The main duty of a translator is to bridge a gap between two cultures by means of an interpretive act that makes the division between both cultures less visible. Characteristically, languages harbor a great deal of expressions and idioms that belong to a specific culture. These arabic idioms are not born out of thin air and the translator must not turn a blind eye to them. In order to execute the translation task effectively, the translator must flex his muscles and set sail.
Intuitively, the translator might begin to brainstorm in an attempt to find an equivalent to the idiom in hand or even carry out a research on the internet and end up with a classic case of literal translations or a poor adaptation style. Unfortunately, the target language might not enable the translator to provide a prototypical text and the translator's hands are tied. This could be particularly true in the case of Arabic to English translations. The complexity here is that the translator needs a savoir-faire between culture and expression. On the contrary, paraphrasing or providing a literal translation can put the cultural aspects and references at stake. Additionally, this approach gives the reader a compositional effect, which means the reading process is experienced differently depending on the language.
Examples of problematic expressions
- الأطرش في الزفة (phonetics: al'atrash fi alzifa)
- الباب يفوت جمل (phonetics: albabu yufawitu jamlan)
- القرد في عين أمه غزال (phonetics: alqirdu fi eayn 'umihi ghazalun)
- الجمل لا يرى اعوجاج رقبته (phonetics: aljamalu la yara aewajaj raqabatihi)