Translators as Intercultural Mediators: Translating Religious Expressions in Naguib Mahfouz’s Palace of Desire into English

Fatima Muhaidat, Shadi Neimneh


Intercultural interaction is an important aspect of translation, a process that goes beyond transferring meanings of words from one language into another. This paper discusses the role translation plays in facilitating intercultural interaction. More specifically, it focuses on translating religious expressions. Since religion influences people’s behavior and thinking about themselves and others, it can also affect their culture. Religious expressions in Naguib Mahfouz’s Palace of Desire create a tangled web of social, historical and moral connotations. To investigate the challenges involved in translating these associations, examples of religious expressions in Naguib Mahfouz’s Palace of Desire are singled out, analyzed and compared with their counterparts in a collaborative English translation by William Maynard Hutchins, Lorne M. Kenny, and Olive E. Kenny. For the sake of clarity, these expressions are classified into two categories: religious expressions taken from the Holy Qur'an and expressions related to significant events in the life of Prophet Muhammad or sayings attributed to him. Analysis reveals that religious expressions reflect various aspects of human experience. The English renderings show an awareness of the cultural significance of some religious references. For example, translations of some sentences quoted from the Holy Qur’an explicitly alert target text readers to their source which is implicit in Arabic. This explication is needed to help bridge the cultural gap between the two languages. Other religious associations are rendered by adding explanations and conveying the propositional content. Gains and losses made in the translation process are pointed out. In conclusion, the role of translation in enhancing virtues of intercultural awareness like openness, tolerance, and accepting the other is emphasized.
Key words: Intercultural Interaction; Naguib Mahfouz; World Literature; Translation; Religious Expressions; Palace of Desire


Intercultural Interaction; Naguib Mahfouz; World Literature; Translation; Religious Expressions; Palace of Desire;Higher Education;Social Science

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