In Memoriam: Abdullah Shunnaq 1948-2017

AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume2, Number 1, February 2018                 Pp. 2-3




In Memoriam: Abdullah Shunnaq 1948-2017

 Mohammad Ahmad Thawabteh
Department of English Language and Literature
College of Arts and Social Sciences
Sultan Qaboos University


There have been many tributes to Dr. Shunnaq, the most recent of which is that the 4th Jordan International Conference proceedings on Translation held at Yarmouk University in March 2017 will be in the memory of Prof. Shunnaq*. Shunnaq’s personal qualities impressed all who came into contact with him. The first personal encounter with Dr. Shunnaq was at Yarmouk University in 1994 while I was doing my MA in Translation. It was my first class in Semantics and Translation with Dr. Shunnaq. I entered his spacious office energetically to take the class. Just a few minutes before it started were enough to start a rapid-fire, but a scintillating conversation with Dr. Shunnaq. “Where are you from?” he asked. “Bethlehem,” I answered. ”Where exactly?” he asked again. “Beit Fajjar…,” I answered. “Oh, that mountainous village, overlooking Aroub Refugee Camp, halfway between Hebron and Bethlehem?” he chipped in. I was really flabbergasted that he was impressively knowledgeable about this very small part of the world. He was an ebullient, genial and charismatic teacher. It was really an honour for me that he supervised my MA thesis in 1996. Nine years later, in 2005 while I was doing my PhD in Translation Studies at University of Rovira I Virgili in Tarragona, Spain, the formidable Dr. Shunnaq served as a co-supervisor for my DEA (equivalent to Advanced Higher Diploma), a degree required for a PhD in Spain, again it was a huge honour for me as it was a heaven-sent opportunity for me to meet him to learn more about translation and even more about his personality. I remember I met him in person in his old house somewhere in the outskirts of Irbid, a northern city of Jordan where we had a splendid lunch Okra, if memory serves me right. Meanwhile, we were of mind about the topic and were able to build on it. Afterwards, we moved to his new house under construction, but almost-completed, on a hillside in Soum al-Shunnaq village. He showed me his private voluminous library, holding priceless books, articles, collections about Translation Studies. Unfortunately, that was the last time I met him in person.

Translation Studies and Dr Shunnaq are closely tied. His academic work was considerable and he set a well-recognised research path in the academic circles, not only in the Arab World, but also all over the world. His books and articles have been eminently readable. A close look at Google Scholar shows many citations to his work which enhances his scholarly position in Translation Studies world. His book Translation with reference to English and Arabic: A practical guide co-authored with Faghal was most cited and is considered the ABC of Arab translator training. He supervised, served as an examiner for more than 50 MA theses and PhD dissertations. Finally, he did translation studies a service of another kind that was the founder of the Jordanian Translators’ Association which has given translation movement a new lease of life in Jordan in terms of the translating voluminous works from Arabic into English or vice versa, the start of several translation schools (be it at graduate or undergraduate level). His scholarly profession is a beacon for many to follow.

* Personal communication with Dr. Mohammad Bataineh via e-mail on 18/12/2017