Translating the SUFFIX -ism in Linguistics Terminology from English into Arabic
Jamal Mohamed Giaber, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, UAE
English relies heavily on suffixation in deriving new words. The suffix -ism is used to form nouns in both general and specialised languages. In linguistics terminology, -ism is used to denote a range of technical concepts. The technical use of -ism and differences in term formation between Arabic and English have some implications for the translation of linguistic terms into Arabic. The aim of this study is to identify the technical senses of -ism in linguistics terminology in English and the translation techniques used by Arab lexicographers in rendering those senses into Arabic. The study findings show that (a) -ism has ten technical senses in linguistics terminology, (b) Arabic has the potential for translating the ten senses either lexically or morphologically, (c) different Arab lexicographers use different translation techniques, most of which produce denotatively acceptable equivalents, but only some techniques produce morphologically concise equivalents, and (d) formal consistency between Arabic equivalents is rarely maintained.
Linguistics terminology, terminology translation, -ism, secondary term formation, English, Arabic.
Technical terms are lexical units of specialised language specifically created or used by experts to develop specialised knowledge. They usually exhibit three distinctive features: morphological concision, semantic restriction and denotative precision. They are morphologically concise in order to speed up technical communication and to be amenable for further derivation and compounding. They are semantically restricted because conceptually they are substitute labels for definitions of specific technical concepts. Finally, when used in specific contexts they are denotatively precise, and thus pragmatically unambiguous. In terminology management, term formation is the key process of creating terms to designate the technical concepts of a discipline in its original language or in another language into which that discipline is translated. Terminologists distinguish between two types of term formation: (a) primary term formation, which takes place in the original language in which the discipline was developed and (b) secondary term formation, which occurs in another language into which the discipline is translated. According to Sager (1990: 80-81),
primary and secondary term formation are ruled by different motivations and influences. The fundamental difference between the two lies in the fact that in primary term formation there is no linguistic precedent […], whereas in secondary term formation there always is the precedent of an existent term with its own motivation. The new term to be created must then be justified in some way and this justification may include reference to the form of existent terms1.
One aspect that may have bearing on secondary term formation is the difference between languages in the morphological methods and devices used for term formation. English, as a concatenative language, relies heavily on affixation in creating new terms. The derivational suffix -ism is widely employed in English to form nouns used in both general and specialised languages; -ism derivatives in specialised English are used to refer to technical concepts in the processes of specialised knowledge development and communication. Linguistics (in the broad sense of ‘language sciences’) is one of the areas in which existing and/or newly formed -ism derivatives are used by linguists and language-related specialists as technical terms to refer to specific technical concepts. Because of its origin (French from Latin from Greek) and because of its polysemous nature, -ism is used in linguistics to denote a variety of language-related concepts. In translating linguistics terminology from English into Arabic, differences in term formation between the two languages (Arabic being a non-concatenative language), as well as the polysemous nature of -ism in English seem to have some implications for translating linguistic terms into Arabic, especially for lexicographical purposes.
The aim of this study, therefore, is (a) to identify the technical senses of
-ism in linguistics terminology in English and (b) to identify the translation techniques used by Arab lexicographers in translating -ism into Arabic and the appropriateness of those techniques for terminology translation in terms of denotative precision, morphological concision and formal consistency. The study hypothesises that (a) -ism in linguistics terminology in English is used in different ways and has different senses reflecting a variety of intricate concepts, (b) Arabic has term formation potential for rendering the different senses of -ism, and (c) different Arab lexicographers use qualitatively different translation techniques in translating -ism into Arabic.
To test the research hypotheses and achieve the study aims, the following research methodology is adopted:
a. Identification of the origin and general uses of -ism in English, for which English dictionaries, such as the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (SOED), Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language (Webster’s), and other related references, such as Bauer et al (2013) and Dixon (2014), are used.
b. Identification of the technical senses of -ism in linguistics terminology in English through the classification of terms formed by the suffix into semantically homogeneous sets in which the suffix denotes an intensionally and extensionally distinct concept. For this purpose, the following English-English specialised dictionaries are used:
Crystal (1980/2008). A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. Richards and Schmidt (1985/2010). Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied linguistics. Wales (1990). A Dictionary of Stylistics. Aarts, Chalker and Weiner (1994/1998). Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar. Bussmann (1996). Routledge Dictionary of Language and Linguistics. Matthews (1997/2014). Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics. Shuttleworth and Cowie (1997). Dictionary of Translation Studies. Thornbury (2006). An A-Z of ELT. Huang (2012). The Oxford Dictionary of Pragmatics. Brown and Miller (2013). The Cambridge Dictionary of Linguistics.
c. Critical discussion of the translation equivalents offered by five Arab lexicographers for each of the semantically classified sets of linguistic terms formed by -ism to identify the most appropriate translation techniques that achieve the essential terminological qualities (i.e. denotative precision, morphological concision and formal consistency). In conducting this part of the study, the following English-Arabic dictionaries of linguistic terms are used:
Al-Khuli (1982) A Dictionary of Theoretical Linguistics (English-Arabic). ALECSO (1989). Unified Dictionary of Linguistic Terms (English-Arabic-French). Baalbaki (1990). Dictionary of Linguistic Terms (English-Arabic). El-Sayed (2000). York Dictionary of Linguistics (English-Arabic). Al-Masʿudi (2015). Al-Muʿjam al-ʾlsunī (Dictionary of linguistics). vol. II (English-Arabic).
2. Literature review
Although some studies have dealt with the role of translation in the development of modern linguistics terminology in Arabic (e.g. Gaber 2007, Miqran 2009, Al-ʿabd 2011, Zakariyā 2014: 159-175, and al-Yaʿbūdī 2014: 177-209), to the best of my knowledge, no study has been devoted to the translation of the suffix -ism in linguistics terminology from English into Arabic. Maybe the most relevant study is Gaber (2007), which is devoted to the translation of some suffixes in linguistics terminology from English into Arabic, namely -able, -ization, -lect, -nym, -graph, -graphy, -gram, -logy and -ics. The aim of the study was to identify the technical uses of these suffixes in linguistics terminology and the ways in which their meanings were rendered into Arabic in the view of term formation differences between the two languages (Gaber 2007: 18-21). The study shows that different Arab translators and terminographers adopt different ways of translating the English suffixes into Arabic such as the use of full terms, use of morphological patterns, use of borrowing and use of hybrid formation. The study also shows that differences in translation methodology have led to differences in the appropriateness of the suggested translation equivalents in terms of meeting terminology standards such as precision and concision (Gaber 2007: 295-299).
Another partially relevant study is Khasāra (1994), which focuses on the role of arabicisation in developing Arabic vocabulary. In Chapter Four of the study, the author suggests four methods for the translation of affixes from English and French into Arabic. These four methods are (a) use of an Arabic term that conveys the meaning of the affix, (b) use of a derivative morphological pattern, (c) use of a special lexical or functional form, and (d) analogical use of an Arabic pseudo-ending (Khasara, 1994, 114-124). All these translation methods (except the fourth one) are practically useful and have been used by Arab translators and lexicographers (cf. Bakalla et al 1983, Baalbaki 2005, Ali 2007, Munday 2010, Wales 2014).
3. Origin and meaning of -ism in English
According to the SOED and Webster’s, -ism is originally from French –isme, from Latin –ismus, from Greek -ismos. According to Dixon (2014: 352-356), Romance loanwords (e.g. pagan and pagan-ism, catholic and catholic-ism) established -ism in English which was soon added to Romance and Germanic forms (e.g. heathen-ism and tru-ism) and over time, -ism has become a productive suffix in English. It is added to nouns of different types and to simple and derived adjectives as follows:
a. -ism formation based on a derived adjective (e.g. industrial-ism, traditional-ism, ideal-ism).
b. -ism formation based on a noun describing a type of person (e.g. critic-ism, vandal-ism).
c. -ism formation based directly on a noun without any intervening adjective stage (e.g. anarch-ism, cub-ism).
d. -ism formation based on an unanalyzable adjective (e.g. femin-ism, archa-ism, secular-ism).
e. -ism ad hoc formation where the suffix is added to multi-word sequences (e.g. big-shot-ism, know-nothing-ism).
Semantically, -ism is used in English to form nouns denoting the following meanings:
a. An act, process or practice or its result (e.g. baptism, criticism), usually with corresponding verbs in -ise.
b. The conduct characteristic of a person or class of people (e.g. heroism, patriotism).
c. A state, condition or property of a person or thing (e.g. alcoholism, barbarism).
d. A doctrine, theory, cult or its practice (e.g. feminism, Marxism).
e. Adherence to or practice of a system or a class of principles (e.g. neutralism, socialism).
g. A system of discrimination based on a particular criterion (e.g. racism, sexism).
h. A characteristic, peculiar feature or trait of a nation or individual, especially in language (e.g. Latinism, colloquialism).
(cf. SOED, Webster’s, Quirk et al. 1985: 1549, Bauer et al. 2013: 253 and Dixon 2014: 352).
4. Technical Senses of -ism in Linguistics Terminology
A survey of the entries in the above-mentioned ten English-English dictionaries of linguistic terms shows that at least ninety-four terms are formed by the suffix –ism. Based on a lexico-semantic investigation of these ninety four terms, ten distinctive senses of -ism are identified. Each of these senses is represented by a different number of terms. Because of the polysemous nature of –ism, some terms fall under more than one sense. The following is a list of the ten senses, number of terms and one example for each. (For a full list of the terms under each sense, see Appendix A).
a. An approach, theory, philosophy, belief, movement or school of thought (43 terms):
structuralism: an approach or theory in which language is considered primarily as a system of structures (Aarts, Chalker and Weiner1994/1998).
b. A type of language-related system, method, process or its result (10 terms):
airstream mechanism: a system or process to generate a flow of air in the production of speech (Matthews 1997/2014 and (Crystal 1980/2008).
c. A language-related situation, state, condition or level (4 terms):
bilingualism: the existence of two or more languages within a society (Bussmann 1996).
d. A linguistic characteristic, property or feature (7 terms):
isosyllabism: a characteristic of a language in which the duration of every syllable is equal and they occur at regular intervals (Brown and Miller 2013).
e. A special type of word or phrase (9 terms):
archaism: an old word or phrase no longer in general spoken or written use (Crystal 1980/2008).
f. Special use of language or a linguistic element (10 terms):
barbarism: an improper use of a word (Bussmann 1996).
g. A language-related physical or psychological disorder (6 terms):
mutism: a disorder characterised by the inability to produce speech (Brown and Miller 2013).
h. A type of linguistic ability or competence (7 terms):
bidialectalism: proficiency by a person or a community in the use of two dialects of a language (Crystal 1980/2008).
i. A type of linguistic structure or relationship (5 terms):
syncretism: the relation between two or more words in a paradigm that have different morphosyntactic features but are identical in form (Matthews 1997/2014).
j. A type of linguistic error or mistake (2 terms):
spoonerism: a slip of the tongue in which parts of successive words are interchanged (Matthews 1997/2014).
Morphologically, most -ism formations are one-word terms and a few are compounds consisting of two words each. Some of the one-word terms are morphologically complex (e.g. ‘anti-mental-ism,’ ‘hyper-urban-ism,’ ‘bi-lingual-ism’). Semantically, some are polysemous (e.g. ‘pragmatism’, ‘neologism’, ‘euphemism’ (senses 5, 6 and 9), ‘rhotacism’ (senses 2 and 7), ‘formalism’ (senses 1 and 4), ‘archaism’ (senses 5 and 6), ‘bilingualism’ (senses 3 and 6), ‘multilingualism’ (senses 3 and 8)) (See Appendix A). Due to contrastive differences between English and Arabic, these morphological and semantic aspects of the -ism terms can have some implications for the translation of -ism terms into Arabic.
5. Identification of translation techniques used by Arab lexicographers in rendering -ism
This part of the study is devoted to a critical discussion of the translation equivalents suggested by the five Arab lexicographers for the linguistic terms formed by -ism. The aim is to identify the translation techniques and contrastive devices used by those lexicographers in rendering each of the ten senses of -ism in linguistics terminology and the appropriateness of their techniques in terms of achieving denotative precision, morphological concision and formal consistency.
Before discussing the translation equivalents for the -ism terms under different senses, it will be appropriate to make some general observations: (a) some -ism terms are included in all five English-Arabic dictionaries (e.g. ‘mentalism’ and ‘structuralism’), (b) some terms are included in some dictionaries only (e.g. ‘antimentalism,’ ‘dualism,’ and ‘localism’), and (c) some English terms are given two translation equivalents by some lexicographers (e.g. ‘conventionalism,’ ‘functionalism,’ and ‘structuralism’).
5.1. Discussion of translation equivalents for terms denoting ‘an approach, theory, philosophy, belief, movement or school of thought’
Analysis of the translation equivalents of terms in this sense category shows that the Arab lexicographers use two ways of rendering the suffix -ism; one is lexical, by using one of three full Arabic terms, and the other is morphological, by using the Arabic suffix -iyya. The five lexicographers use both ways with some differences in the number of terms translated in each way by each one of them. The following is a critical discussion of both ways:
5.1.1 Use of a full Arabic term
This technique consists in using one of three Arabic noun terms, i.e. madhhab (school of thought), naẓariyya ‘theory’ or falsafa ‘philosophy,’ to represent the concept denoted by -ism in English. These Arabic terms are used individually as part of a construct phrase(iḍāfa compound) or (attributive-adjective compound) in which the term translating -ism is the compound head. Iḍāfa compounds consist of two nouns “where the second noun determines the first by identifying, limiting, or defining it, and thus the two nouns function as one phrase” (Ryding 2005: 205). Examples of this type of translation equivalents are madhhab al-thunāʾiyya for ‘binarism,’ madhhab al-muwaḍaʿa for ‘conventionalism,’ madhhab al-ḥatmiyya al-lughawiyya for ‘linguistic determinism,’ madhhab al-nisbiyya al-lughawiyya for ‘linguistic relativism,’ and falsafat al-dharāʾiʿ for ‘pragmatism’ (El-Sayed 2000). An attributive-adjective compound consists of a noun (madhhab or naẓariyya)and an attributive adjective. Grammatically, the adjective is “part of the noun phrase and follows the noun directly, agreeing with it in gender, number, case, and definiteness” (Ryding 2005: 239). Examples of this type of translation equivalents are: al-madhhab al-sulūkī for ‘behaviorism,’ al-madhhab al-ṣūrī for ‘formalism’ (El-Sayed 2000), al-madhhab al-tarkībī for ‘structuralism,’ al-madhhab al-ʿaqlī for ‘mentalism’ (Al-Khuli 1982), madhhab tajrībī for ‘empiricism’ (Al-Masʿudi), al-naẓariyya al-istighrāqiyya for ‘distributionalism’, al-naẓariyya al-waẓīfiyya for ‘functionalism’ (ALECSO 1989), and al-naẓariyya al-binyawiyya for ‘structuralism’ (Al-Khuli 1982). The examples show that the technique of using full Arabic terms in translating the suffix -ism produces compound terms rather than one-word terms as in English. These Arabic compound terms may be denotatively precise, depending on the lexicographers’ interpretation of the English terms, but morphologically they are not concise. Terminologists regard concision as an essential quality in technical terms. Sager (1990: 89), for example, stresses that “without sacrificing precision, terms should be concise and not contain unnecessary information”. This is because (1) concise one-word terms are more amenable to further derivation to meet future terminological needs than two-word or three-word terms and (2) previous research shows that “terms that are fully implanted are more concise than terms that are not implanted” (Quirion and Lanthier 2006: 113).
5.1.2 Use of the Arabic suffix -iyya
The Arabic suffix -iyya is very productive in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and it denotes at least sixteen different concepts (cf. Mohamed 2015). It is added to different types of words to create nouns of different concepts. “In this way, new concepts can be readily created, and this category is an important one in MSA. In fact, its prevalence has led the Arabic Language Academy in Cairo to declare that this type of noun may be derived from any word at all” (Ryding 2004: 90).
In translating -ism in this context, some Arab lexicographers add -iyya in the sense of ‘a theory, philosophy, movement, belief or school of thought’ to existing native or loan words. The result is a one-word translation equivalent. In this study, examples of adding -iyya to an existing native word include al-sulūkiyya (sulūk + iyya) for ‘behaviourism’, bināʾiyya (bināʾ+iyya) for ‘constructionism’, and thunāʾiyya (thunāʾī+iyya) for ‘dualism’ (Al-Masʿudi 2015). Other examples are waẓīfiyya for‘functionalism’, ʿaqliyya for ‘mentalism’, al-binyawiyya for ‘structuralism’ (Baalbaki 1990), al-lādhihniyya for ‘antimentalism’, al-thunāʾiyya for ‘binarism’ (ALECSO 1989), thunāʾiyya for ‘binarism’, and al-iṣṭilāḥiyya for ‘conventionalism’ (Al-Khuli 1982). Semantically, each of these -iyya formations denotes a specific ‘theory, philosophy, movement, belief or school of thought’ based on the meanings of the English terms they translate. Because the English terms are one-word formations, the Arabic translations are also concise one-word equivalents that are amenable to further derivation and/or compounding. These translation equivalents also maintain formal consistency as all of them are produced by the same morphological process and have the same ending. Therefore, adding -iyya to existing native words proves the potentiality of Arabic for creating concise, precise and formally consistent terms. In the cases when the English terms are two-word compounds, the Arabic translations are also two-word equivalents such as al-taḥdīdiyya al-lughawiyya for ‘linguistic determinism’ and al-nisbiyya al-lughawiyya for ‘linguistic relativism’ (Al-Khuli 1982).
An example of adding -iyya to loanwords is imbīriqiyya (Al-Masʿudi 2015) for ‘empiricism.’ This translation is a hybrid formation consisting of the borrowed base imbīriq (empiric) and the Arabic suffix -iyya. Morphologically, this hybrid formation is concise, but semantically it is not transparent, and because the lexicographer does not explain this hybrid formation in Arabic, its meaning may only be understood by those who know the meaning of the original term in English.
5.2. Discussion of translation equivalents for terms denoting ‘a type of language-related system, process or its result’
The Arab lexicographers translate -ism in this sense in two ways:
5.2.1 Use of a maṣdar pattern
In Arabic, maṣdar patterns are grammatical morphemes with functional denotations. They are combined with lexical roots to form maṣdar nouns. As a category, the maṣdar noun is formed according to a specific morphological pattern (ṣīgha ṣarfiyya) to name an action denoted by its corresponding verb or the result of that action. For example, combining the morphological pattern fiʿāla with the root k-t-b the maṣdar noun kitāba ‘the process or product of writing’ is derived from kataba ‘to write,’ and combining the pattern mufāʿala with the root b-d-l the maṣdar noun mubāala ‘the process or product of exchange’ is derived from bādala ‘to exchange.’ Each maṣdar is systematically related to a specific morphological pattern and can be derived from trilateral or quadrilateral consonantal roots (cf. Wright 1967: 110-122, Haywood and Nahmad 1962: 328-333, Ryding 2005: 75-83 and Sawaie 2014: 305-323). The following is an analysis of some examples of how maṣdar patterns are used in this study to translate -ism in some of the English terms:
In each of these examples the root carries the lexical meaning represented by the base to which -ism is added in the English term. These roots are chosen by the Arab lexicographers based on their interpretation of the lexical meanings of the relevant English terms. The maṣdar pattern carries the functional meaning of the noun denoting ‘a process or its product,’ which is denoted in English by the suffix -ism.
This technique of using maṣdar patterns proves to be useful in creating concise one-word translation equivalents for English one-word terms formed by -ism. Sometimes, the English term is a compound consisting of a noun or an adjective and -ism syntagma (e.g. linguistic criticism), or a complex derivational formation consisting of a prefix, base and -ism (e.g. hyperurbanism). In cases like these, the resultant Arabic equivalents are also compound structures. They are either iḍāfa noun phrases (e.g. taqaʿʿur al-lafẓ) or attributive-adjective phrases (e.g. tafāṣuḥḥaḍarī ). These translation equivalents are denotatively precise in terms of using maṣdar patterns to render the sense denoted by -ism in English, but they may not be equally precise in terms of their overall meanings. This is because different lexicographers use different roots and the overall denotative precision of the translation equivalents is based on both root (lexical meaning) and pattern (functional meaning).
5.2.2 Use of the suffix -iyya
In this context, the suffix -iyya is used in translating -ism in three terms only: ‘airstream mechanism,’ ‘communicative dynamism’ and ‘rhotacism.’ In translating ‘airstream mechanism’, El-Sayed (2000), Baalbaki (1990) and ALECSO (1989) use existing -iyya terms to render the English term ‘mechanism.’ These -iyya terms are āliyya(t), which is made up of āla (machine) and -iyya,used by the first two lexicographers, and kayfiyya(t), which is made up of kayafa (how) and -iyya, used by the third lexicographer. Because -ism in ‘airstream mechanism’ denotes ‘a system or its process,’ both āliyya(t) and kayfiyya(t) are denotatively precise and morphologically concise as translation equivalents for ‘mechanism’. Because ‘airstream mechanism’ is a double compound term (air + stream + mechanism), the full translation equivalents in Arabic are also compounds, thus āliyat majrā al-hawāʾ, āliyat al-jarayān and kayfiyat majrā al-hawāʾ.
In translating ‘communicative dynamism’, Baalbaki (1990) adds -iyya to the borrowed stem dināmī (from dynamic) to produce dināmiyya(t), which is a hybrid formation, used in the iḍāfa compound dināmiyat al-tawāṣul to translate the full term ‘communicative dynamism.’ In terms of morphological concision, dināmiya(t) is concise, but in terms of denotative precision it is only precise to those who are familiar with the meaning of dināmiya as a loanword.
5.3 Discussion of translation equivalents for terms denoting ‘a language-related situation, state, condition or level’
The suffix -ism in this sense is translated into Arabic in two ways as follows:
5.3.1 Use of the suffix -iyya
Analysis of the Arabic translation equivalents for the three English terms formed by -ism under this sense, namely ‘bilingualism’, ‘cultural pluralism’ and ‘multilingualism’, shows that -iyya is used by Al-Masʿudi (2015) in translating the three English terms. It is also used by Baalbaki (1990), ALECSO (1989) and Al-Khuli (1982) in translating -ism in ‘bilingualism’. In all cases except one (lughatāniyya) suggested by Al-Masʿudi (2015), the result is either an iḍāfa or adjective compound. Examples of an iḍāfa compound are thunāʾiyyat al-lugha (Al-Masʿudi 2015) and izdiwājiyyat al-lugha (Al-Khuli 1982) for ‘bilingualism’. Examples of an adjective compound are thunāʾiyya lughawiyya for ‘bilingualism’, taʿaddudiyya lughawiyya for ‘multilingualism’ and taʿaddudiyya thaqāfiyya for ‘cultural pluralism’ (Al-Masʿudi 2015).In translating ‘bilingualism’ and ‘multilingualism,’ -iyya is added to a base translating the prefix (thunāʾi for bi- and taʿaddud for multi) to form the compound head. To produce a one-word equivalent for ‘bilingualism,’ Al-Masʿudi (2015) suggests lughatāniyya in which -iyya is added to the dual noun lughatān (two languages). Although lughatāniyya is morphologically more concise than the compound translation equivalents, it is not expected to gain currency because forming new terms by adding -iyya to the dual is not common in Arabic. Denotatively, -iyya in all the above-mentioned translation equivalents is precise in rendering the concept of ‘a language-related situation, state, or condition’ denoted by -ism in the relevant English terms.
5.3.2 Use of a maṣdar pattern
A maṣdar pattern is used in translating -ism in ‘multilingualism,’ a term which is translated by only three of the five lexicographers. They use the reflexive maṣdar pattern tafaʿʿul to form the maṣdar noun taʿaddud from the root ʿ-d-d ‘related to number’. Taʿaddud is used as a head in the iḍāfa compound taʿadud al-lughāt suggested by the three lexicographers. This translation is denotatively precise, but it does not maintain formal consistency with the rest of the translation equivalents in the same way as does taʿaddudiyya lughawiyya, suggested by (Al-Masʿudi 2015) for the same English term. In other words, if -iyya is consistently used in iḍāfa or adjective compounds for translating all the terms, formal consistency will be maintained for the terms in which -ism denotes ‘a language-related situation, state, or condition’.
5.4 Discussion of translation equivalents for terms denoting ‘a linguistic characteristic, property or feature’
In translating -ism in the sense of ‘a linguistic characteristic, property or feature’, the five lexicographers use the maṣdar pattern as follows:
5.4.1 Use of the maṣdar pattern
Three maṣdar patterns are used to translate -ism in this sense. In translating ‘exoticism’, Al-Masʿudi (2015) uses the pattern istifʿāl (from the verb istafʿala) with the root gh-r-b (related to strangeness) to produce the one-word translation equivalent istighrāb. Denotatively, the verb pattern istafʿala “may be requestative or estimative but may also reflect other semantic modifications of the base form” (Ryding 2005: 584). In the context of translating ‘exoticism,’ in which -ism denotes ‘a linguistic characteristic, property or feature,’ the translation equivalent istighrāb can be interpreted as ‘the feature of requesting strangeness.’ However, it may also be interpreted as denoting ‘the process or result of considering strange,’ which is not the sense denoted by -ism in this context. Therefore, istighrāb is morphologically concise but denotatively can be misleading. In translating ‘exoticism,’ Baalbaki (1990) uses the same root (gh-r-b) to produce the concise one-word translation ighrāb, which is formed by the maṣdar pattern ifʿāl (from the verb form afʿala). Because the maṣdar pattern ifʿāl denotes ‘the result of the action denoted by the underlying verb,’ ighrāb is the result of becoming gharīb (exotic or strange), therefore, denotatively it is acceptable.
In translating ‘isochronism,’ ‘isomorphism’ and ‘isosyllabism,’ the Arab lexicographers use the maṣdar pattern tafāʿul, which denotes ‘reciprocity’, with four different roots. For example, Al-Masʿudi (2015) uses the root sh-b-h to produce tashābuh for ‘isomorphism,’ El-Sayed (2000) uses m-th-l to produce tamāthul for ‘isosyllabism’, Baalbaki (1990) uses sh-k-l to produce tashākul for ‘isomorphism’ and ALECSO (1989) uses w-f-q to produce tawāfuq for ‘isomorphism.’ These maṣdar formations are used as compound heads in two-word or three-word iḍāfa or adjective compounds (e.g. tashābuh binyawī, tasāwī zamanī, tamāthul maqṭaʿī, tawāfuq al-binyāʾ, tasāwī zaman al-maqtaʿ, andtamāthul al-wahdāt al-sarfiyya). Morphologically, the two-word translation equivalents are acceptable because their corresponding English terms consist of three elements each (iso-chron-ism, iso-morph-ism and iso-syllab-ism). The three-word translations are lengthy and can be semantically abstracted and morphologically contracted into two-word formations. Because the combining form iso- in the three English terms means ‘equal or similar,’ all the translation equivalents formed by the maṣdar pattern tafāʿul for the above-mentioned three English terms are synonymous in the sense of ‘two or more linguistic elements sharing the same feature.’
For the purpose of formal consistency, only Al-Khuli (1982) uses the same root (m-th-l) for producing three consistent compound heads in the three translations he offered for the three iso- terms. The other lexicographers use different roots and produce lexically different words in Arabic.
5.5 Discussion of translation equivalents for terms denoting ‘a special type of word or phrase
The suffix -ism under this sense is translated in three ways as follows:
5.5.1 Use of the underlying pattern of an existing term or word
Arab lexicographers use an existing term to render the denotation expressed by the English term as a whole (stem plus -ism) in which the underlying morphological pattern translates -ism and the lexical root translates the stem in the English term. Examples are ḥikma (formed by ḥ-k-m and fiʿla) for ‘aphorism,’ tawriya (formed by w-r-y and tafʿila) and talmīḥ (formed by l-m-ḥand tafʿīl) for ‘euphemism’ (Al-Masʿudi 2015), mahjūr (formed by j-h-r and mafʿul) for ‘archaism’ (Baalbaki 1990), kināya (formed by k-n-y and fiʿāla) for ‘euphemism,’ al-muwallad (formed by w-l-d and mufaʿʿal) for ‘neologism’ (ALECSO 1989), and mathal (formed by m-th-l and faʿal) for ‘aphorism’ (Al-Khuli 1982). These translation equivalents are morphologically concise as they consist of one word each. Denotatively they are precise because they are commonly used for these denotations in Arabic. However, because they are formed by different lexical roots and different morphological patterns they do not maintain formal consistency.
5.5.2 Use of an existing word as a compound head
In translating -ism in some terms, Arab lexicographers use existing terms, such as mathal, ṣīgha, ʿibāra, lafẓ, istiʿmāl andʾūslūb, as compound heads in adjective compounds. In this way, the compound head expresses the meaning denoted by -ism in the relevant English term. Examples of adjective compound structures are mathal maʾthūr for ‘aphorism,’ ṣīgha mahjūra for ‘archaism’, ʿibāra ʿāmiyya for ‘colloquialism,’ lafẓ jadīd for ‘neologism’ (Al-Masʿudi 2015), istiʿmāl ʿāmmī for ‘colloquialism’, kalima mustaḥdatha for ‘neologism’ (Baalbaki 1990), lafẓ mahjūr for ‘archaism’ al-taʿbīr al-ʿāmmī for ‘colloquialism,’ qawl maʾthūr for ‘aphorism,’ ʾūslūb mahjūr for ‘archaism’ and kalima muḥākiya for ‘echoism’ (Al-Khuli 1982). These examples show that some of the English terms (e.g. archaism, colloquialism, and aphorism) are given different translations by the same or different lexicographers. These translation equivalents are denotatively precise but morphologically they are not ideally concise.
5.5.3 Use of a morphological pattern
In cases when no existing equivalent is available in Arabic to translate -ism in the sense of ‘a special type of word or phrase,’ Arab lexicographers use a morphological pattern to create a term to be used as a head in an iḍāafa or adjective compound. For example, in translating ‘echoism,’ El-Sayed (2000) uses the pattern mufāʿala ‘denoting reciprocity’ with the lexical root ḥ-k-y to create muḥākāt, which is used as a head in the three-word iḍāfa compound muḥākāt aṣwāt al-ṭabīʿa. Although this translation equivalent is denotatively precise, morphologically it is not concise. Through morphological contraction and semantic abstraction, it can be changed into a two-word adjective compound, thus muḥākāt ṣawtiyya. An example of adjective-compound structure is the use of the passive participle pattern muftaʿal with the root q-ṭ-ʿ‘related to cutting’ in creating muqtaṭaʿ, which is used as a compound head in muqtaṭaʿ alifbāʾī(Baalbaki 1990) to translate ‘alphabetism.’ This translation equivalent is denotatively and morphologically acceptable.
5.6.1 Discussion of translation equivalents for terms denoting ‘a special use of language or a linguistic element’
In translating the suffix -ism under this sense, Arab lexicographers use four ways as follows:
5.6.1 Use of the underlying pattern of an existing term
Translation equivalents for some English terms show that Arab lexicographers use the underlying patterns of existing equivalents in which the morphological pattern translates -ism and the root translates the stem in the English term. For example, in translating ‘barbarism,’ El-Sayed (2000), ALECSO (1989) and Al-Khuli (1982) use ʿujma (formed by ʿ-j-m and fuʿla) and Baalbaki (1990) uses ḥushiyya (formed by ḥ-sh-y and the feminine form of fuʿlī). In translating ‘euphemism’, ALECSO (1989) uses talṭīf (formed by l-ṭ-f and tafʿīl) and in translating ‘foreignism’ Al-Masʿudi (2015) uses iqtirāḍ (formed by q-r-ḍ and iftiʿāl). These one-word translation equivalents are denotatively precise and morphologically concise.
5.6.2 Use of the Arabic word isti ʿ māl
In some cases, -ism is translated literally using the Arabic word istiʿmāl (lit. use of) as a compound head in an iḍāfa or adjective construction. Examples are isti‘māl al-kalimāt al-mutanāfiya maʿa al-faṣāḥa for ‘barbarism,’ istiʿmāl khāṭiʾ li-llafẓ for ‘malapropism’ (Al-Masʿudi 2015) and istiʿmāl al-taʿbirāt al-ʾaʿjamiyya for ‘foreignism’ (El-Sayed 2000). Although the word istiʿmāl is denotatively precise in translating -ism in this context, these translations are lengthy paraphrases, which do not meet terminological standards if compared to other one-word and two-word translations.
5.6.3 Use of the suffix -iyya
The suffix -iyya is used by Al-Masʾudi (2015) in creating waḥshiyya and barbariyya for ‘barbarism.’ Both are concise one-word translations, but semantically, waḥshiyya is more transparent than barbariyya. This is because the latter is a hybrid formation from the English stem ‘barbar’ and the Arabic suffix -iyya. Other lexicographers use -iyya to create words used as noun heads in iḍāfa or adjective constructions. Examples are ʾuhʾdiyat al-lugha for ‘monolingualism’ (Al-Masʾudi 2015), thunā’iyat al-lahja for ‘bidialectalism,’ ramziyya sawtiyya for ‘sound symbolism’ (Baalbaki 1990), and izdiwājiyat al-lugha for ‘bilingualism’ (ALECSO 1989). These translation equivalents are denotatively precise and relatively concise.
5.6.4 Use of maṣdar patterns
Maṣdar patterns underlying some Arabic terms are used by some lexicographers to express the sense denoted by -ism in some English terms in the sense of ‘a special use of language or a linguistic element.’ These Arabic terms are used as compound heads in iḍāfa or adjective constructions. For example, in translating the English term ‘anachronism,’ four lexicographers use the Arabic term mufāraqa (formed by the pattern mufāʿala) to create mufāraqa tārikhiyya (Al-Masʾudi 2015, El-Sayed 2000 and Baalbaki 1990) and mufāraqa zamaniyya (Al-Khuli 1982). In translating ‘euphemism,’ the Arabic word luṭf (formed by the pattern fuʿl) is used as a compound head in luṭf al-taʿbīr used by Baalbaki (1990) and Al-Khuli (1982). Other examples, are istibdāl shādh (Baalbaki (1990) and isāʾat istiʿmāl al-ʾalfāẓ al-mutashābiha (El-Sayed 2000) for ‘malapropism.’ Denotatively, all these translation equivalents are acceptable, but morphologically only two-word translations are terminologically appropriate.
5.7 Discussion of translation equivalents for terms denoting ‘a language-related physical or psychological disorder’
In translating -ism formations under this sense, Arab lexicographers use two translation techniques leading to different types of translations as can be seen from following discussion.
5.7.1 Use of the underlying patterns of existing Arabic terms
In translating ‘mutism,’ Baalbaki (1990) uses the existing term bakm (formed by b-k-m and faʿl), which is a commonly used term for ‘the inability to speak.’ This translation equivalent is denotatively precise and morphologically concise. In translating ‘agrammatism,’ Baalbaki (1990) and ALECSO (1989) use existing terms to form two-word compounds. Baalbaki (1990) uses the term ḥubsa (lit. aphasia) (formed by ḥ-b-s and fuʿla) as a compound head in ḥubsa naḥwiyya (lit. grammatical aphasia). ALECSO (1989) uses the term ʿamah ‘lit. blindness’ (formed by ʿ-m-y and faʿal) as a compound head in ʿamah al-tarākīb ‘lit. grammatical blindness.’ Morphologically, both translations are relatively concise, but denotatively ḥubsa naḥwiyya is more precise than ʿamah al-tarākīb. This is because lexically ḥubsa relates to speech, but ʿamah relates to vision. Al-Mas‘udi (2015) and El-Sayed (2000) use an existing Arabic word as a compound head in a four-word iḍāfa construction or a phrasal verb structure. Each of these translations is an intensional paraphrase that explains the meaning of the English term as a whole. For example, Al-Mas‘udi (2015) uses the word ṣuʿūbat (lit. difficulty) (formed by ṣ-ʿ-b and fuʿūla) to create ṣuʿūbat istikhdām al-kalimāt al-naḥwiyya ‘lit. difficulty in using grammatical words’ for ‘agrammatism’. El-Sayed (2000) uses the word faqd ‘lit. losing’ (formed by f-q-d and faʿl) to create faqd al-qudra ʿalā al-tarkīb (lit. losing the ability to structure) for ‘agrammatism’ and he uses the word khurūj ‘lit. deviation’ (formed by kh-r-j and fuʿūl) to create the phrasal verb structure khurūj ʿan al-qawāʿid al-naḥwiyya ‘lit. deviation from grammatical rules’ for ‘paragrammatism’. Denotatively, these four-word translations convey the linguistic sense denoted by -ism in each of the relevant English terms, but terminologically they do not meet the morphological quality of ‘conciseness.’
5.7.2 Use of a maṣdar pattern
In translating ‘rhotacism,’ the maṣdar pattern faʿlala is used by El-Sayed (2000), Baalbaki (1990) and ALECSO (1989) to create the one-word translation equivalent raʾraʾa, which denotes the sense of ‘a language-related physical or psychological disorder.’ This translation equivalent is denotatively precise and morphologically concise.
5.8 Discussion of translation equivalents for terms denoting ‘a type of linguistic ability or competence’
In translating -ism in this sense, Arab lexicographers use the following two techniques:
5.8.1 Use of the suffix -iyya
In creating translation equivalents for -ism terms under this sense, -iyya in the sense of ‘an ability or competence,’ is added to an Arabic stem translating the prefix in the English term to form a noun used as a compound head in iḍāfa or adjective compound. The second word in the compound, which qualifies the head, is a translation of the stem of the English term. For example, in translating ‘bilingualism’ Al-Mas‘udi (2015) uses the adjective compound thunā’iyya lughawiyya in which the stem thunāʾī translates the English prefix bi-, the suffix -iyya translates -ism and lughawiyya translates the English stem lingual. Examples created in the same way by other lexicographers are al-ʾuḥādiyya al-lughawiyya for ‘monolingualism’ (El-Sayed 2000), thunāʾiyat al-lahja for ‘bidialectalism’ (Baalbaki 1990) and izdiwājiyat al-lugha for ‘bilingualism’ (ALECSO 1989). These translation equivalents are denotatively precise and morphologically relatively concise.
5.8.2 Use of the maṣdar pattern tafaʿʿul
The maṣdar pattern tafaʿʿul is used in translating -ism in ‘multilingualism’ and ‘plurilingualism.’ This pattern is used with the lexical root ʿ-d-d (related to number) to create the noun taʿaddud, which is used as a compound head in taʿaddud al-lughāt suggested by Baalbaki (1990), ALECSO (1989) and Al-Khuli (1982) as a translation equivalent for both English terms. This translation is denotatively precise and morphologically concise. However, it does not maintain formal consistency with the -iyya formations suggested for the other terms. Therefore, to maintain formal consistency -iyya should also be used in translating ‘multilingualism’ and ‘plurilingualism,’ thus taʿaddudiyya lughāwiyya for both terms.
5.9 Discussion of the translation equivalents for terms denoting ‘a type of linguistic structure or relationship’
The suffix -ism in this sense is translated in three ways as follows:
5.9.1 Use of the underlying pattern of an existing term
Underlying patterns of some existing terms are used by some lexicographers to translate -ism in some English terms such as the use of the pattern fiʿāla in kināyah for ‘euphemism’ (ALECSO 1989), tafʿila in tawriya for ‘euphemism’ (Al-Khuli 1982), faʿl in damj (Al-Masʿudi 2015) and infiʿāl in inṭibāq (Baalbaki 1990) and inṣihār (ALESCO 1989) for ‘syncretism’. The two translation equivalents kināyah and tawriya used for ‘euphemism’ here are denotatively misleading. This is because these terms are already used for two literary concepts in Arabic namely ‘metonymy’ and ‘pun’ respectively. Therefore, to avoid denotative misleading and terminological confusion another term, such as talṭīf, should be used for ‘euphemism’ in this context. The Arabic translations damj, inṭibāq and inṣihār are morphologically concise, but they vary in terms of denotative precision. Inṭibāq is denotatively acceptable, but damj and inṣihār are not acceptable because they do not express the technical sense of ‘the relation between two or more words in a paradigm that have different morphosyntactic features but are identical in form’ (Matthews 1997/2014).
5.9.2 Use of the suffix -iyya
The suffix -iyya is used by Baalbaki (1990), ALECSO (1989) and al-Khuli (1982) to create ramziyya ṣawtiyya as a translation equivalent for ‘sound symbolism’. In this translation, -iyya translates -ism and is added to the Arabic stem ramzī to form the compound head ramziyya. Ṣawtiyya translates the English compound head ‘sound.’ This two-word translation is denotatively precise, but morphologically it is relatively concise.
5.9.3 Use of a maṣdar pattern
In translating ‘syllogism,’ Al-Masʿudi (2015) combines the maṣdar pattern fiʿāl with the lexical root q-y-s (lit. related to analogy) to create qiyās, which is used as a compound head in qiyās manṭiqī (lit. logical analogy) for ‘syllogism.’ In the same way, Al-Khuli (1982) combines the maṣdar pattern faʿāl with the lexical root z-w-l ‘related to disappearance’ to create zawāl, which is used as a compound head in zawāl al-ʾiʾrāb (lit. disappearance of declension) for ‘syncretism.’ These two-word translations are denotatively acceptable, and morphologically they are relatively concise.
5.10 Discussion of the translation equivalents for terms denoting ‘a type of linguistic error or mistake’
The suffix -ism in this sense is translated in two ways as follows:
5.10.1 Use of the underlying pattern of an existing linguistic term
The Arabic linguistic term laḥn is used in translating ‘solecism’ by four lexicographers (Al-Mas‘udi 2015, Baalbaki 1990, ALECSO 1989 and Al-Khuli 1982). Analytically, the underlying morphological pattern faʿl translates -ism and the lexical root l-ḥ-n translates the English stem ‘solec.’ This translation equivalent is denotatively precise and morphologically concise.
5.10.2 Use of a maṣdar pattern
In translating ‘spoonerism’, the Arab lexicographers combine different maṣdar patterns with different lexical roots to create nouns used as compound heads in which the maṣdar pattern translates -ism and the root translates the stem. For example, the maṣdar pattern tafāʿul, which denotes reciprocity, is used with the lexical root b-d-l (related to replacement) to create the compound head tabādul as in tabādul khāṭī li-laswāt (Mas‘udi 2015), tabādul sawtī (Baalbaki 1990) and tabādul al-ʾaṣwāt (Al-Khuli 1982). ALECSO (1989) uses the maṣdar pattern tafʿīl with the root ṣ-ḥ-f (related to mispronunciation) to create the compound taṣḥīf bi-lqalb. El-Sayed (2000) uses the same maṣdar pattern tafʿīl to create the lengthy paraphrase tabdīl mawāqiʿ al-ḥurūf al-ʾulā fī kalimatayn. To meet terminological qualities, these translation equivalents can be reduced to a one-word translation, namely taṣḥīf or tabdīl.
This paper has been devoted to the study of the technical use of the suffix -ism in linguistics terminology in English and the translation of this suffix into Arabic. The aim was (a) to identify the technical senses of -ism in linguistics terminology and (b) to identify the translation techniques and contrastive devices used by Arab lexicographers in rendering this suffix into Arabic, as well as the appropriateness of those techniques for achieving denotative precision, morphological concision and formal consistency. It was hypothesised that (a) -ism in linguistics terminology is used in different ways and has different senses reflecting a variety of intricate concepts, (b) Arabic has term formation potential for rendering the different senses of -ism, and (c) different Arab lexicographers use qualitatively different translation techniques in translating -ism into Arabic. To test the research hypotheses, a three-step research methodology was adopted:
1. Identification of the origin and general uses of -ism in English.
2. Identification of the technical senses of -ism in linguistics terminology in English. 3. Critical discussion of the translation equivalents offered by five Arab lexicographers for each of the semantically classified sets of linguistic terms to identify the most suitable translation techniques.
Based on this research methodology, the study has reached the following findings:
a. A lexico-semantic survey of the linguistic terms formed by -ism shows that this suffix has ten technical senses in linguistics terminology in English, (hypothesis (a)). These senses are:
1. An approach, theory, philosophy, belief, movement or school of thoughtb. Critical discussion of the Arabic translation equivalents offered by five Arab lexicographers for linguistic terms formed by -ism reveals that different translation techniques are used by the same or different lexicographers in translating each of the -ism senses into Arabic (hypothesis (c)) as follows:
2. A type of language-related system, process or its result
3. A language-related situation, state, condition or level
4. A linguistic characteristic, property or feature
5. A special type of word or phrase
6. A special use of language or a linguistic element
7. A language-related physical or psychological disorder
8. A type of linguistic ability or competence
9. A type of linguistic structure or relationship
10. A type of linguistic error or mistake.
Sense 1: Use of a full Arabic term Use of the Arabic suffix -iyya Sense 2: Use of a maṣdar pattern Use of the suffix -iyya Sense 3: Use of a maṣdar pattern Use of the suffix -iyya Sense 4: Use of a maṣdar pattern Sense 5: Use of the underlying pattern of an existing term Use of an existing word as a compound head Use of a morphological pattern Sense 6: Use of the underlying pattern of an existing term Use of the Arabic word istiʿmāl Use of the suffix -iyya Use of a maṣdar pattern Sense 7 Use of the underlying patterns of existing Arabic terms Use of a maṣdar pattern Sense 8: Use of the suffix -iyya Use of the maṣdar pattern tafaʿʿul Sense 9 Use of the underlying pattern of an existing term Use of the suffix -iyya Use of a maṣdar pattern Sense 10 Use of the underlying pattern of an existing linguistic term Use of a maṣdar pattern
c. Use of different translation techniques for translating -ism in the same sense produces different translation equivalents and this negatively affects the process of terminology standardisation and worsens the chaotic situation in this respect in modern Arabic.
d. Most of the translation techniques used by the Arab lexicographers produce denotatively acceptable translation equivalents, but only some of them produce morphologically concise equivalents, such as (a) use of ready-made one-word translation equivalents, (b) use of the suffix -iyya to create one-word equivalents and (c) use of maṣdar or other morphological patterns in translating one-word terms.
e. Formal consistency between Arabic translation equivalents is rarely maintained due to (a) differences in term formation between English and Arabic, (b) differences in structure between -ism terms in English, and (c) the use of different translation techniques by the same or different Arab lexicographers.
f. The findings of this study, especially the identification of terminologically plausible translation techniques, can be useful for the translation and standardisation of linguistics terminology in Arabic. The results can also be useful in teaching terminology translation from English into Arabic.
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Jamal Mohamed Giaber holds a PhD in Translation Studies from the University of Edinburgh. He has been teaching translation and/or interpreting for sixteen years. He is also a professional English-Arabic/Arabic-English translator and conference interpreter. Currently, he is a faculty member at the Department of Translation Studies, United Arab Emirates University. He is the author of five books and eighteen papers on translation and a member of some international associations.
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