Arab Fatalism and Translation from Arabic into English

Mohammed Farghal
Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan

Abstract

The present paper shows that while the concept of fatalism is all-pervasive in Arabic, it is kept to a minimum in English. Consequently, the translator into English is unlikely to be able to conserve the fatalism of Arabic expressions. Four areas are used to draw evidence for this cultural barrier: death terms, discourse conditionals, tautological expressions, and proverbial expressions. In most cases, the translator is forced to adopt functional equivalents, despite the fact that fatalism is missed in the functionally corresponding expressions.

Table of contents

Philosophically, fatalism is looked at as a superimposed constraint that determines the course of events for us independently of what we desire. Lacey (1986: 79) writes, "Fatalism holds that the future is fixed irrespective of our attempts to affect it". In the Western tradition and due to the increasingly rationalized mode of thinking, most Westerners would not accept fatalism at face value these days. Rather, they would think of themselves as free agents responsible for their actions. Strawson (1986: 7) asserts [ p. 44 ]that people are free agents in that they are capable of being truly responsible for their actions, thus deserving of praise and blame for their actions. He (p. 95) defines fatalism as 'The mistake of thinking that nothing one can do can change what will happen". Viewed thus, it should be noted that fatalism is commonly linked with some sort of theism functioning as its ultimate agency.

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