AWEJ Special Issue on Literature No.1, 2013                                                                                Pp. 248- 263

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The Importance of Connotation in Literary Translation

Asim Ismail Ilyas
Arab Open University, Jordan

Abstract :

Meaning in literary texts is somehow different from meaning in a technical or scientific text in which the main meaning is denotation (or referential meaning) rather than connotation, as the main function of scientific texts is to carry or transfer information. In literary texts, in which the main function is artistic, connotation acquires additional prominence. This implies that connotation has to be carefully attended to when translating literature. This paper tackles denotation/connotation transactions, and presents a number of authentic translated examples (from Arabic into English and vice versa) that are analysed in order to highlight some translators’ errors in rendering connotatively-charged texts. It highlights the importance of connotative meaning in literary translation, which has to be carefully attended to.

Keywords: connotation; denotation; connotative equivalent; associations; function; culture


Asim Ilyas got his Ph.D. in Linguistics and Translation from ST. Andrews in 1981. Currently,
he teaches at the Arab Open University, Amman, Jordan. His research interests are in the
domains of Translation, Sociolinguistics, Semantics/Pragmatics, and Discourse Analysis.