Demystifying Phraseology: Implications for Translating Quranic Phraseological Units

Hassan Badr Hassan, Karim Menacere

Abstract


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.

Keywords


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

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References


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