Aspects of the problems of translating metaphor, with special reference to modern Arabic poetry
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This thesis examines a crucial area in the translation of poetic discourse, the translatability of modern Arabic metaphor into English. Two main questions are addressed. Firstly, what makes a particular metaphor easy to translate? Secondly, what makes another metaphor difficult or even impossible to translate? The thesis consists of two parts, theory and data analysis. The first part, theory, contains five chapters. In chapter 1 general theories of metaphor are discussed; interaction, imagination and experientialist theory. In chapter 2 poetic metaphor is examined; its interpretation, its aesthetic values, the part played by the imagination in processing metaphor, the importance of cultural knowledge and the problems of translation. In chapter 3 the metonymymetaphor relationship is assessed, and in chapter 4 the notion of dead metaphor is examined. In chapter 5, light is shed on the use of poetic metaphor in the Arab media and in particular on its use as an effective device to persuade the audience to accept the current peace discourse in the Middle East. Part 2, data analysis, also consists of five chapters of which chapter 6 is the introduction to the data analysis, and links the two parts of the thesis together. Chapters 7 to 10 concern the translation of metaphor in particular categories of poetry: in chapter 7 the emphasis is on autobiographical poetry (Ghäzi al-Ghusaybi : "In the Grip of My Fifties" and "Making Me a Grandfather"). In chapter 8 the focus is on the poetry of exile (Fadwä Tüqän: "Ruqayya" and "The Call of the Land"). In chapter 9 nationalist poetry is discusses (Fadwä Tüqan: "My Sad City" and "Hamza"), while in chapter 10 socio-political poetry is considered (Salah `Abd al-Sabür : "Sadness"). The findings of this research may be summarised as follows: the translation of Arabic poetic metaphor into English requires most importantly the recreation of a similar cultural experience in the TL. The data analysis shows that, in certain cases, it is easy to restructure the ST metaphoric experience with the same experience in the TL. On numerous occasions, however, the SL metaphoric experience has to be rendered by a different metaphor exhibiting a similar, or parallel, experience. Lastly, the data also demonstrate to the reader how, in certain contexts, the ST metaphor is untranslatable, simply because the host language cannot express satisfactorily the ST thought in the same or a similar way.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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