AWEJ for translation & Literacy Studies Volume, 1 Number 3, August 2017                    Pp.22-31

Translating Idiomatic Expressions from English into Arabic: Difficulties and Strategies

Mostafa OUALIF

Department of English Studies
Faculty of Letters and Humanities Ben M’sik, Casablanca
Hassan II University, Casablanca, Morocco



Abstract PDF

An idiom is a form of speech or an expression that is peculiar to itself. Grammatically, it cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its elements. Culture plays an important role in the course of the idiom interpretation. Only by having a solid foundation of the culture of the target language, the translator can catch the implied meaning. It, therefore, requires enhancing cross-cultural awareness and needs open-minded understanding of the culture of the second language from different aspects. Moreover, the difference between the source language and the target language as well as variations in their cultures makes the process of translating a real challenge. The present paper tries to investigate and identify firstly some existing obstacles in the process of translating idiomatic pairs, and then suggests some theoretical strategies to overcome such difficulties. Following Baker’s (1992) classification of difficulties and strategies and the related sub-categories, the findings show that there are number of factors which should be considered in order to translate idiomatic expressions correctly. The most important of such factors include socio-linguistic elements, cultural aspects, linguistic and stylistic considerations.

Cite as:

OUALIF, M.  (2017). Translating Idiomatic Expressions from English into Arabic: Difficulties and Strategies. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies, 1(2).


Mostafa Oualif is a lecturer in the English Studies Department at the Faculty of Letters and
Humanities, Hassan II University, Casablanca, Morocco. He is a holder of an MA in Theoretical
Linguistics from the University of Wales in Bangor and a Graduate Certificate in Descriptive and
Applied Linguistics from the University of Essex, England. His research interests focus on
translation pedagogy, pragmatics, discourse analysis, and Universal Grammar and its relevance
to second language acquisition.