Problems in Translating Metaphors in Political Campaign Speeches: A Descriptive-Analytical Study

  • Susanne Ramadan Shunnaq Sultan Qaboos University, Oman; Yarmouk University, Jordan
  • Adel Abu Radwan Sultan Qaboos University
  • Hassan Shuqair Sultan Qaboos University
Keywords: English-Arabic Translation, metaphor, political speech, rhetoric


This study examines Sultan Qaboos University senior translation students’ renditions of metaphors taken from speeches delivered as part of the 2016 US presidential election campaign. An explanatory mixed-methods approach is used to determine, firstly, students’ recognition of the metaphor as a construct; secondly, their translation of identified metaphors and the ensuing difficulties they encountered owing to linguistic, rhetorical, and/or cultural considerations; and finally the strategies they adopted to overcome these difficulties. The findings reveal that the students encountered difficulties recognising certain metaphors in the English texts (STs) and faced considerable challenges in translating them appropriately into the target language (TL), which is Arabic. The study concludes with recommendations for translation teachers and translator trainers.


Download data is not yet available.


Aldanani, Mansour. 2018. “Translating Metaphorical Expressions in Political Discourse: A Comparative Conceptual Study (English–Arabic).” AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies 2 (4): 144–51.

Al-Harahsheh, Ahmad M. 2013. “The Translatability of Figures of Speech in Khalid Mashaal’s Political Speeches: A Critical Discourse Analysis.” International Journal of English Linguistics 3 (3): 100–114.

Al-Hasnawi, Ali R. 2007. “A Cognitive Approach to Translating Metaphors.” Translation Journal 11 (3).

Ateeg, Najla’a, and Abdulaziz Al-Tamimi. 2014. “The Translatability of Emotive Expressions in Islamic Texts from English into Arabic.” Andalusia Journal for the Humanities and Social Sciences 3 (8): 23–51.

Bojović, Brankica. 2014. “Strategies of Metaphor Translation.” ELTA Journal 2 (2): 74–81.

Dagut, Menachem B. 1976. “Can ‘Metaphor’ Be Translated?” Babel 22 (1): 21–33.

Dickins, James. 2005. “Two Models for Metaphor Translation.” Target 17 (2): 227–73.

Dickins, James, Sándor Hervey, and Ian Higgins. 2002. Thinking Arabic Translation: A Course in Translation Method: Arabic to English. New York: Routledge.

Farhan, Zuhair G., and Yasir A. Taha. 2006. “A Stylistic Emotive Approach to English-Arabic Literary Translation.” Adab Al-Rafidayn 43: 43–60.

Ghazala, Hassan. 2012. “Translating the Metaphor: A Cognitive-Stylistic Conceptualization (English-Arabic).” World Journal of English Language 2 (4): 57–68.

Gonzálvez-García, Francisco, María Sandra Peña Cervel, and Lorena Pérez Hernández. 2013. Metaphor and Metonymy Revisited Beyond the Contemporary Theory of Metaphor: Recent Developments and Applications. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Hampe, Beate, ed. 2017. Metaphor: Embodied Cognition and Discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hatim, Basil, and Jeremy Munday. 2004. Translation: An Advanced Resource Book. New York: Routledge.

Jaber, In’am. 2008. “Translating Metaphoric Expressions: Translating Culture.” Journal of College of Education for Women 19 (2).

Kövecses, Zoltan. 2005. Metaphor in Culture. Universality and Variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

—. 2010. Metaphor: A Practical Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

—. 2015. Where Metaphors Come From: Reconsidering Context in Metaphor. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

—. 2016. “Conceptual Metaphor Theory.” In The Routledge Handbook of Metaphor and Language, edited by Elena Semino and Zsófia Demjén, 13–27. Oxon and New York: Routledge.

Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

—. 1999. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic Books.

—. 2002. Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

—. 2008. “The Neural Theory of Metaphor.” In The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought, edited by Raymond W. Gibbs, Jr., 17–38. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mandelblit, Neli. 1995. “The Cognitive View of Metaphor and Its Implications for Translation Theory.” Translation and Meaning 3: 483–95.

Mansoor, Khalid. 2017. “The Concept of Metaphor in the English-Arabic Translation.” Professional Communication and Translation Studies 10: 155–62.

Mason, Kirsten. 1982. “Metaphor and Translation.” Babel: International Journal of Translation 28 (3): 140–49.

Molina, Lucía, and Amparo Hurtado Albir. 2002. “Translation Techniques Revisited: A Dynamic and Functionalist Approach.” Meta 47 (4): 498–512.

Nader, Maria. 2014. “Translating Metaphor in Economic Newspaper Articles: A Case Study of the Translation of Conceptual and Linguistic Metaphors from English into Arabic.” New Voices in Translation Studies 11: i-ii.

Newmark, Peter. 1988a. A Textbook of Translation. London: Prentice Hall.

—. 1988b. Approaches to Translation. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Onuf, Nicholas. 2013. Making Sense, Making Worlds: Constructivism in Social Theory and International Relations. New York: Routledge.

Paprotté, Wolf, and René Dirven. 1985. The Ubiquity of Metaphor: Metaphor in Language and Thought. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Ramadan Shunnaq, Susanne, Hassan Shuqair, and Adel Abu-Radwan. 2018. “The Hurdle of Rhetoric: An Analytical Study of Omani Students’ Translation of Political Speech.” Onomázein 40: 139–158.

Shunnaq, Abdullah. 1993. “Lexical Incongruence in Arabic-English Translation due to Emotiveness in Arabic.” Turjuman 2 (2): 37–63.

van den Broeck, Raymond. 1981. “The Limits of Translatability Exemplified by Metaphor Translation.” Poetics Today 2: 73–87.

Wilss, Wolfram. 1996. Knowledge and Skills in Translator Behavior. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

How to Cite
Ramadan ShunnaqS., Abu RadwanA., & ShuqairH. (2020). Problems in Translating Metaphors in Political Campaign Speeches: A Descriptive-Analytical Study. ELOPE: English Language Overseas Perspectives and Enquiries, 17(2), 257-278.
Translation Studies