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Bridging the linguistic and cultural gap between Arabic and English:polysemy and culture-specific expressions in Qur’ān translation

Hasan, Mohamed Ahmed Mahmoud (2013) Bridging the linguistic and cultural gap between Arabic and English:polysemy and culture-specific expressions in Qur’ān translation. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

The present project investigates two problematic issues in Qur’ān translation: polysemy (see Chapters One, Three, and Four) and culture-specific expressions (see Chapter Five). In the treatment of the former, the current research adopts theories of context and culture in translation and related fields, such as anthropology and linguistics (see 2.5). In treating the latter, approaches to ‘culture’ and ‘function’ in translation studies are adopted (see 5.2). The central argument postulated is that the cultural dimension involved in the use of polysemy and culture-specific expressions in the Qur’ān requires expanding the scope of analysis to include not only the linguistic but the cultural aspects as well (see 1.4.2.2; see also 1.2.3). The current research has four main original contributions. First, it is original to examine polysemy and culture-specific expressions in the Qur’ān from a translation perspective. To carry out this task, a contextual view of meaning, which embraces both the language and culture of the Qur’ān, has been adopted. Central to this type of analysis are: (i) theories of context in anthropology, linguistics and translation (cf. Malinowski 1923/1949; Firth 1964; Halliday 1978; Halliday and Hasan 1989, Gee 1999/2011; Baker 2006, House 2006, Paltridge 2006/2011, Keating and Duranti 2011), (ii) the ‘cultural turn’ in translation studies (cf. Katan 1998/2009; Sturge 1998/2009; Katan 1999/2004; Appiah 2000; Hermans 2003; Faiq 2004; Abdul-Raof 2005; Snell-Hornby 2006; Katan 2009; House 2009; Hatim 2009; Bassnett 2011(a) and (iii) approaches to culture and function in translation (cf. Holz-Mänttäri 1984; Reiss and Vermeer 1984/2013; Vermeer 1989/2000) (see Chapter Two; see also 5.2). Second, the linguistic and cultural layers of meaning involved in the translation into English of polysemy in the Qur’ān have been analyzed in the light of Nida and Taber’s ‘contextual consistency’ (Nida and Taber 1969/1982: 15; see 2.6). These aspects of meaning are intended to be a guide for the future translators of the Qur’ān in their never-ending attempts to resolve the linguistic as well as cultural ambiguity involved in the translation into English of polysemy in the Qur’ān. Third, seven linguistic as well as cultural tools of textual analysis involved in the translation into English of polysemy in the Qur’ān have been suggested. These tools are: (i) the collocational relations and oppositeness, (ii) general meaning and anaphoric signals, (iii) cataphoric signals, (iv) grammatical aspects, (v) metaphoric interpretation, (vi) 'context of situation' and (v) ‘context of culture’ (see 4.5; see also 4.7). The ultimate goal is to raise the future Qur’ān translators' awareness of the correlation between language and culture in Qur’ān translation (see 4.4; see also 4.6). Fourth, the cultural implications involved in the translation into English of culture-specific expressions in the Qur’ān have been investigated in the light of Hall and Trager’s ‘technical’ level of culture (Hall 1959) (see 5.4). The point at which polysemy and culture-specific expressions in the Qur’ān intersect is the correlation between translation and culture (see 1.4.4). The research data on polysemy was collected both from the Qur’ān itself and from six Qur’ān dictionaries, where polysemy is a central issue: Ibn al-cImād (1977), Ibn al-Jawzī (1979), Al-Dāmaghānī (1983), Al-Zarkashī (1988), Al-Sayūṭī (1999) and Ibn Sulaymān (2001). The research data on culture-specific expressions in the Qur’ān was collected from the Qur’ān itself, with particular emphasis on the categories of culture proposed by Newmark (1988) and Katan (1999/2004) (see 5.5). The research has shown that polysemy in the Qur’ān expands to communicate five layers of meaning: (i) the metaphoric meaning, (ii) the collocated and situational meaning, (iii) the emotive meaning, (iv) the general meaning, and (v) the cultural meaning (see 4.3). It has also been found that ‘technical’ culture-specific expressions in the Qur’ān cover ten semantic fields: (i) theological expressions, (ii) social customs, (iii) family expressions, (iv) behaviour expressions, (v) Qur’ān legal terms, (vi) material culture, (vii) nature expressions, (viii) culture-specific times, (ix) culture-specific figures, and (x) culture-specific emotions (see 5.6). These categories have closely been analyzed with one central argument in mind: appreciating the language and culture of the Qur’ān is the key to decode the cultural implications involved in the treatment of culture-specific expressions in the Qur’ān.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-762-9
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.605393
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2014 09:08
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2014 10:49
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6420

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