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Kināyah as a figure of speech in the Qur’an: an analysis of four English translations

Naseef, Riyad Abdallah M. (2018) Kināyah as a figure of speech in the Qur’an: an analysis of four English translations. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Since figurative expressions involve a double interpretation and are easily misinterpreted, they can pose a serious problem in translation. Kināyah, a central figure of speech in the Arabic rhetorical tradition, is extensively employed in the Qur’an. While several existing studies examine how Qur’anic figurative expressions are translated into English, this is to my knowledge the first substantial study to focus on kināyah. The study first considers the main Arabic figures of speech (ʾistiᶜārah, tashbīh, majāz al-mursal, kināyah) plus the main English ones (metaphor, simile, metonymy, synecdoche), demonstrating that there is no equivalent figure to kināyah in English. Forty-five Qur’anic kināyah expressions are then chosen, pursuant to al-Jurjāni’s definition of kināyah and the majority of Qur’anic exegetes. Using authoritative Arabic and English dictionaries and exegeses, these expressions are analysed contextually in order to understand the meaning and purpose of each kināyah. This is followed by a target text (TT) analysis of four well-known English Qur’an translations: Ali, al-Hilali & Khan, Saheeh International, and Abdel Haleem. The study examines: (1) how the four translations render each kināyah, (2) the intelligibility of the renditions, (3) whether there is any loss of meaning, (4) whether the renditions maintain the function of the ST kināyah, and (5) consistency in rendering the same kināyah when it occurs in different ʾāyahs (Qur’anic verses). Underlining the fact that kināyah has no equivalent in Western rhetoric, the study shows that while majāz mursal has similar features to the western metonymy and synecdoche, kināyah does not. Therefore, the use of the terms kināyah and majāz mursal for ‘metonymy’ and vice versa, as in most dictionaries and some studies, is incorrect. The study also shows that although the selected Qur’anic translations are largely source-oriented, the translators were able to render most of the kināyah expressions successfully. However, the translations were frequently not able to maintain the functions of the kināyah, apart from the euphemistic one, demonstrating that they prioritise meaning over function. In cases where there is a probable loss of the intended meaning, the translators employ footnotes, paraphrasing, or explicitation. The translations of Saheeh International and particularly Abdel Haleem are more intelligible than the rest due to their choice of contemporary and idiomatic vocabulary. Hence, they use footnotes and paraphrasing much less than Ali and Al-Hilali & Khan. For the most part the translations are consistent, especially Saheeh International and Abdel Haleem.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Kināyah, Majāz Mursal, Metonymy, Synecdoche.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.778633
Depositing User: Dr Riyad Naseef
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2019 10:22
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:50
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/24137

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