AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 8, Number 1. February 2024 Pp.96 -111

(Im)Possibility of Translating Prosody in Classical Arabic Poetry: Muallaqat as a Case Study

Department of Translation, College of Languages
Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University
P.O. Box 84428, Riyadh11671, Saudi Arabia


The translation of poetry has always been an issue for literary translators. They are of two prominent opinions: those who advocate rendering poetry into poetry while considering all prosodic elements, such as meter, and rhyme. The other group, however, is concerned with translating sense without considering prosody, particularly rhyme, meter, or foot, mainly when the translator’s competence and experience are not that advanced. This article investigates the translation of a selection of Muallaqat in The Muallaqat for Millennials (2020) into English to determine whether the translations retained the sound features in the target text (TT). It differs from other studies as it focuses on the form rather than the content since Muallaqat is regarded as one of the glorious productions of classical Arabic poetry with a unique form and particular prosodic features: rhyme and meter. The article concluded that the translations failed to capture the prosodic features of the original as they were barely concerned with conveying the meaning literally into the Target language (TT). In other words, the translations reflected the meaning as translators primarily relied on literal translation and free verse to convey the meaning. However, it is crucial to prioritize the prosodic features, especially the sounds, when translating Muallaqat. Therefore, new strategies must be developed to capture the auditory essence of the original work in the target language.

Cite as:

Al Jabri, S.  (2024). (Im)Possibility of Translating Prosody in Classical Arabic Poetry:
Muallaqat as a Case Study.  Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 8 (1): 96 -111.


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Dr. Shatha Aljabri is an assistant professor of Translation studies at Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University. Her main research interests are literary translation, poetry translation, ideology and translation, and identity in translation. She had her MA in Translation Studies from York University, Canada, and her Ph.D from Leicester University, United Kingdom.
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0009-0009-4937-1877