Intertextuality and Literary Translation from Arabic to English

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Azza Ezzelldin Hussein

Scholars of intertextuality such as Barthes (1978) and Kristeva (1980) argue that a writer’s only power is to mix writings from a ready-made dictionary and to imitate an already read and written gesture. They undermine any creative impulse in humans to the extent that they regard plagiarism as a form of intertextuality which is called "تلاص" or"استلاب" in Arabic criticism. According to the theorist’s assumptions, texts are solely networks of other texts originated by piracy. You steal even if you do not think you are stealing. There should be a fine line separating ‘intertextuality’ and ‘plagiarism’. Theories of intertextuality just provided a narrow definition of the term by defining it against human agency and creativity. Recently, in academic researches and published articles, many scholars tend to use the term ‘allusion’ to talk about intertextual references despite the fact that ‘intertextuality’ as a theory is more inclusive than an ‘allusion’ that is just a type of intertextuality. Combining both intertextuality theories and translation research, could help us to become more aware of the intertextual chains in a text, whether intentional or concealed ones. In addition, it could contribute to a better translation of various intertextual references. The study views intertextual references in the hands of the writer as ‘authorial-textual phenomena’. This study extends the definition of intertextuality since it is not just a mere reference to other texts, what matters is the way writers position themselves to the multiple intertextual references to make their own contributions and statements. As a result, writers can manipulate the functions of various intertextual references. Intertextuality is seen as a helpful reading strategy that could generate new ways of the reading of a text. Operating within the realm of descriptive and comparative studies, the study offers a thorough analysis to intertextual references in Darwish’s ‘Mural’, the function of these allusions, their denotations and connotations and their functions at the macro and micro levels. The study analyzes two translated versions of Darwish’s ‘Mural’. It judges the works of translators in the two versions depending on reader- response tests on the Google Book Review with the purpose of examining to what extent implicit meanings or functions of the ST have been conveyed. Many readers complained that they cannot understand considerable parts of the ‘Mural’ since the significance of many cultural allusions has not been activated. Thus, sensitive intertextual references that are retained lexically in ‘Mural’ often fail to convey the original functions and become puzzles or fragments that irritate the reader. Also, allusions with implicit forms blend to the alluding text; they disguise in Darwish’s ‘Mural’ in a form of a metaphor, paraphrase allusions, pastiches (stylistic imitations) etc. In addition, many allusions have a checklist of connotations. Translators have failed to account for the intertextual references that have various connotations and denotations in the ‘Mural’. They choose inappropriate informational or dennotational cores since they have rendered allusions without giving due attention to their contextual, pragmatic and rhetorical functions on the textual level. In translating Darwish’s ‘Mural’, translators have employed ‘minimum change strategies’. They have rendered many esoteric, sensitive or cultural references literally. Consequently, target text readers have been given less chance to establish mutual or reciprocal relations between a cultural intertextual reference and the theme or the context of the text. Thus, Arab translators should follow functional and inter-semiotic approaches in translating cultural and sensitive intertextual references in Darwish’s ‘Mural’ so as to familiarize others with our patterns of reference and to undermine the discourse of the occupier.

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