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Investigating the Challenges of Translating Arabic Collocations into English with Reference to the Quran

Hassan, H (2019) Investigating the Challenges of Translating Arabic Collocations into English with Reference to the Quran. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

This study examined the extent to which Quranic collocations fit into the general theory of collocation. It explored the importance of demystifying the collocational and phraseological theoretical base in order to facilitate the task of translators to deal more efficiently with collocation and phraseology from a Quranic perspective. This study assessed the difficulties and challenges of translating Quranic collocations from Arabic into English, focusing on five selected English translations of the Quran to evaluate the degree of faithfulness and accuracy in rendering the Quranic collocation into English. Despite the extensive research and interest that translation and collocations generate, there is little consensus and a degree of inconsistency regarding the way collocation and translation are defined and explained, making conclusive empirical evidence difficult to reach. Research on collocation has not quite managed to move the debate beyond merely defining and classifying collocations. Although publications and interest in collocation are prolific, too many grey areas still prevail, and many questions remain unanswered. There is a degree of stalemate in the phraseology debate, often yielding fragmented literature and inconclusive empirical evidence. Research on collocation remains stuck at the level of description, definition and prescription. Similarly, translation studies’ research scope is limited to comparative analysis of language pairs, examining their cross-linguistic and cultural differences. Throughout its long history, translation studies have never been free from conflicting views. Translation is one of the most researched topics and no other topic has involved theorists and practitioners as much as the translation debate, specifically those who claim that translation is an art and those who believe that translation is a science. Based on the purpose of the study, the nature of the problem and the research questions, qualitative data were collected using semi-structured interviews with translation specialists and Imams as users of English translations of the Quran, to gauge their views and perceptions regarding the accuracy and clarity of Quranic collocations translated in English. This was supported by qualitative analysis of a sample of Quranic collocations from the five selected English translations of the Quran. The findings suggest that the translation of the Quran in English is still a work in progress. Views are polarised between those who advocate as close a rendering of the Quranic text as possible and those who believe in a ‘natural style’. Findings revealed that literal translation appears to be the preferred method in translating Quranic collocation and that there is some dissatisfaction among interview participants regarding the quality of English translations of the Quran, which are deemed to be useful but flawed, in conveying accurately the meaning of collocations. This view is supported by the text analysis and literature findings. Participants were unanimous that the proliferation of translations of the Quran is positive but stressed that quantity does not always mean quality. Findings from interviews suggested that there is little co-operation and coordination between the different translators or translation bodies regarding the translation of the Quran. Most participants agreed that the type and nature of English language used by some translators of the Quran is often archaic and not user friendly which makes it hard to understand. Excessive use of footnotes in some translations can be a source of distraction. Findings indicated loss of the implicit meaning of Quranic collocations is caused by insufficient knowledge of the Quran and failure to check reliable exegesis as a source of interpretation of Quranic collocations. Findings revealed that linguistic competence in Arabic and English is not a licence to translate the Quran. Knowledge of the religious, rhetorical and cultural background is necessary in order to produce a readable and meaningful translation of the Quran. 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 collocations. Secondly, it will provide a platform for further research on translating Quranic collocations and addressing the current shortcomings. This study has also expanded the extant literature on translating Quranic collocations to benefit future researchers.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Collocation, Multiword expressions
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
Divisions: Liverpool Business School (closed 31 Aug 19)
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2019 10:10
Last Modified: 30 Aug 2019 10:11
DOI or Identification number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00011247
Supervisors: Hassan, H
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11247

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