Translating Contextualized Arabic Euphemisms into English: Socio-Cultural Perspective

Ekrema Shehab, Abdelrahman Qadan, Manar Hussein


This study examines the role context plays in determining the translation strategies pursued by translators of Arabic euphemisms into English. Due to different cultural backgrounds, adherence to the employment of euphemism in a social context may differ in both Arabic and English. While some situations call for the use of euphemism in one culture, the other culture finds no point in using such euphemisms for such situations; preserving the original Arabic euphemisms when rendered into English in this case could lead to misunderstanding and may deprive the Source Language (SL) from a cultural trait. The study derives evidence from 11 Arabic euphemistic expressions taken from five literary masterpieces written by the Egyptian novelist and Noble Prize winner Najib Mahfouz, and it looks into the English translation of these euphemisms. The present study attempts to advance the proposition that Arabic euphemisms in their context  exhibit fluctuating, unstable meaning, which emanates from various contextual factors such as speakers, addressees, shared knowledge and background information, and hence these factors combined dictate on translators the chosen translation strategy.




euphemism; translation; translation strategies;Arabic; Context

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