Demystifying Phraseology: Implications for Translating Quranic Phraseological Units

Hassan Badr Hassan, Karim Menacere


This paper examines phraseology as a lexical feature from a Quranic perspective. It explores the importance of demystifying the phraseological theoretical base in order to facilitate the task of translators and second language learners and deal more efficiently with the challenging language aspects of phraseology. Despite prolific publications and the growing interest that research on phraseology generates, too many grey areas still prevail, and many questions remain unanswered. There is a degree of inconsistency and stalemate in the phraseology debate, often yielding fragmented literature and inconclusive evidence. Research on phraseology remains stuck at the level of description and prescription. Similarly, research on translation studies seldom moves beyond comparative analysis of language pairs, examining cross linguistic and cultural differences. The literature does not have a strong theoretical base and is largely anecdotal, lacking empirical data from which to draw clear-cut conclusions on the key issues of translating phraseology. This paper focuses on five selected English translations of the Quran to assess the degree of faithfulness and accuracy in rendering the Quranic phraseology into English. Findings suggested that the five selected translators of the Quran fell short of checking exegesis of the Quranic text. The findings revealed that translations of the Quranic phraseological units gave an echo at best. Results showed the literal translation method was frequently used for translating phraseology; however, this often led to inaccurate and stilted English. The findings suggest that the translation of the Quran in English is still a work in progress, and it needs to be periodically evaluated and updated to address the flaws identified by researchers from different perspectives. Findings are polarised between those who advocate as close a rendering of the Quranic text as possible and those who believe in a ‘natural style’ in the target text. This study is pertinent because it has several practical implications. Firstly, it will benefit translators of the Quran by providing fresh insights on how to deal with some of the challenges of translating Quranic phraseology. Secondly, it will provide a platform for further research on translating Quranic phraseological units and addressing the current shortcomings. This study has also expanded the extant literature on translating Quranic collocations to benefit future researchers.


Quran, Phraseology, Multiword Expression, Exegesis, Translation, Faithfulness, Accuracy

Full Text:



Abdel Haleem, M. (2004). The Qurʼan. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ali, A. (2015). The Holy Qurʼān. New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan.

Al-Kharabsheh, A. and Al-Jdayeh, G. (2017). Translatability of Quranic Antonymy. Jordan Journal of Modern Languages and Literature, 9 (1), pp. 51-72.

Arberry, A. (2008). The Holy Koran. London: Routledge.

Asad, M. (1980). The message of the Quran. Gibraltar: Dar Al-Andalus Ltd.

Bani-Younis, M. (2015). Cultural and Sociolinguistic Issues in English-Arabic translation of Collocations. Studies in Literature and Language, 10 (6), pp.53-58.

Baker, M. (1992). In Other Words: A Course Book on Translation. London: Routledge.

Bannister, A. (2017). Oral-Formulaic Study of The Quran. [S.l.]: Lexington Books.

Cowie, A. P. (1981). The Treatment of Collocations and Idioms in Learner Dictionaries. Applied Linguistics. 2, 223-235.

Cowie, A. P. (1991). Multiword units in newspaper language. In S. Granger (Ed.), Perspectives on the English lexicon: A tribute to Jacques Van Roey (pp. 101–116). Louvain-la-Neuve : Cahiers de I ’Institut de Linguistique de Louvain.

Cowie, A. P. (1994). “Phraseology”. In: R. Asher (ed), The Encyclopaedia of language and linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 3168-3171.

Cowie, A. P. (2009). Semantics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cruse, D. A. (1986) Lexical Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cumming, S. (1986). The Lexicon in Text Generation. Paper presented at the LSA Linguistics Institute Workshop on Lexicon. New York.

Delisle, J. And Woodsworth, J. (1995) Translators through History. John Benjamins Publishing Company. UNESCO Publishing.

Dweik, B& Abu Shakra, M. (2011). Problems in translating collocations in religious texts from Arabic into English. The Linguistics Journal. Middle Jordan.5(1).

Gledhill, C. (2011). The ‘lexicogrammar’ approach to analysing phraseology and collocation in ESP texts. 5-23.

Granger, S. and Meunier, F. (2008). Phraseology: An interdisciplinary perspective. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Granger, S., and Paquot, M. (2008). Disentangling the phraseological web. In S. Granger, and F. Meunier (Eds.), Phraseology: Interdisciplinary perspective, pp., 27-49. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Herbst, T. (1996). What are Collocations: Sandy beaches or False Teeth? English Studies. Vol 77(4),379-393.

Hilali, T. and Khan, M. (1983). Translation of the meanings of the Noble Quran in the English Language. Riyadh: Dar-Us-Salam.

Howarth, P. (1996). Phraseology in English academic writing: Some implications for language learning and dictionary making. T übingen: Niemeyer.

Howarth, P. (1998). The phraseology of learners’ academic writing. In A. P. Cowie (Ed.), Phraseology: Theory, analysis and applications. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 161-186.

Jabak, O.O. Abdullah, S.N.S, Mustapha, N.F. (2016).The Difficulty of Translating Collocations from Arabic into English Encountered by a Sample of Arab Students VOL 3 BIL 1 (JUN 2016) e-ISSN : 2289 8042

Jones, S. Murphy, C. P. & Caroline W. (2012). Antonyms in English: Construals, constructions and canonicity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Khaleel, M. (2005). Assessing English Translations of the Quran. San Diego State University: San Diego.

Kjellmer, G. (1987). Aspects of English collocations. In W. Meijs (Ed.), Corpus Linguistics and Beyond: Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on English Language Research on Computerized Corpora. 133–140.

Kjellmer, G. (1991). A mint of phrases. In K. Aijmer & B. Altenberg (Eds.), English corpus linguistics. Studies in honour of Jan Svartvik. London: Longman. 111-127.

Kjellmer, G. (1994). A dictionary of English collocations: Based on the Brown corpus. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Meer, G. Van der (1998). Collocations as One Particular Type of Conventional Word Combination: their definition and Character, in Fontenelle et al. 313-323.

Mel’Čuk, I. (2012). Phraseology in the language, in the dictionary, and in the computer. Yearbook of Phraseology, 3(1), pp. 31-56.

Meunier, F. and Granger, S. (2008). Phraseology in foreign language learning and teaching. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Moon, R.1997. ‘Vocabulary connections: multiword items in English’ in N. Schmitt and M. McCarthy (eds.). Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and Pedagogy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Moon, R. (1998). Fixed Expressions and Idioms in English: A corpus-based approach. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Moon. R. (2008). Dictionaries and collocations. In F. Meunier and S. Granger (eds.). Phraseology in Foreign Language Learning and Teaching. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 247-252.

Murphy, M. L. (2003). Semantic relations and the lexicon: antonymy, synonymy, and other paradigms: Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.

Naciscione, A., (2001). Phraseological Units in Discourse: Towards Applied Stylistics. Riga: Latvian Academy of Culture.

Nattinger, J., & DeCarrico, J. (1992). Lexical phrases and language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nerlich, B. and Clarke, D. (2001). Serial metonymy: A study of reference-based polysemisation. Journal of Historical Pragmatics, 2(2), pp.245-272.

Nikulina, E. (2015). English Phraseology: Integration with Terminology Science. Journal of Language and Education, 1(2), pp.41-45.

Pickthall, M.M. (1935). The Meaning of the Glorious Quran with Brief Explanatory Notes and Brief Subject Index. Amana Publications (31 Aug. 1996)

Römer, U. and Schulze, R. (eds) 2009. Exploring the lexis-grammar interface. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Sinclair, J. (1966). Beginning the study of lexis. In C. Bazell, J. Catford, M. Halliday& R. Robins (eds). 410-430. London: Longman.

Sinclair, J. (1991). Corpus, Concordance, Collocation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sinclair, J. (2004). Trust the text. London: Routledge.

Steyer, K. (2015). Patterns. Phraseology in a state of flux International Journal of Lexicography, Volume 28, Issue 3, 1 September 2015, Pages 279–298,

Stubbs, M. (2001). Words and phrases. Corpus studies of lexical semantics. Oxford, Blackwell.

Wray, A. (2000). ‘Formulaic Sequences in Second Language Teaching: Principle and Practice’. Applied Linguistics. 21(4), 463-489.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.