Translating Colloquial Egyptian Arabic Poetry Into English—Challenges of the Register and Metaphors: A Contrastive Study

Bacem Abdullah Essam, Esra’ a Mustafa


This study tackles the challenges of translating poem composed in colloquial Egyptian Arabic (CEA) into English. It applies Halliday’s concept of register on a CEA poem and its translation to determine the different varieties used in the original and how far they are maintained in the translation. It pays a special attention to the use of metaphors and its relation to the register, highlighting the translation challenge of rendering culture-specific and register-specific metaphors into English. It is evident that both the register and the metaphors carry an essential weight of both the semantic and effective meaning, which is lost to a great extent in the translation. The paper applies a case study on at Al- Gakhs panoramic poem “The Call”: a longitudinal section of the recent three years in the Egyptian society and a précis of the events of the Egyptian revolutionary path.
The results reveal that there is a significant correlation between the register and used metaphors. While the register is almost completely lost in the translation; some of the related metaphors are successfully and faithfully rendered into English. This compensates somehow for the lost effective meaning of the register. Notwithstanding, metaphors which are highly related to the registration of colloquial Arabic varieties lose their effective meaning in the translation too. Keeping the tenor and the field is proved not to be enough to communicate the effectiveness and the original semantic meaning.


Metaphors; Register; Colloquial poems; Arabic varieties; Al-Gakh

Full Text:



Al-Gakh. (2014). The Call” Web. Retrieved July 12 from

Bassiouney, R. (2009). Arabic sociolinguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1985/89). Part A. In M. A. K. Halliday & R. Hasan (Eds.), Language, context, and text: Aspects of Language in a social-semiotic perspective. Oxford/Geelong: OU p / Deakin University press

Hassan, M. K. (2004). Classical and colloquial Arabic: Are they used appropriately by non-native speakers. In N. Kassabgy, Z. Ibrahim, & S. Aydelott (Ed.), Contrastive rhetoric issues insights and pedagogy. Cairo: The American University Press.

Kearns, M., S. (1987). Metaphors of mind in fiction and psychology. The commonwealth of Kentucky: Kentucky University Press

Mitchel, T. (1986). What is educated spoken Arabic? International Journal of the sociology of language, 61, 7-23. Cited in Hassan, M. K. (2004). Classical and colloquial Arabic: Are they used appropriately by non-native speakers. In N. Kassabgy, Z. Ibrahim, & S. Aydelott (Ed.), Contrastive rhetoric Issues insights and pedagogy. Cairo: The American University Press.

Newmark, P. (1988). A text book of translation. NewYork: Prentice Hall International.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c)

Share us to:   


  • How to do online submission to another Journal?
  • If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

  • Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

  • Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.

We only use three mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases:;;

 Articles published in Higher Education of Social Science are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).


Address: 1055 Rue Lucien-L'Allier, Unit #772, Montreal, QC H3G 3C4, Canada.
Telephone: 1-514-558 6138 
Website: Http:// Http://;

Copyright © 2010 Canadian Research & Development Center of Sciences and Cultures