How Arab Journalists Translate English-Language Newspaper Headlines: Case Studies in Cross-Cultural Understanding

Author: Ali, Ghadya A.
This work is a comparative descriptive analysis of seventy English language headlines and their Arabic translations gathered from the Arab national and international press and news agencies over the period of January 1, 2002 through August 1, 2002, a period that happened to include the months leading up to the second Iraq war. The headlines considered in this study are selected for their relevance to Middle East issues and for their importance. While headline translation has received some attention from scholars, there is little or nothing in the literature that deals specifically with the translation of English language headlines into Arabic.


“In a practical way, the study addresses a number of issues including most significantly the issue of how the rhetoric of news headlines in English differ from that in Arabic, and how national, political, cultural, religious, and socio-ideological views of the source and target audience affect not only the function of press headlines but also their content and even length. This is a book for linguists and applied linguists, translation theorists and translators. Whatever the domain, the language practitioner will find the discussion of the transformational strategies employed by translators in dealing with such a sensitive area of media text production - headlines - particularly relevant and illuminating.” – Prof. Basil Hatim, United Arab Emirates

“. . . the most systematic, most explicit, most detailed and theoretically best informed study of headlines to date. It is not just a comparative study of English and Arabic headlines, or a study of translation practices. The theoretical framework and the analyses of the book more generally offer insight into (i) news writing in the press, (ii) ideologies at work in the mass media (iii) exemplary discourse analysis on a specific genre, (iv) more generally insight in similarities and differences between the media in the USA and the West, on the one hand, and the media in the Middle East and North Africa.” – Prof. Teun van Dijk, Pompeu Fabra University

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Transliteration
List of Terminology
List of Abbreviation
1. Chapter One: Introduction and Statement of the Problem
1.0 Introduction
1.1 Applied Linguistics and Headline Discourse
1.2 Problem Statement
1.3 Objective of the Study
1.4 Research Questions
1.5 Scope of the Study
1.6 Theoretical Framework
1.7 Data Criteria Methodology
1.8 Outline of the Study
2. Chapter Two: Literature Review and Headline Background
2.0 Introduction
2.1 Review Relevant Literature
2.1.1 Linguistic Treatment of Headlines
2.1.2 Journalistic Treatment of Headlines
2.1.3 Ideological Treatment of Headlines
2.2 Headline Background
2.2.1 What is a Headline?
2.2.2 Typography of Headline News-Style Headlines Free-Style Headlines
2.2.3 Function of Headline
2.2.4 The Relationship between Headline Function and Typography
2.2.5 Headline Size
2.2.6 Syntactic Features of News Headlines Omission Articles (the, a/n) Conjunction (and) Be and Have Adjectives and Adverbs Model ‘Will’ Existential ‘There’ Verbs and Tenses Active Verb and Present Tense Future Time Past Tense Active versus Passive Sentences Simple Sentences Multiple Sentences Starting with Adverbials Multiple Premodification of NP Comment Clauses Sentence Fragments
2.2.7 Syntactic Features of Free-Style Headlines Sentences Declaratives Questions Imperatives Exclamatives Vocatives Conversational Headlines Non-Sentences Non-Finite Clauses Wh-Subclauses Prepositional Phrases Label Headlines
2.2.8 Headline Punctuation
2.2.9 Vocabulary
3. Chapter Three: Theoretical Framework & Methodology
3.0 Theoretical Framework
3.1 Translation Discourse as a Functionalist Approach
3.1.lSkopos Theory Skopos Rule Coherence Rule Fidelity Rule
3.2. Discourse Factors Affecting Headline Translation
3.2.1 Culture
3.2.2 Socio-political Ideology
3.2.3 Nationalism
3.3 Semantic Macrostructure Theory and News Discourse Analysis
3.3.1 News Discourse Dimensions Semantic Macroproposition Superstructures Microsemantics
3.3.2 Headline and Macroproposition Relation
3.3.3 Micro-Macrosemantics Relation in Headlines
3.3.4 Elementary Notions of Microsematics Proposition Local Coherence and Knowledge Word Order and Syntactic Function Lexical Style and Lexicalization Rhetoric
3.4 Theory of Ideology
3.4.1 The Main Components of the Theory of Ideology Social Functions Cognitive Functions Ideological Models
3.4.2 Notions of the Theory of Ideology
3.4.2.l Opinion Importance Relevance Attribution Perspective Implication Presupposition Description
3.4.3 Ideological Square
3.4.4 Subjectivity in the Arabic Press
Translation of English News Headline
3.5 Methodology
3.5.1 Terminology
3.5.2 Analysis Methodology
3.6 Summary
4. Chapter Four: Macro Analysis of Headlines
4.0 Introduction
4.1 Actors as Active or Passive Agents
4.2 Active Role for Different Actors of Similar Group
4.3 Dual Actions for One Actor
4.4 The Role of Various Actors for One Source Actor
4.5 Actor and Ambiguous Free-style Headline
4.6 The Role of News Source as an Actor in Headlines
4.7 The influence of Genre upon the Role of Actor
4.7.1 Neutral Actor
4.7.2 Medical Proposition as an Actor
4.8 Lexical Items
4.8.1 Transliteration and Neologism
4.8.2 Cultural Religious and Political Items Ambiguous Cultural Source Items Cultural and Religious Target Items
4.8.3 Abbreviations (Acronyms and Initials) Full names versus Abbreviations Abbreviations versus Full Names
4.9 Conclusion
5. Chapter Five: Local Meaning (Microstructure) of Headlines
5.0 Introduction
5.1 Rhetoric and Effectiveness of Headline
5.1.1 Positive Portrayal and Rhetoric Devices Use of Metaphor Use of Euphemism and Irony Use of Metaphor and Allusion
5.1.2 Negative Portrayal and Allusion
5.1.3 Symbolism
5.1.4 Figures in Headline
5.2 Negativity and Positivity in Actor Description
5.3 Various Translated Terms for One Source Text Headline lexicon
5.4 Negative Action Designation into Predicate Description
5.5 Generality versus Specificity
5.6 Implicit versus Explicit
5.7 Evidential and Direct / Indirect Speech in Headlining
5.8 Quasi-Quotation or Oratio Obliqua in Headlining
5.9 Headline Participant and Properties as Referent: Cataphora
5.10 Direct Questioning: Statement versus Question
5.11 Conclusion
6. Chapter Six: Discourse Transformational Strategies
6.0 Introduction
6.1 Addition
6.2 Deletion
6.3 Substitution
6.4 Reordering
6.5 Reproduction
6.6 Conclusion
7. Chapter Seven: General Conclusion