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This study investigates the level of functional equivalence in the Flood‘s (2008) translation of two classical Arabic poems into English, a thirty-line poem by al-Mutanabbi and eleven-line poem by Abu Nuwas. The work focuses on how the translator encodes the linguistic, cultural and aesthetic features. These features are examined based on functional equivalence in terms of form and content in the Target Text (TT). The research takes each poem and compares the linguistic, cultural and aesthetic form and content between the Source Text (ST) and Target Text (TT). For the linguistic functional equivalence, the research construes the semantic level in the TT with
paying an attention to the schematic and compacted construction of the ST poeticality. In the cultural aspect, on the other hand, the work attempts to locate the area of convergences and divergences between the Arabic and English languages. In the concluding appraisal of each line, the research weighs up between the aesthetic features of the STs and TTs with the purpose of reflecting and maintaining the beauty of classicality, and how this aesthetics goes in conformity with linguistic equivalents. After the appraisal analysis, the work finds that it has become difficult for the translator to capture the linguistic elements as far as classical poetry is concerned; Flood makes the translated lines non-poetic and plain. While the cultural elements are functionally captured in the translation, perhaps because of their rarity in the given poems, the aesthetic features have not been addressed properly. The ST lines were rendered disregarding the beauty and proportional length of the poems. Therefore, for bridging these gaps, the researcher attempts to re-encode these poems and make the two hemistichs of each line to be rhymed and proportionately balanced for having a sense of classical, rather, functional equivalence to the ST.
1.1 Background of the Study
The nature of literature is mainly woven with stylistic inventiveness and deviations in
form to (re)create or replicate beauty and provide instruction. In terms of translating works of art,
this nature of literature, potentially, makes Wechsler (1998: 4) to confer that ―literary translation
is an odd art.‖ If a translator engulfs in replicating the oddity of form (what can affect content in
some cases) and aesthetics into another language, so, what he does is making work of art from
another language. Therefore, the literary translator, as an artist, should attempt to go in
conformity with the author‘s natural and closest style.
These elements of oddity and aesthetics are more visible in poetry translation. Translating
a poem is, arguably, as hard as composing it because the translator is bound to apply the ethics of
fidelity and Venuti‘s (1995) invisibility while his hands are tied with the condensed structure of
poetry, especially the classical one. In the process of translating a poem, the challenge piles up
for the need to encode and harmonise the poetic devices, context and cultural features of the
Source Language (SL henceforth) into the Target Language (TL henceforth). According to Apte
(2004), the burden in poetry translation occurs because each line should be taken into account
and must be given a due consideration in relation to other lines for maintaining the organicity
and rhythmical quality of the poem in the TL. After the translation, if the challenging factors
have been systematically addressed, the target readers of the translated version may get it natural
and functionally communicative.
Therefore, this study appraises Flood‘s (2008) translation of two classical Arabic poems,
one by al-Mutanabbi and another one by Abu Nuwas. Flood (2008) collects some previous
translations of the two poems for reviewing and harmonising. However, Flood fails to render the
poems with functional equivalence in conformity with sound effects, content, compactness,
density of imagery among others. Defecting to capture some fundamental features into Target
Text (TT henceforth) makes the translated version to lose its original poetic values, bearing in
mind that reaching a formal equivalence in poetry translation is hardly achieved. On appraising
these translated poems by Flood (2008), also, this study argues that translation of poetry can be
discharged with conserving the comprehensive ideas and stylistic patterns of the Source Text (ST
henceforth) in order to painstakingly get a sort of originality in compliance with domesticity.
1.2 The Translator, the Poets and the Poems
Though her biography was not available to the researcher, Anne Marie Flood, the
translator, attempts the translation of the poems of al-Mutanabbi and Abu Nuwas. The work,
which was written in fulfilment of the requirements for the award of a Master of Arts in English
in the Swarthmore College (2008), was entitled ‗Riding the She-Camel into the Desert: A
Translation of Two Classical Arabic Poets.‘ Two professors supervised the work, Professor Kim
Arrow and Professor David Harrison. In her words, Flood (2008: 1) admires that:
I owe a much of my thesis to my two academic advisors, Professor Kim and Professor Harrison, who helped me through the many drafts of the translation and the discussion thereof, respectively. In addition, I would like to thank all of the students who either read my thesis or my poems for their helpful input.
This admiration indicates the rigorous process the work went through as it serves as an appraisal
and retranslation of some previous translations. The work, which looks more like a book rather
than a research, provides accounts on translation, Arabic poetry, discussion of the previous
translations and the introduction of her harmonised translation. However, Flood‘s main concern
is to pave an introductory way to her translation without a deep review and irrefutable argument
of the various translational efforts.
1.2.1 Al-Mutanabbi: The Poet and the Poem
Abu al-Tayyib al-Husain (popularly known as al-Mutanabbi, 915-965 A.D.) was born in
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