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International Journal of English and Literature (IJEL) ISSN 2249-6912 Vol. 3, Issue 3, Aug 2013, 27-40 Š TJPRC Pvt. Ltd.


ABSTRACT This study addresses certain questions related to the role of temporal information and temporal structure of an English narrative text in representing and sequencing time, and how these (as a whole) are rendered into Arabic. Building on the fact that temporal information as conveyed by tense and aspect features of language differ across the language of the world, it is hypothesized that it can be rendered from one language into another in a variety of ways (e.g. futurity in English). Yet problems are expected, especially if the temporal information is tackled unidirectionally; that is, either form or meaning is concentrated on. A possible solution to misconceptions, as presented in this study, is a more comprehensive text based approach to the study of temporal information where psychological, philosophical as well as linguistic dimensions are taken into account. The study concludes that identifying the actual time frame of a narrative text is a prerequisite in any act of translation; completion and/or duration of time is usually the source of misunderstanding the sequence of events in a narrative text; time indicating words are found to be the basic indicators of the reference time in a narrative text to which the event time and the speech time are essentially related; and finally, though sometimes inappropriate shifts of tense/time are hard to resist, they can be avoided by relying on one axis of orientation, from which all the other time frames can be easily weighed and controlled.

KEYWORDS: McTaggart's Proof, Psychological, Philosophical, Arabic Translation INTRODUCTION One of the main entries into the modern analytic philosophy of time is McTaggart's proof for the unreality of time. McTaggart (1993: 23) puts his claim in the form of a question: "whether anything existent can posses the characteristic of being in time". If this claim is true and reliable, the opposite claim could also be true, viz. "nothing existent can have the characteristic of being in time". Moreover, the human mind cannot easily deny that human beings and all other creatures do exist in time. Time is commonly viewed as "a flow from a past to a future through the present in which the events cropping up in it share the conditions of simultaneity, sequence, interval, duration, and change" (Dilthey, 1985: 149, cited in AlBamerni, 1996: 1). This mode of thinking represents the linear or unidirectional (or the cyclical) view. However, time could be also attributed to the global context of verbal behavior and some pragmatic factors; that is, factors which encompass a speech situation as a whole. One of the peculiar problems of translating from English narrative discourse into Arabic is how to maintain time sequence in the translated text. Consequently, the questions of tense and aspect usage and other grammatical notions (e.g. reported speech, modals, etc) are the most troublesome issues for the translators. Moreover, translators frequently misinterpret the sequence of time (relative to the sequence of text events) due to their misunderstanding when, where, and how to shift from one axis of orientation (present, past and future) to another. For instance, English time adverbials


Anis Behnam Naoum & Samah M. Al-Ramli

indicating past cannot be combined with a present perfect since they have no link with the moment of speech. So, misuse of adverbials might result in translation problems in, for instance, Arabic which does not have a clear-cut system of perfect tense as in English. Therefore,There is an actual need for a study which makes the notions 'time' and 'time sequence' more accessible to the translators through tackling these issues as part of a system – viz. Language text, rather than isolated facts detained within the rigid frames of language sentences. It is self-evident that one's assumptions about the surrounding world (including different aspects of the society in which one lives in) determine the way one conceives time sequence in narrative discourse. Building on these psychological, philosophical and linguistic facts, it is hypothesized that time sequence cannot be always understood adequately by translators; hence, misinterpretations at the level of discourse are expected. Moreover, frequent misuse of temporal information as conveyed by tense and aspect features as well as temporal words and expressions seem to stem from the narrow sentence-based approaches to teaching temporality. Therefore, it is hypothesized that tackling temporal systems at the level of text could yield real opportunities to shape the language users (including translators) orientation which might, in turn, determine their tense/aspect choices. The current study sees that the semantic interpretation of time is better viewed through Reichenbach's theory of tense (1947). To him, tense involves: 

Three times: speech Time (SpT), Reference Time (RT) and Event Time (ET).

And two relations between these times: SpT and RT; RT and ET. According to this temporal concept and relations, the RT and ET are the same for the English (three) simple tenses: past, present (and future); they differ only with respect to the SpT. To exemplify the model, Smith (in press) gives the following example: 

Mary arrived example:

Mary has arrived

On Sunday, Mary had (already) arrived

According to Reichenbach‟s approach, what makes (a) different from (b) is the standpoint or perspective represented by the simple past in (a) and the preset perfect in (b). In (a) the RT is the same as ET; in (b) the event is presented from the standpoint of the present, so the RT is the same as SpT. In (c) the relative tense is past perfect. To be semantically interpreted, it requires three different times: SpT, RT (the Sunday before) and ET which precedes that time. Smith presents the following schematic meaning for the tenses mentioned in the examples above: Present (perfect): RT = SpT, ET = RT Past

: RT < SpT, ET = RT

Past perfect

: RT < SpT, ET < RT

The perfective aspect in (a) and (c) focuses events with endpoints. But the progressive aspect focuses on the internal interview of an event, without endpoints. In "Mary was smiling when John arrived", the 'arrival' occurs during 'smiling' without endpoint. Hence, RT= SpT, ET overlaps RT. Moreover, „the perfective focuses events as bounded; the progressive focuses them as unbounded. The reasons for drawing attention to durational aspect, as Palmer (1974: 35) states, are various; the most common one is to

Time Sequence in Narrative Discourse with Reference to English-Arabic Translation*


indicate that the period of time during which the activity took place overlapped a briefer period or a point in time as in (d) and (e) below respectively: 

When I met him, he was walking to the station.

He was walking to the station at 10 this morning.

Three texts for the purpose of analysis have been extracted from Charlotte Bronte's novel "Jane Eyre". The narrative texts, which vary in length and venue, are carefully examined to show how temporal information is sequenced in English narrative discourse and how it is interpreted and rendered into Arabic by three Arab translators: M. Al-Balabaki, 1971 I. Kamil, and L. Abu Muslih 1978. This work, therefore, could be of great importance for students of English as a second language in general and for students in departments of translation in particular, since it raises their awareness of the actual function of the temporal system of their first and second languages. It could be also useful for those who are interested in contrastive studies at the level of language and culture.

REPRESENTATION OF TIME IN LANGUAGE Different ideas have been produced by linguists on time representation in language (Dowty 1986, Mandler 1986, Ohtsuka and Brewer 1992, Bestgen and Vonk 1995, Zwaan 1996, Croft 1998, among many others). Zwaan (1996) state that representing time in language is the comprehender‟s attempt to translate words and sentences into a flow of events comparable to normal perceptual experience. Time, as one of the dimensions of situation, is encoded in the basic units of language (i.e. clauses) in the form of tense morphemes added to the verb. Hence the flow of temporal information and the order of events can be determined by means of certain language cues: verb tense, time adverbs and adverbials and verb aspect. These cues answer certain relevant questions concerning the location of an event on the time line (its beginning, in particular), and its duration and completion and its probable overlap in time. Smith (1981) states that the actual mental representations of events have an inherent time component, making them dynamic representation. For example, one cannot make sense of some expressions without clearly identifying a change over time within the representation. The example that Smith gives to support her claim is “crossing a river”. She says that understanding the word „cross‟ dictates that one tracks the spatial evolution over time of some target which starts at one side (of the river) and ends up at the other side within one representation. However, one might encounter a lot of events with “pre-packaged durations associated with them” (Ibid.). For instance both „snowstorms‟ and „gunshots‟ imply different durations of time. The duration of the former might last one day or more; whereas the later is instantaneous. An important linguistic aspect which influences time representation is foregrounding and/or backgrounding certain items within the events, as regards to their importance for the narrative in general and for the writer‟s purpose in particular. Forward (e.g. a week later) or some times backward (e.g. a moment earlier) time shifts is another way in which language allows its users to deviate from everyday experience (cf. Ibid.). Misconception about the Nature of Time The universality of time has been emphasized by many linguists as well as philosophers and logisticians (cf. Quirk et al., 1972: 85; Broughton, 1990: 294, among many others). Bull (1964: 4), for example, argues for accurate


Anis Behnam Naoum & Samah M. Al-Ramli

experiencing of an event in relation to the point NOW on the time axis; that is, how an event is anticipated (future), how it is experienced (present) and how it is recalled (past). Time, as an abstract notion, could be defined as an infinite stretch of events; what makes time actually perceived and represented by human beings (via language use) is the event „aspects‟ which are usually associated with the time dimensions, “a beginning, a middle and an end” (Ibid.). Hornby‟s (1975: 78) view could clarify a great deal of confusion on the nature of time. Time, to him, is independent of language, whereas tense is language specific. Tense does not refer to time itself, but it is used to express certain time relations in the text. In other words, tense represented in the form of verb locates situations, events, etc. in time (cf. Strang, 1962: 126; Leech 1969, 134; Declerck, 2000: 1, among many others). Finally, misconceptions could be partly attributed to terminology. For instance, the present and past tenses are referred to by different names: past-present; past-non past; marked-unmarked; factual-non factual; primary tense-secondary tense, etc. Representation of Time in Narrative Discourse A narrative consists of a sequence of clauses which are ordered according to certain points or intervals of time, usually in the past with changes to the remote past or to future-in- past. The semantic interpretation of the narrative depends on the order of these narrative clauses; any change in their order yields changes in the temporal interpretation of the narrative. The basic narrative clauses together with the basic narrative features especially the evaluative aspect, are the most important elements of the narrative. The latter means, as Labov (cited in Lucariello, 1990: 131) points out, the means used by the narrator to indicate the point of the narrative, i.e. to justify the claims in the „abstract‟. Though a narrative text is defined differently by different scholars (Van Dijk 1980, Werlich 1983, Gulich and Quasthoff 1985, El-Shiyab and Bader 1995, among many others), there is a sort of agreement that any piece of writing refers to real or fictional actions performed or intended usually by humans, and taken place in the past (near or remote) relative to the time of narration. Building on Werlich (1983) and El-Shiyab and Bader (1995: 17), we conclude that a narrative text deals with factual and conceptual phenomenon in time; and how cognitive processes are operated to detect time and perceive it. In more general words, a narrative focuses on events and relations in time. In narrative, the RT is usually embedded in the first clause which is naturally prior to the moment of speech or the speech time (SpT) as used by Reichenbach. What make the narrative time proceed forward are the successive bounded events. In other words, one RT follows another. Events in progress and states, on the other hand, do not contribute to the progression of the narrative since they are related to speech time rather than to each other.

THE TRANSLATION OF TIME SEQUENCE IN NARRATIVE TEXTS In this section, three basic issues will be briefly discussed: The temporal information and discourse interpretation, encoding and decoding of time sequence, and equivalence in literary texts. These issues are expected to play a vital role in the translation process and product.

Time Sequence in Narrative Discourse with Reference to English-Arabic Translation*


Temporal Information and Discourse Interpretation Glasbey (2001: 2), looks at the temporal interpretation of discourse as the process of determining the temporal relations (succession, inclusion, overlap, etc.) between events and states as presented by the text. In this section, some significant notes on the temporal relation „succession‟ will be highlighted since it shades some light on how time sequence is (or could be) represented in a narrative text or, better to say, narrative movement of text in the framework of time. Undoubtedly, temporal information is frequently conveyed by means of grammatical features such as tense, aspect and temporal adverbs and connectives. The building blocks of a narrative discourse are the events and states (as well as other narrative techniques). These are sometimes wrongly interpreted similarly by readers/translators. A series of “events”, as Glasbey maintains, is generally interpreted differently from a series containing “states”. She gives the following two examples: 

Mary got up. She brushed her teeth.

Mary got up. She felt very ill. In (1), there are two events which intuitively could be interpreted as „Mary‟s teeth brushing follows her getting

up‟. In (2), on the other hand, there is a series of one event followed by a state. Here, the most natural interpretation is „Mary‟s feeling ill begins before she gets up and continues afterwards‟. Another possible interpretation is that Mary‟s feeling of illness coincided with, or shortly followed, getting up. To determine which interpretation, (in such a linguistic environment) is the most salient, depends on one‟s knowledge of the global context. Such successive sentences, as Glasbey concludes, give rise to a „forward movement‟ or „temporal succession‟ interpretation, whereby the event described second follows the one described first. Encoding and Decoding of Time Sequence In written discourse (as well as) in speech, problems might arise as the result of specific time sequencing of discourse elements (e.g. sentences). Wold (1978: 8) states that the process of understanding language is much more difficult to view in terms of sequences of discrete elements, probably because what happens at each moment is too confounded and complicated. But the process of understanding language can certainly be seen in its time dimension, with particular attention towards development over time. The encoding or decoding time sequence in narrative is usually attended to in exploring the process of narrating as something developing over time or with respect to the change in the temporal dimension of the narrative discourse. Here, one might ask some questions: How can one exactly determine which temporal elements (e.g. tense, aspect, time words, etc.) could be more appropriate in a certain stretch of events within the discourse? How can one manage time overlap, duration (or interrupted duration) and interaction of events within a sequence of interrelated events and within the text as a whole? Why certain sequence is chosen at the expense of other (possibly more adequate) choices? Will the effect of a certain time sequence on the reader be the same if some stylistic features are added or deleted from them? These questions and many others wait answers from translators involved in translating literary works. Equivalence in Literary Texts Equivalence in literary translation is usually a task beyond reach, since relating the SL and TL texts to the functionally relevant features of different situations in the literary work cannot be easily achieved (cf. Catford, 1965). Therefore, it is not unnatural to see certain stretches of the SL left untranslated. The functional/dynamic equivalence (as proposed by Nida 1964) could provide a way out of the untranslatability of certain parts of an ST. The functional


Anis Behnam Naoum & Samah M. Al-Ramli

equivalence means to preserve the ST message with the least loss, resulting from the conversion of the form of the utterance to be translated. Moreover, stressing the communicative value of the SL literary text might contribute to better equivalent choices in the TL. The notion of „communicative value‟, first stressed by Lefevree (1975) refers to the translator‟s ability to adequately estimate various constructional elements in both SL and TL, including time and place

TEXT ANALYSES AND COMMENTS ON TTS ST1 There was no possibility of taking a walk that day(1). We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so somber, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question (2) (Chapter 1, P.9) TTa Kaana minal-muta<aThari <alayna 'an naquuma, Thalikal-yawma, binuzhatin <alal-'aqdaami walwaaqi<u 'annana kunna qad salakhna saa<aatiS-SabaaHi fit-tiTwaafi fi mujtama<ish-shujayraatil-lati <uriyat min 'awraaqiha. Walakinna riiHash-shitaa'il-baaridati kaanat qad Hamilat ma<aha munThul-ghadaa'i (Thaalika 'anna misiz riid kaanat tatanaawalu Ta<aamal-ghaddaa'i baakiran Hiina laa yakuunu thammata dhuyuuf). suHuban qaatimatan jiddan wa'amTaaran naafiThatan jiddan Hatta laqad 'aSbaHa kullu tafkiirin fil-qiyaami, 'aanaThaak, binuzhatin 'idhafiyyatin 'amran ghayra waarid. (Al-Balabaki, P.9) TTb Lam yakun fil-wis<i 'an natamasha fi Thaalikal-yawm.. falaqad qadhayna- fil-waaqi<i- saa<atan kaamilatan fiSSabaaHi, wanaHnu natajawwalu baynal-'ashjaaril-jardaa'.. bayda 'anna riyaaHash-shitaa'il-qaarisi maalabithat ba<dalghadaa'i- 'iTh tataghaTha misiz "riid" <aadatan fi saa<atin mubakkira, <indama la yakuunu thammata dhuyuuf- 'an 'akhaThat tajlibu ma<aha suHuban qaatimatan, wa maTaran thaaqiban, layata'atta

ma<ahuma 'an nakhruja li'ayyati

riyaadha. (Kamil, Part 1, P.26) TTc Laa daa<i haaThal-yawm 'attafkiira fin-nuzhati, li'anna riiHash-shitaa'il-baaridati Hamalat ghuyuuman kathiifatan wa'amTaaran laa tanqaTiLam 'ashukka fi Thaalik, li'anni 'arghabul-<awdata 'ilal-bayti fil-laylil-muZlim, waqadami (Abu Muslih, P.5) Text Analysis In this opening chapter, Brontë expounds a situation, makes us acquainted with the heroine and illustrates the most intended moral theme. The axis of orientation the character makes use of in this text is the past. She is reporting (or recalling) about her past experience. The past tense and the aspect signal anteriority to the reference point on the past axis of orientation „that day‟ and „an hour in the morning‟ as in sentence (1) and (2). In sentence (2), the past axis of orientation remains as it is; what differs is the RT „since dinner‟. That is, the time moves forward towards the SpT. The presence of „since‟, here, justifies the use of the perfective aspect in the main clause. It is the past perfect „had brought‟ whose ET is interpreted as preceding that of the next clause „was now out of the question‟.

Time Sequence in Narrative Discourse with Reference to English-Arabic Translation*


The time line of the text can be represented, for convenience, as follows:

Figure 1 Comments on TTs In this extract, the combination of perfective and progressive aspects in the past was translated differently by the three translators. Abu Muslih (henceforth M) sidestepped the past axis of orientation changing into the present (ladaa<I haThal-yawmi littafkiiri binuzhatin; Lit. There is no need today to think of a promenade) without reflecting perfective and progressive aspect in the ST. Hence, missing the opportunity to create a similar atmosphere in TT as that in the ST. Kamil (henceforth K) was only successful in rendering the time sequence of sentence (1) and part of sentence (2). He failed to conceive the past perfective aspect in (2) „had brought‟; he rendered it into progressive (malabithat 'an 'akhaThat tajlibu ma<aha suHuban; Lit. It started bringing with it clouds) instead of (kaanat qad jalabat; Lit. it had brought…) as Al-Balabaki (henceforth B) actually did. To be noted, the use of the auxiliary verb 'akhaThat' in Arabic refers to an action which started in the past and is still in progress. 'kaanat qad jalabat' as used by B has a RT whose ET precedes the time of the following clause. Moreover, it indicates the completion of the event which started and continued in a previous time. B made use of a verb phrase (salakhna; Lit. we stripped off) and a prepositional phrase (fit-Twaaf; Lit. in going round the …) in addition to the past tense to convey the meaning of the past perfective and progressive aspect of the ST. K, on the other hand, employed the verb phrase (qadhayna; Lit. we spent) and an adverbial clause besides the past tense to convey the same meaning. ST2 What a consternation of soul was mine that dreary afternoon (1)! How all my brain was in tumult, and all my heart in insurrection (2)! Yet in what darkness; what dense ignorance, was the mental battle fought (3)! I could not answer the ceaseless inward question – Why I thus suffered, now at a distance of (4) – I will not say how many years, I see it clearly (5). I was a discord in Gateshead-hall (6): I was like nobody there (7): I had nothing in harmony with Mrs. Reed or her children, or her chosen vassalage (8) (Chapter 2, P.11) TTa ayya Thu<rin laffa ruHi fi Thaalikal-'aSiilul-muuHish! W'ayya jalabatin 'i<tamalat bidamaaghi kulluhu, wa'ayya thawratin <aSafat bifu'aadi! Wama<a Thaalika fafi 'ayyati Zulmatin wafi ghamratin min 'ayyati jahaalatin muTbaqatin


Anis Behnam Naoum & Samah M. Al-Ramli

daarat ruHa tilkal-ma<rakataiTh-Thihniyya? 'ana lam 'astaTi< 'an 'ujiiba <anis-su'aalil-laThi maabariHa yadhujju fi baaTini: limaaTha yata<ayyanu <alayya 'an 'uqaasiya haaThal-<aThaaba kullahu? 'ammal-'aana, waqad 'aSbaHat tafSiluni <an Thaalikal-<ahdi sanawaatin lan 'anuSSa <ala <adadiha- fi'ina fi maysuuri 'an 'afhamas-sababa 'ahsanal-fahmi Laqad kuntu fi "qaSri getshed" naghaman naashizan. Kuntu la'ashbahu 'aHadan min nuzalaa'ihi, walam yakun thammata 'ayyuma tanaaghumin bayni wabayna misiz riid 'aw 'awladaha 'aw lafifa khadamihal-mukhtaar. (Al-Balabaki, P.18) TTb 'ayya ru<bin shamalani fi <aSri Thalikal-yamil-muuHish! .. wa'ayya lajbin 'iSTakhaba fi ra'si? .. wa'ayya tamarrudin ghasha qalbi.. wama<a Thaalika fa'ayyata Zulmatin, wayyata jahaalatin dhaaribatin shabba fiiha 'uwwaaru tilkal-ma,rakatil-lati daarat fi ra'si! .. walam 'astaTi< il-'ihtidaa'a 'ila jawaabin ,anis-su'aalil-lathi maa fati'tu 'uraddiduhu: "limaaTha 'ata<aThabu hakaTha?".. 'amal-'aana- walan 'aquula ba<da kam sanatin taqadhdhat- fa'innani 'arar-radda waadhiHan kullal-wudhuuH Kuntu fi qaSri (getshed) nashaazan gaa 'ashbahu 'ahadan mimman kaanu hunaak.. falam yakun thammata 'insijaamun bayni wabayna misiz "riid" wa'aTfaaliha wa'atbaa<ihal-mukhtaarin.( (Kamil, Part 1, P.40) TTc: (Left Untranslated) Text Analysis This extract opens with the past tense (exclamative sentences 1, 2, 3). The writer remains with the past axis (modal past) in sentence (4). Then she shifts to the present axis. The writer licenses this shift by a time marker (or temporal adverbial) „Now‟. Finally, she shifts to the past axis in the rest of the text. This analysis could be represented as in the following figure:

Figure 2 Comments on TTs As a background to this extract, one should notice that Jane re-enters her life experience and even the vision of herself as retrospective recorder is rare and delicately time. Jane, in her retrospection, depicts events of her previsions life as if they are happening at this moment „I see it clearly‟ (5).

Time Sequence in Narrative Discourse with Reference to English-Arabic Translation*


B and K kept in their rendering of the first three sentences the same past time line of the ST with respect to the location of the reference point on the time axis (RT). „That dreary afternoon‟ and the two deictic words (Thaalika; lit. indicating masculine that) in (1) and (tilka; Lit. indicating feminine that) in (3) are by no means prior to the SpT, (though the psychological effects of these states are still felt in the SpT). The translators use of the two auxiliary verbs (maabariHa and maafati'a; Lit. he is/was still) in their renderings of sentence (4) is to show that the terrible state, which started and continued in the past is still felt in the present time. This sense, to be noted, is not carried out by the verb tense of „suffer‟, rather by the time word „now‟. Apart from slight translation pitfalls in rendering (4) and (5), the translators were successful in keeping the same time sequence as in the ST. The two translators were also successful in keeping the shift in tense to the moment of SpT. However, B was more successful than K in rendering (5). The former made use of the auxiliary verb ('aSbaHa; Lit. he became), which corresponds to the English progressive tense, to convey the meaning of a state or an event that continued to the present moment and probably will continue for some time in the future. Moreover, B wittingly linked between the present time indicated by the auxiliary verb 'aSbaHa' and the past referred to by (Thalikal-<ahd; Lit. that time) added by the translator. Sentences 6, 7 and 8 stand for events in the past which indicate events and states prior to and after the RT „that dreary afternoon‟. All of them are adequately rendered into Arabic. ST3 Two days are passed (1). It is a summer evening (2); the coachman has set me down at a place called Whitecross (3); he could take me no farther for the sum I had given, and I was not possessed of another shilling in the world (4). The coach is a mile off by this time; I am alone (5). At this moment I discovered that I forgot to take my parcel out of the pocket of the coach, where I had placed it for safety; there it remains, there it must remain (6); and now, I am absolutely destitute (7). (Chapter 28, P.391) TTa (Trasliterated) Wanqadha yawmaan. Wakaana massa'un min 'amaasiS-Sayf.Wa'anzalanil-HuuThi fi mawdhi<in yud<a waaytkros, 'iTh lam yakun fi maysuurihi 'an yuqillani 'ila makaanin 'ab<ada liqaa'al-mablaghil-laThi dafa<tuhu. Kuntu la 'amliku min HuTamid-dunya 'ayya shilin 'aakhar. Wakaanatil-markabatu qad 'amsat <ala mab<adata miilin mil, wakuntu qad khuliftu thamata waHiida. Wafi tilkal-laHZati 'iktashaftu 'ani nasiitu ruzmati fi jaybil-markabati wakuntu qad wadha<tuha fiihi ziyaadatin fil-HirSi. Hunaaka qad baqiitu, wahunaaka kaana yajibu 'an tabqa. Waha 'ana Thil-'aana mu<damatan bikulli maa tanTawi <alayhil-kalimatu mi ma<na. (Al-Balabaki, P.350) TTb inqadha yawmaan, waHallat 'umsiyatun min 'amaasiS-Sayf.. wakaanal-HuuThiyyu qad 'anzalani fi makaanin yud<a (waaytkros), li'annahu lam yasha' 'an yuqillani bilmablaghil-laThi dafa<tuhu 'ila 'ab,ada min thaalika, walam 'akun 'amtaliku min dunyaaya shilinan waaHidan fawqa Thaalikal-mablagh.. wakaanatil-<arabatu qad 'ibta<adat miilan wakhallafatni waHiidatan, <indama 'iktashaftu 'annani nasiitu 'an 'atanaawala min jaybil-<arabati 'alHuzmatil-lati 'awda<tuha kulla Haajaati, wallati kuntu qad wadha<tuha fij-jaybi bughyatal-'iTmi'naani <ala salaamatiha!.. laqad baqiyat Haythu 'awda<tuha, wakaana laabudda min 'an tabqa li'uSbiha mu<damatan mujarradatan min kulli shay'in (Kamil, Part 3, P.69)


Anis Behnam Naoum & Samah M. Al-Ramli

TTc 'awSalanil-HuuThi 'ila makaanin yud<a waaytkros, wahiyal-masaafatul-lati tasmaHu li fiha shilinaatil-<ishruun. (Abu Muslih, P.86) Text Analysis In this text, the location of the reference point on the time axis is determined by the adverbials „tow days‟ and „a summer evening‟ in (1) and (2). The present tense is used to locate the event with respect to certain moments of time: past (indicated by the use of past tense and past perfect) as in (3) and (4); and future reference (indicated by the adverbial „by this time‟) as in (5). Sentence (3) is in conformity with (1) and (2) since they all illustrate facts from the past with relevance to the present or the moment of speaking. The flow of the events on the time line can be illustrated as follows (E stands for the main reporting event; e stands for reported; s stands for „state‟):

Figure 3

Comments on TTs Apart from the abridged and inadequate translation of M, the two other translators were able, to a great extent, to make sense of the form and content of the ST. In the ST sentence (3), where the present perfect is used to cope with the sequence of present tense in (1) and (2), B used the past tense to conform with the past tense he made use of in (1) and (2). This could be regarded as a clever way not to deviate from the time line of the narrative. However, K is more successful in rendering (3), since he used the past perfective aspect referred to in Arabic as (Siigatul-maadhil-munqaTi<; Lit. the disconnected imperfective) to show that two events took place in the past. In other words, he presented the events from the standpoint of the past; hence, the RT (masaa'un min 'amaasiS-Sayf; Lit. an Summer evening) follows the SpT and the ET. In (4), (5), (6) and (7), both B and K stick to the past time line using the perfective aspect to show the distance between the events. However, only one difference could be detected between the two translators‟ understanding of the time sequence, viz. B returns to the SpT point, whereas K does not, hence (semantically) committing a translation mistake.

Time Sequence in Narrative Discourse with Reference to English-Arabic Translation*


FINAL REMARKS A narrative as defined by most scholars in the field (e.g. Comrie, 1985: 28) is an account of a sequence of chronologically ordered events (read or imaginary). However, this cannot be always true since the order of events and time sequence of a narrative depends on the writer‟s philosophical beliefs and his psychological and social experiences and attitudes. “At any moment I have certain perceptions; I have also the anticipation of others again”. Thus, as we have witnessed in the extracts, a narrative text does not rely mainly on the chronological order of the events in its narrowest sense, but rather on flashbacks and sometimes on future expectations, etc. It is not unnatural, hence, to notice or come across within a paragraph (or even a single long and complex sentence) a complicated time sequence in which tense alternates in a rather confusing manner. Moreover, understanding a narrative text and the interpretation of time sequence is mostly based on the interaction of the meaning of tense, aspect and context in it broadest sense. Finally, misconceptions of time sequence in narrative are due to misunderstanding the above mentioned facts as well as to some purely linguistic phenomena, the most important of which is the aspect (the perfective aspect, in particular). For instance, differences between past progressive in “I was writing a poem‟ and present perfect progressive in „I have been writing a poem‟ does not make sense unless the surrounding context (and probably the whole context of the literary work) is taken into account.

CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTIONS The main conclusions that this study came up with can be illustrated as follows: 

Identifying the actual time frame of a narrative text is a prerequisite in any act of translation. This necessity becomes greater when some other time frames (e.g. perfective aspect) interfere with the time frame of the main narrative.

Completion and/or duration of time (represented by the use of the progressive and perfective aspect) is usually the source of misinterpreting the sequence of events in a narrative text. This problem, as the current study shows, stems from the fact stated in (1) as well as from the two different systems of the languages under study, viz. English and Arabic. The former depends heavily on tense and aspect forms and partly on adverbials; whereas the latter relies mainly on linguistic elements (known in Arabic as 'al qaraa'inus-siyaqqiyya; Lit. contextual cues) conveyed by verbs, adverbs, etc.) and partly on verb tense forms.

Time-orienting words are found to be the basic indicators of the Reference Time in a narrative text to which the Event Time and the Speech time are essentially related. Any misunderstanding of the Reference Time might result in drawbacks in the final product of translation.

Though sometimes inappropriate shifts of tense/time (hence, inconsistency in translation) are hard to resist, they can be avoided by means of relying on one time axis of orientation, from which all other time frames can be weighed – sure, by depending on the logical order of events.

Tense and aspect systems in English and Arabic are usually taught at the level of sentence. Such a sentence-based approach results in missing invaluable insights and chances for contrasting them within the more comprehensive system of the language itself. Therefore, if we consider the text as a system of tenses, this world provides us with real opportunities to contrast them. This would also solve one of the most problematic language domains which face language students and learners of a foreign language as well as student translators-viz. the use of appropriate verb tenses, especially when tense forms do not match the time meanings.


Anis Behnam Naoum & Samah M. Al-Ramli

A Key to Transliteration Symbols Consonants T = emphatic voiceless alveolar stop

Th = voiced dental fricative

Z = emphatic voiced alveolar fricative

kh = voiceless velar fricative

< = voiced pharyngeal stop

H = voiceless pharyngeal fricative

gh = voiced velar fricative

S = emphatic voiceless alveolar fricative

q = emphatic voiceless velar stop

dh = emphatic voiced alveolar stop

' = glottal stop Long Vowels ii

aa uu

Short Vowels I



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Time Sequence in Narrative Discourse with Reference to English-Arabic Translation*


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This study addresses certain questions related to the role of temporal information and temporal structure of an English narrative text in re...

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