Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on Literature No. 4 October, 2016                       Pp.173-185

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An Exercise on Literary Translation: The Arabic Translation of The Namesake


  Sura M. Khrais
Department of English Language and Literature

Al-Balqa Applied University

Amman, Jordan



Literary translation is one of the most challenging fields of translation. This is due to the fact that it is a special use of language that is deviant from ordinary, everyday, non-literary language. Besides rendering the semantic qualities of the text, it is the translator’s mission re-create the Source Text as a work of art, and he/she attempts to keep the unity of content and form and the text’s national, individual and linguistic qualities. Unlike other types of writing, literature is rich with connotations and indirect messages which are the real challenge for the translator. This paper is an exercise on literary translation and the difficulties the translator faces when dealing with the four following elements:  the translation of (1) abbreviations, (2) phonetically significant words, (3) specialized vocabulary and idioms, as well as play on words, (4) and finally colors. The Source English Text is Jumpha Lahiri’s novel The Namesake (2003) and the Target Text is the Arabic translation of the novel by Sura Khrais (2015). The paper concludes that literary translation is complete cognitive process which involves a perception not only of the content and its connotations, but also of all the other linguistic, phonetic and figurative features which have created the Source Text and given it its literariness.
Keywords: abbreviations, idioms, literary translation, the Namesake, source text, target text


Dr. Sura Khrais is the Associate Professor of English Literature and Criticism at the
Department of English Language and Literature, Al-Balqa Applied University, Jordan. She had
obtained her PhD from the University of Jordan, 2001 and her MA from Yarmouk University,
1996. Her major interests are postcolonial criticism and postmodern novel. Besides, she is free
translator at KALIMA Translation project, Abu Dhabi, UAE. She has translated a number of
books from English to Arabic such as Islam and Romantic Orientalism: Literary Encounters with
the East by Mohammad Sharafidden (2009), The Author by Andrew Bennet (2010), Climbing
the Mango Trees: Memoir of Childhood in India by Madhur Jaffrey (2011), A Photographer on
the Hajj by Farid Kioumgi and Robert Graham (2012), -Arab Voices by James Zughby (2012),
Pathfinders:A Global History of Exploration by Fernandez-Armesto (2015), The Namesake.
Jumbha Lahiri. (2014).