Problems Encountered in Translating Cultural Expressions from Arabic into English

  •  Bader S. Dweik    
  •  Maisa Suleiman    


This study aimed at investigating the problems that Jordanian graduate students majoring in the English language faced when translating culture–bound expressions. To achieve the goal of this study, the researchers selected a random sample that comprised 60 graduate students who were enrolled in the M.A program in three Jordanian universities during the second semester 2009/2010. The researchers designed a translation test that consists of 20 statements which M.A students were asked to translate from Arabic into English. Each statement contained a culture-bound expression based on Newmark’s categorization of cultural terms. Proverbs, idioms, collocations and metaphors were extracted from different cultural materials, i.e., legal, historical, religious, social... etc. The researchers also conducted informal open-ended interviews with experts in the field of translation to yield additional information from the experts’ point of view regarding these problems, their causes and solutions. The results of the study revealed that graduate students encounter different kinds of problems when translating cultural expressions. These problems are mostly related to: 1) unfamiliarity with cultural expressions 2) failure to achieve the equivalence in the second language, 3) ambiguity of some cultural expressions, 4) lack of knowledge of translation techniques and translation strategies. In light of these results, the researchers recommend narrowing the gap between cultures through adding more courses that deal with cultural differences, cultural knowledge, and cultural awareness, especially in the academic programs that prepare translators.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1923-869X
  • ISSN(Online): 1923-8703
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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