Rationality and Gricean Inference with Reference to English-Arabic Translation

Misbah Mahmood Dawood Al-Sulaimaan, Teeba N.T. Al-Khaffaf


The present study tackles “Rationality and Gricean inference” in English and its translation from English into Arabic. Inference can be defined as a logical conclusion that is drawn from a premise and it is used to describe that process which the reader (hearer) must go through to get from the literal meaning of what is written (or said) to what the writer (speaker)
intended to convey. Rationality can be defined as thinking, speaking, reasoning, making a decision, or acting in a way that is generally reliable and efficient for achieving one‟s goals. This study aims at (1) specifying and studying a number of different patterns of inferences in books of Pragmatics and some Pragmatic periodicals in order to grasp their nature and role in the process of communication, (2) giving a comprehensive coverage of inferences in English and, (3) testing the translatability of the inferences in question which are linguistically, culturally and genetically different and (4) showing the realizations of the inferences in the TL (Arabic) and (5) showing that inferences in English cannot be successfully translated into Arabic without grasping cultural values, and linguistic variation. To achieve the above mentioned aims the study hypothesizes that: (1) inferences in English cannot be successfully translated into Arabic without grasping cultural values and linguistic variations, (2) multiplicity of inferences that can be concluded from every utterance results in different renderings by the subjects, (3) taking Grice's maxims of conversation into
consideration enables the translators to arrive at how inferences in the utterances under investigation can be deduced and (4) inference cannot be deduced without the premise. The study is based on a corpus of (16) English examples involving inferences derived from various written speech situations in books of pragmatics. These examples are translated by
5 subjects (M. A students in the Department of Translation /College of Arts/University of Mosul). The utterances involving the respective inferences with their Arabic renderings have been analyzed in terms of “type of inference”, “what is said” (natural meaning to use Grice's
1975 terms), what is inferred (non natural meaning), and method of translation (semantic or communicative). Each text analysis is supplemented by pragmatic interpretation and translational discussion. As for the proposed rendering, the most appropriate one will be chosen. In case of subjects‟ failure, a new rendering will be suggested. The main findings the study arrived at is that inference is regarded a problem in translation in the SL is different from that of the TL and it depends on many elements such as the context which specifies the situation, the speaker‟s observance of Grice's Maxims.

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