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The translation of culturally bound metaphors in the genre of popular science articles: A corpus-based case study from Scientific American translated into Arabic
This paper reports on a study of a particular cultural problem in contemporary English-Arabic translation, namely pedagogical metaphors in popular science writing. Pedagogical metaphors are argued to be crucial to the communicative intent of this genre, namely the dissemination of knowledge about complex scientific phenomena from expert to non-expert. Seen by some scholars as a type of translation in itself, popular science writing presents particular translation challenges for culturally distant languages such as English and Arabic. Whilst traditional studies of metaphors in translation have focused on the un/translatability of linguistic expressions, the present study adopts a conceptual approach emphasizing the contribution made by related sets of metaphorical linguistic expressions to the scientific “story.” Following an account of metaphor types and functions, the paper outlines the construction of a 287,306-word parallel corpus of selected articles from Scientific American and its Arabic equivalent Majallat Al-Oloom (1995–2009). Extending previous monolingual/manual corpus analytical methods, the study reports on a range of intercultural problems and their translation solutions, bearing in mind the pedagogical function of the metaphors analyzed. It is concluded that a range of translation strategies is used to accommodate the cultural expectations and experience of the Arabic readership, indicating that popular science is culturally nuanced. In this sense, translations cannot therefore be seen simply as different language versions of the same material.
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