Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on Translation No.5 May, 2016                              Pp. 281-298

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Investigating Morpho-Syntactic Translation Errors Made by Yemeni EFL Students

Muayad Shamsan
University of Bisha, Asir, Saudi Arabia
Omdurman Islamic University, Omdurman, Sudan 

Abdul-Majeed Attayib
English Language Centre
Umm AlQura University, Mecca, Saudi Arabia


This study investigates the most common morpho-syntactic Arabic-English and English-Arabic translation errors made by fourth year students of the English Department (Translation Program) at the University of Science and Technology (UST) in Yemen. It identifies how frequently these errors occur and sheds light on issues for EFL students and translation teachers in Yemen in general and the UST in particular, regarding the importance of having a good command of both Arabic and English. This may help learners identify and reduce such errors.  In this empirical study, a test of 20 English and 20 Arabic sentences was given to the subjects of the study to be translated into Arabic and English respectively. Findings from the study show that the students make significantly more errors in tense, noun, verb, preposition, pronoun, relative clauses, article, and voice when they translate sentences from Arabic into English. There are also no significant differences in the students’ translation in terms of agreement, word order, mood, and condition. The study concludes with some important recommendations such as adding a course on contrastive analysis and other Arabic language courses to the curriculum of the Translation Program in the English Department. Teachers and students are advised to take into account the different morpho-syntactic rules when teaching or translating respectively.
Keywords: errors, morpho-syntactic, text type, translation


Muayad Shamsan is a lecturer in the English Department, College of Science and Arts at the
University of Bisha, Bisha, Saudi Arabia. Before this, he had a four-year experience in teaching
English at the UST, Yemen. He is also doing his Ph.D. in Sudan. His chief interests are
contrastive linguistics and translation studies.