A Comparative Study of the Translation of Image Metaphors of Color in the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi
Metaphors are taken to be the most fundamental form of figurative language, carrying the assumption that terms literally connected with one object can be transferred to another object. A writer/speaker uses metaphor more often than not with the intentions of introducing a new object/concept, offering a more precise meaning, or simply presenting a more poetic effect to his text/speech. The main focus of this study is image metaphors of color in the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi. The study set out to determine how this particular figure of speech is rendered by reviewing two English translations of the work. The framework of the study was Newmark's (1988a) seven suggested procedures for translating metaphors. In addition to determining which of these procedures have been applied in the two translations, the study also aimed at discovering whether any new procedures might have been applied. The study also attempted to find out whether any exclusive patterns were observed in each translator's rendering of the discussed items. The study concluded that out of the seven procedures proposed by Newmark for translating metaphors, Warner & Warner applied five procedures and Davis applied all seven of the procedures in the translation of image metaphors of color. No new procedure was observed in their translations. The translators' choices of procedures for translating these specific items showed that Warner & Warner had a tendency towards the first procedure which resulted in a literal translation of the particular metaphor, whereas Davis had a tendency towards the other six procedures which all led to explicitation, simplification and the production of a reader-oriented text.
Key terms: the Shahnameh, figurative language, metaphor, image metaphor of color, translation procedure
Translation, as Catford (1965) defines it, is "an act of transference, in which a text from the source language is replaced by its equivalent in the target language" (p.20). Newmark's (1988b, p.5) more modern version of the term is "often, though not by any means always, rendering the meaning of a text into another language in the way that the author intended the text."
Even the mere thought of inferring from these two definitions that the task of a translator and the whole translation process is a simple one seems a naiveté on the part of the inexperienced. Any given source text intended for translation, regardless of its text-type, is required to undergo a close reading in order to understand what it is about, and then an analysis from the point of view of the translator. The analysis stage consists of determining the intention of the text - which, according to Newmark (1988a), represents the SL writer's attitude to the subject matter – and also the style in which it is written. Being attentive to the selected lexicon, the syntax, figures of speech, neologisms, punctuations, names, and many more is a vital role the translator plays in the process of translation. In the case of poetry, apart from all the above features there is a surplus of sound effects such as rhyme, meter, assonance, alliteration, stress, onomatopoeia. The most common goal among translators is, and always should be, to create the same effect on the target reader as the original writer had intended for his readers. In Nida's own words, "the relationship between receptor and message should be substantially the same as that which existed between the original receptors and the message" (Nida, 1964a, p.159).
Understanding and analyzing figurative language in a text, as mentioned above, is one of the difficult processes in translation. One of these figures of speech is metaphor which is considered by linguists as the most basic where one object is used to describe another object and both objects are essentially disparate entities, but common in one or more attributes.
In the following section, the theoretical preliminaries of the study will be presented, which includes an overview of metaphor, concerning its definition, classifications, identification, and also translation procedures introduced by Newmark (1988a) on the translation of metaphors in general. The image metaphor of color in particular will also be discussed along with several exemplifications. Thereafter, a selection of the collected data will be presented, analyzed and discussed. The last section will include the conclusion of the study.
2. Theoretical Preliminaries
2.1. Definition of Metaphor
Metaphor, as stated in the Merriam Webster online dictionary, is etymologically from Greek, from metapherein, meaning 'to transfer' and from meta- + pherein, meaning 'to bear'. It is defined by the same source as "a figure of speech, in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them." One of Shakespeare's most famous and oft-quoted lines, 'All the world's a stage', is an example of a metaphor, where he indicates that 'the world' and 'stage' are analogous.
According to Richards (1936), a metaphor consists of two parts, tenor and vehicle, also introduced as object and image by Newmark (1988a), respectively. The tenor is the term to which attributes are ascribed and the vehicle is the term from which attributes are borrowed. The properties of the vehicle which apply to the tenor in a given metaphor are named grounds of a metaphor, also known as the sense of a metaphor. Therefore, in the example given above, 'world' is the tenor or object, and 'stage' is the vehicle or image. The ground of this metaphor is more apparent when the next two lines are added:
This metaphor is extended through adding another pair of tenor and vehicle, i.e. 'men and women' is the second tenor and 'players' is the second vehicle. Therefore, as the actors on stage have an entrance and also an exit, the inhabitants of the world do as well, their entrance to this world being 'birth' and their exit being 'death'.
2.2. Classifications of Metaphors
Metaphors have been categorized in different ways by different linguists. Black (1962a, p.25) asserts that "the only entrenched classification is grounded in the trite opposition between 'dead' and 'live' metaphors." He adds that "this is no more helpful than, say, treating a corpse as a special case of a person: A so- called dead metaphor is not a metaphor at all, but merely an expression that no longer has a pregnant metaphorical use". However, he does present a classification for metaphors, but not before declaring that "if the 'actuality' of a metaphor … is important enough to be marked, one might consider replacing the dead and alive contrast by a set of finer discriminations"; hence, the following classification (ibid, p. 25):
He continues further to discriminate between two types of active metaphor: an emphatic metaphor whose "producer will allow no variation upon or substitute for the words used", and a resonant metaphor, which supports "a high degree of implicative elaboration" (ibid, p. 26). On this account, he calls a metaphor of marked emphasis and resonance a strong metaphor, and in contrast, a metaphor of relatively low emphasis or resonance a weak metaphor.
Lakoff (1977) made a revolutionary contribution to the study of metaphors when he suggested a new theory of metaphor which basically stated that metaphors are "fundamentally conceptual, not linguistic, in nature" (Lakoff, in Ortony, 1993, p.244), which resulted in the advent of the conceptual or cognitive theory of metaphor. In his proposal of the theory, he does not provide us with any specific classification for metaphors, but rather, he only refers to them in his writings as he explains and elaborates on the theory. He states that conceptual metaphors "map one conceptual domain onto another" (ibid, p.229). On the other hand, the novel metaphors of a language are, except for image metaphors, "extensions of this large conventional system" (ibid, p.240). Therefore, it can be implied that he believes most metaphors to be 'conceptual metaphors' and some others to be 'novel metaphors' under which 'image metaphors' are subcategorized.
However, more than twenty years after Black's declaration of his standpoint on the categorization of metaphors, Newmark (1988b) was still a faithful believer in the dead/live metaphor classification, as he distinguishes six types of metaphors, beginning with dead metaphors:
1. dead metaphor: this type of metaphor "frequently relates to universal terms of space and time, the main part of the body, general ecological features and the main human activities" (ibid, p.106). Dead metaphors have lost their figurative value through overuse and their images are hardly evident. Some examples of a dead metaphor include 'at the bottom of the hill', 'face of the mountains', and 'crown of glory'.
2. cliché metaphor: this type of metaphor is known to have outlived its usefulness, and is "used as a substitute for clear thought, often emotively, but without corresponding to the facts of the matter" (ibid, p. 107). Some examples include 'a jewel in the crown', 'to make one's mark', and 'backwater'.
3. stock or standard metaphor: this type of metaphor is defined by Newmark (1988b, p.108) as "an established metaphor, which in an informal context is an efficient and concise method of covering a physical and/or mental situation both referentially and pragmatically." He also states that stock metaphors, in contrast to dead metaphors, are "not deadened by overuse" (ibid). Examples of this type also mentioned by Newmark are: 'to oil the wheels', 'he's in a giving humour', and 'he's on the eve of getting married'.
4. adapted metaphor: this type of metaphor is actually a stock metaphor that has been adapted into a new context by its speaker or writer, for example, the stock metaphor 'carrying coals to Newcastle' can be turned into an adapted metaphor by saying ' almost carrying coals to Newcastle'.
5. recent metaphor: this type of metaphor is produced through coining and is spread in the SL rapidly. Examples of this kind are 'spastic', meaning stupid, and 'skint', meaning without money.
6. original metaphor: this type of metaphor is "created or quoted by the SL writer", and in the broadest sense, "contains the core of an important writer's message, his personality, his comment on life" (ibid, p.112).
2.3. Identifying Metaphors
The recognition of a metaphor in a certain text or speech may be rather easy for native speakers, but when it comes to a non-native, the challenge begins. The supposition that an expression is a metaphor when it yields a false or absurd meaning when interpreted literally is not reliable "because not all metaphors have false literal interpretations" (Way, 1991, p.14). This unreliability is proven by Way when she exemplifies through the following lyrics of a song: 'A rock feels no pain, and an island never cries'. This statement is a metaphor, but it is also "literally true; rocks do not feel pain, and islands are not the kind of things that can cry" (ibid). But how do we identify it as a metaphor, even when the literal meaning seems true? Way (1991, p.14) explains: "Perhaps because, while not actually false, talking about rocks feeling pain and islands crying is certainly a peculiar combination; maybe we can identify metaphors by their odd juxtaposition of ideas."
A more classical way of identifying metaphors, which again is not reliable, is the form 'x is a y'. Although many metaphors do take this form, many more do not. As Way exemplifies through Shakespeare's 'Let slip the dogs of war', she states that although this is clearly a metaphor, but "it does not fit the form of 'x is a y', for we are not comparing dogs to war, but rather to armies, something which is never explicitly mentioned in the phrase" (ibid, p.15). She goes on to explain that even the syntactic structure of a metaphor can not be proof of its essence, as it has no consistent syntactic form. She provides an example by Saskice, where it is shown how one "metaphor can be rephrased as a statement, a question or an exclamation" (ibid):
She also mentions that a metaphor's focus can be of any part of speech. In the following examples by Saskice provided by Way (1991, p.15), it is stated that "the focus is first a verb, then a noun, and finally a participle":
According to all the above, there is no reliable method for identifying a metaphor. The more we strive to analyze a metaphor, the more we understand that its creation and comprehension are challenging tasks, specifically for the non-native speaker.
2.4. Translating Metaphors
Newmark (1988b) proposes the following seven strategies for translating metaphors; the examples included for each strategy are provided by Tajalli (2005, p.107):
1. Reproducing the same image in the TL
Play with someone's feelings → با احساسات کسی بازی کردن
2. Replacing the image in the SL with a standard TL image which does not clash with the TL culture
I got it off my chest → دل خودم را خالی کردم
3. Translation of metaphor by simile, retaining the image
The coast was only a long green line →
ساحل همچون خط سبز رنگی دیده می شد
4. Translation of metaphor (or simile) by simile plus sense, or occasionally metaphor plus sense
He is an owl → او ﻤﺛل جغد تیزهوش است
5. Conversion of metaphor to sense
To keep the pot boiling → امرار معاش کردن
6. Deletion. If the metaphor is redundant or serves no practical purpose, there is a case for its deletion, together with its sense component
7. Translation of metaphor by the same metaphor combined with sense. The addition of a gloss or an explanation by the translator is to ensure that the metaphor will be understood
The tongue is fire → زبان آتش است. آتش مخرب است٬ آنچه می گوییم مخرب است
2.5. Image Metaphors of Color
As mentioned earlier, image metaphor is a subcategory of Lakoff's 'novel metaphor'. He distinguishes between conceptual metaphor and image metaphor due to their distinct mapping processes. The conceptual metaphor maps one conceptual domain onto another, often with many concepts in the source domain mapped onto many corresponding concepts in the target domain, whereas the image metaphor maps only one image onto one other image; thus, Lakoff (1977) calls them 'one-shot metaphors'. The following poem, interpreted by Louis Watchman (as cited in Ortony, 1993, p.231), contains several image mappings:
He continues by explaining that "Metaphoric image mappings work in the same way as all other metaphoric mappings: by mapping the structure of one domain onto the structure of another. But here, the domains are conventional mental images" (ibid, p. 229). Therefore, image metaphors map one attribute of the source domain onto the target domain. Image mapping may involve physical part-whole relationships, as in the following example extracted from The Descriptions of King Lent, translated by J.M. Cohen (ibid, p.230):
Lakoff explains that "The words do not tell us that an individual toe corresponds to an individual key on the keyboard. The words are prompts for us to perform a conceptual mapping between conventional mental images" (ibid).
Image mapping may also involve a dynamic image, as in the following lines by Shakespeare (as cited in Hawkes, 1972, p.46), where the movement of the curtains is mapped onto the movement of the eye:
Other attributes, such as colors, may also be mapped, which are the main focus of the present study. The following lines by Shakespeare (ibid, p.47) map the whiteness of the lily and also ivory onto the girl:
There are many examples of image metaphors of color in the Shahnameh, where the attribute of color has been mapped onto the target domain. The following translation of a couplet in the Shahnameh, produced by Warner & Warner, contains four image metaphors (of which two are similes), but only in two of them is the attribute of color intended to be mapped; the whiteness of camphor is mapped onto the character's hair, and the redness of a rose onto his cheeks:
(Warner and Warner, 1925, vol.1, p.191)
Also in the following example from the Shahnameh, Davis has compared blood to the redness of wine in this metaphor, even including the sense. But here, the metaphor has been applied simply as a device for making the text more poetic, as Way (1991, p.33) discussed about the substitution theory of metaphor.
(Davis, p. 205)
2.6. Formal and Dynamic Equivalence
Nida (1964) divides equivalence in two different types in his article entitled 'Principles of Correspondence', i.e. formal and dynamic equivalence. He depicts formal equivalence as a focus on the message, in both its formal aspects and its content. Thus, in a translation from "poetry to poetry, sentence to sentence, and concept to concept" (Nida, in Venuti 2000, p.129), the concern is formal equivalence. In this type of equivalence, the message produced in the TT should match the different elements of the ST as closely as possible. Nida further explains that a gloss translation typifies formal equivalence. In this type of translation, he states, "the translator attempts to reproduce as literally and meaningfully as possible the form and content of the original" (ibid). In order to be comprehensible, such a translation "would require numerous footnotes" (ibid).
This structural equivalence seems to be rather identical to Larson's modified literal translation, where the translation is basically literal, but with modifications to the order and grammar of the ST, so as to produce "acceptable sentence structure in the receptor language" (Larson, 1984, p.16). To a great extent, it also resembles Newmark's semantic translation, which he states, "attempts to render, as closely as the semantic and syntactic structures of the second language allow, the exact contextual meaning of the original" (Newmark, 1988a, p.39).
Dynamic equivalence, on the other hand, maintains that "the relationship between receptor and message should be substantially the same as that which existed between the original receptors and the message" (Nida, in Venuti 2000, p.129). In a translation of dynamic equivalence, the target readership is not necessarily required to understand the SL culture in order to understand the message. Most importantly, this type of equivalence "aims at complete naturalness of expression" (ibid) , and is also based on the principle of equivalent effect, which maintains that the translator should produce the same effect on his own readers as the SL author produced on the original readers.
Similar to Nida's dynamic equivalence is the traditional idiomatic translation discussed in Larson (1984). "The translator's goal should be to reproduce in the receptor language a text which communicates the same message as the SL, but using the natural grammatical and lexical choices of the receptor language" (ibid, p.17). Also rather similar to this type of equivalence is Newmark's communicative translation, which he claims, "attempts to produce on its readers an effect as close as possible to that obtained on the readers of the original" (Newmark, 1988a, p.39).
According to the above-mentioned, after comparing Warner & Warner's (1925) and Davis' (2007) English translations of the Shahnameh with the original, it was concluded that the first translation is a semantic translation, while the second one is a communicative translation. Warner & Warner have translated poetry into poetry and also strived at preserving the archaic tone of the original. Furthermore, they have indicated in their Introduction to the translation that many explanatory notes have been added; hence leading to a semantic translation. Davis, on the other hand, has converted poetry into prose, with occasional lines of verse in some episodes. He also explains in his Introduction to the translation that he has intended this translation for the general reader and not for scholars; thus his version is a communicative translation.
3. Empirical Data
3.1. Data Collection and Analysis
Thirty-three examples of image metaphors of color identified in the Shahnameh were located in two English translations, i.e. Warner & Warner (1925) and Davis (2007). It is worth noting that over forty-five metaphorical expressions of color were identified in the entire Shahnameh, but as Davis' translation is not a complete translation, rather an abridged version, only thirty-three were applicable to this study.
The first step in this procedure was to identify all terms/objects in the Shahnameh that presented color imagery. This information was found in a list provided by Rastegar Fasaei (1990). Seventy-nine items were listed, but only thirty-three were applicable in this study, because the list was obviously not intended for metaphors of color, but rather a list indicating terms that denote a color. Many of these terms were basic color terms, e.g. سرخ , which could not produce any potential metaphorical expression implying a color. They were mostly used in adjectival phrases describing a particular object or event. Therefore, all color terms were ruled out, as well as other terms which indicated some kind of 'brightness' or 'shiny effect', e.g. the expression شمشیر الماس , in which the metaphor implies that the sword is very shiny. Unfortunately, approximately eighteen of the items in this list were of this kind, representing brightness of an object, colors of the air, and colors of the earth, of which the latter two seemed ambiguous and impracticable for this study. As mentioned earlier, the translation by Davis is not a complete translation of the whole Shahnameh, as many episodes have been omitted. Therefore, several of the items in the list have occurred only in the sections not translated by Davis; hence, deleting them from the list was inevitable. Many of the terms in the list, unfortunately again, were observed only in the form of similes, and not metaphors; therefore, they could not be applied either.
After settling on these thirty-three items, they were sought in a Shahnameh software, in order to locate the couplets which contained these terms. The next step was to review each couplet to see which one had an image metaphor of color created with that specific term. For some terms, the frequency of occurrence was very high, e.g. approximately 400 couplets, which caused some difficulties in terms of being highly time-consuming. A minimum of one couplet carrying an image metaphor of color was chosen for each of the thirty-three instances via the Shahnameh software. These examples were then initially located in the translation by Davis, as his is an abridged translation. Regarding this, he states in the Introduction to his book: "Given the poem's immense length, some passages have inevitably been omitted, and others are presented in summary form" (Davis, 2007, xxxiv). After determining which of the examples were included in Davis' translation, one couplet was eventually chosen for each instance, and then the corresponding expression was located in Warner & Warner's translation. So far, there were thirty-three Persian examples of image metaphors of color, along with their corresponding expressions in the two English translations. These were the steps taken in the data collection stage.
The next step was to analyze the collected data, which included determining the translation procedures involved in each of the two translations. The framework applied was Newmark's (1988b) seven procedures introduced for translating metaphors. The goal here was not just determining which translator applied which procedure(s) and the frequency of each procedure, but also finding out whether any new procedures were applied other than Newmark's. The study also aimed at discovering any possible translation patterns exclusive to each translator.
The following three examples were selected as representatives of the collected data in this study.
(ص. ۷۹۸ – بیت ۱)
(Warner & Warner, vol.3, p.287)
In this ST context, the poet has depicted the scene as though the night has actually covered its face with pitch. Both translators have reproduced the same image in their TTs, thus likening the night to a black stone (شبه) that has washed its exterior with pitch.
(ص. ۱۷۱۴ – بیت ۹۶۳)
(Warner & Warner, vol.7, p.67)
The definition provided for لاژورد is 'a dark blue stone'; its translation by Emami is 'lapis-lazuli, azure'. Britannica's online dictionary definition for lapis-lazuli is 'a semiprecious stone valued for its deep blue color'. Therefore, the first translator has again reproduced the same image through the same metaphor. The second translator, however, has converted the metaphor to its sense, i.e. the color it represents.
(ص. ۱۳۹۲ – بیت ۱۳۴)
(Warner & Warner, vol.6, p.25)
The mental image of this ST metaphor is mapped onto the king's face, describing the change of color in his complexion. The first translator has interestingly enough converted the metaphor to its sense, which seems rather a rare procedure for a semantic translation. The second translator, however, has reproduced the same image in TT2.
Thirty-three cases of image metaphors of color were identified in the Shahnameh and then located in two English translations, i.e. Warner & Warner (1925) and Davis (2007). Afterwards, the procedures applied by each translator in rendering these thirty-three items were identified. The framework chosen was that of Newmark's (1988a).
The analysis of the data showed that Warner and Warner applied five of Newmark's suggested procedures in translating the specified image metaphors of color. They also presented two cases of wrong translation.
In the following table, the procedures applied by Warner & Warner in translating the thirty-three image metaphors of color identified in this study and their frequency of occurrence, along with the corresponding percentages are shown.
Table 4.1. Frequency and percentage of procedures applied by Warner & Warner
As evident in this table, Warner & Warner have neither translated any metaphors by simile plus sense, nor deleted any metaphor. The most frequently applied procedure in their translations was the reproduction of the same image in the TL. The translation of the Shahnameh produced by Warner & Warner is a semantic translation, which clearly proves the reason as to why their most frequently applied procedure is the one mentioned above. "A semantic translation attempts to recreate the precise flavor and tone of the original: the words are 'sacred', not because they are more important than the content, but because form and content are one" (Newmark, 1988a, p.47).
The analysis of the data also shows that Davis has applied all seven procedures introduced by Newmark in translating these items. There was no evidence of any wrong translation. The following table presents the frequency of each procedure which was applied and also their percentages.
Table 4.2. Frequency and percentage of procedures applied by Davis
As indicated in the table, the most frequently used procedure by Davis is also the reproduction of the same image in the TL. He has opted for deletion of the image metaphor of color in two cases. In one of the two cases, his deletion seems to serve the purpose of a more easy-going, reader-friendly text (where the metaphoric elements seem complex or far-fetched to the target audience), whereas in the other case, his deletion seems somehow arbitrary or unjustifiable.
The following table compares the two translations in terms of the percentage of procedures applied. P1 through P7 are the seven translation procedures involved in this study, also indicated in the previous table, and WT stands for wrong translation.
Table 4.3. Percentage of the procedures applied by both translators
Thirty-three cases of image metaphors of color were extracted from the Shahnameh and relocated in two English translations, i.e. Warner & Warner (1925) and Davis (2007). The main objective of the study was to determine which translation procedures introduced by Newmark (1988a) for translating metaphors in general were applied by the two above mentioned translators.
According to the collected and analyzed data, Warner & Warner applied five of Newmark's suggested procedures. The two procedures they did not apply at all were deletion and translation of metaphor by simile plus sense. The figures indicated that approximately 70% of the thirty-three cases had undergone Newmark's first procedure, i.e. reproducing the same image in the TL, which was also considered the most frequently used procedure by Warner & Warner. This is a verification that their translation is indeed a semantic translation, as the objective in this type of translation is to recreate the ST, both its form and its content. This occurs to a great extent through literal/word-for-word translation, which is rather similar to the above- mentioned procedure.
Davis, on the other hand, applied all seven of Newmark's procedures in his translation of image metaphors of color. The most frequently used procedure was again, a reproduction of the same image in the TL (36%).
The second aim was to determine whether any new procedures for translating image metaphors of color other than those proposed by Newmark for translating metaphors resulted from this study. The result was negative. The non-occurrence of any new procedure(s) is an indication that Newmark's proposed procedures are feasible and sufficient for translating image metaphors of color in particular.
The third aim of this study was to determine whether any particular patterns were evident in the two translators' rendering of the image metaphors of color. As the data analysis shows, in Warner & Warner's translation nearly 70% of the image metaphors of color discussed in this study are translated via P1, therefore 30% of the mentioned items are translated via the remaining six procedures. This shows that they have a tendency towards a more 'literal translation'; hence the production of a source-oriented text. On the other hand, in Davis' translation roughly 36% of these items are translated via P1 and approximately 64% via the remaining six procedures. This indicates that his tendency is towards explicitation, simplification and a more communicative and target reader- oriented text.
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Published - October
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