English Focus Structures in Arabic Translation: A Case Study of Gibran's The Prophet

Mohammad Farghal, Bushra Kalakh

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1 Citation (Scopus)


The present paper aims to examine the translation of English focus structures into Arabic. The textual data is extracted from Gibran Khalil Gibran's The Prophet, being a good example of creative writing that may instantiate sufficient data of such structures. The extracted data (88 examples) feature four categories of focus structures: fronting (27), fronting plus subject-verb inversion (23), fronting plus subject-auxiliary inversion (28) and It-clefts (10). The findings show that English focus structures constitute a problematic area which requires a high degree of expertise on the translator's part. In addition to accounting for fronting as a major syntactic device for focusing a certain sentence constituent, which is successfully achieved in about two thirds of the examples, inversion and clefting as second-layer emphatic elements are largely missed in Arabic translation. The critical discussion of sample examples shows that such second-layer emphasis can be catered for by the use of both grammatical, e.g. pronouns or lexical, e.g adverbial emphatic markers, which can effectively support fronting and achieve a comparable degree of focus.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-251
JournalInternational Journal of Arabic-English Studies
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Arabic translation
  • focus structures
  • clefting
  • fronting
  • inversion


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