Translating Arabic Metaphorical Expressions into English: Mahfouz’s Morning and Evening Talk as an Example


The objective of this study is to examine Arabic metaphorical expressions in English translation with an eye to exploring the coding of such expressions, the procedures employed in rendering them, and the treatment of the syntagmatic and paradigmatic parameters in translation. The corpus consists of 100 Arabic metaphorical expressions extracted from Najeeb Mahfouz’s (1987) novel ḥadiiθ al-ṣbaaḥwa-l-masaa’ along with their English counterparts in Christina Philips’ translation Morning and Evening Talk (2007). The results show that the rendering of metaphorical expressions, which are mainly coded in terms of concrete-to-abstract borrowing (89%) rather than concrete-to-concrete borrowing (only 11%), involves several procedures: maintaining metaphor (57%), modifying metaphor (20%), demetaphoring metaphor (16%), and changing metaphor (7%). The results also indicate that while the syntagmatic parameter may be freely represented in terms of surface or underlying semantic roles which are sensitive to co-text in both source and target texts, the paradigmatic parameter is solely relevant to capturing the creative paradigm (whether in primary lexical correspondence, in synonymy or even co-hyponymy) regardless of the syntagmatic presentation. The study concludes that metaphors in literary discourse are part and parcel of the message and requires of the translator to take utmost care in preserving their aesthetic value by furnishing a comparably creative paradigm in the target text.


Mohammed Farghal and Raneen Mansour


Arabic, English, metaphorical expressions, translation.