TED Translators culture series: local music with Mahmoud Aghiorly

For this week’s edition of the TED Translators culture series, we asked Arabic translator Mahmoud Aghiorly to tell us about one of his favorite songs by a local musician.

Mahmoud originally hails from Aleppo, a city in northwestern Syria that’s been (and continues to be) ravaged by the country’s five-year-old civil war. Though he now resides in Melbourne, Australia, both Syria and his hometown have been constantly, indelibly in Mahmoud’s heart and mind since leaving.

It makes sense, then, that he chose to share with us Sabah Fakhri’s rendition of the Arabic folk song “Ah Ya Helo” (English translation: “Oh Sweet”): it’s a bittersweet rumination on lost love—be that a person or one’s home—but also a song whose music radiates hopeful energy, a sense that loss can be transformed into something redemptive. You can find an English translation of “Ah Ya Helo” here, and you can learn more about the iconic Sabah Fakhri here.

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