Research Article

Equivalence Problems in Translating Ibn (Son) and Bint (Daughter) Fixed Expressions to Arabic and English


  • Reima Al-Jarf Full Professor of English and Translation Studies, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Son and daughter metaphorical expressions are common in general as well as technical languages. This study explores the similarities and differences between English and Arabic ibn (son) and bint (daughter) expressions, and the difficulties that student-translators have with them. A corpus of English and Arabic general ibn (son) and bint (daughter) expressions (daughters of Eve, daughter of invention, son of Adam, son of a biscuit, son of a gun) and another corpus of specialized expressions (son of Minos, daughter board, daughter activity) were collected, analyzed and compared. It was found that ibn (son) and bint (daughter) expressions fall into 4 categories: (i) those that are identical in form and meaning in both languages (daughters of Eve, son of Adam); (ii) those that are similar in meaning but differ in wording (step-daughter); (iii) those that exist in English, but have no equivalents in Arabic (daughter of Sappho); and (iv) those that exist in Arabic but have no equivalents in English (daughter of Yemen, i.e., coffee). Specialized expressions used in medicine, computers, business and others are exact translations in both languages (daughter company, daughter cyst, daughter isotope). Student-translators could translate fewer than 13% of the Arabic test items and 12% of the English test items correctly and left 75% blank. Son and daughter expressions similar in both languages were easy to translate (like mother like daughter), whereas opaque ones (بنت الشفة), culture-specific ones (بنت أبيها، بنت بنوت، ابن لبون) and those requiring a specialized background knowledge were difficult (daughter board). Extraneous translation, paraphrase, Literal translation, use of synonyms, transliteration of Arabic words, partial translation, and giving the same translation for different expressions were the most common strategies. Translation difficulties are due to semantic and syntactic problems that the students have. Results and recommendations are given in detail.

Article information


International Journal of Translation and Interpretation Studies

Volume (Issue)

3 (2)





How to Cite

Al-Jarf, R. (2023). Equivalence Problems in Translating Ibn (Son) and Bint (Daughter) Fixed Expressions to Arabic and English . International Journal of Translation and Interpretation Studies, 3(2), 01–15.



Ibn and bint expressions, abnaa expressions, bani expressions, banu expressions, banat expressions, son and daughter expressions, kinship terms, translation equivalence, English-Arabic translation, Arabic-English translation