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Translation And Interpretation

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 1850 words Published: 1st May 2017

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The world has become like a global village as the systems of communication and information technology are developing and becoming more sophisticated .In the process of such rapid exchange of information and for the purpose of improving cultural contacts, one thing is inevitable, and that is translating. This is why there is need for competent translators who not only posses language proficiency but also general knowledge of the source culture and the intricate meanings of the many cultural references that may be of significance in one culture and not in another. Today many idiomatic expressions are found in the business domain. Examples such as: The economy went into a free fall, Obama is seeking to stake out and the solution will cut both ways are all found in various articles in Newsweek (a reputable magazine, widely and internationally distributed around the world and officially translated into Arabic.)One common characteristic associated with idioms used in the business and/or any other domain is that their meaning can not be inferred from the individual words that constitute them. Although idioms have been connected to informal language and tabloid newspapers, however there is much evidence in the Bank of English that states they are also commonly used in magazines and journals where writers seek to give their articles a more vivid and effective effect on the reader Minugh (2000).It is also stated in the same source that most politicians and journalists use idioms as briefer way to express and convey opinions and ready made evaluations. Translation students in general and specifically the ones who major in Business Translation are assumed to have general knowledge of all language intricacies. For this, knowledge of idiomatic expressions, which constitute today an integral part of the language used in business conferences, debates and meetings, in addition to their use in a variation of magazine and newspaper articles of which there is a great chance that they may be asked to translate, is one of the essential requirements of the competent translator.

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Statement of the problem

In principal translating from one language into another is not an easy task, but when the translation occurs between two distinct languages such as English and Arabic the task is aggravated. One of the more prominent translation problems occurs when the translator encounters idioms or culturally bound expressions. Idioms pose a great challenge for translation students as they are bound to the cultural identities and history of any nation; therefore it is assumed that if such culturally bound expressions were introduced to the students through authentic contexts relevant to their field of speciality and considered as an integral part of their educational program, the students will be given insight into the culture, history ,traditions ,values and morals reflected through the language of that nation.While many researches investigated the difficulties linked to the translation of idiomatic expressions by non-native speakers, the majority of these researches and studies have focused, generally, on the different theories of idiom comprehension Bortfeld (1998/2002.), and Bortfeld& Brennan (1997). There exists ,however, a small body of academic literature which focuses on the study of idiomatic expressions occurring in the business domain ,specifically in journalism,(magazines and newspapers)and their effects and implications on both readers and learners Ulland(1997) .This research aims to contribute to the afore mentioned literature by making a case for the translation of idioms, occurring in business magazine articles, by MA students in their final academic semester at the Academy Of Post Graduate studies/Tripoli to find out what strategies and techniques they are using in contrast with the translation strategies they were taught in their study of translation and with reference to Baker’s(1992)strategies .The research also aims at identifying the problems they encounter in the process of translating idioms from English to Arabic. Due to time and space limitation it is not possible to collect all the used idioms and the study will focus on one specific magazine (Newsweek).

Significance of the study

The translation section in the Academy of Postgraduate Studies has two majors: Translation &Interpreting and Business Translation. The latter was introduced three years ago .Translation students majoring in the business translation MA programme are likely to work as translators in companies, agencies, media or as teachers. In fact they may already be in one of the aforesaid posts. They may be asked to translate or even interpret in a meeting where the lingua franca is English (SL) and the (TL) is Arabic, and as mentioned before idioms today are used and can be encountered in a wide range of texts ranging from economic ,financial, administrative, political ,advertising and many others .A competent translator has to have knowledge of all the intricate features of the language they are translating from as well as being competent in their own native language to be able to convey the meaning accurately. This study aims at shedding the light on the importance of learning and comprehension of idiomatic expressions in the field of business, it will also serve a dual purpose of testing the implementation of previously taught translation strategies to the translation of business idioms as well as offering reference material for further relevant researches to be used as a good ground for their knowledge reservoir.

Research questions

The researcher would like to address the following questions throughout the process of the study:

Are students familiar with the idiomatic expressions encountered in the business field?

Which strategies are used by MA students in the translation of idioms with reference to Baker’s strategies?

To what extent do the students find the available reference tools (dictionaries/internet) helpful and/or useful?

Research Hypotheses

The researcher hypothesizes the following:

H1-MA students in their final semester at the Academy of Postgraduate Studies are not familiar with business idiomatic expressions; therefore, they will not produce accurate translations.

H2-Omission or literal translation will most likely be used in the translation of the idioms.

H3-The available reference tools are insufficient in aiding the students with their translations.

Research Objectives :

Expounding on the objectives of using idioms in various business field domains to enhance teachers ‘and students’ awareness of the importance of teaching and learning such expressions as an integral part of language education and translators language proficiency.

Evaluating the implementation of the strategies taught to the students during the course of their MA studies specifically referring to Baker’s strategy in order to identify students’ problems in the application of translation strategies and consequently find solutions and suggest recommendations.

Since business translation is a new domain for MA students this research may pave the way for further investigations in the area of idiomatic expressions, for example a comparative study of the use of idioms. in Arabic versus English language may be conducted.


Multi-word combinations are so numerous in the English language; they are characterized by carrying meanings that can not easily be deduced from knowledge of normal intrinsic meanings of words. General knowledge and competency in L2 would still not help a nonnative speaker to elicit the meaning of word combinations such as: fall flat, thin on the ground or lay something at somebody’s door; because the individual words do not give a clear cue as to the intended meaning. To the best of my knowledge, a great number of researchers and previous studies tackled the problem of translating idiomatic expressions in general English, but not in specialized fields such as the use of idioms in the business field; business documents, newspapers, magazine articles….etc. It is worth noting that over the years idioms have entered the English language from the world of sports, for example ‘slam dunk’: great success, to classical literature, ” the goose that laid the golden egg” and science &technology;”you need to recharge your batteries and, they are on the same wave length.”

Today many idiomatic expressions are found in the business domain, for example: to throw money at a problem, call the shots, do a roaring trade and join the rat race.

My objectives regarding this topic is twofold .First, to prove that today such idiomatic expressions constitute a high proportion in well reputed newspapers(Guardian) and magazines(Newsweek),and occur in major domains such as : politics ,economics ,art Hans(2007)… unlike what Baker(1992) states “English uses idioms in many types of text,…..Their use in quality press news reports is limited ,….in English advertisement, promotional material, and in the tabloid press “Nippold(1991)emphasizes the challenges involved in the learning and mastering of idioms and states that nevertheless “every learner must be prepared to meet the challenge simply because idioms occur so frequently in the spoken and written English “Second, to discuss the role of context in idiom comprehension and the strategies used by Libyan novice translators in translating business idioms with reference to Baker’s strategies(1992) in order to elicit the most applicable technique .Finally, concluding by making suggestions about teaching and learning strategies to encounter the problems related to translating idiomatic expressions (focusing on business idioms).I have used data from Newsweek magazine, and I also conducted an experiment test including 20 business idioms which were given to final semester masters students at the Academy of Graduate Studies. The students were divided into two groups A/B; the first group was given idioms in context and the second group was given the idioms as single unit expressions. They were all asked to translate the idioms and then answer four questions at the end. The questions were related to three sub-hypotheses:1-most of the students are not familiar with business idioms.2- Students have to be competent in both L1 and L2 to be able to benefit from bilingual dictionaries.3-Novice translators realize that it is important for them to learn and be trained to comprehend idioms because of the functional role they play in language communication. As mentioned earlier, the whole world is undergoing complex changes in different areas such as technology and education. These changes necessarily have an important bearing on systems of higher education, including translator training programs.


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