AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume3, Number1. February 2019                          Pp. 257 -275

 Modified proverbs in al-Maḥmūd’s Novel Muftaraq al-Maṭar (The Parting of the Rain)

Huwaida Issa

Department of Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
University of Leeds, United Kingdom



Abstract PDF

This paper, which develops ideas in my Ph.D. thesis (Issa, 2014), identifies a number of modified proverbs in a modern Arabic novel, Muftaraq al-Maṭar, by the Syrian novelist Yūsuf al-Maḥmūd. The study delves into how different scholars define modified proverbs (also sometimes referred to as deformed proverbs or anti-proverbs). The researcher will study a sample of adapted proverbs, regarding their new representation, and the effect of formal changes on their meaning, especially, when compared with their original structure. The study focuses on how the use of proverbs in narrative helps to flesh out the material and cultural life of 20th century Syria. This is done mostly by re-contextualizing the adapted proverbs. In so doing, the paper also discusses the different techniques of modification identified by various researchers. Then the focus moves on Alan Partington’s (1998, pp.126-8) four techniques for modifying phrases: substitution, insertion, abbreviation, and rephrasing. This is followed by an examination of sixteen modified proverbs, which are classified into four groups, each one representing the implementation of one of Partington’s four techniques. Finally, the study examines the semantic effect of applying these techniques.

Cite as:

Issa, H.  (2019). Modified proverbs in al-Maḥmūd’s Novel Muftaraq al-Maṭar (The Parting of the Rain).Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies, 3 (1) 257 -275.


Huwaida Issa is a visiting scholar at the University of Leeds. She got her PhD in Arabic
Literature under the supervision of professor James Dickins at the University of Leeds in the UK.
Her thesis researched proverbs, modified proverbs and curses in two Syrian novels. She got an
MA in Literary Criticism, a Higher Diploma and a BA in English Language and Literature.