The Problem of Equivalence: The Translation into Arabic of Specialized Technological Texts

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Amani Bilal Mahmoud Ashqar

This study sheds light on the multi-faceted problem of translating English technological terminology into Arabic. The different realizations of the problem are manifested in the semantic gap in the ever-growing field of information technology, the inconsistency of available translations, other fossilized translations in dictionaries and late arabization efforts. These problems create a chance for the extreme usage for English transliterated terms. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the way the change of the source text function and the recently-emerging expectations of the target audience affect the translator’s behavior in keeping the translated text comprehensible through providing functional translations. The initiating data for this study is of two types. The first is eighty-four online Arabic commercials promoting web services selected from the most visited websites (open access texts). The other text type is excerpts from a detailed website establishment proposal, a price quotation and a website agreement directed to non-specialized Arab company directors via email or fax (limited access texts). Professional translators were asked to translate the sample of limited access texts after being informed about the non-specialized knowledge of the target audience. Data collection also involves interviews with programmers as a possible source of information for the translators. Nord and Oweis were also interviewed to discuss the current complicated situation of technological translation and the possible strategies to be adopted to keep an uninterrupted flow of information. The study designated that the translator must be aware of the function of the open access texts (promotional texts) which is to attract the customer. Thus, it has been found that the most used type of equivalence is the transliterated equivalence as a result of its wide circulation. However, translation can possibly replace them in case sufficient efforts and follow up were exerted by the responsible institutions. On the other hand, the function of the limited access texts (informative texts) also guides the translator amongst possible choices. As long as the non-specialized audience is not interested in the exact rendering of the sophisticated terms, strategies such as: amplification, diffusion, explication, divergence, substitution, reduction provide a chance for the translator to provide the audience with simplified hints for understanding. Transliterated equivalents were also infrequently used where they enhance the target text usability. Whether the text is of open or limited nature, appropriateness and convenience for the commissioner gain priority over accuracy for the translator.

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