Tuesday, November 8, 2016

There was, or possibly not...

Image of "The Bald Boy" from Turkish story site

Bir varmis, bir yokmus... So begin the Turkish fairy tales. This may be translated as "There was, there wasn't," an indication of the story's existence in a place beyond time.

At Southbank this past summer, I learned from writer Christine Leviczky Riek that Hungarian stories begin with a similar phrase. This made sense to me, as some linguists consider Turkish and Hungarian to be related.

Reading Karim Alrawi's The Book of SandsI was surprised by the similarity of his translated Egyptian story openings, "There was, or maybe not..." Since Arabic is from a different linguistic lineage, the similar story openings may be a regional phenomenon.

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