An exploration into the semiotic rationale for gender shifts in English-Arabic literary translation : the case of Toni Morrison's 'The Bluest Eye'
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The present doctoral thesis is an investigation into the underlying semiotic and socio-cultural connotations of gender shifts in literary translation from English into Arabic, thereby simultaneously addressing the research question of whether these shifts are norm-governed, optional, or obligatory, that is, dictated by the rules of Arabic. Drawing on research into translational shifts, descriptive approaches to translation, as well as semiotics and sociology, the research employs a comparative and analytical methodology, which is based mainly on van Leuven-Zwart’s shift model, for the analysis of the primary corpus which incorporates Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and its two Arabic translations. It also utilizes a confirmatory corpus-based approach for the understanding of how norms and rules of gender are manifested in the Arabic literary tradition(s). Different patterns of shift are identified as regards the gender preferences or obligations on the part of the translator which contribute to his gender choices, which both demonstrate the problematic nature of gender relations in Arabic as well as highlight the translator’s active role in the act of translation. This project aims to make a useful contribution to existing research in the areas of descriptive translation studies and shifts analysis, as well as corpus-based approaches to translational shifts in general and gender shifts in particular. The analysis reveals the challenges facing translators when gender issues are concerned and suggests that gender shifts are more affected by norms and idiosyncrasies than grammatical rules.