Idiomatically Translating Arabic Parallelism into English
Thread poster: Chris Eesley

Chris Eesley
Saudi Arabia
Local time: 22:26
Arabic to English
Mar 29, 2013

Greetings,

I'm trying to develop a better understanding of the different techniques applied when idiomatically translating Arabic parallel units into English. I was wondering if anyone would be able to provide me with links to resources/academic research which I may use as a guide? Also, if you have any advice in this area it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Forward,

Chris


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 03:26
Chinese to English
Not my language, but... Apr 1, 2013

I just wanted to drag this up to ask if you'd found anything useful?

Obviously the details are different, but the same kind of thing exists in my language pair - there are rhetorical/poetic techniques that turn up in literature, but also in other kinds of documents, that just don't have a direct English equivalent. I've done a bit of research around the Chinese ones, but there don't seem to be any standard techniques for handling them. In part it depends on the use of the translation: sometimes you're translating for information, so any purely rhetorical devices can simply be ignored. Sometimes you want to produce a rhetorical effect, so transcreation is needed. Often, it's somewhere in between, and it's a bit of a judgment call.

When I have attractive rhetorical effects to translate, I usually try to work in language that works well in English: a Shakespearian word or two, or a metaphor... But it's often hard to tell if you've really done justice to the writer, or your readers.


 

Chris Eesley
Saudi Arabia
Local time: 22:26
Arabic to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Apr 4, 2013

It seems that research pertaining to my particular language pair is rather lacking, but what I found with the research available is that it suggests retaining some of the parallelism in the TT, yet omitting other parts if I want to preserve the rhetorical effect of the ST. So, for two phrases used in a single unit I should try to find a common hyperonym for those phrases, retain phrases which do not share a common hyperonym, and retain any converse meaning. However, I also read that finding idiomatic equivalents in the TT is also acceptable, in the same way that you mentioned using acceptable metaphors or Shakespearian quotes in the TT.

I was wondering, do you know of any good, user friendly online resources for finding metaphors in English...like a "metaphor" dictionary, where one could conduct a search for what he/she wishes to express and a list of possible metaphors or even quotes come up ?

Thanks for your advice.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 03:26
Chinese to English
I've never used them but... Apr 4, 2013

they do exist.

http://www.amazon.com/Metaphors-Dictionary-Elyse-Sommer/dp/1578591376
http://nickrenton.com/mac.htm

Thesauruses work well for me as well. If you've got a Roget's Thesaurus, he arranges his words conceptually, so you can get a kind of map of the conceptual space that each word occupies.

Other thesauruses don't divide up the meanings of words in that way. I like to use freethesaurus.net, which just gives you a big block of words with lots of different senses of the headword mashed together. I read through and free associate to come up with suitable terms and expressions, metaphorical or literal.

Dictionaries of quotations can be used in the same way.

I think you're right to say we have to be flexible in the way we handle rhetorical techniques. The thing is that a single rhetorical technique (e.g. parallelism for you, four-character idioms for me) is often used to do a range of quite different things. I remember when I was doing Latin poetry at school, we had to read the poems and identify interesting metrical features. Then we would say: this interesting metrical feature gives this line/word/image more emotional impact. Bleh. Sometimes it's for emotional impact, sometimes it's to break up the rhythm, sometimes it's to shift focus, sometimes it's to smooth over the logical cracks in an argument...

Rhetorical devices are used to do a million different things, so it's hard to imagine that there could be just a few set ways of translating with them. It might be possible to develop some craftsman's rules of thumb - useful techniques to make the work flow faster - but I don't think there could be any well-defined standard techniques.


 

hind1213
English to Arabic
Thinking Arabic Translation Jul 4, 2013

ermm, i am currently reading " Thinking Arabic Translation". There is one chapter on denotative meaning and translation issue. Specificly, it deals with things like synonymy, hyperonymy-hyponymy, semantic repetition.. etc.

 


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