Saudi Phatic Communication in Translation: A Cultural and Linguistic Perspective

Salmeen Abdulrahman Abdullah Al-Awaid, Abdullah Saleh Aziz Mohammed


Adopting a functional approach to translation, this study dives deep into phatic communion expressions, categorizing them in relation to their direct translations in English and identifying culturally equivalent phrases in manual and machine translation. With a newly developed corpus of 157 Saudi Arabic phatic expressions, the study classifies them into eight categories, viz., greetings and rituals, politeness, inquiries about well-being, blessings and good wishes, small talk, acknowledgement and agreement, farewells and departure, and expressions of gratitude and appreciation. The corpus is created from five Arabic language films classified as popular choices on Netflix. The corpus is then translated by 21 final year English Language program students at Shaqra University, KSA, and by Google Translate (GT). Findings show that most frequently phatic expressions are used to express polite and warm introductions, maintaining courteous communication, and for cultural and religious dimensions. Findings also indicate that the Saudi students demonstrated a high degree of communicative translation of the Arabic phatic expressions into English whereas GT output was off the mark and even irrelevant in many instances, making a case for discouraging the use of GT in Saudi translation studies classrooms. The study concludes with pertinent recommendations offering insights that can be useful in fostering understanding and cultural sensitivity among non-Saudis interacting with Saudi individuals, making this study crucial for those in the fields of translation, intercultural communication, and linguistics.

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World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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