Arabic Literature in the American College Textbook
The popularity of world literature courses at American universities has boosted the number of non-European literature textbooks used at these schools. Many of these, however, are riddled with factual cultural misinformation and linguistic translation flaws. These shortcomings often result from the unfamiliarity with these cultures, bias against non-Western cultures, or the arduousness of translating literary texts.
The purpose of this presentation is twofold. First, it attempts to touch upon some of the linguistic phenomena that make translating literary texts a formidable task. Some of the translation “barriers” addressed include rhetorical structures, cultural contexts, and figurative language. Second, the presentation illustrates these theoretical issues by giving examples from English translations of a variety of Arabic literary texts. Some of the “weaknesses” of the English versions, which will be addressed, include unfamiliarity with the a) Arabic culture, b) thematic structure of Arabic poetry, and c) patterns of Arabic figurative expressions.
Keywords: Translation, Rhetoric, Literature, Linguistics
Dr. Yousif Elhindi
Associate Professor of Linguistics, Department of English, East Tennessee State University