Landscape in Literary Translation: A Comparative Study

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Translating concepts of setting can be challenging when their cultural, historical, and geographic contexts are remote from the translator’s experience. Landscape is an essential factor that reveals a great deal of the culture of pre-Islamic Arabia, which is distant in place, historical framework, and literary tradition from its translators. This article examines the importance of a translator’s awareness of the communicative function of source text references to landscape to adopt appropriate translation strategies. The article presents a case study of a verse line alongside a corpus of nineteen English and French translations. The source text, the Mu‘allaqa of Imru’ alQays, names three mountains in Arabia, and space and distance are core themes in the verse line. Comparison is both synchronic and diachronic: at the same time that every translation is compared to the source text, it is also compared to other translations. Prose translations are also examined separately from verse translations, with cross-references in both directions. The translators who adopted source-text-oriented strategies missed communicative clues regarding the setting. However, those who endorsed target-text oriented strategies produced effective and adequate translation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAWEJ for Translation and Literary Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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