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Investigating the Translation of Euphemism in the Quran from Arabic into English

Alqahtani, OAM (2018) Investigating the Translation of Euphemism in the Quran from Arabic into English. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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This study investigated the accuracy and quality across five different translations of the Quran from Arabic into English, focusing on euphemism. It evaluated the degree of faithfulness or deviation in meaning from the original and corroborated whether this is due to the translating approach or inadequate understanding of the meaning of Quranic text. It assessed the main features of euphemistic expressions in the Quran, how euphemistic expressions have been translated, and provided recommendations on how to improve the translation of euphemistic expressions in the Quran. Throughout its long history, translation and translation studies have never been free from conflicting views. Translation is one of the most researched topics and no other issue has preoccupied theorists and practitioners as much as the translation debate which has brought about a split of views, specifically into those who claim that translation is an art and those who believe that translation is a science. Each camp puts forward unrealistic expectations of what translation is and what it can achieve. Despite the boom in translation studies over the last decades which has provided interesting and fresh insights, it remains an area which has little theoretical base and very few research landmarks. Translation has rarely managed to rise above mere comparative analysis of language pairs, examining their cross linguistic and cultural differences. Translation approaches, procedures and techniques are not one size fits all. They may work well for Indo-European languages but may not for Semitic languages, for instance. They are often prescriptive, abstract and lack practical implications. Highly expressive and colourful components of any language are often deliberately substituted by euphemistic expressions. Euphemism is thus a purposeful act of softening existing terms or expressions with neutral, courteous and ‘clean’ words. Euphemism is said to be a form of deception. This study examined the translation of euphemism in the Quran focusing on the English versions of the Quran by Abdel Haleem, Khan and Al-Hilali, Yusuf Ali, Arberry, and Pickthall. It was found that translators often underestimate the complexity of translation, particularly the translation of euphemism in the Quran Based on the nature of the problem and the research questions, the method adopted in this study used a qualitative approach starting with text based analysis of a broad sample of euphemistic expressions from the five selected versions of translations of the Quran. This was supported by semi-structured interviews with professional translators to gauge their views and perceptions regarding the meanings of euphemism in the Quran. The key findings suggest that there is no single method which will address all of the challenges faced by the translators of euphemisms of the Quran. Moreover, many Islamic concepts and cultural bound items are untranslatable, thus loss of some meaning is inevitable. Findings revealed that straightforward and mechanical transfer of euphemisms from the Quran produces meaningless or clumsy utterances because there is no direct correspondence between Arabic and English euphemistic expressions. Therefore, translating euphemism in the Quran goes beyond mere linguistic transfer. This study has several practical implications. Firstly, it will benefit translators of the Quran by providing fresh insights into dealing with some of the challenges of translating euphemism from the Quran. Secondly, it will provide a platform for further research on translating euphemism as it has expanded the existing literature on translating euphemistic expressions from the Quran to benefit future researchers.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: The Translation of Euphemism in the Quran
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
Divisions: Liverpool Business School
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2018 08:58
Last Modified: 03 Jan 2023 14:25
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00007995
Supervisors: Teso, E
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/7995
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