Near-Synonyms Within the Same Qur’anic Verse: A Contrastive English-Arabic Lexical Analysis

  •  Linda Al-Abbas    
  •  Rajai Al-Khanji    


The Holy Qur’an has features that are difficult for translators to transfer into another language, and they face problems in conveying the different shades of meaning of the verses. From a wide variety of these problems is synonymy. Synonymy refers to words that mean the same or show semantic resemblance to one another. This study examines the translation of two root-sharing synonymous Arabic words, namely استطاع and اسطاع in five well-known English translations. These include Pickthall (1930), Ali (1982), Arberry (1996), Abdel Haleem (2004), and Al-Hilali and Khan (2018). These translations are selected because they are popular in the Muslim World in addition to the fact that the translators belong to different linguistic, religious and cultural backgrounds. The analysis shows that the translators were inconsistent in their selections of the English equivalents for the words under study. Furthermore, they did not convey the slight differences between the words and translated them similarly and interchangeably. The study concludes that some Qur’anic words are untranslatable, and cannot be rendered into another language, and therefore, translators are recommended to include explanatory notes between brackets or as footnotes in order to acknowledge the non-Arab readers that repetition of the words was not haphazard but intended for specific purposes.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1923-869X
  • ISSN(Online): 1923-8703
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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