Interlingual Transfer of Intralingual Errors: Lexical Substitution from MSA to EFL

Abdulmoneim Mahmoud


This study takes a closer look at the adverse effects of the use of interlingual transfer as a compensatory communication strategy by EFL learners with a diglossic background. The data were collected from the Arabic-English translations of 80 male and female third year university students studying introductory courses in translation as part of the requirements of their BA English program. A total of 850 interlingual lexical substitutions were detected out of which 219 (26%) could be due to intralingual problems within Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Most of these errors were cases of failure to distinguish between formally or semantically related words in MSA due to the lack of competence in this variety of Arabic. Accordingly, the study underscores the need for improvement of the teaching and learning of MSA which may help not only translators but also EFL learners who rely on interlingual transfer as a compensatory strategy. The study also calls for a deeper analysis of the interlingual errors of EFL learners in situations of diglossia where their level of competence in one variety is higher than the other. Further studies may reveal more about the magnitude and types of the interlingual transfer of intralingual errors.

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