Person Deixis and Point of View in English-Arabic Fiction Translation: A Trend towards Repositioning the Narrator, Characters and Readers


This paper reports on deictic shifts in fiction translation. It examines the shift in person deixis in two Arabic translations of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. The goal is to trace how the process of translation may change the narratorial point of view of the original, a territory in English-Arabic fiction translation that is still largely unexplored from an empirical perspective. The study presents a replicable descriptive model for use with larger corpora to help in the description of the “norms” of English-Arabic fiction translation (Toury 2012). The results point to a tendency to add rather than omit person deictics via translation, with more deictically-marked narrative, more involved narrator and characters, more vivid and shared context, more context construction by reader and more dynamic interaction with the text. The results suggest that there is an increased level of enunciation of the narrator and characters that can increase both the main narrator’s subjectivity and the reader’s ethical and emotional involvement with her. The addition of person deictics reflects a systemic tendency to “interpret” and “explicitate” the source text (Blum-Kulka 2000), and shows textual evidence of the translator’s intolerance of ambiguity and/or their systematic avoidance of taking a “communicative risk” (Pym 2005).


Othman Abualadas


deictic shifts, English-Arabic fiction translation, person deixis, point of view, translation norms