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Rouhollah Zarei (Yasouj University, Iran)

Culture and Un/translatability: Persian Poetry in English

This paper makes an attempt to investigate cultural and religious obstacles stemming from various sources on the way of the translation of classical Persian literary texts into English The linguistic barrier is a common one and has been the subject of numerous studies. In this paper, however, the focus of un/translatability will be on non-linguistic issues including religious and cultural ones. The concept of 'rend' (roughly translated as 'sly,' 'libertine') in Hafiz has been the topic of numerous studies. It carries a negative connotation in Persian but in Hafiz it is positive. How do such words translate to transmit to the English sensibility what can be felt by the Iranian heart? The answer to such questions is the subject of this paper. In this paper some such Persian terms as well as their equivalence in English by native and non-native English translators are collected and studied. This paper will confine itself to Persian and English languages only since the issues studied can relate to any source and target language in translation. The paper hopes that more cultural exchanges between nations will erase the obstacles and that clarification of such minute issues in the target language will eventually lead to more understanding and normal relationships between humans.

Rouhollah Zarei got his B.A. (1992) and Masters (1996) degrees in English Language and Literature from Shiraz and Allameh Tabatabai Universities, Iran. In 2003 he embarked on a Ph.D. programme in the University of Essex, studying Poe from a Jungian perspective. The title of his thesis is The Archetypal Patterns Underlying Edgar Allan Poe's Short Tales. In November 2007, he graduated. After receiving a PhD, Rouhollah Zarei has worked as a member of the staff in the English Department, Yasouj University, Iran.