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G raduate School F o rm 9

(R evised 6/03)

PURDUE UNIVERSITY
GRADUATE SCHOOL
Thesis Acceptance
This is to certify that the thesis prepared
By

Hanada A . A l-M asri________________________________________________________

Entitled

Sem antic and C u ltu r a l L o sse s i n th e T r a n s la tio n o f L ite r a r y T ext

Complies with University regulations and meets the standards o f the Graduate School for originality
and quality

For the degree o f D octor o f P h ilo so p h y ___________ _______________________________

Signed by the final examining committee:


Victor Raskin
Chair

Myrdene Anderson

Salvatore Attardo

J l i . '

Shaun D.F. Hughes

- / ' y Q U

Approved by:
Head o f the Graduate Program

n
This thesis

is

is not to be regarded as confidential.


Major Professor

Format A pproved by:

or
Chair, Final Examining Committee

Department Thesis Format Advisor

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SEMANTIC AND CULTURAL LOSSES


IN THE TRANSLATION OF LITERARY TEXTS

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A Thesis
Submitted to the Faculty
of
Purdue University
by
Hanada Al-Masri

In Partial Fulfillment of the


Requirements for the Degree
of
Doctor of Philosophy

May 2004

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UMI Number: 3150731

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To My Beloved Parents: Your Dream Came True.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to my major advisor
Professor Victor Raskin for his constant support, input, and guidance which has helped to
write this dissertation.
I would also like to acknowledge the members of my committee: Professor
Myrdene Anderson, Professor Shaun Hughes, and Professor Salvatore Attardo whose
invaluable comments and suggestions contributed to the final production of this
dissertation.
Also my special thanks go to all the professors in Linguistics for being a great
source of enlightenment, and for making my learning experience in the United States
both pleasant and fruitful.
Finally, I would like to thank my mother, father, brothers and sisters whose
continuous love, support, and encouragement helped me to go on, and fulfill their dream.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
LIST OF TABLES............................................................................................................... vii
ABSTRACT........................................................................................................................ viii
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION................................................................................... 1
I. Statement of the Research Problem...................................................................... 1
II. Objectives of Research....................................................................................... 17
III. Significance of Research...................................................................................20
IV. Methodology and Procedure............................................................................ 22
A. Data Collection.....................................................................................22
B. Method of Analysis.............................................................................. 23
V. Organization of Dissertation............................................................................. 27
CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE..........................................29
I. Translation from a Linguistic Perspective......................................................... 29
II. Translation from a Cultural Perspective............................................................34
III Translation from a Semiotic Perspective......................................................... 43
A. The Semiotic Theory of Signs..............................................................44
B. Translation and Semiotics..................................................................... 51
IV. Translation from a Pragmatic Perspective...................................................... 61
V. The Theory and Markedness............................................................................. 68

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CHAPTER THREE: LINGUISTIC LOSSES:
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION......................................................................................... 74
I. Results...................................................................................................................75
II. Classification and Discussion of Cultural Losses............................................78
A. Tolerable Losses....................................................................................78
A.I. Tolerable Losses in Style.............................................................78
A.2. Tolerable Losses in Word Relations...........................................84
B. Serious Losses........................................................................................ 88
B .l. Loss of Pragmatic Connotations................................................. 89
B.2. Mistranslation of Meanings......................................................... 93
B.3. Loss of Social Deixis.................................................................... 94
B.4. Loss of the Speakers Attitude.................................................... 97
B.5. Loss of Cultural Expressions and Idioms................................... 98
B.6. Loss of Ellipsis..............................................................................99
C. Complete Losses....................................................................................99
CHAPTER FOUR: CULTURAL LOSSES:
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION....................................................................................... 112
I. Results.................................................................................................................113
II. Classification and Discussion of Cultural Losses.......................................... 115
A. Explicit Losses..................................................................................... 118
B. Implicit Losses..................................................................................... 122
C. Modified Losses................................................................................... 132
D. Complete Losses.................................................................................. 135

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vi
Page
CHAPTER FIVE: CONCLUSION...................................................................................146
BIBLIOGRAPHY.............................................................................................................. 154
APPENDICES
Appendix A: Orthographic Conventions.............................................................163
Appendix B: Examples of Linguistic Losses...................................................... 164
Appendix C: Examples of Cultural Losses..........................................................169
VITA................................................................................................................................... 172

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vii

LIST OF TABLES

Table

Page

Table 1: A Summary of the General Losses in Relation


to the Markedness Continuum......................................................................................... 109
Table 2: A Summary of the Detailed Losses in Relation
to the Markedness Continuum......................................................................................... 110
Table 3: A Summary of the Cultural Losses in Relation
to the Markedness Continuum......................................................................................... 144

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ABSTRACT

Al-Masri, Hanada. Ph.D., Purdue University, May 2004. Semantic and Cultural
Losses in the Translation of Literary Texts. Major Professor: Victor Raskin.

The present study investigates the nature and causes of semantic and cultural
losses occurring in translations of selected literary texts from Arabic to English.
Previous research showed that the losses resulted mainly from the lack of equivalence
between the source text and the target text. These losses were explained in terms of
the lack of functional equivalence and the focus on formal equivalence. The present
study proposes, in addition, that losses result from the lack of a balanced equivalence
on the semantic and cultural levels. In particular, it stresses the semiotic equivalence
approach that significantly accounts for both the semantic and pragmatic factors of
the source text. The results of the present study show that linguistic/semantic losses
are losses of verbal signs that affect the source text seriously (blocking the
understanding of the source message), or moderately/tolerablely (affecting its
aesthetic values). Cultural losses, on the other hand, are losses of the hidden cultural
information that reflect the social norms, religious beliefs, and ideological attitudes of
the source text. Whereas semantic losses result from cases of mistranslation,
superficial interpretation of the semantic and pragmatic equivalents, and literal
translation, cultural losses result from the lack of pragmatic equivalence on the
surface level, and/or the deep level of the source text. The results also show that

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semantic and cultural losses could be marginalized in translation by furnishing the


grounds and providing target readers with the background knowledge that facilitates
the decoding of source-language situations, and considers the cultural connotations
inherent in the source text. Accordingly, it is recommended that before actual
translation takes place, the translator should resolve the markedness of the linguistic
and cultural elements in the source text by rendering the unfamiliar familiar.

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CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION

I. Statement of the Research Problem:


Translation has always been recognized as an important genre of communication. It
plays a great role in breaking down the barriers between two different linguistic cultures,
and enables harmony and mutual understanding. For successful communication between
any two different linguistic codes to take place, there needs to be familiarity with the sets
of values, and social/cultural realities that belong to a particular culture. The absence of
such understanding would pose problems in transferring the intended meaning from one
language to another; accordingly, inevitable losses would occur. The translation process
should, therefore, ensure that the translated text presents the key elements of the source
text by well incorporating it in the new product to produce the same effect as was
intended by the source text.
The problem with translation lies in its complexity. Most of the works on translation
theory begin with the limitation that translation is an interdisciplinary, and a multilevel
phenomenon. Schulte (1987: 1-2), for example, states:
Translators do not engage in the mere transplantation of words [...] their
interpretive acts deal with the exploration of situations that are constituted
by an intense interaction of linguistic, psychological, anthropological and
cultural phenomena.

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2
This emphasizes the fact that translation is not a mere transference of verbal signs
(words), but involves higher levels of semantic, textual and situational contexts, and other
extra-linguistic factors. This is probably why it has been hard for translation scholars to
agree on a unified theory of translation (cf. the essays in Hickey, 1998). In his evaluation
of the current translation theories, Holmes (1994: 97) states the state of translation
theory is still not very powerful in the sense that it does not explain the phenomena to the
extent that we should like it to. We can understand the complexity of the translation
process by comparing the reading process in both the source text, and the translated text.
In reading the source text, there is a direct interaction between the source-language author,
the text, and the source readers. In translation, however, the process is indirect and
reveals a series of interdependent relationships: it involves the relationship between the
translator and the source author; between the translator and the source text; and between
the translator and his target audience. Translation, in this sense, is the process whereby a
third party (translator) intervenes in the communication process by means of which the
source author conveys a message to the readers. The more efficient the translator, the less
losses will the new reproduction have.
The existing literature on the theory, practice, and history of translation is huge
although the greatest bulk has been produced in the 20th century (cf. Bassnett-McGuire,
1980; and Hart, 1998). Such literature broadly defines the process as the matching
between the source text and the target text. Such sort of matching was given different
labels:

similarity,

analogy,

adequacy,

invariance,

congruence,

correspondence, transfer, relevance, equivalence (Broeck, 1976; BassnettMcGuire, 1980; Larson, 1984; Hart, 1998; Pedersen, 1988; Newmark, 1991). As for

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translation process per se, it was given many various, and sometimes, overlapping
definitions. Newmark (1991) offered the labels communicative and semantic
translation to account for the various functions of translation. Koller (1972) proposed the
equivalence effect Principle (cited in Hart,
equivalence/formal

equivalence; Catford

1998); Nida (1964):

(1965):

cultural

dynamic

translation/linguistic

translation; House (1981): overt translation/covert translation. The present study


adopts the term equivalence. As a working definition for the purpose of this study,
equivalence will refer to the sameness of effect that signs in the source and target texts
have on the audience for which they are intended (following Kruger, 2001).
Before proceeding to the objectives and significance of this study, it is worth
presenting, at this point, a brief history of translation. Translation researchers believe that
the most important function of translation is to break down the barriers between different
cultures. This led to the dismissal of the Whorfian proposition, which holds that people of
different cultures view the world differently; hence the impossibility of translation (Hart,
1998: 36). The function of translation has shifted over years. It first started with the
translation of the bible; thus had a word-for-word, translation, or literal translation;
where translatability is concerned with linguistic equivalence of languages. Later on,
the focus shifted to the pragmatic transference of meaning.

After the invention of

printing in the fifteenth century, the role of translation underwent significant changes.
Functional/communicative translation has served to assert national identity through
language revival. Accordingly, communicative translation was an attempt to transpose
ideas from an alien culture into the other. In addition, communicative translation was a
means of compensating for the lack of formal equivalence. Translators, accordingly,

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looked for one of two solutions: either import words from the foreign culture into the
target culture; or look for approximate equivalents in the target culture. This shift created
the debate between the so-called literal versus free translations; or what BassnettMcGuire (1980: 61) called overfaithfulness, and looseness. The following
paragraphs will give a brief summary of three of the central issues of debate among
translation researchers; namely translatability, equivalence, and free versus literal
translation. A detailed presentation will be discussed in chapter two within the framework
of different translation models.
Translatability is understood as the possibility of transferring the messages
intended in the source text to the target text. In this regard, Catford (1965: 99) offered
two types: linguistic untranslatability, and cultural untranslatability. On the linguistic
level, untranslatability occurs when there is no lexical or syntactical substitute in the
target language for a source-language item. Cultural untranslatability, on the other hand,
occurs when the target-language culture lacks a relevant situational feature for the sourcelanguage text. Catford (ibid: 99) argues that linguistic source-language features are more
absolute than cultural ones. Here, I share Pedersens (1988: 17) disagreement with
Catford because linguistic difficulties can be overcome when the translator is bilingually
competent. In the light of this, translatability can be looked at as a relative notion.
Pedersen (1988) holds an intermediate position between two extremes: that of the
Whorfian position, where nothing can be translated across linguistic and cultural barriers;
and that held by some Marxist theorists (e.g., Koller, 1972-cited in Pedersen) that
everything is translatable. Pedersen (ibid: 14) draws on the importance of situational
equivalence, and proposes translatability depends on the possibility of producing not a

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text which is semantically identical with the original, but one which is situationally
equivalent to it. Pedersen (1988: 44) holds that translation should necessarily change the
target language-text when expressing ideas unknown to the target language before the
translation in question. To this effect, Pedersen (ibid: 21) emphasizes the element of
adaptation particular to literary translation. That is, the translator should transfer the
effects meant by the source author by giving the target-language audience the best
impression possible of the foreign author.
Petrilli (2003) discusses the issue of translatability from a semiotic perspective.
She believes that there is no such thing as untranslatability because translatability is
the very condition of the life of signs (ibid: 42). She remarks the problem of
translatability concerns the fact that, ultimately, the interpretant of a text can only be a
verbal interpretant from another given language (Petrilli, ibid: 44). It follows that
translation difficulties should not be attributed to resistance of some sort by the text in
translation. Rather, these difficulties are due to the major focus on verbal signs and
ignoring the nonverbal signs. In this regard, Petrilli disagrees with Jakobson (1971)1, and
argues the text can only be transferred from one language into another, not on the basis of
interlingual translation (that focuses on verbal signs); but on the basis of intersemiotic
translation (that focuses on both verbal and nonverbal signs). More importantly,
translatability, according to Petrilli (ibid: 50), depends on explicitation of interpretants
that connects the text to its communicative situation. Such explicationor what Petrilli
(2003: 28), sometimes called expressabilityis the major criterion for translatability. i.e.,

1 Jakobsons (1971: 261) three types o f translation are: interlingual translation, intralingual translation,
and intersemiotic translation (see chapter two for a detailed discussion).

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can what is said in one historical-natural language be expressed in another? Petrilli
(2003: 31) concludes her article by alluding to the advantages of translatability. She
proposes that translatability does not only signify the possibility of translation, but also
indicates an open relation between the source text and the translated one. Translatability
also has the advantage of openness. That is, the translated text may continue to be
translated (Petrilli, 2003: 31).
We will now turn our discussion to the issue of equivalence, which has been one
of the central and controversial issues in translation. Equivalence has been debated (from
a semiotic and non-semiotic view point) in varying degrees (cf. Bassnett-McGuire, 1980:
23-9; and Gorlee, 1994: 170).
According to Newmark (1991: 3), for translators to try to define equivalence it is
a common academic dead-end pursuit. For the sake of generality, it could be argued
that equivalence was pursued along two lines in translation studies: the first lays
emphasis on the semantic problems; hence the transfer of the semantic content from the
source language into the target language. The second explores equivalence in its
application to literary texts (cf. Pedersen, 1988; and Bassnett-McGuire, 1980). Catford
(1965: 36) proposes that the issue of equivalence would be better dealt with in terms of
relevance. By this, Catford refers to the dependence of meaning on situation.
Relevance, to him, is the ability to communicate messages from the source-language text
into the target-language text. For Catford (ibid: 93-4), the basic concern of translation is
to ensure that all the relevant features of the source-language message are
communicated to and reflected in the target text. In cases where translation is read

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outside of the source-language context, comprehension presupposes a certain amount of
shared extralinguistic background.
Neubert (1967)cited in Bassnett-McGuire (1980: 27)approaches equivalence
from the view point of the text. He postulates that equivalence must be considered a
semiotic category; comprising syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic components. According
to him, these components are arranged hierarchally, so that semantic equivalence takes
priority over syntactic equivalence, and pragmatic equivalence modifies both of the other
elements. Accordingly, Neubert (ibid) connects equivalence to semiotics, and proposes
that equivalence overall results from the relationship between signs themselves, the
relationship between signs and what they stand for, and the relationship between signs,
what they stand for and those who use them.
Dinda Gorlee (1994: 170) criticizes the traditional (non-semiotic) view of
equivalence, where the source text and the translated text are ideally placed in a one-toone correspondence. This means they are to be considered as codifications of one piece
of information, as logically and/or situationally interchangeable. Gorlee (ibid: 174-182)
adopts Peirces (CP: 5,448, n, 1,1906) use of the term equivalence, which states: two
signs whose meanings are for all possible purposes equivalent are absolutely equivalent.
Based on Peirces universal categories (firstness, secondness, and thirdness), Gorlee (ibid:
174) proposed the term semiotic equivalence. It consists of three aspects termed
qualitative equivalence, referential equivalence and significational equivalence
(these types of equivalence will be discussed further in chapter two under the semiotic
perspective to translation). Kruger (2001: 183) postulates that the semiotic approach
offers the full deployment of the meaning potential of the original sign (source text) in

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the translation. According to Kruger, the semiotic approach sets by far the highest
standard for equivalence.
Another issue directly related to equivalence is the issue of methodology. There
are three types of translation methodology: literal or formal equivalence (focusing on
word-for-word translation); literary or dynamic equivalence (focusing on the transference
of meaning, rather than the form); and adaptive or functional translation (focusing on
recreation of the intention or signification of the source text) (cf. Hart, 1998; and
Pedersen, 1988). Following is a presentation of these methodologies as adopted by
different scholars.
Newmarks (1991) main contribution to the general theory of translation lies in
introducing the concepts communicative translation, and semantic translation.
According to Newmark (ibid: 10-13), equivalence in the two types of translation should
comply with the usually accepted syntactic correspondences for the two languages in
question. The literal word-for-word translation is unnecessary; provided that the
equivalent effect is secured. Both semantic and communicative translations overlap
widely. That is, a translation can be, more or less, semantic; more or less, communicative.
Accordingly, Newmark (ibid: 11) proposes there is no reason why a basically semantic
translation should not also be strongly communicative. Newmark sketches the features
of both types of translation as follows: in semantic translation, faithfulness is directed
towards word-for-word equivalence, i.e., accurate and exact. It is more author-centered
(i.e., pursues the authors thought process), and so is source-language oriented. In
communicative translation, faithfulness is faithfulness to the effect of the message. It is
reader-centered; focuses on the object of the authors intention, and so it is target-

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9
language oriented. In evaluating the two kinds of translation, Newmark {ibid.: 11)
proposes that semantic translation is usually more awkward, more detailed, more
complex, but briefer. Communicative translation, on the contrary, is easy reading, more
natural, smoother, simpler, clearer, more direct, more conventional, conforming to
particular register of language, but longer.
Newmark (1991: 106) believes that opponents of literal translation avoid it for
two reasons: either because they associate it with translationese, or they want to leave
their own mark on the translation, to be more colloquial, informal, or idiomatic than the
source text. Translationese: is the phenomenon of interference where a literal translation
of a stretch of the source language text (a) plainly falsifies its meaning, or (b) violates
usage for no apparent reason. Newmark (ibid: 78) defines the phenomenon as an error
due to ignorance or carelessness which is common when the TL [target language] is not
the translators language of habitual use, and not uncommon when it is. To avoid such
interference in translation, Newmark {ibid: 76) proposes the principle of accuracy,
which rests on the assumption that there is a limit to the areas of meaning of words as
well as sentences, every word of the original has to be accounted for though not
necessarily translated (Newmark, ibid: 76).
Hart (1998) agrees with Newmark on the applicability of both types of translation
(formal, and dynamic), and adds that the choice of either is based on the value/ type of
text. Hart {ibid: 170) believes it is broadly sufficient to use mainly dominant formal
equivalence when the narrative consists of a series of universally shared stereotypes
which have basically truth-values. In this case, the linguistic signs function more or less
on a literal, objective, and surface level with their original (Hart, ibid: 170). This is due

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to the fact that the corresponding frames exist already in the other culture and only the
labels have to be changed to conform to the new linguistic and cultural circumstances.
One the other hand, dynamic pragmatic equivalence is more sufficient when the text is
based on implicit values, where the linguistic signs per se do not reflect the whole truth
about the socio-cultural realities. In this regard, Hart (ibid: 171) postulates the audience
must possess specific previous knowledge in order to understand the implicit sense of the
communication. This knowledge enables the audience to perceive rapidly the contrast
between what is said and what is meant.
Gutt (1991: 102) is a supporter of communicative translation. He postulates that
the translation should bring together the contextual effects of the text to allow the
audience an adequate access to the translated text. He describes the process as follows:
If we ask how the translation should be expressed, the answer is: it should
be expressed in such a manner that it yields the intended interpretation
[emphasis is added] without putting the audience to unnecessary
processing effort. Hence considerations of relevance constrain both the
intended interpretation of the translation and the way it is expressed, and
since consistency with the principle of relevance is always contextdependent, these constraints, too, are context-determined (quoted in Hart,
1998: 50).
Vermeer (1989) proposed the skopos theory of translation, which also
favors communicative translation. Vermeer (ibid: 182-3) describes his theory as
follows:
What the skopos states is that one must translate, consciously and
consistently, in accordance with some principle respecting the target text.
The theory does not state what the principle is: this must be decided
separately in each specific case...the skopos theory merely states that the
translator should be aware that some goal exists, and that any given goal is
only one among many possible ones, (quoted in Hart, 1998: 46).
The skopos theory allows for adaptation of the source text to be adequate to the needs and
ends prescribed for the target text. In this regard, Hart (1998: 46) comments:

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We should not presuppose or demand equivalence of a translation; the
value of the final text is its adequacy, that is, the appropriate choice of
linguistic signs at the correct semantic, syntactic and pragmatic levels,
with respect to the various characteristics of the circle of readers at whom
it is directed.
El-Shiyab (1999) calls for communicative translation in literary texts, and
supports approaching a literary text from a paralinguistic viewpoint. He (ibid: 208)
argues that the communicative value of the source text is more important than
faithfulness (literal translation). This allows the translator of a literary text a great degree
of freedom, as long as he adheres to the overall meaning of the source text. To this effect,
accuracy and faithfulness are not primary prerequisites like in other types of translation.
More importantly, the translator should be close to the mentality and thinking as well as
the experience of the source author (El-Shiyab, ibid: 208).
Walter Benjamin (1968) wrote The Task of the Translator, one of the central
essays on theoretical translation. He argues against literal translation or fidelity in the
translation of Art. Benjamin (ibid: 78) states, What can fidelity really do for the
rendering of meaning? Fidelity in the translation of individual works can almost never
fully reproduce the meaning they have in the original. For Benjamin, the essence of
translation lies in the multiplicity of languages. In this regard, Benjamin (ibid: 78)
emphasizes;
A translation, instead of resembling the meaning of the original, must
lovingly and in detail incorporate the original mode of signification, thus
making both the original and the translation recognizable as fragments of a
greater language, just as fragments of a vessel.
Although it is important to recreate the mode of signification of the source text
into the translated one, as Benjamin suggested, I believe it is equally important to retain

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the meaning of the source text. In the quotation above, Benjamin minimized the role of
meaning and viewed the product as a fragment. I believe that meaning/mode of
signification should go hand in hand in the translation process. Benjamin sums up his
view by stating: real translation is transparent; it does not cover the original, does not
block its light, but allows the pure language...to shine upon the original (Benjamin,
1968: 82).
Bamstone (1993) discussed the two types of translation from a semiotic
standpoint. He (ibid: 228) views the relation between the source-language text and the
target-language text as the relation of a sign to its object, or of signifier to signified.
According to Bamstone, the purpose of literal translation is referential. That is, to transfer
the meaning of the word as faithfully as possible, hence, signifier A leads to signifier B
(Bamstone, ibid: 229). Free translation, on the other hand, is metalingual. Its purpose is
to reinvent the formal qualities of the message, to recreate dramatically the signifier
itself. That is to say, signifier B conveys a visibly different version of signifier A.
In sum, I share the view that what we accept as a theory depends on what we
want from the theory (Neubert and Shreve, 1992: 33) Communicative translation would
be more appropriate, if we opt for a translation that is target-reader oriented; that informs
the reader effectively and appropriately; and that creates an effect on the target reader as
close as possible to that on the source reader. If, however the goal is to render
semantically, and syntactically equivalent text to that of the source language; then
faithfulness to the source text is essentially a feature of semantic translation. In literary
translation, the significance of the source-text message should be given priority over the

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literal meaning. This is due to the fact that literary language is highly expressive, and the
signification/ special use of words is what makes the language literary.
Since the present study deals with the translation of literary texts, its worth
presenting some of the common ideas in the field of literary translation. The shift from
lexical level to sentential level in translation was a significant step towards sophistication.
Holmes (1994) took this a step further and moved translation interest to text level; hence
becoming an initiator of the new approach of literary translation. In his model, Holmes
{ibid: 67-80) deemphasized the source-language oriented study of literary translation.
Instead, he suggests that the focus should be on translation as a product, and as an actual
object within the target culture. According to Holmess (ibid: 86) model of literary
translation, the translation of texts takes place on two planes: a serial plane (where one
translates sentence by sentence); and a structural plane, where one starts with
abstracting a mental conception of the source text; then uses this mental conception
(which might create a variety of options) as a kind of general criterion to test each
sentence during the creation of the new translated text (Holmes prefers to call this
conception a map). Holmes rightly postulates that literary texts are more complex than
other texts due to the fact that they include a variety of functions: informative, vocative,
expressive, or aesthetic. To this effect, and to deal better with the translation of literary
texts, Holmes {ibid: 84) sketched three map artifacts/strategies that help the translator in
the process of literary translation: the first map is the linguistic artifact: which is a set
of derivational rules that the translator uses to abstract his map of the source text itself. It
contains features of the text in relation to the linguistic continuum (i.e., contextual
information). The second map is the literary artifact: which is a set of

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corresponding/equivalent rules that help the translator to develop a target-text map from
his source-text map. This artifact relates features of the texts to the literary continuum
(i.e., intertextual information). The final map is the socio-cultural artifact: which is a
set of projection rules that guide the translator to use his second map (that of the
prospective target-text) in order to formulate the target text. This artifact relates features
of the texts to the socio-cultural continuum (i.e., situational information). This results in a
hierarchy of correspondences the help the translator during his translation process.
Pedersen (1988: 62) defines literary translation as the translation that possesses a
literary quality. He (ibid: 63) offered the following six criteria that determine the
literariness of a text: (1) being cast in a literary form (sonnet, prose, and the like), (2)
emotionality as opposed to scientific objectivity, (3) invention or originality with
regard to language, (4) exhibitionism; the desire to draw attention to both form and
content of the text, (5) fictionality; a willing suspension of disbelief, and (6)
sociological and historical criteria; where it is left to the reading public to decide
what is literature and what is not. In his model of literary translation, Pedersen (ibid: 64)
introduced the concept distance. He postulates that the distance between author and
source-language text, on the one hand, and translator and target-language text, on the
other hand, may vary from case to case. Pedersen (ibid: 65) applies this concept of
distance to a number of different scales; such as: time, place, language, and culture.
These scales stand in a proportional relationship to distance. For example, the bigger the
distance in time (historical period) between the source text and the translated one, the
harder the translation. This concept of distance is of a particular interest since it affects
the losses occurring in the present study. That is to say, because the geographical,

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linguistic, and cultural distances are significant between the two texts in question (Arabic
and English), the gaps occurring in translation are expected to be significant, and so the
more the losses. Pedersens model is also a helpful guide on how to overcome translation
problems that are culture-bound in nature. That is to say, the translator needs to be aware
of the cultural distance; familiarize himself with the source-language culture; and
understand the view point of the source author.
Miall and Kuiken (1994: 390) characterize literary language as unfamiliar. This
unfamiliarity is due to what they call foregrounding in literature; i.e., the range of
stylistic effects that occur in literature, whether at the phonetic level (e.g., alliteration,
rhyme), the grammatical level (e.g., inversion, ellipsis), or the semantic level (e.g.,
metaphor, irony). The function of foregrounding is to create effects on the reader
different from those of the everyday language. In this regard, Shklovsky (1965: 18)quoted in Miall and Kuiken (1994: 391) remarked: the purpose of art is to impart the
sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. Shklovsky
continues The technique of art is to make objects unfamiliar. Miall and Kuiken (ibid:
405) conclude that the main effect of foregrounding is to achieve defamiliarization;
which in turn evokes effect that guides refamiliarizating interpretive efforts.
It would be sufficient at this point to give a brief summary of the basic notions
and views of a semiotic perspective to translation (a thorough discussion is presented in
chapter two of this study). The semiotic perspective is one of the most, if not the most,
recent approach to translation (Kruger, 2001: 180). Many translation theorists have
moved away from a purely linguistic perspective towards incorporating non-linguistic
disciplines, such as semiotics to supplement the existing theories on translation. (Van

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16
Kesteren, 1978; Bassnett-McGuire, 1980; Kruger, 2001; Malmkjaer, 1991; Rethore, 1993;
Gorlee, 1994; Colapietro, 2003; Short, 2003; and many others).
The role of semiotics in translation was acknowledged by many translation
researchers in earlier stages. However, its actual application to translation is a fairly
recent phenomenon.

Nida (1964)who is a rich source of information about the

problems of losses in translationacknowledges the role of semiotics in his approach to


translation, and points implicitly to the Peircean view of text and discourse. In this
regard, Nida states:
Language consists of more than the meaning of the symbols and the
combination of symbols; it is essentially a code in operation, or, in other
words, a code functioning for a specific purpose or purposes. Thus we
must analyze the transmission of a message in terms of dynamic
dimension. This dimension is especially important for translation, since
the production of equivalent messages is a process, not merely of
matching parts of utterances, but also of reproducing the total dynamic
character of the communication. Without both elements the results can
scarcely be regarded, in any realistic sense, as equivalent (Nida, 1964:
120).
Nidas "dynamic dimension" in which "equivalent messages" are produced points
to Peirces continuous process through which a sign stands in a certain dynamic
relation to the signs preceding it and the signs following it; forming a system of signs.
Neubert and Shreve (1992: 48) also make the connection between semiotics and
translation. They note that the semiotic perspective frames the possibilities of language
and restrains it from moving away from its signifier, they state: in text comprehension,
the receiver builds a model of what the linguistic signs are supposed to mean (Neubert
and Shreve, ibid: 48).

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Generally speaking, the semiotic approach views translation as a semiosis
process that deals with the interpretation of verbal signs. Gorlee (1994) views translation
from the viewpoint of interpretive semiotics. She (ibid: 186) holds that translation deals
with signs interpretable by logical interpretants; it is a pragmatic process of making
sense of intellectual concepts, or signs of Thirdness. In the following sections, I intend
to state the objectives of the present study, its significance, and the methodology used.
II. Objectives of the Research:
The present study is mainly concerned with the issue of losses occurring in the
translation of literary texts. The term losses is used in two senses. In the general sense,
it refers to the loss (complete or partial) of any verbal sign (be it a word, a phrase, a
sentence, or a text). In its specific sense, the term refers to losses affecting the
interpretation of verbal signs on the semantic and cultural levels. Such losses are assumed
to reduce, or negatively affect the ways by which target readers understand the translated
text. The present study has the following objectives:
1. Providing a complete inventory of the linguistic and cultural losses occurring in
the translation of literary texts. Since losses are inevitable in translation, it is not
my intention to evaluate the translators strategies; rather the translation is
analyzed to investigate the main causes of the losses in the hope to reach a
suitable approach that minimizes such losses in translation.
2. Discussing the issue of equivalence as its focal point. The study draws on the
interconnection between linguistic equivalence and cultural equivalence. In
particular, it discusses how the lack of equivalence, or inequivalence (on the
linguistic and cultural levels) affects the correct understanding of Arabic language

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and culture. Inequivalence is taken here to refer to the elements which
systematically pose difficulties in translation. Some of the well-known examples
are metaphors, idioms, and culture-bound terms.
3. Discussing the semiotic approach to translation within the larger framework of the
existing translation theory. This is hoped to contribute to the question of
equivalence. In particular, to show how the semiosis process builds a logical
paradigm for the translation of signs; hence efficiently accounts for the losses
occurring in the translation of signs between two different linguistic systems and
cultures.
4. Discussing the hypothesis that literary language is generally hard to translate. I
propose that figurative terms, in particular, are harder to translate than the familiar
terms, hence are marked. It follows that the translation of the marked requires a
conscious decoding on the part of target readers, as well as knowledge of the
social values that are highly sensitive to the background. The task of target
readers, accordingly is never easy, since it is more a matter of relations between
signs and signs than between signs and objects (Merrell, 2000: 31). Ultimately,
the losses will be ordered hierarchically on the markedness continuum (ranging
from the least marked to the most marked) according to the degree with which
they affect of the source message.
The present study postulates that the wide distance (to use Pedersens, 1988
term); and the difference in the mentality and thought pattern of Arabic and English
speakers are major factors resulting in various losses in translation. For linguistic
equivalence to be achieved in literary translation, I propose that semantic ties and

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pragmatic appropriateness should be equally maintained. In this regard, Levinson (1983)
suggests it is important to include pragmatic factors in any proper semantic analysis. In
other words, to minimize semantic/pragmatic losses in translation, the translator should
not only take into account the equivalence of meaning, but also investigate higher levels
of content, context, semantics, and pragmatics (Anderson, 2003). Accordingly, it is
claimed that linguistic equivalence as a semiosis process of interpretationis directly
related to pragmatic equivalence. Thus, the study proposes that an investigation of the
connotative meaning (or shades of meaning) is more crucial, than denotative meaning, for
evaluating the losses occurring in literary translation. In other words, there would be an
emphasis on the semiotic/pragmatic approach, whereby the investigation of the losses
would take into consideration what language-users mean, rather than what their language
means (Levinson, 1983: 5). The pragmatic approach has the advantage of being an
intermediate approach that is neither purely theoretical nor relevant merely to specific
translation problems, but rather which is common to all translation (Hickey, 1998: 5).
The discussion of cultural equivalence will address two main issues: first, how
cultural losses affect the source text: directly, causing distortion of the source messages
conveyed; and indirectly, affecting target readers appreciation of the aesthetic values of
the source text. Second, it is argued that cultural losses are losses of the hidden
information, and cultural identity; hence the detachment and alienation from the religious
beliefs, social customs and ideological attitudes of the source (Arabic) culture.
Peirce placed translation systematically in a wider framework than that of
linguistics (Gorlee, 1994). Following Pierce, I would propose that cultural losses are
better accounted for using the general framework of semiotics. Unlike linguistic models

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of translation, which overlook the cultural aspects, the semiotic perspective clearly states
the interrelation between our innate linguistic competence; using that competence; and
connecting it to our culture. This process will be explained in relation to the concepts of
etic and emic later in chapter four. Semiotic is also broader in the sense that it is the
study of everything; i.e., everything is a sign. Accordingly, cultural heritage is more
comprehensively dealt with semiotically than linguistically. This, however, does not
marginalize the benefits of linguistic theories in the study of translated literary texts.
Accordingly, Perices terms will be applied to this study as follows: both the source text
and the translated text are viewed as signs. The source language is referred to as the first
sign; the actual verbal sign of the source text is referred to as the object of the sign.
The idea formed in the mind of the translator about the first sign is referred to as the
interpretant. The target language (sign) used by the translator to convey the meaning of
the first sign is referred to as the second sign. Finally, the idea formed by target readers
of the object will be referred to as the final interpretant. In this study, the concept
sign will be used in the sense used in the general semiotic approachderived from
Peirce and Saussure which consists of an expression and a content that forms a unity,
and it is linked to a referent in the outside world.
III. Significance of the Research:
There has long been a major criticism of the style of Arab writers when writing in
English (Saadeddin, 1989). That is to say, Arab writers impose such devices as repetition,
exaggeration, connectives, and many others (which are the main characteristics of Arabic
style) onto the English text (whose brevity is the main feature). Recently, however, a
major shift has occurred in attempts to analyze the problem. The basis for this shift has

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been the investigation of source Arabic texts translated into English. Holes (1984), who
drew the attention to the importance of research on Arabic, suggests that the focus of
research is now on developing an approach which involves recognizing and treating
separately, levels of Arabic inference, with the emphasis on linguistic systems which
operate at a textual level (Holes, ibid : 228). Accordingly, this study, having literary
translation as its focal point, is hoped to enrich the research on the Arabic language, and
to eliminate any misconceptions either about the Arabic language, or the Arabic culture.
To this matter, it is hoped to bridge linguistic and cultural gaps between two distant codes.
This study approaches the process of translation from linguistic and cultural
viewpoints. Most of the recent studies have dealt with translation within the broader
framework of linguistics; focusing on phonetic, syntactic, or morpho-syntactic levels. To
the best of my knowledge, very few studies dealt with the translation, particularly of
Arabic literature, from a purely semiotic perspective. Although it is not my intention to
present a new translation theory, I am hoping to add to the research carried out so far in
translation studies, by showing how the semiotic approach better deals with the long
lasting debate about the issue of equivalence; and how it explainsbetter than other
approachesthe causes of losses.
Finally, this study is particularly significant to readers and researchers who are
non-native speakers of Arabic. It is directed towards target readers who are unfamiliar
with the Arabic language and culture. Accordingly, it is hoped they will have a better
appreciation of the aesthetic values of Arabic literature; and will learn more about the
beliefs, attitudes, and ways of thinking of the Arabic culture. Generally speaking, the
study is hoped to facilitate the cross-cultural understanding.

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IV. Methodology and Procedures:
A. Data collection:
The discussion of linguistic and cultural losses in the present study is based on the
analysis of literary texts; namely two collections of contemporary Arabic short stories;
along with their translations into English. The first collection is entitled Three Egyptian
Short Stories; whose title is transliterated from Arabic as Thalath Qisas Misriyah. The
collection includes: Farahats Republic, The Wallet, and Abu Sayyid. This collection is
written by Youssef Idris (1991), and consists of a total of twenty five pages. It is worth
mentioning that this collection, as well as the second collection described below, is
published in the same book where the titles are given both in Arabic and in English. The
language of this collection is a combination of Modem Standard Arabic and dialectical
Egyptian Arabic. The collection is translated by Saad El-Gabalawy a native speaker of
Arabic.
The second collection is entitled Five Innovative Egyptian Short Stories;
transliterated from Arabic as Khams Qisas Misriyyah. The collection includes: The
Pigs, The Torpedo, Nobody Complained, The Reader and the Glass o f Milk, and Men.
This collection is written by Saad El-Khadem (1994), and has a total of twenty three
pages. Similar to the first collection, the language of this collection is a combination of
both Modem Standard Arabic and dialectical Egyptian Arabic. The significance of this
lies in the fact that dialectical Arabic is a genuine representation of cultural norms, which
in turn are important reflections of different linguistic phenomena. This could have
possibly been marginalized, had the text been written in Modem Standard Arabic only.

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The English versions of the two collections are translated by Saad El-Gabalawy except for the short story Men, which was translated by its source author. The translator
is a native speaker of Arabic, and is known for his accuracy, clearness, and naturalness.
The two source authors are chosen in particular for two main reasons: first, they
are two of the most remarkable contemporary writers in Egypt; Youssef Idristhe author
of the first collectionis a major exponent of the radical movement from romanticism to
committed realism in modem Egyptian literature, particularly in the field of short fiction.
His familiarity with the masses makes him feel at home with the crowd, and enables him
to reveal the truth of the Egyptian society. Saad El-Khademthe author of the second
collectionis both a writer and a translator, who is known for his numerous scholarly
studies in German and comparative literature. El-Khadem has also done extensive
editorial work, and literary translations. The second reason is due to the nature of the
literary productions of the two authors. Both of their works are derived from daily life
situations, which are dramatized through the artistic touches of connotations and literary
devices. Accordingly, they are true representations of the cultural beliefs, cognitive
attitudes and social costumes of the Arabic/Egyptian culture. This makes them interesting
from a translational viewpoint, and an excellent material for both semantic and cultural
analyses.
B. Method of Analysis:
The losses discussed in the present study will be analyzed within the framework
of the semiotic/pragmatic approach to translationbased on Peirces (1931-1966)
general theory of signs. I will not attempt to give an exhaustive account of Peirces

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thoughts, but will limit myself to the ideas having a direct connection with my main
themes.
The examples in the body of analysis are presented in four different forms: the
first line represents each example in its source-language form (Arabic); the second line
represents the researchers transliteration of the example in English; the third line is the
researchers literal translation of the source language; and the fourth line is the example
in its English form, as reproduced by the translator. Each example will be followed by
parenthesis that makes reference to the text from where the example is taken. This
method of analysis serves to show clearly such instances of: mistranslation, literal
translation, functional translation, and so on. To this end, two methods of analysis are
adopted in the present study: the analytical method, and the comparative method.
The analytical method is conducted by means of a close analysis of examples, not
so much to pass judgments on the product; rather to analyze the strategies adopted by the
translator and how they led to the losses. The data are analyzed as a complete inventory
of the losses resulting from the lack of equivalence in literary translation. Following
Holmess (1994: 87) guidelines, I started my analysis with describing a set of distinctive
features to each text in turn. By this, I mean these verbal signs that strike me as
significant and deserving of analytical analysis. Then, with the aid of a set of comparison
rules, I compared the two texts in order to determine the correspondences between them.
Finally, from that comparison, I built a hierarchy of the losses according to their types:
linguistic, and (socio)cultural. These two groups are, in turn, further subcategorized into
other types (e.g., implicit, explicit, complete, and others.) The type of the loss is
determined by the degree of information that does exist in the source verbal sign, but is

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lost in the translated sign. The losses are discussed in relation to the issue of equivalence.
By means of illustration, the loss would be classified as explicit, when a certain verbal
sign is explicitly lost (either in form, or in content) in the translated text. However, if
equivalence is maintained on the surface level (formal equivalence), but not on the deep
level, the loss is categorized as implicit. In which case, the loss is primarily a loss of
cultural, and/or linguistic signification.
In order to assess which level of equivalence should be established, the criterion
of analysis is based on two levels of translational units: word level, and textual level. The
former is concerned with linguistic equivalence. It is used to investigate the losses
resulting from word-for-word translation. Pedersen (1988: 24) postulates the smaller the
average size of the units, the closer is source language to target language. On the other
hand, for the purpose of evaluating translational equivalence from the view point of target
readers, the analysis on the textual level becomes crucial (cf Nida and Taber, 1969: 101).
The textual level (including paragraph(s), and text) is concerned with the losses of the
overall coherence of the source-language text (textual equivalence).
The comparative method, on the other hand, aims at comparing two versions of
the same text (the English translation and the Arabic source). Newmark (1991: 163)
argues the only way to asses the deficiencies of the translation is to examine the
linguistic differences between it and the original. Guided by this, the comparative
method is expected to give insights onto two levels of deficiencies: texts as linguistic
entities, and texts as reflections of culture. By doing so, the study is hoped to highlight
the differences between two linguistic codes (Arabic-English), and their cultural
associations. Accordingly, losses will be better explained as either a result of linguistic,

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or cultural gaps. Within the comparative method, losses will also be compared and
categorized on the continuum of markedness, as mentioned earlier.
Since this study adopts the semiotic/pragmatic framework, the following
pragmatic and semiotic parameters are used: the pragmatic parameters adopted include
the extralinguistic elements, which are defined in this study as those involved in the
communication process, and which can be guessed at simply by observing the situation
in which the text is used (Nord, 1991: 43). These pragmatic parameters include: (1) the
sender (the original author); (2) the receiver (the target reader); (3) the communication
channel (the source text written in Arabic, and the target text written in English); (4) the
system (the culture where the message is produced); (5) the context of situation (which is
here particular to the source language); and (6) the initiator as used by Hatim and
Mason, 1994: 11who is the translator. These parameters are variables with relevance in
the communication process; in this case translation.
Two semiotic parameters are used: the first parameter is text type; literary texts
in this study. This parameter is central to the analysis since it is closely connected to the
pragmatic parameters. That is to say, literary texts are complex entities; and a rich
material for idiomatic and metaphoric expressions. The second parameter is
intertextuality; it includes all those factors which enable text users to identify a given
text element or sequence of elements in terms of their knowledge of one or more
previously encountered texts or elements (Hatim and Mason, 1997: 17-18). Malmkjasr
(1991: 469) also defines intertextuality as the way in which the use of a certain text
depends on knowledge of other texts. This is also a relevant criterion because the
examples used in the source text contain information that depend, for their understanding,

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on the knowledge of other texts (e.g., idiomatic and metaphoric expressions); hence the
effect of intertextuality on textual coherence. In short, this parameter would enable us to
assess translation, and to determine the degree of losses in the translated text.
Another test used to assess cases of inequivalence in this study is the so-called
back translation. Unlike actual translation which is made directly from the source
language to the target language; back translation refers to the translation of the target text
back to its source language. Newmark (1991: 7) views back translation as a conclusive
test, in any type of translation, to determine the degree of equivalence between source
text and target text. He proposes that back translation of words and clauses may be
useful in dealing with errors; therefore interference, interlanguage or unconscious
translationese can be illuminated by back-translation, as an aid in the production of
creative discourse or texts (Newmark, 1991: 61).
One final note regarding the methodology used: technical terms belonging to
specific theories, semiotic and otherwise, are systematically set in double quotation
marks as they are first mentioned. Words and expressions with special emphasis are
italicized.
IV. Organization of the Dissertation:
The organization of the chapters in this dissertation is as follows: Chapter One is a
preliminary set up of the research problem, objectives, significance, and methodology.
Chapter Two is a presentation of related literature on translation from linguistic, cultural,
semiotic, and pragmatic perspectives, it also presents a synopsis on the theory of
markedness. Chapter Three is an analysis of the losses from a linguistic viewpoint.

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Chapter Four is an analysis of the losses from a cultural viewpoint. Chapter Five is the
conclusion.

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CHAPTER TWO
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

The aim of this chapter is to present and review the most significant theories of
translation. The structure of this chapter consists of five sections as follows: the first
section is a presentation of translation from a linguistic perspective; the second is a
presentation of translation from a cultural perspective; the third is a presentation of
translation from a pragmatic perspective; the fourth is a presentation of translation from a
semiotic perspective; the last section is concerned with the theory of markedness, which
will furnish the ground for the arrangement of the losses occurring in literary translation
into categories based on their types. It is worth pointing out that the notions of translation
presented earlier in chapter one will be further discussed here from the viewpoint of
different translation models.
I. Translation from a Linguistic Perspective
Most linguistic theories on translation could substantially fall under one of the
following three groups: the first group represents translation researchers who are in favor
of a purely lexical approach to translation. The second group approaches translation from
a text-linguistic viewpoint. The third group looks at the process of translation as a matter
of socio-cultural equivalence. These different approaches exist side by side, and each of

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them focuses on specific aspects in translation, and looks at the product or the process of
translation from a specific angle.
The first view of translation is represented by the linguistic model. This model
views translation from a structural viewpoint. It focuses on the systematic relationships
between the source and the target languages, and investigates the transfer or replacement
of source language signs by target language signs in order to establish correspondence
between languages.
Advocates of this model (e.g., Catford, 1965) view equivalence as a repertoire of
semantic universals that match the meaning between languages. To them, meaning is
sentence-bound; achieving correspondences between two languages starts from the
bottom level. That is, they start solving each problem at time; lexical problems, syntactic
problems, semantic problems. This bottom-top approach is acknowledged also by
Newmark (1991: 126). Catfords (1965: 20) definition of translation as the replacement
of textual material in one language (SL) by equivalent material in another language (TL)
illustrates the view held by this model. In other words, this precise description of the
systematic regularities between signs of the two languages involved was seen as a
precondition for the faithful and accurate reproduction of the source text. The targetlanguage text was required to be identical to the source-language text in style, effect, and
respect of the rules and norms of the target language.
The strength of this model lies in studying the linguistic resources in both source
and target languages. It allows the techniques available in the target language to
overcome structural differences between source and target languages. The weaknesses of
this model, however, may be summarized in three points: first, it focuses only on the

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grammatico-lexical correspondences, and so overlooks the extra-linguistic factors of the
source text. As such, it does not account for the pragmatic modifications needed to the
target text. Second, due to its comparative-descriptive nature, all the source-target
differences occurring in translation are accounted for narrowly; that is, they are due to
differences in the two language systems. In this regard, Schaffner (1999: 3) draws on the
limitations of this linguistic approach a chosen TL-form may well be correct according
to the rules of the language system, but this does not mean that the text as a whole
appropriately fulfils its communicative function in the TL-situation and culture. Third,
this approach has been rejected by proponents of other models (e.g. Newmark, 1991: 22)
for being too abstract and removed from application.
The second view is held by the text-linguistic model. This model is a further
development of the linguistic model. It maintains that the differences between the source
text and a translation are not limited to differences on the sentence level; rather they
operate at a level beyond that of the sentence, i.e. textual level. Unlike the linguistic
model, which follows a bottom-top process, and operates on the sentential and lexical
levels, the text-linguistic model is a top-bottom approach. According to this model, the
focus of translation is no longer the reproduction of meaning, but a production of texts;
where text norms need to be added to the norms of the linguistic systems (Neubert and
Shreve, 1992: 22). Its basic premise is text-typology. The main assumption here is that
knowledge of cross-cultural similarities in genre conventions is crucial to the translator in
order to produce appropriate target-language texts.
This model views equivalence as the process of carrying over the semantic values
and pragmatic functions of the source text as means of reconstructing a new text

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semantically and pragmatically compatible with the target language norms. In short,
equivalence is maintained at textual and communicative levels. Karamanian (2002: 2)
supports this approach and suggests that the focus on translation should be from the
macro to the micro level of analysis. She (ibid: 2) states that an analysis of parts cannot
provide an understanding of the whole. Nida and Taber (1974) hold an intermediate
position between the linguistic model and the text linguistic model. They (ibid: 105)
argue in transferring the message from one language to another, it is the content which
must be preserved at any level; the form, except in special cases, such as poetry, is
largely secondary, since within each language the rules for relating content are highly
complex, arbitrary and variable. Nida and Tabers (1974) view is partial in the sense that
they view the message component as the crux of the translation process. By doing so,
they underestimate the aesthetic values of the source text as a whole. The implication
here is that form should not be marginalized in translation; especially when the language
is as important as the content. This particularly applies to literary translation, where form
conveys the creativity of the source author.
One of the weaknesses of this model is its ignoring the linguistic systems of the
two languages (source and target), which are important in particular types of text, mainly
those appreciated for their aesthetic effects. The chief merit of this model, though, is its
focusing more on the acceptability of translation to the target readership; this makes
translation pragmatically functional. Furthermore, the fact that it focuses on the
communicative contextualization of words is an advantage over the linguistic model. In
other words, it deals better with the translation of cultural terms, idioms, and figurative

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language. Neubert and Shreve (1991: 24) add that this model is broader and has a more
realistic presentation of translation equivalence.
The third model is the socio-cultural. This model enriches the theoretical
perspectives of translation as a practice. Similar to the text-linguistic model, this model
minimizes the linguistic model. It views translation as a cross cultural communication
process. It treats the source text as a unique product of historical and social structure of a
particular culture. Catford (1965: 20), and Yongfang (2000: 1) are supporters of this view
and call for cultural equivalence, which Holmes (1994: 95) preferred to call
translation sociology. That is, the area that describes how a translated text functions in
the society into which it comes. Proponents of this model, dismiss the idea of equivalence
in its entirety on the grounds that it yields unnatural translation. They argue that
translators prevent readers from appreciating the source text because they cannot
overcome the loss of the historical and social structures; major barriers to translation. In a
nutshell, they hold the view that texts are not translatable; and if so, they would be
corruptions of the source text. Criticism of this model may be summarized by the
following two points: Neubert and Shreve (1992: 27) criticize the idea that translations
should always read like translations. The second is the view towards readership. They
believe that the effects that translation produces on the target-language reader must be
different from those on the source-language reader. This is an underestimation of the
communicative goals adopted by advocates of the text-linguistic model. In general, the
model is criticized for being too narrow, and applicable only to certain types of texts.
In conclusion, each of the aforementioned models is interesting from a particular
point. Each model views translation from a different viewpoint, and focuses on different

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aspects of a larger phenomenon. However, I find myself in agreement with Savory (1957)
in his general criticism of linguistic approaches to translation. He comments:
[...] there are no universally accepted principles of translation, because the
only people who are unable to formulate them have never agreed among
themselves, but have so often and for so long contradicted each other that
they have bequeathed to us a volume of confused thought which must be
hard to parallel in other fields of literature (Savory, 1957: 49).
II. Translation from a Cultural Perspective
This section deals with what is commonly referred to as cultural translation.
Some of the most prominent concepts and ideas related to cultural translation are: the
concepts of etic and emic; the concept of norms; the relation between language and
culture ethnography; and the semiotic perspective of culture.
Cultural translation is known to be one of the most challenging aspects of
translation (Larson, 1984a; Farghal, 1995; Baker, 1996; Buchowski, 1996; Anderson,
2003). It involves the translation of linguistic structures as a part of culture, in which the
translator takes into account not only the equivalence of meaning, but also investigates
higher levels of content, context, semantics, and pragmatics. Accordingly, in any study of
translated texts, researchers of cultural translation consider factors like: language, society,
culture, and the modes of thinking in which they function; along with historical period
and ordinary psychodynamics (Anderson, 2003: 390).
When talking about cultural translation, one cannot simply ignore the role of the
Summer Institute of Linguistics (now SIL International). This institutewhich is one of
the largest and most active group of linguists in the worldhas contributed to translation
research in establishing the connections between language and culture. Pioneered by
Kenneth Pike, the institute started with a primarily focus on translating the bible for

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35
language groups who do not have it. Pike, who is both a Christian missionary (Bible
translator) and a linguist, emphasized the scientific approach to bible translation (Simons,
2003: 84). Pikes work influenced generations of researchers and field workers (Nida,
Larson, Wise, Headland, Canfield, Simons), who saw in him a rich source on different
aspects of life: language, culture, worldview, religion, and ways of thinking and learning.
Pikes emphasis on the need to see things from a different perspective enabled his
followers to broaden their horizons and to be more scientifically objective in their
handling of meaning in translation. Pikes influence on the research of cultural translation
is reflected in his triad or dyad concepts: person and relation between persons, etics
and emics, form-meaning composites units in context. For Pike, the analysis of
verbal and non-verbal elements was not either/or, but both/and (Wise and Headland,
2003: xvii).
The concepts of etic and emicthe Outsider and the Insiderare probably
what is Pike (1954) best known for. The term etic, derived from phonetic in
linguistics, refers to the analysis of language sounds. Emic, on the other hand, is
derived from phonemic, and designates culture-bound, or language bound units of
analysis. The terms emics and etics were created out of a need to include nonverbal
behavior in linguistic description (Pike, 1990: 30). Later, the terms became widespread
and popular in different academic disciplines other than linguistics and anthropology by
the end of 1980s: psychology, sociology, folklore, semiotics, cross-cultural research,
ethnography, and many others (Headland, 1990: 18). Due to this interdisciplinary feature,
the terms were given different and sometimes incorrect definitions. For example, emics
and etics were equated with verbal versus nonverbal; specific versus universal; insider

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versus outsider view; or subjective versus objective knowledge. The importance of the
two concepts lies in expressing the interplay between rules of analysis (language) and
actual practice (culture). In other words, every language has its own emics: situated
beliefs and behaviors, and its own etics: abstract ones (Anderson, 2003). Anderson
(2003: 391) remarks that the translation entailed in ethnography cannot be limited to that
between the other and us. That is to say, both the etics, and the emics of the
source language should be accounted for in translation, since they reveal facts about
events in the source culture, and deep meanings of the source language; respectively.
Andersons (2003) valuable contributions to cultural translation research emanate
from her being an anthropologist, an ethnographer, and a linguist. Her views about
translation are anthropologically based. She believes that translation is the best
conceptual vehicle for understanding the process of ethnography. This is crucial since
ethnography as translation foregrounds issues of competence and fluency as they impact
the reliability and validity of interpretation (Anderson, 2003: 389). In her article
Ethnography as Translation, Anderson (ibid) is concerned with how culture translates
customary situations into behavior including linguistic behavior. Anderson (ibid: 396)
believes that language and culture are closely connected, language contains and
connects with culture, and vice versa, culture contains and connects with language;
neither faculty smothers the other, but both overshadow society and its individuals,
whose languaculture is transfused at an early stage.
In describing the role of the ethnographer as a translator, Anderson (ibid: 391)
brings to attention the issue of familiarity with a particular setting. She (ibid: 391)
proposes that the unfamiliar is the marked figure in an un(re)marked ground. Upon the

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first encounter with another culture, the ethnographer is shocked by what is unfamiliar in
that culture and language. In the case of the engaged ethnographer/translator, there is a
tendency to render the unfamiliar familiar, and the familiar unfamiliar. However, some
ethnographers/translator might be tempted to oversimplify or overinterpret the familiar
to match expectations; thus turning into what, Anderson (ibid: 391) calls, cognitive
blinders for the unmarked and expected. Such familiarity, she alerts, leads to
overdetermined anticipation of the un(re)marked surface. Anderson (ibid: 393)
recommends, and I strongly agree, that the familiar must be defamiliarized in order to
be integrated into the system to which it belongs. Andersons perspective on this issue of
familiarity will be my point of departure in the discussion of losses within markedness
theory. The influence of cultural differences on translation was also the focal point in
Hongweis (1999) research. Hongwei (ibid: 121) shares with other cultural translation
researchers the view that while translation is a transfer of language, it is also a transfer of
culture. He claims it is the differences in mental culture that produce the differences in
languages involved in translation. By mental culture he means peoples mentality and
behaviors, their thought patterns, beliefs, conceptions of value, aesthetic taste (Hongwei,
1999: 121).
Another important influence on cultural translation stems from the Tartu School
of semiotics. Lotman, the pioneering figure of this school, was inspired by Jakobsons
semiotic thoughts. Lotman and Uspensky (1978), cited in Bassnett-McGuire (1980:
33)advocated the view that the semiotic study of culture not only considers culture
functioning as a system of signs, but emphasizes the relation of culture to sign and
signification; which comprises one of the basic typological features.

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The general

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hypothesis of Lotman and Uspenskys (1978) cultural-semiotic is that members of any
culture will think of themselves as insiders; while persons from other cultures are
outsiders. Generally, Lotmans ideas have had a strong impact upon the work of many
literary translation scholars, particularly Gideon Toury.
The concept of norms is one of the basic concepts offered in the field of cultural
translation. This concept originated in the views developed by the historico-descriptive
school, which describes translation as a norm-governed behavior determined by social,
cultural, and historical situations. According to Toury (1999: 10), the first association of
translation and norms was found in earlier studies, especially in that of Holmes (1994).
The term norms refers to the social correctness, or appropriateness. That is, the social
reality of correctness notions (Bartsch, 1987: xii).
Schaffner (1999: 6) describes this school as being primarily concerned with
investigating how translational norms prevail at a certain period and within a particular
society; thus determining the section, the production, and the reception of translation.
Schaffner (ibid: 3) also notes that the concept of norms is important in linguistic/cultural
approaches to translation in two respects: on the one hand, they are concerned with the
linguistic norms of the two languages, i.e., how to produce texts that are correct
according to the respective rules and norms. On the other hand, such norms set the
guidelines/rules for the translators, mostly with prescriptive intent.
In criticism of this approach, Robinson (1998: 161) states in recent decades [the]
assumption that translation theory exists to devise normative rules for translators to
follow, has increasingly come under fire, and a number of theorists have attempted to talk
about translation in non-prescriptive ways. Viaggio (1999) also criticized this approach

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on the grounds that it is an obstacle in the way of more scientifically progressive norms.
Viaggio (ibid: 122) argues translation studies cannot stop at observing, registering and
describing actual translational behavior, at eliciting from it what often turns out to be
mostly intuitive, semiconscious or even a-critical norms. Kruger (2001) compared the
historico-descriptive approach to translation to the semiotic approach. While the
historico-descriptive approach has its goal as the ideal interpretant with all the qualities of
the source sign; the semiotic approach aims at retaining the most important qualities of
the source text. According to Kruger (ibid: 181), the main difference between the two
approaches is the refusal of the semiotic approach to accept the so-called black box
theory. In short, this theory claims that the translation process is intuitive and defies all
description. Goethals et al (2003) uses the black-box theory to describe the process of
translation from a semiotic stand. They postulates that the black box (present in the head
of the translator) stretches from the earliest feeling the source text may produce in the
translators mind to the final interpretation produced in the target text.
The discussion of norms in translation is best represented by Toury. Toury is
known as the most prominent exponent of the historico-descriptive school because of his
substantial contributions to the development of the concept of norms in translation
studies. Tourys contribution may be summed up in two points: studying the impact of
social norms on translation; and tracing the development of norms historically. Although
Toury (1999: 11) admits that he was not the first to associate translation to norms; he
gives himself the credit for making the norms a kind of legal tender in the discussion of
translation practices and their results.

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For Toury (ibid: 20), translation is a kind of activity that involves an encounter
between two different languages, and two sets of norms. This entails that translation is
the result of social and behavioral activity that has target readers as its focal goal; hence
translation, should be target-language oriented. Toury (1995: 29) states translations are
facts of target cultures; on occasion facts of a special status, sometimes even constituting
identifiable (sub)systems of their own, but of the target culture in any event. In this
regard, Heilbron (2000) disagrees with Toury, and calls for a macro-cultural level of
translation. He argues that it is not sufficient to analyze translation as part of the targetcultures (literary) system; rather it is essential [...] to consider target-cultures as part of
an international system, of a global constellation of language groups and of national or
supra-national cultures. (Heilbron, ibid: 21).
Toury (1999: 14) views norms as the translation of general values or ideas
shared by a group as to what is conventionally right and wrong, adequate and
inadequateinto performance instructions appropriate for and applied to particular
situations. In this sense, Toury (ibid: 13) equates norms with social conventions, or
behavioral routines, according to which members of the group will behave when they
find themselves under particular circumstances. Toury adds that as long as there is such a
thing as appropriate versus inappropriate behavior, there will be a need for performance
instructions (Toury, ibid: 15).
In describing his methodology for studying norms, Toury (1999: 16) states that
for the researcher norms thus emerge as explanatory hypotheses (of observed [results of]
behavior) rather than entities in their own right. Robinson (1999), in response, criticized
Tourys methodology for being subjective. He (ibid: 121) argues the hypotheses called

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norms can never be verified or falsified. They remain hypotheses, which is to say,
fiction.

I would arguealong with Robinson (1999)that Tourys criterion for

studying norms is not objectively grounded. That is to say, there is no criterion to judge
the appropriateness of translation other than the people-in-the-culture. Toury (1999: 21)
himself admits [people] may not be able to say that a certain phenomenon in a translated
text reflects interference from the source text/language, but they will at least have a
hunch [emphasis is added] as to what they are expected to feel about it, within the
preferences of their culture. Gorlee (1994: 185) also criticized Tourys approach stating
the notion of relevancy brandished by Toury is really a dangerous and indiscriminate
weapon [due] to the fact that it may have either an ideological or an intuitive bias, or
both. Tourys views on the issue of norms will be taken into consideration in the
discussion of losses, particularly cultural losses. Although this study is primarily
concerned with losses to the source text, the norms of the target culture will be taken into
account in such cases where the resulting translated text makes no sense to the target
culture. This would more likely occur in the translation of culture-specific terms.
The semiotic perspective views culture as a communal system of meanings that
provides the means for human beings to translate their instincts, urges, needs, and other
propensities into representational and communicative structures (Danesi and Perron,
1999: 14). From a cultural stand, semiotics is generally broken down into three main
areas of study: signs, codes, and culture. These signs are interconnected; we are culturally
surrounded by different varieties of signs; and different ways of conveying meanings.
Such signs are organized in such a way that meets the needs of a society or culturethis
is what Danesi and Perron (1999) called signifying order. Danesi and Perron (1999: 23)

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used this term, signifying order, to redefine culture as a way of life based on a
signifying order developed originally in a tribal context that is passed along through the
signifying order from one generation to the next. They {ibid: 67) view culture, in its
specific sense, as a container of signs. That is, a complex system of different types of
signs that cohere in predictable ways into patterns of representation which individuals
and groups can utilize to make or exchange messages. In short, the signifying order is
the system of shared meanings in a specific culture that enables people of that culture to
communicate appropriately. Danesi and Perron {ibid: 291) sum up the primary concerns
for cultural semioticians in three questions: What does a certain sign, code, or text mean?
How does it represent what it means? Why does it mean what it means? In their attempt
to answer these questions, Danesi and Perron (ibid: 70-83) redefined some concepts to
describe our knowledge of the world in relation to cultural semiotics. For example, they
defined semiosis as the innate capacity to produce and comprehend signs; and
representation as the activity of using signs to refer to an object, a being; signs are
viewed as those aspects of reality or experience that specific cultures deem important,
relevant, or useful. Accordingly, the cultural-semiotic perspective views translation
broadly as a process of communication that mediates, in space and time, between the sign
producer and the sign interpreter. Halliday (1978), on the other hand, emphasized the
social semiotic aspect in relation to text value as follows:
In its most general significance a text is a sociological event, a semiotic
encounter through which the meanings that constitute the social system are
exchanged. The individual member is, by virtue of his membership, a
meaner, one who means. By his acts of meaning, and those of other
individual meaners, the social reality is created, maintained in good order,
and continuously shaped and modified (Halliday, 1978: 139).

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III. Translation from a Semiotic Perspective
This section is divided into two subsections: the first section is a general
introduction of semiotics and the basic concepts related to the theory of signs. This
furnishes the grounds for the semiotic approach in translation, as reflected in the views
two of the major classics in semioticsas Noth (1990) called themFerdinand de
Saussure, and Charles Sanders Peirce. The aim of the second subsection is to present
translation as a semiotic processsemiotic equivalence. It presents the views of different
scholars, and their attempts to connect semiotics and translation.
To start with, some scholars expressed (implicitly, or explicitly) their
dissatisfaction with the linguistic views to translation, particularly that of semantics.
Gorlee (1994) ranks semiotics high over linguistics. She (ibid: 173) argues: language
consists not only of a systematic, rule-bound whole, but of energies, and this dynamic
interactive principle elevates language to the semiotic (or rather semiosis) status of
expression of thought. In his criticism of semantics, Alfred Tarski-cited in Robert (2001:
142)-points out you will not find in semantics any remedy for decayed teeth or illusions
of grandeur or class conflicts. Nor is semantics a device for establishing that everyone
except the speaker and his friends is speaking nonsense. Bassnett-McGuire (1980: 13)
believes that although translation has a central core of linguistic activity, it belongs most
probably to Semiotics. According to Kruger (2001: 188), semiotics is ideally suited for
the study of language, because it does not confine itself to a specific discipline at a time,
and can therefore be used to deal with interdisciplinary questions.

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A. The Semiotic Theory of Signs
According to the general semiotic theory, semiotics is the theory of the
signification and interpretation of meaning. Its basic principle is that meaning is made by
the development of acts and objects which function as signs in relation to other signs.
Systems of signs are constituted by the complex meaning-relations that exist between one
sign and another. Signs are developed in space and time to produce texts, whose
meanings are contrasted by mutually contextualizing relations among their signs. The
traditions of this theory are represented by the two most prominent leaders in the field:
Saussurethe fonder of linguistic semiologyand Peirce (Semiotics). Generally
speaking, Saussures approach was a generalization of structuralist linguistics, whereas
that of Peirce was an extension of reasoning and logic in natural sciences (Noth, 1990).
Following is a presentation of the theories of Saussure, and Peirce, and their relevance to
translation theory.
Saussure is recognized for being the founder of modem linguistics. His major
contribution lies in proposing and developing the field of semiology. Semiology, also
called linguistic semiotics, is one branch of semiotics which has particularly
distinguished itself in the study of verbal messages. It derives from Saussures (1969)
Course in General linguistics; in which he described semiology as:
a science that studies the life of signs within society [...] semiology would
show what constitutes signs, what laws govern them. Since the science
does not yet exist, no one can say what it would be; but it has a right to
existence, a place staked out in advance ( Saussure, 1969: 16).

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For Saussure (1916), linguistic signs are wholly arbitrary; meaning that a
signifier has no logical connection with its signified. In spite of this arbitrariness,
Saussure (1916: 68) emphasized the strength of linguistics in the study of signs:
signs that are wholly arbitrary realize better than others the ideal of the
semiological process, that is why language, the most complex and
universal of all systems of expression, is also the most characteristic; in
this sense linguistics can become the master-pattem [patron generall] for
all branches of semiology although language is only one particular
semiological system (Saussure, 1969: 68).
In another instant, Saussure (1916: 16) considers the possibility of semiology being the
science of nonlinguistic objects: linguistics is only part of the general science of
semiology; the laws discovered by semiology will be applicable to linguistics.
Saussure (1916: 67) dealt with the sign in terms of a dyadic system composing of
signifier (concept), and signified (sound-image). Later on, those concepts were used
to derive the semantic concepts meaning and content, thus reflecting the semiotic
dimension of semantics. Saussure also claims that all language is a system, a coherent
semiotic structure. This system of signs has meaning by virtue of the signs relationships
to one another. According to this binary view, each sign comprises a signifier and a
signified; and every sign has meaning only by virtue of its place in the system. A
sentence, which is a combination of signs, is a complex signifier for a complex signified.
In other words, all texts can be analyzed semiotically.
While many semioticians have followed Saussures dyadic-sign model, some
have argued that the triadic model proposed by Peirce is superior for the solution of
semiotic problems (Noth, 1990: 62). This is notably due to one of the most distinctive
features of Saussures semiology; that is his exclusion of the referential object.

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According to Gorlee (1994: 26), in contradiction to Saussures language-directed theory
of signs, with its more direct concrete applicability, Peirces radically general semiotics is
no doubt better able to accommodate theoretical studies concerning translation in the
broad sense.
Peirce is considered the founder of the modem theory of signs. Peirces (18391914) semiotics has been assessed by many scholars as difficult because he never wrote a
coherent outline of his complete theory of signs (Noth, 1990: 40). Peirce divided his
general theory of semiotics into three branches: the general theory o f signs, critical logic,
and speculative rhetoric or methodeutic. Of the three branches, only the general theory of
signs is relevant to the present study. Accordingly, any use of the term semiotics
would be narrowed down to refer to the general theory of signs.
The most essential foundation of Peirces semiotics is his system of categories.
Peirce developed a phenomenology based only on three universal categories that explain
our knowledge of the world. These categories are: Firstness, Secondness, and
Thirdness. These three universal categories correspond roughly to possibility (firstness),
actual fact (secondness), and law or habit (thirdness). In Peirces (CP: 1. 304) own words,
firstness means unanalyzed, instantaneous, immediate feeling: direct suchness
depending on nothing else beyond itself for its comprehension. Secondness, involves the
relation of a first to a second.

Peirce (CP: 7. 538) describes it as an experience:

secondness involves the dynamic idea of otherness, of two-sided consciousness, the


experience of action and reaction. He (CP: 1. 356-59) also adds: it meets us in such
facts as another, relation, compulsion, effect, dependence, independence, negation,
occurrence, reality, result. Thirdness, brings a second in relation to a third. Peirce (CP: 1.

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337) states: thirdness embodies continuity, the rule of feeling and action by general
principles. Since these principles provide logical explanations, all intellectual activity is a
Third. To sum up, Peirces semiotics is the study of triadic relations between signs, i.e.,
there is a triadic connection between the sign, its object, and the interpreter.
Accordingly, in order for a sign to act as a sign, it must enter into a relation with its
object, be interpreted, and so produce a new sign: its interpretant. Peirces (CP: 2. 228,
1897) clearest definition of the sign is as follows:
A sign, or representamen, is something which stands for something in
some respect or capacity. It addresses somebody, that is, creates in the
mind of that person an equivalent sign, or perhaps a more developed sign.
The sign which it creates I call the interpretant of the first sign. The sign
stands for something, its object. It stands for that object, not in all respects,
but in reference to a sort of idea, which I have sometimes called the
ground of the representamen.
Peirce used the term representamen to refer to the perceptible object
functioning as a sign. The relation of a sign to its object is specific, called ground. Other
semioticians labeled Peirces representamen differently. While Saussure (1916) used
signifier, Morris (1964) used the equivalent term sign vehicle, and Hjelmslev (1943)
referred to it as expression.
Peirce distinguished in his theory between two types of the object', the immediate
object, and the dynamic object. The immediate object takes the sign at its face value.
That is, it is the object represented directly in a particular sign use. The dynamic object,
on the other hand, is the object inside the sign, or the real circumstances upon which an
idea is based (Gorlee, 1994: 54).
Likewise, the interpretant in Peirces theoryalso referred to as signification (CP:
8. 179), or interpretation (CP: 8. 184)was classified into three types according to the

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effects of the sign on the interpreters mind (CP: 4. 536): the immediate interpretant,
the dynamical interpretant (or the actual interpretant), and the final interpretant. In
this regard, Short (2003) disagrees with Peirces classification of interpretants. He (ibid:
227) reclassified Peirces dynamical interpretant as the broader category that includes
both the immediate, and the final interpretants. Short (ibid: 227) called the immediate
interpretant a proper interpretation, since it is the category of potentiality, and
generality. According to Short (ibid: 227). only the immediate interpretant would be
germane to translation: the translation of a sentence, statement, or story is successful
insofar as it has the same immediate interpretant as that which is translated. Its worth
mentioning that Peirces classification of interpretant is crucial to the discussion in the
next subsection since it establishes translation as a semiotic/semiosis process of
interpretation, i.e., the triadic process that relates sign, object and interpretant.

Peirce

(CP: 5. 484, 1907) himself defined semiosis as:


[...] an action, or influence, which is, or involves, a cooperation of three
subjects, such as a sign, its object, and its interpretant, this tri-relative
influence not being in any way resolvable into action between pairs.
This definition could be used as an evidence of Pieces rejection of the dyadic
models. The strength of this definition, according to Gorlee (1994: 61), lies in the fact
that it leaves the process essentially open-ended and infinite in nature. I agree with
Gorlee since the communication process par excellence is similarly open to different
interpretations. We, as people, think and interpret things differently. To reiterate, this
open-ended nature of semiosis is one of the advantages of the semiotic approach to
translation.

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It remains to be mentioned that Peirce further classified the sign with respect to
the relation between representamen and object into three categories: icon (firstness),
index (secondness), symbol (a conventional and arbitrary sign: thirdness). To elucidate, a
sign represents its object to its interpretant symbolically, indexically, or iconically
according to whether it does so by being associated with its object by a convention rule
used by the interpretant; by being in existential relation with its object; or by exhibiting
its object.
Although the semiotic models aforementioned were followed by many scholars,
they were the object of criticism by some. Noth (1990), for example, generally criticizes
the semiotic models (be them dyadic or triadic) for their considerable terminological
vagueness in the distinction between the sign, its signifier, and its minimal elements. He
(ibid: 79) argues that in everyday language, there is no word to distinguish between sign
vehicle and the sign: the word sign is ambiguous. It has either the broader sense of a
semiotic entity which unites a sign vehicle with a meaning, or it has the narrower sense of
sign vehicle only. In his evaluation of the dyadic and triadic sign systems, Noth (1990:
83) based his judgments on the number of relata characterizing the sign in its semantic
dimension (meaning). Triadic models, he says, distinguish between sign vehicle, sense,
and referent (meaning) as the three dimensions of the sign. In other words, triadic models
are based on mediation: a third is related to a first via a second. Dyadic models, in
contrast, ignore either the dimension of sense, or that of referent. Noth (ibid: 83) argues
that the option for either one of the two models does not imply the neglect of the
pragmatic dimension of semiosis. In her defense of Peirces model, Gorlee (1994: 61)

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argues that the pragmatic dimension do exist in Peirces theory through his emphasis on
the concept of the interpretant as the meaning of a sign.
Robert (2001), one of the opponents of Peirces theory, summarized her criticism
as follows:
its difficult, for me at least, to analyze Peirces sign-formulations,
because they seem more poetic evocations than propositions that we
usually expect (or hope for) in philosophical discourse, especially of a
presumably rigorous, analytical kind that is intended to discover the
patterns of human evaluating-through-language, leading to some eventual
benefit to our fellow humans (Robert, 2001: 148).
Braga (1993) reviews the common confusions and misinterpretations of Peirces
work. She sums up these confusions in three main points, namely: the abstraction of
Peirces theory; the generality of his concepts; and the open-ended nature of his semiosis.
Regarding the first point of criticism, Braga disagrees with the claims about the
abstraction of Peirces fundamental concepts. She (ibid: 405) comments that Peirces
semiotics is not a practical science, nor a specialized theoretical science When the
generalities of his concepts are narrowed to serve specific purposes, they lose the greatest
part of their real potentiality. She argues, instead, that Peirces work forms a logical
paradigm if interpreted correctly. As for the second point, Braga (1993: 406) comments
on the extreme generality of Peirces concepts, and believes that such generality is what
makes his theory hard to read. She states:
His phenomenological, esthetical, ethical, logical, and metaphysical
concepts are so interconnected, and are so broad and general, that they
may function as a logical guide for any research in any field whatsoever
(Braga, ibid: 407).
Due to this fact, Peirces opponents believe that his concepts lack the specific resources
to describe the specificity of particular phenomenon. As a matter of fact, this very

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criticism (i.e., the applicability of Pierces theory to a wide range of disciplines either
humanities or not) is taken as a praise by other researchers. In this regard, Rethore (1993:
397) strongly supports the comprehensiveness of Peirces theory, and argues: the reader
of Peirce will find in his work a general theory of language which harmonizes with a
comprehensive conception of pragmatics which, far from residual, constitutes the general
frame on which everything else articulates. Bragas third point of criticism lies in the
open-ended nature of Peirces theory. She disapproves of Peirces treatment of the sign,
and believes that he took the notion of the sign far beyond the limits of the linguistic sign.
Braga negatively views Peirces semiosis as infinite every sign is inevitably incomplete
[and] there is no original object and no final interpretation for any semiosis, because
origin and end are inaccessible (Braga, 1993: 408).
B. Translation and Semiotics
As mentioned earlier, translation has been the object of attention over many years.
Only recently, many researchers have shifted their focus to the new trend in translation
studies, and looked at translation as a semiotic phenomenon. Van Kesteren (1978: 48),
for example, remarks:
Over the last decade a tendency has become noticeable for the
development of various fields within the humanities on the basis of
semiotics: linguistics, the theory of literature, the theory of architecture,
art history, musicology, and drama theory have in one way or another
made use of the theory of signs. However, one particular field has hardly
been infiltrated by semiotics: theory o f translation.
Early moves into the field of a semiotic approach to translation have typically
come from the Slavic tradition of Saussurean linguisitics, which could best be manifested
in the works of Jakobson, for example. Within the general framework of this theory,

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translation is looked upon as a system of signs. Jakobson (1971) was one of the first
scholars to discover the relevance of Peirces semiotics to linguistics. Nonetheless,
Jakobson noted that the topic of translation did not appear to be very prominent in
Peirces writings.

In other words, Peirce did not propose a systematic analysis of

translation proper because it was not his focal concern. However, other researchers (e.g.,
Colapietro 2003: 190; Gorlee 1994: 153) used Pierces works to demonstrate that
translation originated earlier in Peirces work. Peirce (1905-1906) himself identifies the
act of interpretation with translation. Hence, for Peirce, translation is semiosis. In this
regard, Peirce (MS 283:97-10, 1905-1906) remarks:
What does it mean to speak of the interpretation of a sign? Interpretation
is merely another word for translation; ...an English book might be
translated into French or German without the interposition of a translation
into the imaginary signs of human thought...
In another instance, Peirce (CP: 5 .594,1903) explicitly states a sign is not a sign
unless it translates itself into another sign in which it is more fully developed (also
quoted by Colapietro, 2003: 189). In addition, Peirce (CP: 5, 448, n, 1, 1906) himself
used the term equivalence with special reference to the interpretation process, as
follows: two signs whose meanings are for all possible purposes equivalent are
absolutely equivalent. The quotes above indicate that translation was touched upon by
Peirce, yetin agreement with Jakobsonit was not proposed as a systematic study.
Many researchers (e.g., Waugh 1984; and Gorlee 1994) consider Jakobson the
originator of the semiotic approach to translation on the grounds that Jakobson (1971)
viewed the linguistic sign as, first and foremost, translatable. For him, translatability is
the intrinsic nature of the signatum (Waugh, 1984: 412-414). Jakobson (1959: 232)

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broadly defines translation as the interpretation of verbal signs by means of some other
language. He also perceives translation as a series of operations of which the starting
point and the end product are significations and function within a given culture.
Jakobson (1971: 261) proposed three kinds of translation in which a verbal sign
can be interpreted: intralingual translation, interlingual translation, and intersemiotic
translation. Jakobsons first kind, intralingual translation or rewording is an
interpretation of the verbal signs by means of other signs of the same language. Its main
goal is the creation of equivalences on the abstract symbolic level. The second kind is
interlingual translation or translation proper. This is an interpretation of verbal signs
by means of another language. It involves two equivalent messages in two different
codes (Jakobson, ibid: 262). It deals with signs from an indexical (context-sensitive)
symbolic viewpoint; i.e., the transference of verbal signs including their properties.
Gorlee (1994: 161) views Jakobsons interlingual translation as being mainly concerned
with breaking up and dislocating familiar sign-structures and relationship between signs,
and with rearranging them meaningfully in the light of the new [target] system.
Bassnett-McGuire (1980: 80) argues that interlingual translation gives more freedom to
the translator because it is bound to reflect the translators own creative interpretation of
the SL [source-language] text. Jakobsons third kind is intersemiotic translation or
transmutation. This is an interpretation of the verbal signs by means of nonverbal sign
systems. In other words, it is the recodification of linguistic text-signs into nonlinguistic
codes. Torop (2003:272) criticizes Jakobsons intersemiotic approach on the grounds
that it complicates a comparison between the source text and the target text. Torop uses a
novel as an example since it presupposes inclusion into the history of literature; as such

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intersemiotic translation, in Torops view, increases the number of parameters of the
evaluation of translation activity.
Gorlee (1994) proposes that translation is and may be dealt with more fruitfully
within the framework of a general theory of signs. That is to say, applying Peirces
approach to a theory of translation would offer a wider scope within which translation
and semiotics can be discussed. Accordingly, Gorlee (1994: 174-182) coined the term
semiotic equivalencewhich is based on Peirces universal categories of firstness,
secondness, and thirdness and proposes three types of equivalence termed: qualitative
equivalence, referential equivalence and significational equivalence. The first type,
qualitative equivalence, is related to Peirces category of firstness. According to this type,
the source text and its translation are self-reflexive dual construct. That is to say, they
do not need anything beyond themselves to be understood as signs sharing a number of
qualities (sensory or material properties). Gorlee (ibid: 174) remarks that this type refers
to the phonemic/external characteristic of the signs (e.g., sonnets, or marriage contracts),
where the signs themselves are indicative of meaning; and their features are abstracted
from external realities. According to this type, both the source and the target texts may
show symmetrical equivalence, which makes themmorphologically (same length of
paragraphs), or syntactically (similar structure/use of punctuation)immediately
recognizable as similar signs.
The second type of semiotic equivalence is referential equivalence, which
corresponds to Peirces secondness, the category of object. In this type, Gorlee
distinguishes between the signs immediate object and the signs dynamical object. The
immediate object (literal meaning) is the idea called up directly by a particular sign-use,

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in which the relation between the sign and its immediate object represents firstness to
secondness. The dynamical object, on the other hand, can only be understood by trying
to understand what is implied by the immediate object... (Gorlee, ibid: 176-7). Gorlee
(ibid: 174) interestingly argues that, at this point in translation, it is loose sameness
created through any kind of semiotic interpretation. By this she means the immediate
object is subject to change in and through the semiosis process of translation. Therefore,
the respective immediate objects of the source text and the translation need not be the
same neither on the micro-level (i.e., words, sentences), nor on the macro-level (i.e.,
textual). At this point, the signs should give (through their immediate objects) hints
which must lead to the same underlying idea. Once the immediate objects give the
referential meaning, the dynamical object, the real feeling or concept which causes the
sign relation, comes into play. Unlike the immediate objects, the dynamical objects of the
source sign and of the translated sign will always need to be identically the same. Such
relation between the two signs must be mediated by a semiosis which makes it possible
for one to be a logical consequence of the other (Gorlee, ibid: 178). Since this type of
equivalence is illustrated by the idiomatic expressions in different languageswhere
cultural factors are strongly prevalentcontextual information should supplement the
immediate objects (Gorlee, ibid: 111). That is, in order to get to know the dynamical
object of a sign, one should try to understand what is implied by the immediate object
(ibid: 177). Following Peirce, this requires experience. Without such a common
experiential ground, knowledge of what the message really means (its dynamical object)
is blocked (Gorlee, ibid: 111).

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Gorlee called the third type significational equivalence, which corresponds to
Peirces thirdness (the category of the interpretant). It refers to the relation between the
interpretant and the object, where the interpretant is supposed to indicate the same things
or facts as the primary sign. Gorlee {ibid: 181) relates this aspect to Peirces maxim o f
pragmatism, where the ultimate goal is to achieve the total knowledge of the sign.
Accordingly, sign and object become related through the interpretant, which is the law
or habit (weak or strong); hence an effect of the semiosis can occur. To put it differently,
in order to gain access to that goal via the sign and its immediate object, and then to the
dynamical object, one needs to make new interpretations/significations, which are
constantly put forth, negotiated, interpreted and reinterpreted until we achieve our
ultimate goal. Although the equivalence between sign and its interpretant is logically
impossible (Gorlee, ibid: 181), Gorlee postulates that the role of the translator is crucial
here to achieve total knowledge of the meaning of a sign. She remarks:
one needs to persevere in making ever-new interpretations/translations of
the sign, in order to gain access, via the sign and its immediate object, to
the signs prima causa, the dynamical object, in the final analysis,
translation, linguistics and otherwise, is about our own life-world, real and
imagined in the myriad ways in which we make sense of it by creating
significational equivalents of it and its parts (Gorlee, 1994: 181).
Kruger (2001: 185) views Gorlees significational equivalence as the most
important type of equivalence because it is the one level of equivalence that will ensure
a reaction or perception in the receptor of the translation that is comparable to that of the
receptor of the source text. She also believes that this type gives the translator the
freedom to deviate completely from the semantic meaning of the source text by creating
new target text which is nevertheless significationally equivalent.

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In explaining the role of her semiotic equivalence in translation terms, Gorlee
stresses heavily the interpretants phase since it is this particular process which leads to
equivalence. She explains this process based on Peirces three types of logical
interpretants: the first logical interpretant, the second logical interpretant, and the third
or ultimate logical interpretant (introduced earlier at the beginning of section three).
According to Gorlee (1994: 187), the first of these logical interpretants, as identified by
Peirce, is the fleeting tentative idea. In this phase, translation could be described as an
intuitive translation of the source text. That is, it is the translation resulting from the
ideas immediately prompted by a text-sign in the translators mind, which is a new sign
susceptible of serving as a point of departure in the next semiosis. In the second logicalinterpretant phasewhich Peirce (CP: 5.480, c, 1905) describes as the dash of cold
doubt that awakens the same judgment of the muserthe translator evaluates the
choices made in the first phase in order to reach to a possible solution that make sense to
the target culture. Since the second logical interpretant is the result of the first logical
interpretant, the translation has to be closer to the source sign. Gorlee (ibid: 187)
describes the third logical-interpretant phase as the near-perfect solution. It signals the
completion of semiotic activity, by which the meaning-potential of the source sign is
achieved, and its meaning is rendered as fully as possible. This can only be achieved
when the third logical interpretant takes into account the context, or the bigger sign. As
such, the third logical interpretant not only accounts for the linguistic equivalence
between the source sign and the translated sign, but also the functional equivalence
between the two signs. Andrews (1990: 55) acknowledges the role of this interpretant,
and states it prevents infinite regress and gives a termination to the sign process.

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Kruger (2001: 187) interestingly describes this process of translation as cyclic,
or more accurately spiral. That is, it will always refer back from the interpretant-sign
(the translation) to the source sign (the source text), which will in turn give rise to a more
appropriate interpretant, which will refer back to the source sign, and so on. Kruger (ibid:
187) agrees with Gorlee in that this spiral process reflects our world which is constantly
changing, and accordingly our interpretation (translation) is evolving. This may be one of
the major contributions of a semiotic approach to translation: the fact that it allows for
this evolution and does not try to restrict the outcome of the process (Kruger, 2001: 187).
To sum up, Gorlee (1994) favors the semiotic approach to translation for the
following reasons: first, it enables us to overcome the short comings of literal versus
free translation; hence the issue of equivalence between the source text and the target
text. Accordingly, the semiotic approach bypasses the claim of untranslatability. Second,
the semiotic approach; particularly the process of semiosis, treats the sign as part of the
interpretation process; unlike most of the linguistic approaches which deal with the sign
in isolation as a static unit. This makes semiosis greater in breadth in dealing with the
sign. Finally, Peirces approach to translation enables researchers to address adequately
Jakobsons three types of translation; thus stretching the domain of translation beyond
that of linguistics.
In the light of the discussion above, one could establish the role of semiotics in
translation by observing the similarities between the two concepts. Translation addresses
aspects of communication and is concerned with the use, interpretation and manipulation
of messages or texts (signs); semiotics does exactly the same. Furthermore, in semiotics,
the meaning of a sign is viewed as another sign, which makes the whole process of sign

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interpretation an endless process. Translation, likewise demonstrates the ongoing and
open-ended process of continuity (semiosis); it produces a multiplicity of different
possible interpretations (Gorlee, 1994: 86). To this end, I propose that the process of
translation should be looked at as a semiosis process of interpretation (CP: 5. 594,1903).
Now let us investigate how the translated text could be analyzed semiotically. The
process will be discussed with a special reference to literary texts. In the broadest sense
of semiotic translation, both source and translation represent signs forming part of a
semiotic chain a sequence of interpretive signs. The process starts with the verbal sign
(be it a word, a phrase, a sentence, or a text) entering the mind of the translator. In literary
texts, these signs are novel linguistic features that strike the reader/translator as
interesting and capture his attention. In the next phase, the translators mind will
spontaneously start generating a flow of possible equivalents in the target language that
may correspond to the sign in the source text. These equivalents are tentative and open to
change; thus function as a starting point in the semiosis process. Colapietro (2003: 202)
relates this stage to the shock of the unfamiliar. That is, when we are confronted by
novelty, or the inapplicability of our present habits, the translator is alarmed that
something needs to be interpreted. In literary texts, this second phase may be called
defamiliarizationMi all and Kuiken (1994: 390)which causes the translator to slow
down so as to relate the novel/unfamiliar signs to his experience. After that, the translator
continues with a series of interpretations corresponding to Peirces second and third
logical interpretants. He analyzes his first spontaneous choices of signs then carefully
chooses what might be the best solution to the translation problem. The final phase is the
so-called the perfect translation, in which the translator determines the best choice by

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unconsciously associating the sign chosen to the sign-user community, i.e., Peirces
habit. In literary texts, this final phase could be referred to as refamiliarization.
According to Miall and Kuiken (1994: 395), refamiliarization is the process whereby the
reader may review the textual context in order to discern, delimit, or develop the novel
meanings suggested by the foregrounding passage. On the phonetic level, for example,
the translator may reconsider the context that enables him t identify the striking feelings
of acoustic effects. On the other end of the scale, the reader, in turn, decodes and
translates the sign used by the translator. It is worth noting that although translation is the
outcome of the third logical interpretant, it does not necessarily mean that the product is
highly perfected. This is due to the fact that, the translator interprets signs twice, three
times, and so on, moved from the source verbal sign before reaching the final translation
(Gorlee, 1994). While this might indicate the translators serious efforts to reach the
perfect solution, it also carries a serious implication for the inevitability of losses in
translation. In other words, during the process of translation, the source text may contain
signs that cannot be interpreted by target readers; hence posing difficulties in translation
due to linguistic barriers, or insufficient knowledge of the source language and culture.
In conclusion, this section discussed translation as a semiotic phenomenon. Since
the present study adopts the semiotic approach to translation, I wish to conclude by
summarizing the merits of this approach: first, Peirces theory allows room for the study
of both representation in cultures (a study of generals) and individual processes of
interpretation (a study of tokens, which may well be types for any given individual but
are not necessarily valued as such by the culture) (Rethore, 1993: 393). Second, the
semiosis process has the advantage of treating the sign as part of the interpretation

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process; unlike most of the linguistic approaches which deal with the sign in isolation as
a static unit. This makes semiosis greater in breadth in dealing with the sign. (Gorlee,
1994: 177). Third, the semiotic approach to translation provides us with the tool to
measure the validity of a translation both on the linguistic and the functional levels. It
enables us to deal with interdisciplinary phenomenon, therefore accommodates both the
translational aspects and the linguistic/cultural ones (Kruger, 2001: 194). Finally, the
most valuable merit of the semiotic approach is the quest for a sign which adheres to the
most important characteristic of the source sign, as opposed to the quest for ideal signnorm (Gorlee, 1994: 185).
IV. Translation from a Pragmatic Perspective
The goal of this section is to establish the connection between the areas of
semiotics, pragmatics and translation. I propose that the analytical process of translation
is semiotic; yet the product is ultimately pragmatic in value. In this sense pragmatics
provides room for the interpreter of the sign (and the process itself) to turn into a
representation of the culture. The first part of this section establishes the connection
between pragmatics, and semiotics. The second part presents some pragmatic factors
relevant to translation.
Pragmatics is broadly defined as the study of rules and principles which govern
language in use (Malmkjaer, 1991: 354). Pragmatics originated itself as a subdivision of
semiotics in Morriss (1964) theory. Morris correlated semantics with signification, i.e.,
the relation between sign vehicles and their denotata [words and things]. On the other
hand, he correlated pragmatics with interpretation; which describes sign vehicles and
their interpreters (relation between signs and sign users). Robert (2001: 150) praises

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Morris theory of signs (with its strong pragmatic intent) for being more accessible than
that of Peirces. Rethore (1993: 397), on the contrary, criticized Morriss division on the
ground that it blocks continuity, which is a central process to semiosis. Peirce (CP: 5. 402)
introduced what he called the maxim of pragmaticism in 1878, which he defines as
follows:
Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we
conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of
these effects is the whole of our conception of the object.
According to the standard interpretation of the maxim, in order to determine the
truth of a statement we must know its meaning. In other words, meaning for Peirce is
conception. Merrell (1997: 276) argues that Peirces notion of meaning/conception is
complex and infinite. He bases his judgment on the fact that signs that enter into the
semiosic process are very complex and interconnected: signs of possibility; signs of
convention and hence necessity; signs of thought and of feeling, of mind and of body, of
language and of nonlanguage. Jakobson (1960), in his theory, gives more emphasis, than
Peirce, to the pragmatic aspect of signs. Jakobson eliminated Peirces object and replaced
it by context. To him, the pragmatic concept of meaning is about the situational
correlation of the sign.

Jakobson (ibid: 353) remarks to be operative the message

requires a CONTEXT referred to, seizable by the addressee, and either verbal or capable
of being verbalized. In another article, Jakobson (1971: 264) postulates [...] the richer
the context of a message, the smaller the loss of information.
Colapietro (2003) views Peirces pragmaticism as a proposal for how to translate
signs. The premise of his argument lies in that the translation of signs calls for their
translation into habits of action, and not merely into other signs. To this end, He (ibid:

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200) used Peirces maxim to explain our semiotic clarity. According to which, the first
level of clarity is an instance of firstness, for it is what signs are in themselves. The
intermediate level is related to secondness; and is concerned with how signs are related to
other signs (i.e., translating a word into other words). The highest level of clarity is that
of pragmatic clarification (which represents thirdness). It is concerned with how signs
function as means of translation. Colapietro (ibid: 200) identified the semiotic clarity, or
what he called the pragmatic clarity, with the ultimate logical interpretant. He explains
it is logical in being general and also in playing a role in a process of reasoning [...] it is
ultimate in being the point at which translation terminates.
Short (2003), similar to Colapietro, believes that the meaning of signs lies in what
signs possess, not what signs are; and so challenges the generally-held view that the
meaning of a sign is its translation by another sign.

Short (ibid: 228) realizes, like

everybody else, that there is a difference between what words mean, and what the
speaker means by them. Accordingly, the speakers linguistic intention forms another
dimension of meaning. This view itself implies the essence of pragmatics.
In supporting his view of the pragmatic interpretation of signs, Short (ibid: 222)
poses an interesting question: why Peirce did not use the familiar word interpretation
instead of the term he coined interpretant? In his attempt to answer the question, Short
relates this to the difficulties of meaning and translation. Short (ibid: 222) suggests that
Peirce deliberately intended to use the term interpretant to designate that which or by
which a sign acquires an interpretation. Short (ibid: 224) uses to the term signification to
put the concept of linguistic translation into focus. He argues, it [signification] is the
purposefulness of interpretation that accounts for significance or meaning. Accordingly,

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in order for the signs to signify, they have to be instances of general types which Pierce
named legisigns. This is related to Peirces emphasis on habit and convention; these
rules of interpretation thus exist as costumes or conventions and are subject to
modification by individuals (Short, ibid: 225). Shorts understands Peirces habit as
the possibility of a translation from meaning to fulfillment (Short, ibid: 230).
According to Hatim and Mason (1997), one of the main differences between
pragmatics and semiotics is the one that involves the interpretation of meaning.

In

pragmatics, the meaning is open to interpretation and is more variable in that


interpretation depends on variable factors such as receiver of the sign, and the differences
in interpreting contextual clues among recipients. While in semiotics, there is always
some sort of regularity which accounts for the possibility of meaning being conveyed.
Nonetheless, they believe that the pragmatic and semiotic values are very closely
interconnected in discussing the value of texts, and their relationship with intertextuality.
Semiotics, they believe, imposes certain restrictions on the text and information
distribution; logically text senders adhere both to pragmatic and semiotic textual
requirements when producing their text.
Having established the connection between pragmatics, semiotics and translation,
it becomes clear that a consideration of the pragmatic factors surrounding the text would
ensure that the translated text is interpreted properly, and communicated effectively.
These pragmatic factors compose a variety of extralinguistic elements, such as: the
context of situation, and a shared/background knowledge. Since pragmatic is primarily
concerned with language interpretation and use, a special attention should be given to the
reader. Newmarks (1991) definition of pragmaticswhich is derived from Morris

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focuses on the readers reception of the translation. Such reception is closely connected to
context, or situation; that is, the ability of the translation to stimulate the appropriate
frame of mind, and therefore the comprehension of the readership through a particular
text. To Newmark (ibid: 117-123), the analysis of context and its surrounding factors is
crucial to any communication process. Accordingly, Newmark proposed the following
pragmatic elements: (1) extra-contextual; which relates to the readers characteristics at
the time of reading: subject knowledge, linguistic level, and source language/cultural
familiarity; (2) Syntax, which predominantly sets the tone of any pragmatic relationship
in which action is pioneered by verbs, description by nouns, adjectives, or adverbs,
dialogue by forms of address, rhetorical questions, and such; (3) metaphor, (4)
readership. It is generally known that readers are different individuals, who might have
different readings of the same text. Newmark (ibid: 99) argues, accordingly, that the
readership context is the most difficult to keep up with; it is no wonder that the literary
translator is sometimes tempted to give the readership up, and just translate for himself.
No context is so tiresome as the readership context; all contexts are a form of restraint
and constraint (Newmark, ibid: 99).
Shared knowledge between the producer and the receiver is another pragmatic
factor that was the focus of many researchers (Cohen, 1978; Searle, 1983; Raskin, 1985;
Sperber and Wilson, 1986; Malmkjaer, 1991; Hart, 1998). Searle (1983), for example,
proposes that mutually shared background information between the hearer and speaker
enables one to understand cases of inference, which in turn leads to successful
communication. In translation terms, the hearer is the translator, and so he has the double

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task of understanding and inference. In this regard, Sperber and Wilson (1986: 18)
remark:
Within the framework of code model, mutual knowledge is a necessity. If
the only way to communicate a message is by encoding and decoding it,
and if inference plays a role in verbal communication, then the context in
which an utterance is understood must be strictly limited to mutual
knowledge; otherwise inference cannot function as an effective aspect of
decoding.
According to Cohen (1978)in Hart (1998: 7)mutual understanding can only
be achieved via a series of implicit shared presuppositions of contextualization without
which the intended message will not be caught.
Malmkjaer (1998) implicitly relates shared knowledge to losses in translation. He
(ibid: 35) states [...] having no knowledge of what he or she [the target reader] is
missing, will read calmly along and accept the text-extract as a translation. This reflects
the passive or negative role of target readers in the absence of shared knowledge. In this
regard, Raskin (1985: 63) comments:
[...] every sentence is perceived by the hearer already in some context. If
the context is not given explicitly, by the adjacent discourse or
extralinguistic situation, the hearer supplies it from his previous
experience. If the hearer is unable to do that, he is very unlikely to
comprehend the sentence at all or at least fully.
Another pragmatic factor is intentionality, or relevance, which requires a
conscious attention on the part of the translator. Before a translation is begun, a translator
must be aware of what makes the text relevant to the audience. I would argue, along these
lines, that relevance is what makes the text coherent. In this regard, Neubert and Shreve
(1992: 73) explain: intentionality is associated with acceptability. The authors original

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goals in writing the text cannot be achieved if the reader cannot figure out what the text is
supposed to do.
Hart (1998: 69-70) suggests that communication is cooperation (Grices, 1975
Co-operative Principle). Both the translator and the target audience should take their
responsibilities and cooperate to achieve the ultimate goal of the text: on the one hand,
the translator should clearly account for the textual elements of cohesion, coherence, and
informativity. On the other hand, target readers should use their ability of inference.
Malmkjaer (1998: 31) discussed how Grices cooperative principle is relevant to
translation. He argues that although Grices principle is primarily concerned with
conversation, it could also applicable to written texts. In which case, cooperation is
achieved through the orthographic measures (such as punctuation, and font variations),
which are used by the source author to convey certain clues. If translated appropriately,
or rather used as a compensatory strategy, that principle could maintain the same effects
as those in the source text (Malmkjaer, ibid: 37).
In conclusion, the pragmatic approach to translation is appealing in many ways:
first, it takes the transference of the communicative value of the message as its focal point.
Although semantic ties are important to the content, pragmatic appropriateness is also
crucial especially in the translation from one culture to another different culture.
Levinson (1983: 37) remarks: pragmatics can affect a radical simplification of
semantics. In other words, pragmatic principles of language usage can be shown
systematically to read in to utterance more than they conventionally or literally mean.
Second, the pragmatic approach deals with translation from a broad perspective; it takes
into consideration both the internal and the external worlds of the text. Given that

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translation is a complex process (that includes the author, the text, the readership, and the
translator), the pragmatic factors enable the translator to decompose the source text, and
to create a new text which fits the linguistic and cultural norms of the target culture. Last,
but not least, the pragmatic approach accounts, better than other approaches, for the
viewpoint of target readers.
V. Markedness Theory
The goal of this section is to present the theory of markedness. In particular, it
presents two principles directly related to semiotic markednesss: the principle o f
assimilation, and the principle o f lexical markedness reversals. The essence of this theory
is used to arrange the semantic and cultural losses analyzed in the present study.
The principle of markedness originally developed in the last half century with the
introduction of the Prague school of linguistics in the twenties and thirties. The major
application of markedness to semantics is attributed to Jakobson. Later on, the concept
was extended in various ways into cultural and literary studies (c/. Battistella, 1990: 5). In
its broadest sense, markedness theory is based of the idea of opposition; according to
which the two poles of a semiotic opposition consist of an unmarked and a marked
form. The unmarked form is the more natural and often the more frequent one; it has a
general interpretation, and may be substitutable for the meaning of the marked term in
some contexts. The marked term, on the other hand, has an additional and more specific
morphological feature (Noth, 1990: 76; Battistella, 1990: 1). It is worth pointing out that
the notion of opposition itself was pioneered by Saussure. However, what Jakobson
introduced was interpreting such an opposition in terms of smaller units of phonological
structure than those of phonemes. Jakobson (1971: 94) defines markedness as follows:

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69
Every single constituent of any linguistic system is built on an opposition
of two logical contradictories: the presence of an attribute (markedness)
in contraposition to its absence (unmarkedness).
This classical version of markedness (referring to the presence or absence of a feature)
was later extended to include the presence of contrary features (Battistella, 1996: 2). In
this regard, Battistella (1990: 4) proposes that the relationship between unmarked and
marked terms is analogous to the relationship between the ground and the figure. He
explains: since the unmarked opposition carries less information, it could be used as a
ground against which the marked term appears as a figure.
Battistella (1996: 3) describes the two major approaches dealing with markedness:
Jakobsons structuralism, and Chomskys generative grammar. According to Jakobson,
markedness is viewed in terms of synchronic and diachronic oppositions of language.
The marked or unmarked character of elements is determined by examining the language
as a system of opposition that reflects conceptual and perceptual properties. As such,
Jakobsons language-particular focus is closely related to the semiotic approach. The
Chomskyan view, on the other hand, is more of typological, where markedness is viewed
as part of a metatheoretical Universal Grammar that is drawn upon in language
acquisition. Accordingly, learning is linked to the fixing of innate parameters, some of
which are unmarked, others are marked.
Following the Jakobsons approach, Waugh (1976), defines markedness in terms
of the domain of meaning. She proposes that the marked refers to the necessary presence
of the information given by the feature in all the contexts in all the uses of the particular
item. The unmarked, on the other hand, indicates that the information given by the
feature X is not necessarily present in all the contexts where the marked form occurs...it

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70
remains neutral, uncommitted {ibid: 86 ). In a later article, Waugh (1982: 299), modified
her definition, and viewed markedness as the asymmetrical and hierarchal relationship
between the two poles of any opposition.
According to Battistella (1996/1990: 19), the concept of markedness is connected
with the idea of language hierarchy, which holds that language is hierarchically organized
through general principles (sign systems), and through specific principles (linguistic sign
systems). Battistella proposes that language hierarchy has three functions: ranking of
oppositions, reflecting the dominance of more general terms over less general ones, and
indicating that certain aspects of language being marked while others are unmarked.
Accordingly, opposition imposes equivalence upon language, hierarchy is an evaluative
component that organizes related categories, and markedness is the projection of
hierarchy onto the equivalence implied by opposition (Battistella, 1990: 21).
One application of markedness is the principle of assimilation, which was
originally proposed by Henning Anderson (1972: 44-5). According to this principle,
marked elements tend to occur in marked contexts, while unmarked elements occur in
unmarked contexts. It follows that there is a strong relation between the linguistic signs
and their contexts; or between the markedness o f meanings (signified), and the
markedness o f expressions (signifiers)as Battistella (1990: 7) prefers to call it.
Sapiro (1983: 97) suggests that the principle of markedness assimilation is not
only applicable to phonological categoriesas proposed by Andersonbut it also
extends to include lexical categories. Accordingly, Sapiro (ibid: 84) defined this principle
as:

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The normally unmarked value for a given feature occurs in an unmarked
(simultaneous or sequential) context, and the normally marked value in the
marked context.
Andrews (1990: 147) argues against Sapiros hypothesis, and claims that the
principle of markedness assimilation has general applications within the area of
phonology. However, there is not enough evidence to support its status as a rule for
morphological and semantic categories. Andrews (ibid: 146) criticizes this principle on
the grounds that it can be demonstrated only if one assumes in an a priori fashion what
is marked and what is unmarked. On the contrary, Battistella (1996: 62) praises this
principle arguing that it is a tool for creating coherence. That is to say, the principle of
markedness assimilation serves as a means of bridging together elements of similar
value and determining the identity and value of relevant oppositions. This principle of
markedness assimilation is related to the analysis of loses in the present study. Since
markedness is the deviation from the normal (Waugh, 1982; Wurzel, 1998), I propose
that literary translation is marked in that it is always context-sensitive, i.e., knowledge of
the social and referential contexts of a literary work is a requirement for the
understanding of their implications. It follows that the contexts of literary texts are
marked to target readers on the ground of the source text being the unmarked. To this
matter, Waugh (1982: 310) postulates the context could be a given culture and so the
markedness of a given opposition may be different from one culture to another.
The second principle to be discussed is the principle of lexical markedness
reversals, which was first developed by Jakobson (1960)in Battistella (1996) and
then developed by other scholars like Anderson (1972), and Waugh (1982). This
principle postulates that lexical/semantic markedness reversals occur when the unmarked

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72
terms referent becomes unexpected. This means that markedness is motivated by the
connection between the semantic features of lexical items and the cultural importance of
their referents (Andrews, 1990: 147).
An illustration of this principle is Waughs (1982: 310) example of male nurse
versus nursealso quoted by Battistella (1990). The example shows how sex
differentiation in occupations is determined by cultural views, so that our expectations
are for nurses to be women; male nurses are the exception to the rule. Andrews (1990:
151) argues that such an example is mistakenly perceived as representing markedness
reversals because categories of extra-linguistic experience, such as gender and animacy,
are misdefined as semantic variants.
Andrews (1990: 1958-9) criticizes the markedness reversals principle. She states
markedness reversals in synchrony deny the very essence of markedness theory by
focusing on variant relationships, not on invariants. She also argues that the extralinguistic features attached to certain words cannot be fully grasped without investigating
them as linguistic entities first. That is to say, the meaning of a word should not be
separated from its form.
In conclusion, the relevance of markedness theory to this study is based on the
premise that target readers awareness of the marked sign is largely influenced by the
amount of information presented to them by the translator. If we associate the degree of
losses with the degree by which the source-text message is affected, we could propose a
hierarchy of losses (cultural, and semantic) by ranking them on the markedness
continuum. Assuming a linear continuum of the degrees, the hierarchy of losses is
determined by the degree of information lost and the degree of the knowledge required by

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73

target readers to understand and appreciate the cultural and aesthetic effects of the source
text. The higher the level of knowledge required, the more marked the losses. A detailed
analysis of markedness in relation to losses is presented in chapters three and four of the
present study.

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74

CHAPTER THREE
LINGUISTIC LOSSES: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

The aim of this chapter is to provide a complete inventory of the linguistic


elements which systematically pose difficulties in literary translation. The loss of these
elements is referred to here as linguistic losses, which is used in opposition to cultural
losses presented and discussed in the following chapter.
It is generally agreed upon that the meaning of any word in any language is
unique, owing to differences in frequency, usage, connotations, and lexical gaps in other
languages in context (Newmark, 1991: 8). In order to minimize linguistic inequivalences,
I propose that semantic ties and pragmatic appropriateness should be equally maintained.
That is, the translator should take into account not only the equivalence of meaning, but
also investigate higher levels of semantic content and the pragmatic context. This would
best be achieved through a semiotic approach to translation. On the one hand, semiotics
enables us to fill the gaps in the linguistic approaches. It looks at translation more
comprehensively as a semiotic process, which builds a logical paradigm for the
translation of signs; hence it efficiently accounts for losses occurring in the translation
between two different linguistic systems and cultures. On the other hand, semiotics
contains, and enriches pragmatics. I propose that the extralinguistic (pragmatic) signs are
best accounted for semiotically. That is, we postulate that linguistics accounts for verbal

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75
signs, and pragmatics accounts for non-verbal signs. To demonstrate my claims, some
pragmatic and semiotic parameters (briefly introduced in chapter one) would be used as
criteria for the analysis of losses. The operational definition of linguistic losses adopted in
this study is presented below:
Linguistic losses are the losses of verbal signs that affect the semantic,
and/or pragmatic (extralinguistic) values of the source text. These losses
could be serious (blocking the understanding of the message intended in
the source text); tolerable (affecting the style and the aesthetic values of
the source text); or complete (affecting both the communicative message
and the overall aesthetic values of the source text). Such losses are due to
many factors, such as: mistranslation of information; misunderstanding of
the relationship between words; superficial interpretation of the
semantic/pragmatic equivalents in the two languages in question; literal
translation of what is semantically/pragmatically more loaded in one
language than the other; and over familiarity with the source text.
I. Results:
The results derived from this research show that during the process of meaning
transference, the translator made some adjustments/modifications to the source text at
different levels (words, phrases, and sentences). These translation strategies affected the
source text in variety of ways; causing linguistic losses:
1. Paraphrasing: explanation of elements which would otherwise be unmeaningful for the
target reader. Paraphrasing is adopted as a strategy generally to explain verbal signs that
have cultural connotation. A specific example where paraphrasing occurr in translation is
social deixis, which makes reference to gender, or social class (Horton, 1999). Although
the use of this strategy indicates the translators adherence to the principle of
acceptability (Toury, 1985, 1995, and 1986: 1123); it causes semantic and pragmatic
losses by leveling out the social relations portrayed in the source text.

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2. Elaboration: this strategy is also motivated by the target readers need to understand
the source text. Elaboration takes two forms: (1) explication: rendering the source texts
implicit information explicit (as in the case of ellipsis); (2) expansion: providing extra
information to the target text. Examples of this type include: the expansion of idiomatic
expressions; and the use of two target-language words to explain one word in the source
language; usually synonyms and antonyms.
3. Adaptation: source language elements are replaced by equivalent target language
elements to achieve equivalence. That is, when the source element would informationally
be opaque to the target readers, the translator looks for cultural equivalents rather than
linguistic equivalents. Examples are: the replacement of source language synonyms,
antonyms, hyponyms, and cultural expressions by target language equivalents.
4. Modification of Style: some characteristics unique to the source-language style are
modified to fit in the target-language writing system. These modifications include:
changing of the Arabic rhetorical patterns (questions into statements); changing of the
acoustic effects; modification or omission of Arabic discourse markers; and loss of
iteration and exaggerationwhich are elements of coherence in the Arabic style (cf
Saadeddin, 1989). These changes results in the loss of the pragmatic intentions of the
source author, and the aesthetic features of his style.
5. Literal Translation: giving priority to the principle of adequacy (Toury 1985, 1995
and 1986: 1123), the translator opts for word-for-word translation of cultural expressions
that are non existent in the target culture. This causes serious losses to the pragmatic
dimensions of the source language.

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77
6 . Use of Source Language Element (mainly cultural), without explaining it in the target

language. This creates problems of understanding since target readers are left to guess the
meaning on their own.
7. Complete Omission of Source-language Elements: whereby words, phrases, or
sentences are not translated at all into the target text. These omissions generally fall
within linguistic or cultural inequivalences (but mostly cultural). Complete omission is
observed to affect verbs, adjectives, adverbs, discourse markers, and figurative
expressions (similes, metaphors, and idioms) that are culture-bound.
It is worth pointing out that these results are in congruence with the results
reached by Samaniego (2001) in her analysis of the translation of newspaper texts. Before
proceeding to the discussion; it is worth remembering that the corpus of this study is
based on a collection of eight Arabic short stories. The stories have a total of forty pages;
which consists of approximately 20, 000 words1. The analysis is based on the comparison
of these stories in two texts: Arabic (as the source text), and English (as the target text).
Linguistic losses resulting from the translation of Arabic texts are classified broadly
according to their effect on the source textinto three types: tolerable losses, serious
losses, and complete losses.
It should also be noted that the examples presented in the body of analysis take
four different forms: the first line represents each example in its source language
(Arabic); the second line represents the researchers transliteration of the source example
into English; the third line is the researchers literal translation of the source; and the

1 Newmark (1991: 88) defines words from a translational point o f view as any single, isolable, meaningful
units o f language.

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78
fourth line is the example in its English form, as reproduced by the translator. Each
example would be followed by a parenthesis that makes reference to the story from which
the example is taken.
II. Classification and Discussion of Linguistic Losses:
As mentioned earlier, linguistic losses are classified into three major types:
tolerable losses; serious losses; and complete losses. Each of these main types constitutes
a number of subcategories relevant to the degree by which the source text is affected; this
would ultimately form a hierarchy of losses. Following is a detailed analysis:
A. Tolerable Losses:
Tolerable losses refer to losses that affect the dramatization of the text. They are
tolerable because they do not seriously affect the content of the message; however they
are losses in the sense that they involve modifications, or omissions to the source text,
affecting its aesthetic values; hence defeating the main purpose of reading fiction, i.e.,
literary appreciation. Tolerable losses occurred in two broad subcategories: losses in
style, and losses in the semantic relations between words.
A.I. Tolerable Losses in Style:
Translation caused losses to the style of the source author in the following ways:
loss

of

rhetorical

patterns

(l.a-b),

loss

of

iteration

(2 ),

loss

of

acoustic

effects/onomatopoeia (3), loss of discourse markers (4.a-b); loss of exaggeration (5), and
digression (6 .a-c). These characteristics of Arabic style are referred to as markers of
orality (Saadeddin, 1989: 38). Compare the following examples (Please, see Appendix
A for orthographic conventions):

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79
(l.a )"
huw-ah el-waHid shaab
min
shwayyeh?
that-he the-one grey-headed from something little
It is not for nothing that my hair became grey (Farahats Republic)
(l.b)

(2)

^
d* "o~ 5UJ
^ ja"
huua ya3ni
jaysh el-khalaas
kaan
3mru
idani
Hajah?
He the so-called army the-salvation was in its life his gave-me anything?
The Salvation Army never gave me anything (Nobody Complained)

J Ajjjc.
Qljamj j "
...w a Ramadanmughliq 3aynaihi, wa musirr 3ala ighlaaquhmaa
...and Ramadan closing eyes-his and insist
on
closing-them
.. .Ramadan closed his eyes firmly, 0 . (Abu Sayyid)

(3) "OjU S j
Wa kharajat dawryyat al-lail
taiz
wa
ttamayal
and went-it patrol
the-night buzzing and swinging
the night patrol then went out 0 in full swing (Farahats Republic)
(4 .a) "Ijjai CuS jlftl"
aah lau
kunntu aqdir
oh if/wish were-I able
0 1 wish I could (Nobody Complained).
(4.b)
AlHamduu liAllah
the-thanks
to-God
Thank Heavens (Nobody Complained)
(5 ) " y - a a J V j

j-

j"

wa asbah 1-rrajul maraakib la tu3add wa la tuHsaa


and got the man ships
not counted and not calculated
the man owned countless ships (Farahats Republic)
(6 .a) "
o
^
J Cfi** ^ 1"
inta mumkinqawi innak
it-darris
aHyaa fii el-madaaris
you possible very that-you you-teach biology in the schools
you could teach biology 0. (Nobody Complained).

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80
(6 .b) V ^ 0 ^ Vj Aj ^ ^ Vi
^ 1 t-"
ma3
an-ni mutaakid alia
shan li
bi-hi,
wa la shan
although I
sure
that-no thing for-me in-him and no thing
lahu
bi
for-him in-me
although I was sure we had nothing to do with each other (Farahats Republic)
(6 .c) "' -j-J-J" cIiaj I4J& diaJ
ajjjc. LiK "<_jVjj" Ja"
hal doolaab kalimah 3rabyyah saleemah?... sawfa abHath 3anha taHt dlb
Is armoire word
Arabic
correct? ...I-will search for it under dlb
(triletteral root)
what kind of word is that [armoire]? Ill look it up in the dictionary (The Reader
and the Glass of Milk)
All the examples show that the content of the source message is not affected. Yet,
what is negatively affected is the authors style, which distorts the aesthetic appreciation
of the literary work. Looking at this more closely, the examples in (l.a-b) show the
rhetorical style of the author are rendered into statements. By doing so, the translator has
failed to transfer the authors ideas to target readers; he ultimately deprived the source
text from its vividness; and rendered a boring and neutral translation. Moreover, the
translation, in (l.a), narrowed down the statement from generalization into specification;
whereby it altered the general attitude of the speaker (reference to mankind), and turned it
into a personalized idea (referring only to the speaker, at the moment of speaking). In
(l.b), the source character/author used a rhetorical question to express the degree of
contempt for salvation army. The word 3umro= in his life was particularly chosen to
imply that connotation; which, again, translation has failed to capture. From a pragmatic
viewpoint, this performative force of words is what allows us to reach the relevant
inference. In this regard, Gutt (1991: 82) comments: typically language allows for
skewing between surface and deep structures: for example, there can be skewing

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81
between the grammatical form of a language and its illocutionary force, a typical case in
point being rhetorical questions
Example (2) shows how iterationa main characteristic of the Arabic styleis
negatively affected, or lost. Iteration in this example has two interconnected functions:
emphases, and foreshadowing. It not only describes the normative act of closing the
eyesas the translation suggestsbut also emphasizes this act as a point of departure for
further developments in the plot, i.e., it prepares target readers to expect this as a hint.
Now, in order to grasp this stylistic purpose, extralinguistic elements have to be
accounted for; and this is where a semiotic interpretation comes into play. It was argued
earlier that semiotics accounts for the interpretation of both verbal and non-verbal signs
(where pragmatic elements are constituents of the non-verbal part of semiotics). In this
case, semiotic interpretation draws attention to the sign, and prompts the reader to
analyze it first as a verbal sign; then to relate it to its surrounding non-verbal
environment. The context of situation plays a major role here in reaching the correct
interpretation: the characters closing of his eyes, and his persistence on keeping them
closed foreshadows his feelings of bitterness and embarrassment of facing the reality,
which is revealed gradually as the plot develops, as the character realizes that he has
became sexually disfunctional. Accordingly, for the functions of iteration to be fully
captured, they have to be looked at more seriously, and analyzed transparently during the
translation process.
It is generally agreed upon that verbs have a large number of collocations which
are subject to topic, and vary in contexts (Newmark, 1991: 91). On the phonetic level, the
full omission of the verb taiz in example (3) is a loss of the acoustic effect, or the

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82
foregrounding elementas Miall and Kuiken (1994: 390) view it (cf. chapter one for
more details on foregrounding). The verb taiz is generally used in Arabic with
reference to the buzzing of a bee. The source author uses it metaphorically to extend the
acoustic and visual images of the bee to that of the hardworking and active night patrol at
the police station. The function of this stylistic device is to create effects on the reader
different from those of the everyday language; hence its omission in translation deprives
the target reader from enjoying such metaphorical similarity. Semiotically speaking, the
acoustic intention of the sign (verb) could be taken as part of the expression of that sign.
According to Hjelmslev (1943: 116), it is part of the connotation of the sign, i.e., a kind
of meaning which follows from the speaker having chosen one expression instead of
another possible one for a certain context.
Examples (4.a-b) illustrate how Arabic discourse markers are translated.
Discourse markers are broadly defined as economic devices used to achieve a specific
communicational function (Loveday, 1982: 120). In example (4.a), the exclamation word
aah!= oh! is completely lost in translation. The omission of this marker causes a
tolerable loss since it is stylistic. The loss is justified on the grounds that it is
compensated for by the adjacent particle lau= wish. Unlike the complete loss of the
marker in (4. a), the exclamation word in (4.b) was modified. Allah= God was replaced
by the word Heavens. Again, the communicative message is delivered, in a modified
way though, in order to meet the expectations of target readers. Nonetheless, the
translation betrayed the cultural and religious ideology of the source author.
Exaggeration and digressionillustrated in examples (5), and (6 ) respectively
are also characteristics common to Arabic style. These characteristics were criticized by

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83
Allen (1970: 94) who remarks Arabic organization is circular and non-cumulative, and
Arabic writers come to the same point two or three times from different angles so that a
native English reader has the curious feeling that nothing is happening. Let us look
closely at the examples to evaluate the aforementioned claim. In example (5),
exaggeration is achieved in the source text through the use of two synonymous verbs:
tu3add= counted, and tuHsaa= calculated to exaggerate the number of ships that the
character owns. Digression, on the other hand, is illustrated in examples (6 ). In (6 .a) for
instance, the source author uses the adjective phrase mumkin qawi= very possible, and
the prepositional phrase fii el-madaaris= in schools to provide details about events and
characters in the story. These phrases were considered by the translator superfluous
information; hence disregarded completely as unimportant. In fact, digression here serves
two functions: first, it reflects the degree of enthusiasm, and the sense of hope by which
character A encourages character B. Second, it reveals the level of education of character
B; whereby he could only teach at the school level. In example (6 .b), digression has the
function of emphasis. On the other hand, example (6 .c) shows that the details provided
are not a mere digression; rather they carry informational value; namely, the use of
Arabic dictionaries, which differs from those of English. The translator opted for a
general paraphrasing using the word dictionary instead of how to use the dictionary.
This could be justified from a translational view since the translation is directed towards
target readers. However, what is considered by the translator as digression proves to give
an insightful detail about the Arabic way of looking up a word in the dictionary (using the
triletteral root of the word). As noted from the examples above, the translator altered
these characteristics of Arabic style and opted for brevity to fit in the writing system of

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84
the target language. The resulting translation was a loss of the overall style of the source
author.
In the light of this, I would disagree with Allens claim, and argue that the
circular organization of Arabic style might only be true on the face-value. That is to
say, exaggeration and digression are stylistic devices that serve a variety of functions;
hence their use is not merely random. I believe they are cohesive devices used by Arab
writers to achieve coherence of the text. These devices also help the reader to move
logically through the various events in the narrative. This could only be captured by a
trained translator who would help his target readers to achieve this goal. To sum up, I
share the view of Nida and Taber (1974: 97) that the style of discourse inevitably
produces important connotative values, quite apart from the connotations of the words or
the themes which might be treated.
A.2. Tolerable Losses in Word Relations:
Similar to the losses of style, tolerable losses were observed to cause changes in
the semantic relations between words in translation. The examples below represent the
effect of translation on synonymy (7.a-b), antonym (8 .a-b), and hyponymy (9),
respectively:
(7 .a )

J4uuLAa.

Arba3at Mukhbireen... aw khamsat twaal 3raad


four
detectives ... or five
tall oblate (flattened at both ends)
four or five bulky detectives (Farahats Republic)
(7.b) "V
J j
tashbeeh munaasib wa inn kaana mubtathalan
simile suitable and even was-it vulger
An apt simile, even though obscene and vulgar (The Torpedo)

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85
(8.a)"<|4>*^
J' *4"
aih el-maskharah wa er-raqs
illi la tjeeb wa la twaddi
what the-derision and the-dancing that not bring and not take
not this clowning and belly dancing which is good for nothing
(Farahats Republic)
(8.b) 1

j Ijj-s

jltj

?<njlSSfl

J ^Luill (Ji-aj <Ja"

hal tusaddiq annisaa


kul haathih alakaatheeb? inna-hu yulqi bi elDo believe the-women all
these lies?
that-he throws in thewo3ood
yaminan wa yasaraan
promises
right
and
left
Do these women believe all those lies? He scatters promises here and there(Pigs).
(9 )

<
'&>>>Lllll
ya3ni ed-dunyah
daqat
bi-wajh-hu...
that is the-world
became narrow in-face-his
was not there any other place in the whole world? (Farahats Republic)
The semantic differences between the two languages are represented by

synonymy. Nida and Taber (1974: 73) define synonymies as words which share several
(but not all) essential components and thus can be used to substitute for one another in
some (but not all) contexts without any appreciable differences of meaning in these
contexts. In Arabic, the synonymous adjectives in (7.a) twaal= tali, and 3raad=
oblate share some of their essential semantic components. The two adjectives are used
with reference to the appearance of human beings. Both are also used in the description
of objects; hence they can be used interchangeably in some, but not all, contexts.
Comparing the English translation, we find that the two Arabic adjectives were replaced
by one adjective, i.e., bulky. This is an example of how the two adjectives are
completely different in the two languages in question; both in reference and contexts. The
English literal translation of the word 3raad is oblate, which is used to describe the
shape of things like a sphere, and things that are flattened at both ends. Hence, if used for
human beings, it would be inappropriate and would create senses that are not inherent to

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86
the sign. The translator has employed his knowledge of the difference between the two
languages, and compensated the differences through effectively replacing the two source
adjectives by one target word bulky. However, the translator could have used the phrase
squared o ff to yield a better translation. In this sense, the loss is tolerable, where the
content of the source message is not affected; rather it is a loss of the aesthetics meant by
the use of synonymy, i.e., the specification features of the mens size.
Unlike (7.a), translation adopted a reversed strategy in example (7.b). That is,
instead of narrowing down the two source synonyms into one equivalent word in the
target language. Translation expanded the meaning; where one source word was
elaborated by two synonymous target words. Its worth pointing out that this example
should not be looked at as a loss, rather as a modifying strategy. This handling of
synonyms (through two reversed strategies) suggests two facts: the flexibility among
languages, and the justified need for adaptation of the source text. In this regard, Neubert
and Shreve (1992: 23) believe that the translator must usually modify the source text
using a variety of strategies such as explication, or deletion in order to produce a more
satisfactory and pragmatically adequate translation.
The examples in ( 8 .a-b) illustrate the use of antonyms, which are also crucial
components of the Arabic narrative conventions. Antonym refers to the relations in the
lexicon between words that have opposite meanings (Matthews, 1997: 20). In example
(8 .a), the two source antonyms: tjeeb= bring, and twaddi= take are substituted by a
formulaic phrase in English good for nothing. Likewise, the antonyms in (8 .b)
yaminan= right, and yasaaran= left and replaced by a modified antonym in translation
here, and there, respectively.

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Let us see turn to how translation in examples (a, b) caused a loss to the semantic
relations holding between antonyms.

In (8 .a), the translation altered the semantic

relations of movement and direction implied by the opposite source verbs; these
antonyms were particularly chosen by the author to describe the derision of the situation,
relating this to the act of belly dancing (with a derogatory attitude) in a metaphoric way.
It is worth pointing out, that some, but not all, Arabs look down at belly dancing as a
form of derision, not art. Likewise, example ( 8 .b) shows a loss of the spatial and temporal
relations implied by the two source antonyms; where the character is being accused of
carelessly scattering promises wherever and whenever. As noted, alterations to these
semantic relations in translation are meant to make the statement intelligible for target
readers. Accordingly, the overall loss is tolerable since it does not affect the message of
the source text.
Example (9) represents the loss/change of hyponymy; which describes the
relation between two lexical units in which the meaning of the first is included in that of
the second (Matthews, ibid'. 167). Hyponymy in example (9) holds between the two
source words ed-dunyah= world, and wajhuh= his face. These words were modified in
the English translation into place and world respectively, where they share certain
components (mainly spatial qualities) that are expressed by the inclusion relation. The
source words, on the other hand, are used only figuratively; whereby the meaning of
world is narrowed down to that of face. Apparently, the two words in Arabic have
different components than their English counterparts. To be more specific, the word
world reflects a spatial dimension, whereas that of face refers to a human feature. For
more efficient translation, the translator could have maintained the relations between

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88
words, translating the phrase as his world became narrowed down to that before him.
This type of loss is tolerable since the content is not affected, and the change was meant
to fit the new structure into the system of reference of the target language. This, however,
is a loss of the cultural realities, as reflected by the source author.
B. Serious Losses:
Serious losses are losses that cause serious changes to the content of the source
message. They are primarily pragmatic; i.e., they are losses of the non-verbal signs that
accompany and compliment verbal signs. These losses result from overlooking the
pragmatic force of words and expressions; or the subinterpretation of their connotative
meanings. Leech (1974) proposes that the communicative value of an expression lies in
its connotative meaningwhich he placesover and above the conceptual meaning.
Leech (ibid: 141) remarks pragmatic meaning, can only be analyzed by referring to the
cultural and/or linguistic context of the text. This suggests that translation should
account for variables such as the speaker, and other means of communication in a social
setting. It is observed that serious losses, in the present study, were the result of literal
translation, and faithfulness to the denotative meaning of words on the expense of their
pragmatic connotations. In order to account for serious losses comprehensively, they
need to be subcategorized into the following hierarchy of losses: loss of the pragmatic
connotations ( 10); mistranslation of meaning ( 11); loss of social deixis ( 12); loss of the
speakers/authors attitude (13); loss of the idiomatic expressions (14); and loss of
ellipses (15).
It is worth pointing out that the difference between tolerable losses and serious
losses is based on the type of translation adopted, which in turn affects the transference of

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89
the source message. Tolerable losses are semantic-based; they occur when the translator
is too faithful to the content of the source text that he overlooks the literary expressions
chosen by the source author; hence defeats the purpose behind reading literature. Serious
losses, on the other hand, are pragmatic-based. They are the losses resulting from
overlooking the pragmatic values of the source text. That is, when the translator translates
statements in isolation from their situational contexts. Both types of losses are
interconnected, simply because we cannot actually separate the message content from its
use. Accordingly, both sides of the coin (tolerable or serious) are losses that result from
the lack of a balanced transference of verbal and non-verbal signs. In this regard, Nida
and Taber (1969: 8-11) argue that if one insists on too much focus on formal equivalence,
the result is likely to be a kind of language which is almost incomprehensible.
B .l. Loss of Pragmatic Connotations:
The loss of pragmatic connotations could seriously affect the source text. Losses
of this type are subcategorized into the following: losses in the semantic/pragmatic force
of words (lO.a); loss of the pragmatic implicitness (lO.b); loss of the semantic
components of words that are culturally different in the two languages (lO.c). The
following are illustrative examples:
(lO.a) " ^ 1
jpUs L-kki "
...fa-Halaf
talaq
bi-el-thalatheh la-yeksar
qusadha dra3-i
...so-he-swore divorce in-the-three
that-he-break in return arm-my
so he made a triple oath to divorce me unless he broke my arm
(Farahats Republic)

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90
(lO.b)

'*j CjIjSIjaSU (_jji-Vl ojslsJI j"


wa el-Hujra
el-ukhra ta3ijj bi
el-muraqibaat
wa
and the-room the-other full of the-professional women and
saHibaat el-Hirfa
women of the-craft.
and the other room, was full of prostitutes and women on probation
(Farahats Republic)

wa fii 3aynay-ha
kohl
afsadathu el-dmoo3
and in eyes-her black cosmetic powder spoiled-it the-tears
with Kohl around her eyes smeared by tears (Farahats Republic)
Example (lO.a) is an instance of literal translation of the source item. The
translation is elusive in the sense that it does not explain to target readers the significance
of the Arabic triple oath, which is semantically more loaded, and pragmatically more
forceful than what the translation suggests. Such literal translation seriously and
outrageously distorts the meaning behind the phrase. This example could be viewedin
agreement with Newmark (1991: 83) as an instance of lexical interference.
In order to understand how translation causes a serious loss, we need first to get
familiar with the non-verbal surroundings of the source expression. Pragmatically
speaking, the connotations behind the triple oath reveal a series of complex acts derived
from the Islamic laws regulating marriage. The connotative background of triple oath
could be explained as follows: when a man takes a triple oath to divorce his wife, he
suffers the penalty of losing her. That is to say, he cannot simply remarry her unless she
remarries; goes on with her new life; things do not go so well with the result the woman
gets a second divorce (which is an extreme case). Only then, he could remarry his
divorced wife, if and only if she wishes to. It needs to be understood that the triple oath
is a complex process that emphasizes two values: marriage relationships are so valuable

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91
and have to be respected; divorce should not be taken haphazardly. It should be noted,
that the complexity of Arabic talaq= oath is paradoxically easy, as the talaq is a single
performative act/statement said three timeswhich is why it is an effective threat. In the
source example, the husband understands the connotations behind his vow, and so made
it conditional. That is, if his wife does not follow what he says, he will either divorce her
or break her arm. The source reader, being familiar with such connotations in his native
language/culture, would be able to follow the characters actions and words in a much
more logical way.
Comparing this to the translation, we realize that it renders the source expression
as a mere wording of the mans vow. In this sense, what is translated is only the verbal
part of the sign into another verbal sign. This gives a false impression of the significance
of the sign, i.e., the man merely verbalized a strong oath. In addition, the translator
mistranslates the word qusadha as unless, thus totally ignores the optionality of either
divorcing the wife or breaking her arm. It follows that translation is awkward because it
ignores these implications, hence causes a double loss: a loss of the semantic load of
meaning, and a loss of the pragmatic force of the source expression. It is argued this
incomprehensive in translation is due to the translators over familiarity with the source
language; where he unconsciously presupposes target readers familiarity with what they
read. In this regard, Nida and Taber (1974: 99) suggest too much knowledge of the
subject matter can be a deterrent to effective translation. All of the connotations above
should have been supplemented by an explanatory footnote (it is worth pointing out that
here and elsewhere I deliberately refrain from providing functional translation since it is
beyond the scope of this study).

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Example (lO.b) is an instance of verbal taboo in the source language. Arabic, like
most languages, considers sex a taboo subject; and so the example makes implicit
reference to prostitutes. The implicitness in reference indicates the conservative nature of
the Arabic culture, and reflects the authors respect for such cultural values; whereby any
subject which could be considered taboo or repulsive remains within the limits of what is
politically correct. The translation has caused a loss to these pragmatic forces of
implicitness by explicating the source phrase women of the craft into prostitutes. Even
though translation successfully communicated the content of the source message, it
seriously dismissed pragmatic effectswhich are far more important here. In this regard,
the loss is characteristically a loss of the social aspects; or social cohesionas Hart
(1998: 75) prefers to call it. On a different level of analysis, this loss of pragmatic
implicitness could be looked at as a loss of the connotative value of the source signs.
Following Nida and Tabers (1974: 91) view (which is also applicable to Arabic), taboos
contain an aspect of meaning which deals with our emotional reactions to words. As
noted, the emotional force of words, especially in literary texts, is equally important to
the content, and should not be marginalized.
Example (lO.c) shows the use of transliteratation as a strategy to account for the
source word kohl. This transliteratation causes a loss to the semantic components, and
the pragmatic effects of the source word in question. The translator has chosen to transfer
the cultural word kohl as it is in its source form. The problem here lies in the fact that
the source language is basically foreign to target audience who may, or may not be
familiar with the source-culture word. In this case, the translator is caught between the
need to capture the local flavor of the source language, and the need to be understood by

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93
the audience outside the cultural and linguistic situation. As a result, target readers are
left to interpret the meaning of the word kohl on their own. One of the possible
solutions could be the translation of kohl into eyeliner as the closest semantic
equivalent. Nonetheless, the problem still pertains because the senses (semantic
components) of the two words in question are not the same in the two languages. The
source word kohl has more semantic components than its equivalent target word
eyeliner. It differs in its texture, features and even the manner in which it is used.
Pragmatically speaking, the word kohl draws an image in the minds of source readers
which could not be captured by the word eyeliner, i.e., the image of a black texture
smeared by tears. In terms of usage, Arab women use kohl as the most basic and most
popular material to beautify themselves; regardless of their social class. In conclusion, the
examples presented so far illustrate how translation affected the semantic/pragmatic
forces of the source text; and caused a loss by creating new connotations in the target text
that are slightly or sharply in contrast with those in the source text.
B.2. Mistranslation of Meaning:
Example (11) illustrates mistranslation, or falsification of meaning, as another
type of losses that seriously affects the content of the source message.
(1 1 )

1 -iiS

< !j"

...wa la-hu
shaarib
kathief wa
Hajib-aan
mukhif-aan"
...and has-he mustache
thick and eyebrows-dual
fearsome-dual
... and he has a thick mustache and awesome eyebrows (The Torpedo)
The example clearly illustrates how translation plainly falsifies the meaning of the
source expression. It completely reverses the intended meaning by unfaithfully replacing
the source adjective fearsome by awesome. Accordingly, the positive connotation

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94
intended in the source message is changed into a negative one. That is to say, the source
expression fearsome eyebrows was intended positively to emphasize the images of
power and dominance. Translation rendered the expression incorrectly as awesome
eyebrows (a womanly characteristic); hence betraying the intended image of the main
character. On the other hand, translation caused a loss to the literary elements of
suspension and ambiguity which affect the total appreciation of the aesthetic effect.
This instance of mistranslation is an instance of translationese, which Newmark
(1991: 78) defines as an error due to ignorance or carelessness which is common when
the TL [target language] is not the translators language of habitual use, and not
uncommon when it is (Newmark, ibid: 78). From a semiotic perspective, mistranslation
occurs when the meaning is not conveyed fully, or at all, from the one language or mode
of expression to the other, or it is not accurately or fully realized in the action (Short,
2003: 218).
B.3. Loss of Deixis:
Deixis refers to the way in which the reference of certain elements in a sentence
is determined in relation to a specific speaker and addressee and a specific time and place
of utterance (Matthews, 1997: 89). Levinson (1983: 55) views deixis as one of the core
areas within pragmatics. Short (2003: 226) discusses the problem of translating emotive
phrase (e.g., an insult, or an endearment) from a semiotic perspective. He {ibid: 226)
argues that the meanings of such expressions could be analyzed as types of interpretants
(logical and emotional) that a phrase usually illicit. That is to say, translation might cause
a loss even on the emotional level. Horton (1999) proposes that the discussion of deixis is
crucial to the process of characterization in drama. He particularly refers to social

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95
deixis, i.e., the words that refer to gender, or social class. The loss of social deixis is
illustrated in ( 12):
( 12.a)

^
ma-lik
ya wleyyah?
what-you hey broad
Whats the matter, woman? (Farahats Republic)

( 12.b)

W-
aA j '
wa
aeh
ydakhall-ik el-seema
ya bet?
and what
go-you the-cinema hey girly
and why do you go to the cinema, girl? (Farahats Republic)

( 12.c)
ya
sheikh
fud-ak
hey religious man forget-you
Just forget it, brother (Farahats Republic)
Following Horton (1999), social deixis are represented here in the form of
honorifics, i.e., terms of respect used to address high-ranking people. Social honorifics
are closely related to Arabic social life. Such honorifics may be troublesome in
translation; particularly since they might be unknown to target readers.
In example (12.a-b), the terms in bold are used to address a woman; normally of a
lower socialstatus. As could be noted, these addressee termswerealtered,

orleveled

out in translationas Bakers (1996: 184) suggests. That is, they havebeen

pulled

towards the center of the extreme continuum; hence lost their pragmatic value. Horton
(1999: 54) correctly suggests that indexical features signal the relationing of the
characters vis-a-vis each other in terms of their social identities. This includes status
relationships marked by such variables as solidarity and power. Culturally speaking,
Arabs play down the role of women in society (c f Farghal, 1995a: 205). Examples (12.ab) illustrate how translation causes a serious alternation to the speakers attitude; where it

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96
neutralizes the derogatory implication meant by the speaker. This, in turn, implies
significant alterations to the interpersonal dimension of the discourse. In a conservative
culture (Arabic), men are looked up to as superior, dominant, and powerful. Therefore,
they reflect this image of superiority through language use. This, however, is not to be
confused with the idea that Arabic lacks explicit endearment expressions that have
positive implications. Rather, due to its conservative culture, such deixis are used very
privately.
The other side of the coin is the addressee forms between men and other men;
which are also reflections of the social and cultural attitudes of the Arabic culture. Unlike
the deixis used to play down the role of women. Example (12.c) represents the attitude of
respect towards men; where the word sheikh was used by the main character Farahat
to address his friend. The word Sheikh is originally used to address a Muslim religious
man who finished the pillar of pilgrimage, as a title of reverence. Later, the title was
extended and generalized as a form of respect in addressing men. English translation
leveled out/replaced the source title by the modified word brother to compensate for its
nonexistence in the target culture. By doing so, it lost all the social implications reflected
in the source text. Horton (1999: 65) argues against such leveling out/ adaptation, and
suggests that the translator should be guided by contextual clues to help him reflect the
social markers or deixis of the source text. To this matter, Richardson (1998) believes
that the tendency to preserve the source language and to avoid adaptation lies on the fear
that the resulting translation would loose an important factor; the uniqueness of the
world-view of the author. However, Richardson (ibid: 126) himself calls for adaptation
in translation. His argument is based on the idea that deixis of the source text are a

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97
product of the source culture; hence need to be adapted when transformed into the target
text. Richardson (ibid: 131) interestingly points out that the interplay of the three deictic
dimensions carries important implications on the social, cultural, or political levels drawn
by the use of particular deixis in the source text. Therefore, the translator should use
deictic perspective which is appropriate for the target language. Richardson, in this case,
is referring to what is pragmatically known as equivalent pragmatic effect, i.e., to make
the translation do the same things as the source text (Richardson, 1998: 137). It could
be concluded that deixis is a central literary instrument in the process of dramatization; it
reflects the relationship between characters, and the complexity of the social attitudes
reflected in a literary text; hence should not be ignored in translation.
B.4. Loss of the Speakers/Authors Theme:
This kind of loss, which was also clear in the examples above, is serious in the
sense that it affects an important pragmatic dimension, namely, the speakers/authors
attitude. Example (13) represents the general degrading attitude towards women:
( 13 ) "

U el "

Ah ya niswaan... ma qadreensh
3ala abu
karsh
oh you women... not able to control on owner of belly
oh, youre all wom en...you could not defeat the potbelly (Farahats Republic)
Although the literal translation is correct, the word women was translated in
isolation from its context. This is an important pragmatic factor since it is directly related
to the speakers attitude; and its loss affects its pragmatic force.. The use of the word
women to address men, in (13), implies the negative connotation of weakness. Nida
(1964: 40) stresses the importance of context in translation saying: the tendency to think
of a word...as apart from an actual communication event is fundamentally a mistake, for

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98
once we have isolated a word from its living context, we no longer possess the insight
necessary to appreciate fully its real function.
B.5. Losses of Cultural Expressions and Idioms:
Similar to other serious losses, this kind causes a loss of the pragmatic meaning,
which in this case refers to the cultural values, and the social norms of the source
language. It is worth pointing out that the loss of cultural expressions and idioms (14,
below) is the most frequent type of losses.
(1 4 )

Vj J a il U uL *. tili j 4 -4 J V
I"

ilia raas-o
wa
alf
safe
ma yakhud wa-la
malleem
even head-his and thousand sword not take
even-not penny
but he refused to take a single penny (Farahats Republic)
The example in (14) is one of the many examples of cultural terms that are lost in
translation. Newmark (1991: 8) defines cultural words as objects or activities with
connotations that are specific to one community. The translation of example (14) shows
the replacement of an entire source phrase by one target verb refused. In Arabic, the
cultural phrase is semantically/pragmatically more loaded than simply refuse to do
something. It expresses the degree and forcefulness of refusal. It literally means: even if
a thousand of swords were challenging the person threatening him do something against
his will he would not do so. Apart from the omission of the whole phrase, the source
word sword itself is pragmatically too important to be deleted. In the Arabic culture, the
sword is considered the mans weapon, his honor, and his source of pride. All of these
implications are lost in translation. Newmark (1991: 5) proposes that cultural terms
should be accounted for in translation since they transport the readership uncritically
into the target language culture.

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99
B.6. Loss of Ellipsis:
(15) "(*U Vj ...Jt Afjij"
wa
awlaad
el-... wala
hamim-hum
and sons of
the-... do not care-them
and these sons of bitches couldnt care less (Farahats Republic)
Ellipsis in Arabic is a strategy politically used by the author to show respect for
his source readers and their social norms. The function of ellipsis in example (15) is to
omit a verbal taboo, i.e., swearing. Translation has explicated the taboo expression;
causing a loss of the pragmatic force of the ellipsis. The term taboo is understood here
to be a taboo against the word and not the referentfollowing Nida and Tabers (1974:
91) view. Hatim (1997: 196) stresses the important function of implicitness and remarks:
in context, the speaker can leave so much unsaid, yet express the attitude in question.
But what is unsaid by no means leaves the utterance incomplete; on the contrary, the
utterance will be pregnant with meaning as a result. It is evident that explication was
deployed as a compensation strategy. In this regard, Hart (1998: 82) comments:
In inter-cultural mediation, compensation is one of the resources most
deployed in order to overcome gaps in cultural background context
required for full understanding of meaning. However compensation
usually requires an upgrade in quantity. .. another mechanism which can
be compensated is quality by making explicit what is implicit.
C. Complete Losses:
Complete losses is used here for the lack of a better term. This kind of losses
refers to the complete loss or omission of verbal signs from the source text. Complete
losses could be tolerable, or serious; depending on how we look at them. They are
tolerable when their functional meaning in not important. That is, when they are not
components of the actual meaning of the source message. With this respect, they only

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100
affect the aesthetic value of the text. On the other hand, complete losses are serious when
the source expression is removed from its pragmatic context and its unique usage.
Complete losses were observed to affect: adjectives (16), emotion verbs (17), cultural
metaphoric terms (18), imprecatives (19), and idioms (20). Compare the following:
(1 6 ) "JjA ukll 3UH1 ,'k

j"

wa asbaH-a
amlas ka-jilld
el-tablah el-mashdood
and became-it smooth as- leather the-drum the-stretched
and the skin became as smooth as a drum 0 (Farahats Republic)
( 17 )

f tV y j La jp S i

t L i a J <ui

U ij"

wa ana uHisu anna-hu yHadith nafsa-hu akthar ma yu-Haddithuni


and I feel
that-he talks
self-him more than he-talk-me
and 0 resumed his talk as if thinking aloud (Farahats Republic)
(13) "^3^ua jLea.i (jjiljkll lakuailS--wa lakinnahu lam yastati3 (ka-el-Dubbat el-Haqeeqeen) ikhmaad dajjat-hum
and but-he
not could (as- the-captains the-real)
subdue clamor-their
he could not 0 subdue their clamor (Farahats Republic)
(19) V - U
rooH
jak
reeH khmasi
go-you may you get
wind storm (sirocco)
get lost 0 ! (Farahats Republic)
(20) " !u*j
(^111 L 44
Halaq
ayeh
ya bet
elli Khado-oh? Hallaq
Hoosh?
Earrings what hey girl
that took-they? make a circle catch
What kind of earrings did they take, girl? 0 (Farahats Republic)
Example (16) shows that the adjective stretched is completely lost in translation.
This usually happens when the adjective is a matter of language collocation, i.e., words
joined together in phrases or sentences to form semantically unified expressions Larson
(1984: 144). As noted, the word is completely lost because it functions as ornamentation;
and so its omission does not affect the content of the message. Still it is a loss of the
aesthetic flavor chosen by the source author.

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101
The loss in (17) is a loss of an emotive verb, which reflects the characters
feelings and his alliance with other characters. Again, this is a tolerable loss, since it
affects the aesthetic value of the text. Nonetheless, target readers are denied the enjoyable
effects that source readers might experience. In other words, they are pulled away from
the world of the literary text, in which characters feel and interact; resembling the real
world.
In (18), the cultural metaphoric term is completely lost. This is a serious loss since
it affects the speakers attitude. The context of situation indicates how the officer in duty
was trying hard to fill up his position. But being lower in rank than real captains, he could
not do his job probably. What target readers lose is an important textual foreshadow that
both: prepares them for the utopian world of the speaker, and reveals the characters
development later in the story. Furthermore, target readers lose the sarcastic attitude of
the speaker. It is obvious that such losses seriously affect the element of characterization.
Example (19) represents a cultural term of cursing, or what Levinson (1983: 42)
calls imprecatives. As noted, the translation successfully replaces the source idiomatic
expression of swearing by an equivalent swearing in the target language. However, the
loss is serious since the Arabic idiom carries far more cultural implications than a mere
swearing. It implies the influence of the surrounding environment in shaping peoples
ways of thinking, and social practices {la parole). Originally, the Arabic transliteration of
the expression reeH khmasi is sirocco. It refers to the phenomenon of the fifty-day
summer wind storm. This wind storm starts in the Gulf area and crosses over the Arabian
Desert to the neighboring Arab countries. It is very hot, dry, full of sand, and carries
everything away. Later on, the degree of annoyance and irritation that people feel when

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102
this wind is around was extended to the undesirable presence of somebody. In (19), the
speaker (officer) uses this image in the form of swearing wishing the tornado would carry
away the person complaining, so that he would not have to listen to his complaints any
more. This implicit loss of linguistic expressions and their dependency relationship on
environment might be the result of what Sweetser (1995: 592) calls broader cultural
cognitive structures.
Example (20) illustrates how idioms are completely lost in translation. The idiom
is used in the context where the sergeant-major questions a woman about her lost
earrings. Again, what is completely lost is the pragmatic force of the speakers utterance;
hence the loss is serious. The speaker speaks with a sarcastic tone, judging the woman by
her poor appearance; and so makes fun of the idea that she could possibly own
something. The truth value of the Arabic idiom can be inferred by back translating it into
make a circle and catch the run away thief. This idiom is a reflection of the feelings of
solidarity prevalent among neighbors in the Arabic culture. It expresses the values of
neighborhood solidarity, familiarity, and strong social ties. Each neighbor feels it is his
duty to protect his neighbors property as if it was his. Out of such solidarity, people use
this idiom to call for help and support from passersby to catch a run away thief. In short,
the decoding of such losses and the appreciation of their aesthetic effects require high
levels of knowledge on the part of target readers. In this regard, Hart (1998) draws
attention to the importance and invisibility of cultural context. She (ibid: 147) remarks
the translator must be particularly sensitive to the situationality of the original text, the
socio-cultural context for which it was produced, and assess the differences with respect
to the situation in which the mediated text is to be activated. To summarize, the core of

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103
linguistic losses lies in the lack of balance between the semantic content of the source
message, and its pragmatic communicative value. Newmark (1991: 104) correctly
describes the process of literary translation; where he states: there is a tendency to
undertranslate, viz. to normalize by generalizing, to understate, in all translation but
particularly in literary translation... in literary translation economy is more important and
accuracy suffers. This chapter will be concluded by discussing the linguistic losses in
relation to the different strategies adopted by the translator during his translation process;
and then proposes a hierarchy of linguistic losses within the general framework of
markedness theory.
It is generally agreed upon that during the process of translation, the source text
may inevitably suffer losses due to linguistic barriers, or insufficient knowledge of the
source language and culture. In other words, the difference in the mentality and thought
pattern of Arabic and English speakersdue to the wide distance between the twois
a major factor in deterring target readers from correctly interpreting the source text. The
investigation of translation strategies shows that the translator, during his quest for
equivalence, opted for either formal equivalence, or communicative equivalence.
Looking more closely at the losses caused by these strategies, it would be argued
that the focus on each type of equivalence in isolation is responsible for creating a
hierarchy of linguistic losses. In the present study, the translators focus on formal
equivalence resulted in the following tolerable and serious losses: first, the translators
modifications of the style in the source language caused tolerable losses to such literary
devices as Arabic rhetorical patterns (e.g., 1), iteration (e.g., 2), acoustic effects (e.g., 3),
discourse markers (e.g., 4), exaggeration (e.g., 5), and digression (e.g., 6). Second, the

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104
translators modification strategy interfered in the semantic relations between words (as
representatives of the authors literary choices); causing losses or alterations to these
relations (e.g., 7-8). Third, there were instances where the translator opted for literal
translation (e.g., lO.a); causing serious losses of pragmatic elements such as the authors
theme, which is also reflected in example (e.g., 13). Finally, the translators use of
source-language element, without translating it into a target equivalent, caused serious
losses to the source text; mainly cultural (e.g., lO.c). In all these cases, translation
resulted in either serious pragmatic losses or tolerable semantic losses due to its primary
focus on the form or content, and disregarding the effect of the source text.
In other occasions, the translators goal was to achieve communicative
equivalence. For example, he used paraphrasing, and elaboration by means of explication
and expansion of word meanings (e.g., 10-15). Other times, the translator made complete
omissions of source words (e.g., 16-20) on the grounds that they are communicatively
trivial. In all of these examples, the translator was target-language oriented. That is,
prompted by the needs of target readers to understand the linguistic signs of the source
text, the translator resorted to explaining verbal signs; particularly those that are
culturally rooted; and have no equivalents in the target culture. It is argued here that even
though the resulting translation successfully communicated the content of the source
message, it was not doing justice to the source text. It is claimed, accordingly, that the
losses caused by such a translation are serious losses. To support this claim, back
translation (represented in line 3 of each example) was used to test the importance of
losses. It was found out that these linguistic signs had a unique function as literary
devices. That is to say, being pragmatically loaded with connotations, they furnish the

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105
grounds

and prepare

readers

for instances

of foregrounding,

foreshadowing,

defamilirization, alienation, and so forth. These devices are crucial to the dramatization
of the text, and to the development of its plot. They also involve the reader in the world
of the literary text. More generally, the losses are considered serious in the translation of
literary texts, particularly in Arabic texts; where conservativeness and implicitness are
major devices that characterize the linguistic features of Arabic language, and the norms
of Arabic culture. In short, these losses have important linguistic and pragmatic
dimensions that should be maintained in the translation of literary works.
It is evident by now that both formal and communicative equivalences played
their role in rendering acceptable translation. Formal equivalence was fine in accounting
for expressions that have truth-values. Communicative equivalence, one the other hand,
was successful in accounting for communicative values. But what if both values were
present in a source-language sign? In this case, formal, and communicative approaches
are deficient in dealing with this issue since they are one-sided. To elucidate, formal
equivalence focused only on the grammatico-lexical correspondences, and so overlooked
the extra-linguistic factors of the source text. Communicative equivalence, on the other
hand, focused on transferring the content of the source message; thus ignored stylistic
devices that are important, particularly in those texts appreciated for their aesthetic
effects.
Building on the deficiencies of formal and communicative approaches in dealing
with the translation of literary textswhich are complex entities by natureit is
proposed that literary texts would be better dealt with from a semiotic perspective due to
the following reasons: first, a semiotic approach deals with translation from a broad

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106
perspective taking into consideration both the internal and the external worlds of the text.
Second and closely related, it has the advantage, over other approaches, of accounting
equally for verbal (linguistic) and nonverbal (pragmatic) signs of the text. This would
minimize, or even diminish linguistic losses, hence yield more sufficient results, and
more comprehensive translation of literary texts.
Let us set about the details of this proposal to determine in what way the semiotic
approach could contribute to the question of equivalence. Semiotically speaking
translation is a process of interpretation built gradually and logically through, what Peirce
called, logical interpretants. Unlike formal or communicative approaches, which deal
with the sign in isolation as a static unit; semiotic equivalence has the advantage of
comprehensively accounting for the sign as part of the semiosis/interpretation process,
which handles the sign in more breadth. According to this approach, the translation of
verbal and nonverbal signs is achieved by taking into consideration both semantic and
pragmatic values of the source text. The two types of objects in Peirces theory are taken
to be indicators of the degree by which semiotic equivalence is achieved. The immediate
object takes the sign at its face value, i.e., as represented directly in a particular sign use.
Its worth pointing out that a translator who adopts a formal approach to equivalence ends
his interpretation process at this stage (literal meaning). According to which, tolerable or
serious losses occur. On the other hand, a translator who adopts semiotic equivalence
moves onto a higher level of interpretation; namely that of the dynamic object. During
this stage, the translator looks for the meaning inside the sign and so connects it to the
real circumstances upon which a meaning is based. At this point, translation of cultural
expressions becomes relevant; cultural factors are accounted for since they are

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107
supplemented with contextual information, through the immediate object. In short, the
concept of meaning would be understood here in relation to the situational correlation of
the sign. The dynamic object functions as a tool with which the validity of a translation is
tested (both on linguistic and cultural levels). After that, the translator continues with a
series of interpretations corresponding to Peirces second logical interpretant; where he
analyzes his first spontaneous choices of signs; then carefully chooses what might be the
best solution to the translation problem. While this could be the stage where a translator
adopting communicative approach stops; a translator adopting a semiotic equivalence
moves further to the final phase of interpretation (third logical interpretant), or the socalled the perfect translation, it is at this stage when the translator determines the best
choice by unconsciously associating the sign chosen to the sign-user community, i.e.,
Peirces habit. In literary texts, this final phase could be looked at as
refamiliarization process. In conclusion, the semiotic approach allows for more
creativity (where the meaning is open to interpretation), and is more variable. That is,
interpretation considers variable factors such as the receiver of the sign, and the
differences in interpreting contextual clues among recipients (Hatim and Mason, 1997).
The final remarks closing this chapter concern the arrangement of loses in relation
to the theory of markedness. It was proposed earlier that literary language is generally
hard to translate; accordingly, figurative expressions chosen by the source author are
unfamiliar verbal signs to target readers; hence marked on the grounds of the unmarked
conventional use of verbal signs. It is claimed that target readers awareness of the
marked verbal sign is largely influenced by the amount of information presented to them
through the translator. If the degree of losses is associated with that by which the source-

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108
text message is affected, a hierarchy of linguistic losses could be proposed; whereby
losses are ranked on the markedness continuum. Assuming a linear continuum, linguistic
losses range from the least marked to the most marked. The hierarchy of losses is
determined by two criteria: the degree of information lost, and how it affects the
understanding of the source text; and the markedness of context in which the losses
occur. According to the principle of assimilation, marked elements tend to occur in
marked contexts; while unmarked elements occur in unmarked contexts. The higher the
degree by which the source text is affected, the more marked the losses. The following
diagram illustrates the classification of losses on the markedness continuum:
Markedness Classification

_ A _
r ~

Unmarked

Marked
Least-Low-Marked
<
L>
C/3
00)3
!-i
O
.s

Complete
Least-High-Marked

c/3
C/3

<D

Mid-Low-Marked

<D
cd

Tolerable
Mid-High-Marked
Most-Low-Marked

Serious

Most-Midi-Marked

Most-Mid2-Marked

"S

Most-High-Marked
To start with, the three broad types of linguistic losses (tolerable, serious, and
complete) are ranked on the markedness continuum, and so compose a general hierarchy

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109
of losses. Then, a more detailed sub-hierarchy is proposed to account for all the losses
within each type. Looking at complete losses, they are observed to have a mild effect on
the source text because they slightly affect the content of the source message; and they
occur in unmarked contexts. Accordingly, they rank first on the markedness continuum
(the least marked). Tolerable losses rank second on the continuum; they are more marked
than complete losses, but less marked than serious losses. As such, they are called mid
marked. Finally, serious losses rank third on the continuum. They seriously affect the
understanding of source message, and occur in marked contexts; mostly cultural. This
makes them the most marked, and the hardest to translate. A general summary of losses is
presented in table (1) below:
Table (1): A summary of the general losses in relation to the Markedness Continuum.
Type of Losses
Markedncss Continuum
Complete
Least-Marked
Tolerable
Mid-Marked
Serious
Most-Marked
Building on the above general hierarchy of losses, a more detailed one shows the
following: the first sub-hierarchy concerns tolerable losses; whereby the loss of semantic
relations between words is less marked than losses in style; accordingly, they rank as
mid-low marked. Losses in style are unique characteristics of the source language, and so
are more marked (mid-high marked).
The second hierarchy is that of serious losses. Within these losses, the loss of
social deixes ranks first on the continuum as the least marked (most-low marked). This
loss is justified since it lacks a cultural equivalent in the target text; accordingly,
translation did not affect the source text in the same way as other losses did. On the other
hand, losses affecting the object of the authors intention, idiomatic expressions, and

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110
ellipsis rank second on the markedness continuum (most-midl marked). These losses are
more marked than the loss of deixis because the degree with which they affect the source
text is more obvious. In this regard, Mason (1998: 181) argues that ellipsis could be an
instance of markedness, hence bound to create contextual effects. Third on the
markedness continuum is the loss of pragmatic connotations (most-mid2 marked). This
loss is more marked than the aforementioned losses since their incomprehensive
translation renders them unintelligible to target readers. However, it is less marked than
mistranslation, which ranks the highest on the continuum (most-high marked).
Mistranslation is the most marked since it causes a breakdown in the communication
process.
The final sub-hierarchy is that within complete losses. These losses are generally
mild. The loss of adjectives, verbs, and metaphors is observed to be less marked than the
losses of imperactives and idioms, which occurred in more marked contexts. As such, the
former is given the value (least-low marked), while the latter is (least-high marked).
Table (2) summarizes these losses:
Table (2): A summary of the detailed losses in relation to the Markedness Continuum.
Markedness Continuum
Type of Losses
Least-low-marked
^

Adjective, verbs, metaphors


complete
_.
.
least-high-marked
Imperactives, idioms
Mid-low-marked
^ , U1
Semantic relationships
1oicraoic
.
Mid-high-marked
style
Most-low-marked
Social deixis
Authors object of intention,
Most-mid 1-marked
e .
idiomatic expressions,
Serious
... .
ellipsis
Most-mid2-marked
Pragmatic connotations
Most-high-marked
Mistranslation

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Ill

To sum up, the translator of the source text might have been tempted to
oversimplify or overinterpret the familiar to match his expectations. In this case, the
translator turns himself into, what Anderson (2003: 391) calls, cognitive blinder for the
unmarked and expected. Instead, the translator should have defamiliarized himself from
the source text; rendering the unfamiliar familiar, and the familiar unfamiliar. By doing
so, he would have a better sense of what could be marked in the target culture so as to
explain it more clearly to target readers. It is worth mentioning that this line of analysis
will be adopted in the following chapter; where losses occurring in translation are
discussed from a cultural perspective, cultural losses.

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112

CHAPTER FOUR
CULTURAL LOSSES: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

This chapter aims at building a complete inventory of cultural losses


occurring in the translation of literary texts. It was argued earlier in chapter three
that linguistic losses result from linguistic inequivalences when transferring
verbal signs into the target language. This chapter focuses on cultural
inequivalences, and how they would continue to occur even when the source text
does not suffer any linguistic inequivalences during translation. Accordingly, it is
argued that cultural losses are losses on the deep/ symbolic level, or the emics
of the source language (to borrow Pikes term, 1954). This symbolic level
requires more effort on the part of both the translator and target readers to capture
the cultural implications meant by the source author. As such, cultural losses
should be looked at from the perspective of cultural insider. The discussion of
cultural losses focuses primarily on the analysis of figurative language (cultural
metaphors, idiomatic expressions, proverbs) since it is a reliable representation of
culture, and so the best illustration of how cultural losses affect translation. It is
worth pointing out that cultural losses are context-sensitive; they are, by and large,
losses of the unfamiliar and so are marked to target readers. The operational
definition of cultural losses adopted in this chapter is presented below:

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113
Cultural losses are losses of cultural norms, religious beliefs, social
customs, and proverbial wisdom that are inherited through generations and
comprise the identity of the source culture. Such losses occur in the
process of correlating the verbal signs of one culture to another distinctly
culture, i.e., they result mainly from pragmatic inequivalences. Cultural
losses could be explicit (causing a loss of the cultural meaning of the
source text; both on the surface and deep levels); implicit (causing a loss
on the deep level/ concealed cultural information); modified (altering the
realities by which source readers view the world of the text); or complete
(omitting cultural characteristics that are unique to the source language).
It is assumed that cultural equivalence depends on the degree of relatedness
between two languages that represent two different cultures. In this study, the source-text
language (Arabic, a Semitic language); and the target-text language (English, a Germanic
language) are not related; and do not have a direct influence on each other due to the
geographical distance (cf. Pedersen, 1988 for more on the concept of distance). Therefore,
cultural and religious differences between the two languages are expected to be extreme,
and any translation process between the two is, to say the least, challenging. Shared
knowledge, and context of situation, as two pragmatic forces, are therefore pertinent
to our discussion. In this study, the shared world between source language and target
language is expected to shrink to the extent of becoming merely hypothetical
(Dorbzynska, 1995: 598). It remains the role of the translator to provide some common
background and to account for context-sensitive expressions.
I. Results:
An investigation of the translation strategies adopted to account for cultural losses
shows that the translator adopted fewer strategies, in comparison to those used to deal
with linguistic losses:

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114
1. Literal translation: the translator opted for word-for-word translation of cultural
expressions that do exist in the target culture; yet carry different connotations in the
source text. Disregarding such connotations result in rendering an unintelligible
translation to target readers. This strategy is illustrated in those instances dealt with under
explicit losses (e.g., 1-2).
2. Adaptation: source-language elements are replaced by equivalent target-language
elements to achieve equivalence. This strategy renders equivalence only on the surface
level. That is, adaptation fails to account for equivalence on the deep level. Examples of
implicit losses (e.g., 3-8), and modified losses (e.g., 9-12) illustrate this strategy.
Adaptation also takes the form of replacement of cultural idioms in the source text by one
verbal sign in the target text; thus failing to transfer the source-language view of the
world.
3. Omission:

the translator completely omits culture-bound terms. This strategy is

illustrated in complete losses (e.g., 13-14), where source language signs has no cultural
or linguistic equivalents in the target language. This causes a loss to the vividness of the
metaphoric and idiomatic expressions of the source text.
It is noted that paraphrasing, explication, expansion, modification of style, and
use of source language element, which were adopted to handle what I called linguistic
losses, are not used to account for cultural losses. The reason may be due to the
translators decision to adopt free translation of cultural elements. He chose not to
paraphrase or provide extra information to the target text, when in fact these strategies
would have been more fitting in dealing with cultural losses.

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115
II. Classification and Discussion of Cultural Losses:
Cultural losses form a hierarchy of losses classified into four main categories:
explicit losses; implicit losses; modified losses; and complete losses. The classification is
based on the degree of cultural information lost (both on the surface and deep levels of
the source language), and how it affects the source message. It must be pointed out that
this classification is by no means absolute, nor has a clear-cut boundary; for one loss may
be classified as both linguistic and cultural; depending on the perspective of analysis
(verbal losses versus cultural losses). This is not surprising since it suggests the wedlock
and interconnectedness between language and culture; where the separation of the two is
unrealistic. Accordingly, some examples, presented earlier in chapter three, are repeated
here as we see fitting.
Before proceeding to the classification of losses, it is crucial to start with some
preliminary remarks about figurative language, mainly metaphors and idioms since
almost all of the examples classified in this chapter are mainly idioms, idiomatic
expressions, or metaphors.

The term metaphor was originally coined by the great

Greek philosopher Aristotle, who saw the power of metaphor in allowing people to
produce knowledge. It is traditionally defined as the use of a word or phrase denoting
one kind of idea or object in place of another word or phrase for the purpose of
suggesting a likeness between the two (Danesi and Perron, 1999: 162). This traditional
analysis of metaphor has assumed that metaphor involves a deviation from ordinary and
straight-forward usage of language in order to cause a change in meaning based upon
similarities between two things. Later on, the concept of metaphor developed, where
metaphor is no longer viewed as a verbal ornamentation, or a stylistic device; rather, it is

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116
more realized as an effective device in communication. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson
(1980) were forerunners in proving the presence of metaphors in everyday thought and
discourse. They proposed that metaphor is a verbal representation of abstract thinking in
everyday life. In their insightful research, they found that:
Metaphor is for most people a device of the poetic imagination and the
rhetorical flourisha matter of extraordinary rather than ordinary
language. Moreover, metaphor is typically viewed as characteristic of
language alone, a matter of words rather than thought and action... we
have found, on the contrary, that metaphor is pervasive in everyday life,
not just in language but in thought and action (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980:
3).
Following is a review of some of the salient theories on metaphor (as presented in
Way, 1991). Emotive theories, for example, view metaphor as a deviant use of language
and one which can have no real cognitive meaning. Their argument is based on excluding
metaphor from descriptive and scientific discourse, and denying any cognitive content to
metaphor, focusing instead on its emotional side. The Substitution approach holds that a
metaphorical expression is used in place of an equivalent literal expression. As such, the
cognitive content of metaphor is reduced to its literal meaning. It follows, metaphor is
merely an ornamentation device chosen by the author instead of its literal equivalent.
This view was later developed into the Comparison theory, which viewed metaphor as a
form of ellipsis (an elliptic simile); a shortened form of literal comparison. According to
Way (1991: 34) the comparison view of metaphor is more sophisticated than that of the
substitution approach since metaphor is not a mere substitution of terms; rather a
comparison between two things. According to the Controversion (or Verbal-Opposition)
theory, metaphor is viewed as some kind of logical contradiction between terms. That is
to say, whenever an utterance is false, or self-contradictory, the hearer looks for

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117
secondary levels of meaning, i.e., the connotations of the term. Danesi and Perron (1999:
164) believe that such a connotative meaning poses a dilemma because it is not the
denotative meaning of the vehicle that is transferred to the topic, but rather its
connotations and annotations... it is this complex system of historically-inherited
connotations that are mapped onto the topic. Way (1991: 43) points out that the
weakness of this approach lies in it dealing with metaphor without reference to any extralinguistic considerations. A later development occurred in the Interaction theory.
According to this view, metaphor is viewed as the interaction of two domains: the literal
primary subject, and the metaphoric secondary subject, where the associated ideas and
implications of the secondary domain are transferred to the primary system. Way (ibid:
48) points out that the interaction view carries the implication that our concepts carry
with them a set of associated ideas and beliefs even when they are used in their literal
sense. This, she believes, has the merit of looking at metaphor as a whole system of
concepts, not just the terms of the tenor vehicle.
Idioms, on the other hand, are generally viewed in the literature as a special
category of lexical items which are not only determined through their structure, but which
also show a specific type of behavior in language use (Strassler, 1982: 11). An idiom is
traditionally defined as an expression whose meaning cannot be worked out from the
meanings of its constituent words (Trask, 1999: 119). Strassler (1982) points out that
there are hardly any studies dealing with idiomacity a general term referring to the
syntactic and semantic properties of idiomsalthough it is not a new subject in
linguistics. He mentions that most of the works on idioms are collections that do not
comprise a unified theory of idioms. Strassler (ibid: 26) comments the general lack of

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idiomatic theories might certainly be a reason, for it is extremely difficult to incorporate


an ill-defined phenomenon into a new concept. Hocketts (1958) definition of the idiom,
for example, is very broad since it includes: monomorphemic lexemes, polylexemic
lexemes, phrases, proverbs, allusions, and abbreviations. Katz and Postal (1963: 30)
defined two types of idioms: lexical idioms, and phrase idioms. Weinreich (1969: 42)
defined the idiom as A phraseological unit that involves two polysemous constituents,
and in which there is a reciprocal contextual selection of subsenses. Makkai (1972)in
Strassler (1982: 43) describes idioms as unitary in meaning, unpredictable as to syntax,
and complex, hence misleading in expression. Way (1991: 10) draws on the connection
between idioms and metaphors. She states idioms, like metaphors, do not always mean
what they literally say. But with idioms we have a strong bias to perceive only the
nonliteral meaning and ignore the literal one. Pedersen (1988: 132) remarks that
collocations and idioms represent one of the areas of language where grammar and lexis
overlap. He refers to restricted collocations, or semi-idioms, where one word is used
figuratively, and which often shows variation. Other types of idioms are: pure idioms
(invariable), and figurative idioms (which often admit some variation, like replacing one
word of the idiom by another). In other occasions, some chucks of words might not be
exactly idiomatic, but on the other hand could not be translated word for word. Following
is a classification of cultural losses:
A. Explicit Losses:
Explicit losses refer to any loss of cultural information both on the surface level;
the etics, and on the deep level; the emics of the source text. It was observed that such
losses result mainly from literal translation; whereby linguistic equivalence is achieved

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119
on the expense of cultural equivalence; thus posing major difficulties in the decoding of
the meaning intended in the source message. In these losses, translation adheres to the
principle of adequacy (Toury, 1986: 1123), but violates the equivalence effect
principle (cfi Farghal, 1995b: 54). These linguistic gaps, as Farghal (1995a: 198) calls
them, are purely linguistic as they are present in the experiential world of the culture in
question. It is argued, though, that such linguistic gaps would inevitably influence and
affect the overall cultural equivalence of the source text. Explicit losses are illustrated in
the loss of idioms (1); and the loss of the speakers social attitude (2)1:
(1) "ixaaJ iljl Ujlll
pjj
"
Fa al-yawm yawm al-khamees... wa al-layla
Thus the-today day
the-Thursday... and the- eve
It was Thursday night (Abu Sayyid).
(2)

laylat al-jumu3ah
eve the-Friday

. . . a jI

Khadijah
Ayh... intai
proper fern, noun what... speak out-you
Khadijah what? Open your mouth (Farahats Republic)
Examples (1) and (2) illustrate how literal translation results in an explicit loss of
the source message, both on the surface level (verbal signs), and on the deep level
(cultural information). For instance, the difficulty of comprehending example (1) stems
from its being a cultural idiom. It is worth mentioning that the source example (1) may
not represent a pure idiom in Pedersens (1988: 123) sense (i.e., invariable in form).
However, it is considered so since it falls within these expressions that could not be
translated word for word either. In example (1), an understanding of the context of
situation, in which the source idiom is used, would be crucial since it plays a major

1 It is worth remembering that the presentation o f the examples here follows the same line o f analysis as
that adopted in chapter three. The same applies for the orthographic conventions used.

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120
pragmatic role in facilitating the decoding of the source idiom. In (1), the context refers
to the wife/character, who after having had a shower, smiled mysteriously at her husband
who had long known the mystery of such a smile. The literal translation of the idiom is
problematic because it fails to capture the intended meaning reflected in the idioms
context; both on the surface linguistic level, and on the deep cultural level. On the surface
level, translation completely overlooks the formal and functional equivalence of Friday
eve; rendering it into a non-idiomatic expression. The source (Arabic) idiom is basically
alien to target readers. Its literal translation renders a message that is unnatural; hard to
understand; and meaningless. In other words, it does not really make a difference to
target readers as to whether it is translated into, say, Wednesday night or Monday
night!
On the cultural level, translation causes an explicit loss of the cultural values
present in the source (Arabic) idiom. First, the verbal choice of Thursday and Friday
is not merely random. Rather, it carries the functional implication for the weekend
holiday, which is Friday in most Arab countries. Understanding this function leads to an
understanding of the accompanying cultural implications of obscenity and taboo subjects.
Put together, the source idiom reflects the following cultural practice: Thursday and
Friday are generally the two days where a married couple is more likely to have their
sexual intercourse, because the second of the two days is a holiday. In (1), the husband
understands the mysterious smile of his wife as a lust. Such an implication might be
considered strange enough by readers in the target culture; yet it is valid and shows how
idioms are valuable reflections of the conservative nature of the source (Arabic) culture.

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The translators over familiarity with the source language in (1) led him to
cognitively overlook the marked nature of the idiom. That is, what he considered familiar
and unmarked turned out to be unfamiliar and marked to the target reader. I suggest,
along with Anderson (2003: 393), that the translator should have detached himself from
his knowledge of the familiar; where he defamiliarizes the familiar, and then renders a
better translation that avoids all these losses, and at the same time preserve the source
authors conservativeness. One suggestion to maintain a closer source-like understanding
in translation is to use the phrase Saturday night, for example. In sum, idioms are
culture-bound; and are extremely sensitive to the context of situation; as such, their
translation requires a conscious decoding on the part of the translator before rendering
them into the target text.
Example (2) illustrates how social attitudes are normally infused within literary
texts. Again, it shows how literal translation of words, especially those that are culturally
bound, causes an explicit loss of the social attitudes representing the source culture. In
this example, the main character, a sergeant major, questions a woman who went to the
police station to report charges of robbery and battery. During his process of investigation,
the sergeant major begins by asking the woman to give her first name; then addresses her,
in a rather superior dominant way, to give her full name. On the surface level, the source
word functions rhetorically, not literally as the translation suggests, expressing the
speakers sarcastic tone towards the addressee. This loss could be understood in the light
of Grices (1975) conventional implicature; whereby words conventionally imply more
than what they literally refer to. Although this notion is originally limited to propositional
meaning (Lyons, 1995: 272), it could be equally extended to cultural meaning on the

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122
grounds that verbal signs convey positive or negative connotations beyond their literal
meaning. On the deep (cultural) level, the source word is rich in that it reflects one of the
culture-bound attitudes prevailing in the source culture; namely, the attitude towards
women, in general and towards those going to police stations, in particular. Culturally
speaking, Arabs played down the role of women in society (c f Farghal, 1995a: 205).
According to the Arabic culture, respectful women do not and are not allowedby social
constraintsto go to police stations regardless of the purpose of their visit. In (2),
although the woman goes to the station to report charges of robbery and battery; she is
treated socially as a criminal low-class woman. This cultural information is explicitly lost
in the English translation due to its focus on formal equivalence. To summarize, explicit
cultural losses in translation are losses of the etics and emics of the source text. They
affect the content of the message; causing distortion in the decoding and understanding of
the translated text. Accordingly, the resulting translation would be awkward, unnatural,
and unclear to target readers.
B. Implicit Losses:
Implicit losses refer to the loss of cultural information implicitly present in the
source text. They are losses of the source-culture spirit, as echoed in its literary heritage.
It should be pointed out that this type of losses is challenging because its understanding
requires, what Bailey (1996: 152) calls, reading between the lines. That is, target
readers are expected to search for some special possibility of hidden and certainly
situation-specific interpretations. In contrast to explicit losses, where translation causes a
loss both to the etics and emics of the source language; implicit losses are losses to
the emics of the source culture; and so, they are culturally-oriented. Implicit losses

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123
represent the following sub-hierarchy of losses: loss of idioms (3); loss of social attitudes
(4); loss of social practices (5); loss of religious-based idioms (6); loss of historical events
(7); loss of life style as reflected in metaphors (8.a); and proverbs (8.b):
(3)
di
Heelit-ha el-bala
el-azraq?!
this.fem has -she
the-disease the- blue
..this woman owns a penny?! (Farahats Republic)
(4) "<>udlv iuU**A2l
(jjjiail u'JU=LaJ
...thuma 3arafa Ramadan
al-tareeq ila al-mustashfa al-sirri.
then knew-he proper N. the- way to the-hospital the-secret.
Ramadan then knew the way to the hospital for venereal diseases (Abu Sayyid)
( 5)

j i jjt /ill

f b i A llu d l C jIaj <Ja j "

...w a hal bada-at al-masalat 3aqibayyaamal-3eed al-sagheer aw ba3da-hu


and did start-it the-problem after days the-feast/Eid he-small or after-it
he couldnt recall whether the problem started before or after the holy feast
(Abu Sayyid)
( 5 ) " A a K j - li. La JJC . ( J A J

><-41

I g . v d m i_ g ,\k s A "

...qasdi
saHib-ha
majhool... liqi-oo
el-sirr
el-laahi
mean I theowner-its unknown... found-they the-secret the-divine
tili3
min-u
lwaHdo wa min-ghair ma
Hadd
ykallim-u
came out of-him
on its own and without neg. anybody talk-him
...name unknown. Death of natural causes (Farahas Republic)
( 7 ) "Aj J ju

AlS (jjb x ll

J J jV l b i ISC gljSi Lai VI ^11 jSi

La u i"

Ana ma rdetsh aqull-ak ilia lama a-ftaH


3akka
anael-?wil
I
neg. want
tell- you unless when I-open name of a city I the-first
wa ba3dain el-jaish
kull-uh udkhul ba3d-yyah
and then
the-army
all-it
enter
after-me
I didnt want to tell you anything until I had penetrated the fortress first,
and then the whole army can follow me (Men)
( 8 .a ) "4-uilai

A J jil b it

L$jlSj AjuaIU

wa yuHiss-u bel-qubba3ah wa kaannaha Hajar el-taHoonah yktimu


And feels-he in-the-helmet and as if- it
stone the- mill
suffocate
anfaasa-hu.
breaths-him
and felt the helmet on his head as if it were a heavy weight suffocating him
(Abu Sayyid)

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124
(8.b) "(iW Vj
til ilU V *j*)"
(Harb la
naaqah
la-na
fii-ha wa la jam al...)
war neg. female.camel
to-us in-it
and no Male.camel
We have nothing to do with this war (Torpedo)
The examples in this section show that translation is functionally and
communicatively successful. This, however, does not mean that there are no losses at all.
A closer analysis of the examples reveals some interesting results. Starting with example
(3) whose context of situation is the same context explained in example (2) earlier;
whereby the woman goes to the police station to report charges of robbery of her gold
earrings and bracelets. The sergeant-major talks to another person commenting on her
charges. Looking at translation, it successfully delivers the communicative message
behind the literal meaning; yet it seriously disregards the social implications behind it. In
order to clearly understand these implications, let us look more closely at its social and
cultural implications. The idiom was originally used to refer to pestilence. People in the
Arabic culture refer metaphorically to pestilence as the blue disease. It is generally and
politically incorrect to explicitly mention fatal diseasesparticularly epidemic ones
before a patient or his family so as not to hurt their feelings. This reflects social solidarity
and strong social ties among relatives and friends in the source culture.

Other

information implicitly present in the idiomwhich might only be understood by source


readersis the belief that when a person explicitly mentions a disease, s/he is more likely
to get it. This belief could be traced back to the pre-Islamic period, when people believed
in the evil eye and genies as evil powers that transmit bad diseases. The implications of
this source idiom were later extended to poverty. In (3), the woman is so poor that she
does not even have that disease, which comes for free. This carries an implicit reference

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125
to a low social class. As noted, translation merely renders the communicative meaning,
but losses all the cultural implications.
A different social attitude implicitly lost in translation is the attitude towards men
in a patriarchal society. In example (4), the narrator talks about a husband who recently
realized that he became sexually incapable. The implicitness in the source text was
rendered explicitly into the target text. This is justified from a translational viewpoint,
since it enables target readers to correctly decode the message. However, such implicit
reference in the source idiom is not merely an issue of political correctness when talking
about a taboo subject. Rather, it reflects the general social attitude towards men in the
Arabic culture; where they are looked up to as the source of power and protection.
Accordingly, going to the secret hospital is associated with embarrassment, loss of the
manhood image, and so a betrayal of the social concept.
Implicit losses in translation also reflect the loss of certain social practices.
Example (5) shows how religion shapes the ways of life in a predominantly religious
society. The main character (the husband) is so irritated and confused while wondering
about the time when his sexual problem started. A closer look also shows that the
example makes reference to one of the religious occasions in the Muslim/Arab world;
the holy feast. This source expression is religion-based (Islamic); whose closest target
equivalent is Christmas. Muslims celebrate only two feasts: Breakfasting (Ramadan)
feast and Sacrifice feast. The first feast, celebrated on the Muslim calendar, is referred
to as the small feast (due to its duration of three days); or Ramadan feast since it is
celebrated after the holy month of fasting. The second is referred to as the big feast
because it lasts for four days. It is celebrated after finishing one of the five pillars of

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126
Islam, i.e., pilgrimage. The time span between the two feasts seventy daysfunctions
as a calendar to organize peoples daily-life events. The main character in (5), while
trying to figure out the time when his problem started, makes reference to the small feast
as his calendar (i.e., before or after the small feast). The value of this idiom lies in its
reference to the Arabic lunar calendar; a concept alien to the target culture. Many of the
Arab countries nowadays continue to make reference to the lunar calendar in organizing
their daily-life events.
In other occasions, implicit losses occurred as religious-based idioms (6). That is,
idioms derived from Islamic teachings. An idiom traditionally refers to an expression
whose meaning cannot be worked out from the meanings of its constituent words (Trask,
1999: 119). Newmark (1991) identifies idioms with collocations on the grounds that they
constitute groups of collocated words whose meaning is not clear from the common
meanings of their constituent words. He (ibid: 58) argues, accordingly, that any literal
translation of such idioms into another language is more often than not a nonsense. It is
worth mentioning here that the idiom presented in example (6) is not a pure idiom
(Pedersen, 1988: 132)it does not adhere rigidly to Trasks definitionbut at the same
time, it could not be translated word for word. The difficulty of translating this idiom lies
in the fact that it is rooted in its social and religious contexts.
It is worth noting that idioms are the gems of the Arabic culture. They are richer
than normal expressions in that they carry religious, social, and historical colors that
make them unique by nature. Accordingly, their loss in translation is a serious loss. An
analysis of the English translation of (6) reveals that although it successfully renders the
communicative message behind the idiom; it causes two pragmatic losses: the loss of the

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127
connotations meant by the source words, and the loss of the speakers attitude. In order to
understand the seriousness of these two losses, let us discuss how this idiom is interpreted
by the source reader: guided by his background knowledge of the religious beliefs
prevalent in his culture, source readers know that Muslims believe in God as the ultimate
and sole creator of everything. Accordingly, God places his secret in each person, i.e., the
soul. This is culturally referred to as the divine secret because only God has the power
to give this secret; only God chooses to place the soul in the body, and only God himself
determines when and where the person is to be bom and would eventually die. So what is
actually lost? Translation replaced the intended concept of death (as the act of God) by a
new concept, which views death as a cause of nature, and an act of physical powers. In
this case, the translation betrays Muslims religious, social and cultural beliefs in the
powers of God.
The second loss in this example is a loss of the speakers sarcastic attitude. In (6),
the sergeant-major talks, in a sarcastic tone, about one of the cases filed in his police
stationa corpse found in a deserted yard. In short, translating idioms is difficult due to
their being culture-bound. That is, they reflect peoples way of thinking; their ways of life,
and the things that highly influence their attitudes and beliefs. These values can only be
maintained by a better explanation of the pragmatic factors related to the statement. In
this regard, Newmark (1991: 96) believes that idioms are internally determined by
linguistic context, but not much affected by external context, except in as far as register
(degree of formality) is concerned.
Historical events are also subject to implicit losses in translation. Very often,
historical events are recorded in the minds of people through idiomatic and metaphorical

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128
expressions. Although the event itself might not be remembered per se, people continue
to recall its value. In (7), the characters are two brothers talking about how they
continuously tried to seduce their maid; until one finally succeeded. When one of the
brothers jokingly blamed the other, the later in turn answers metaphorically referring to
the penetration of Akka. The translation of this historical metaphor is very difficult,
since metaphors are strongly culturally conditioned (Dobrzynska, 1995: 598).
Translation rendered the source metaphor into a generally equivalent one; whereby the
image of the hero entering a fortress is extended to the penetration of a woman. Therefore,
the metaphor is conveyed to target readers as purely decorative/aesthetic. According to
the source example, the metaphor has more than a mere decorative function. It is a record
of the historical event of 1799, i.e., the French campaign. During their expansion plans,
the French launched a campaignunder the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparteon what
was known as Greater Syria (nowadays Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine). When in
February the campaign reached Akka, a city in Palestine, the Ottoman ruler then (Ahmad
basha El-Jazzar) challenged the campaign with the help of British and Ottoman armies.
Thisalong with the strong towering walls of the cityresulted in the defeat of the
French army (Ziad Al-Madani et al, 2002: 30). So this historical event was later extended
into a cultural everyday metaphor implying the achievement of something great,
especially something which is hard to get. Sometimes however, the metaphoric usage is
generalized by native speakers to include further implicit references to social values such
as mens pride, heroic-like acts, and womens honor. The change in these pragmatic
factors of the metaphor automatically changes the audiences response. In other words,

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129
the translated metaphor becomes the product of a different world and generates a
different sense (Debrzzynska, 1995: 598).
Example (8.a) also shows how metaphors are reflections of cultural ways of living.
The reference here is to one of the ancient tools that later became a cultural heritage;
namely the mill stone. In (8.a), the author draws the association between the stone of
the mill and the helmet on the characters head to reflect the images of heaviness and
suffocation. Translation, on the other hand, not only loses this cultural image, but also
neutralized the metaphor so that it even lost its aesthetic effect. This is the result of
overlooking the metaphors sensitivity to the communicational situation. It involves the
shared knowledge and mutual expectations of the author and the reader of what is
common (Dobrzynska, 1995: 596). The stone mill is a tool used by Arabs until the
beginning of the last century to grind seeds. The tool is operated manually and is made of
two heavy stones placed firmly on top of each other so that the grounded seeds will not
get scattered and get out of the mill. Using the mill stone as a metaphor suggests that
the Arabic culture was, and still largely is, an agricultural society where such tools are
important. This is reflected in everyday language.
Implicit losses may finally occur in the form of proverbs: the short, generally
known, sentences of the folk that contain wisdom, truths, morals and traditional views [...]
and which are handed down orally from generation to generation (Brown et al, 1998:
525). Bakalla (1984: 248) adds to this definition that a proverb is often used colloquially
and set forth in the guise of a metaphor and in the form of a rhyme, and is sometimes
alliterative. Accordingly, proverbs can be looked at as illustrations of contexts, not a
representation of a particular one. In other words, they are not limited to one context in

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130
the source language; rather they are used over and over; and are extended to many
variable contexts because of the morals they teach, or their folk wisdom as
anthropologists prefer to describe them. In (8.b), the situation is about a torpedo that
landed in one of the districts during the First World War. The narrator comments on
peoples thoughts about the torpedo. In the source language, the proverb culturally and
metaphorically refers to wisdom in taking decision, i.e., where one should evaluate the
pros (gains) and cons (losses) before taking hasty decisions. Farghal (1995a: 197)
classifies this kind of proverb as observational proverb because it expresses
generalization about everyday experience and traditional wisdom. Furthermore, the
proverb carries rich information about Arabic society as well as its habitat. The
background of the proverb in (8.b) runs as follows: Arabic society was largely a tribal
society; the chief of a tribe, who is usually a wise man, decides when or whether his tribe
should launch raids against other tribes. Such raids were not random; they had different
function, such as: regaining a stolen property; protecting the honor of their women;
securing their tribal properties from robbery and intrusion; and asserting the tribes power
as not being an easy target for other tribes. Hence, the wisdom beyond the proverb is not
to engage in a war just for the sake of fighting. Unless one is threatened; it is not wise to
initiate a war/raid. The surrounding environment is also reflected through the mentioning
of camels, which were the only means of traveling back then; and so is a valuable
property. This proverb is also interesting in terms of its stylistic characteristics; that is,
the relations holding between the elements represented in the proverb. In terms of the
phrase structure, the proverb consists of almost equal number of elements (syllables,
stress, and words). The proverb also involves the repetition of certain words. Here, the

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131
negative particle la is repeated twice. There are also the opposite meanings of she/he
camel. The analysis of translation shows that it not only overlooks the wisdom conveyed
by the proverb, but also causes an implicit loss of the socio-cultural reality of the source
culture. Moreover, translation causes a loss of the acoustic and visual effects present in
the proverbs stylistic characteristics.
To conclude, implicit losses are losses of the essence of the source culture and its
identity. The losses discussed above show how culture is hidden in the literary heritage of
its social attitudes, religious beliefs, surrounding environment, historical events, and
cultural heritage. It is worth pointing out that this type of loss occurs more frequently in
texts written in dialectical Arabic than in Standard Arabic. Not unexpectedly, dialectical
texts richly reflect cultural identity more than standard ones; where euphemism plays a
big role in minimizing and standardizing cultural expressions. That is to say, works
written in Standard Arabic tend to hedge statements that reflect swearing, and taboo
topics. This richness can only be revealed by reading the between-the-lines meanings. By
understanding such implicit losses, target readers explore the beliefs and attitudes of the
other different culture. So, how can target readers gain knowledge of such hidden values?
It would be unwise, or unpractical to propose the infusion of these cultural information
(between-the-lines reading) into the body of the translated text, where coherence of the
target text could be completely distorted, and the resulting translation would violate
communicative equivalenceone of the most basic functions in translation. Instead, I
would suggest along with Al-Qinai (1999: 239), and Farghal (1995a: 199)that in the
translation of literary texts, cultural information should be highlighted and/or supported

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132
by explanatory phrases or notes that explain the customs, beliefs and attitudes that are
unfamiliar to target readers.
C. Modified Losses:
Modified losses refer to losses resulting from the replacement of cultural
expressions in the source text by culturally equivalent expressions in the target text.
Losses of this kind have a mild effect on the source text. In a sense, they are similar to
implicit losses by not seriously affecting the theme of the message conveyed. However,
they differ in that they achieve more cultural equivalence thanimplicit losses. Modified
losses are indicators of how the two cultures in question reflect realities; and how people
of one culture denote the world from their own perspectives. Modified losses compose a
sub-hierarchy of losses representing: loss of proverbs (9); loss of honorifics: male-female
addressee forms (10), and male-male addressee

forms (11); and loss of cultural

expression reflecting the source environment (12).


( 9 ) "lii* Vj U a.j *jf j J j b LulSj

(jl I j a <J^ j"

...w a fii kol marrah kaan-a ya3ood wa kaann-anaya Bader


and in each time was-he retum-he and as if- we hey proper.noun
la
roH-na wa
la
jee-na
neg. went-we and neg. came-we
.. .but each time it was all in vain (Abu Sayyid)
(10) a. " o U V j ^ b ^ U "
maa-lak
ya si Ramadam
what-you hey sir proper.msc.n.
Whats wrong
0
Ramadan? (Abu Sayyid)
b.

Ij dLlc. <111 j^u!"


ism
Allah 3alyik
ya
khoo-ya...
name
God upon-you hey brother-my
Whats wrong, darling...?(Abu Sayyid)

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133
C. "ULUa L

^uil"

Isim el-nabi
Hars-ak
ya dana-ya
name the-prophet protect- you hey son-my
May the prophet protect you, sweetheart (Abu Sayyid)
(11) a.
ma-lik
ya wleyyah
what-you hey broad
Whats the matter, woman (Abu Sayyid)
t>. "cjj

U UuJI

j"

wa ayh ydakhal-ik el-seema


ya bit
and what go-you
the-cinema heygirly
and why do you go to the cinema, girl (Abu Sayyid)
c.
ya
shaikh
fud-ak
hey religious man forget-you
Just forget it, brother (Abu Sayyid)
( 12)

RooH.. jak
reeH
khmaasi...
go., may you get wind
Fifty
Get lost!
(Farahats Republic)
It has been discussed earlier how proverbs are records of cultural events (e.g., 8.b).
Here again, example (9) shows how proverbs are modified in translation. The English
translation replaces the source proverb by a culturally equivalent expression. By so doing,
it successfully delivers the message intended in the source text. Nonetheless, there is still
a loss of the attitude and mode of thinking of the source culture. This source proverb in (9)
describes originally the Arabs attitude towards traveling. It is used to describe
disappointment, and the sharing of this feeling with a companion (here the reference is
made to a male named Bader) In earlier periods, transportation was limited; and so
traveling from one place to another was too much of a trouble. Nowadays, the proverb is
used in the source culture metaphorically to express a disappointment for not achieving

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134
ones purpose, especially after taking many preparations. Culturally speaking, in spite of
modernization, people extended the use of this proverb to a variety of contexts, but all
convey the same message as that in the original proverb. That is to say, the proverb is
extended both for its moral value, and for its aesthetic beauty.
Another form of modified losses is presented in (10), where honorific expressions
come into play. It is worth mentioning that the examples here were used earlier in chapter
three (e.g., 12) to illustrate serious losses of deixis. This does not mean, however, that
this repetition is redundant. Rather, it emphasizes the interconnectedness between
language and culture. In this sense, the examples represent both linguistic losses, and
cultural losses; depending on the way we look at them. On the one hand, they are serious
linguistic losses because they affect the dramatization of the source text. On the other
hand, they are modified cultural losses since they have no linguistic or cultural
equivalents in the target culture, and so result in the loss of social honorifics in the source
text.
Honorific expressions in the source cultureparticularly in rural societies are
used in male-female interaction. They reflect the hierarchal relationship between the two;
whereby women are inferior to men. It is noted that honorific terms are modified in
translation. In (10), examples (a-c) illustrate the addressee forms used by women in
addressing their husbands. These honorific terms were either explicitly lost (10.a) (si=
sir); or modified (lO.b-c); whereby the term brother was replaced by darling, and
son was replaced by sweetheart, respectively. Translation shows that the honorific
expressions have been leveled out as a translation strategy to disambiguate terms of
reference (Baker, 1996: 184); which makes their modification justified. It should be

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135
pointed out that the honorifics used by women denote a formal relationship between a
woman and her husband, even when used as endearment expressions.
The examples in (11) show the other side of the coin. On the one hand, they
illustrate how males use honorifics to address other males (ll.c ); on the other hand, they
show how males use different honorifics, with different attitudes, to address females (11.
a-b). The address forms in (a-b) are generally used to address women of a low social
status. This reflects the speakers derogatory attitude towards the woman. On the other
hand, when limited to the context of husband-wife conversation, these honorifics function
as endearment expressions. The paradox of this contradiction may be resolved by
understanding the psychological mentality of Arab men. As mentioned earlier, in a
conservative culture (Arabic), men are looked up to (lO.c); while woman are looked
down at. This is evident in the mens use of forceful words, and womens use of delicate,
yet submissive forms.
Finally, the cultural expressions reflecting the source environment were also
subject to modified losses. Example (12)which was explained earlier as example (19)
in chapter threeis repeated her to illustrate how language is influenced by cultural
environment. In sum, modified loses are mild losses in that they slightly diverge from the
communicative message in the source text. This is due to the fact that they express
general truth, and so could be well assimilated into any culture. They are justified from a
translation point of view; but are crucial from a cultural perspective.
D. Complete Losses:
As the term suggests, complete losses are the result of a complete ignorance of
the linguistic codes of the source text. It was observed that these losses were limited to

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136
figurative verbal signs and expressions that are purely culture-bound. In this sense, they
are unique to the source text; and so have no equivalents whatsoever in the target culture.
Againsimilar to implicit and modified lossescomplete losses do not affect the
decoding of the source message, and so is justified from a translation viewpoint. It differs
however, in that it seriously overlooks the aesthetics of the source text and causes a loss
of cultural references that are unique to the Arabic culture. To put it differently, complete
losses are losses of figurative verbal signs that may only be of prime pertinence to the
Arabs (c f Farghal, 1995a: 201). Complete losses were limited in their occurrence to
cultural similes (13), and idioms (14).
(13) "...L?-3j
AjlSj
jj SJ
...w a fataH-a
daftar
al-maHaadir al-kabeer wa kaannahu yaftaHu
and opened-he notebook the-ledger the-big and
as if-he opens-he
Bawwabet el-Metwalli
wa qaal...
gate
the-propern. and said...
.. .and opened the huge record ledger 0 , saying... (Farahats Republic)
(14)

^ W*4
Halaq
ayh ya bit
elli Khado-oh? Hallaq
Hoosh?
Earrings what hey girl that took-they? make a circle catch
What kind of earrings did they take, girl? 0 (Farahats Republic)
The context of situation in example (13) describes the sergeant-major, who opens

his record ledger to file charges. The complete loss of the Arabic simile in the translation
clearly does not affect the theme of the source message. What it causes, instead, is the
loss of the similarity between actions and images, i.e., the similarity between peoples
daily activities and the Metwalli Gate. This similarityis impossible to decode by target
readers and so its translation would be meaningless.The Metwalli Gate is one of the
archeological arches in Cairo/Egypt that mark the crossing of liberation armies into the
city. The reference to this gate in the Egyptian culture denotes the achievement of great

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137
acts. This simile is used in the example with a sarcastic attitude. The sergeant-major
who would never be promoted into a higher rankthinks of himself as an important
figure, just for the mere fact that he is a government employee. While, in fact, all what he
does is a modest clerical job of recording charges. This simile reflects social status and
cultural mentality; a person employed in the governmenteven with a very low salary
is believed to be powerful and influential. Translation completely disregards these
cultural details, and dismisses them as optional or rather trivial. Example (14) was
analyzed earlier -as example (20)in chapter three. It is repeated here, though, since it
also illustrate the complete loss of cultural expressions. To sum up, the classification of
cultural losses illustrated how translation affects the cultural information of the source
text in varying degrees; ranging from a complete loss of information to an explicit
violation of the meanings intended in the source text. In what follows, cultural losses will
be discussed within the framework of Pikes (1954) theoretical approach.
Cultural losses are discussed in relation to the concepts of emics and etics
(coined by Pike, 1954). These concepts/approaches are pertinent to the discussion of
cultural losseswhich are losses of beliefs, attitudes, and values of the source culture. It
will be discussed how adopting these approaches (etic, or emic) gives valuable insights
into the losses occurring in translation, particularly literary translation; whose figurative
language is a rich source of cultural material.
According to Pike (1990: 28), the term emic refers to a physical or mental or
system treated by insiders as relevant to their system of behavior and as the same emic
unit in spite of etic variety. Etic on the other hand, donates an approach by an
outsider to an inside system, in which the outsider brings his own structurehis own

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138
emics and partly superimposes his observations on the inside view, interpreting the
inside in reference to his outside starting point (Pike, 1990). In short, the etic viewpoint
studies behavior as from outside of a particular system. The emic viewpoint results from
studying behavior as from inside the system (the two concepts were introduced briefly in
chapter two). Since the emic approach is concerned with culture-bound or languagebound units of analysis, it is argued that the analysis of figurative language (idioms and
metaphors) is best dealt with from an emic perspective.
Now lets us ask the following question as a point of departure: Are cultural losses
the result of an etic approach to translation? Or is it the misrepresentation of an emic
approach that leads to cultural inequivalences? The translator in this study is a native
speaker of the source language. Therefore, as a local person, he is expected to behave as
a normal participant in the source culture, or as one who has obtained some etic training
to help discover things about himself and his fellows, their actions, their feelings, their
experiences (Pike, 1990: 34). This suggests that the translatorbeing an insider in the
source cultureunderstands the implications meant by the figurative language used by
the source author.
Before we discuss the role of the translator, let us first consider how researchers
applied the emic analysis. Berry (1990: 87-88) proposed a three-step sequence of
translation, based on Pikes concepts of etic and emic, and applied it to psychology in
order to achieve a theoretical generalization using the comparative approach. Berrys
three-step sequence represents etic-emic-etic, or imposed etics-emics-derived
etics, respectively. According to this sequence, we move from etic presuppositions to
gradually closer approximations of culturally specific concepts to recovery of those

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139
concepts, which become etic or derived etics notions. In order to achieve cultural
equivalence in translation, I propose, following Berry, that the translator starts with an
emic understanding of his own cultural experience and knowledge; then he uses it as an
etic approach (surface level) to represent the source-language phenomena in the target
culture (where he moves from being an outsider to be an insider in the target culture). At
this stage of sequence, Berry suggests, the analysis is emic not etic, since the translator is
still in the process of conceptual behavior. The sequence continues by a process of
learning about the phenomenon in the target culture in the sense it is employed by target
people. Finally, the source emic understanding (from the translators own culture) and the
new emic understanding (from the target culture) are compared; if there are shared
features to both, then an etic understanding can be achieved that is suitable for describing
and interpreting the phenomenon in both cultures. In order to assess the possibility of
equivalence between the two cultures in question, Berry (1990: 90) recommends using
the test of back translation. If the back translated version and the source text are identical,
then there is a strong evidence for equivalence. Accordingly, it could be argued that the
lack of equivalences causing cultural losses, in this chapter, occurred during the second
sequence, where the translator failed to translate the emics of his source-language culture
into the target culture.
Let us return to the question proposed above. An investigation of the translation
strategies adopted shows that translation of the source text was communicatively
successful. That is, it transferred the overall content of the source message to target
readers. However, translation failed in transferring the deep/ implicit level of the source
language, i.e., the emics of the source culture. This may be due to the fact that the

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140
translator assumed only one of the two functions, which he should have fulfilled (both as
an insider in the source culture; and as an outsider of the target culture). Pike (1990: 34)
asserts this dual function, just as the outsider can learn to act like an insider, so the
insider can learn to analyze like an outsider. He (ibid: 34) explains to use the emics of
nonverbal (or verbal) behavior I must act like an insider; to analyze my own acts, I must
look at (or listen to) material as an outsider. The analysis shows that the translator
disregarded his role as an insider of the source-culture; did not transfer his emic
knowledge; and so has failed to complete the cycle of etic-emic-etic. In other words, the
translator remained an outsider of both the source culture and of the target culture.
The issue of whether the translator should be an insider (a native speaker of the
source language), or an outsider (non-native speaker of the source language) is not as
simply as it might look. It is assumed that if the translator is a native speaker of the
source language, he would have better linguistic and cultural competence of the emics of
the source language, and so he could easily transfer his emic knowledge of the source
culture into the target culture. However, this is not usually the case. There is evidence in
the data that even though the translator is an insider, his translation did not render a
successful emic representation of the source culture. In other words, being an insider
translator has its own pitfalls.
One of the pitfalls of the translator, being an insider, is the issue of familiarity.
The translator might sometimes fall into the trap of being a cognitive blinder. That is,
when the translators over familiarity with the source language leads him to
assume/presuppose the target readers familiarity with what they read (cf example (lO.a)
in chapter 3). In other words, this makes the translator blind of what could be marked to

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141
target readers. By means of illustration, let us go back to example (1). The translator
utilized his emic knowledge and transferred the source expression into the target culture
merely as Thursday night, which results in an awkward translation. Since translation
should be target-language oriented, it should focus on facilitating the understanding and
the appreciation of the literary work by target readers. In order to achieve an optimal
equivalence, it is suggested that the translator has to demonstrate his ability to translate
on two levels of understanding: understanding the emics of the source culture, and
understanding the emics of the target culture; then relate both faithfully. To achieve this
end, the translator has to account for a complex hierarchy of interconnected beliefs that
represent a high-level emic. Once again, example (1) is an idiomatic expression whose
meaning as a whole is different from the sum of the meanings of its parts. In this sense, it
is marked; it carries symbolic implications, and it is sensitive to context. Accordingly,
translation should account for the added/implied meanings, whichaccording to Pike
(1990: 35) can be present at very high levels of hierarchical structure.
This loss in (1) results from marginalizing the social context which reflects the
attitudes, customs, and social beliefs (emics) of the source culture. The cultural
implication behind Thursday night is alien to target readers; its unfamiliarity is derived
from the differences in the concept of weekend between the two cultures, and the non/or
lack of existence of a shared knowledge; whereby the two cultures in question use
different linguistic codes to address the same concept. In Pikes (1990: 29) terms,
appropriateness of an emic unit includes the feature of its relevant occurrence in relation
to the total cultural pattern of an individual or society. However, this issue of familiarity
is more complex than simply resolving unfamiliarity and rendering it familiar. In short,

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142
the source idiom is marked for two reasons: first, it is culturally-bound; second, it
composes of a complex hierarchy of interconnected beliefs that need to be understood on
the higher level of emics, such as context and implicature. A decoding of the idiom
requires a familiarity with its context as to when and how native speakers use it; before
we can move on to the higher level of implicature.
Its worth pointing out, however, that having an insider translator may sometimes
(not always) be an advantage. This is, when the translator uses his cultural competence to
render translation that is intelligible to target readers. This was found only in one
example in the data. In (15), the translator utilized his emic knowledge of the source
culture and added an explanation that helps target readers understand the terms of
reference. As such, the example is not considered a loss, rather a positive gain, consider
the example below:
(15) "
oi
Al-shaikh
al-Imam Muhammad bin abi-Bakr...
the religious title the-Imam Muhammad son father-Bakr
the great linguist Imam Muhammad Ibn Abi Bakr..
(The Reader and the Glass of Milk).
The translators imposition of standards of logic adheres to Davidson (1980)
charity principle (in Fellepa, 1990: 106). Fellipa (ibid: 115) explains our inability to
fin d in the behavior of others different ways of linking beliefs up logically does not
mean we cannot find other reasons for applying other principles of logical organization.
Accordingly, Felippa (ibid: 116) maintains: the necessity of charitable imposition points
to the fact that translation is a coordinative endeavor, consisting of a complex
codification of linguistic rules, so as to facilitate cultural interaction and anthropological
theory building.

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143
To sum up, the emic approach to translation has the following advantages: first, it
permits an understanding of the way in which a language or culture is constructed.
Second, it helps one understand individuals attitudes and their daily lives (Pike, 1990).
Third, it produces cultural understandings that enable better communication with cultural
insiders (Felippa, 1990: 117). Finally, it gives a valuable appreciation of the extent of
human creativity.
This chapter will be concluded by a discussion of cultural losses in relation to the
theory of markedness. It is proposed that, in literary texts, cultural losses are losses of the
source-culture expressions that have deep/symbolic values. Accordingly, cultural losses
are marked on the grounds of the unmarked surface/truth-value expressions. The
classification of cultural losses is based on: the level (deep/surface) on which the loss
occurs; and the degree with which the loss of cultural information is crucial to the content
of the source message. Since cultural losses are marked, we could propose a hierarchy of
the different types of cultural losses on a markedness continuum. Assuming a linear
continuum, cultural losses are ranked from the least marked to the most marked, as
follows: complete losses; modified losses; implicit losses; and explicit losses, whereby
complete losses are the least marked, while explicit losses are the most marked. A
summary of cultural losses is presented in table (3) below:
Table (3): A summary of the cultural losses in relation to the Markedness Continuum
Type of Losses
Markedness Continuum
Least-Marked
Complete
Modified
Mid-Low Marked
Implicit
Mid-High Marked
Explicit
Most-Marked

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144
The least marked of cultural losses is complete losses. They are, by and large,
losses of cultural metaphors and idioms, which are extremely culture-bound. There are
two reasons behind their complete loss: first, the difficulty of capturing all the contextual
hierarchies that idioms entail, and at the same time keeping up with the coherence of the
text. The second reason is that idiomatic expressions might have been considered as
purely aesthetic. Complete losses do not substantially pose difficulties in the decoding the
communicative message of the source text, and so are the least marked.
Modified losses are more marked than complete losses but less marked than
implicit and explicit losses; they rank second on the continuum. Modified losses could be
looked at from two perspectives: one the one hand, they are the only kind of losses
(discussed in this chapter) that achieve an optimal equivalence. This is due to their
replacement by culturally equivalent expressions in the target text. In this sense, the
marked cultural losses would be less marked since target readers would be reading
expressions, whose contexts they understand. On the other hand, target readerswhile
reading the modified translationwould lose tract of the source culture (i.e., they would
remain outsiders of the source culture). In spite of this, modified losses can be easily
assimilated since the loss of cultural information required for their understanding is
minimal.
Implicit losses rank third on the markedness continuum. Their loss is mainly on
the deep level of the source language; accordingly, their translation remained
communicative and the degree of cultural information lost did not block the
understanding of the content of the source text. However, implicit losses are marked in

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145
the sense that they require extra effort on the part of target readers due to their betweenthe-lines reading.
Finally, explicit losses are the most marked in terms of the level affected, and the
degree of loss to the source message. Explicit losses affect both the surface, and the deep
levels of source language. This lead to the loss of cultural information needed for the
understanding of the content of the source message. Explicit losses are the most marked
since they were translated in the absence of shared knowledge, as well as the
nonexistence of equivalents in the target culture.
To conclude, cultural losses are losses of the symbolic/deep values of the source
text. These losses do not block the understanding of the meaning intended in the source
language. In other words, translation achieves equivalence on the surface level only. In
order to represent the source language/author more faithfully; and to in order to reflect
the values, norms, attitudes, and emics of the source culture more effectively; the
translator should adopt an emic approach to translation. This would yield better results
and more interesting translation.

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146

CHAPTER FIVE
CONCLUSION

The present study addressed the issue of losses occurring in the translation of
literary texts. Such losses were deduced via a comparative method that compared Arabic
short stories and their English translations. This study intended to enrich the research
carried out so far in the field of translation in general, and that on Arabic language
research in particular. It was intended to explain the causes and nature of losses in order
to minimize any misconceptions about the Arabic language, and the Arabic culture.
Most of the translation theories reviewed in this study agreed on the need to move
translation from lexical and sentential levels to the more sophisticated textual level of
analysis. However, they disagreed on the issue of equivalence, and discussed it from
different perspectives: Neubert and Shreve (1992) for example, hold that equivalence
should be considered on three levels: syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic. Gutt (1991)
believes that translation should bring together the contextual effects of the source text.
Catford (1965) views equivalence as the meaning of situation relevance. Other
researchers (Levinson, 1983; Raskin, 1985; Newmark, 1991) emphasize that translation
should be supplemented by pragmatic factors. Benjamin (1968) emphasizes the deep
level of transference. Other researchers (Gorlee, 1994; Petiilli, 2003) follow the same line
of analysis, and call for the balanced transference of verbal and nonverbal signs. Cultural

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147
translation researchers (Toury, 1985) view translation more as a target-language oriented
process. They take into account the norms of the target culture, and emphasize that the
appropriateness of these norms must be considered. Researchers of literary translation
(Holmes, 1994; Hickey, 1998), on the other hand, view equivalence broadly as the
realization of contextual information (relation between features of the text and the
linguistic continuum), intertextual information (relation between features of the text and
the literary continuum), and situational information (relation between features of the text
and the socio-cultural continuum). I believe that for translation to be communicatively
successful, it must engage target readers in the text, and create an effect similar to that
experienced by source readers. To put it differently, translation should minimize target
readers alienation from the text by making them insiders, rather than outsiders, of the
text. This depends on the degree by which translation furnishes the grounds and provides
target

readers

with

the

necessary

background

that

not

only

accounts

for

linguistic/functional equivalence, but also considers cultural connotations inherent in the


source text.
The assessment of translation in this study depended on the extent by which it met
the following criteria: whether translation maintained the overall equivalence between the
source text and the target texts; whether it reflected the interdisciplinary functions of the
source text (linguistic, literary, cultural, psychological, and social); and how successful
the translation was in integrating target readers as insiders. Apparently, translation was to
some extent successful; it was able to transfer the overall meanings intended in the source
text; but only on the surface level. At the deeper level, however, it was not sufficient.
This is evident in the linguistic and cultural losses affecting the source text. In order to

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148
understand the seriousness and implications of these losses in the Arabic text, let me
present some remarks on the intrinsic values of Arabic literature in general, and the genre
of short stories in particular. Arabic short stories mirror the realistic contemporary scenes
of life in all aspects and diverse manifestations. More specifically, they express feelings
and issues related to individuals, family, and society. They are true representations of
cultural beliefs, cognitive mentalities, social customs and historical facts. Such features
are manifested in literary texts through artistic literary devices, and figurative language.
Proverbs, metaphors, and idiomswhich were the focal point in this study
constitute a rich source for Arabic literature. Linguistically speaking, they are interesting
since they retain features of the early stages of Arabic language (FusHah: Classical
Arabic), and reflect its stylistic characteristics. It is worth noting that although these
features represent ancient life, they are still applicable nowadays (as reflected in the
stories studied). From a cultural perspective, proverbs, metaphors, and idioms are a rich
source of the Arabs way of life, their social relations, moral values, manners, and customs.
In addition, they reflect their sharp wit and ideas, their powerful expressions, among
other features. Generally speaking, metaphors are powerful shapers of worldview
because they are so understandable. They make thinking easy. They are automatic,
effortless, and established by community consensus (Danesi and Perron, 1999: 161).
Arabic proverbs, on the other hand, (like other proverbs) have their cultural implications
in the sense that they reveal the hidden character of society. It is worth pointing out that
proverbs are almost identical among cultures. This, however, emphasizes the universality
of human experiences, and the multicultural influence. Modified losses (linguistic and
cultural) demonstrate this view in the present study. Because of their brevity, Arabic

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149
proverbs have been used either as evidence to support ones viewpoint, or give advice to
people. It is interesting to note that proverbs are used more in rural Arab societies than in
urban societies; and more often by older Arab generations than by younger generations.
In sum, the richness of Arabic proverbs, metaphors, and idioms lies in their
representation of all kinds of attitudes and situations.
The analysis of translation shows that the features reflected in the genre of Arabic
short stories posed difficulties both on the linguistic level, and the cultural level. On the
linguistic leveldiscussed in chapter threetranslation adapted the source text in order
to render an intelligible text to target readers. This is evident in the translators use of
paraphrasing, elaboration, and literal translation. This, however, led to overlooking the
intension of the source author. Linguistically speaking, translation transferred
information only on the surface level. This caused losses of the aesthetic characteristics
of the source-author, and the literary style of dramatization. Translation also ignored the
pragmatic forces of the source text (what is being said, to whom, in what type of setting,
for what purpose, and so forth). As a result, it failed to provide target readers with the
background knowledge essential to the decoding of source-language situations. On the
cultural leveldiscussed in chapter fourtranslation caused some losses on the surface
level, but mostly on the deep level. This caused a loss of the source-culture attitudes, and
eliminated the identity of the source author. More specifically, translation resulted in the
loss of connotations and concealed cultural information; which represent the realities
through which the source author views the world. Translation accordingly, denied target
readers the joy of viewing the world from different perspectives (i.e., the perspective of

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150
insiders). In this sense, translation widened the distance between the two different
cultures in question.
This study proposed that literary texts are marked on the grounds that they reflect
a special use of language. Bailey (1996: 152) postulates that the writer intends to violate
the unmarked and expected patterns in order to convey special sense. To this matter,
linguistic and cultural losses are all marked since they are sensitive to pragmatic factors;
mainly shared background knowledge and context of situation. I propose that before
actual translation takes place, the translator should resolve the markedness of the
linguistic and cultural elements in the source text; i.e., rendering them unmarked. To this
end, the translator starts with himself as an insider (Pike, 1954). This could be maintained
via a three-stage process of interpretation, as follows: the first stage requires an
understanding of the source text before transferring it into the target culture. That is to
say, the translator starts his semiosis process of interpretation through a gradual and
logical understanding of the source-culture identity, attitudes, and experiences (i.e., its
emics). At this stage, the translator will be working on the level of the immediate
object (in Peirces terms), and takes the sign at its face value, i.e., as represented directly
in a particular sign use. If the source sign is marked, he analyzes it into its semantic
components in order to render the marked unmarked; and makes the unfamiliar familiar.
Once markedness is resolved, the translator moves onto a higher level of interpretation
(that of the dynamic object), where he looks for the meaning inside the sign and so
connects it to the real circumstances upon which a meaning is based. The second stage is
a repetition of the same process, only this time applied to the target language/culture.
Here, the translator continues his role as an insider, and learns about the phenomenon in

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151
the target culture in the sense it is employed by target people. He also investigates target
equivalents of the source signs in terms of their markedness; accordingly chooses the best
equivalent. This indicates that the translator is using an etic approach (surface level) to
represent the source-language phenomena in the target culture. The final stage involves a
comparison between the emics of the source culture and those of the target culture,
whereby the translator analyzes his first spontaneous choices of the source sign, and
carefully chooses what might be the best solution to the translation problem.

This

involves the unconscious association of the sign chosen to the sign-user community, i.e.,
Peirces habit. It is worth pointing out that during this whole process of translation, the
translator works on establishing a mutual knowledge between the two cultures in question;
taking into consideration both semantic features and pragmatic connotations. In this
regard, Hart (1998: 81) remarks:
this is a matter of stylistic markers which indicate how, momentarily, we
are moving away from our familiar co-operative mode of interaction
based on [...] assumptions and belief systems with respect to truth-values,
to a defamiliarized form of interactive participation based on filling the
gaps in the information...and resolving the surface ambiguity by
contrasting and/or associating the same with the shared background
knowledge, assumptions and belief systems.

Umberto Eco (2001)in Urbancic (2004: 10)recognizes, on the other hand, the
problematic nature of surface translation, and at the same time stresses the importance of
transferring the deep level. Being himself an author, Eco writes:
I invite the translator to disregard the literal sense of my text in order to
preserve what I consider to be the deep one. It may be objected that in
such a case I was providing an allegedly correct interpretation of my own
text thus betraying my conviction that authors should not provide
interpretations of their own words [...]. Usually, I invite my translators to

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152
pay attention to a certain passage which, according to the general context
of the novel, should suggest something beyond its literal sense.

Unfortunately, in this study, there was no information available as to whether there


was some sort of collaboration between the author and the translator. It must be pointed
out, though, that only one of the eight short stories investigated was translated by its
source author {Men, by El-Khadem). It is interesting to note that his translation resulted
in one loss only {cf. example (8 .a), which represents an implicit loss of metaphor).
Although the investigation of only one short story is not a representative sample, it
carries the implication that losses in translation are reduced to the minimum when
translated by the same author. This is due to the fact that the author/translator is familiar
with his text (both on the surface and deep levels), which makes him better, than anyone
else, in accounting for the implications underlying his literary stylistic devices, and
choice of words. Other than this case, the analysis of translation implies the absence of
collaboration between the author and the translator. This probably explains the frequent
occurrence of losses on the deep level; specifically guessing the intentions the source
author. Accordingly, it would be sufficient at this point to consider Ecos quotation as a
suggestion that guides translators on how to overcome difficulties on the deeper level.
In conclusion, this study had a translator who is a native speaker of the source
language. It would be interesting to investigate the nature of losses resulting in case the
translator is a non-native speaker of the source language; and whether the resulting
translation is more target-language oriented. It would also be interesting to have further
comparison between the translation of two different translators (native, and non-native
speakers of the source language) of the same text/source author. This comparative work

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153
is expected to give insights into the impact of linguistic and cultural competence on
translation.

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162
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APPENDICES

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163
Appendix A
Orthographic Conventions
The orthographic conventions used in transliterating the Arabic examples are summarized
as follows:
(3 )= "" represents voiceless pharyngeal sound.
(H) = "c"represents voiceless glottal sound.
() = "^''represents Arabic voiced glottal stop.
(kh)=

represents voiceless velar sound

(gh) =

represents voiced pharyngeal sound

(q) = " i3" represents Arabic uvular sound

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164
Appendix B
Examples of Linguistic Losses
Source Text
(l.a) "
(>* M-**
j*"
huw-ah el-waHid shaab min
that-he the-one grey-headed from
shwayyeh?
something little
(l.b)
huua ya3ni jaysh el-khalaas
He- the so-called- army salvation
kaan 3mru idani Hajah?
Past-be life-his gave-me anything?
(2) "Uffctpt
J Ajjjc. ^ixj> (jlUM jj"
wa Ramadan mughliq 3aynaihi, wa
and Ramadan closing eyes-his and
musirr 3ala ighlaaqu-hmaa
insist on closing-them
(3) "(Jjt-ojj j
(JjIIII AjjjJ
"
Wa Kharajat dawryyat al-lail taiz wa
and went-it
patrol the-night
ttamayal
buzzing and swinging
(4 .a) "Ijjai dijS jlai"
aah lau
kunntu aqdir
oh, if/wish were-I able
(4.b) " &
AlHamduu li-Allah
thanks
to God
(5)
wa asbah 1-rrajul maraakibla
and got the man ships not
tu3add wa la tuHsaa
counted and not calculated

Target Text
It is not for nothing that my hair
became grey
(Farahats Republic)

The Salvation Army never gave


me anything
(Nobody Complained)

. .Ramadan closed his eyes firmly,


0.
(Abu Sayyid)

the night patrol then went out 0 in full


swing
(Farahats Republic)
0 1 wish I could
(Nobody Complained).
Thank Heavens
(Nobody Complained)

the man owned countless ships


(Farahats Republic)

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165

(6 .a)

^
"(jjjlxdl
inta mumkin qawi inn-ak
it-darris
you possible very that-you you-teach
aHyaa fii el-madaaris
biology in the schools

(6 .b) V ^ O ^ V j ^ u L i V i
^
ma3 an-ni mutaakid a-lla shan
although that-I sure that-no thing
1-ibi-hi, wa la shan la- hu bi
for-me in-him, and no thing forhim in-me
(6.C) ciuui i_ij u t
(Jit"
hal doolaab kalimah 3rabyyah
Is armoire a word Arabic original?
saleemah?...sawfa abHath 3anha
I-will search for-it
taHt dlb
under the three consonantal root
dlb
(7. a)
Jljk 3
J...C
[...] Arba3at Mukhbireen... aw
[... ] four
detectives ... or
khamsat twaal 3raad
five
tall oblate
(7.b) "Viix*
jl j
W u"
tashbeeh munaasib wa inn kaana
simile suitable and even was-it
mubtathalan
vulgar
(8 . a) V j <-u&j V ^ 1
j Sja^adl ajI"
aih
el-maskharah wa er-raqs
what the-derision and the-dancing
illi la tjeeb wa la twaddi
that not bring and not take

you could teach biology 0.


(Nobody Complained)

although I was sure we had nothing to do


with each other
(Farahats Republic)

what kind of word is that [armoire]?


Ill look it up in the dictionary
(The Reader and the Glass of Milk)

four or five bulky detectives


(Farahats Republic)

An apt simile, even though obscene and


vulgar
(The Torpedo)

not this clowning and belly dancing which


is good for nothing
(Farahats Republic)

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166

(8 .b)

Luull

<J&"

"1jLuU J CjAJ J j C. j Uj

hal tusaddiq an-nisaa kul haathih


Do believe the women all these lies?
al-akaatheeb? inna-hu yulqi bi elthat-he throws in
wo3ood
yaminanwa yasaraan
the-promises right and left
(9 ) "...44AJJ cALsa Ujli
ya3ni ed-dunyah daqat bithatis the-world became narrow in
wajhhu...
face-his
( 10.a)
J -1
Ai&tolb (jpUa L.'tl.-vS "
...fa-Halaf
talaq
bi-el...so-he-swore divorce in-thethalatheh la-yeksar qusadha dra3-i
three that- he-break in return arm-my
(lO.b)
j Cjbfllja IUgx-> ja .V l eja a JI j"
wa el-Hujra
el-ukhra ta3ijj bi
and the-room the-other full of
el-muraqibaat wa
the- professional women and
saHibaat el-Hirfa
women of the-craft.

Do these women believe all those lies? He


scatters promises here and there
(Pigs).

was not there any other place in the whole


world?
(Farahats Republic)
so he made a triple oath to divorce me
unless he broke my arm
(Farahats Republic)

and the other room, was full of


prostitutes and women on probation
(Farahats Republic)

( 1 0 . c ) " j --i MAliuial J a i W y c .

wa fii 3aynay-ha
and in eyes-her
kohl
afsadathu
black cosmetic powder spoiled-it
el-dmoo3
the-tears
( 1 1)
iJuiS c_sjL S aJj"
...wa la-hu shaarib
kathief
and has-he mustache thick
wa Hajib-aan mukhif-aan"
and eyebrows-dual fearsome-dual
( 12.a)
b dBU
ma-lik
ya wleyyah?
What-you hey broad

with Kohl around her eyes smeared by


tears
(Farahats Republic)

... and he has a thick mustache and


awesome eyebrows
(The Torpedo)
Whats the matter, woman?
(Farahats Republic)

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167

(12.b)

WW-B
^ j"
w a aeh ydakhall-ik el-seem a
an d w h a t go-you the- cinem a

ya bet?
hey girly
(12.C)

ya sheikh fud-ak
Hey religious man

forget-you
(13) " j i j . J J c
U ..t f j - i W
A h ya niswaan...m a qadreensh
oh, you om en. .. n o t able to defeat
3 ala abu
k a rsh
on o w n e r o f belly
(14.a)
^j
b* * ij**1
j
VI"

ilia raas-o wa

alfsafe

ev en head-his and thousand sword


m a y ak h u d w a-la m alleem
n o t tak e
ev en -n o t penny
(14.b)
(^i-iaS"
.la. U jjc . q a o-la._j5 4-La
qasd-i
saH ib -h a
m a jh o o l...
m ean-I th e o w n e r-its u n k n o w n ...
liqi-u
el-sirr
el-ilaahi
fou n d -th ey the-secret the-divine
tili3
m in -u
lw aH do
cam e o u t
of-h im
alone
m inghair m a H a d d
ykallim -u
w ith o u t
neg. anybody talk to -him
15)
A ljij"
w a awlaad el-... w ala h am im -h u m
and the sons of the-... do not carethey
(16) " JjA Adi Ahli\l
j"
w a
a sb aH -a
am las
k a-jilld
and b ecam e-it sm ooth as- leather
el-tablah el-mashdood
th e-d ru m the-stretched
(17)
L j&i .Cuiii uLila-i 4ji
Uij"
w a ana uHisu anna-hu yH adith
and I feel
that-he talks
n afsa-h u ak th ar m a yu-H addithuni
s e lf -h im m o re than
he-talk-m e

and w h y do you go to th e cin em a, girl?


(F arahats R ep u b lic)

Just forget it, brother


(F arahats R ep u b lic)
oh, youre all women. . .y o u c o u ld not
defeat the p o tb elly
(F arahats R epublic)

b u t he refused to take a single pen n y


(F arahats R epublic)

.. .nam e unknow n. Death of natural


causes (F arahats R ep u b lic)

and these sons of bitches c o u ld n t care


less (F arahats R ep u b lic)

and the skin becam e as sm o o th as a drum


0 (F arahats R epublic)

and 0 resum ed his talk as if th in k in g aloud


(F arahats R epublic)

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168

wa lakinna-hu lam yastati3 kaand but-he


not could asel-Dubbat el-Haqeeqeen
the- captains the-real
ikhmaad
dajjat-hum
subdue clamor-their

he could not 0 subdue their clamor


(Farahats Republic)

(19)
rooH
jak
reeH khmasi
go-you may you get wind storm
(20 ) "ItA i*
cu UaJ (3k"
Halaq ayeh ya bet elli
Earrings what hey girl that
Khado-oh? Hallaq
Hoosh?
Took-they? make a circle catch

get lost 0 ! (Farahats Republic)

What kind of earrings did they take, girl?


0 (Farahats Republic)

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169
Appendix C
Examples of Cultural Losses
Target Text

Source Text
( l ) " A * A a J l 4 L 2 A J jlll

^j d l i "

Fa al-yawm yawm al-khamees...


thus the-today day the-Thursday...
wa al-layla
laylat al-jumu3ah
and the-eve
eve
the-Friday
( 2 ) " g , a l a j t ...A j l

Khadijah
Ayh... intai
proper f.n.
what. . . speak out-you
( 3 ) " ! W * '^ 'U V g ^ "
. di Heelit-ha el-bala el- azraq?!
this.fem-has-she the disease the- blue
...thuma 3arafa Ramadan al-tareeq
then knew-he proper N. the- way
ila al-mustashfa al-sirri.
to the-hospital the-secret.
( 5 ) " t a J x j ji j j L u a l l .U id l ^Li a J L m I I d j i j u J a j "
...wa hal bada-at al-masalat
and didstart-it the-problem
3aqib ayyaam al-3eed al-sagheer
before days the-feast he-small
aw ba3da-hu
or after-it

It was Thursday night


(Abu Sayyid).

Khadijah what? Open your mouth


(Farahats Republic)
..this woman owns a penny?!
(Farahats Republic)
Ramadan then knew the way to the
hospital for venereal diseases
(Abu Sayyid)

he couldnt recall whether the


problem started before or after the
holy feast
(Abu Sayyid)

A^aiSj Aa. La _}JC. ( j x j d A a j l

...qasdi
saHib-ha
majhool...
mean I theowner-its unknown...
liqi-oo
el-sirr
el-laahi
found-they the-secret the-divine
tili3 min-u lwaHdo a min-ghair ma
came out of-him on its own and
ykallim-u
Without neg. anybody talk-him

.. .name unknown. Death of natural


causes
(Farahas Republic)

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170

(7) j JjSN Ui Ufr

U VI (.11jSl

j L. U"

"Aj Jju

Ana ma rdetsh aqull-ak ilia


I
neg. want
tell- you unless
lama a-ftaH 3akka anael-?wil
when I-open name of a city I thefirst
wa ba3dain el-jaish kull-uh
udkhul ba3d-yyah
and then
the-army
all-it
enter
after-me
(8 . a)
"Ajailiji
wa yuHiss-u bel-qubba3ah wa
And feels-he in-the-helmet and
kaannaha Hajar el-taHoonah
yktimu anfaasa-hu.
as if- it stone the- mill suffocate
breaths-him
(8 .b) "(d* Vj tfcja Ul
V vj*)"
(Harb la
naaqah la-na
war neg. female.camel to-us
fii-ha wa la jam al...)
in-it
and no Male.camel
(9 ) Vj Ua,j V jJj L( UjlSj Jjj j l Ija JS ^ i j '

I didnt want to tell you anything until


I had penetrated the fortress first,
and then the whole army can follow
me (Men)

and felt the helmet on his head as if


it were a heavy weight suffocating
him (Abu Sayyid)

We have nothing to do with this


war (Torpedo)

t'Lm,

...w a fii kol marrah kaan-a ya3ood


and in each time was-he return
wa kaann-ana ya Bader
and as if- we hey proper .noun
la roH-na wa
la
jee-na
neg. went-we and neg. came-we
( 10) a.
maa-lak
ya si Ramadam
what-youhey sir proper.msc.n.
(lO.b)

Lj 4}k

Aill f J "
ism Allah 3alyikya khoo-ya...
name God upon-you hey brother-my

(lO.c) " l / i i y iA mJ a <^1


Isim el-nabi Hars-ak ya dana-ya
name the-prophet protect- you
hey son-my

.. .but each time it was all in vain


(Abu Sayyid)

Whats wrong 0 Ramadan?


(Abu Sayyid)
Whats wrong, darling...?
(Abu Sayyid)

May the prophet protect you,


sweetheart
(Abu Sayyid)

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171

(ll.a)"**bW<4fc-"
ma-lik
ya wleyyah
what-you hey broad
(1 l.b).
b
^ 4 * Si'j"
wa ayh ydakhal-ik el-seema
and what go-you the- cinema
ya bit
hey girly
(ll.c)
ya
shaikh
fud-ak
Hey religious m an forget-you
(12)
RooH.. jak
reeH khmaasi...
go., may you get wind Fifty
(13) ty j i
jaSJi gp&j"
"...iM j
...w a fataH-a daftar
al
and opened-he notebook themaHaadir al-kabeer wa
Ledger
the-big and
kaannahu yaftaHu
as if-he opens-he
Bawwabet el-Metwalli wa qaal...
gate
the-propern. and said...
(14) "tAja. (Jla. ?ojii. jA'
'd *4 ij1*-"
Halaq
ayh ya bit
elli
Earrings what hey girl that
Khado-oh? Hallaq
Hoosh?
took-they?make a circle catch
(15) " A
^
Al-shaikh
al-Imam
the religious title the-Imam
Muhammad bin abi-Bakr...
Muhammad son father-Bakr

Whats the matter, woman


(Abu Sayyid)
and why do you go to the cinema,
girl (Abu Sayyid)

Just forget it, brother


(Abu Sayyid)
Get lost!
(Farahats Republic)

...and opened the huge record ledger


0 , saying...
(Farahats Republic, 12)

What kind of earrings did they


take, girl? 0
(Farahats Republic)

the great linguist Imam


Muhammad Ibn Abi Bakr..
(The Reader and the Glass of Milk).

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VITA

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VITA

Hanada Al-Masri is Jordanian. She was bom in Amman, Jordan, in 1972. She graduated
with a B.A. in English Language and Literature from Jordan University, and an M.A. in
Linguistics from the Jordan University as well. She taught at the Hashemite University in
Zarqa/Jordan in the Department of English Language and Literature before pursuing her
Ph.D. studies at Purdue University, IN, USA.

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