University of Leicester
2018 GHEZALCBR PhD.pdf (3.36 MB)

Exotericising through Translation: Style and its Effects on Arabic Readers

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posted on 2018-12-20, 11:32 authored by Chokri Ben Raouf Ghezal
Translated esoteric texts that are originally written for a specific ‘discourse community’ (Swales 1990) in the source language are unlikely to attract readers from outside that community in the target language due to their specialised content and style. The present thesis is based on the hypothesis that adopting a different style in the translation of a non-literary text in the target language will increase its readability and accessibility among a wider readership. It attempts to measure the reader’s response to style in a translated text and assess the ability of stylistic shifts to broaden its horizons in the host culture. To test this hypothesis, excerpts from Sent before my Time: a Child Psychotherapist’s View of Life on a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit by Margaret Cohen (2003) have been translated into Arabic in two versions that are stylistically different. While the first version recreates the source text style, the second adopts a different approach that borrows stylistic features usually found in fiction and thus opens up the psychotherapeutic discourse implied in the source text. This study uses qualitative and quantitative methods. A total of 150 participants divided into two groups named Professionals and Laypeople took part in a reading experiment in which they were invited to register their response to two versions of the Arabic translation and choose which version they liked best. Surprisingly, the results show that not only the group of Laypeople responded more favourably to the second version but also the group of Professionals who were members of the discourse community addressed by the source text author. The implications of this study are potentially considerable. Stylistic shifts are capable of turning an esoteric text into an exoteric one and thus increasing its chances of being read by a wider readership in the target language.



Eliman, Ahmed Saleh; Louagie, Fransiska

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Modern Languages

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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