Word Repetition in the Qur'an: Translating Form or Meaning? Essay

8237 Words Apr 10th, 2010 33 Pages
J. King Saud Univ., Vol. 19, Lang. & Transl., pp. 17-34, Riyadh (A.H. 1427/2006)

Word Repetition in the Qur’an – Translating Form or Meaning?
Ahmed Ali
Assistant Professor, Department of English, Faculty of Languages and Translation, King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia (Received 13/10/1426 A.H.; accepted for publication, 04/04/1427 A.H.)

Abstract. Word repetition is a feature that exists in all languages, and serves different purposes, rhetorical, emphatic, or otherwise. A problematic issue arises when a translation is attempted of repeated words in a target text. The dilemma is that owing to the different ways of expression and tools available to every language, what fits one language may prove absurd in another. When
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Each sürah, which means degree or step, consists of a number of verse divisions, which are called äyät (singular: äyah) which are usually determined by the rhythm and cadence in the Arabic text. Sometimes, an äyah, meaning a sign, contains many sentences. Sometimes, a sentence is divided by a break in an äyah; but, usually, there is a pause in meaning at the end. The äyah is the true unit of the Qur’an, since "it is a verse of revelation as a sign of God’s wisdom and goodness, just as much as God’s beautiful handiwork in the material creation or His dealings in history are signs to us" (Ali [3, p. 13]). The Qur’an, therefore, is the Holy Writ, sent down to us, as sürah al-Nahl reveals: ‫ﺴﻠﻤﲔ‬ ‫ﻟﻠ‬     ‫ ﹾﻤ‬

‫ﻯ‬‫ﺑﺸﺮ‬‫ﻯ ﻭﺭﺣﻤﺔ ﻭ‬‫ﻟﻜ ﱢ ﺷﻲﺀ ﻭﻫﺪ‬ ‫ﺎ‬‫ﺎﻧ‬‫ﺒﻴ‬‫ﺗ‬ ‫ﺎﺏ‬‫ﻴﻚ ﺍﹾﻟﻜﺘ‬‫ﺎ ﻋﻠ‬‫ﻧﺰﹾﻟﻨ‬‫ﻭ‬   ‫ ﹰ‬      ٍ   ‫ﹸﻞ‬    ‫ﹶ‬  

[explaining all things, a guide, a mercy, and glad tidings to Muslim] (Qur’an 16:89).

Word Repetition in the Qur’an - Translating Form or Meaning?


The Qur’an exists in its original language, i.e., Arabic. Muslim scholars unanimously agree that the Qur’an is only the Qur’an when it is in Arabic, in its original wording as revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Cook [4, p. 94] refers to Ibn Hizäm (d. 1064), a scholar of Muslim Spain, who stated laconically that "NonArabic isn’t Arabic, so it’s not the Qur’an". This is derived from the fact that there are eleven references

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