AWEJ Special Issue on Translation No. (2) 2013                                                                             pp.189-199

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The Intricacies of Linguistic Interference in Arabic-English Translation

Mohammad Ahmad Thawabteh
English Department, Al-Quds University
Jerusalem, Occupied Palestinian Territories


The present paper is designed to shed light on the intricacies of Arabic-English translation caused by linguistic interference (LI) when the translators recourse to their mother tongue in the translation from Arabic into English. The data comprises three works, namely Qiṭṭah bi-Sabʻiti ar-Rwāḥ (1982) ʻA Cat with Seven Livesʼ, Arkhaṣ Layla (1954) ʻThe Cheapest Nightʼ and Muthakrāt Saim (1986) ʻRamadan Dairyʼ. The paper reveals that the translations have traces of interference that are due ignorance by the translators and little linguistic affinity between Arabic and English, which may jeopardise communication, thought to be the ultimate goal of translation. The study shows that LI is minimised when the functional equivalence is opted for whereas it is maximised when formal equivalence is employed. The study yet argues that LI may be a good means for intercultural interaction in view of Venuti’s (1998) notions of domestication and foreignization.

Keywords: linguistic interference; equivalence; strategies; domestication; foreignization; negative transfer, positive transfer.


Mohammad Ahmad Thawabteh is an Associate Professor of Translation at the English
Department, Al-Quds University, Jerusalem. He is the Chair of English Department and
Coordinator of MA Translation Programme. His research focuses on Translation Technology,
Audiovisual Translation, Discourse Analysis, Semiotics, Translation and Conflict and Translator