International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Translating Shop Signs into English in Sana’a’s Streets: A Linguistic Analysis
Anwar A. H. Al-Athwary

The inappropriate use of English on bilingual shop signs in Yemen can be seen everywhere, which creates many problems in the communication process. In many situations, the signs may even fail to convey any relevant information at all to target language (TL) readers, which leads to confusion and frustration as well. This study, therefore, aims to examine and categorize the translation errors of the shop sings in the streets of Sana’a. The empirical analysis has revealed that almost one third of the corpus data (130 signs out of 398) contains translation errors. These errors, which vary in their degree of seriousness, could be generally classified into three categories: spelling, grammatical and lexical, with the last having the highest frequency. I assume the causes that stand behind these kinks of errors include translator’s language incompetence, translator’s carelessness, and the socio-cultural differences between English and Arabic. The paper suggests a couple of recommendations which can help avoid the occurrence of such errors. The study contributes not only to increase the awareness of translation errors in the public space of Yemen, but also attracts attention to the importance of research on shop signs, which in many occasions, is looked at as trivial or naïve.

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