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As two major translation strategies, domestication and foreignization have long been the
focus of the debate in translation circle. The former is "a term used to describe the
translation strategy in which a transparent, fluent style is adopted in order to minimize the
strangeness of the foreign text for target readers" and the latter "is used to designate the
type of translation in which a target text is produced which deliberately breaks target
conventions by retaining something of the foreignness of the original" (Shuttleworth and
Cowie, 2004, p59). Opinions of different translation theorists diverge in the choice between
the two translation strategies in translation practice. But reviewing the development of
these two strategies, it is easy to find out that both of them are deeply rooted in specific
social and cultural circumstances. In other words, the choice of domesticating and
foreignizing strategies is not only made by the translators, but more importantly, made by
the specific social situations.

Domesticating strategies have been implemented at least since ancient Rome (Baker, 1998).
In 300 BC, Greece was conquered by Rome and the Romans began to consider translation as
"a form of conquest"(Tan, 1991, p22). As a result, "Latin translators not only deleted
culturally specific markers but also added allusions to Roman culture and replaced the name
of the Greek poet with their own, passing the translation off as a text originally written in
Latin" (Baker,1998, p241).

It suggested that a translator should do his/her best to preserve the strangeness of the
source text and expose the target reader to the linguistic and cultural otherness of the
source text. Then the translator must adopt "an `alienating' method of translation, orienting
himself/herself by the language and content of the source text. He/she must valorize the
foreign and transfer that into the target language'' (Monday, 2001, p28).

a. Domestication

Domestication is chosen due to a belief that the target text should be equal with

the culture of the target readers (Hoed in Nugroho et al, 2009: 9). A translator tends to

be oriented to the target text readers. Therefore, the methods used are communicative,

idiomatic, free, or adapted translation.

Table 12: Advantages and Disadvantages of Domestication

Advantages Disadvantages
The target text readers can easily The aspects in the Source Language are
understand the target text. often faded.
The target text sounds natural and The target text readers cannot interpret
communicative. the text because the interpretation has
been done by the translator.
Cultural assimilation may happen. The target text readers do not get
knowledge of the source language.

b. Foreignization

Foreignization in translation can be used to keep the culture of the source

language by involving cultural aspects in the Source Language to the Target Language.

It is hoped that intercultural learning can be done through the translation. Translators

who use this ideology tend to be oriented to the Target Language. They will use word-

for-word, literal, faithful, or semantic translation method.

Table 13: Advantages and Disadvantages of Foreignization

Advantages Disadvantages
The target text readers can understand The target text readers may feel
the culture of the Source Language. unfamiliar with some terms of the
Source Language.
The target text gives the taste of the The target text sometimes sounds
Source Language culture to the target complex and unnatural.
text readers.
Intercultural learning may happen. Some negative aspects in the Source
Language may easily influence the
target text readers.

Domestication vs. Foreignization in English-Arabic Translation

Translation does not only involve giving the equivalent meaning in the Target Language (TL),
rather it involves considering the values of the TL and the Source Language (SL) whether
they are linguistic values or cultural ones. Some translators prefer changing the SL values
and making them readable for the TL audience. This is termed Domestication. Others, on the
other hand, prefer keeping the values of the SL and exposing audience to them. This is
termed Foreignization. For example, this piece of news report can be translated into Arabic
using Domestication:

“...most of the Kuwaiti ruling family fled to Saudi Arabia.” (BBC Special Report, February 19,

‫غادرت معظم العائلة الحاكمة الكويتية إلى السعودية‬

This translation is domesticated because the back translation reads:

Most of the Kuwaiti ruling family left to Saudi Arabia.

Using ‘left’ instead of ‘fled’ is intended by the translator to avoid embarrassment especially
if s/he is working in Kuwait. This is due to the ideology of the translator.

When translators use Foreignization, they keep the SL values and make them salient in the
TL. Translating verses of the Quran into English shows foreign elements to the English
language readership. For example,

‫( و الجبال أوتادا‬The Quran, Surat An-Naba’,verse 7)

is translated into English as:

‘And the mountains as pegs’ (Dr. Saleh As-Saleh,The Tafseer (explanation) of Surat An-

The English meaning of the verse is ‘Mountains balance earth like anchors to a ship’.

The foreignization involved here as any English speaker would tell that this text is foreign. It
breaks the sense of English s/he uses daily.