Exploring Lexical Lacunae in the Scientific Translation of Theoretical Physics Books

An English-Kurdish Case-Study

  • Daban Mohammed Haji Department of English, College of Languages, University of Sulaimani, Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region, Iraq
  • Fenik Muhammad Ghafur Department of English, College of Languages, University of Sulaimani, Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region, Iraq


this research paper explores lexical lacunae at the word level at the context of English-Kurdish scientific translation. First, the paper briefly describes the development of scientific translation through space and time, and then it demonstrates the status of English and Kurdish as the language of natural sciences. Despite its significance, scientific translation has received little attention in the realm of Translation Studies, and none of the mainstream theories of translation is associated with scientific translation. Thus, this paper assumes that different translation procedures were opted for in overcoming the lexical lacunae in the context of English-Kurdish scientific translation. This paper scrutinises the English-Kurdish translation in the field of theoretical physics, an area which has hitherto left untouched. It explores a set of five theoretical physics books and their translated Kurdish versions, which altogether constitutes a corpus of circa 520,000 words. The study discloses that triplets, borrowing, expansion and omission procedures are employed to deal with lexical lacuna in the context of English-Kurdish scientific translation. It further reveals that LSP specialists were moderately prosperous in transmitting the full lexical contents of the ST.



Aixelá, J. (2004). ‘The Study of Technical and Scientific Translation: An examination of its Historical Development’, The Journal of Specialised Translation, No. 1, 29-49. Retrieved from
Al-Khalili, J. (2011). The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge an Gave Us the Renaissance. New York: The Penguin Press.
Alshunnag, M. (2016). ‘Translating Conceptual Metaphor in Popular Biomedical Texts from English into Arabic’, PhD thesis, University of Salford, Salford.
Ammon, U. (ed.), (2001). The Dominance of English as a Language of Science. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter.
Anokhina, T. (2018). ‘Rendering allusions and intertextual lacunae’, Science and Education a New Dimension, Vol. 46, No. 159, 7-9. Doi: 10.31174/SEND-Ph2018-159VI46-01
Anokhina, T. (2013). ‘The linguistic lacunicon: cognitive mapping in schemes and terms’, Journal of Education Culture and Society, No. 1, 166-174. Doi: 10.15503/jecs20131-166-174.
Baker, M. (2011). In Other Words. (2nd ed.). London and New York: Routledge.
Baker, M., & Malmkjær, K. (eds.). (2001). Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. London and New York: Routledge.
Banks, D. (2005). ‘On the Historical Origins of Nominalized Process in Scientific Text’, English for Specific Purpose, Vol. 24, No. 3, 347-157. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2004.08.002

Bergström, L., & Goobar, A. (2006). Cosmology and Particle Astrophysics. (2nd ed.). Berlin: Springer.
Béjoint, H. (1988). ‘Scientific and Technical Words in General Dictionaries’. International Journal of Lexicography, Vol. 1, No. 4, 345-368. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1093/ijl/1.4.354
Briones, S., Foruny, L., & Sastre, S. (2003). ‘Grammatical metaphors in scientific English’. The ESPecialist, Vol. 24, No. 2, 131-142. Doi:
Byrne, J. (2012). Scientific and Technical Translation Explained: A Nuts and Bolts Guide for Beginners. London and New York: Routledge.
Caso, L. (1980). ‘The Production of New Scientific Terms’. American Speech. Vo. 55, No. 2. 101-111. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/3050500
Close, F. (2009). Nothing: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dickins, J., Hervey, S., & Higgins, I. (2002). Thinking Arabic Translation: A Course in Translation Method: Arabic to English. London and New York: Routledge.
Delisle, J., & Woodsworth, J. (eds) (1995). Translators through History. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Evans, L. (2009). (ed.). The Large Hadron Collider: A Marvel of Technology. Italy: EPFL Press.
Ferguson, G. (2006). Language Planning and Education. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Gingerich, O. (1986). ‘Islamic Astronomy’, Scientific American, Vol. 254, No. 4, 74-83.
Giba, J. (2014). Developing Skills in Scientific Writing. Barcelona: Lenior Edicions.
Ibrahim, G. (2015). پێناسەیەکی زۆر کورت بۆ هیچ. Tehran: Xazalnus Publication.
Halliday, M. K., (2004). The Language of Science. London and New York: Continuum.
Halliday, M. and Martin, J. (2005). Writing Science: Literacy and Discursive Power. London and Washington: Taylor and Francis.
Hamel, R. (2007). ‘The Dominance of English in the International Scientific Periodical Literature and the Future of Language Use in Science’. AILA Review, Vol. 20, No. 1, 53-71. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1075/aila.20.06ham
Hatim, B. & Munday, J. (2004). Translation: An Advanced Resource Book. London and New York: Routledge.
Hawking, S. (2001). The Universe in a Nutshell. London: Bantam Press.
Hawking, S. & Mlodinow, L. (2005). A Briefer History of Time. London: Bantam Books.
Hawking, S. (2018). Brief Answers to the Big Questions. New York: Bantam Books.
Hosseini, H. (2019). وەڵامە کورتەکان بۆ پرسیارە گەورەکان. Tehran: Xazalnus Publication.
Hosseini, H. (2016). گەردوون لە توێكڵە گوێزێکدا. Tehran: Xazalnus Publication.
Hosseini, H. & Hosseini, H. (2017). ژیان چیە؟ لایەنە فیزیاییەکانی خانەیەیەکی زیندوو. Tehran: Xazalnus Publication.
Hosseini, H. & Omer, H. (2016). کورتیلەیەک لە مێژووی کات. Tehran: Xazalnus Publication.
Krein-kühle, M. (2003). ‘Equivalence in Scientific and Technical Translation: A Text-in-Context-based Study’, PhD thesis, University of Salford, Salford.
Krüger, R. (2015). The Interface Between Scientific and Technical Translation Studies and Cognitive Linguistics. Berlin: Frank & Timme GmbH Verlag für wissenschaftliche Literatur.
LIGO. “LIGO and VIRGO Announce Four New Detections”. LIGO, 3rd December 2018, https://ligonews.blogspot.com/2018/12/ligo-and-virgo-announce-four-new.html
Makhonina, A., & Sternina, A. (2009). Lacunae and Non-equivalent lexis-The Problems of Lexicographic Fixation. In Karpova, O., & Kartashkova, F. (eds), Lexicography and Terminology: A Worldwide Outlook. (65-72). Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Mousbah, A. (2015). ‘The Problem of Translating Medical Terms from English into Arabic’, PhD thesis, Durham University, Durham
Milne, C. (2011). The Invention of Science: Why History of Science Matters for the Classroom. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
Moss, E. (2004). Basic Keyboarding in for the Medical Office Assistant. (3rd ed). Canada: Delmar.
Montgomery, S., (2000). Science in Translation: Movements of Knowledge through Cultures and Time. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
Neddermeyer, S., and Anderson, C. (1937). ‘Note on the Nature of Cosmic-Ray Particles’. Phys. Rev., Vol. 51, No. 10, 884-886. Doi: 10.1103/PhysRev.51.884
Newton, I. (1704). Opticks: or a Treatise of the Reflections, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of the Light. (4th ed). London: William Innys.
Olohan, M., & Salama-Carr, M. (2011). ‘Translating Science’, The Translator, Vol. 17, No. 2, 179-188. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/13556509.2011.10799485
Popescu, F. (ed) (2009). Perspectives in Translation Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Pinchuck, I. (1977). Scientific and Technical Translation. London: A. Deutsch.
Rasul, S. (2016). ‘Translation Constraints and Procedures to Overcome them in Rendering Journalistic Texts’, Journal of University of Human Development, Vol. 2, No. 3, 402-419.
Romich, J. (2009). An Illustrated Guide to Veterinary Medical Terminology. 3rd ed. Canada: Delmar.
Rogers, M. (2015). Specialised Translation: Shedding the Non-literary Tag. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Saliba, G. (1994). A History of Arabic Astronomy: Planetary Theories During the Golden Age of Islam. New York and London: New York University Press.
Schrodinger, E. (1992). What is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Shatawe, H., & Awe, K. (2018). بنەماکانی شێرپەنجەی گەدە، ریخۆڵەی تیرۆید، مەمک و پڕۆستات. Tehran: Tehran.
Shuttleworth, M. (2014). Dictionary of Translation Studies. London and New York: Routledge.
Stageberg, N. (1981). An Introductory English Grammar. (4th ed.). Orlando and Florida: Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc.
Szerszunowicz, J. (2015). ‘Lacunarity, lexicography and beyond: integration of the introduction of a linguo-cultural concept and the development of L2 learners’ dictionary skills’. Lexicography ASIALEX, Vol. 2, No. 1, 101-118. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/
Vinay, J. and Darbelnet, J. (1995). Comparative stylistics of French and English: A Methodology for Translation. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: J. Benjamins.
Yule, G. (2010). The Study of Language. (4th ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
How to Cite
HAJI, Daban Mohammed; GHAFUR, Fenik Muhammad. Exploring Lexical Lacunae in the Scientific Translation of Theoretical Physics Books. Journal of University of Human Development, [S.l.], v. 5, n. 4, p. 18-24, sep. 2019. ISSN 2411-7765. Available at: <http://journals.uhd.edu.iq/index.php/juhd/article/view/407>. Date accessed: 15 oct. 2019. doi: https://doi.org/10.21928/juhd.v5n4y2019.pp18-24.