Gender of Cited Authors: A Problem for the English-Arabic Translation of Scholarly Research
Posted: 30 Oct 2017
Date Written: January 1, 2014
This study addresses a unique translation problem which translators from English into Arabic need to consider when inflecting the introductory verbs for the gender of in-text cited authors in scholarly books which use a style sheet that does not spell out the first name of authors in the list of references. Suppose a translator comes across the following sentence: ‘Sander (1972) pointed out...’, and that the reference list of the book provides E as the initial letter of the first name of Sander. Do we expect this sentence to be rendered into Arabic, a gender-specific language, as راشأ ردناس ? ashaara saandar (1972)... or تراشأ ردناس ? ashaarat saandar (1972)...?
The reporting verbs راشأ ? ashaara and تراشأ ashaarat show masculine and feminine inflection, respectively. As is clear, the readily available bibliographical information about Sander’s first name does not tell the translator whether this author is a male, e.g., Erick Sander or a female, e.g., Emma Sander. Thus, this study seeks answers to the following questions: 1. Is it really the case that English–Arabic translations of scholarly works which do not spell out the first name of in-text cited authors suffer from gender-based problems associated with the reporting verbs?
2. If so, how does the translator, once aware of the scope of the problem, mange to resolve it in the absence of sufficient and self-explanatory information in the reference list where the in text study is cited?
The results show that English–Arabic translators tend to overlook the gender-based problem and inflect the reporting verbs using a masculine suffix whether the cited author is, in reality, a male or a female. The paper concludes with an experience-based proposal which may provide insights into addressing this problem.
Keywords: English–Arabic translation, cited authors, gender, structurally different languages
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation