Translation and Cultural Equivalence: A Study of Translation Losses in Arabic Literary Texts
Published Online: Jan 01, 2017
This article focuses on cultural translation, especially addressing the issue of cultural inequivalences or losses occurring in the translation of Arabic literary texts. The aim of this study is to investigate the translation strategies that led to cultural losses and to emphasize the important role of the translator as a cultural insider. The corpus is based on a collection of Arabic short stories written by Youssef Idris (1991). In order to illustrate cultural aspects in literature, we analyze figurative language (metaphors, idiomatic expressions, proverbs) in two texts: Arabic (the source text) and English (the target text). We argue that figurative language and cultural terms are unfamiliar and so are marked to the target reader on the grounds of the unmarked and should be looked at from the perspective of a cultural insider. The data is analyzed within Pike’s (1954) etic-emic approach to translation. The analysis has shown that translation of the source text was communicatively successful. However, it failed to represent the culture-bound and emotionally charged words which represent the implicit/emic level of the source text. The translator has failed to complete the cycle of etic-emic-etic, and so remained an outsider to both the source and target texts. The study concludes with the implication that a translator has to assume the role of a cultural insider for both texts in order to render a culturally more faithful translation.