Negative Transfer of Meaning in Translated Literary Texts by Tunisian EFL Students

Nesrine Hamdani


This article deals with the negative transfer of meaning in literary translated texts from Arabic into L3 English by “second-year” Tunisian EFL students at the Higher Institute of Humanities of Medenine. The study is mainly qualitative. Therefore, it analyzes a literary text (20 copies) from L1 Arabic into L3 English for Mahmud Taymur to find out the frequency of occurrence of the negative transfer of meaning and examine its impact on the source text (ST) and target text (TT) meaning. It also uses a semi-structured interview with teachers of translation (5) to elicit some teaching strategies that might help students avoid negative transfer from their mother tongue in translation tasks. The analysis of the texts shows that L1 meaning-based negative transfer is present in 35% of students’ translations and that parts of the ST and TT meaning have been marred by such a phenomenon, especially by the extensive use of calques and semantic extensions. The interview data suggest that the negative influence of students’ mother tongue in translated tasks could be overcome through peer learning and extensive practice on translation tasks by varying text types.



negative transfer of meaning; translation; source text meaning; target text meaning.

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