The Translation of Topic and Comment from English into Arabic

Misbah M. D. Al-Sulaimaan, Dhuha A. F. AL-Taa'ee


Topic and comment cannot be defined on the basis of syntactic structure or semantic relation, but also on the basis of pragmatic and information relations. Generally speaking, topic means “announcing something and then saying something about it”.

The present study, mainly, aims at (1) setting or selecting some tests for identifying and determining topic – comment structures , (2) translating the specified structures and patterns to show how they are realized in Arabic , (3) showing the type of translation that has been used by subjects , and (4) choosing the most appropriate rendering or proposing a new rendering in case the given renderings are ineffective . To achieve the above mentioned aims , the study , mainly , hypothesizes that : (1) translation of topic and comment from English into Arabic poses a problem since English and Arabic are genetically different languages and belong to different families , (2) giving ineffective renderings is due to subjects ignorance of markedness theory and the process of fronting or topicalizing , (3) topic and comment in English are governed by a variety  of factors such as prosodic , semantic , pragmatic and / or informational , while in Arabic , they are governed , mainly , by word order , (4) there is no one- to-one formal correspondence between topic-comment structure in English and Arabic because of the divergency between the basic patterns of the phenomenon in question and their realizations in Arabic , and (5) those who adopt a communicative translation are more successful than those who adopt a semantic translation.

To test the validity of the above mentioned hypotheses , the study , mainly , uses the following procedure :

(1) twelve different patterns of topic – comment structures from different references of pragmatics were selected , (2) the identified patterns under investigation were given to eight subjects for rendering them , (3) a thorough discussion of the SLTs and their realizations in the TLTs were given , and findings of the practical chapter were analyzed and discussed.

The basic conclusions the study arrives at are :

(1) some subjects are unaware of the importance of word order in English and Arabic since they are after the natural structure neglecting the intention of the SL writer when he deviates from the norm for achieving stylistic functions, and (2) There is no one-to-one formal correspondence between topic and comment structures in English and Arabic. This can be attributed to the multiplicity of factors that affect the structures of the phenomenon in both languages.

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