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Translating “gender” into Arabic: “jins ” , “jinsayn ” , “naw ʽ” or “jindar ”? A study of the translation of the concept “gender” in single- and multi-word expressions in feminist knowledge building


  • Cecilie Olivia Buchhave

Summary, in English

The terms “gender” and “sex” are central to feminist concerns. In English scholarship “gender” is disputed within and outside of feminism, despite its seemingly political correctness as an alternative to “sex” (Olson 2012; Gunnarsson 2011). This thesis aims to describe how “gender”, multi-word expressions with “gender”, and the derivative “gendered” are translated into Arabic target texts (TTs) by the transnational Muslim feminist movement Musawah for Equality in the Family, funded by UN Women. The study further investigates if a distinction between “gender” and “sex” in the Arabic data is made. Anchored in descriptive translation studies (Tymoczko 2007), and due to the variation in translations of constructions with “gender” into Arabic, this study also adresses theoretical understandings of equivalence in postpositivist and feminist translation studies (Nida and Taber 1982; Godard 1989; Flotow 1997). A Total of 87 pages of Arabic text was read. “Gender” as a single word, in a multi-word construction, or as the derivative “gendered” occurred 133 times. “Sex” or “sexes”' occurred eight times, and thus 141 relevant cases were identified. Of these, 39 are presented in the analysis, since similar translations occurred several times. For example, “gender equality” occurred 32 times in the STs, but just two different translation solutions were identified in the TTs, and thus these two are presented. The study shows that, although the movement tends to use various different equivalents to the word “gender” some multi-word expressions e.g. “gender equality”, have more established Arabic equivalents. Further it is shown that, ccasionally, a distinction is constructed between “sex” and “gender” in Arabic. Musawah uses mainly “jinsayn”, “nawʽ” or “jindar” to denote “gender” in the TTs, and in some cases the meaning of “gender” is transformed into specific identity categories such as “women and men”.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Equivalence
  • Descriptive Translation Studies
  • Feminism
  • Gender
  • Gendered
  • Arabic
  • Musawah for Equality in the Family
  • Muslim/Islamic Feminism


  • Lena Ambjörn (Professor)