A Moment of Truth in Translating Proper Names in Naguib Mahfouz’ Trilogy from Arabic into English

Raghd Al Rabadi


This study tackles the translation of proper names in Naguib Mahfouz’s Trilogy from Arabic into English. A masterpiece of three volumes, namely, Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, and Sugar Street, was translated by Hutchins and Kenny (1990), Hutchins, Kenny and Kenny (1991), and Hutchins and Saman (1992), respectively. In the English translation of this trilogy, proper names were preserved in a process of transliterating, thus maintaining a foreignized sense of rendition. Such mere strategy constitutes an alternative among a spectrum of many others suggested in the domain of translating proper names, viz., creation, adaptation, addition, omission, among others. Nevertheless, the researcher used four proper names as case studies representative of the inadequacy of merely transliterating proper names in Mahfouz’s literary work. Mahfouz imbued his work with an enchanting style that became an emblem of his folkloric locality. Yet this folkloric touch was not faithfully depicted in the English translation mainly due to the linguistic and cultural gaps between the source language and the target one. The analysis of the four names that the researcher purposefully chose represents such loss. A charge of functional equivalence and intended irony was traced thereby. Correspondingly, a backup strategy to compensate this inequivalence between the original work and its English rendition proves to be missing in doing justice to such work.

Key words: Naguib Mahfouz; Literary translation; Foreignization; Domestication; Transliteration


Naguib Mahfouz; Literary translation; Foreignization; Domestication; Transliteration


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/j.ccc.1923670020120806.1747

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