The Translation of Qur'anic Lexical Ambiguity


  • Basmah Abughararah



Qur’anic ambiguity, translation, lexical problems, surah, Qur’anic translators.


Lexical items constitute paramount problems in the translation of Quran from Arabic into English. This study deals with only one the semantic problematic areas in Surah AL-An’am (The cutle) in the Quran, namely ambiguity. It explores the translation of Qur’anic ambiguity. The current study focuses on the issue of translating ambiguous word in the Quran, particularly in the Surah AL-An’am. It attempts to analyse and compare six different approaches to to retaining the meaning of the Quran while translating it into English. The translators are Pichthall (1930), Ali (1942), Asad (1980), Khattib (1986), Malik (1997) and Al-Hilali/Khan (1417). Their translations of the Quran have been reprinted worldwide. However, the study does not attempt to evaluate the six translations but rather to investigate the types of lexical problem that they encounter based on the Quran exegesis of Ibn-Kathîr and Al-Tabariari, Al-Jalâlîn and Al-Qurtabi. The findings of the study provide empirical evidence that translators encounter lexical problems when translating Qur’anic discourse. The findings also reveal that translators adopt different approaches in selecting synonyms to render Quranic ambiguous words. The results of this study imply the need for translators to recognize the theme, incidents and circumstances of the verses’ revelation. Moreover, it is suggested that translators of the Quran understand implication of word in the target language through the use of heritage dictionaries and books of eloquence and syntax.  


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