AWEJ. Special Issue on Translation No.3 May, 2014                                                                   Pp. 173-181

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The Importance of Cultural Awareness in English – Arabic Translation

Shadiah Hamza Sheikh
College of Languages and Translation
King Saud University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

It is widely acknowledged that through translation, it is possible to transcend language barriers and gain a better understanding of the world by conveying ideas from one language to another. The translator, therefore, has to shoulder the burden of this responsibility. The first section looks at the inextricable link between language and culture, hence the need for translators to develop their cultural awareness The second section deals with the process of translation, which involves cultural decoding and recoding.  In this context, the two methods of translating cultural words and notions, namely transference and componential analysis, are discussed along with several levels on which the process of translation takes place, specifically, linguistic, technical, conceptual and comprehension levels.  Naturally, when the translator faces unfamiliar items related to the culture of the source text, translation can become a difficult process. The third section focuses on the kinds of cultural problems related to the source text namely: cultural untranslatability, highly specific cultural items, the problem of equivalence, connotations, collocations and irony The fourth section  identifies the novice translator’s challenges, in terms of his background  knowledge and appropriate choice of strategy. The last section proceeds to highlight some of the levels of cultural awareness a translator needs to possess and the paper concludes with some suggestions for good translation.
Keywords:   cultural awareness, collocation, connotation, irony, untranslatability


Dr. Shadiah Hamza Hamid Sheikh, Assistant Professor and Vice Dean at the College of
Languages and Translation, King Saud University. PhD in Language Teaching Bradford
University, UK. Experience ranges from a Political Attache at the Arab League to a Consultant
at the Bureau of Experts at the Council of Ministers, official Translation Department.