϵ ţħϵ ᴦϵαđϵᴦṩ ᴦϵⱴїϵѡ ӎѳᴦϵ ţħαƞ ţѡѳ łїƞҟṩ, ţħїṩ ḉαƞ Ƀϵ αḉḉѳӎᴘłїṩħϵđ ţħᴦѳựǥħ ţħϵ ựṩϵ ѳƒ αđđїţїѳƞαł ḉѳӎӎϵƞţṩ.

  3. For Kurds:

    (music)
    We ..went to the Animal Fair!
    The birds and beasts were there!
    The old Baboon by the light of the moon…was..
    Combing his auburn hair.
    The Monkey he got drunk.
    And fell on the elephant’s trunk.
    The elephant sneezed.. and fell on his knees and..
    That was the end of the Monk, The Monk, The Monk!

    —-
    Meanwhile, back in Kurdistan they are naming kids with first name Stan.

  4. Trump Rashly Decided To Pull Out Of Syria

    But I Think We Should Have Helped Create A Kurdistan.

    The Kurds have been America’s only reliable allies in the region around Iraq. As warriors the Kurds punched far above their weight in eliminating ISIS and Sunni sympathizers of Saddam Hussein’s former regime. If ever a people deserved recognition of statehood, it is undoubtedly the Kurds. As an American it embarrasses me that we haven’t done more for them.

    1. Oh when was that. it said remove 2,000 ground troops didn’t mention any other kind or any other number. As an American what did you do to support the Kurds? Anything?

      1. Michael, almost all of Trump’s generals and foreign policy advisers think we should keep those 2,000 troops in Syria. Our mission there is relatively cheap and our presence insure the Kurd’s safety.

    2. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-usa/graham-more-upbeat-on-syria-troop-withdrawal-after-trump-meeting-idUSKCN1OT0JB
      Sen. Graham is one of the more hawkish members of the Senate.( I think he’s an interventionist to a fault; often too willing to intervene for “regime change”, etc.).
      I don’t know specifically what was said in his conversation with Trump, but Graham’s comments indicate that Trump may be modifying the position that he took much earlier in his administration ( last week).
      In the distant future…say, next week😉…we may get a firm, “final” decision on the withdrawals/ drawdowns from Syria and Afghanistan.
      Laat week, Trump was pretty definite about rapidly pulling out of Syria; his talk of pulling 5,000 or so troops out of Afghanistan seemed less definate.

  5. The only thing one must read is the Constitution. No matter your sympathies and ideology, the “manifest tenor” of the Constitution mandates that the state cannot tax for individual welfare, merely “…general Welfare…,” regulate any aspect of free enterprise other than the “flow,” exchange or trade “…among the several states…,” claim and exercise or possess or dispose of private property which is held “…in exclusion of every other individual…” including the government, and the state cannot socially engineer or preclude the freedom of speech, press, religion, belief, assembly, discrimination, socialization or any other natural or God-given right or freedom per the 9th Amendment. In other words, people fully enjoy, and must adapt to the outcomes of, freedom with self-reliance and the government exists solely to facilitate that freedom and self-reliance and can take no act to injure either or both. Nations that do not choose to adopt the most perfect document on governance in the history of man are committed to dictatorship.

  6. Is this an “authorized translation”? And yes, to answer nick, you are always at the mercy of the translator. Some translations are better than others.

  7. The problem w/ this great novel is even when translated and read, many people don’t get it. Do you think the PC people in the US understand it? And it was written in English.

    1. When your mind is shuttered by institutionalized ideology, its hard to break through it but it happens. Oh, I’m talking about here and it pains me that I have to make that reference clear.

      On a more happy note, Happy New Year, nick!

    2. Haven’t Millennials and their academic enablers banned Animal Farm? Maybe it has been rewritten for them so that all of the animals in the farm are the same except for those that identify as other species.

  8. A Kurd is a Kurd… is a Kurd all the way. From his first mandolin to his last dying day.
    Turkey is a bird which we eat on Tanksgiving.

  9. Given Erdogan’s brutal history for dealing with dissent, the courageous Rewshan Husen would be well advised to seek witness protection in the west.

    1. The author Husen published her book in Erbil, the capital of autonomous Kurdistan in Iraq.
      She’s probably beyond Erdogan’s reach, but I don’t know how she would fare if she were a Kurd living in Turkey and tried to publish Animal Farm.

      1. Tom, the ‘autonomy’ of Kurdistan is strictly unofficial. Officially it is still part of Iraq and I don’t believe the U.S., or any western allies, have any plans whatsoever to give the Kurds an official state. But I think they deserve one.

          1. Good read, Tom, thanks. Here’s a key paragraph:

            Iraq, after all, is an artificial state cobbled together by the British after World War I from the three former Ottoman vilayets of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. Lacking detailed understanding of the various peoples they were trying to meld into this new state and handicapped by strong cultural stereotypes, the British managed to create little more than what may prove to be a failed state that could only be held together by the likes of a Saddam Hussein.14 Since Iraq has no democratic heritage upon which to build a federal democracy – the only type of state the Iraqi Kurds are on record as agreeing to remain part of – it is difficult to see the Iraqi Kurds remaining part of Iraq in the long run, except by force.

            1. Lacking detailed understanding of the various peoples they were trying to meld into this new state

              Sez who?

            2. Peter,…
              – The same general type of situation
              seemed true of the former Yugoslavia–that it “cobbled together” disparate groups, although the map was not drawn by a just a few colonial powers.
              The “uncobbling”, the breakup of Yugoslavia after the end of the Cold War, did not go smoothly.
              The Kurdish situation is also complicated by the competing factions within that group…primarily the YPG and the KKP…I haven’t tracked the relationship between them as closely as I’ve looked at the countries….Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran….also impacted by a “new” Kurdish nation.
              It may be that the Iraqi Kurds will peel off from Iraq, and may
              try to expand a new Kurdistan beyond current Iraqi borders.
              IMO that kind of transition is not likely to be a smooth transition.

            3. Why would they want one. Democracies have failed where ever tried just like Socialisms and for that reason were rejected by our own founders.

        1. Rachelle,..
          You are incorrect…..prior to 2014 I had been to, and driven through, Idaho numerous times.
          After Darrien Roseen’s “Welcome to Idaho” experience, and my own similar experience with those clowns patrolling your highways, I bypass that state.
          If you want to know why people if the “wrong” license plates are leery of Idaho, do a bit of research.

          1. I will add that I became aware of this column after Darren Smith’s 2014 column on ROSEEN V. IDAHO.
            That was one of about 100+ articles/ columns I had read at that point.
            I learned more than I wanted to about Idaho, the Mississippi of the Pacific Northwest.

        2. Rachelle,,,,
          – I’ll try not to flood this thread with a ton of off-topic material on Idaho.
          Also, I’ll try to observe a Christmas Truce with that state.😀
          I’ll post a link to a column by Matt Ironside; I wish I had seen and read it before my own “unique” Idaho experience.

  10. While it is significant that the book was translated into Kurdish, it would be interesting to know how it was translated: whether the political and social themes of the original work were rendered appropriately.

Leave a Reply to Al O'Heem Cancel reply