Research studies

Translation Strategies Analysis of Cultural and Metaphorical Expressions in Malcolm X’s Autobiography

 

Prepared by the researche : 1Abdeslam Albakri & 2Cherif Teimi – 1&2 University of Ibn Tofail, Kenitra. Morocco

Democratic Arabic Center

Arabic journal for Translation studies : Seventh Issue – April 2024

A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin

Nationales ISSN-Zentrum für Deutschland
ISSN 2750-6142
Arabic journal for translation studies

 

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Abstract

This study investigates the translation of Malcolm X’s autobiography with specific reference to figurative language (metaphors) and cultural bound expressions. Moreover, the study detects the problems of the translation of cultural terms that may not have their equivalence in Arabic language. By the same token, it seeks to determine to what extent the translator manages, through particular techniques and strategies, to retain and maintain the literary style and aesthetic dimension of the language used in the source text. It highlights the strategies used in translating Malcolm X’s autobiography and investigates factors that play an important role in translating such texts. In exploring these points, the researcher focuses on the types of equivalence and the translation strategies used while translating this autobiography. The present study adopts a descriptive and analytical approach. Its main focus is culturally-bound and figurative expressions. It tackles the concept of translatability of autobiographical texts. The translations of the selected culturally-bound and figurative expressions will be carefully examined. They will be compared with their corresponding ST segments. The analysis will focus on the strategies used by the translator to render them adequately. Moreover, many culturally-bound expressions along with their translations will be analyzed in order to identify the type of equivalents they feature, the translator’s choices that affect the ST, and finally, the factors that influence the translation of these expressions. The findings reveal that such text type is a very important genre which reveals the author’s culture. This reality makes the process of translating such texts problematic for translators. In one hand, the researcher finds that the translator used semantic translation strategy in translating most of the figurative expressions. On the other hand, since there is a lack of equivalence for cultural bound expressions, the translator used pragmatic translation for such expressions.

  1. Introduction

Although autobiography is less defined than other literary genres, it has become a best-selling book today. Bearing this in mind, autobiographies are often influenced by the author’s social and political background. Therefore, autobiography is a modern literary genre that is often culturally bound.

An autobiography refers to a first-person account of a person’s life. In this regard, it is significant to note that Alex Haley wrote the Autobiography of Malcolm X following a lengthy series of interviews with Malcolm X shortly before his assassination, making that literary work a classic in the African American literature.

In this study, the main analysis will revolve around the translation techniques and strategies adopted in the translation of culture-specific items and metaphoric expressions in the autobiography of Malcolm X from English into Arabic. More precisely, it will point out how they are translated, identify the strategies the translator uses when translating such a text and find out whether her choices affect the meanings or not.

The autobiography of Malcolm X teems with cultural terms which may not have their appropriate equivalents in the target language i.e. Arabic. This complicates further the task of the translator who not only has to find the right equivalents, but also to retain the same literary style with its aesthetic dimension appealing to the feelings and emotions of the targeted audience. Therefore, I will show the translation strategies used in translating this type of texts and problems and/or obstacles that may face translators while translating such texts from English into Arabic.

  1. Autobiography as a literary genre

Autobiography has its own peculiarities like other literary forms. This is because it is an eyewitness record of life written by the author himself or herself. The main focus of an autobiography is on the person writing it to portray the growth and development of his or her personality although it shares some features with other types of writing such as memoirs, confessions, diaries, travelogues, letters and biographies.

An autobiography is different from the novel in terms of the nature of the characters. This is because the character of an autobiography really exists. However, the dominant feature in the novel is the use of imagination and the absence of authentic scenes of the author’s life. Another difference is that the author’s life in the autobiography is presented directly, but in the novel, the author may present nothing about his/her own life.

Autobiographies represent then a literary genre with its own distinctive features on the level of characters, story, plot, setting and style. It follows then that they are among the most difficult texts to translate because of the numerous problems that they pose as literary works.

  1. The problem of translating autobiography

As far as this this study examines the challenges faced by the translator of autobiography, it is important to first explain the origin of autobiography as a literal genre. An autobiography, according to Anderson (2001, p. 50), is “a retrospective prose narrative written by a real person about his or her existence, focusing on his or her life and personality.” As a literary concept, autobiography focuses on an author’s story about his or her own life. It is based on the author’s life flashback and highlights the events and incidents that make up and have a profound impact on a person’s life.

Autobiography is referential and not fictitious as Lejeune (1989, p.120) confirms. As a literary genre, autobiography appeared in the Arab world before the appearance of Rousseau’s Confession in Europe, which is considered to be the beginning of the art of autobiography in the West. Scholars like Mansour (2011), confirms that autobiography existed in the Arab world before its revival in Europe. It started as an oral tradition before the Islamic times and later developed into a written genre. It was practiced throughout the years as a subgenre of the biography in works of assira i.e. exemplary life. It is worth mentioning that the first Arabic professional and creative autobiography ever written was that of Al Ayyam by Taha Hussein.

Autobiography was introduced to Morocco in the 1950s by Ahmed Sefrioui with his children’s narrative “La Boite à Merveilles”. Similar works can be found in translated Moroccan autobiographies by Paul Bowels, like Choukri’s “Bread Alone”. The only Moroccan childhood memoir written in Arabic is Abdelmajid Benjelloun’s “Fi Attufula”, which is set in England, where the author grew up. Autobiography must be then viewed as an imported genre from modern Arabic literature according to Abouzeid (1998).

For Taylor (2014), the translation of an autobiography necessitates more precision than other forms of literary genres. She claims that the main purpose of autobiographical translation is not only to clarify the message, but also the meta message that accompanies the translation of certain words. Other researchers such as Hatim and Mason (1990) have highlighted the important role that the semiotic dimension plays in the translation process, taking into account all the contextual and textual elements that interact to produce a meaningful message.

Most research on translation has concentrated on prescribing translation procedures to account for diverse genres in order to fully account for any problems that arise throughout the translation process. While such an endeavor is adequate on a limited scale, it may not be the best approach to account for the act of understanding because it must precede any act of translation. One of the difficulties that the translator of this autobiography has encountered is that relying on a single approach is insufficient to adequately account for the translation of the events and incidents in this autobiography; thus, the optimal approach must be a multifaceted one in order to provide an adequate translation of cultural expressions.

According to Bell (1991), all words have both a denotative and a connotative meaning. This means that the translator must be able to take into account all aspects that have meaning in each language. In fact, the most revealing conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that a translation can only be fully correct when contextual influences are taken into account. Because this autobiography teems with cultural references and figurative language, the translator could not always rely on the literal or denotative meaning to explain the meaning. Its meaning cannot be grasped by reference to its denotative meaning, and so in some cases close attention to pragmatic features may be the only way to adequately account for such hidden meanings.

This study highlights some of the challenges that the translator faced when translating this literary genre. The analysis of the excerpts cited in this study is based on the assumption that relying on the traditional view of semantics does us no good and that it is insufficient to adequately explain culture-bound and metaphorical expressions. Some of these challenges range from semantic problems to pragmatic problems.

  1. The problems of Literary translation

Like culture-specific terms, the subjectivity of views and concepts which literary texts include is considered to be a real obstacle of literary translation. Unlike a scientific text, a literary text does not consist of objective facts. It consists of subjective views and concepts of life which can be interpreted differently from one translator to another (Boushaba, 1988 p.46).

According to Boushaba (1988, p.47), the author’s personal experience or his vision of life determines the meaning of a literary text since the translator has the reference on which s/he can build her/his interpretation. Such way enables the translator to avoid the speculative interpretation of the author’s intention and achieves the objective meaning.

It is important to indicate that flexibility and faithfulness are two important criteria in the translation of literary texts as well. A literary translation does not only demand the faithfulness to the meaning and the style of the original text, but it also demands the ability of the translator to impersonate his author and introduce him to the TL readers.  Boushaba (1988, p.87) argues that stylistic difficulties are another problem that faces translators while translating literary works since the translator, occasionally, would not be able to render some stylistic elements of the SL into the TL.

Newmark (1988) clarified the relation between literature and translation. He claims that the purpose of translating literature is to simplify the original text. The translation theorists always urged translators to produce the closest natural equivalence although the translation cannot achieve absolute communication.

The present study will focus mainly on the culture-bound words and metaphors as cases in point to examine.

  1. Strategies of translating culture specific terms

Culture specific items or culture-bound terms, are items that can be spot only in their proper culture. Palumbo (2009, p.33) suggests that “various techniques are employed for the translation of such elements, depending on whether the audience is already familiar with the term or concept, or the possibility to find functional equivalents in the TL, i.e. terms that refer to analogous concepts in the TL culture.”

Guerra (2015) proposes different translation strategies that account for solutions of textual nature such as:

Generalization: it is the commonest strategy used in translating culture-specific concepts. In this strategy, the translators tend to replace the most specific concept with a more commonly known and general one.

Paraphrasing: translators use it to deal with the problematic items in translation.

Omission: it is the last choice to be used in the case of extreme difficulties in translation. Although this strategy may cause loss of meaning, its benefit lies in producing a smooth, readable translation.

Description: it is another strategy of translating literary and culture-bound texts. It can be considered as a type of paraphrase.

Guerra (2015) mentions that many scholars propose a different list of translation strategies such as equivalence and calque. While the former means expressing the same situation in a different way, the latter refers to the literal translation of a foreign word or phrase. It can be considered a kind of borrowed translation.

A perfect translation of culturally-bound expressions is impossible. However, it is possible to translate them by focusing on the purpose of SLT. If the translator focuses on the translation purpose, it would be possible to translate culture-specific terms and literary expressions (ibid.).

Equivalence, according to Vinay and Darbelnet (1958, p. 38), is one of seven procedures defined as an authentic copy in the same situation as the original but with completely different wording.

The translator will face problems in finding a non-equivalence of the original text “the choice of a suitable equivalent in a given context depends on a wide variety of factors.” This allows the translator to use the strategies of translation which fit the situation.

  1. Strategies of translating metaphors

A metaphor is considered a real obstacle for translators. Since literary texts are figurative texts in the truest sense of the word, it is important to seek the opinion of scholars before analyzing the translation of such texts.

It has been argued that Newmark (1985, pp. 304-311) classified the procedures used by translators to translate metaphors:

  • Duplicating the same image in TL “provided that the image has comparable frequency in the appropriate register.”
  • Changing SL image to a standard TL image that does not conflict with TL culture.
  • Translating the metaphor by a simile: “Preserving the image.”
  • Transforming metaphor into meaning.
  • Modifying the metaphor.
  • Using the same metaphor in combination with the meaning.
  1. Methodology

The methods used in this study consist of a citation of a set of excerpts taken from the autobiography itself that were regarded worthy of investigation since such excerpts speak favorably of the person in question and the culture to which he belongs. Furthermore, the excerpts highlighted in this study reflect cultural interactions with certain significant events in Malcolm X’s and the African American community’s lives.

The present study follows a descriptive and analytical approach and its main emphasis is on the most figurative and culturally significant expressions. It tackles the concept of translability of autobiographical texts and it actually describes the image and the message of the SLT discussing the translation of those cultural and metaphoric elements in the SLT.

Leila Abouzeid’s translations of the selected culturally-bound and figurative expressions will be carefully examined. They will be compared with their corresponding ST segments. The selection of Malcolm X’s autobiography is based on the fact that his autobiography teems with culturally-bound expressions and figurative language items which put the translator in that difficult situation.

Different culturally-bound expressions along with their translations will be analyzed in order to identify the type of equivalents they feature, the translator’s choices that affect the ST, and finally, the factors that influence the translation of these expressions. Moreover, different metaphors will be examined and analyzed as examples of figurative language used in the autobiography of Malcolm X. The analysis will focus on the strategies used by the translator to render them in the TL. It will be divided into two main parts: the first will revolve around the translation of culturally-bound expressions which include idiomatic and colloquial expressions; whereas the second part will be devoted to the translation of figurative language in the ST which includes metaphorical expressions.

  1. Discussion of Data Analysis

The analysis of data will consist in identifying the problems faced in the translation of each category of data, the preferred translation strategies used to deal with each category and the solutions suggested to handle each category.

The analysis will be mainly empirical and descriptive. In other words, it will consist in commenting on the strategies used in the translation of culture-specific items and metaphorical expressions by illustrating their significance in the SL and explaining the type of equivalence that the translator adopts which determines the strategy used in translating each expression.

8.1. Cultural-bound expressions

Example 1:

My mother would boil a big pot of dandelion greens, and we would eat that. I remember that some small-minded neighbor put it out, and children would tease us, that we ate “fried grass.”  Sometimes, if we were lucky, we would have oatmeal or cornmeal mush three times a day.  (p: 93)

كانت أمي تطبخ لنا قدرا من الهندباء الفجة فنأكلهالحشيش المقلي“…عصيدة القمح والذرةالعصيدة… (ص18)

The words in bold in the SL are problematic since they are culture-specific terms. The translator translates them into their semantic equivalents. This is due to the fact that there are no appropriate correspondences to these words in the TTC. Therefore, she chooses equivalents that have the same function in the TT, but not the same significance. They do neither reflect the same shade of meaning of the Arabic words nor have the same impact on the target readers.

The translator does not seem to find the exact equivalence for such terms. Thus, the translation is inadequate and inaccurate. Therefore, I suggest that it would be better to transliterate such words for the sake of preserving the cultural significance.

Newark (1984, p.94) defines culture as “the way of life and its manifestations which are peculiar to a community that uses a particular language and its means of expression.” One of the most relevant categories according to this definition is the material culture that includes the many categories such as food, clothes, houses, towns and transport.

Example 2:

Ella told me this was called a “conk.” …and these children threw around swear words I’d never heard before, even, and slang expressions that were just as new to me, such as “stud” and “cat” and “chick” and “cool” and “hip.” (p: 125)

قالت لي [ايلا] انها تسمى “كونك” … سمعت أطفالا ينطقون بكلمات داعرة وسوقية لم أسمعها من قبل، كانت تعلق بذهني وكنت أستعيدها قبل أن أنام. (ص:37

To begin with, the colloquial word “conk” which semantically means a straight and flat hairstyle worn by African Americans is kept as such in the TT. The translator transfers the word into the TL. In such cases, it is preferable to give more details in order to make the TT explicit. On the other hand, the translator deletes the colloquial expressions “stud”, “cat”, “chick”, “cool” and “hip.” which are usually used in certain situations to poke fun at black people or niggers as pejorative expressions. The translator does not even translate them functionally. Omission is the strategy that the translator tends to use in translating such terms of extreme difficulties whenever there is an absence of equivalence for the ST terms.

Example 3:

… She (Laura) had finished high school, but by then she was already going the wrong way. Defying her grandmother, she had started going out late and drinking liquor. This led to dope, and that to selling herself to men. Learning to hate the men who bought her, she also became a lesbian. (p: 154)

… انحرفت وهي في المدرسة الثانوية حيث بدأت الخمر ثم تدرجت الى الدعارة ثم الى الشدود. (ص56)

In this example, it is blatant that the translator does not translate the word “lesbian” which semantically means “a woman who feels sexual attraction to other women.” Rather, the translator replaces the most specific concept with a more commonly known and general one. This strategy is called generalization according to Guerra (2015) which is used for the translation of culture-specific items.

The difficulty encountered is the inevitability of not translating “pornographic words”. It is intentionally presented to avoid eroticism and show Malcolm X’s metamorphosis after he converted to Islam in order to clarify how this religion elevated him to human dignity. In this vein, Malcolm X says: “it rocked me like a tidal wave. Scenes from my once depraved life lashed through my mind. Living like an animal; thinking like an animal!” (p: 394)

Example 4:

It made me feel good to see that my not eating it (pork) had especially startled the white convicts. (p: 250)

وأثلج صدري بصفة خاصة أن السجناء البيض أيضا كانوا يتكلمون عن ذلك بدهشة. (ص 120)

The expression « it made me feel good » is commonly used in English when someone is happy, having a positive feeling and excited. The translator rendered it functionally by using the collocation أثلج صدري” which means in Arabic “it warmed my heart”. The translator translates it by another TT idiomatic expression which has the same function in the TL. This means that the translator avoids literal translation since it would yield nonsense and be misleading. The strategy used in translating this expression is cultural substitution which means that the cultural bound expression of the source language is removed and replaced by a different cultural bound expression which is completely known by the target audience.

Example 5:

 I ought to come to Detroit and become a member of a temple of practicing Muslims. (p: 288)

أنني في حاجة الى أن أعمق معرفتي بتعاليم السيد الايجا محمد وأصبح عضوا في مسجد ديترويت. (ص 146)

The problematic word is “temple”. It means a building dedicated to religious ceremonies or worship for non-Muslims.  However, the translator translates the word into its pragmatic equivalent replacing the word “temple” by “مسجد”.  Therefore, the translator succeeds in rendering the ST image while keeping the same effect on the TT readers. The strategy used is domestication. In such cases, the translator substitutes the ST word with an existing concept in the target culture.  Domestication is a common strategy which the translator adopts in translating cultural and literary words which are influenced by the ideological and contextual factors to minimize the strangeness of the foreign text for target language readers”

Example 6:

Fifth, the addict voluntarily underwent a cold turkey break with drugs. (p:364)

خامسا: وصوله (المدمن) الى اتخاذ قرار بذلك. (ص199)

The headlines and the news broadcasts promptly had it: black Muslims’ Malcolm X: ‘Chickens Come Home to Roost.’ (p: 411)

وتلقت الصحف قولي: “ملكوم اكس الناطق باسم المسلمين السود يقول ان البيض قد نالوا جزاءهم.” (ص 230)

Idioms are figurative expressions. This mean that they are not translated literally. Their meaning often cannot be recognized by their individual components. In this vein, Baker (1992, p. 115) claims that idioms and fixed expressions can be translated if one deals with the meaning they convey and “their association with cultural specific contexts which can make them understandable or difficult to translate.” Baker (1992, p. 150) also claims that paraphrasing “is by far the most common way of translating idioms when a match cannot be found in the target language or when it seems inappropriate to use the idiomatic language in the target text because of differences in stylistic preferences of the source and the target languages.”

In the two idiomatic expressions mentioned above, the translator does not translate them idiomatically. She uses paraphrasing strategy in order to convey the ST sense accurately. For example, the idiom “go cold turkey” which means, “to quit taking an addictive drug by stopping immediately” is paraphrased as “وصوله (المدمن) الى اتخاذ قرار بذلك”. By the same token, the idiom in the second example i.e. ‘Chickens Come Home to Roost,’ which means that “someone is suffering the unpleasant consequences of their bad actions in the past” i.e. the negative consequences of previous actions reveal themselves is paraphrased by the phrase “ان البيض قد نالوا جزاءهم” in reference to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I suggest that it would be better to say “وكان الجزاء من جنس العمل” which is a very common expression in TT.

Example 7:

The pilgrimage to Mecca, known as Hajj. (p: 430)   الحج (ص: 432)                               

Example 8:

Once thus dressed, we all had begun intermittently calling out “Labbayka! Labbayka!” (Here I come, O Lord!) (p:435)

بعد ذلك شرعنا نقول: “لبيك اللهم لبيك! ومعناها: ها أنذا ياربي” !(ص:248)

Example 9:

In Arabic Mutawaf” meant “the one who guides” the pilgrims on the « tawaf » which is the circumam-bulation of the Ka’ba in Mecca. (p:437)

وكلمة مطوف مشتقة من الطواف ومعناه في اللغة العربية الدوران حول الكعبة. (ص: 249)

Example 10:

It was then about three in the morning, a Friday morning. Friday in the Muslim world is a rough counterpart of Sunday in the Christian world. On Friday, all the members of a Muslim community gather, to pray together. The event is called “yawm aljumu’a” the day of gathering.” (p:438)

كانت الساعة حوالي الثالثة من صباح يوم الجمعة وهو اليوم الذي يقابل يوم الأحد في الغرب الذي يجتمع الناس فيه للصلاة جماعة ومن ثم تسميته بالجمعة. (ص:250)

Example 11:

I followed him into the mosque, just a step behind, watching. He did his prostration, his head to the ground. I did mine. “Bi_smi_llahi_r_Rahmain-r-Rahim” (“in the name of Allah, the beneficent, the Merciful- “) (p: 442)

بعد ذلك تبعته الى المسجد ووقفت خلفه مباشرة وبدأت أقرأ معه :”باسم الله الرحمان الرحيم” (ص: 252)

Example 12:

I had just said my Sunset prayer, El Maghrib; I was lying on my cot in the fourth-tier compartment, feeling blue and alone, when out of the darkness came a sudden light! (p: 444)

وصليت المغرب ثم اضطجعت في سريري وأنا أشعر بالوحشة والوحدة وبغتة لمعت في ذهني فكرة. (ص:254)

The above examples from 7 to 12 are mentioned in chapter 17 entitled “Mecca” which teems with Islamic terms and expressions. The bold words and expressions show the translation from ST to TT. They indicate that the translator uses the transliteration strategy to convey the meaning to the Arab reader who is familiar with these concepts in bold.

Transliteration is a translation strategy whereby the characters of an alphabetic writing system are represented by characters from another alphabetic writing system. It has many advantages. One such advantage is that transliteration is more appropriate with Islamic Religious Terms (IRT) that allows back-translation. For instance, reconverting transliterated words such as Allah, salat, and hajj back into Arabic as الله, الصلاة and الحج is much easier than reconverting translated words such as god, prayer, and pilgrimage.

It is worth mentioning that none of the aforementioned English words (god, prayer, and pilgrimage) actually convey the true religious connotations of the Arabic words. Translating salat as prayer is not precise enough, as prayer can indicate several different ways of relating to Allah; personal prayer or supplication is called du ‘a’ (literally supplication) in Islamic usage. Translating hajj as pilgrimage does not necessarily refer to journeying to Mecca during the month of Dhu Al-hijjah to perform religious duties. In addition, if we accept the word pilgrimage, regardless of its wide range of connotations, as an equivalent to hajj, then what is the word that will be used to stand for to the same journey to Mecca, performed by Muslims, which can be undertaken at any time of the year (i.e. ‘umra)? Transliteration, and not translation, of IRTs can enhance familiarity with Arabic which might be helpful, as a start, for English-speaking Muslims who are willing to learn Arabic or who convert to Islam and want to learn about its teaching like the case of Malcolm X.

Example 13:

After signing the contract for this book, Malcolm X looked at me hard. “A writer is what I want, not an interpreter.” (p:77)

عندما وقع ملكوم اكس على عقد هذا الكتاب حدق في وقال: “أريدك أن تكون كاتبا لا مترجما”(ص: 360)

In this example, the translator translates the word “interpreter” as “مترجم” it is crystal clear that the fundamental difference is that a translator works with the written words while an interpreter works with spoken ones.

Table1. Some CSI translation strategies used by the translator.

Strategy Original sentence (ST) English translation (TT)
Opting for the literal versus semantic meaning My mother would boil a big pot of dandelion greens, and we would eat that. I remember that some small-minded neighbor put it out, and children would tease us, that we ate “fried grass.”  Sometimes, if we were lucky, we would have oatmeal or cornmeal mush three times a day. كانت أمي تطبخ لنا قدرا من الهندباء الفجة فنأكلهالحشيش المقلي“…عصيدة القمح والذرةالعصيدة
Foreignization

and

Omission

Ella told me this was called a “conk.” …and these children threw around swear words I’d never heard before, even, and slang expressions that were just as new to me, such as “stud” and “cat” and “chick” and “cool” and “hip.” [ايلا] قالت لي انها تسمى “كونك” … سمعت أطفالا ينطقون بكلمات داعرة وسوقية لم أسمعها من قبل، كانت تعلق بذهني و    كنت أستعيدها قبل أن أنام.
Generalization … She (Laura) had finished high school, but by then she was already going the wrong way. Defying her grandmother, she had started going out late and drinking liquor. This led to dope, and that to selling herself to men. Learning to hate the men who bought her, she also became a lesbian. … انحرفت وهي في المدرسة الثانوية حيث بدأت الخمر ثم تدرجت الى الدعارة ثم الى الشدود.

 

Cultural substitution

 

It made me very proud, in some odd way. One of the universal images of the Negro, in prison and out, was that he couldn’t do without pork. It made me feel good to see that my not eating it had especially startled the white convicts. اشعرني باعتزاز غريب خصوصا أن الزنجي سواء كان داحل السجن أو خارجه لا يستغني عن لحم الخنزير. وأثلج صدري بصفة خاصة أن السجناء البيض أيضا كانوا يتكلمون عن ذلك بدهشة.
Domestication … and I ought to come to Detroit and become a member of a temple of practicing Muslims. أنني في حاجة الى أعمق معرفتي بتعاليم السيد الايجا محمد وأصبح عضوا في مسجد ديترويت.
Paraphrasing Fifth, the addict voluntarily underwent a cold turkey break with drugs. خامسا: وصوله (المدمن) الى اتخاذ قرار بذلك.
Transliteration I followed him into the mosque, just a step behind, watching. He did his prostration, his head to the ground. I did mine. “Bi_smi_llahi_r_Rahmain-r-Rahim(“in the name of Allah, the beneficent, the Merciful-“) بعد ذلك تبعته الى المسجد ووقفت خلفه مباشرة وبدأت أقرأ معه :”باسم الله الرحمان الرحيم”.

 

  • Metaphoric expressions

Example1:

I was unique in my class, like a pink poodle. (p:112)

ولوني الذي جعلني بمثابة الثور الابلق (ص29)

A simile can be treated like a metaphor. In the example referred to above, the author likens himself to a pink poodle that is a breed of dog hugely popular. The simile element “like” is used to indicate that Malcolm X was so popular and easily distinguished among his white classmates due to his black color.

To retain the same image of popularity, the translator translates it pragmatically. She replaces the original simile in the ST by another original simile in the TT. To show the popularity of Malcolm X, she likens him to “الثور الأبلق” i.e. “the spotted bull” using the simile element بمثابة which means “like”. According to almaany dictionary, the adjective “أبلق” refers to an animal, especially a horse, with black and white colors making that animal distinguished and noticeable from the rest of horses.

In addition, the translator adds the word “لوني” and deletes the word “pink” in order to fit the new simile in the TT and keep the emotional effect on the TT reader as same as the one on the ST. This means that the translator tends to add some details in order to make the TT explicit and to avoid ambiguity and misleading meaning.

Addition can be considered as a kind of explication which is defined by Vinay and Darbelnet (1995, p. 342) as “a stylistic translation technique which consists of making explicit in the target language what remains implicit in the source language because it is apparent from either the context or the situation”.

Example 2:

New York was heaven to me and Harlem was Seventh Heaven! (p: 162)

كانت نيويورك بالنسبة لي جنة وهارليم أعلى درجاتها (ص:62)

The metaphorical word is “heaven” which meansجنة . The author likens New York to heaven and Harlem, which is a part of New York, to a Seventh Heaven. The translator adopts two procedures in translating the metaphor. First, she retains the same metaphor in the TT producing the same image in the TT. Second, she omits the second metaphor and replaces it by another original one in the TT since it is redundant and does not serve any purpose.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, seventh heaven means a state of extreme happiness and joy and not the highest degree of heaven i.e., أعلى درجات الجنة which refers to the concept of الفردوس which is in the hereafter. In such case, it is preferable to explain more in order to make TT explicit. For example, it would be better to translate the second metaphor i.e. أعلى درجاتها as. فدروسها الأعلى

Example 3:

“for the white man to ask the black man if he hates him is just like the rapist asking the raped, or the wolf asking the sheep, ‘Do you hate me?’ (p:342)

ان المغتصِب لا يسأل المغتصَب ان كان يكرهه كما أن الذئب لا يسأل الحمَل ذلك (ص 184)

In this metaphoric example i.e. simile, the author used the element “just like” to liken the white man to a rapist and a wolf to show that the white man had oppressed the black man. The latter is likened to a raped person and a sheep to show that the black man is a victim of the white man’s oppression throughout history and not the opposite i.e. accusing the black man’s hatred to the white man.

Example 4:

          the audience atmosphere was almost as if the people had gone limp. (p:361)

والجمهور كأن على رؤوسه الطير. (ص:196)

The author of the ST uses such metaphoric expression to express how the followers of the Nation of Islam Organization were calming themselves down and making the situation a little easier while listening to Malcolm X speech and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. To describe this calmness, the author used the metaphoric expression “go limp” as an equivalent to “كأن على رؤوسهم الطير” to mean that the followers were so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. According to the dictionary Lissan AL Arab, the expression كأن على رؤوسه الطير originates from the fact that the crow stays above the head of the camel to pick up the nipple found in the camel head. The camel must remain calm and quiet and must not move its head so that the crow will not fly or move away.  The translator replaces the ST original metaphoric expression by nearly the same TT original metaphor. The translator translates it by using the pragmatic equivalent in order to keep the effect and the image in TT as they are in the ST.

Example 5:

Once a little nobody Indian lawyer was put off a train, and fed up with injustice, he twisted a knot in the British Lion’s tail. His name was Mahatma Gandhi! (p:375)

لقد منع مرة هندي ضئيل ومغمور اسمه المهاتما غاندي من ركوب القطار فأدى به ذلك الى عقد عقدة في ذيل الأسد البريطاني. (ص205)

In this example, there is ambiguity in the translation since the translator reproduces this metaphor literally in the TT and she kept its equivalent level by using the strategy “metaphor by metaphor”. She does not give the exact equivalent meaning to the TT because it does not express the same image. Moreover, we can consider this type of metaphors as a dead metaphor since we cannot feel its image that is to tax the patience of or provoke the government of Great Britain.

Example 6:

The white Southerner was always given his due by Mr. Muhammad. The white Southerner, you can say one thing-he is honest. He bares his teeth to the black man; he tells the black man, to his face, that Southern whites never will accept phony “integration.” (p:375)

وقد كان السيد الايجا يقول : “ان الجنوبي الأبيض على الأقل لا ينافق. انه يكشر عن أنيابه للسود ويقول لهم صراحة انه لن يقبل أي “اندماج” صوري معهم وانه سيحاربه. (ص: 207)

The metaphorical expression “bares his teeth” where Malcolm X likens the white man living in the South of the United States of America to a dog or wolf when threatened to display an angry, violent, and/or threatening reaction to or against something or someone.

It is an original metaphor according to Newmark’s classification as it implies the author’s message and comment on life. The translator replaces the original metaphor of the ST by another metaphor in the TT plus sense.

Example 7:

I never dreamed that the Chicago Muslim officials were going to make it appear that I was throwing gasoline on the fire instead of water. (p:409)

ويتهمونني بمحاولة اطفاء النار بالبترول وليس بالماء كما كانت نيتي. (ص: 229)

The translator reproduces the same metaphor as in the TL. In this example, she reproduces this metaphor literally in the TT and keeps using the strategy “metaphor by metaphor” but it appears some changes in translation in terms of collocation.

She translates the collocation “throwing gasoline” which literally means in Arabic “القاء أو رمي البنزين” by the collocation “محاولة اطفاء النار” the translator adopts the literal translation with some additions to fit the context in Arabic.

The metaphoric expression “throwing gasoline on the fire” means making a problem or a situation bad or worse to further enrage an already angry person or group of people. The metaphoric expression could have been translated like “ومما زاد الطين بلة” because this is what exactly happened when relations worsened between Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam after he had said to the press: “the chickens coming home to roost” after J.F Kennedy assassination in Dallas. Malcolm soon realizes that the Kennedy quote is merely an excuse for the Nation of Islam to cast him off. He was deeply shocked that he had been betrayed by Elijah Muhammad, describing it as a sudden divorce after twelve years of beautiful marriage.

Table 2. Some translation strategies of metaphoric expressions used by the translator

Strategy Original sentence (ST) English translation (TT)
Substitution I was unique in my class, like a pink poodle. لوني الذي جعلني بمثابة الثور الابلق من جهة اخرى.
Substitution and deletion New York was heaven to me and Harlem was Seventh Heaven! كانت نيويورك بالنسبة لي جنة وهارليم أعلى درجاتها .
Reproduction

 

 

  Once a little nobody Indian lawyer was put off a train, and fed up with injustice, he twisted a knot in the British Lion’s tail. His name was Mahatma Gandhi! لقد منع مرة هندي ضئيل ومغمور اسمه المهاتما غاندي من ركوب القطار فأدى به ذلك الى عقد عقدة في ذيل الأسد البريطاني.
Modification I never dreamed that the Chicago Muslim officials were going to make it appear that I was throwing gasoline on the fire instead of water. ويتهمونني بمحاولة اطفاء النار بالبترول وليس بالماء كما كانت نيتي.

 

  1. Results and Conclusion

After investigating and analyzing the data above, searching for strategies used in the translation of the autobiography of Malcolm X, I conclude that the translator uses different strategies. This is because the autobiography of Malcolm X has a combination of cultural and literary items. For example, the translator uses various strategies when translating culture-bound expressions that contain colloquial terms. She translates some examples into their semantic equivalents and other examples into their pragmatic equivalents.

The translator also uses cultural substitution and omission keeping the significance of the ST in some examples and losing it in others.

In addition, the translator tends to reproduce the same image in the TL in the translation of most metaphorical expressions. However, she replaces the image in the ST with a standard one in the TT which does not clash with the TTC. Generally, the translations of all metaphors examined in this chapter fall under the Newark’s approach.

I can, therefore, conclude that the translator of Malcolm X’s autobiography has a good knowledge about the cultural, social and contextual background of both English and Arabic. I tried to study and analyze Malcolm X’s and extract its most prominent features which involve the cultural bound and figurative expressions and their analysis of both the ST and the TT.

After analyzing the data, many findings were revealed. First, Cultural factors influence both the autobiography itself and the process of its translation. Moreover, despite the fact that autobiographical texts are authentic and non-fictitious, there are many cultural-bound expressions and figures of speech included in this autobiography which makes it a difficult task for Arab translators. Second, various strategies are used in translating Malcolm X’s autobiography. At the level of cultural-bound expressions, most of the cultural-bound expressions are translated into their pragmatic equivalents. Other translation strategies are used such as cultural substitution, omission, sematic translation, etc. At the level of the figurative language, the translator uses the semantic translation strategy beside other translation strategies such as literal and pragmatic translation. She reproduces the same image of the ST in the TT. Furthermore, in many cases, she replaces the ST metaphor by the same metaphor in the TT. Borrowing new metaphors from English into Arabic translations may bridge the gap between English and Arabic. Third, Cultural and linguistic gaps were a big challenge that faces the translator in translating Malcolm X’s autobiography. What is more challenging is to achieve the appropriate equivalent for some culture-specific items and expressions challenging is to achieve the appropriate equivalent for some culture-specific items and expressions which are not even known in the target culture such as the word “conk” and other items.

Bearing in mind the above-mentioned findings, different conclusions are drawn. First, autobiography is a very important literary genre which reflects the culture of Americans in general and African Americans in particular. Therefore, it is difficult to be translated. Second, the translator was faithful in translating many items in Malcolm X’s autobiography since she captured the content and meaning of the ST using different strategies. However, the translator’s faithfulness was affected, to a certain extent, since she uses omission as a strategy to deal with some cultural-bound expressions.  Third, cultural gaps between English and Arabic are a prominent factor which makes the process of translating culture-bound and figurative expressions from English into Arabic challenging to translators. Finally, translators should have a deep knowledge and a good background about both the SLC and TLC when translating culture bound and figurative expressions. Because English and Arabic are culturally diverse, culture and metaphoric expressions continue to provide a significant barrier for translators. Conveying the emotionality embedded in some of these culture specific items proves to be a challenging task.

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