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Lexical Cohesion in the Translated Novels of Naguib

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Cohesion in the Translated Novels of Naguib Mahfouz: the Evidence from The Thief and the Dogs.

By

Ahmed-Sokarno Abdel-Hafiz

South Valley University

Abstract

The paper aims at examining how lexical cohesion is achieved in Naguib Mahfouz’s novel The Thief and The Dogs and how the translators have dealt with this device in the translated version. The paper compares lexical cohesive devices in this novel and in its English version. It is also an attempt to test two hypotheses that account for the degree of explicitness in the translated text as compared to the source text: the Explicitation Hypothesis and the Stylistic Preference Hypothesis. Both Aziz (1998) and Obeidat (1998) adopt the Stylistic Preference Hypothesis which attributes explicitness or implicitness to Stylistic preference of the target language. The Explicitation Hypothesis is shown to offer a more appropriate explanation for the way lexical cohesion is rendered in the target language.

0. Introduction

Cohesion is defined “as the set of possibilities that exist in the language for making text hang together: the potential that the speaker or writer has at his disposal.” (Halliday and Hasan 1976:18). Halliday and Hasan (1976) identify several devices that are used as cohesive devices the function of which is to tie a text together. The cohesive devices fall into five types: reference, substitution, ellipsis, conjunction and lexical cohesion. (1) This paper focuses on one cohesive device (i.e. lexical cohesion) in the English translation of Mahfouz’s novel, the Thief and the Dogs. Lexical cohesion is defined as the cohesive effect achieved by the use of reiteration which “involves the repetition of a lexical item, or by the use of a synonym, near-synonym, superordinate or a general word.” (Halliday and Hasan 1976:278). The following example illustrates the point (Halliday and Hasan 1976:279):

The ascent (1) I turned to the ascent of the peak. The climb is perfectly easy. The task The thing It

As (1) shows, the same item (the ascent) can be repeated. Also a synonym (the climb) or a superordinate (the task) can be used or a general word (the thing) can appear in the second clause. Note that in (1) the second occurrence of the lexical item takes its interpretation from the first, not vice verse (cf. Halliday and Hasan 1976).

The Purpose and Significance of the Study

The paper aims at examining how lexical cohesion is achieved in Mahfouz’s novel The Thief and the Dogs and how the translators have dealt with this device in the translated version. (2) Thus the paper compares lexical cohesive devices in Mahfouz’s novel the Thief and the Dogs and in its English translation version. It is also an attempt to test two hypotheses that account for the degree of explicitness in the translated text as compared to the source text: the Explicitation Hypothesis and the Stylistic Preference Hypothesis. The Explicitation Hypothesis (Blum Kulka 2000:299) “postulates an observed cohesive explicitness from SL [Source Language] to TL [Target Language] regardless of the increase traceable to differences between the two linguistic and textual systems involved.”. Chesterman (2000) adopts this hypothesis as one of his translation strategies. He defines it as referring to “the way in which translators add components explicitly in the TT [Target Text] which are only implicit in the ST [Source Text].” (p.108-109). The Stylistic Preference is defined as “the overt cohesive relationships between parts of the texts [which] are necessarily linked to a language’s grammatical system (Blum-Kulka 2000:299). Both Aziz (1998) and Obeidat (1998) seem to adopt this hypothesis which attributes explicitness or implicitness in translation to the stylistic preference of the TL.

The paper will evaluate Aziz (1998)’s claim concerning the preference of Arabic for explicit reference and the preference of English for implicit reference: the paper presents evidence against Aziz’s claim that Arabic opts for explicit reference. It is shown that common and proper nouns generally remain unchanged in the English translation of Arabic texts. However, the discussion shows that some pronominal forms, which are used in the ST, are turned into proper nouns in translation. The latter shift is shown to be accounted for by the Explicitation Hypothesis. The paper also argues against Obeidat (1998)’s claim that Arabic opts for implicitness, whereas English prefers explicitness. Obeidat’s position is shown to be inadequate for accounting for those instances where the ST pronouns remain intact in translation, that is, they are not transformed into proper nouns. This proves that implicitness or explicitness in the TT is not associated with the style of the TL. The Explicitation Hypothesis will be shown to offer an appropriate explanation for the TT cases which involve no shift from pronouns to common/proper nouns.(2)

2. Relevant Studies

Languages differ as to the selection of lexical repetition and pronominalization. Levinston (1976) claims that “given the choice between lexical repetition and pronominalization , Hebrew writers tend to prefer the former while English writers tend to choose the latter” (cf. Blum-Kulka 2000:300). Berman (1978) argues that for both Hebrew and English writers pronominalization is more preferable but lexical repetition is more common in Hebrew than in English (cf. Blum-kulka 2000:300). Note that Halliday and Hasan (1976) have argued that “the use of personal forms as reference items with a cohesive function is so all-prevailing in English that it hardly needs illustrating.” (p.48). Baker (1992: 185) claims that Portuguese prefers lexical repetition to pronoun use. Higgins and Loughridge 1995: 172 (cited in Schnese 2001:18) have argued that German “has in general a lower tolerance than English for the repetition of identical word-stems in parallel morphological compounds…” The translated texts of languages are also different in the degree of explicitness or implicitness. In a contrastive stylistic study, Obeidat (1998:10) claims that “English on the textual level uses more explicit connectors inter- and intrasententially compared to implicit connectors and more evaluativeness favored by Arabic style of prose writing.” Obeidat (1998:5) points out that the English translation of the Arabic text “shows the frequent addition of information to the Arabic text especially with reference to cohesive devices”. Thus (2-3) show that the translated text of the Arabic novel adds a person pronoun (i.e. ‘my’ in (2) and ‘their’ in (3)) which does not appear in the Arabic text:

‘štarak-tu ma9a-hu fi-l-xidmati mundhu-l- tufu:lah participate-I with-him in-def-service since-def-childhood ‘I worked with him since my childhood. (The Thief and the Dogs 186)

ya9u:du:na wa hum yuxf-u:na-l- dumu:9 return-they and they hide-they def tears ‘They return drying their tears.’ (The Thief and the Dogs 186)

Obeidat (1998) compares this to the Arabic translation of an English text—Great expectations. He shows that the Arabic translator does not pay attention to the pronominal forms; this probably means that Arabic does not prefer pronominalization:

She was seated at her dressing table kanat tajlisu 9ala Ta:wilat-l-tajmi:l Was sit to table-def beauty (Great Expectations 121)

It is clear that Obeidat (1998) adopts the Stylistic Preference Hypothesis, as indicated by his own statement: “…favored by Arabic style of prose writing.”. Obeidat (1998) intends to discuss the extract in (4) as an example of cohesion change (cf. Chesterman 2000). But cohesion change has been defined as “something that affects intra-textual reference, ellipsis, substitution, pronominalization and repetition, or the use of connectors of various kinds.” (Chesterman 2000: 98). Therefore, the problem with Obeidat (1998)’s analysis is that he—in all these extracts— relies on pronominal forms that have referents within the same clause, which is not a cohesive use. In order to verify the claims made by Obeidat, we need to examine pronominal forms that are used cohesively.

Aziz (1998) presents a different hypothesis when he makes a generalization to the effect that “Arabic opts for more explicit reference” (p.121). The judgment is based on his analysis of the translated text of one of Mahfouz’s novels—Zuqaq al-Madaq—which has been compared with the original novel as written in Arabic. He argues that the translated text involves a shift (class-shift in Nida 2000:145) from “proper noun and a common noun to a pronoun (the less explicit)” (Aziz 1998:121):

(5) وتهامس آل الجبل The people whispered (6) ليست الليلة كباقى الليالى، ليلة ختمت نهارا ثائرا Tonight was not like other nights: it brought to an end a day of revolt.

Aziz (1998) argues that since the translator in the example given above has rendered the second occurrence of the word for ‘tonight’ as a pronoun ‘it’, this means that Arabic prefers explicit reference more often than English does. It is clear that Aziz (1998)—like Obeidat (1998)— adopts the Stylistic Preference Hypothesis. Both of them point out the stylistic preferences for Arabic and English, as far as cohesive devices are concerned. Aziz claims that Arabic opts for more explicit reference than English does, whereas Obeidat (1998:10) argues that “English on the textual level uses more explicit connectors inter- and intrasententially compared to implicit connectors and more evaluativeness favored by Arabic style of prose writing”. Moreover, the English translation of the Arabic text is concerned with “the frequent addition of information to the Arabic text especially with reference to cohesive devices.” (Obeidat 1998:5).

3. Methodology and Data Collection

I here rely on Master (2004)’s classification of lexical cohesion: lexical cohesion is achieved by (a) recurrence (Rec), (b) partial recurrence (Part rec), (c) synonym (Syn), (d) hyponymy (Hypo), or (e) hyperonymy (Hyper). Recurrence (Halliday and Hasan’s reiteration) is “the repetition of words or expressions and it is used “to affirm his viewpoint and to emphasize it or to convey surprise.” (Master 2004:1). Recurrence is also defined as “[t]he repetition of items with the same referent in a text.” (Hatim and Mason 1990:199) Partial recurrence is “the usage of different word classes of a specific word (e.g. crazy …. craziness). Synonym is defined as “a term used in SEMANTICS to refer to a major type of SENSE relation between LEXICAL ITEMS” (Crystal 1991:340). According to Crystal (1991), synonymy can occur “if items are close enough in their meaning to allow a choice to be made between them in some contexts, without there being any difference for meaning of the sentence as a whole.” (p.340). Hyponymy is a subgroup word (e.g. the flower…the rose). Hyperonymy is a general word (e.g. the flower …the plant). This term is also defined as “the relationship which obtains between specific and general lexical items, such that the former included in the latter.” (Crystal 1991:168) These cohesive lexical elements can be represented in a continuum for explicitness, with the least explicit on the left:
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pro ref Hyper Hypo Syno Part Rec Rec
Least Explicit most explicit ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Table 1: Master’s Classification of Lexical Cohesion

In order to confirm or disconfirm the hypothesis that Arabic opts for more explicit reference, we need to take the following steps:

identify and classify the types of lexical cohesion used in the original novel.
(b) examine how the translator has coped with these elements in the translated text.

These steps should be supplemented with counting the instances of lexical cohesion in the source text and target text. Aziz’s claim should be vindicated if text counting in both texts shows that the ST proper nouns and common nouns are replaced by reference pronouns in the TT. This should mean that English opts for implicitness, whereas Arabic opts for explicitness However, the claim will need further reconsideration if the opposite results are obtained. Text counting will also help us verify the claim made by Obeidat (1998) concerning the role played by cohesive devices that permeate the English translation of Arabic texts: they contribute to the explicitness of the text.

The data for this study have been obtained through the examination of both the source text (Mahfouz’s novel) and its English version. I started by identifying and classifying the types of lexical cohesion used in the original novel. Furthermore, I counted all instances of lexical cohesion in the source text. Then I examined the effect of translation on these cohesive elements. In other words, I traced these cohesive elements in the target text with the purpose of determining the way translators deal with such items.

4. Lexical Cohesion in the Source and Target Text

This section presents the types of lexical cohesion in the source text and the target text. Lexical cohesion is investigated in the source text with the purpose of identifying the types used and their frequency of occurrence in the text. Then these types of lexical cohesion are examined in the target text; a comparison is made between the source text and target text with the purpose of identifying the most common type of lexical cohesion in the target text.

4.1 Lexical Cohesion in the Source Text:

Out of the one hundred instances of lexical cohesion in the source text, 83 % are achieved by recurrence, 15% by partial recurrence and only 2% by hyponymy.

Rec 83 Part rec 15 Hypo 2 --------------------------------- Lexical Cohesion in ST

As Ghazala (1995) puts it, the recurrence of “a headword several times in a short SL text may be meant to have a specific stylistic significance which may not be the same when synonymic verbal/ nominal variants replace these repetitions.”(p.32). Thus recurrence, which is the repetition of words or expressions, is the most common type in the source text, as in the following extracts: (3)

(7)

وسرعان ما ابتهج وجهه بابتسامة عريضة، فرفعه ومضى به إلى الفراندا. تابعه سعيد من أول الأمر بعينيه الحادتين. امرأة ؟… هذه الابتسامة.. (ص32)
His face began to beam and he carried the telephone outside to the veranda, while Said’s sharp eyes registered everything. It must be a woman. A smile like that… (p.40-41)

(8) ما هى إلا مجاملة بنت حياء . ولن يلبث أن يتبخر هذا الحياء (ص33)
This is only superficial courtesy—doing the right thing—and will evaporate. (p.42)

(9)
و أضاء خادم النجفة …..وبينما راح الخادم يفتح بابا.. (ص30)
A servant switched on the chandelier…while a servant drew back curtains and opened French windows (p.38)

(10) وخيل إليه أنه سمع وقع أقدام صاعدة …. واقتربت الأقدام (ص72)
There was a sound like footsteps climbing stairs…The footsteps came higher, heavy and slow. (p. 84)

(11)
فرأى …نور عود ثقاب ….وأسرعت الأقدام فى خفة حتى انتهت إلى مكانه وهى تلهث والعود يلفظ أنفاسه. (ص72-73)
The light of a match, he thought….. She ran the rest of the way up and stopped in front of him out of breath. The match was almost out. (p.84)

(12)
ولا فى السماء إلا هلال غليظ هلال… حتى لمع جبينها تحت شعاع الهلال… وقبلها أمام الهلال (ص82)
There was no light in the street or the sky, just a big crescent moon over the horizon. ...her forehead reflecting the pale moonlight…Then he kissed her under the crescent moonlight. (p. 93-94)

(13)
وثمة ممرضة أجنبية كانت تراقب ما يجرى عن كثب فبإزاء ذلك اكتفى بالاختفاء صامتا. ورطنت الممرضة بلغة لم يفهمها (ص90) a foreign nurse standing nearby, observing the scene. Then the doctor had simply disappeared, saying nothing. The nurse jabbered something in a language you did not understand (p.103)

(14) انطلقت نحوه من الحديقة رصاصة أصاب أزيزها صميم أذنه. ….وانحنى بسرعة ليتفادى الرصاص المتتابع. ….وأطلق رصاصة (ص111-112) a shot from within the garden, whistling past him very close…He fired and ducked to escape the next shot…then fired again. (p.124)

(15)
--أجلسي ولنتحدث فى هدوء …. --من أين لى الهدوء ؟ (ص121) “sit down and let’s discuss it calmly.” “How can I be calm? (p. 134)

Note that recurrence is the most frequent type of cohesion in the source text. This is quite in keeping with Baker (1992)’s claim that “Arabic prefers lexical repetition to variation” (p.207).

Partial recurrence is the usage of different word classes of a specific word. Out of the counted cohesive elements, partial recurrence constitutes 15 %:

(16) أمامى ليلة طويلة . هى أولى ليالى الحرية(26)
A long night is waiting for me, the first night of freedom. (p.33)

(17)
سمع الصوت يغمغم فلم يميز من غمغمته إلا "الله". واستمر يغمغم ..ص 63)
He heard the voice muttering but could only distinguish the word “Allah,””God!” It went on muttering …(p.74)

(18)
فرأى الشيخ على الجنيدى ينظر إلى السماء من خلال الكوة ويبتسم . ولسبب ما أخافته ابتسامته . ورغب فى أن يقف أمام الكوة ليمد بصره فى خط نظر الشيخ لعله يرى فى السماء ما جعله يبتسم (ص70)
…and found the Sheikh staring through the window at the sky, smiling. The smile, for some reason or other, frightened Said: he wished he could stand at the window and look at the same bit of sky the Sheikh was looking at so he could see what it was that made him smile. (p.81)

(19) ولكن نبرات صوتك عاجزة. عجز مفاجىء كالغرق. (ص 63)
There’s this feeling of helplessness, as if you were drowning (p.74)

(20) الصوت الذى سمعه لم يكن صوت عليش سدرة. الصوات الذى سمعه لم يكن صوات نبيوية. (ص69) the voice he’d heard had not been Ilish Sidra’s not had the screams been Nabawiyya’s. (p.81)

Finally, Hyponymy, which is “the relation between a more specific or subordinate, lexeme and a more general, or superordinate lexem” (Lyons 1977:291), is only attested twice, as in

(21) والجهة الرابعة حديقة مترامية . وأشباح هذه الأشجار تتناجى نحو جسد الفيلا الأبيض (ص29) an extensive garden lay on the fourth. The trees stood around the white body of the building like whispering figures. (p.36)

(22) ومضى إلى حجرة الجلوس فاستلقى على كنبة. …وتسلى بالنظر إلى السقف الأبيض…ومن خلال النافذة بدت سماء المغيب (ص78) he moved into the reception room and flung himself down on one of the sofas. …he stared up at the cracked white ceiling….The setting sun flashed through the open window. (p.90)

4.2 Lexical Cohesion in The Target Text:

This section handles the effect of translation on lexical cohesion. We are now in a position to examine the way the translators of the Arabic text deal with the elements of lexical cohesion that have been encountered in the source text. Put differently, the instances of lexical cohesion observed in ST are now examined in the target text. The target text contains 61 instances of recurrence, 16 examples of synonymy, and 9 partial recurrence. The following table shows each variable with the number of times it appears in the ST and TT:

ST TT Rec 83 62 Syno ---- 16 Part Rec 15 9 Pro Ref ---- 7 Hypo 2 5 Hyper ----- 1 ------------------------------------------ lexical cohesion in the ST and TT

Note that all these uses of lexical cohesion in the TT are motivated by the ST; that is, the examination of the effect of translation on lexical cohesion as manifested in the ST can be determined by comparing the cohesive elements in the two texts. The comparison of source text and target text shows that the translator does not rely on the shift from common nouns to pronouns, as claimed by Aziz (1998): only seven instances of such a shift have been attested in the target text.

(23) وستكون مغامرة الليلة ابتداء أفتتح به العمل، وستكون مغامرة دسمة. (ص38)
Tonight’s adventure will be the best beginning for my program of action. And it will be a rich venture indeed. (p. 49)

(24) وبغتة دهمه نور ساطع من كل ناحية. نور شديد انقض عليه كلكمة قاضية. (39-40)
Suddenly he was assailed by light. It shone around him, so powerful that it struck him with the force of a blow. (p.51)

(25) وستبقى أنت فى هذا السجن حتى ينساك البوليس، ولكن هل ينساك البوليس حقا؟ (ض77)
You’ll stay in this prison until the police forget you. And will they ever really forget? (p. 89)
(26)
وأخيرا توقفت سيارة أمام باب القصر…..وتهادت السيارة فى ممشى الحديقة حتى توقفت أمام السلاملك (111)
Finally one of them stopped before the gate of the house….the car moved slowly down the drive. It came to a halt in front of the entrance. (p.124)

(27) ووقف على عتبة الباب المفتوح قليلا، ينظر ويتذكر، ترى متى عبر هذه العتبة آخر مرة ؟(18)
At the threshold of the open door he paused, trying to remember when he’d crossed it last. (p.25)

Aziz (1998) claims that the target text involves a shift from “a proper noun and a common noun to a pronoun (the less explicit)” (p.121). He goes on to argue that “Arabic opts for more explicit reference” (Aziz 1998:121). Our study of the target text shows that the most used device is recurrence, almost 62 instances of recurrence have been attested: both words and whole expressions are used in the target text: Note that these are motivated by the source text:

(28) وأضاء خادم النجفة …وبينما راح الخادم يقتح بابا….….وجاء الخادم ….(ص31)
A servant switched on the chandelier….while a servant drew back curtains and French windows….The servant came in…..(p.39-40)

(29) وثمة ممرضة أجنبية كانت تراقب ما يجرى عن كثب… …ورطنت الممرضة بلغة لم يفهمها (90) a foreign nurse standing nearby, observing the scene. …The nurse jabbered something in a language that you did not understand. (p.103)

(30) ووقف فى الظلام يطوقه صمت المقابر ودار رأسه رويدا. وشعر بأنه يتغلب على الصعاب ويستهين بالموت ويطرب لأنغام خفية. وقال مخاطبا الظلام (ص119)
As he stood in the dark, enveloped in the silence of the neighboring graves, slightly giddy, he began to feel that he would indeed overcome all his difficulties, that he could disdain death. The sound of music within him delighted him….he declared to the dark. (p. 131)
(31)
ولكنى أحطك بعقاب أشد من الموت، هو الخوف من الموت. (ص61)
I’ve enclosed you in a punishment greater than death; fear of death (p.72)

(32) وخيل إليه أنه سمع وقع أقدام صاعدة ….واقتربت الأقدام ثقيلة متمهلة (ص 72)
There was a sound like footsteps climbing the stairs…..The footsteps came higher, heavy and slow. (p. 84)

Even those cases where the original text has partial recurrence, the target text manifests recurrence:

(33) سمع الصوت يغمغم فلم يميز من غمغمته إلا "الله". واستمر يغمغم كأنه لم يشعر. (ص63)
He heard the voice muttering but could only distinguish the word “Allah” “God”. It went on muttering as if the Sheikh were unaware..(p.74)

(34)
هل تصورت أن تقتل بلا سبب؟. أن تقتل لأن نبوية سليمان تزوجت من عليش سدرة؟ أن تقتل خطأ ولا يقتل عليش أو نبوية أو رءوف صوابا؟. وأنا القاتل لا أفهم شيئا. (ص 71)
Did you ever imagine that one day you would be killed for no reason—that you’d be killed because Nabawiyya Sulayman married Ilish Sidra? That you’d be killed in error but Ilish, Nabawiyya, and Rauf would not be killed in justice? I, the murderer, understand nothing. (p.82)

Some ST forms that constitute recurrence or partial recurrence are rendered as synonyms (cf. 35-37) or as partial recurrence (cf. 38-39) in TT. We have found 16 instances of such synonyms in the TT:

(35) -- …ولكنك تعذبنى أنا …. --0نور لا تزيدينى عذابا (ص122) “but you want to put me through hell all the same.” “Please don’t torture me. (p. 135)
(36)
(36) وكالرصاص تطيش رغائب كثيرة فى الدنيا مخلفة وراءها سلسلة من الحلقات المحزنة. ابتداء من الحلقة الأولى عند بيت الطلبة (ص78)
Not in this life so full of badly aimed bullets, desires gone astray. What’s left behind is a dangling chain of regrets. The first link was the students’ hostel…(p.90)

(37) –ربما ولكن كيف تتأتى لنا الشجاعة فى هذا العصر؟ --الشجاعة هى الشجاعة (ص48) “But how can you be brave in this age?” “Courage is courage.” (p. 58)

There are also examples which show that the translators have rendered total recurrences as partial recurrences in the TT:

(38)
أنظر ماذا أنت صانع بمرارة الانتظار فى الظلمة الحارة القاتلة. يبدو أن نور لا تريد أن تعود، لا تريد أن تنقذه من عذاب الوحدة والظلمة والجوع والظمأ (123)
Think only about what you’ve got to do now, waiting here, filled with bitterness, in this murderous stifling darkness. He could only conclude that Nur did not want to come back, did not want to save him from the tortures of solitude in the dark, from hunger and thirst. (p. 137)

(39)
وذكر ليلة قضاها مسهدا حتى الآذان شوقا إلى سعادة موعودة فى النهار التالى….فتطلع من النافذة إلى زرقة الفجر وابتسامة المشرق وفرك يديه حبورا بالسعادة الوشيكة التى لم يعد يذكر عنها شيئا. لذلك فهو يحب الفجر للنعمة والزرقة والابتسامة والسعادة المنسية. (ص64)
It reminded him of a night he’d once spent sleepless until the same call to the dawn prayers, excited over some special joy promised for the following day….[he]had looked out of the window at the blue dawn and the smiling sunrise, and had had rubbed his hands in anticipation of whatever it was he’d been about to enjoy, something he had since completely forgotten. (p.75)

The previous discussion has focussed on the rendering of ST common nouns in the target text: it has been shown that recurrence is the most common type in both original and target texts. Recall that Baker (1992) has made a generalization to the effect that “Arabic prefers lexical repetition to variation” (p.207). This generalization can be extended in such a way that it applies to English as well. Aziz’s hypothesis, however, has been proven wrong, since not all common nouns that recur cohesively in the ST are replaced by pronouns: only seven instances of such a replacement have been attested. In most cases, the common nouns used as recurrences remain intact in translation.

The following discussion will test the other part of Aziz’s claim concerning proper nouns: he has claimed that proper nouns are changed into pronouns in the translation of Mahfouz’s novel Zuqaq al-Madaq, indicating that English opts for implicit reference. If we examine the way the characters in the original novel are referred to, we will notice that Mahfouz prefers to use pronominal reference even if more than one character are involved. We observe this in his cataphoric use of the third person pronoun: the pronoun does not anaphorically refer to any person since no person has been introduced; the translators have been faithful in their rendering of the cataphoric pronoun ‘he’ and its exponents (e.g. ‘him’) as in the first lines of the first chapter in the TT:

(40) مرة أخرى يتنفس نسمة الحرية, ولكن الجو غبار خانق وحر لا يطاق. وفى انتظاره وجد بدلته الزرقاء وحذاءه المطاط، وسواهما لم يجد فى انتظاره أحدا. (اللص والكلاب، ص7) Once more he breathed in the air of freedom. But there was

Stifling dust in the air, almost unbearable heat, and no one

Was waiting for him, nothing but his blue suit and gym shoes. (p.13)

The cataphoric use of the third person singular is intended to arouse the interest of the reader and to keep him/her in anticipation of the person that is being talked about. Naguib Mahfouz has used personal reference as a cohesive device over 700 times in the original novel. The result of text counting in the ST is in keeping with Halliday and Hasan (1976)’s prediction:

The third person reference is textual, and therefore cohesive; and in many texts the third person forms constitute the most frequent single class of cohesive items (p.49).

In most cases, the translator has remained faithful in rendering this cohesive device in the target text. The following excerpt from chapter 6 illustrates the point:

(41)
تجنب الطريق الملاصق للثكنات، واخترق الصحراء نحو مدفن الشهيد ليبلغه فى أقصر وقت. وكان كأنما يهتدى ببوصلة مركبة فى رأسه لسابق درايته بصحراء العباسية. وعندما لاحت له قبة المدفن الضخمة تحت ضوء النجوم راحت عيناه تفتشان عن المكان الذى تنزوى فيه السيارة. ودار حول المدفن وهو يحد بصره ولا يعثر على ضالته حتى بلغ ضلعه الجنوبى فتراءى له شبح هيكلها راقدا على بعد. مضى نحوها مصمما، ثم ما لبث أن أحنى ظهره حتى انخفض ظهره إلى مستوى ركبته. (اللص والكلاب ص 52)
He knew this stretch of ground. Avoiding the road next to the barracks, he set out across the desert to reach the Martyr’s Tomb in the shortest time possible, heading for it as if he had a compass built into his head. As soon as he saw the tomb’s big dome in the starlight he began looking for the spot where the car would be tucked away. Walking around the tomb, he scanned the ground as sharply as he could, but it was only when he reached its southern wall that the shape at a little distance became visible. He made for it without another thought, keeping his head low… (The Thief and The Dogs, p. 63)

Note that the translator has rendered the implicit pronoun (huwa) as he. It is the Arabic text that obviously opts for implicit reference, and the English text echoes the Arabic text in the degree of implicitness. Thus Arabic does not resist pronominalization as suggested in Obeidat (1998). This can also be accounted for by our Explicitation Hypothesis. As Chesterman (2000:109) has put it, “bearing in mind what the readers can be reasonably expected to infer, the translator leaves some elements of the message implicit”.

This echoing situation does not remain intact throughout the translation process. The translated text contains cases where the pronominal form of the original text is rendered as a proper noun in the target text. I have observed over 73 instances of pronominal reference that have been turned into proper nouns:

(42)
ولحق بهما كثيرون من الدكاكين على الجانبين، وارتفعت حرارة التهانى، وسرعان ما وجد نفسه مطوقا من جميع الجهات بحشد من أصدقاء غريمه ولا شك (اللص والكلاب ص 9)
People came up to them from the shops on both sides of the street; voices were loud and warm in congratulation and Said found himself surrounded by a crowd—his enemy’s friends, no doubt. (The Thief and the Dogs, p.16).

Note that in the above extract the implicit pronoun (huwa) which is implied by the verb wajada is rendered as a proper noun (Said). There is nothing in the text which should hinder the use of a pronominal reference.

Sometimes the presence of two different referents can direct the translator to use a proper noun; this strategy helps avoid confusion or ambiguity of reference as in (43-44):

(43)
فقال له الشيخ إنه يطالبه بالبطاقة ليتأكد من أنه من الخاطئين لأنه لا يحب المستقيمين فقدم له مسدسه وقال له ثمة قتيل وراء كل رصاصة فى ماسورته (ص64-65)
When the Sheikh replied that he did not like the righteous and wanted to see Said’s identity card to make sure that Said was really a sinner, Said handed him the revolver, explaining that every missing bullet meant a murder…(The Thief and the Dogs, p.77)

(44)
وأنتزع عينيه من الجريدة فرأى الشيخ على الجنيدى ينظر إلى السماء من خلال الكوة ويبتسم. ولسبب ما أخافته ابتسامته. (ص70)
He tore his eyes from the paper and found the Sheikh staring through the window at the sky, smiling. The smile for some reason or other, frightened Said.

Note that the underlined parts of the original text given in (43-44) implicitly or explicitly refer to Said; the bold-faced forms refer to the Sheikh.The above excerpt shows that the presence of the common/proper noun (the Sheikh) has motivated the translators to use a proper noun (Said) instead of the expected pronominal reference. On the basis of this discussion, we can make a generalization along the following lines:

Generalization (1) The presence of more than one antecedent in the ST can motivate translators to shift from pronoun to common/ proper noun in the TT.

Thus the fact that the pronominal reference in the ST (the Arabic text) is turned into proper nouns in the TT (the English translation) indicates that Aziz’s claim cannot hold water. In fact, it is the opposite of what he has predicted: the shift is from pronouns (the less explicit) to proper nouns (the more explicit). If we used Aziz (1998)’s logic, we would say that English opts for more explicit reference. The question now is: what motivates a translator to shift from pronominal reference to proper noun, be it in the Arabic or English translated texts? The answer has already been hinted at; it is the explicitness of the text that motivates such shifts. The Explicitation Hypothesis (cf. Chesterman 2000:109) claims that if readers can be expected to infer some elements of the message, the translator would then leave these elements implicit. If the without-shift translation is going to result in a pronominal form that can have a definite referent, the translator does not hesitate to preserve the type of cohesive device used, as in:

(45)
ومال نحوها فجذبها من يدها إليه، ولصق جبينها بجيبنه حتى أمتلأ أنفه برائحة الخمر والعرق. ولم يتقزز بل قبلها بحنان صادق (ص122)
He leaned toward her and pulled her down by hand. He pressed his face against hers, his nose filling with the smell of wine and sweat. But he felt no disgust and kissed her with genuine tenderness. (p.135)

There are two reasons for the preponderance of pronominal reference in this extract: first, the translator echoes the cohesive devices (e.g. reference) used in the ST. Second, there is nothing that prevents each form from being tied with the appropriate referent. Both English and Arabic pronominal forms distinguish between masculine and feminine referents: in the above text the he/his refers to Said and her(s) to Nour. Therefore, there is no ambiguity of referent which might motivate the use of proper nouns. Thus our statement (given above) can be restated as follows:

Generalization 1 (modified)

Only the presence of ambiguous referents in the ST can

motivate translators to shift from pronoun to common/ proper Noun in the TT.

Clearly, the Explicitation Hypothesis is more appropriate in accounting for the shift from pronominals to common/proper nouns in the translated text.

In a nutshell, the elements that constitute recurrence or partial recurrence in the ST are likely to undergo the following possibilities in a translated text:
Possibility 1: the items are rendered without any change (recurrence as in (28-34) or with minimal change (partial recurrence as in (38-) (39)), which is the most frequent possibility.
Possibility 2: the second occurrence of the lexical item is synonymous to the first item (35-37): 16 instances are attested.
Possibility 3: the pronominal forms of the ST are turned into proper/ common nouns (42-45): 73 instances have been attested. This possibility is realized under certain conditions: the presence of ambiguous referents in the ST.
Possibility 4: the second occurrence of the item is pronominalized (23- 27): only seven instances have been attested. This is least frequent possibility in the list.

These results argue against Aziz (1998)’s claim that Arabic opts for explicit reference and English for implicit reference: not all proper/common nouns in the ST are turned into pronouns in the TT; only seven instances of such a shift have been attested. Contrary to the prediction of Aziz (1998), this study has shown that the pronominal forms of the ST are turned into proper/common nouns in the TT, which is considered opting for explicitness (cf. Examples 42-44).

Like Aziz (1998), Obeidat (1998) has adopted the Stylistic Preference Hypothesis. Obeidat (1998:6) has argued that the addition of cohesive markers to the English text “is a sign of preference for explicitness in English style.”. He has also pointed out that the fact that such devices are absent in the Arabic text is a sign of preference for implicitness in Arabic style. It has been shown that the thief and the dogs has recurrence as the most frequent type of lexical cohesion. The fact that the second occurrence of a lexical item appears in full form in the Arabic text is evidence that Arabic does not favor implicitness. Moreover, if the use of cohesive markers is a sign of preference for explicitness, Arabic should be categorized like English: the Arabic version of Mahfouz’s novel has over 700 uses of personal pronouns used cohesively.

It has been argued that the translated text of Mahfouz’s novel occasionally involves a shift from pronoun to proper noun (the more explicit) as in 42-44. Obeidat might argue that this is another sign of preference for explicitness in English style. However, he would fail to account for the cases (e.g. (41 or 45)) that do not involve such a shift. Nor can the Stylistic Preference Hypothesis explain the no-shifting phenomena attested in (41). In contrast, the Explicitation Hypothesis can easily explain the phenomena by claiming that (41 or 45) involves no ambiguity of referent; there is no need for shifting from pronoun to proper noun. However, in examples like (42-44) the context of situation involves more than one person, with each person being a possible antecedent for the pronominal form. The translator has to interfere in order to make the message more explicit. Thus our position here is similar to that of Blum-Kulk (2000): all translators adopt strategies that use increased explicitation of cohesive ties.

Notes

1 Reference is considered an important device that permeates both the original and the translated texts; it will occasionally be referred to in subsequent sections.

2 The pragmatic and linguistic problems in this novel have been discussed in Abdel-Hafiz (2004)

3 The Arabic extracts are taken from Mahfouz ‘s The Thief and the Dogs which was published in 1961 by Maktabat Masr; the English extracts are taken from Gassick and Badawi’s translation of this novel which was first published in Egypt in 1984 by the American University Press.

4 The normartive behavior of translators is regulated by four fundamental values; for example, “the clarity of value is associated with expectancy norm, truth with relation norm, trust with accountability norm, and understanding with communication norm.”(Abdel-Hafiz 2004:34.

References

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Translation of Naguib Mahfouz’s the Thief and the Dogs. Babel 49:3. pp. 229-252

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Appendix

/D/ voiced dental emphatic stop
/T/ voiceless dental emphatic stop
/q/ voiceless uvular stop
/’/ voiceless glottal stop
/ġ/ voiced uvular fricative
/x/ voiceless velar fricative
/9/ voiced pharyngeal fricative
/H/ voiceless pharyngeal fricative
/Z/ voiced dental emphatic fricative
/z/ voiced dental fricative
/s/ voiceless dental emphatic fricative
/š/ voiceless dental fricative
/j/ voiced alveopalatal fricative
/s/ voiceless alveopalatal fricative
/đh/ voiced dental fricative

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