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To receive regular updates, fill in your details below. Join now. Then the translation of a s ample of these verbs as rendered by three of the well-known Qur'an translators will be analysed and checked against a standard translation.
The main focus will be on whether or not these translators were able to grasp the intended aspectual sense of the radicals affixed to the trilateral verbs and what strategies have the translator adopted in their translation.
It will be shown that the translators often manage to render the semantic senses of the verbs accurately but did not do so in conveying the aspectual senses of such verb forms. In concluding the paper, some recommendations for an accurate rendering of these derived verb forms will be presented.
Translators of religious and sacred texts, such as the Holy Quran, often face difficulties in rendering the true intended senses of many linguistic aspects of such texts, such as the morphological additions to and variations of verbs.
Arabic to English Translation
Arabic, the language of the Holy Qur'an is well-known for its morphological richness. In the following sections, an quick survey of main features of this system will be presented. Verbs in Arabic are either trilateral or quadrilateral consonant root with vowel variations. The trilateral verbs consist of three consonants with all derivatives having the same consonant order and sharing a core meaning. A set of forms , such as kaatib a writer , maktuub written or letter , kitaaba writing , kitaab a book , may be derived from this root.
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As it is noticed, all forms have the same consonants in the same order with the same core meaning write. This trilateral form is the most prevalent in Arabic morphology. These two examples indicate that the 'basic meaning' of the verb is conveyed by the trilateral root of the verb p. Accordingly, grammarians classify the base forms of Arabic verbs into trilateral verbs, the more common, with three letters mainly consonants and quadrilateral verbs, the less common, with four letters mainly consonants.
Arabic grammarians indicate that the trilateral verbs can be affixed with one radical, two radicals or three radicals, with a total number of fourteen derived forms.
The same holds true of the quadrilateral verbs which have only three derivative forms. Therefore, the same verb may have different meanings based on the form of derivation it undergoes Haywood and Nahmad, Such additions may also act as aspect markers as will be shown in the study.
In the next section, a summary of the senses of each of the three forms will be presented. This gives new semantic or aspectual significance to the base form of the verb.
Wright identifies the following meanings as the senses that are added to the basic meaning of the verb by doubling the second consonant. It will be shown also that this doubling can be considered as an aspect marker as it adds an extra dimension to the verb. Haywood and Nahmad, ibid. Thus, the indirect object becomes a direct object.
This form is produced by adding the prefix hamza? Haywood and Nahmad The trilateral verbs affixed with one letter are common in the Holy Quran. Translating the meaning of the verbs' derivatives has been given little attention despite its paramount importance cf. Al-Ghazalli who states that no previous studies have been conducted in this area.
In fact, the results that his study reaches are crucial for reconsidering the accuracy of the English renditions of the Holy Quran.
Arabic-English Dictionary Of Quranic Usage
To be precise, Al-Ghazalli's study reveals limitations in the translation of the semantic value of the derivative forms, especially when the forms do not have equivalents in English such as the case of gemination. This result is not surprising given the fact that the translator deals with two different linguistic systems. As a result, investigations in this area of research must be condensed to raise the awareness to the importance of considering the meaning of the morphological aspects in translating the Holy Quran and to assess the accuracy of the current Quranic translations, which is what this study intends to achieve through examining the accuracy of the Quranic renditions of the trilateral verbs affixed with one radical.
In this study a content analysis is conducted, in which the verse that includes the examined verb is compared with its three English renditions of Pickthall, Shakir, and Y. Moreover, the dictionary meanings of the verbs are collected from Arabic—English Dictionary of Quranic Usage, while the senses of the derivative forms are taken from Al-Kufi's and Al-Sayyid's analysis of the Quranic verbs.
This method is chosen as it can provide an objective assessment as it compares the meanings of the translated verbs with each other and measures them against the dictionary and the exegetic meanings, which takes into account the meaning of the morphological forms. A sample of 24 verbs is collected randomly from the Holy Quran. However, to limit the number of the verbs in the selected sample, the following has been done.
First, the verbs are taken from "The verbs in the Holy Quran" by Al-Sayyid , in which the verbs are listed in entries of the base verbs along with all the different forms derived from it.
Then, only the verbs with more than one derived form affixed with one radical are chosen. Furthermore, guided by Al-kufi's classification, the verbs which share the same meaning with their base forms and the verbs with meaning totally independent of their base from are excluded.
The research follows a qualitative assessment of the verbs. That is, the accuracy of the English renditions will be measured by comparing them to the meaning specified in the Arabic—English Dictionary of Quranic Usage and in the Quranic exegesis by Al-Zamakhshari The verbs which hold in their renditions the meaning of the derivative forms are the accurate ones.
Due to morphological differences between Arabic and English, accuracy does not entail a one-to-one equivalence. That is, any compensation strategy for the loss in the intended meaning will be deemed accurate.
Finally, after investigating the accuracy in the English renditions of these forms, an overall evaluation regarding the accuracy of the English renditions of the Quranic verbs will be made.
Data analysis shows different senses for the derivative forms of the Quranic trilateral verbs affixed with one radical. Moreover, while the three translators succeed in rendering a few cases of these senses, the majority of these senses are not transferred in the English renditions. An analysis of these cases will be presented in what follows; however, it is deemed necessary to clarify that in order to avoid repetition, the organization of the analysis is based on the senses rather than on the forms themselves as the three forms in some cases share the same aspectual significance.
To be precise, the indicated sense will be the theme under which cases from the three forms, if available, will be included. Yet , the three translators employ different strategies to render these senses.
Ibn Al-Hajeb , cited in Al-kufi , demonstrates that transitivity in this sense differs from the normal sense of transitivity in that it results from a causative relationship. In other words, it results from the fact that someone causes another to do something.
Arabic-English dictionary of Qur’anic usage
Thus, in this context, the term causative-transitivity as a generic term for both causative and factitive transitivity will be used. It is important to note here that causativity is common in the two languages: Arabic and English; however, each expresses it differently, using its constructions of formation.
The analysis of the sample reveals two main methods used by the translators in translating the causative—transitivity in the Quranic trilateral verbs affixed with one radical into English: translating with lexical causativity or with causative verbs. In some cases where the Quranic verb holds the meaning of causative-transitivity, the three translators resort to render them using transitive verbs that mainly carry the causative sense.
That is, the idea of causativity is part of the semantic load of the verb. For instance, in the following verse qaaluu? The three following renditions of this verse reflect the same meaning, though implicitly:. Yusuf Ali, "We do assure thee not one of us can bear witness! The verbs in the three translations 'assure, declare and confess' are transitive either with direct object, as the case of the verb assure, or indirect object, as in declare and confess.
Moreover, these verbs semantically hold the meaning of causativity.
That is, the verb 'assure', for example, implies that someone makes another person certain about something. The same holds true with the other two verbs, which indicate that someone makes another know about something. Therefore, the sense of causativity is implied in the verbs' basic meaning. Eventually, the causative- transitivity is accurately conveyed in this case.
The gemination in this verb, as illustrated by Al-kufi and Al-Sayyid , carries the meaning of causative —transitivity; the factitive sense. Therefore, the renditions of this verb as in the verse man kaana yuriidu il-3aajilata 3ajjalnaa lahu fiihaa A look at the three renditions of this verse should clarify the transferred meaning.
Yusuf Ali, "If any do wish for the transitory things of this life , We readily grant them - such things as We will, to such person as We will" Shakir, "Whoever desires this present life, We hasten to him therein what We please for whomsoever We desire.
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The verbs used in the three renditions are factitive with the meaning of causativity. However, this meaning is not lexically stated but implied in the meaning of the verbs. That is, the verb 'grant' shows that the person is bestowed the grant by another, while the verb 'hasten' shows that someone makes something happen faster than usual here the aspectual meaning is maintained but the lexical one is not though implied.. Thus, the sense of causative- transitivity is successfully carried within the semantic meaning of the verb.
In some cases, English employs causative verbs such as give, cause, made, and let to transfer the sense of causative-transitivity. This structure is realized invariably in the sample. This sense is rendered in different causative verbs in the English translations, as in:. Yusuf Ali, "And but will give increase for deeds of charity Shakir, and He causes charitable deeds to prosper Pickthall, and made almsgiving fruitful. The verbs 'give, cause, and made' are causative verbs, which show that someone is made to do something.
Moreover, the three verbs are transitive with one object. Here, the three translators are able to transfer the sense of causative- transitivity accurately. Its sense is rendered by the use of the causative, and at the same time transitive, verbs 'made, put, and give' in the following English renditions.
Yusuf Ali, "Though they will be put in sight of each other," Shakir, " Though they shall be made to see each other. Thus, it can be concluded that the three translators managed successfully to transfer the sense of causativity accurately in this verse too.
It signifies that both participants are involved in carrying out the action. Transferring the meaning of mutuality in doing the action is crucial as this is the sense that this form intends to carry.
Yusuf Ali, "If the Unbelievers should fight you, they would certainly turn their backs " Shakir, "And if those who disbelieve fight with you" Pickthall, "And if those who disbelieve join battle with you they will take to flight". When analysing the meaning implied in the three verbs, it can be realized that Yusuf Ali' translation does not show mutuality in the action; i.
This can be attributed to the ideological implication where there is not mutual action taken by the Prophet PBUH.. However, the use of 'with' in Shakir's translation and the phrase 'join battle with' in Pickthall's translation preserve the meaning of reciprocity but seem to violate the ideological sense. To be brief, the sense of participation is compensated by the use of the preposition 'with' which indicates that the agent is accompanied by another person in doing the action or by the employment of paraphrasing which includes both the verb's and the derivation's meanings.
Another example for the sense of reciprocity is in the verse yaa bani Israa? Yusuf Ali, "O ye Children of Israel! We delivered you from your enemy, and we made a covenant with you on the holy mountain's side". In fact, the translations render the meaning of the mutuality accurately.