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Babe1, 43: 160-75" Federation Intemationale des Traducteurs (FIT) Revue Babel
Naturalness in Literary Translation
Abdul-Baki As-Safi & Incam Sahib Ash-Sharifi
Abstract
In the literature on translation theory, naturalness in not encompassed in an overall
approach but is often subsumed in certain definitions and notions. Among the
prominent notions of naturalness are Nida's and Newmark's, which seem to match
each other on a number of points. Nida (1964:166) regards the concept as parallel to
dynamic equivalence and thus defines translation grounded on such equivalence as
"the closest natural equivalent to the source-language message." He echoes this
definition in 1975:33 and in a joint work with Taber (1969: 12). Elaborating on the
concept, he attaches it to certain areas: the receptor language and the culture, the
context of the message and the target receptors (1964: 167), the last of which,
however, is inappropriate to literary translation in the sense that literature addresses
no specific receptors. Newmark (1988:24,26) refers to natural language as one
constructed from the "most frequently used structures and words" or "the common
grammar, idioms and words that meet that kind of situation." For him (Newmark,
1983:5) it is a fluent language which might be marred by adherence to the source
language (SL) norms, and yet should not be misinterpreted as being ordinary
language (ibid.:26). Steiner(1975:333), commenting on Dryden's three types of
translation, speaks of naturalizing the content of the source text and focusing on the
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form to attain a matching literary level to the original. Other references to
naturalness are merely notions, less crystallized in the form of a concept.
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Naturalness in Literary Translation
1.Features of Naturalness
The salient features of naturalness can be classified as primary and secondary, the
latter - such as intelligibility, accessibility or readability– being generated by the
former. The primary ones, which are well-formedness, acceptability, idiomaticity,
authenticity and contemporaneity, are more rigid than the secondary ones.
2.1 Well-Formedness
Well-formedness is a property of syntax which requires that the target language be
consistent with the TL grammar rules (a requirement elaborated on in 3.2) and be
free from SL syntactic interference.
Acceptability 2.2
Acceptability in the TL can be ensured by compliance with the target linguistic and
cultural norms. More restrictively, it may ensue from grammaticality, which applies
particularly to literature since literary language, the standard, is normally
grammatical and acceptable. This holds true except for some neologistic forms
which cannot be accepted immediately by readers (a point amplified in 3.1.2 below).
On the other hand, some constructions that are prima facie ill-formed may be
incorporated as acceptable in a language due to currency of usage. Such ill-
formedness often results from the impact of literal translation, that is, translationese.
It is rejected by a norm of naturalness that stipulates authenticity and well-
formedness. An instance of translationese which has become acceptable in Arabic is
the proverb:
.=- ` ='=' ¸-=-
mujbarun ' axa:ka la: batal
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Your brother is forced, not a hero.
, axa:ka is an accusative form which should be nominative (' axu:ka), since it is the
predicate of a nominal sentence.
However, in literary translation acceptability extends to include other facets from
which the concept of literary intuition may be hypothesized. Simply stated, the
translator should possess a literary competence which manifests itself firstly by his
acquaintance with the rhetoric and the dominant aesthetic canons of the TL culture.
Consequently the translator can discern whether certain stylistic features are
acceptable or not in the TL culture. Secondly, his subjective presence and aesthetic
selectivity, which can be substantial in literary translation, should be permeable in
limited ways, for instance for neologizing and for discriminating current usages
from archaic ones. That is to say, the translator's mastery of writing should be not
less than the SL writer's if he is to translate naturally. Thirdly, he can recognize and
identify the tenor of the original, e.g. 'elevated', 'serious', 'simple', 'florid' and so forth
(Tytler in Rener, 1989:193). In point of fact, he can achieve a high level of
literariness.
2.3 Idiomaticity
Idiomaticity is a feature of authenticity (see 2.4) which is basic to natural translation.
It can be characterized as the tendency to use certain established formulas in the TL
culture, namely collocations, idioms and proverbs (see 3.4). Such formulas are part
of the literary heritage of a language. As a corollary, the longer the tradition in which
a language is rooted, the more it is likely to beget and preserve such formulas. Such
languages may demonstrate a very marked register of literary language, since they
possess a plethora of literary norms, part of which is their idioms. In Arabic, the
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sacred text of the Qur'an is the most abundant source for literary norms in general
and idiomatic formulas in particular.
2.4 Authenticity
The prime distinctive characteristic of natural translation is authenticity. Authentic
language is characterized by well-formedness and acceptability, that is, freedom
from SL linguistic and cultural interferences (as pointed out in 2.2). More
significantly, authentic language tends to utilize the TL literary resources so as to
attain naturalness. In other words, it exploits the TL rhetoric and aesthetic canons. It
also maintains an equilibrium between the natural flow of content on the one hand
and literariness on the other. Natural translation can thus approximate or even
surpass the original literary level which recalls Nida and Taber's ideal (1969: 12)
that "the best translation is the one that does not sound like a translation."
Consequently, it should not "exhibit in its grammatical and stylistic forms any trace
of awkwardness or strangeness," that is to say, it should carefully avoid
'translationese', which Nida and Taber equate to "formal fidelity" (ibid.: 13).
However, it should be noted that natural translation does not undermine content
accuracy and it by no means diverges towards 'imitation', which is another state of
the equilibrium. It exerts an effort to employ the particularities of the TL forms but
simultaneously adheres to the SL content (for examples, see 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4).
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2.5 Contemporaneity
Contemporaneity can be illustrated in the translation of any ancient work that
addresses its new readership in the language of the new age (Prochazka in Garvin
1964:95). It presupposes that literary norms can change across cultures and periods,
as was instanced by the violation of meter in poetry to allow free or blank verse or
poetic prose to evolve, and the tendency to embellish language with ornaments in
certain literary periods but to be simple in others. Contemporaneity is important due
to its incidence on naturalness, i.e. on intelligibility, acceptability and readability.
However, in seeking contemporaneity the translator may seem to lean towards
imitation. Hence it should be made clear that contemporaneity is rather the opposite
pole to archaism. A contemporary translation language therefore tends to discard
archaic usages which are undesirable in terms of intelligibility and aesthetic value.
Furthermore, certain stylistic usages in an old work may not appeal to the taste and
literary awareness of the contemporary reader; for example they may strike him as
exaggerated. In these circumstances the translator may manipulate such usages by
compromising between them and the norms of his own period. Zlateva (in Bassnett
and Lefevere 1990:32) comments on a translator of an ancient work explaining that
he had rendered it in an essentially different way from the original because the latter
contained "different archaic words and structures, many synonymous verbs, and
adjectives so colourful and outdated that they represent an obstacle to any smooth
reception of the text."
Nonetheless, we feel bound to add that making a natural translation contemporary
does not contradict the tendency to have recourse to tradition, that is, to the
authenticated. In fact, evading archaic usages on the one hand and borrowing from
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tradition make up a dual strategy, for which purpose the subjective aesthetic
selectivity of the translator must constantly be applied. This manner of proceeding
may be necessary when criteria and statistics are lacking to help decide between the
tendencies, for instance in deciding whether to use archaic words like the two below
as equivalents to the English word 'leafless' and thereby fill a lexical gap:
leafless trees
_'-= ¸'=-' / -'-
'ashja:r 'ubla:/sulub
Such words are hardly a natural choice despite their historical authenticity, since
they impair intelligibility and any literary effect. The use of a third equivalent, other
derivatives of which are still current, viz:
-'-¸- ¸'=-'
'ashja:r marda:' (Ath-Th'a:libi: 360,59)
Can be both intelligible and aesthetically acceptable, hence natural.
1. Levels of Naturalness
Naturalness can be studied in terms of the stylistic elevation achieved by
utilizing the resources peculiar to the TL.
. Lexical Level
Naturalness on this level requires proper diction, i.e. proper choice of vo-
cabulary, and demands transfer of the connotative meanings of SL words over and
above their denotative meanings. If the connotations go unheeded, as is liable to
happen in literal renditions, meaning will not be reproduced (Benjamin in Schulte &
Biguenet, 1992:72). Furthermore, one element of propriety is precision, which
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implies that proper diction should not express any irrelevant or superfluous notions
which were not intended originally (Corbett, 1971:430). To put it differently,
naturalness entails that one word may be appropriate in a given context whereas
even its synonyms are not. Take, for example,
'-' ='- ,¸,- ª--·
tilka idhan qismatun di:za: (An-Najm:22)
That were indeed an unjust division (Arberry 1964:550)
This Qur'anic verse mocks the Arabs' contradictory attitude to women in the pre-
Islamic era. They used to bury young girls alive, and yet they considered idols and
angels as girls whose father was God. 'di:za' imparts this connotation, whereas its
synonyms 'ja:'ira' and 'za:lima' do not function
similarly and so could not replace it. This makes di:zs the precise natural word
choice.
Likewise the tendency to vary diction, but to forego words whose emotive power
is almost stripped away, maintains proper choice and hence naturalness. A case in
point is the following two Qur'anic verses, which vary diction in a similar context.
This variation gives rise to a stylistic effect as well as a pragmatic connotative
meaning; thus the two words used represent natural choices :
'-,= ¸-= '--`' ª-- -¸=--'· ¸=='' ='-·- -¸-'
idrib bi'·aa:ka alhtajar fanfajarat minhu ithnata: cashrata caynan (Qur'an, AI-
Baqara:60)
'Strike with thy staff the rock' and there gushed forth from it twelve fountains
(Arberry 1964:7,8).
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The same verse appears in AI-·ara:f:, but with the word 'fanbajasat' instead of
'fanfajarat'. The variation accords with the intended meaning, that is, with the
associations of the words used to depict the two events: in the first case, where
Moses himself has asked for water, 'fanfajarat' makes a stronger impact on the
reader than does 'fanbajasat', which is used when it is Moses' people who were the
askers (La:shi:n, 1979:50).
In translations, similar criteria should prevail so as to lead to a felicitous natural
choice imparting perspicuity, vividness and expressiveness while being economical.
In the following example, the translator seems to convey a different, imprecise
meaning and effect due to an unnatural choice of word. He (Hussayn, 1990:593)
uses the word --'' = _' 'al-mustala' as an equivalent to the italicized words below:
He shifted slightly on the hearth,... Gudrun was aware of the beautiful
panels of the fireplace,... (Lawrence 1960:367)
Though the denotative meaning of 'istala' is 'to warm oneself', its derivative
'mustala' conveys an image of horror due to the dominant effect imparted by the
verb root _'- 'sala' 'to be burned by fire.' This verb and its derivatives are used in
the Qur' an to connote the agony that awaits sinners in Hell.
3.1.1 Morphological Sublevel
Morphology studies the structure or form of words (Crystal 1978:100). The form of
a word, both in Arabic and English, often corresponds to a syntactic category, e.g.
'hulmi' 'dream' (noun), 'hulum' 'dream-like' (adjective). Naturalness requires that
when no TL lexical equivalent with the same syntactic category is available, the
translator should use a semantically equivalent word with a different syntactic
category; this in turn usually imposes a change of morphological structure, as in:
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_=-,'' ¸,¸-'' ,-'=-
sajja:nu: al-quru:n al-wusta: (noun structure and word form)
mediaeval jailors (adjectival structure and word form).
3.1.2 Neologism
Strictly speaking, neologism is the coining of new words in the language (Shaw,
1979:253). However, new words can be produced by a writer's idiosyncracies and
deviations. Neologisms can be stylistic devices, foregrounded by their strangeness
and unexpectedness. A translator, on the other hand, may be more given to
neologizing than the original author because of doing it to fill lexical gaps as well as
using it for aesthetic effect. A neologism is ipso facto not natural (in our sense of
'natural'), since it cannot be accepted immediately by the reader's intuition. Hence
this is an area where naturalness has to be suspended in order that literary creation
may prevail. It means that the translator should endeavour to neologize to enhance
literary effect, or to compensate for loss of effect elsewhere in the text where he has
been unable to render an SL neologism by a TL neologism; and finally, sometimes,
in order to cope with a lexical deficiency. For all of these purposes, he should
endeavour to make felicitous aesthetic choices and avoid processes of word-
formation likely to beget cumbersome words, such as blending or compounding in
Arabic; and of course he must avoid deriving ill-formed words. The following
example of a derivation illustrates a natural choice of neologism which at the same
time fills a lexical gap; it concerns an idiosyncratic use of 'wrung' as an adjective by
Faulkner (1954:332):
and they swung and tilted in the wrung branches.
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Jebra (1979:332) translates 'wrung' by the neologism +- ¸,- 'mahsur', deriving it by
regular morphological formation from 'hasara' 'to bend down (a branch), to produce
a crack'.
3.2 Sentential Level
3.2.1 Syntax
Syntax studies the grammatical rules of sentences and the interrelationships between
sentences (Crystal, 1987:30). Naturalness requires well-formed sentences. It follows
that a syntactically natural translation should be well-formed and that the source text
may have to be restructured in line with the rules of the TL syntax (Nida, 1964:165),
for example in order to deal with translation of agentive and agentless passives
between English and Arabic.
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3.2.2 Rhetoric
Furthermore, a 'rhetorical' sentence, which can be roughly defined as "a carefully
and skillfully assembled construction" (Rener 1989:161-162), subsumes well-
formedness; the product of the latter being convergent with the main features of
rhetorically natural sentences, namely smoothness, intelligibility and acceptability.
Basically, however, attainment of a rhetorical sentence rests mainly on attaining
harmony and coherence. For this, phonetic effects may be used, i.e. alliteration,
assonance or parallelism; or simply the elimination of "clashes of harsh-sounding
consonants, meetings of two vowels" and "the repetition of the same syllable" (ibid.:
162). In addition, a naturally rhetorical sentence tends to exploit the particular
resources of the language, such as paronyms and repetitions in Arabic, so as to
generate sentences that are harmonious, e.g.
_-=, ¸' ¸=' -', ¸'-'' _-=-,
wataxsha: an-na:sa wallahu 'ahaqqu an taxsha:hu
(Qur'an, AI-' AJ:lza:b:37)
fearing other men; and God has better right for thee to fear Him
(Arberry 1964:431).
To take a translation example, compare our proposed Arabic rendition
of the following English sentence with the first translation below:
Here they sat, folded together, folded round with the same rug
(Lawrence 1982:436 )
¸=`' _'= ,=-- -=','' '-'= '-» --=', ª,-'=-- '-' ¸,,,=--
huna: jalasa:, muntawin cala: al-'a:xar, muntawiyayn
luffa: bibara:niyya wa:hida (Hussayn 1990:698).
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This is our proposal
¸',,=-, -=', ¸'`- ¸·, · ¸=`' _'= '-»-=' ¸,=-, · '-+» ¸---'
istaqarra: hahuna, yantawi: ahaduuma: ahdha:ma: 'ala; al-a:xar, wafi
ditha:rin wa:hid yantawi:yan.
We submit that our version is more consistent with natural Arabic rhetoric than
Hussayn's, since, though both use a paronym, ours foregrounds it in the manner
exemplified by the Qur'anic verse quoted earlier.
Moreover, it should be borne in mind that Arabic does not altogether reject
repetition of syllables as unnatural. Criteria discriminating desirable from
undesirable repetition can be found in Al-Jurjani's monograph on paronymous
effects (in La:shi:n, 1979:141). Al-Jurjani was a renowned Arab rhetorician and
semanticist of the eleventh century. For him, such usages should be regulated by the
content.
The use of phonetic effects may alleviate clashes between syllables or between
vowels, and build up a natural sentence, as illustrated in the second of the two
translations below, which is ours:
and the awful inchoate eyes, which seemed to be decomposing
(Lawrence: 362)
¸,-''=-- ¸',--- '--'´ ¸,-''' · ¸,-,-'--'' · ¸,---'-'' ¸,-·,=-'' ¸,-,·'', . - '-- ¸,-''=--
wal-baynayn al-faz:'atayn al-qa:timatayn, al-bada: iyatayn,
allatayn k:anata: tabduwa:n mutahallitaya (Hussayn 1990:585)
· ¸,---'-'' ¸¸-'' ¸,-··,-'' ¸,--,---'' ¸,-,·'' .=-- _¸-- '- '-»'-=' ,---
wal-'aynayn al-manqu:satayn al-mu:qicatayn lil-faraq wal
qa:timatayn, tabdu: a~aduhuma: ma: tabrahtu tanhalu.
. Cohesive Level
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Cohesion requires that redundant elements be curtailed from a translation and the
text made compact, powerful and smooth. In this way the style is elevated and
meanings are lucidly exposed. The more cohesive a text is, the more natural it is and
the better it becomes stylistically. Al-Jurjani (La:shi:n,1979:166) views style as
clarity of meanings and ideas whose integration is ensured by cohesiveness, hence
by the natural flow of content. Cohesiveness is deployed with "ia rhetorical
purpose", that is, in order to be convincing, and to that end affects the presentation of
content by making some elements of the text more conspicuous than others (Hatim
and Mason, 1990: I 44ff.) A case in point in Arabic is deletion, which represents a
rhetorical feature of cohesion:
'-,· '=,= ª' .·=, »',
wa-lam yaj'allahu 'iwa:jan, qayyima:
(Qur'an, AI-Kah :l, 2)
and has not assigned unto it any crookedness; right
(Arberry 1964:228)
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Since the combination of crookedness and righteousness to describe the same
thing, viz. the Qur'an, is contradictory, it can be inferred that a deleted verb precedes
'qayyima', i.e. 'azalna:ha' 'He sent it down'. The deletion makes for economy and
gives prominence or focus to the notion of righteousness (AI-Ansa:ri:,534-535).
Each language has its ways of building up a cohesive text. If the discrepancies
between the cohesive systems of different languages are disregarded, translations
may be unintelligible, unacceptable and unreadable - in other words, unnatural. An
example of the discrepancies between Arabic and English is coordination versus
subordination; Arabic coordinates clauses far more than English does.
Generally speaking, lack of TL cohesive devices results in poor coherence in
translations, as can be observed in certain renditions that are too literal and thereby
impose the cohesive system of the SL on the TL. Nonetheless, it does not follow that
achieving a natural target text is a matter of using cohesive devices to a greater or
lesser extent than the source text does. It is the proper use of cohesive devices that is
first and foremost required. Improper use includes overuse. It may arise
unintentionally from literal translation, or from deliberately seeking to reproduce the
SL coherence - a procedure which hampers readability because the devices do not
have the same function in the TL, and which has a negative effect on literariness.
Here is an example:
Ursula, left alone, felt as if everything were lapsing out. There seemed to be no
hope in the world. One was a tiny little rock with the tide of nothingness rising
higher and higher (Lawrence:75)
'-´ -¸·- --· '»-=, -´¸- ¸-'' `,,-¸' '-' ¸'´ ¸- .´ ¸' ,' `,' .',¸ _'' . '-' .´ _-`- --· '+ ¸·
- ¸'´ ¸,= ¸· ·ª+·'- -¸,·- -¸'== ¸= -¸'-= -¸-'' ¸'´ '-- '- _'= ·»''·'' ´- ·-,'¸-- _'--¸' ¸· ª,-,-`'
-,'¸-- .
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amma: ursyu:la: allati: turikat wahdaha: faqad sha'arat kama: law inna kulla
shay'in ka:na a:yilan ila: zawa:1. faqad tala:sha: kull 'amallaha: fi: al-'a:lam,
'ala: ma: bada: ka:na aI-mar' 'iba:ra can hijarain saghiratin ta:fihatinfi: hi:n,
fi: hli:n ka:na madd al-Ia:shay'iyya fi: 'irtifa:' mutaza:yin, muta:zayid.
Our proposed revision, which follows, is made more natural by alleviating
cohesion, besides using an idiomatic expression (shay'an fashay'an) and changing a
piece of diction (al-Ia:shay'iyya) that hampers smoothness:
'-,-· '-,- »-·'' -- ª-'¸'- -='--, `-'--- ·»''·'' ¸· .-' ª-` '+' ,--, »', .
…., waIam yabduw laha: thammat amal fi: al-'a:lam muta:la:'ilan
yatasaadu bi'aza: ihi madd al-'adam shay'an fashay'an.
On the other hand, deliberately overused cohesive devices can, by their proliferation
or extravagant repetition, constitute a stylistic feature. One such rhetorical device is
polysyndeton, that is, "deliberate use of many conjunctions" for certain effects
(Corbett, 1971:471), e.g.
»` »´-,-, »` »´',='· '-',-' »--´, ¸,·=¸- ª,'' »` »´,,=, .
wakuntum amwa:tan fa'ah haa: kum thumma yumi:tukim thumma yuhilyi:kum
thumma ilayhi turja'u:n. (The Qur'an, AI-Baqara:28)
seeing you were dead and He gave you life, then He shall make you dead, then He
shall give you life, then unto Him you shall be returned (Arberry 1964:4-5).
However, such overuse should be accompanied by phonetic effects so as to
maintain smoothness. As for the translation, the translator should endeavour to
reproduce the intended overuse, the rhetorical device, by working analogous
phonetic effects into the target text lest the repetition should seem redundant, as it
does in the first translation below:
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He watched it, then dropped another daisy into the water, and after that another, and
sat watching them with bright absolved eyes (Lawrence: 145)
¸,-·¸·--- ¸,,-·'¸- ¸,,-·- '+-·'¸, ¸'=, ='- -·- ,¸=' »` ·-'-'' ¸· ,¸=' ª-',=·' =--' »` ·'+-·'¸ .
ra:qabaha:, thumma 'asqata 'iqhliwa:na 'uxra: fi: al-ma:', thumma uxra: ba'dd
dha:lik, wa-jalasa yura:qibuha: bi'aynayn barra:qatayn mustaghriqatayn.
(Hussayn, 1990:244)
Here is our version, in which parallelism and phonetic effects are used in analogy
to the original and make the translation seem natural:
¸,-,·-, ·¸'=· ·,¸=' _'' _+--' »` ·,¸=' ª-',=·' ¸+-'' ¸· _-'' »` ·'+-·'¸ '+-·'¸ ¸,,-·¸·--- ¸,-·'¸- .
raqa:baha:, thumma alqa: fi: al-nahr 'iqhiwa:na uxra:, thumma
'intaba: 'iLa 'uxra:, fajalasa, wabi'aynan barra:qatayn mustaghri-
qatayn ra:qababa:.
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3.4. Idiomatic level
Since naturalness gives preference to idiomatic language, it implies that wherever
established formulas - collocations, idioms and proverbs - exist in a language, they
should be used rather than free word combinations. The translation is thereby made
more intelligible, acceptable and effective. By the same token, some collocations
may be more authentic than others according to the literary heritage of the language.
Such forms are particularly conducive to naturalness.
3.4.1. Collocations
A collocation is "the habitual association of a word in language with other particular
words in sentences" (Robins 1967:67). Here are some examples of non-natural and
natural translations involving collocations.
SL TL Unnatural TL Natural
To invent lies :
¸-', / -,-'´`' _---,
yulaffiq/yabtadic al-' aka:dhib
'--´ ¸¸--,
yaftariy kadhiban
A low status:
ª=¸- / ª-=', ª'¸--
daraja/manzila wa:!i' a
.--`' =¸-''
al-darak ai-' asfal
He has a wide
experience :
ª',,= -¸-= ª'
labu xibra !awiyla
.,,= _'- ª'
labu ba:c !awiyl.
For further exemplification, see: A.B. As-Safi. " The Dynamic vs. Static Translation
of Literary Texts into Arabic." Turjuman. 1994, 3, (1), pp. 57-79.
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4.Conclusion
The principles that this article propounds are as follows.
4.1 The main features of naturalness can be firmly identified as: grammaticality,
acceptability, idiomaticity, authenticity and contemporaneity, all of which aid in
maintaining intelligibility and readability.
4.2 Acceptability depends in large part on well-formedness, that is, on
grammaticality. Yet it extends to encompass judgments on literary usages insofar as
the latter are appealing or not to the TL reader; these judgments demand a high level
of proficiency in the TL, namely a level at which the translator possesses literary
intuition. At that point the translator's subjective interference, which is
indistinguishable from literary creation, may come into play. It enables him to apply
aesthetic selectivity, notably for neologisms, and to avoid usages that are authentic
but likely to be perceived as archaic.
4.3 To be natural, the translation should use established formulas from the literary
heritage of the TL, that is to say, it should be idiomatic.
4.4 Authenticity requires full utilization of the TL's particular resources and
conformity with its aesthetic norms. In this way a high literary standard can be
attained. Nevertheless, though it focuses on form in its seeking after authenticity,
natural translation does not entail deviating from the content of the source text; it
creates an equilibrium between accurate content reproduction on the one hand and
aesthetic reproduction, smoothness and literariness on the other.
4.5 Contemporaneity is a facet of naturalness which might appear incompatible with
authenticity in some texts. It is important to distinguish between authenticity in the
sense in which we use here and archaic usages which were authentic in their day but
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which are now undesirable because they hinder intelligibility and readability, or
because they are remote from what appeals aesthetically to contemporary readers.
4.6 The study of naturalness at these various levels favours stylistic elevation. On
the lexical and cohesive levels, naturalness is a concomitant of proper diction and
proper use of cohesive devices in compliance with the TL system. On the syntactic
level, well-formedness brings about natural sentences which makes good use of TL
resources.!
Note
1. The authors wish to thank Professor Brian Harris of the University of Ottawa for
his help in editing this article.
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Jebra, I. Jebra (trans.) 1979 As-Saxab wal 'unf Beirut: Da:r aI-' Ada:b. 338pp.
AI-Jurj:ni, 'abdul-Qa:hir. 1954- 'Asra:r al-Bala:gha. in Riter (ed.) Istanbul:
Government Press. 24pp.
La:shi:n Abdul-Fatta:h. 1979. AI-Badi:' fi Daw' 'Asa:li:b aI-Qur'an. Cairo: Da:r
aI-Maarif. 206pp.
Lawrence, D.H. 1960. Women in Love. England: Penguin. 541pp.
Newmark, P. 1983. "Introductory Survey". In The Translator's Handbook. ed. by
Picken.1-20. London: ASLIB.
Newmark, P. 1988. A Textbook of Translation. London: Prentice Hall. 292pp.
Nida, E. 1964. Towards a Science of Translating. Leiden: E. J. Brill. 331pp.
Nida, E. 1975. Language, Structure and Translation California: Stanford
University Press. 219pp.
Nida, E. and C. Taber. 1969. The Theory and Practice of Translation. Leiden: E.
J. Brill. 323 pp.
Prochazka, V. 1964. "Notes on Translating Technique". In Prague School on
Esthetics: Literary Structure and Style, ed. by Gavin, 83-112. Washington:
Georgetown University Press.
Rener, F. M. 1989. Interpretation: Language and Translation from Cicero to
Tytler. Amsterdam: Atlanta G. A. 367pp.
Robins, R. H. 1967. General Linguistics: An Introductory Survey. London:
Longmans. 391pp.
Shaw, Harvy. 1972. Dictionary of Literary Terms. McGraw-Hill Book Cy. 1405
pp.
22
Steiner, G. 1975. After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation. London:
OUP. 507pp. .
Zlateva, P. 1990. "Translation: Text and Pre-text. "Adequacy" and "Acceptability".
In: S. Bassnett and A. Lefevere: Translation, History and Culture. 29-34. London:
Pinter.
About the Authors
Abdul-Baki As-Safi is a professor of translation, lecturer in literary translation and
head of the Translation Department at AI-Mustansiriya University, Baghdad, Iraq.
Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Al-Zaytoonah University, Amman, Jordan He obtained
his Ph.D. in Literary Translation from the University of Lancaster ( Britain) in 1979.
He is the author of two books on linguistics and translation, has published 25
papers and supervised 16 MA theses and 10 Ph.D. theses . His translations include
Taha Hussein's novel The Call of the Curfew (Leiden, Brill, 1980).
Permanent Address: Translation Department, College of Arts, AI-Mustansiriya
University, Baghdad, Iraq .
Current Address: Faculty of Arts, Al-Zaytoonah University, Amman, Jordan.
In'am Ash-Sharifi holds an M.A. in Translation and Interpretation from AI-
Mustansiriya University. She did her B.A. in English Literature and worked
subsequently as a postgraduate research assistant.
23
Abstract
The present article investigates the concept of naturalness in literary translation. The
aim of the investigation is to delineate an integrated approach to 'natural' translation,
the essence of which lies in creating a compromise between accurate rendition and
literary reproduction. Such a compromise entails attaining an artistic verbal
smoothness which transcends the level of ordinary language. To this end, natural
translation calls for utilization of the target language's resources that will make the
translation read like an authentic target language (TL) work, while preserving the
content intact.
The article thus identifies naturalness as the achievement of authentic TL style, and
unnaturalness as the hybrid language of literal rendition, i.e. translationese that may
be unacceptable or unintelligible. It detects the actualization of an authentic style of
Arabic rendition on several levels: lexical, sentential, cohesive and idiomatic. On the
lexical level, naturalness is delimited in terms of proper choice of appropriate
vocabulary. On the sentential level, well-formedness is posited as the feature of
naturalness which outlines a rhetorically natural sentence, besides other concomitant
features. On the cohesive level, the features of a natural target text are based on the
use of cohesive devices to a greater or lesser degree than the source text in general
and on the propriety of their use in particular instances. At the idiomatic level, we
mention idioms and proverbs but concentrate, with examples, on collocations.
Resume
Cet article examine la notion de naturel dans la traduction des textes litteraires dans
le but de cerner une approche integree de la traduction 'naturelle' qui consiste
essentiellement a obtenir un compromis entre un rendu fidele et une reproduction
litteraire. Ce compromis exige une fluidite verbale artistique qui depasse le niveau
de la langue ordinaire. La traduction naturelle doit donc utiliser toutes les res sources
24
de la langue d'arrivee pour que la traduction se lise comme ouvrage litteraire redige
dans cette langue d'arrivee, tout en respectant fidelement le contenu.
Dans leur article, les auteurs definissent donc le naturel comme l'obtention d'un
style authentique dans la langue d'arrivee, et le manque de naturel comme un
langage hybride avec un rendu litteral, c'est-a-dire des traductions susceptibles d'etre
inacceptables ou incomprehensibles. L'article analyse comment mettre en reuvre, a
differents niveaux, un style authentique en arabe: lexicologie, phraseologie,
coherence et usage d'expressions idiomatiques. En ce qui concerne le niveau
lexicologique, le naturel se definit comme etant le choix correct d'un vocabulaire
approprie. Au niveau phraseologique, des phrases formees correctement sont la
caracteristique du naturel qui fait apparaitre, a cote d'autres proprietes, la rhetorique
naturelle de la phrase. Au niveau de la coherence, les caracteristiques d'un texte
redige avec naturel dans la langue cible sont basees sur des mecanismes utilises plus
ou moins intensivement que dans le texte d'origine en general et sur leur utilisation
appropriee dans certains cas particuliers. Au niveau des expressions idiomatiques,
les auteurs mentionnent de telles expressions ainsi que des proverbes, mais se
concentrent, en donnant des exemples, sur des collocations.

form to attain a matching literary level to the original. Other references to naturalness are merely notions, less crystallized in the form of a concept.

2

2 below). that is. it may ensue from grammaticality. It is rejected by a norm of naturalness that stipulates authenticity and wellformedness.Naturalness in Literary Translation 1. the latter . which are well-formedness. An instance of translationese which has become acceptable in Arabic is the proverb: mujbarun ' axa:ka la: batal 3 . This holds true except for some neologistic forms which cannot be accepted immediately by readers (a point amplified in 3. acceptability.1 Well-Formedness Well-formedness is a property of syntax which requires that the target language be consistent with the TL grammar rules (a requirement elaborated on in 3. is normally grammatical and acceptable. Such illformedness often results from the impact of literal translation.1. idiomaticity. translationese. On the other hand.2 Acceptability Acceptability in the TL can be ensured by compliance with the target linguistic and cultural norms. accessibility or readability– being generated by the former. More restrictively.2) and be free from SL syntactic interference. authenticity and contemporaneity.such as intelligibility. which applies particularly to literature since literary language. 2. The primary ones.Features of Naturalness The salient features of naturalness can be classified as primary and secondary. the standard. are more rigid than the secondary ones. 2. some constructions that are prima facie ill-formed may be incorporated as acceptable in a language due to currency of usage.

g. axa:ka is an accusative form which should be nominative (' axu:ka).4) which is basic to natural translation. That is to say. Secondly. should be permeable in limited ways. 'serious'. In Arabic. in literary translation acceptability extends to include other facets from which the concept of literary intuition may be hypothesized. the more it is likely to beget and preserve such formulas. . part of which is their idioms. 'florid' and so forth (Tytler in Rener.3 Idiomaticity Idiomaticity is a feature of authenticity (see 2. his subjective presence and aesthetic selectivity. the longer the tradition in which a language is rooted. In point of fact. not a hero. Simply stated. Such formulas are part of the literary heritage of a language. 2. As a corollary. the 4 . e. for instance for neologizing and for discriminating current usages from archaic ones. idioms and proverbs (see 3. 1989:193). the translator's mastery of writing should be not less than the SL writer's if he is to translate naturally. 'simple'. Thirdly. However.Your brother is forced. Consequently the translator can discern whether certain stylistic features are acceptable or not in the TL culture. the translator should possess a literary competence which manifests itself firstly by his acquaintance with the rhetoric and the dominant aesthetic canons of the TL culture.4). namely collocations. since they possess a plethora of literary norms. since it is the predicate of a nominal sentence. 'elevated'. Such languages may demonstrate a very marked register of literary language. he can recognize and identify the tenor of the original. It can be characterized as the tendency to use certain established formulas in the TL culture. which can be substantial in literary translation. he can achieve a high level of literariness.

2. which is another state of the equilibrium. see 3. 3.3.4 Authenticity The prime distinctive characteristic of natural translation is authenticity.2.sacred text of the Qur'an is the most abundant source for literary norms in general and idiomatic formulas in particular. However.2). freedom from SL linguistic and cultural interferences (as pointed out in 2. 5 . it should be noted that natural translation does not undermine content accuracy and it by no means diverges towards 'imitation'.4). 3. It also maintains an equilibrium between the natural flow of content on the one hand and literariness on the other. authentic language tends to utilize the TL literary resources so as to attain naturalness. which Nida and Taber equate to "formal fidelity" (ibid." that is to say. Natural translation can thus approximate or even surpass the original literary level which recalls Nida and Taber's ideal (1969: 12) that "the best translation is the one that does not sound like a translation. it exploits the TL rhetoric and aesthetic canons." Consequently. It exerts an effort to employ the particularities of the TL forms but simultaneously adheres to the SL content (for examples. that is. More significantly.1.: 13). 3. it should not "exhibit in its grammatical and stylistic forms any trace of awkwardness or strangeness. In other words. Authentic language is characterized by well-formedness and acceptability. it should carefully avoid 'translationese'.

" Nonetheless. in seeking contemporaneity the translator may seem to lean towards imitation. and the tendency to embellish language with ornaments in certain literary periods but to be simple in others. and adjectives so colourful and outdated that they represent an obstacle to any smooth reception of the text. It presupposes that literary norms can change across cultures and periods.5 Contemporaneity Contemporaneity can be illustrated in the translation of any ancient work that addresses its new readership in the language of the new age (Prochazka in Garvin 1964:95). on intelligibility. as was instanced by the violation of meter in poetry to allow free or blank verse or poetic prose to evolve. Contemporaneity is important due to its incidence on naturalness.2. many synonymous verbs. we feel bound to add that making a natural translation contemporary does not contradict the tendency to have recourse to tradition. A contemporary translation language therefore tends to discard archaic usages which are undesirable in terms of intelligibility and aesthetic value. acceptability and readability. to the authenticated. In these circumstances the translator may manipulate such usages by compromising between them and the norms of his own period. for example they may strike him as exaggerated. that is. i. In fact. However.e. Zlateva (in Bassnett and Lefevere 1990:32) comments on a translator of an ancient work explaining that he had rendered it in an essentially different way from the original because the latter contained "different archaic words and structures. evading archaic usages on the one hand and borrowing from 6 . Furthermore. certain stylistic usages in an old work may not appeal to the taste and literary awareness of the contemporary reader. Hence it should be made clear that contemporaneity is rather the opposite pole to archaism.

which 7 . 1992:72). . proper choice of vocabulary.e. hence natural. This manner of proceeding may be necessary when criteria and statistics are lacking to help decide between the tendencies. and demands transfer of the connotative meanings of SL words over and above their denotative meanings. for instance in deciding whether to use archaic words like the two below as equivalents to the English word 'leafless' and thereby fill a lexical gap: leafless trees / 'ashja:r 'ubla:/sulub Such words are hardly a natural choice despite their historical authenticity. meaning will not be reproduced (Benjamin in Schulte & Biguenet.59) Can be both intelligible and aesthetically acceptable. The use of a third equivalent. 1. other derivatives of which are still current. Furthermore. one element of propriety is precision. since they impair intelligibility and any literary effect. viz: 'ashja:r marda:' (Ath-Th'a:libi: 360. i. as is liable to happen in literal renditions. for which purpose the subjective aesthetic selectivity of the translator must constantly be applied. Lexical Level Naturalness on this level requires proper diction. If the connotations go unheeded.tradition make up a dual strategy. Levels of Naturalness Naturalness can be studied in terms of the stylistic elevation achieved by utilizing the resources peculiar to the TL.

A case in point is the following two Qur'anic verses. tilka idhan qismatun di:za: (An-Najm:22) That were indeed an unjust division (Arberry 1964:550) This Qur'anic verse mocks the Arabs' contradictory attitude to women in the preIslamic era. 1971:430). naturalness entails that one word may be appropriate in a given context whereas even its synonyms are not. To put it differently. Take. 'di:za' imparts this connotation. but to forego words whose emotive power is almost stripped away. which vary diction in a similar context. 8 . They used to bury young girls alive. maintains proper choice and hence naturalness. Likewise the tendency to vary diction. whereas its synonyms 'ja:'ira' and 'za:lima' do not function similarly and so could not replace it. AIBaqara:60) 'Strike with thy staff the rock' and there gushed forth from it twelve fountains (Arberry 1964:7.8). thus the two words used represent natural choices : idrib bi' aa:ka alhtajar fanfajarat minhu ithnata: cashrata caynan (Qur'an.implies that proper diction should not express any irrelevant or superfluous notions which were not intended originally (Corbett. This makes di:zs the precise natural word choice. and yet they considered idols and angels as girls whose father was God. for example. This variation gives rise to a stylistic effect as well as a pragmatic connotative meaning.

In translations. The variation accords with the intended meaning. this in turn usually imposes a change of morphological structure. In the following example. 1990:593) uses the word 'al-mustala' as an equivalent to the italicized words below: He shifted slightly on the hearth. imprecise meaning and effect due to an unnatural choice of word. that is. with the associations of the words used to depict the two events: in the first case. 'hulmi' 'dream' (noun). as in: 9 . Gudrun was aware of the beautiful panels of the fireplace.. vividness and expressiveness while being economical. its derivative 'mustala' conveys an image of horror due to the dominant effect imparted by the verb root 'sala' 'to be burned by fire. He (Hussayn.1. 3. The form of a word.ara:f:. (Lawrence 1960:367) Though the denotative meaning of 'istala' is 'to warm oneself'. both in Arabic and English. 1979:50)..1 Morphological Sublevel Morphology studies the structure or form of words (Crystal 1978:100).. the translator seems to convey a different. the translator should use a semantically equivalent word with a different syntactic category.. but with the word 'fanbajasat' instead of 'fanfajarat'. similar criteria should prevail so as to lead to a felicitous natural choice imparting perspicuity.g. e.. 'fanfajarat' makes a stronger impact on the reader than does 'fanbajasat'. which is used when it is Moses' people who were the askers (La:shi:n. Naturalness requires that when no TL lexical equivalent with the same syntactic category is available. 'hulum' 'dream-like' (adjective). where Moses himself has asked for water.The same verse appears in AI.' This verb and its derivatives are used in the Qur' an to connote the agony that awaits sinners in Hell. often corresponds to a syntactic category..

1. may be more given to neologizing than the original author because of doing it to fill lexical gaps as well as using it for aesthetic effect. sometimes. 10 . A translator. Neologisms can be stylistic devices.2 Neologism Strictly speaking. in order to cope with a lexical deficiency. It means that the translator should endeavour to neologize to enhance literary effect. and finally. 3. new words can be produced by a writer's idiosyncracies and deviations. For all of these purposes. on the other hand. neologism is the coining of new words in the language (Shaw. it concerns an idiosyncratic use of 'wrung' as an adjective by Faulkner (1954:332): and they swung and tilted in the wrung branches. foregrounded by their strangeness and unexpectedness. The following example of a derivation illustrates a natural choice of neologism which at the same time fills a lexical gap. Hence this is an area where naturalness has to be suspended in order that literary creation may prevail. or to compensate for loss of effect elsewhere in the text where he has been unable to render an SL neologism by a TL neologism. However.sajja:nu: al-quru:n al-wusta: (noun structure and word form) mediaeval jailors (adjectival structure and word form). A neologism is ipso facto not natural (in our sense of 'natural'). and of course he must avoid deriving ill-formed words. 1979:253). since it cannot be accepted immediately by the reader's intuition. such as blending or compounding in Arabic. he should endeavour to make felicitous aesthetic choices and avoid processes of wordformation likely to beget cumbersome words.

11 . to produce a crack'.2.1 Syntax Syntax studies the grammatical rules of sentences and the interrelationships between sentences (Crystal. deriving it by regular morphological formation from 'hasara' 'to bend down (a branch). 1987:30). Naturalness requires well-formed sentences.Jebra (1979:332) translates 'wrung' by the neologism 'mahsur'. for example in order to deal with translation of agentive and agentless passives between English and Arabic.2 Sentential Level 3. 3. 1964:165). It follows that a syntactically natural translation should be well-formed and that the source text may have to be restructured in line with the rules of the TL syntax (Nida.

folded together. 12 . To take a translation example. For this. intelligibility and acceptability. a 'rhetorical' sentence. Basically. AI-' AJ:lza:b:37) fearing other men. phonetic effects may be used. however. folded round with the same rug (Lawrence 1982:436 ) huna: jalasa:.3. alliteration. a naturally rhetorical sentence tends to exploit the particular resources of the language. attainment of a rhetorical sentence rests mainly on attaining harmony and coherence. which can be roughly defined as "a carefully and skillfully assembled construction" (Rener 1989:161-162). the product of the latter being convergent with the main features of rhetorically natural sentences. and God has better right for thee to fear Him (Arberry 1964:431). so as to generate sentences that are harmonious. wataxsha: an-na:sa wallahu 'ahaqqu an taxsha:hu (Qur'an.: 162). i. subsumes wellformedness. assonance or parallelism. In addition. such as paronyms and repetitions in Arabic.2. compare our proposed Arabic rendition of the following English sentence with the first translation below: Here they sat. namely smoothness.e. muntawin cala: al-'a:xar. muntawiyayn luffa: bibara:niyya wa:hida (Hussayn 1990:698).g.2 Rhetoric Furthermore. or simply the elimination of "clashes of harsh-sounding consonants. meetings of two vowels" and "the repetition of the same syllable" (ibid. e.

it should be borne in mind that Arabic does not altogether reject repetition of syllables as unnatural. For him. Moreover. Criteria discriminating desirable from undesirable repetition can be found in Al-Jurjani's monograph on paronymous effects (in La:shi:n. which is ours: and the awful inchoate eyes. wal-baynayn al-faz:'atayn al-qa:timatayn. ours foregrounds it in the manner exemplified by the Qur'anic verse quoted earlier. such usages should be regulated by the content. 1979:141). The use of phonetic effects may alleviate clashes between syllables or between vowels. al-bada: iyatayn. wafi ditha:rin wa:hid yantawi:yan. yantawi: ahaduuma: ahdha:ma: 'ala. and build up a natural sentence. We submit that our version is more consistent with natural Arabic rhetoric than Hussayn's. since. Cohesive Level 13 . which seemed to be decomposing (Lawrence: 362) .This is our proposal istaqarra: hahuna. tabdu: a~aduhuma: ma: tabrahtu tanhalu. allatayn k:anata: tabduwa:n mutahallitaya (Hussayn 1990:585) wal-'aynayn al-manqu:satayn al-mu:qicatayn lil-faraq wal qa:timatayn. al-a:xar. . Al-Jurjani was a renowned Arab rhetorician and semanticist of the eleventh century. as illustrated in the second of the two translations below. though both use a paronym.

that is. right (Arberry 1964:228) 14 . 1990: I 44ff. the more natural it is and the better it becomes stylistically.) A case in point in Arabic is deletion. AI-Kah :l. hence by the natural flow of content. 2) and has not assigned unto it any crookedness. and to that end affects the presentation of content by making some elements of the text more conspicuous than others (Hatim and Mason. In this way the style is elevated and meanings are lucidly exposed.Cohesion requires that redundant elements be curtailed from a translation and the text made compact. which represents a rhetorical feature of cohesion: wa-lam yaj'allahu 'iwa:jan. Cohesiveness is deployed with "ia rhetorical purpose". Al-Jurjani (La:shi:n. qayyima: (Qur'an. The more cohesive a text is. in order to be convincing.1979:166) views style as clarity of meanings and ideas whose integration is ensured by cohesiveness. powerful and smooth.

as can be observed in certain renditions that are too literal and thereby impose the cohesive system of the SL on the TL. One was a tiny little rock with the tide of nothingness rising higher and higher (Lawrence:75) .e. i. translations may be unintelligible. and which has a negative effect on literariness.Since the combination of crookedness and righteousness to describe the same thing. Arabic coordinates clauses far more than English does. Here is an example: Ursula. viz. The deletion makes for economy and gives prominence or focus to the notion of righteousness (AI-Ansa:ri:.in other words. felt as if everything were lapsing out. unnatural. is contradictory. unacceptable and unreadable . lack of TL cohesive devices results in poor coherence in translations. or from deliberately seeking to reproduce the SL coherence . . Each language has its ways of building up a cohesive text.a procedure which hampers readability because the devices do not have the same function in the TL. It is the proper use of cohesive devices that is first and foremost required. 15 . Improper use includes overuse. it can be inferred that a deleted verb precedes 'qayyima'. There seemed to be no hope in the world. If the discrepancies between the cohesive systems of different languages are disregarded. left alone. the Qur'an. It may arise unintentionally from literal translation. Generally speaking. An example of the discrepancies between Arabic and English is coordination versus subordination.534-535). 'azalna:ha' 'He sent it down'. it does not follow that achieving a natural target text is a matter of using cohesive devices to a greater or lesser extent than the source text does. Nonetheless.

On the other hand. Our proposed revision. that is. …. is made more natural by alleviating cohesion. waIam yabduw laha: thammat amal fi: al-'a:lam muta:la:'ilan yatasaadu bi'aza: ihi madd al-'adam shay'an fashay'an. wakuntum amwa:tan fa'ah haa: kum thumma yumi:tukim thumma yuhilyi:kum thumma ilayhi turja'u:n. besides using an idiomatic expression (shay'an fashay'an) and changing a piece of diction (al-Ia:shay'iyya) that hampers smoothness: . As for the translation. deliberately overused cohesive devices can. then unto Him you shall be returned (Arberry 1964:4-5). such overuse should be accompanied by phonetic effects so as to maintain smoothness. fi: hli:n ka:na madd al-Ia:shay'iyya fi: 'irtifa:' mutaza:yin.. However. 'ala: ma: bada: ka:na aI-mar' 'iba:ra can hijarain saghiratin ta:fihatinfi: hi:n. muta:zayid. then He shall make you dead. AI-Baqara:28) seeing you were dead and He gave you life. 1971:471). then He shall give you life.g. the translator should endeavour to reproduce the intended overuse. (The Qur'an. constitute a stylistic feature. One such rhetorical device is polysyndeton. by working analogous phonetic effects into the target text lest the repetition should seem redundant. "deliberate use of many conjunctions" for certain effects (Corbett.amma: ursyu:la: allati: turikat wahdaha: faqad sha'arat kama: law inna kulla shay'in ka:na a:yilan ila: zawa:1. faqad tala:sha: kull 'amallaha: fi: al-'a:lam. . by their proliferation or extravagant repetition. which follows. the rhetorical device. e. as it does in the first translation below: 16 .

raqa:baha:.He watched it. fajalasa. ra:qabaha:. thumma 'intaba: 'iLa 'uxra:. and after that another. (Hussayn. and sat watching them with bright absolved eyes (Lawrence: 145) . wa-jalasa yura:qibuha: bi'aynayn barra:qatayn mustaghriqatayn. 17 . wabi'aynan barra:qatayn mustaghriqatayn ra:qababa:. thumma 'asqata 'iqhliwa:na 'uxra: fi: al-ma:'. in which parallelism and phonetic effects are used in analogy to the original and make the translation seem natural: . then dropped another daisy into the water. thumma alqa: fi: al-nahr 'iqhiwa:na uxra:. 1990:244) Here is our version. thumma uxra: ba'dd dha:lik.

By the same token.3. see: A. 1994. Idiomatic level Since naturalness gives preference to idiomatic language. acceptable and effective. it implies that wherever established formulas .4.4. Collocations A collocation is "the habitual association of a word in language with other particular words in sentences" (Robins 1967:67). He has a wide experience : labu xibra !awiyla For further exemplification. (1). Static Translation of Literary Texts into Arabic.1. 3. idioms and proverbs . " The Dynamic vs.B. 3. pp. some collocations may be more authentic than others according to the literary heritage of the language. Here are some examples of non-natural and natural translations involving collocations. they should be used rather than free word combinations. The translation is thereby made more intelligible.exist in a language. 57-79. 18 . SL To invent lies : A low status: TL Unnatural / yulaffiq/yabtadic al-' aka:dhib yaftariy kadhiban TL Natural / daraja/manzila wa:!i' a al-darak ai-' asfal labu ba:c !awiyl. As-Safi." Turjuman.collocations. Such forms are particularly conducive to naturalness.

In this way a high literary standard can be attained. acceptability. idiomaticity. 4. the translation should use established formulas from the literary heritage of the TL.5 Contemporaneity is a facet of naturalness which might appear incompatible with authenticity in some texts. all of which aid in maintaining intelligibility and readability. authenticity and contemporaneity. and to avoid usages that are authentic but likely to be perceived as archaic. these judgments demand a high level of proficiency in the TL. Yet it extends to encompass judgments on literary usages insofar as the latter are appealing or not to the TL reader.3 To be natural. that is to say. Nevertheless. 4. may come into play. It is important to distinguish between authenticity in the sense in which we use here and archaic usages which were authentic in their day but 19 . 4. though it focuses on form in its seeking after authenticity.1 The main features of naturalness can be firmly identified as: grammaticality. natural translation does not entail deviating from the content of the source text.4 Authenticity requires full utilization of the TL's particular resources and conformity with its aesthetic norms. it should be idiomatic. which is indistinguishable from literary creation. notably for neologisms. namely a level at which the translator possesses literary intuition.2 Acceptability depends in large part on well-formedness. It enables him to apply aesthetic selectivity.4. At that point the translator's subjective interference. 4. smoothness and literariness on the other. that is. 4. on grammaticality. it creates an equilibrium between accurate content reproduction on the one hand and aesthetic reproduction.Conclusion The principles that this article propounds are as follows.

Mughni: al-Labi:b. USA Vintage Books. Arberry. "The importance of Natural Translation" in Working Pages on Bilingualism. pp.which are now undesirable because they hinder intelligibility and readability. London: Oxford University Press. Ibn Hisha:m. A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics.6 The study of naturalness at these various levels favours stylistic elevation. 1992. Vol. Faulkner. naturalness is a concomitant of proper diction and proper use of cohesive devices in compliance with the TL system. B. Harris. Vol. 4. Benjamin. On the lexical and cohesive levels. W. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. The Sound and the Fury. E. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. D. A.2 Cairo: Da:r al'Ma a:rif. 1977. 336 + 700pp. Crystal. well-formedness brings about natural sentences which makes good use of TL resources. p. by Schulte and Biguenet.) 1964. Lancaster: University of Lancaster. 12. On the syntactic level. (trans. "The Task of the Translator". 339pp. 20 . The Koran Interpreted. 1954. 1971. J. no date.! Note 1. 1987. References AI-'Ansa:ri:.96-114. The authors wish to thank Professor Brian Harris of the University of Ottawa for his help in editing this article. New York: OUP.PJ. W. 71-83. 630pp. In Theories of Translation. 401.pp. 673pp. Chicago: University of Chicago. or because they are remote from what appeals aesthetically to contemporary readers. Corbett.

1989. 24pp. (trans. R. Women in Love. The Theory and Practice of Translation. "Introductory Survey". 1988. E. 83-112. and C. Harvy. "Notes on Translating Technique". V. Nisa:' 'a:shiqa:t. I. Interpretation: Language and Translation from Cicero to Tytler. Jebra (trans. In Prague School on Esthetics: Literary Structure and Style. Taber. Nida. Dictionary of Literary Terms. 1990. P. 'abdul-Qa:hir. 21 . London: Longman. M. 1954. In The Translator's Handbook. 206pp.'Asra:r al-Bala:gha. AI-Jurj:ni. 1983. J. H. E. ed. 292pp. by Gavin. 541pp. ed. Nida. F.1-20. in Riter (ed.Hatim. Leiden: E. A. Robins. England: Penguin. 219pp. Rener. Prochazka. J. Nida. 1975. E.) Istanbul: Government Press. 1967.) 1979 As-Saxab wal 'unf Beirut: Da:r aI-' Ada:b. A.H. 238pp. London: Prentice Hall. 1969. I. D. A Textbook of Translation. Baghdad: Da:r al-Ma'mun. Jebra. Language. Discourse and the Translator. 1979. B. AI-Badi:' fi Daw' 'Asa:li:b aI-Qur'an. Towards a Science of Translating. Structure and Translation California: Stanford University Press. Shaw. 1964. 1960. McGraw-Hill Book Cy. Lawrence. Washington: Georgetown University Press. Amsterdam: Atlanta G. General Linguistics: An Introductory Survey. London: Longmans. 367pp. Brill. P. Hussayn. 1405 pp. La:shi:n Abdul-Fatta:h.) 1990. Newmark. Newmark. 323 pp. London: ASLIB. 331pp. Cairo: Da:r aI-Maarif. Brill. and Mason. by Picken. 1964. Leiden: E. 391pp. 338pp. 1972. 449 + 860pp.

Baghdad. Current Address: Faculty of Arts. Zlateva. Lefevere: Translation. Amman. lecturer in literary translation and head of the Translation Department at AI-Mustansiriya University.D. "Adequacy" and "Acceptability". College of Arts. Dean of the Faculty of Arts. History and Culture. 1990. Brill. Bassnett and A. London: OUP. About the Authors Abdul-Baki As-Safi is a professor of translation. 1980). 507pp. Baghdad.Steiner. has published 25 papers and supervised 16 MA theses and 10 Ph. Iraq. After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation.D.A. In'am Ash-Sharifi holds an M. 29-34. in Translation and Interpretation from AIMustansiriya University. P. Jordan. 1975. Al-Zaytoonah University. G. Al-Zaytoonah University. Iraq . Jordan He obtained his Ph. London: Pinter. theses . Permanent Address: Translation Department. His translations include Taha Hussein's novel The Call of the Curfew (Leiden. 22 . AI-Mustansiriya University.A. in English Literature and worked subsequently as a postgraduate research assistant. "Translation: Text and Pre-text. She did her B. In: S. Amman. He is the author of two books on linguistics and translation. . in Literary Translation from the University of Lancaster ( Britain) in 1979.

The aim of the investigation is to delineate an integrated approach to 'natural' translation. On the sentential level. To this end. with examples. cohesive and idiomatic. and unnaturalness as the hybrid language of literal rendition. Resume Cet article examine la notion de naturel dans la traduction des textes litteraires dans le but de cerner une approche integree de la traduction 'naturelle' qui consiste essentiellement a obtenir un compromis entre un rendu fidele et une reproduction litteraire.e. Such a compromise entails attaining an artistic verbal smoothness which transcends the level of ordinary language. translationese that may be unacceptable or unintelligible. while preserving the content intact. the features of a natural target text are based on the use of cohesive devices to a greater or lesser degree than the source text in general and on the propriety of their use in particular instances. The article thus identifies naturalness as the achievement of authentic TL style. natural translation calls for utilization of the target language's resources that will make the translation read like an authentic target language (TL) work. On the cohesive level. well-formedness is posited as the feature of naturalness which outlines a rhetorically natural sentence. naturalness is delimited in terms of proper choice of appropriate vocabulary. besides other concomitant features. It detects the actualization of an authentic style of Arabic rendition on several levels: lexical. i. sentential. Ce compromis exige une fluidite verbale artistique qui depasse le niveau de la langue ordinaire. on collocations. the essence of which lies in creating a compromise between accurate rendition and literary reproduction.Abstract The present article investigates the concept of naturalness in literary translation. we mention idioms and proverbs but concentrate. At the idiomatic level. On the lexical level. La traduction naturelle doit donc utiliser toutes les res sources 23 .

en donnant des exemples. un style authentique en arabe: lexicologie. Dans leur article. et le manque de naturel comme un langage hybride avec un rendu litteral. les auteurs mentionnent de telles expressions ainsi que des proverbes. les auteurs definissent donc le naturel comme l'obtention d'un style authentique dans la langue d'arrivee. 24 . L'article analyse comment mettre en reuvre. coherence et usage d'expressions idiomatiques. a cote d'autres proprietes. des phrases formees correctement sont la caracteristique du naturel qui fait apparaitre. mais se concentrent. Au niveau de la coherence. En ce qui concerne le niveau lexicologique. phraseologie. Au niveau des expressions idiomatiques. a differents niveaux. la rhetorique naturelle de la phrase. Au niveau phraseologique. sur des collocations. les caracteristiques d'un texte redige avec naturel dans la langue cible sont basees sur des mecanismes utilises plus ou moins intensivement que dans le texte d'origine en general et sur leur utilisation appropriee dans certains cas particuliers. le naturel se definit comme etant le choix correct d'un vocabulaire approprie. c'est-a-dire des traductions susceptibles d'etre inacceptables ou incomprehensibles.de la langue d'arrivee pour que la traduction se lise comme ouvrage litteraire redige dans cette langue d'arrivee. tout en respectant fidelement le contenu.

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