Translating Terms of Islamic Architecture: A Semiotic Study

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Ateeq, Taqwa
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Taqwa Abdel-Hadi Mohammad Ateeq
This study examines the process of translating terms of Islamic architecture from Arabic into English and vice versa. Three English books about Islamic architecture are investigated, in addition to Arabic translated versions of two of them. The translation strategies used in these texts are presented to explain how the TL expressions cause problems in signification. Cultural equivalents signify a TL sign which differs from the original in its design or function. Most of the descriptions lack the sign's value, which is its distinctive feature. They are confusing for the reader, as they do not enable him/her to signify the intended element. The examined texts also show use of transference strategy, even though the transliterated term does not function in the TL culture. This study suggests to apply Basel Hatim's model of semiotic translation, besides Saussure's concept of the sign's value to produce translations which help the reader to perceive an accurate conceptual image of the transferred sign. This study also indicates that these problems are aggravated when translating the English expressions back into Arabic. Translators should use the original Arabic terms employed to signify these signs instead of applying translation strategies as if signs of Islamic architecture were foreign to the Arabic linguistic community.
Translating Terms of Islamic Architecture: A Semiotic Study