Interview with Reda Khermach
Not long after we began translating our plugins into multiple languages, I put out a call on Twitter to see if anyone was interested in translating the plugins into their native language. Soon enough we got an email from Reda Khermach, a student and beatmaker living in Morocco, who said he’d like to translate the plugins into Arabic.
This caught my attention immediately, since I’d long wanted to have the plugins translated into Arabic, not only because of Arabic’s status as a lingua franca for millions of people around the globe, but also because Arabic has historically played a pivotal role in so much of the mathematics and science that make the digital signal processing in our plugins possible, from the concept of an algorithm and the foundations of algebra, to the shapes of the digits that we display in our interfaces (an aesthetic that first came alive over a thousand years ago when North Africans adapted Hindu numerals to the style of their maghrebi script).
I recently chatted with Reda on discord to find out more about his experience with languages and translating the Goodhertz plugins.
Rob: Where are you in the world right now?
Reda: I’m currently in Meknes, Morocco.
And how’s the weather there?
It’s really hot and sunny in the morning but it also tends to get cold at night.
A lot like where I am in LA! What is your first language?
My first language is Arabic, the Moroccan dialect, darija, to be specific.
How old were you when you started learning the modern standard version of Arabic — I think it’s called fusha?
Yes it is called fusha, which means ‘pure’ in Arabic — I got exposed to it really early but started really learning it in school when I was 4/5.
And that’s the version of Arabic that you translated the plugins into?
Yes, the plugin translations are all in fusha (excluding the transliterations).
When did you first start learning languages other than darija and fusha — and what were those languages?
My first language other than Arabic was French, which I started learning at age 6. I started learning English at about the same age but not formally — that started when I was 8 or so. I’ve been trying to learn German for a few years now also.
A lot of languages! If you can remember, what was something you liked or disliked about English when you started learning it?
Not sure if I disliked anything about it at the time, but what I liked was that it sounded more “tough” than French if that makes sense.
Yeah I think that makes sense, just given English’s phonology. What’s something you really like about your native tongue, darija?
I like that darija contains a lot of different sounds that are difficult to pronounce — this makes Moroccans able to pick up languages and accents more easily. A good example would be the sounds in “Beghrir” (بغرير), which is a pancake made here.
[Looks up pictures] — ooo those look tasty!
They definitely are!
Can you speak any other dialects of Arabic?
I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered any of the other dialects but I can definitely survive in other Arabic countries because of the similarities.
Are there any Arabic dialects you find really difficult to understand?
I would say Hejazi Arabic — they have really difficult words.
Do you remember how you first found out about Goodhertz?
I first heard about the plugins when they were Mac-exclusive, specifically Vulf Comp, from friends in a beatmaking group. Those guys talked how it sounded just like 404 compression which really piqued my interest at the time.
Is that the style of music you make?
That’s the style of music I’ve been always interested in making, it’s been a while since i had time to fit in a beatmaking session though!
What are you studying at school?
I’m currently in what are called Preparatory classes. It’s exclusive to the French educational system, but it’s basically 2 years of Math and physics studies which acts like a preparatory course for enrollment in Engineering schools (Grandes écoles). The workload is the highest in Europe I think? Not sure but it’s definitely up there.
What kind of engineering are you planning on studying?
Aerospace engineering hopefully, though I wouldn’t mind getting into computer engineering too!
Cool! So you’re studying those subjects in French?
Yeah the 2 years are completely in French, but I think in engineering schools, all subjects will be studied in English.
That’s the weird thing about the Moroccan educational system: subjects are studied in Arabic even though it won’t be needed after the baccalaureate degree. Same thing after Preparatory classes. I heard they may be changing it so all subjects will be taught in French starting from middle school but I’m not sure if that will ever happen.
So you end up learning similar academic vocabulary in three languages then?
Correct. It’s definitely so unnecessary unless you’re forming future science translators or something similar.
Very interesting — I think that’s something we’ve heard about translating audio plugins into various languages, that it’s almost kind of unnecessary, because audio plugins are such a specialized field that people using them have to learn the English vocabulary no matter what.
I agree with that, however, having your brand displayed in various languages definitely shows with the comprehensiveness of the brand.
Yeah, I think for us it’s also a way of paying our respect to our customers, who come from all over the world. Speaking of the translations — was there a translation you did for the plugins that you’re particularly proud of? Or that you think if particularly interesting?
I would say that the translation for Vulf’s Crunch slider is definitely one that i find interesting since “القرمَشة” is usually only said in gastronomical contexts. But it definitely works in the Vulf since you can hear the crunchiness rise up as you raise the slider and automatically associate it with something being fried.
Fascinating! That sounds a lot like the Portuguese translation of crunch also (as discussed in this interview with Tiago Frúgoli). I know there are a lot of transliterations in the Arabic versions of the plugins as well — how do you decide to translate or transliterate a given phrase in the plugins?
It really depends on whether the translation would makes sense to a native speaker that is familiar with audio engineering / producing terms, for instance the word “Sidechain” was not gonna make sense at all if it was translated, unless I transliterated it, which is what I ended up doing.
Yeah, even in English, “sidechain” has no real meaning (that I know of) other than it’s meaning in audio.
Is it fair to say that Moroccan music producers that you know all know a good amount of English, or is there a kind of “audio English” that they know?
I’d say that even though the majority of music producers here know a good bit of English, though some only know terms that they need to produce music, which may have been explained to them in Arabic.
Are there any other languages you wish you knew?
I wish i could speak Japanese or Russian fluently, those are very interesting languages.
Last question: if you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live & why?
I’d easily choose NYC because of the productivity opportunities it offers, I can just tell that it has that thing that makes you want to wake up and go out everyday.