The Translation of Foreign Words in an English Novel into Malay

Haslina Haroon, Nurul Syafiqah Daud


One aspect of language appropriation is the inclusion of foreign words in an English text with the aim of highlighting certain aspects of a culture. This results in a text in which the dominant language, English, is interspersed with foreign words. In the context of translation studies, this phenomenon raises the question of how these foreign words are dealt with when the text is translated. This paper aims to examine this issue by analysing the translation into Malay of foreign words in the English novel by Khaled Hosseini entitled A Thousand Splendid Suns. More specifically, the aim is to determine the translation procedures and the translation strategy used. Foreign words in the English text are first identified and then mapped to their translations in the Malay text. Using Pedersen’s (2011) taxonomy of strategies in rendering cultural references, the word pairs are analysed in order to determine the translation procedures used. The analysis reveals a total of 174 foreign words in Hosseini’s English novel. The mapping of these foreign words to their target language equivalents shows that the procedure used most frequently is retention. In addition, the procedures of retention and specification make up approximately 70 per cent of the procedures used. This in turn points to the adoption of a source-oriented strategy in translating the text. The findings suggest that the translator places priority on faithfulness to the source text; however, measures are also taken by the translator to ensure the comprehensibility of the translation for the target readers.    




language appropriation; Khaled Hosseini; literary translation; translation strategies; translation procedures

Full Text:



Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G., & Tiffin, H. (2002). The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-colonial Literatures. (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

Awan, M.S., & Ali, M. (2012). Strategies of Language Appropriation in Khaled Hosseini's 'A Thousand Splendid Suns'. Language in India. 12(7), 478-496.

Bellos, D. (2008). The Awkward Issue of L3. Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature. 54, 114-120.

Brown, H.R. (1981). Igbo Words for the Non-Igbo: Achebe's Artistry in 'Arrow of God'. Research in African Literatures. 12(1), 69-85.

Cavagnoli, F. (2014). Translation and Creation in a Postcolonial Context. In S. Bertacco (Ed.). Language and Translation in Postcolonial Literatures: Multilingual Contexts, Translational Texts (pp. 165-179). London: Routledge.

Corrius, M., & Zabalbeascoa, P. (2011). Language Variation in Source Texts and their Translations: The Case of L3 in Film Translation. Target. 23, 113-130.

Cronin, M. (2003). Translation and Globalization. London: Routledge.

Davies, E.E. (2003). A Goblin or A Dirty Nose? The Treatment of Culture-specific References in Translations of the Harry Potter Books. The Translator. 9(1): 65-100.

Franco Aixelá, J. (1996). Culture-specific Items in Translation. In R. Álvarez & M.C.A. Vidal (Eds.). Translation, Power, Subversion (pp. 52-78). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Hagfors, I. (2003). The Translation of Culture-Bound Elements into Finnish in the Post-War Period. Meta: Translators' Journal. 48(1-2): 115-127.

Hosseni, K. (2007). A Thousand Splendid Suns. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Hosseini, K. (2012). Seribu Matahari Syurga. Johor Bahru: Penerbitan Pelangi Sdn. Bhd.

House, J. (2011). Global and Intercultural Communication. In G. Andersen & K. Aijmer (Eds.). Pragmatics of Society (pp. 607-626). Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton.

Keown, M. (2014). 'Word of Struggle': The Politics of Translation in Indigenous Pacific Literatures. In S. Bertacco (Ed.). Language and Translation in Postcolonial Literatures: Multilingual Contexts, Translational Texts (pp. 145-164). London: Routledge.

Maher, B. (2013). A Crook's Tour: Translation, Pseudotranslation and Foreignness in Anglo-Italian Crime Fiction. In B. Nelson & B. Maher (Eds.). Perspectives on Literature and Translation: Creation, Circulation, Reception (pp. 145-158). London: Routledge.

Mussche, E., & Willems, K. (2010). Fred or farīd, bacon or bayḍun (‘egg’)? Proper Names and Cultural-specific Items in the Arabic Translation of Harry Potter. Meta: Translators' Journal. 55(3), 474-498.

Pedersen, J. (2005). How is Culture Rendered in Subtitles? In H. Gerzymisch-Arbogast & S. Nauert (Eds.). Marie Curie EU High Level Scientific Conferences Series: Challenges of Multidimensional Translation (pp. 113-130). Saarbrücken: Advanced Translation Research Centre (ATRC).

Pedersen, J. (2011). Subtitling Norms for Television: An Exploration Focussing on Extralinguistic Cultural References. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Quinto, E.J.M., & Santos, J.C. (2016). Abrogation and Appropriation in Selected Pre-war Philippine Short Stories in English. GEMA Online® Journal of Language Studies. 16(1), 157-168.

Ramsay, R., & Walker, D. (2010). Translating Hybridity: The Curious Case of the First Kanak Novel (Déwé Gorodé's L'épave), The AALITRA Review: A Journal of Literary Translation. 1, 44-57.

Reynolds, B.L., & Liao, C.-C. (2014). Translating Religion in The Dream of the Red Chamber. 3L: Language Linguistics Literature®, Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies. 20(2), 101-116.

Rizzardi, B. (2014). Opening Up to Complexity in the Global Era. In S. Bertacco, (Ed.). Language and Translation in Postcolonial Literatures: Multilingual Contexts, Translational Texts (pp. 180-192). London: Routledge.

Stuhr, R. (2009). Reading Khaled Hosseini. California: Greenwood Press.

Toler, M.A. (2001). The Ethics of Cultural Representation: The Maghribi Novel in English Translation. The Journal of North

African Studies. 6(3), 48-69.

Zabalbeascoa, P., & Corrius, M. (2014). How Spanish in an American Film is Rendered in Translation: Dubbing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in Spain. Perspectives, 22(2), 255-270.

Zand, F. (2015). Translation of Hybrid Texts: Translator's Strategies and Ideologies in Translation of 'Funny in Farsi' by Dumas. Asia Pacific Translation and Intercultural Studies. 2(3), 208-223.


  • There are currently no refbacks.




eISSN : 2550-2131

ISSN : 1675-8021