The Arabic of "Frozen" is frozen in time, as "localized" to contemporary Middle Eastern youth culture as Latin quatrains in French rap. (Source)

Is French rap filled with Latin quatrains? Is this what this is saying?

1 Answer 1


No, it's saying the opposite, but the entire article is likely to be very difficult to understand for a learner, or even many native speakers.

There are no Latin quatrains in French rap, so the Arabic in Frozen is very different from the Arabic spoken by the young people living in the Middle East today. Latin quatrains, like the language in the movie, are very antiquated. Rap, like current Arabic, is very modern. Latin and French are two separate languages (French descended from Latin); this choice was made to emphasize and exaggerate how different the two versions of Arabic are, to the point of suggesting they're different languages entirely.

This simile does a poor job of conveying the meaning on its own. Unless the reader is familiar with French rap, it's difficult to know whether it commonly contains Latin quatrains. The sentence also contrasts "localization" (translating the movie's dialog to a different language for presentation in other countries), which is an act of transformation (qualifiable by level of difference), with an act of containment. The two Arabic dialects aren't similar, but French rap doesn't contain Latin quatrains.

It would be better phrased this way:

... as similar to contemporary Middle Eastern youth culture as Latin quatrains are to French rap.

This directly compares the two, and in a more obvious way.

If you examine the context, you can get some idea of the meaning. From the immediately preceding sentence:

From one song to the next, there isn't ... an antique expression avoided

This lets us know the Arabic in Frozen is very old fashioned. The author earlier said that "there is surely something to be said for introducing children to literature that speaks to them". Given that this is a new movie marketed to today's youth, the use of archaic language is not appropriate.

At the end of the preceding paragraph:

One way to put it is that Modern Standard Arabic is even less similar to regional Arabic dialects than the English of the King James Bible is to the patter of an ESPN sportscaster.

This says the diction in the movie (which is in Modern Standard Arabic) is extremely different from that of Arabic currently spoken in different areas. Of course, we have to grasp that the English used in the KJV Bible (produced in the early 1600s) is very different from the English spoken by today's sportscasters in order to understand the meaning here.

  • I don't believe this! Whether it's actually true or not, it seems beyond question that the cited writer believes French rap does reflect Latin quatrains. Unless the text was wriutten by someone with almost no understanding of how English works, which seems unlikely given the "frozen" pun. Jan 24, 2021 at 19:07

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