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  5. "מצרים נמצאת ליד המזרח התיכון…

"מצרים נמצאת ליד המזרח התיכון."

Translation:Egypt is next to the Middle East.

July 19, 2016



This is, of course, incorrect, since Egypt is in the Middle East, not next to it. Secondly, the English translation should capitalize the "Middle East", since it's a place name, not a description.


The term "Middle East" is actually quite problematic, like many such vague geographic terms. It actually originates as a designation for someplace quite different, what we would now vaguely call South Asia. That Middle East indicated its centrality, between the Far East and the Near East (a term we still use when talking about the ancient world, but much less for the contemporary situation). Once again, like most such geographical terms (e.g. Central Asia, Eastern Europe, West Africa), there are certain core countries that almost always appear in people's lists of the components of the region, in this case, places like Saudia Arabia, Israel, and Iraq. However, some, but not others, would include places like Iran, Turkey, Egypt, and even the Maghreb. I even once had a professor of Ancient Greek try to tell me that Greece was part of the Middle East (of course, I had called it part of Eastern Europe). You may be more familiar with languages that have language authorities, who give their imprimatur to the definitions of words and to grammatical forms. English has no such authority. Consequently, we must only look to usage. Now, I would agree with you that I have rarely seen the term Middle East used without Egypt (except in the old South Asian sense), but there is no authority we can look to in English to establish that such a usage is "incorrect" without some other designation of the context (e.g. within the definition established by some particular organization we are talking about). I could certainly see an organization wanting regional designations to be subdivisions of continents, and so restricting the Middle East to Asia, while assigning Egypt to North Africa, or some similar designation.

  • 541

I've always liked the kind of geography that places Morocco in the "East" (middle or near) and Germany in the "West"


Wow, so that's the reason for your question about the edges of the Middle East. Thank you.


That's it. Sorry to give you all of that, but it is definitely a topic I have thought a lot about, though usually regarding Eastern Europe, Europe, and the West.


Regardless of whether Egypt is in the Middle East, it seems like an odd translation because "next to" indicates a precise geographical area, which the Middle East does not appear to be.


whats the difference between next to and near?


Next to is more immediate in closeness. If I am standing with a group of five other people they may all be standing near me, but only the one right at my side is standing next to me.


Larry is correct.

But near is also relative. You could say: Do you know Mike? He lives near you.

Yes, he's only three blocks away.

Or, Connecticut is near New York.

14 March 2019


In this sense, then, I wonder what the edges of the Middle East are?


I suppose taking into account the Eastern Nile and Sinai Peninsula regions, we could have a sentence with Egypt riding right on top of the fence! ;-)


The western edge of the east, and the eastern edge of the west......?

  • 2430

It seems obvious that מצרים is cognate to مصر, but I'm curious why the Hebrew version is plural. I wonder if there's a tradition of referring to Upper and Lower Egypt separately?

  • 541

The name sounds like a dual construction (like מכנסיים, מספריים), but it's old - this is the name given to the country in the Bible. The duality may or may not be related to lower and upper Egypt being separate entities.

It is also the name of one of Noah's grandsons. Interestingly, the Egyptians themselves did not use a name resembling this. Apparently, the Arabic name comes from the Biblical name.


This site has great explanations of the etymology of Hebrew words: http://www.balashon.com/2009/03/mitzrayim.html


I think we should say "מזרח התיון" instead of "המזרח התיכון"


IMHO "next to" sounds quite strange when speaking about the location of a country (with exact and well defined borders) regarding a NOTION (since there are too many ideas about what is the MIDDLE east). So "near" shall be a better translation option


I agree that near would make a more accurate sentence in English, but it's not a good translation of the Hebrew.

Next to = ליד

Near = קרובה ל


that's how i was taught once: no matter how it sounds in the destination language - it must strictly follow the meaning of the language of origin as they are written. "No interpretation - only translation."


I would say we need to strike a balance. We should try to be as true as possible to the originating language while still trying to make sense in the target language. I don't think either extreme works well.

  • 541

I don't think that is ever possible. All translation is interpretation, because you can't convey the original meaning without converting every sentence into a paragraph explaining the subtle meanings and connotations.


Believe me, there are different schools of translation :) / :(


Why is המזרח התיכון not in construct state? Now we have to remember which compound words are in construct state and which are not.


I guess because it's not "the east of the middle", but just the middling, or centered, East


And yes, we have to remember phrases in common use -- that's part of the fun of learning languages

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