Markedness Theory as it Relates to Word Order in Translation between English and Arabic

Nabil Alawi's picture
Ibrahim Mohammed Salem Battat
This study deals with the problem of markedness in translation between English and Arabic. The two languages differ in word order and in the relative degree of freedom in word order because Arabic is an inflectional language. Such differences create problems to translators between the two languages. A sequence in one language may not have the same meaning of a sequence in the other language although both sequences have identical word order. The Arabic sentence المعلمُ مسحَ اللوحًdoes not mean ;The teacher cleaned the board; although both sentences have identical word order.  The English translation does not account for the marked meaning signalled in the Arabic sentence by bringing the agent to front position before the verb.  The problem of accounting for markedness in translation is approached at the sentence level between Classical Arabic and Modern Standard English. The unmarked (canonical) word order and the marked word order in Arabic are approached and justified in terms of the theory of the strength of the activity of agency in Arabic. This study also includes ways of signalling emphasis and markedness in Arabic.A distinction is made between information structure and syntactic structure of English in terms of the Hallidayan approach and the functional sentence perspective of the Prague School.; Marked word order in English is approached in terms of the degree a component has on the scale of communicative dynamism. A distinction between correct and incorrect word orders in English is made in terms of phrase structure rules. This study includes recommendations for researchers to study other factors that affect word order in English and Arabic.

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