Style shift in translation: The case of translating Susan Glaspell’s Trifles into Arabic


  • Abbas Brashi Umm Al-Qura University


Susan Glaspell, Trifles, drama, literary translation, Arabic translation, style shift.


This study examines style shifting in an Arabic translation of Susan Glaspell’s play, Trifles by Abbas Brashi. It presents an overview of the play, as well as its importance and relevance to Arab culture. It describes the different varieties of Arabic that exist as well as the one chosen for the translation, namely Modern Standard Arabic. The paper explains that the formal style of the target language text was chosen for the sake of wide readability and comprehensibility, as dialectal varieties of Arabic differ across and within Arab states and there is no standardised script. The other reason for the shift is to adhere to the norms of acceptable Arabic writing. The style shift observed in the translation of Trifles into Arabic is demonstrated in the translation of a number of linguistic phenomena, namely contraction, ‎elision, subject-verb agreement, and figurative multi-word ‎expressions.‎ The paper concludes that the formal Arabic version of Trifles may later be shifted to different informal dialectal varieties of Arabic when it is to be performed on stage. Therefore, the formal Arabic version of the play may be customised or adapted to one or more specific dialects of Arabic according to the time and place of each performance.


Author Biography

  • Abbas Brashi, Umm Al-Qura University

    Dr. Abbas Brashi is currently Assistant Professor of linguistics and translation at the English Language Department, Umm Al-Qura University, Saudi Arabia. He worked as a diplomat at the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission, Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Australia from 2012 to 2016. He has been involved in English language teaching and translation for more than twenty-six years. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in English Language & Education in 1993 and his Master's degree in Translation in 1999 from Umm Al-Qura University. He then obtained a Doctorate degree in Linguistics & Translation in 2005 from the University of Western Sydney, Australia. His PhD thesis is entitled "Arabic collocations: Implications for translation." Dr. Brashi has taught a range of B.A and M.A. courses in linguistics and translation. His research interests include translation theory and practice, literary translation, translation evaluation, translation pedagogy and lexical semantics.