Friday, October 24, 2008


I came across a french cultural group which has a similar name: "Mille et Une Langues" and offers language classes in Lyon. They also founded a group called KoToPo, which is probably both a creative acronym and a Niger-Congo language spoken in Nigeria and Cameroon (where it is known as Peere).
But this then led me to another site on the Mille et Une Langues du Petit Prince which makes the astounding claim that the Little Prince is the best-selling work of fiction in the world. On our them of books I had to check that out, and verify it with the librass: In fact it does not come on any sort of top ten according to Wikipedia's list, nor according to Russel Ash's top 10 of everything which I remember reading quite a while back and being surprised that the "What Would Jesus Do?" book was number 9. (Incidentally I bought a postcard 2 days ago on the WWJD? theme - slightly irreverent, but not as bad as this). But I digress... The bit that was interesting about the Little Prince was that it has been translated into 150 many languages, and especially now (drum roll please...) Amazigh! It was disappointing to find out that Le Petit Prince wasn't originally written in French, despite it being Saint-Exupery's mother tongue - that my well have been the first book I ever read in French. But back to the Amazigh Principito, which is in Tifinagh script, and translated by a Québecois Moroccan, Fouad Lahbib. Though I haven't gotten very far in my berber studies, it appears that the title is Aglden not the article's stated Ageldun Amezzan. Which made me wonder if this is just the diminutive of Prince (as in Principito) or if the title is cut off. I think it sounds better with a diminutive rather than two words, and was really hoping I would find some creative Arabic diminutives, like امويّر (amweyer) as we might hear in Hassaniya. Instead, the only creativity was a disappointing replacement of رحالة for امير by one of the syrian translators... the only other noteworthy section of the little prince article was this bit on Argentinian language Toba: Il y a deux ans, la parution du Petit Prince en toba, dialecte parlé par une petite communauté aborigène du nord de l’Argentine et intitulé So Shiyaxawolec Nta’a, a permis aux membres de cette communauté de pouvoir lire autre chose que le Nouveau Testament.


Anonymous said...

The site Mille et une Langues du Petit Prince does not say that the book was originally "not written in French", only "not published in French". The book is dedicated to a French friend of the author "when he was a little boy", a friend who has remained in France, exposed to hunger and cold (during the German occupation) while the author is safe in the US. The book must have first been published in the US, in an English translation, and later published in France, with the original French text.

jdm said...

Well spotted... I guess then we should assume that it was written in French, then translated and published in English, then after it gained popularity, published in French (and later numerous other languages). It reminds me of Muhammad Choukri's "For Bread Alone," which was originally published with the help of Paul Bowles in English, and then later published in Arabic.

bulbul said...

My go-to site for translations of "Le Petit Prince" lists Lahbib's version and reproduces the cover as well as a small sample of the text.
I'm of course no expert on Berber, but I'd say that the 'e' in "Ageldun" actually represents [ǝ]. One transcription systems represents by [ǝ] as 'e', another one by 'ǝ' and this particular one omits it altogether (with some variation). So "agldun" = "ageldun". Also, note the third word in the text sample, "amz'z'an". That one would be more appropriately written as ameẓẓan or amẓẓan = "small, little".
As for the final syllable, it should indeed be "-un" - that penultimate character (one small circle on top of another small circle) is the character for [w] or [u]. No horizontal line between the two circles :)
Oh and it would seem the article is incorrect: Amnukal Meẓẓiyn is the latest translation of "Le Petit Prince" into Berber. I happen to own a copy...