A diachronic corpus-based study of taboo language in literary translation from English into Arabic
The present study is a quantitative as well as a qualitative corpus-based investigation of the Arabic translation of taboo language in three English novels, published in Arabic by well-known publishers in the Middle East in 1987, 1999 and 2010. The novels are Lady Chatterley’s lover by D. H. Lawrence (1960) translated as عشيق الليدي تشاترلي 'ashyq al-laydy tshātrly by Hana Aboud (1999), The garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway (1986) translated as جنة عدن jnat ‘adn by Al Sharif Khatier (1987) and Sex and the city (2000 version) by Candace Bushnell translated as بنات المدينة bnāt al-mdīnāh by Abid Ismael (2010). The main research questions investigated in the study are: (1) What strategies are used for the translation of taboo language across the three novels investigated in this study, and are there any notable similarities and differences over time? (2) Is there any correspondence between particular translation strategies and different categories of taboo language, and do these correspondences show similarities or differences across the three novels and the timespan investigated? (3) Based on the above, how may social changes in the receiving system be seen to condition translation choices?
Corpus data are extracted from the source text of the English novels as well as the corresponding Arabic translated versions. A quantitative analysis is performed to set up a comparison of frequencies and distribution of taboo words, their categories, and the translation strategies employed by translators of the three novels, aiming at quantifying similarities or differences. The framework adopted for the analysis is based in the paradigm of Descriptive Translation Studies and uses Toury’s (1995) coupled-pairs method. The findings show that translation by a more general word is a predominant strategy, especially when translating sex-related items. However, there is a gradual growth in adopting literal translation strategies across the period included in this study which is explained by language change, and a change in social norms. Furthermore, a notable tendency to transliterate in the older translation is found which reflects translators’ individual differences in terms of their awareness of the target language vocabulary.