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Translating Islamic Friday Sermons: A Case Study

By: Mohammed Ihssan Mostafa Zabadi


Yarmouk University 2007
CHAPTER ONE
Theoretical Background
1.1. Preview
Translation is mainly concerned with giving an equivalent in another language fo
r a particular word or phrase, or reproducing a written or spoken text in a diff
erent language while retaining the original meaning. Catford (1965: 29) defines
translation as "the replacement of textual material in one language (SL) by equi
valent textual material in another language (TL)". Translation is usually seen a
s a process and result of rendering the same meaning in the words of another lan
guage. That is to say, translation is considered as an activity in which each me
aningful source language (SL) text materials have to be presented by equivalent
target language (TL) text materials. According to Nida (1964), the translator's
duty is to produce the closest natural equivalence; the translator, therefore, s
hould posses a broad and profound knowledge of both languages. Furthermore, tran
slators should be familiar with cultural, religious, social and ideological conc
epts of the source text besides the same concepts of the target text.
The ultimate goal of translation theory is to use the most effective techniques
and the soundest strategies to achieve what is called equivalence. However, it i
s unanimously acknowledged that translations never reach this goal (ibid). This,
in fact, is due to many factors including cultural differences between the SL a
nd TL, and differences in lexicon, phonetic systems, syntactic features and stru
ctures, word order, and style between any two languages. Failure to take these d
ifferences into account might cause translators to come up with an unfaithful re
ndition of the text they are dealing with.
Farghal (1995: 89) maintains that "translator's task is to establish translatio
n equivalence that explicitly or implicitly aims for the actualization of the eq
uivalent effect principle; that is, the TL text should have effects on the TL au
dience comparable to those brought about by the SL text on its original audience
". He adds that the connotations of the equivalents are of paramount importance
in religious translation; he suggests that the translator has to convey the mess
age of the text producer and should create what Nida (1964) and others call "The
equivalent response" on the receptor.
Religion has deep roots in the communities which speak Arabic. Generally speakin
g, it may be said that religion in these communities has priority over all the o
ther cultural aspects of life. Consciously or unconsciously, it is the prime mov
er of these societies. Islam has a great impact upon Arabs and Muslims in both t
he Arab and Islamic worlds. The quranic verses and the prophet's Hadeeth have th
e greatest impact on all aspects of life. When an orator or interlocutor intends
to gain maximum effect in his speech or sermon, he may involve a verse from the
Quran or Hadeeth from Prophet Mohammad's sayings. However, in western culture,
to which English belongs, religion has a much looser grip. In such a situation,
it is expected that a clash would often take place between the source text and t
he target text throughout the process of translating religious discourse (Aziz,
1999).
Religion is the most universal aspect of human activity and is reflected in lang
uage in emotive terms or in impotent jargon. The translation of religious discou
rse comes to the fore because we are living in an age of cultural diversity as w
ell as linguistic transformation (Newmark, 1996: 146). For example, a translator
will find that translating religious discourse is not relevant to Western count
ries. Accordingly, translators must be sensitive to the translation of such kind
of discourse in the sense that religious discourse is heavily loaded with the u
se of emotive expressions. Hatim (1997:108) points out that
The expression of emotiveness is closely bound up with semiotic categories such
as text type, discourse and genre, as well as with the hierarchical organization
of texts or the way they are put together. But, perhaps rather uniquely, emotiv
eness is the set of relationships obtaining between ideological meaning and the
lexico-grammar.
One of the problematic areas in translation is the rendition of the SL sense of
emotiveness which can be traced in emotive expressions. The emotive style is typ
ical of religious texts in general and of Islamic sermons in particular. Islamic
expressions constitute an important area of cultural differences between langua
ges and ideologies and hence difficulties in translation as well. This is actual
ly the outcome of the culture-specific religious features in different languages
such as English and Arabic which are linguistically and ideologically remote (i
bid).
"The emotive meaning of a word is a tendency of a word, arising from the history
of its usage, to produce effective responses in people" (Stevenson, 1963: 21-2)
. Newmark (1981: 133) suggests that "the translators sometimes have to give prec
edence to emotive and affective elements in the SL over the informative or conte
nt elements if the context requires that". Shunnaq (1993: 38) agrees with Newmar
k stating that "an Arab translator translating emotive lexical items into Englis
h should take this suggestion to heart". He goes on to say that "in Arabic we ha
ve numerous examples of lexical items/expressions which constitute a difficulty
when translated into English and their translation look incongruent despite stre
nuous efforts that would be exerted by translators and, in most cases, translato
rs fail to convey their connotative meanings and they manage only to convey the
denotative meanings. Denotative meaning involves the relationship between lexica
l items and the non-linguistic entities which they refer to. On the contrary, th
e connotative meaning's main application is with reference to the emotional asso
ciations which are suggested by lexical items, thus it is, roughly speaking, equ
ivalent to affective, expressive or poetic meanings".
It is true, therefore, to say that most religious words and expressions
have specific meanings. Some of the meanings these words carry are referential,
conceptual or propositional, namely, denotative whereas other meanings encapsula
ted in these words are connotative. In this study, one of the researcher's main
concerns is to focus on the connotative dimensions of religious expressions in I
slamic sermons from a translational perspective. The researcher also attempts to
indicate that Islam has a great impact on Arabic and that the connotative overt
ones of some Islamic terms or expressions are not always fully conveyed to and c
omprehended by the native speakers of English, to whom the translation of Islami
c sermons is targeted. In fact, Arabic language expressions are influenced by Is
lam due to two reasons: the first is that it is the language of divine communica
tion, as Allah said,( ) . [?inna: ?a
nzalna:hu qur?a:nan 9arabiyyan la9allakum ta9qilu:n]'we have sent it down as an
Arabic Quran in order that ye may learn wisdom' (Quran.S: XII. 2); the second is
that Islam adds new concepts to Arabic like Sala:h, zaka:h,Had3ulbayt, ?ald3iha
:d, ?alhadi among others. These concepts have no across-the-board one-to-one co
rrespondence between the SL text and the TL text as the two languages, Arabic an
d English, operate different linguistic and non-linguistic systems. It goes wit
hout saying that the influence Islam imposes on Arabic language can not be alien
ated in the process of translation.
1.2 Definitions of Sermon
The Encyclopedia of Islam (1986:74) defines xuTbah as "a sermon addresse
d by the xaTi:b". It also illustrates that prophet Muhammad's xuTab (sermons) Pe
ace Be Upon Him (PBUH), usually begin with the formula ?amma ba‹d 'Now then'…sid
e by side with the Hamdalah 'saying all praise to Allah' … the šaha:dah 'I bear
witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the m
essenger of God'. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Modern Islamic World (1995: 432) ex
plains that "an address called a xuTbah is delivered by a xaTi:b (orator), usual
ly in a masd3id (mosque), during the Friday service, celebration of religious fe
stivals or on other occasions."
A sermon is an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy. Sermons address a B
iblical, theological, or religious topic, usually expounding on a type of belief
or law. (Wikipedia.com). Islamic sermons highlight important Islamic matters wh
ich have a direct impact on contemporary life along with focusing on current iss
ues in the society. Sermons also show people the real joy of being healthy, stro
ng and getting good opportunities in life which God has given to them to fulfill
their Islamic obligations. (BahrainTribune.com)
A khutbah is "a sermon made on Friday in a congregational mosque before the spec
ial prayer 'salat al-jum'ah'. This custom goes back to the time of the Prophet (
PBUH). A khutbah is mostly given from a minbar, a series of small steps that rep
resent as a pulpit. (isna.net/services/library/khutbahs).
Dr. Ahmad Sakr (ibid) defines ?alxuTbah as "a religious talk given on Friday ju
st before performing Salat 'prayer'. It is considered very important to the exte
nt that it is part of Salat. The daily noon prayers are composed of four Raka'at
'cycles or kneels', but the Friday Salat is composed of two parts. This is beca
use the khutbah is part of Salat, and hence the number of Raka'at on Friday Sala
t is reduced from four to two.
1.3 Religious Discourse and Translation
Islamic nation is charged with the responsibility of conveying the message of Is
lam to other nations. Communicating the sacred message of Islam to non-Arabs cal
ls for the need to the translation of its terms with their implications and cove
rt meanings. These implications and meanings should be translated as far as poss
ible. This, in fact, reflects the serious role of translators who attempt to ren
der relevant terms into English; translation necessitates the use of parallel im
ages and examples to illustrate the meaning which would make the translation pro
per and appropriate (Al-said, 1989: 3). In this respect, Larson (1984: 180) main
tains that "terms which deal with the religious aspect of a culture are usually
the most difficult, both in analysis of the source vocabulary and in finding the
best receptor language equivalents". The reason behind this is that these words
are intangible and many of the practices are so automatic that the speakers of
the target language are not that conscious of the various aspects of meaning inv
olved.
Any translator who attempts to translate religious discourse should take into ac
count certain semantic phenomena such as repetition, emotiveness, figures of spe
ech and collocations. These phenomena have been the object not only of linguisti
c and rhetorical studies but also of translational ones. Translators between Ara
bic and English should, therefore, be aware of these phenomena in both the sourc
e and target languages and pay utmost attention to them (Shunnaq, 2000: 19).
The language used in religious discourse tends to be highly loaded with
untranslatable connotations. The shades of meaning of religious terms are usuall
y vivid and multi operative, let alone the enormous differences in exegesis whic
h have all to be taken care of in translation. However, religious discourse must
be relayed highly faithfully. It must not bear any kind of "extrinsic managing"
(Farghal, 1993: 262). That is to say, translators must not try to steer the TL
text to serve their own interpretations or beliefs, as any act of this sort will
result in great distortions of the original message. Thus, a faithful translato
r has to maintain a double control: rendering the SL text naturally on the one h
and and faithfully on the another.
Nida (1986: 14) points out that "the translating of religious text can be a good
testing ground for the limits of translatability". As can be seen, we have to t
olerate some inevitable loss in communication, specially when dealing with a rel
igious text but, still, this does not hinder translators from completely short o
f having strategies to make translation possible; at worst, they can resort to f
ootnoting. Translators, especially those who deal with culture-specific texts, s
hould be intellectual enough so that they could overcome the chasms of the langu
age and of the culture as well. In order to enable people to comprehend the mess
age, translators should be able to "draw aside the curtains of linguistic and cu
ltural differences" (ibid).
It goes without saying that language and culture are intricately interwoven. The
refore, there should be a cultural transfer the same way language transferred in
to another language. Accordingly, it could be said that translation means transl
ating culture, not only language since the second is the medium of the first. Th
us, since the target culture lacks a given element, its language will normally l
ack an expression that will adequately convey the missing element to speakers of
that language (ibid).
The content of Islamic sermons contains a number of lexical items that are used
to create emotiveness. Many of these items refer to battles, social system, lead
ers and political systems. For example, the word ?ald3iha:d 'fighting', a part f
rom the denotative meaning is packed with positive connotation. Western people u
sually associate ?ald3iha:d 'fighting' with negative connotation, holy war, terr
orism, fundamentalism and extremism. However, Muslims associate Al-Jihad with th
e struggle with faith and the paradise. This means that there is no word or expr
ession in English which actually represents the emotive overtones of the origina
l word ?ald3iha:d because it denotes all kinds of exerting efforts in fighting i
n the way of Allah, or spending in this way, or establishing a system that adopt
s Islam as a way of life. Therefore, the word ?ald3iha:d is comprehensive than a
ny other single equivalent in English. However, translator should make it unders
tandable and knowledgeable. (El-Zu'bi, 2002: 37-8).
It is hypothesized in the present study that most of the English-speaking societ
ies are not Islamic; hence their people do not always understand what most of th
e Arabic culture-specific terms denote, let alone their connotations. This being
so, any specialized dictionary is deemed to be a failure if it approaches such
a field by presenting one-to-one correspondence with no explanatory remarks. The
refore, lexicographers should not concentrate merely on giving one-to-one corres
pondence as a general trend, and should realize how much their task is grave and
serious, and how much it is useful to include explanatory remarks in any form e
specially for terms introduced to the target readers for the first time. On the
other hand, using general words or items in translating Islamic concepts into En
glish is not preferable since the meaning would be incomplete and obscure on the
part of English target readers.
In this regard, it is worth mentioning that Arabic-English dictionaries have con
tributed to the complexity of the translation of religious terms as they give ei
ther inaccurate equivalents or ones with pejorative connotations. Hans Wehr (196
0) is but one example of such bi-lingual dictionaries. For instance, this dictio
nary cites the meaning of Al-Jihad as fight, battle, and holy war restricting th
e deep religious sense of this term to an exclusively military sense notwithstan
ding that it is more than this in Prophet Mohammad's Hadeeth,( )
[?ald3iha:du d3iha:dun nafs] which indicates self-discipline and (
) [?afĐalul d3ihadi kalimatu Haqin 9inda sulTa:nin d3a?ir]
which calls for telling the truth regardless of its sequences. Consequently, it
can be inferred that language is deemed to be an integral part of culture. A tra
nslator in this case should be bi-cultural in as much as (s)he should be bi-ling
ual if (s)he aspires to produce optimal translation. Acquaintance with the cultu
re of both the source and target language community entails acquaintance with th
e religious repertoires of both (Al-Qubaisi, 1998: 5).
It should be pointed out that, when translating religious discourse into English
, the problems lie in finding the exact meanings in the target language. They al
so lie in the fact that Arabic and English have different grammatical systems. E
ach also has its own religious terminology. The category of religious terminolog
y in each language constitutes a self-contained religious area in which a religi
ous term in one language may have a meaning that is different from the meaning o
f the same term in another language. The lack of congruency between the two reli
gious expressions adds to the problems encountering translators. Therefore, it s
eems very significant to state that when translating religious texts or items fr
om Arabic into English, translators should better seek ideational equivalence wh
erever possible since it is the optimal procedure that proves useful in cases wh
ere many other procedures seem inapplicable (ibid).
In the process of translating religious discourse, one is likely to be challenge
d with a number of problems. Among these, there are problems relating to morphol
ogy, hyperbole, conditionals, nominal and verbal sentences (Al-Said 1989). Moreo
ver, the problem of referential gaps is a major barrier in translating unmatched
cultural elements from Arabic into English (Al-Masri, 1998). Referential gaps a
re blank spaces in the field of reference. In other words, a referential gap hol
ds when a certain concept or object exists in the SL or the SL culture but is co
mpletely missing in the TL or the TL culture. Obviously, when a concept appears
in communication, it does not ring a bell in the mind of the TL receptor as it e
njoys no referent in his/her thought-worlds. Consequently, the receptor is likel
y to be at a loss. Referential gaps may impede communication. The translator is
likely to be at a loss when it comes to translating a lexical item representing
a referential gap. Therefore, the resulting translation may deprive the TL recep
tor of the ability to dissect the elements of the translated material and relate
them to any thing known to him/her in his/her thought-worlds (ibid).
It should be clear that the presence of such dilemmas is due to the nature of th
e SL text. Religious discourse often bears a number of cultural as well as lingu
istic voids that challenge bridging. Religious language deals with supernatural
events that lack finite or solid bases, i.e. they lack the so-called extralingu
istic reality, which is a prerequisite for solid comprehension (Ivir, 1991: 53).
This orientation argues that religious language is subject to bear a number of
different interpretations. In other words, meaning boundaries are not solid, whi
ch means that a certain utterance translated today, for example, might develop n
ew connotations and associations in the SL while the TL rendition suffers a defi
ciency of coping with similar connotations and associations (ibid). Religious la
nguage also reflects transcendental experiences for which ordinary language seem
s to be so inadequate (Nida, 1986: 21). Nida (ibid) refers to the abundant figur
es of speech employed in religious discourse, which display extensive use of poe
tic forms that are highly loaded with mythic and parabolic language. In addition
, it is a kind of timeless language, which means that it may gradually bear new
connotations. This may lead to future paradoxes and inconsistencies.
It goes without saying that discussing religious terminology leads to th
e discussion of culture. Since culture plays a significant role in forming relig
ion and its entailed expressions, one feels obliged to highlight the different v
iews about culture. Taylor (1985) sheds light on the meaning of culture. He main
tains that "culture entails knowledge, laws, religion, customs, beliefs and othe
r capabilities and habits that are acquired by man or men as member(s) of a soci
ety". Thus, culture makes up the rules and customs that distinguish one society
from another. Therefore, language can distinguish between one society and anothe
r. It is perhaps the area where language differences are most noticeable.
Upon careful examination of the original Islamic sermons, the researcher noticed
that there are a large number of repetitive expressions, Islamic-specific conce
pts and metaphors that are used rhetorically to create a sense of emotiveness in
the original text. However, none of these is maintained in the translation of
these sermons, i.e. the target language texts (TLT); consequently, the emotive o
vertones are lost. The present study is intended to evaluate a number of transla
ted Islamic sermons from Arabic into English. More specifically, it sheds light
on repetitive and emotive expressions as they count in expressing the meaning im
plied in Islamic sermons. It argues that emotiveness in the SLT is the result of
the use of repetitive expressions, Islamic-specific concepts, and metaphor. Thi
s indicates that repetition and emotiveness are of great significance in transla
ting religious discourse; successful translation must adequately deal with these
phenomena. Newmark (1981: 177) says that "redundancy reflects bad style of writ
ing whereas repetition is used as means of amplification, clarification, giving
a summary, avoiding false emphasis or assisting comprehension". Therefore, "the
translator has to detect tautology before deciding whether to transfer it to the
target language or not"(ibid).
The study will draw on the facts available in the target texts to be tackled. I
t is expected that the investigation will reveal a number of translational probl
ems emanating from this endeavour, which might give insights to translators and
students of linguistics. It is worth mentioning here that the researcher does no
t aim to set norms for translating such sermons but to try to evaluate the proce
dures that are at work in translating religious discourse in general and Islamic
sermons in particular. It is not the aim of the study to put forward so-called
model translations for Islamic sermons. Instead, if, by the concluding lines of
this study, we could arrive at the best suitable strategies to overcome certain
problems existing in Islamic sermons, we would be able to argue that this study
constitutes a significant contribution to the field. Nevertheless, some suggeste
d translations will be put forward throughout.
In conclusion, translating religious texts seems to be more difficult than trans
lating other types of texts because religious texts have specific values, the ae
sthetic and expressive values. The aesthetic function of religious text refers t
o the beauty of the words, i.e. diction, figurative language and metaphors; the
expressive function refers to the thoughts and emotions embodied in the text. In
fact, translators should try, at their best, to transfer these specific values
into the target language. However, they may face linguistic and aesthetic proble
ms in the task of translation. Linguistic problems are related to omitting some
lexical items and the wrong choice of others; aesthetic problems are related to
the use of metaphorical and repetitive expressions as well as the use of some Is
lamic-specific concepts. Translators, therefore, must pay utmost attention to
the rendition of Islamic sermons in the sense that they will be presented to non
-Muslim readers, who have the right to get the message intended from these sermo
ns in a way that leads them to understand the instructions and fundamentals Isla
m calls for. Moreover, translators should translate Islamic sermons accurately a
nd faithfully; they should reflect the possible degree of emotive overtones in t
he source language text (SLT) to avoid misunderstanding which may lead to commun
ication breakdown between the Islamic culture and the western one.
CHAPTER TWO
Review of Related Literature
Translation has been the focus of many researchers worldwide. However, the studi
es conducted on translating Islamic sermons seem to have received little attenti
on. Therefore, this chapter will mainly present some studies that relate to reli
gious discourse and Islamic sermons in general rather than studies dealing with
translating Islamic-sermons in particular due to the scarcity of the latter. Mor
eover, this chapter will present some studies conducted on the concepts of repet
ition and emotiveness as they are related in some of their content to the presen
t study.
2.1 Studies Conducted on Religious Discourse and Islamic Sermons
El-hassan (1977) examines, on the basis of an extensive corpus of system
atically collected data, sermons in an Egyptian mosque to assess the validity of
the concept of diglossia in its application to Arabic. He observes that the ser
mons are quite in educated spoken Arabic, or even in pure colloquial, depending
on the type of the audience listening to the sermon.
Ali (1980) explores the rendition of Arabic religious terms through the translat
ion of the Glorious Qur'an. Similarly, Al khuli (1987) proposes equivalents of A
rabic religious terms in his translation of prophet Mohammad traditions.
Sisson and Gravetter (1988) investigate how Muslims names of Allah are received
by westerners. They examined the meaning behind the recitation of the 99 names o
f Allah (God) translated from Arabic into English. They claim that one way to un
derstand the religion of Islam is to analyze the language and rhetoric of its us
ers and listeners. The particular strategy employed in this study was to determi
ne whether the use of the names of Allah would affect and convey the message to
Westerners. The results of this study indicated that most of the names are usefu
l as rhetorical tool for informing and persuading.
Antoun (1989) examines the Friday sermons exploring the potentiality and diversi
ty of the Muslim preaching traditions. He also examines the diversity of normati
ve Islam with respect to a single preacher's sermons and between the sermons of
different preachers in the same area. Furthermore, he analyzes the process by wh
ich the Islamic message is handed down and interpreted by the Muslim preacher an
d compares that process with similar processes outside the Islamic-world. He sta
tes that Islamic sermons are not only examples of guiding norms for Muslims in w
orship, social relations, and everyday transactions; they also provide meaning f
or the deepest experiential level from the side of both intellect and emotions.
His survey is actually composed of twenty-six sermons. Fifteen dealt with ethica
l concerns: the diary of good deeds, the necessity of equal treatment of wives a
nd siblings; seven dealt with theological concern (e.g., death, the night of the
divine decree, laylat 'al-qadir; six dealt with ritual obligation (e.g., pilgri
ms, and fasting); six dealt with religious history (e.g., Muhammad's prophecy an
d struggle); and only one with politics- a sermon on Palestine. Metaphor and mod
es of articulation are also explored in this study within its social and cultura
l context. Several questions are also explored such as: Is the Islamic sermon an
example of formal speech? If so, does that formal speech preclude the handling
of specific issues? If not, what is the nature of the articulation of formal spe
ech with its social structural context? If Islamic sermons are regarded as a par
ticular speech code among a multiciplity of codes, what is the mode of accommoda
tion of these codes to one another?
Badawi (1990) maintains that "Hadeeth", which has been a part of his study, is r
egarded as the equivalent term of the English word "speech". From an Islamic poi
nt of view, it is used to refer to "individual statements, acts, and sanctions o
f Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)". He adds that while the Qur'an is inspired by God in
letter and meaning, Hadeeths are regarded as the inspired judgments and guidance
of the prophet Mohammad on various matters of Islamic practices.
Qassas (1990) investigates the cultural problems in translating Arabic proverbs
into English. She classifies cultural problems into religious and social. She ad
ds that meanings and functions of the proverbs in both languages are similar to
a great extent but the way these proverbs are expressed in each language is diff
erent. The fact that each language has its own features in giving the proverbs t
heir special interpretations causes the aforementioned difference.
Al-Mutlaq (1993) argues that finding a cultural equivalence in Arabic or English
is a problem; it is a barrier for Arabic-English translators and vice versa. He
adds "since the spread of Islam is limited in English speaking countries, espec
ially in the western ones, translators face a real problem in trying to find the
appropriate equivalents for its verses and phrases in the target language" (p.5
). He attributes this to the fact that English native speakers are not familiar
with the Islamic expressions as Arabic native speakers are. He also ascribes the
unlikelihood of finding a suitable cultural equivalent in translating fiction t
o the existence of referential gaps, among other reasons. He asserts that the ma
jor reason behind the existence of cultural peculiarities in fiction is that the
SL text, Arabic in his study, employs expressions whose elements are derived fr
om the Arab religious background and yet missing in the TL culture (ibid: 68). H
e discusses the translation of these expressions in Arabic fiction and concludes
that the translator fails to render the intended meaning into the TL due to a n
umber of mismatches between the SL and the TL texts.
Danny Lee (1993) examines the current style of the sermon as one of the most pop
ular forms of rhetoric today, particularly in its relationship to the medium of
television. He studies the use of ethos, pathos and logos in the television-serm
on. After investigating the television-sermon with respect to the use of ethos,
pathos and logos as persuasive techniques, the study reveals that the television
-evangelist uses logos in five different areas: the appeal of logos through doct
rine, through definition, through comparison and contrary, and through induction
. It also reveals that the frequency of each "artistic proof" varies with the si
x-selected television-evangelist's sermons.
Antoun (1993) conducts another study in Jordan, Egypt and Iran. He describes one
of the neglected informal institutions for the transmission of Islamic learning
, the daris, the lesson that takes place before the sermon itself. He also docum
ents the variety of themes and symbols found in such lessons and makes certain o
bservations about the distinctive politico-ethical content of lessons. Moreover,
he explores the question of how lessons are connected to one another and to the
following Friday sermon, both thematically and symbolically. The above lessons
are recorded in two periods, 1959-60 and 1965-66. They do not have titles; howev
er, the largest number of lessons dealt with ethics (29); the next most numerous
(15) with theology; a few (5) with ritual and legal matters, and a few with rel
igious history; and none referred to politics or life crises. With regard to ana
lysis of those lessons, he says that "textual connections between lessons certai
nly do exist. These connections can be characterized as those of context (i.e.,
didactic message) or form (i.e., metaphors/ metonyms and images)". The analysis
reveals also that both of lessons and sermons are linked in topical content and
theme. They are, moreover, connected with each other in a web of Intertextuality
focusing on theme and metaphor that are not only repeated from one text to anot
her but also elaborated and/or substituted for in such a way as to convey certai
n core message of religion.
Ayoub (1994) discusses the religious culture as one of the cultural problems in
his attempt to translate idiomatic expressions into English. He suggests some gu
idelines and strategies for those interested in the field to translate these exp
ressions. Ayoub claims that culture is a problematic area for translators, parti
cularly when cultural expressions are translated into other languages.
Al-Azzam (1998) investigates the translatability of Islamic religious expression
s from Arabic into English focusing on the major problems that Yarmouk Universit
y students of translation encounter through the process of translation. The data
of this study were collected from books and interpretations of the Holy Quran.
The sample of this study consists of fourteen M.A students at Yarmouk University
who were asked to translate fifty Islamic religious expressions from Arabic int
o English. The study presents a classification for the cultural and linguistic p
roblems that the students face in religious translation from Arabic into English
; each problematic area was dealt with separately with the provision of examples
. At the end of the study, suggestions and recommendations are put forward showi
ng that, despite the different applicable procedures, rendering religious expres
sions into the target language is hard to achieve because of the linguistic and
cultural differences.
Al-Masri (1998) investigates the problem of referential gaps as a major barrier
in translating unmatched cultural elements from Arabic into English. He argues t
hat a referential gap is a gap in the field of reference, i.e. the term present
in the SL is completely or partially missing in the TL. The study derives its ev
idence from certain selected translations, by highly-reputed translators, of som
e verses of the Holy Quran. These translations give rise to a host of problems d
ue to the existence of partial and/or complete referential gaps, which may imped
e the desired communication. Al-Masri handles the linguistic and cultural phenom
enon against two scales: the best type of equivalence to adopt, i.e. to choose b
etween formal, functional, or ideational equivalence and the most suitable trans
lation strategy to employ, i.e., borrowing, definition, literal translation, sub
stitution, lexical creation, omission, addition, or their possible combinations.
For the purpose of validating the results, two types of questionnaires were des
igned: structured and free, and divided the subjects into three groups: the ques
tionnaire subjects, the test subjects and a third group whose members have to re
spond first to the questionnaire then to the test to see whether their responses
match or not. The education variable is also exploited to find its relevance an
d comprehension. The study concludes that little information is truly transmitte
d into the TL in the presence of a referential gap due to a number of reasons: r
emoteness of the two cultures, adopting the wrong type of equivalence or employi
ng the wrong translation strategy, among other reasons. The study also concludes
that the level of education corresponds to comprehension.
Al-Kubaisi (1998) investigates the translation of figh terms from Arabic into En
glish. His study aims at detecting points of difficulty in translating figh term
s of different types, both within a text and in isolation. To achieve the purpos
e of the study, three main strategies of translation were adopted which proved t
o be the most appropriate among some others that were excluded. He argues that s
ome figh terms involve a given strategy and others involve another, and sometime
s a given figh term involves the combination of two strategies at a time. Most o
f the problems related to the question of having recourse to Muslims authorities
in the field before translating figh terms. Some other problematic aspects rela
ted to the question of coming up with a translation that is fully conspicuous to
the English target reader and/or elucidating to him/her the new Islamic connota
tions of many literal translations the general sense of which might create ambig
uity of meaning to him/her. The study was rounded off by presenting some general
guidelines which are deemed to be of use to those engaged in this arena and for
future research in the field.
Aziz (1999) examines the cross-cultural translation and ideological shifts. His
study is based on data collected from translations of Shakespeare's plays into m
odern standard Arabic. The ideological shifts attested in the data are grouped u
nder three main headings: religious ideology, political ideology and social ideo
logy. Within these shifts two main tendencies were detected: Alienation, a shift
characterized by distancing from the source culture, and integration, a change
aiming at getting closer to and sometimes merging with the target culture. Both
types of changes involve loss of information. In short, the source text is rewri
tten by the translator in such away as to be easily comprehended and accepted by
the new reader. The study concludes that translation across cultures inevitably
results in ideological shifts. The shifts are greater where the gap between the
source culture and the target culture is wider.
In his textual analysis to the last sermon delivered by prophet Mohammad (PBBH),
Zohery (2004) interprets the text and addresses the issues that have been menti
oned by the prophet (PBUH) such as freedom to all, sanctity of life, wealth and
property, equality of all races and right of others. He also describes the conte
nt, structure and function of messages contained in the text. He states that the
language used by the prophet (PBUH), for instance, "sets unlimited boundaries t
o the text." The terminology is also investigated by indicating that "the prophe
t's terms are not intended to his local people but they are for all people every
where and for all coming generations". To illustrate this more, Zohery interpret
s the prophet use of 'O people' as a "universal address term used for all people
".
Al-Omari (2006) investigates the discoursal problems in the Friday sermons disco
urse. The sample of the study consisted of forty Friday sermons delivered by Jor
danian preachers in the province of Irbid. The study is based on audio cassettes
recorded at the mosques. An evaluative checklist developed by Al-Smadi and Al-A
bed AL-Haq (1995) was adopted with some modifications to evaluate those samples.
The analysis and evaluation of the sermons were based on eight major qualities
which represent the well formedness of Friday sermons discourse: thesis statemen
t, relevance, coherence, cohesion, unity, wording, completeness and organization
and order. The data analysis revealed that the preachers were not able to emplo
y properly the discoursal components in their sermons. Further, it was found tha
t the element of coherence was the most problematic to the preachers. The elemen
t of wording, on the other hand, was the least problematic. The errors in the pr
eachers' sermons at the discoursal level were attributed to numerous sources and
causes, the most important of which were inadequate command of discoursal skill
s and limited exposure to the authentic material of the Arabic language.
It is obvious from the review of the previous works that there are some problems
related to translating religious discourse. Among which are the highly expressi
ve language employed in religious discourse, figures of speech and metaphor and
lack of equivalents in the target language. However, most of these studies and c
omments have not convincingly resolved the mentioned problems, and some are gene
ral viewpoints that need verification. Therefore, the present study will attempt
to address itself to the study of some major problems involved in the Arabic-En
glish translation of religious discourse in general and Islamic sermons in parti
cular.
2.2 Studies Conducted on Repetition and Emotiveness:
Having surveyed several studies conducted on religious discourse and Islamic ser
mons in general, the researcher finds it necessary to survey other studies on re
petition with reference to its types and functions as well as studies on emotive
ness as they relate in some of their content to the current study. This is due t
o the fact that both repetition and emotiveness are correlated; emotiveness moti
vates repetition, which is thus an expression or manifestation of emotiveness. I
t is therefore fair to assume that repetition and emotiveness constitute the mai
n sources of rhetoric in religious discourse in general and Islamic sermons in p
articular.
A comprehensive treatment of emotive meaning is surveyed by Ullman (1962). He re
fers to emotive factors in meaning of sources of emotive tones and divides these
factors into phonetic signs, slogans, emotive derivations, words of emotive com
ments, and words with evocative values. Furthermore, he refers to factors leadin
g to the loss of emotive meaning such as the course of time, loss of motivation
and the law of diminishing returns.
Nida (1964: 91) defines connotative meaning as: "The aspects of author and the
emotional response of a receptor. It can be bad or good, strong or weak". In thi
s context, Nida concludes that emotiveness is the result of the interaction of a
uthor, text and audience. He (ibid) goes on to state three principles sources of
connotative meaning: the speaker associated with the word, the practical circum
stances in which the word is used, and the linguistic setting characteristic of
the word. In this regard, Leech (1974: 15) deals with emotive meaning. In his bo
ok, Semantics, he divides meaning into seven types. Among these are the connotat
ive, affective, intended, associative and reflected which might be considered un
der the category of emotiveness. Emotive meaning can be emphasized in speech thr
ough the use of what expresses feelings and emotions.
Persson (1974) discusses repetition and what he calls sequential repetition dis
tinguishing six major types of repetition in English, namely, intensifying repet
ition, emphatic repetition, conjoined repetition, mimetic repetition, simple rep
etition and purposive repetition.
De waard and Nida (1986: 86-7) state that repetition is the most obvious of all
rhetorical processes which are usually employed "to accomplish the rhetorical fu
nctions of wholeness, aesthetic, appeal, impact, appropriateness, coherence, pro
gression-cohesion, focus and emphasis". They distinguish between two basic types
of repetition: those which occur within the same discourse, involving sounds, i
ndividual words, phrases, syntactic constructions, prepositions, and even entire
sections, and those which involve two or more discourses, as in the case of quo
tations.
Watt (1986) investigates repetition under what he calls reduplication to refer t
o repetition of sentences, phrases, words, morphemes with or without 'and'. In h
is study, he distinguishes three types of repetition, namely, repetition that in
tensifies effect, conjunctive reduplication, and simple repetition.
Tannen (1987, 1989) elaborates on the purposes and functions of repetition; she
(1987: 574) states that "repetition functions in production, comprehension, conn
ection and interaction". She (1989: 48-52) argues that production enables the sp
eaker to produce language more efficiently and fluently. Comprehension is facili
tated by providing semantically less dense discourse. Connection serves a refere
ntial and tying function. Tannen (ibid: 50-1) maintains that repetition of sente
nces, phrases and words shows how new utterances are linked to earlier discourse
and how ideas presented in discourse are related to each other. Finally, intera
ction may be considered as a device that helps repetition in accomplishing socia
l goals, or simply managing the business of conversation like getting or keeping
the floor, providing back-channel response, gearing up to answer or speak, humo
r and play, savoring and showing appreciation of a good line or a good joke, per
suasion.
Shunnaq (1993: 40) divides emotive expressions into two types: negative and posi
tive, and traces the main sources of emotive expressions to figures of speech, c
ultural expressions and naturally emotive expressions. Figures of speech include
metaphor, euphemisms and dysphemisms, and personification. Cultural expressions
include religious, fatalistic, political, material and social expressions.
Nusir (1998) investigates functional repetition in selected speeches delivered b
y his majesty king Hussein Bin Talal with special references to their translatio
ns from Arabic into English to establish some claims about repetition in Arabic.
He handles patterns of repetition forced by language surveying three levels: ph
onological, morphological, and chunk levels. He also approaches repetition from
a pragmatic point of view as he attempts to investigate the pragmatic role of re
petition. He discusses and analyzes a number of examples from selected speeches
of His Majesty King Hussein and compares the original texts with their translati
on. He, moreover, discusses unnecessary repetition, revealing its shortcomings.
He argues that this type of repetition is absent in the speeches of His Majesty
King Hussein as he is fully aware of what he says and what he wants to convey. F
inally, he sheds some light on some of the main problems translators might encou
nter in dealing with political texts in general, such as emotiveness, cultural g
aps, and lexical non-equivalence.
Shunnaq (2000) investigates the Arabic English translation of political speeches
. He examines repetitive and emotive expressions in Gamal Abdul Nasser's politic
al speeches with reference to Arabic-English translation. He argues that repetit
ion and emotiveness are of paramount significance in translating Arabic politica
l discourse and that successful translation must deal with these phenomena. The
study draws on twenty authentic excerpts of Nasser's speeches translated from Ar
abic into English by the author. Further, the study categorizes examples involvi
ng repetition into functional repetition of parallel structure and functional re
petition created through semantic elaborations. It also categorizes other exampl
es involving emotiveness into four levels: phonological, morphological, lexical
and semantic. The study stresses the importance of the translator's awareness of
repetition and emotiveness, as well as other features such as hyperbole, humor,
and metaphors.
El-Zu'bi (2002) investigates the problem of translatability of emotive expressio
ns in political speeches. He discusses the extent of acceptability of the transl
ation of emotive expressions in these speeches and then evaluates this translata
bility from different translational approaches. His study addresses various dime
nsions, i.e. political, religious, educational, cultural and economic and identi
fies the emotive strategies that are used in His Royal Highness, Prince Al-Hassa
n's speeches. The study suggests some methods and strategies for translating the
se emotive expressions into and from English. The study shows that a host of str
ategies were implied in these speeches to arrive at the goal of emotiveness. The
se strategies include linguistic, political and cultural ones. Figures of speech
, rhetorical questions, doublets, repetitions and expressions of direct emotiven
ess are among the linguistic strategies, Islamic references and political expres
sions are among the political and cultural strategies respectively.
Rawashdeh (2002) investigates the translatability of religious expressions in Na
guib Mahfouz's novel, , "Palace of Desire" into English. This novel was
chosen due to the fact that it is fully loaded with religious expressions that
are related to Arabic and Islamic culture in general and to Egyptian culture in
particular. She selected 30 examples from the Arabic novel then she analyzed the
ir English translations by Hutchen's et al and Nancy Roberts. A comparison betwe
en these two translations was conducted in terms of equivalence to the source la
nguage text.
Assaf (2005) examines the translation of Arabic absolute object into English. Th
e study aims at exploring a number of appropriate ways and means of translating
the Arabic absolute object into idiomatic English. The examples of the absolute
object, categorized into three main groups on the basis of their functions, are
cited from the Holy Quran. Three suitable translations carried out by Ali, pickt
hall and Arberry and commentary on each example from some authentic commentaries
of the Quran are stated. The three translations are discussed in light of the p
roblem addressed. The study revealed that the three translations sometimes repea
t the root, which is often awkward, or lose the function of the absolute object
in the target text. Besides, transferring all shades of the absolute object mean
ing is not an easy task, especially when the Quran is the source text. He mainta
ins that translators must pay a great deal of attention to produce natural-sound
ing renditions by avoiding root repetition and opting for idiomatic TL expressio
ns.
To sum up, all the above English and Arab scholars believe that emotive expressi
ons are problematic in translation. They claim that emotive expressions can be t
ranslated with gain or loss in meaning, or even sometimes, with a change. After
surveying these studies, one can reach to the conclusion that they use affective
, connotative, and emotive expressions to refer to the same entity or kind of me
aning and nearly they state the same devices for creating affective response on
the part of the addressee. Moreover, nearly all of them call for testing the con
text of situation, because culture and history sometimes interact to give the ex
pression its meaning to arouse emotions.
CHAPTER THREE
Methodology
This chapter is mainly concerned with the methods and procedures used in this st
udy. The statement of the problem, the purpose and questions of the study, the h
ypotheses of the study, and significance of the study will be highlighted in thi
s chapter. The limitations of the study will also be presented. Moreover, some l
ight will be shed upon the sample of the study, as well as data collection and a
nalysis.
3.1. Statement of the Problem:
Religious discourse is a very sensitive issue that has to be translated
carefully in the sense that it carries important ideas to the target readers. In
terpretation of a lexical item in a religious context is very different from its
interpretation in, say, the context of chemistry. In the former, the denotative
as well as the connotative meanings should be considered, whereas in the latter
the denotative would suffice (Shunnaq, 1994: 58).
The content of Islamic sermons is a field where translation has proved to be ver
y important. More specifically, Islamic sermons carry important information that
has to be accurately translated to the target readers who have the right to get
the correct message intended by these sermons. Upon close examination of a samp
le of sermons, the researcher has noticed that the translations of those sermons
from Arabic into English including lexical and rhetorical problems. It should b
e pointed out that translating religious discourse has not received a great deal
of attention as other areas of study, i.e. translation of metaphor, proverbial
expressions, translation of culture. Moreover, most of the studies concerned wit
h religious discourse have investigated it from a discourse analysis perspective
. However, no study to the best of the researcher's knowledge has directly dealt
with problems of the Arabic-English translation of religious discourse in gener
al and with the Islamic sermons in particular. Accordingly, research is needed t
o fill in this gap in the field of translation.
3.2. Purpose and Questions of the Study:
The primary purpose of the present study is to evaluate the translation of a sam
ple of Islamic sermons in terms of accuracy and faithfulness to the original tex
ts to see whether or not the intended message is successfully conveyed to the ta
rget audience. It also tries to identify and categorize the errors committed in
the translation of these sermons. More specifically, the study will attempt to a
nswer the following questions:
1. What are the potential errors found in the Islamic sermons translated fr
om Arabic into English?
2. What are the reasons behind the occurrence of the errors?
3. Do the translations of the Islamic sermons convey the message intended?
However, it is not among the aims of the study to put forward so-called model tr
anslations. Instead, by the concluding lines of this study, we could hopefully a
rrive at the best suitable strategies to overcome certain problems existing in I
slamic sermons.
3.3. Hypotheses of the Study:
In light of the examination of some translated Islamic sermons, the researcher h
as set the following hypotheses:
1. There are a number of deficiencies and weaknesses related to language in
the translated Islamic sermons.
2. Most of these errors are lexical.
3. Translators' low command of English is a reason behind the occurrence of
such lexical errors.
4. The occurrence of such lexical errors is also ascribed to translators' u
nawareness of some linguistic and rhetorical issues such as repetition, emotiven
ess, collocations, Islam-specific terms among other issues.
5. The errors found in the translations of Islamic sermons may distort the
intended message.
3.4. Significance of the Study:
The significance of the present study stems from the fact that it addresses the
problems in the Arabic-English translation of religious discourse in general and
in Islamic sermons in particular. Translating Islamic sermons is a very importa
nt and sensitive issue in the field of translation in the sense that they will b
e presented to non Muslims and consequently to non Muslim cultures. In this rega
rd, Islamic sermons must be translated in a way that leads non Muslims to unders
tand the Islamic terminology used in these sermons accurately. Many problems are
encountered in translating Islamic sermons especially when it comes to translat
ing, as will be discussed later, Islamic-specific concepts, shared concepts, and
cultural terms among others. The study addresses itself to some of these proble
ms in order to come up with a conclusion about the possibility of translating Is
lamic sermons. It also aims to put forward some suggestions that might facilitat
e the translation of religious discourse in general and Islamic sermons in parti
cular.
The study, furthermore, draws its significance from the fact that it addresses i
tself to provide explanations for the reasons behind the occurrence of the probl
ems found in the Arabic-English translation of Islamic sermons. Moreover, the st
udy will attempt to find solutions to improve the process of translating Islamic
sermons and make them understandable and knowledgeable to the target audience.
It can hopefully be argued that this study constitutes a significant contributio
n to the field.
Finally, the findings and recommendations of the study will hopefully facilitate
the task for those concerned with religious discourse translation in general an
d with Islamic sermon's in particular by introducing some guidelines that transl
ator should be aware of and may benefit from. The study may also furnish the gro
und for further research in this field.
3.5. Limitations of the Study
Although the researcher has done his best to come up with a sound and si
gnificant study, he acknowledges the following limitations:
1. The researcher limits himself to the lexical errors because of their ver
y frequent occurrence paying no attention to other errors such as syntactic ones
.
2. The data was not refereed by specialists in the field of religious studi
es; rather it was refereed by the researcher himself. This may lessen the reliab
ility of the analysis.
3. Only 17 Islamic sermons are studied.
3.6. Sample of the Study
The sample of the current study consists of 17 Islamic sermons addressing variou
s issues. These sermons are:
1. " " [?aĎulm] 'Oppression'
2. " " [xuTbatud3 d3um9ah] 'Friday Khutba'
3. " " [wada:9an ramada:n] 'Farewell of Ramadan'
4. " " [?attawakulu 9alal lahi] 'Reliance on Allah'
5. " " [tsuna:mi] 'Tsunami'
6. " " [Had3atul wada9] 'Farewell Pilgrimage'
7. " " [?alHad3] 'Hajj'
8. " " [xuTbatud3 d3um9ah] 'Friday Khutbah'
9. " - " [?ahlan ramada:n šahrul faĐa:?ili
walbaraka:ti] 'Welcome Ramadan - The Month
of Virtues and Blessings'.
10. " "[risa:latul la:hi ?ilalbašariyyati] 'Allah's Mes
sage
for Humanity'
11. " " [xuTbatul 9i:d] 'Eid Khutbah'
12. " " [?al9ašril ?awaxiri min DilHid3ah]
'The First Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah'
13. " " [?azaka:h waSSadaqah] 'Zakat and Charity'
14. " " [?taqarubu ?lallahi] 'Getting Closer to Allah'
15. " : " [?al?isla:m: Tari:qul ?i9tida:li
wal waSaTiyya] ' Islam: The Middle and Moderate path'
16. " " [?attawHedu wa?aθaruhu 9lal Hayatil
bašariyyah] 'Tawhid and its Effects on Human Life'
17. " " [?almiθa:lus sami: linnabiyyi
9alayhiSala:tu was sala:m] 'The Exalted Example of the
Prophet(PBUH)'
3.7. Data Collection:
The data of the present study were taken from translated material uoted from 17
Islamic sermons. These sermons were collected from the internet. More specifica
lly, these sermons were collected from the following three websites: 1. Universi
ty of East Anglia's website: http://www.uea.ac.uk. 2. http://www.isna.net/servic
es/library. 3. http://www.angelfire.com/ca/hasakr/sakr1.html. The sermons ar
e written in Arabic and translated into English. However, no information about t
he translators of these sermons, their number or ualifications is available.
3.8. Data Analysis:
Upon careful study of a sample of the sermons, it was noticed that their
translations suffer from linguistic errors i.e. lexical errors. Furthermore, th
e concept of repetition and emotiveness were highlighted in this study. To analy
ze the data obtained, an error analysis approach was adopted due to the fact tha
t it proved to be "a more direct and more reliable source of information about t
he learners' problems" (Krezeszowski, 1990: 190). The errors, judged by the rese
archer himself, were classified into one major category, namely, lexical errors.
Following is an account of the procedure of analysis adopted:
1- The source text sentences (Arabic) are cited and transliterated.
2- Gloss translation of the transliteration is then provided
3- The erroneous English translations are provided.
4- The reasons behind erroneous translations are suggested in the course of
discussion, and then the researcher's suggested translation of the source langu
age is provided.
Chapter Four
Findings and Discussion

This chapter concentrates mainly on analyzing and discussing the linguistic erro
rs found in the translations of Islamic sermons under investigation. It also con
centrates on relating those errors to their possible causes of occurrence. The e
rrors found are lexical and syntactic. However, syntactic errors will not be dea
lt with in this chapter due to the abundance of lexical errors.
Lexical errors, if committed, are usually the result of the translator's departu
res from the SL text, and "they ultimately lead to providing a meaning slightly
or significantly different from the one intended in the source language text" (A
thamneh and Zitawi, 1999: 133). Lexical errors, in the present research, are fur
ther divided into seven subcategories arranged in this chapter according to thei
r fre uency of occurrence:
1- Use of Repetitive Expressions,
2- Omission,
3- Wrong choice of lexical items,
4- Islamic-specific concepts,
5- Transliteration,
6- Shared concepts and
7- Translation of metaphor.
The overall number of the lexical errors found in the 17 sermons under investiga
tion is 192. Next is a table showing the fre uency and percentage of each subcat
egory:
Table 1. Fre uency a
nd Percentage of Errors
Error Fre uency Percentage
1- Use of repetitive expressions 47 24.47 %
2- Omission 44 22.91 %
3- Wrong choice of lexical item 38 19.79 %
4- Islamic-Specific Concepts 24 12.5 %
5- Transliteration 17 8.85 %
6- Shared concepts 13 6.77 %
7- Translation of Metaphor 9 4.68%
TOTAL 192 100 %

4.1 The Use of Repetitive Expressions:


Examining expository prose in contemporary Arabic, structural and semantic repet
ition are found to be responsible both for linguistic cohesion and for rhetorica
l force. Johnstone (1991: 7) claims that discourse repetition serves a crucial f
unction in the ecology of any language as the mechanism by which speakers evoke
and create underlying paradigmatic structure in their syntagmatic talk and writi
ng. For example, Writers in Arabic may deliberately repeat a lexical item for ce
rtain rhetorical purposes. They may also use lexical couplets which consist of c
onjoined synonyms creating new semantic paradigms. They may further repeat morph
ological roots and patterns at close range creating phonological rhyme. In fact,
repetition of all these kinds can serve persuasive ends by creating rhetorical
presence. It is worth mentioning here that the Arabic language and the Arab-Isla
mic cultural traditions obviously lend themselves to this rhetorical strategy.
The rhetoric of repetition is a major theme in the current study. Johnstone (199
1: 9) states that "repetition, parallelism and paraphrase in Arabic discourse ca
n function as persuasive devices". Simultaneously, she adds that in the context
of English stylistics, repetition is traditionally seen as a figure of speech (i
bid). In other words, repetition is one way in which syntax can be made to devia
te from the norm or simply for ornamentation. De waard and Nida (1986: 86-7) sta
te that repetition is the most obvious of all rhetorical processes which are usu
ally employed "to accomplish the rhetorical functions of wholeness, aesthetic, a
ppeal, impact, appropriateness, coherence, progression-cohesion, focus and empha
sis".
Repetition sometimes occurs in the form of parallelism. Tannen (1982) maintains
that the rhetorical force of the parallelism in the spoken version is lexicalize
d. Parallelism can be a discourse-structuring device. It goes without saying tha
t some texts are completely organized around patterns of repetition. Parallelism
is always hierarchal; it always involves repetition on the higher level, and th
e evocation and creation of paradigmatic structure on the lower level. To say th
at two linguistic structures are parallel is to say that they share a common str
uctural frame, and that within this frame, some elements differ in form. They ca
n be phonological, morphological, register, or dialect variants; synonyms or ant
onyms; or metaphorical version of one another; or they can be related in any of
a number of other ways. (Johnstone: 1991:16)
It should be pointed out that the term parallelism is used here in a broad sense
to include both repetition of form and repetition of content. In its narrower s
ense, it refers to the level on which only the form is repeated: morphological p
arallelism and syntactic parallelism (ibid). However, the focus will be on the m
orphological rather than the syntactic one due to the fact that the present stud
y is mainly concerned with lexical issues, which morphological parallelism has d
irectly to do with. More specifically, the repetition of lexical items, lexical
couplets and roots will be investigated. Cases classified under this category ar
e 47 adding up to 24.47 % of the total number of errors. They occupy the first p
lace in Table 1.
4.1.1 Repetition of lexical items
This section is intended to highlight the translation problems of repetitive exp
ressions of paradigmatic nature. Al-Mahmoud (1989) points out that repetition ca
n be simple, that is repeating the same word several times. Examples of simple r
epetition are numerous in Islamic sermons. The following are two illustrative on
es.
1. : , ,
........
?ayyuhan na:s ?itta un na:r ?itta un na:ra
Walaw bi
O people avoid the Hellfire avoid the Hellfire
Even by
ši i tamrah ?itta un na:ra bikalimatin
Tayyibatin
a little date avoid the Hellfire by word
good
O people, avoid the Hellfire by giving away as little as a date, by saying a goo
d word.
2. : ..........
.
Faya: ?arba:baD Dunu:bil 9aĐi:mah
?alāani:mah
you committers sins great
apportunity
?alāani:mah fi: ha:Dihil ?ayyamil
kari:mah
apportunity in these days
blessed
O you have committed great sins! These few remaining blessed days are an opportu
nity for you to repent.
These two examples involve lexical repetitions: the clause " " [?ittaq
un na:r] is repeated three times and the word "" [?alāani:mah] is repeate
d twice. With each repetition, more emotiveness is aroused. In other words, the
lexical repetition not only repeats what has been said, but also enriches and de
epens it by adding something new. The repetition of certain words and expression
s is of paramount importance in Arabic-Islamic discourse. Such parallel repetiti
on develops the religious discourse and arouses the audience's feelings; repetit
ion may indicate the speaker's emotional involvement as well as emphasis. To put
it differently, the lexical repetition in these two examples is indicative of t
he preacher's emotional involvement and fulfils an emphatic function; the preach
er uses lexical items which act as a powerful means of conveying his feelings an
d attitudes as a member of the Islamic nation. However, these examples show that
repetitive expressions constitute a problem to translators. This is shown by th
e fact that none of the translations maintain any of them. This makes the Englis
h renditions less impressive than the Arabic originals. Not including these repe
titive expressions spoils the emotive and emphatic function of the structure. Th
e translator, doing so, turned the emotive, emphatic function of the structure i
nto an informative one. In this example, the translator conveys the message apar
t from any emotive, emphatic or aesthetic meaning. In other words, the above Eng
lish rendition fails to have the impact the expression had in Arabic. The reason
behind the occurrence of such erroneous translation might be the translator's i
gnorance of the emotive, emphatic and aesthetic functions of repetitive expressi
ons. Therefore, translators are encouraged to give priority to evaluativeness as
a contextual variable because the text is charged with emotions. Jakobson (1960
: 354) argues that the emotive function of language aims at expressing the speak
er's attitude and that it favors all utterances on their phonic, grammatical and
lexical level. This is asserted by Shunnaq (1993: 39) who points out that "the
emotive meaning of a lexical item pertains to aura of the personal feelings it a
rouses in the text receiver. Shunnaq (2000: 27) reinforces this point adding tha
t "emotiveness motivates repetition, which is thus an expression or manifestatio
n of emotiveness". It is, therefore, fair to assume that repetition and emotiven
ess constitute the main sources of rhetoric in Islamic sermons. Therefore, the r
esearcher suggests marinating such repetitive expressions in the translation in
the hope of preserving their emotive, emphatic and aesthetic function; the follo
wing translations for the previous two examples are suggested respectively:
O people, avoid the Hellfire. Avoid the Hellfire even by giving away as little a
s a date. Avoid the Hellfire by saying a good word.
You who have committed great sins! Seize and seize these blessed days as an opp
ortunity to repent
4.1.2 Lexical couplets
A lexical couplet is a structure of the form A×B where X is a coordinating conju
nction, usually additive (and, Arabic wa) but occasionally disjunctive (or, Arab
ic aw); A and B are synonymous if they are single words and paraphrases if they
are phrases; the structure A and B has a single referent, i.e. it is used to ref
er to a single object, action or state rather than two temporally or logically d
iscrete objects, action or states (johnstone, 1991: 37). In fact, the most signi
ficant feature of Arabic lexical couplets is their creativity.
Many Arabic couplets have religious or ritual origins; " " [yaw
mul ba9θi wan nušu:ri] 'day of reckoning and resurrection' and " " [
?al aĐa:2u wal qadaru] 'fate and divine decree' are examples of such couplets. H
owever, serious problems arouse in the attempt of translating lexical couplets;
the following examples provide a piece of evidence for this.
.1
!
ha:Da wakam wakam yafi:Đul
la:hu min
this and how and how floods(male)
Allah from
d3u:dihi wa karamihi 9ala:
9iba:dihi wa
His giving and His generosity on His wors
hipers and
yamunnu 9alaihim birraHmati wal
maāfirati
blesses(male) on them by mercy and
forgiveness
wal 9itqi minan na:ri la: siyy
ama fi: ?a:xirihi
and protection from the fire ? particula
r in its end
Allah has showered His Mercy and Favour on many of his slaves in this month- par
ticularly in the last ten days of it.
.2
hal za:latiĎ Ďaāa:?inu wal ?aHqa:du ?
wa hal
did disappear(fem) prejudices and hatreds an
d did
tala:šatil munkara:tu wal muHarrama:tu 9anil mud3t
ama9a:ti
vanish(fem) the enormities and prohibitions from the societi
es
Did it remove the hatred between us?
The two above-mentioned examples contain four lexical couplets:
"" [d3odihi wa karamihi], " " [?araHmah walmaāfirah],
[?aĎaāa:?inu wal?aHqa:du] and " " [?almunkara
:tu wal muHarrama:tu]. It is obvious from the translations of these examples tha
t the translator encountered a difficulty while translating such lexical couplet
s. His/her inconsistency while dealing with lexical couplets proves this. (S)He
sometimes opted for dealing with them as a single lexical item ignoring the comb
ination between the two synonymous words used as in the first three examples; ho
wever, (s)he sometimes preferred not to translate the combination at all as in t
he last example. In the first three examples, the translator opted for translati
ng " " [d3odihi wa karamihi] only into favor, " "
[?araHmah walmaāfirah] only into mercy, and " "
[?aĎaāa:?inu wal?aHqa:du] only into hatred; such translations seem to be inappr
opriate as they give no credit to the function of using two synonymous words in
a lexical couplet, i.e. to the function of semantic paradigms created through re
petition. In fact, repetition of synonymous words in lexical couplets can serve
persuasive ends through creating rhetorical force or emphasis upon a certain ide
a. However, translating them in the aforementioned ways may lessen the rhetorica
l, persuasive and aesthetic force intended by them. Therefore, translators are h
ighly encouraged to translate the two synonymous words comprising the lexical co
uplet in order to preserve the rhetorical, aesthetic and persuasive force of its
usage. However, before translating any couplet, the translator should determine
the two synonymous words as well as what lexical couplets do linguistically and
rhetorically. Moreover, translators should bear in mind that translating the tw
o synonymous words in a lexical couplet is not something unfamiliar. The occurre
nce of such couplets in other languages, like English bits and pieces, null and
void, law and order, death and destruction, each and every, asserts this. Johnst
one (1991: 49) states that "the more often items appear together in couplets, th
e more synonymous they become; using things together makes them similar". The r
easons behind such erroneous translation of lexical couplets might be attributed
to the translator's ignorance of the importance of accurately translating them.
Moreover, it can be attributed to translator's unawareness of their aesthetic,
persuasive and rhetorical effects. Finally, it might also be ascribed to the tra
nslator's belief that translating two synonymous items is a matter of redundancy
. The researcher suggests translating the two synonymous words of the aforementi
oned lexical couplets respectively as follows:
His giving and generosity, mercy and forgiveness, prejudice and hatred and enorm
ities and prohibitions.
To sum up, the lexical couplet phenomenon is a clear example of the evocation an
d creation of linguistic paradigms in discourse. Lexical couplets can be seen as
parallelism on the level of semantics: the repeated frame is semantic and the l
ower-level difference is lexical. The paradigms which are evoked or created by t
he parallelism are classes of lexical items or phrases which are synonymous (Joh
nstone, 1991: 51).
4.1.3 Repetition of roots:
Like other Semitic languages, Arabic is characterized by its root and pattern mo
rphology (Johnstone, 1991: 54). Arabic roots are ordered sets of usually three c
onsonants. Each root has a general meaning which is the common dominator of the
meanings of all the forms in which it is realized. For example, k-t-b has to do
with writing; q-t-l has to do with killing (ibid). Cognate accusative is a vivid
example of repetition of lexical root in Arabic whose translation into English
seems to be problematic. The difficulty of translating Arabic cognate accusative
s derives from the fact that formal congruence between Arabic and English in thi
s area is minimal. Johnstone (1991: 63) states that "in a cognate accusative, a
verbal form is accompanied in a phrase by a verbal noun from the same root. The
verbal noun is usually, and preferably, two-faceted repetition: repetition of ro
ot and repetition of verb class". The function of the cognate verbal noun is to
provide adverbial modification for the main verbal element. Arabic cognate accus
atives are used to achieve four major purposes: to evaluate action of preceding
verb "Evaluative Cognate Accusatives", to show number of actions of preceding ve
rb "Number Cognate Accusatives", to show type of action of preceding verb "Type
Cognate Accusatives", and finally to substitute preceding verb "Bare Cognate Acc
usatives" (Farghal, 1993: 79).
This following example illustrates the difficulty of translating some Arabic cog
nate accusatives in the hopes of advancing acceptable equivalents in English.
1. .....
?innaha: zalzalatun ha:?ilatun tarud3d3ul ?arĐa
rad3d3an
It is quake enormous shakes (fem) the ear
th shaking
wa tabussul d3eba:la
bassan
and powder(fem) the mountains
powdering
It is a huge earthquake that shakes the earth shaking and powders the mountains
powdering.
This example contains two cognate accusatives: " " [rad3an] and "" [basan].
In other words, this example contains repetition of two Arabic roots: r-j-j and
b-s-s which mean 'shake' and 'powder' respectively. In fact, these two cognate
accusatives are of the first type mentioned above, evaluative cognate accusative
, since they evaluate the action of preceding verb. It is worth mentioning here
that evaluative cognate accusatives are the most opaque to translate into Englis
h as there is no comparable formal correspondence in English (Farghal, 1991: 81)
. In the case of evaluative cognate accusatives, Arabic employs lexical correlat
es duplicating the matrix verb to render a sentence evaluative, viz., the verbal
nouns " " [rad3an] and " " [basan] in the present example. However, Englis
h has its own resources to utilize when expressing meanings comparable to those
expressed by cognate accusatives in Arabic. English utilizes lexical correlates
and grammatical correlates to express evaluativeness in comparable contexts (ibi
d). In other words, the evaluative cognate accusative emerges as an Arabic optio
n lacking a formal equivalent in English, but satisfiable via English functional
equivalent. However, it is clear here that the translator mistakenly opted for
translating the two cognate accusatives " " [rad3an] and "" [basan] formall
y into shaking and powdering respectively coming up with odd English structures.
Such odd structures inevitably leads to misunderstanding and communication brea
kdown which may, in turn, lead to misconception and confusion on the part of tar
get readers. The reason behind the occurrence of such an error might be the tran
slator's unawareness of the fact that there is no comparable formal corresponden
ce of cognate accusatives in English. Moreover, such erroneous translation might
be attributed to the translator's ignorance that the resulting structure of so
translation is odd and unfamiliar for English speakers. Therefore, translators
are encouraged to explore the recourses in English in order to render the cognat
e accusative functionally rather than formally. The researcher suggests the foll
owing functional, rather than formal, translation of the cognate accusatives in
question:
It is a huge earthquake that does shake the earth and powder the mountains.
Johnstone (1991: 71) attributes the difference between Arabic and English with r
espect to the repetition of lexical roots to the awkwardness of English glosses
like "naming by a name" or "the occurrences occurred". She states that English d
iscourse rules encourages writers to avoid repetition of this sort. However, the
situation is the opposite in Arabic. For example, ?ismun 'name' is the only acc
eptable choice for a word with this meaning in the context of tasmiyatun 'naming
'; similarly, laqabun 'nickname', would fit only in the context of talqi:bun 'ca
lling by nickname'
To conclude, the examples examined above are characterized by repetition on the
lexical, semantic and morphological levels. This repetition is cohesive, rhythmi
c and rhetorical. Arabic lexical couplets and root undoubtedly have an aesthetic
effect; a text sounds better with them than without. Their function is far more
central. They reflect the process of repetition by which Arabic argumentative d
iscourse is structured (johnstone, 1991: 75). This is reiterated by Al-Thebyan (
2001) who points out that the use of repetition is semantically and pragmaticall
y functional; repetition could be cohesive, emphatic, emotive and aesthetic. How
ever, as far as emotiveness is concerned, inappropriately translating repetitive
expressions inevitably causes a loss of their tones or emotive effect. Therefor
e, the translator has to give precedence to emotive and affective elements in th
e SL over the informative elements. Shunnaq (1993: 38) supports this stating tha
t an Arab translator translating emotive lexical items into English may face som
e difficulties. He goes on to say that "in Arabic we have numerous examples of l
exical items/expressions which constitute a difficulty when translated into Engl
ish and their translation look incongruent despite strenuous efforts that would
be exerted by translators and, in most cases, translators fail to convey their c
onnotative meanings and they manage only to convey the denotative meanings.
4.2. Omission
Omission means "leaving words, phrases, clauses, or even sentences, whic
h are present in the original version" (Obeidat, 2005: 96). These are important
for the message and should be faithfully and accurately conveyed. Whether intent
ional or not, omission can adversely affect the message conveyed; it can distort
or even block communication between the sender and the receiver of the message.
It can result from the translator's inability to comprehend the SL words, phras
es, clauses or sentences. It can also result from the translator's inaccurate or
careless reading of the SL text. Omission, however, is sometimes desirable as w
hen, for example, an item has no TL equivalent (Baker, 1992: 77).
The overall number of omissions in our data is 44 representing 22.91% of
the total number of lexical errors found.
The first example to be discussed under this category is
1. , ,
.
?alHad3d3u ruknun min ?arka:nil ?isla:m d3ama9al
la:hu
Pilgrimage pillar from pillars the Islam gathere
d(male) Allah
fi:hil 9iba:datal qalbiyyata bil?ixla:S
wa d3ama9al
in it worship heart with sincerity
and gathered(male)
la:hu fi:hil 9iba:data ?al
ma:liyyata wal
Allah in it worship the financial
and qawliyyata wal
fi9liyya
verbal and
physical
Haj is a pillar of Islam in which Allah has combined all types of Ibaadah.
The SL sentence, in this example, clearly identifies the different types of acts
of worship involved in " " [?alHad3], namely, the acts of worship that stem
from one's heart as a sign of faithfulness and adherence to Allah as well as the
acts of worship which have to do with a Muslim's spending money, speech (uttera
nce) and performance (deeds). This classification of acts of worship, however, i
s not maintained in the TL sentence; this inevitably leads to loss of informativ
ity which, in turn, leads to message distortion and some comprehension problems
on the part of the target readers, the translation being far from being faithful
and accurate. This, in fact, contradicts with the principles of accuracy and fa
ithfulness of the original text. Accurate translation means that the spirits of
the document, or the author's intent and purposes, as well as all technical term
s should be reproduced in the target language without distortions, omissions, or
additions. Translators are encouraged to be more faithful and accurate drawing
the TL receptors' attention to the different types of acts of worship associated
with " " [?alHad3]. The omission, in this example, might be attributed to th
e translator's careless reading of the SL sentence, to the translator's insuffic
ient exposure to technical terms, and to the translator assumption that the abov
e-mentioned types of acts of worship are too lengthy and time-consuming, hence d
eciding not to translate them. A more accurate and faithful translation might be
:
Had3 is a pillar of Islam in which Allah has combined heart worship with sinceri
ty as well as financial, verbal and physical worship.
Another example where omission causes distortion of the original message is
2. ,
, ,
, , ,
, ......
...
walHad3d3ul mabru:r huwal laDi: axlasa fi:hi
SaHibuhu
and pilgrimage the proper it is that directed(male) in it
its-doer ?anniyata lillahi ta9a:ala:
wa ?adda mana:sikahu
the-intention for Allah The-Almighty and performed(male)
rituals
9ala hadyi rasu:lil l:ah Sallal la:hu
9alayhi wa
on guidance messenger Allah blessed Allah upon-
him and
sallam wad3tanabal ma9aSi: wa aDiyyatal
muslimi:n
granted-peace and-avoided(male) sins and harming
Muslims
wa lam yud3ami9u ?ahlahu: fi: waqtin
la yaHillo
and not sleep-with(male) his-spouse in time
not permissible
lahu:, wa HafiĎa lisa:nahu minal laāwi
wal ba:Til,
for-him, and kept(male) his-tongue from obscenity and
sins
wa kanat nafaqatahu Hala:alan, fa?iDa d3ama
9al Ha:d3
and was(fem) his-expinditure legitimate if achieved
the-pilgrim ha:Dihil Sifa:t ka:na Had3d3uh
u mabru:ran wa
these conditions was(male) his-pilgrimage pr
oper and
maqbu:lan9 endal la:hi 9azza wa
d3all
accepted by Allah The-Great and
Almighty
walHad3d3u yahdimu ma:
qablah
and-pilgrimage destroy(male) what
before-it

The good pilgrimage is the one done with sincerity, according to prophetic guida
nce and in which one abstains from sins and harming other Muslims.
This example is a vivid one on loss of informativity and message distortion caus
ed by omission. It is clear that the SL sentence states that the well-performed
" " [Had3] is conditioned by the following: performing " " [Had3] with honest
and faithful intention, performing it according to prophetic guidance, abstaini
ng sins and harms to other Muslims, having no sexual intercourse with the spouse
as it is prohibited at this time, preserving the tongue from obscenity and spen
ding legitimate money in a legitimate way. Some of these conditions, however, ar
e not stated in the TL sentence. Omitting some conditions of well-performed " "
[Had3] undoubtedly hinders sufficient comprehension on the part of target reade
rs. Loss of informativity, in this case, is encountered since the TL sentence do
es not inform the target audience of all the conditions of well-performed " " [
Had3]. The reason behind the occurrence of such an error might be attributed to
the translator's carelessness in reading the text and in his work in general as
well as his/her assumption that these conditions are extra details that fall out
of the target readers' interests to be translated. The translation, in this cas
e, expectedly distorts the message as it is far from being faithful and accurate
. In other words, this translation contradicts with the principles of accuracy a
nd faithfulness of the original text. Translators are encouraged to be more fait
hful and accurate drawing the TL receptors' attention to the conditions of well-
performed " " [Had3]. Similarly, it is clear that the translator opted for not
translating the last clause in this example " " [walHad3u yahdi
mu ma qablahu] although it highlights the most distinctive grace of this pillar
of Islam, that is, getting rid of all the sins a Muslim has committed before. Ac
cording to the traditions of Islam, when a Muslim performs " " [Had3], (s)he wi
ll return recovered from all sins that (s)he has committed exactly as if (s)he w
as then given birth. This is asserted by our Prophet Mohammad's (PBUH) saying:
" " (Bukhaari and Muslim)
[man Had3d3a falam yarfiθ walam yafsi rad3i9a kayawmi waladathu ummuh]
'Whoever performs Had3 and does not engage in sexual relations nor acts sinfully
, (s)he will return after Had3 free from all sins like (s)he was the day his/her
mother gave birth to him/her' (the researcher's translation).
However, the TL sentence makes no mention of the fruits Muslims gain from " "
[?alHad3]. Loss of informativity is again expected in this case as the TL sente
nce does not inform the target readers that performing " " [?alHad3] will era
se or obliterate all sins done before. Again, the reason behind the occurrence o
f such an error might be attributed to the translator's carelessness in reading
the text as well as his/her assumption that this peculiarity of " " [?alHad3
] is not necessary to be translated to the target readers. Therefore, the resea
rcher suggests the following alternative translation which includes all those om
itted items:
Proper " " [Had3] is the one whose doer directs sincere intentions to Allah The
Almighty, performs its rituals according to prophetic guidance, avoids sins and
harming other Muslims, does not sleep with his/her spouse in an impermissible t
ime, preserves his/her tongue from obscenity and sins, and expends legitimate mo
ney in a legitimate way; if the pilgrim achieves these conditions, his/her Had3
will be proper and accepted by Allah. Moreover, Had3 erases or obliterates all s
ins done before.
The last example to be discussed under this category is
3.
, ..........
?iDan ha:Dihiz zala:zilu ma: hiya ?illa
bida:yatun
So these earth uakes nothing are but
a start
Li9ala:matin min 9ala:ma:tis sa:9atiS Suāra:
wa laysal
for sign from signs judgment day minor
and not
kubra: , fazzala:zilu wal mawtul d3ama:9i wa
mawtul
major , earthquakes and death collective and
death
faj?ati ba:ta yaĐribul ?arĐa fi: k
ulli maka:n.
sudden became hit earth in eve
ry where
So, these earthquakes are only a start for the minor signs of the hour.
Besides the wrong choice of the lexical item "hour" as an equivalent to " "
[?assa9a] 'judgment day', this example contains omission of some important elem
ents. The SL sentence, in this example, clearly mentions some of the minor signs
of judgment day which are not found in the TL sentence. In other words, the SL
sentence states that earthquakes, sudden death and collective death are among th
e minor signs of judgment day; however, the translation maintains none of them.
The omission of these signs as indicators of the approaching of judgment day cau
ses loss of informativity on the part of target readers. The occurrence of such
an error might be attributed to the translator's assumption that these signs are
further details that the target readers do not need, hence not being translated
. The researcher suggests translating these signs to ensure sufficient understan
ding on the part of the target readers. A more accurate translation might be:
So, these earthquakes are nothing but a start of a sign of the judgment d
ay minor, rather than major signs; earthquakes, collective death and sudden deat
h are now spreading every where.
4.3. Wrong choice of lexical items
The wrong choice of lexical items is the case when the translator opts for a TL
lexical item that differs from that intended by the SL equivalent. Such an error
inevitably leads to message distortion which, in turn, leads to confusion, and
therefore, to misunderstanding. The translator's ignorance of the actual meaning
of the SL lexical item results in this kind of errors.
Errors classifieds under this subcategory are 38, adding up to 19.79% of the tot
al number of errors. They occupy the first place in Table1. Following are some e
xamples to illustrate what is meant by wrong choice of lexical items.
.1 , ,
.
wal muslimu bima: yaHmilu min
9aqi:datit
and Muslim with what carry(male) fr
om dogma
tawHi:d, ya9lamu ?annan naf9a waĐu
rra min
monotheism know(male) that benefit and harm
from
9indil la:h, wa anna ma: yad3ri:
min zala:zila
from Allah and that what is happening from
earthquakes
wa bara:ki:n wa ?a9a:Si:ra wa riya:Ha
wa kusu:fa
and volcanoes and typhoons and wind an
d eclips
wa xusu:fa ?innama: hiya biqadarin
minal la:h
and eclipse just are doom
from allah
liHikmatin yuri:duha
alla:h.
for end wants (male)
Allah
Muslims with their true Tawheed know that harm or benefit are only in the hands
of Allah and that what ever happens from earthquakes, volcanoes, rain, typhoons,
or eclipse verily are destined by Allah for a wisdom known by Him.
In this example, the translator opted for translating the lexical item " " [H
ikma] into wisdom although it is not the appropriate counterpart in this context
. (S)he translated it literally paying no attention to the context in which it w
as used. Translating it into wisdom leads to message distortion which, in turn,
leads to confusion, and therefore, to misunderstanding simply because it does no
t reflect what is exactly meant. Going back to the context, we find that the lex
ical item " " [Hikma] is used to mean a certain purpose or end intended by Al
lah rather than what is detonated by the word wisdom i.e. "the ability to make
good and serious judgments because of one's experience and knowledge" (Oxford Ad
vanced Learners' Dictionary, 1995: 1369) and/or "to the combination of experienc
e and knowledge with the ability to apply them judiciously by sound judgment, pr
udence and practical sense" (todaytranslations.com). This error in translation
might be attributed to the translator's unawareness of the connotative meaning o
f the lexical item " " [Hikma]. Thus, the researcher suggests translating the
lexical item" " [Hikma] into end or purpose instead of wisdom.
.2 , , ,
, ,
, .
wa fi: ba9Đil ?aHya:n, yad39alul la:hu
9azza wa
and in some times make(male) Allah The
-Great and
d3all ha:Dihil ?arĐa d3undan mn
junu:dihi,
Almighty this earth soldier from
His soldiers
fatataHarraku wa tami:d, wa taHSuluz
zala:zilul
so moves(fem) and shakes(fem) and happens(fem) the earth
quakes
mudammira, taxwi:fan lil9iba:di wa ta?di:ban
lilba9Đil
destroying to frighten for people and to punish
for some
?axar, wama: ya9lamu junu:du rabbika ?illa
hu:, wa
others and no one know(male) soldiers your Lord except Him
and
ma: hiya ?illa Dikra
: lilbašar.
not this but less
on for people
Sometimes Allah allows the earth to be part of Allah's army so it moves and shak
es. As a consequence people experience the destroying earthquakes to frighten an
d remind some and to punish others. No one knows Allah's army except Him, and th
at is a reminder for people.
It is worth mentioning here that the aforementioned translation contains errors,
the translation of " " [d3unu:d] into army as well as the translation of
"" [yad39alu] into allows, other than the one to be discussed beneath, the tra
nslation of " " [Dikra:] into reminder. The researcher inclined to discussing
this example due to the clarity of the wrong choice opted for by the translator
and to the distortion it caused. In this example, the translator opted for tran
slating the lexical item " " [Dikra:] into reminder which does not fit in thi
s context. Consulting the SLT, we find that the word " " [Dikra:] connotes a
lesson or moral intended by Allah rather than what is denoted by the lexical ite
m reminder, that is "the way of remembering somebody to do something" (Oxford Ad
vanced Learners' Dictionary, 1995: 989). To put it differently, the lexical item
" " [Dikra:] indicates that Allah shows people such calamities to make them
contemplate, think and then learn lessons from them. This can be ascribed to the
translator's ignorance of the actual meaning of the SL lexical item. Thus, the
researcher suggests the following translation:
Sometimes Allah makes the earth one of His soldiers so it moves and shakes and d
estroying earthquakes occur to frighten some people and to punish others; no one
knows Allah's soldiers except Him, and this is just a lesson for people.
.3" " ( 185)
"wa litukmilul 9uddata wa litukabbirul
la:ha 9ala
"and to complete the period and to glorify
Allah on
ma: hada:kum la9allakum taškuru:n" (Al B
aqara 185)
what guided(male) you perhaps thank
the Cow 185
He wants for you to complete the period and to magnify Allah for that (to) whi
ch he has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.
Generally speaking, preachers, as mentioned earlier in chapter one, may involve
a verse from the Holy Quran or from Prophet Mohammad's (PBUH) sayings in order
to gain maximum effect in their speech or sermon. In this example, the lexical i
tem " " [litukabbiru] is literally translated into to magnify which may gi
ve rise to some comprehension problems. Literal translation in this example is a
failure as it causes a sort of confusion on the part of non-Muslim readers. It
also contradicts with the essence of Allah. The lexical item " " [litukabb
iru] refers to the action of glorifying and praising Allah by Muslims as a sign
of adherence and thanking for His graces rather than what is denoted by the lex
ical item "magnify", "to make something appear larger, especially by using a len
s or microscope" (Oxford Advanced Learners' Dictionary, 1995: 706) In fact, th
e lexical item "magnify" is used to refer to the way in which things become larg
er; it has never been used to correlate with Allah. This usage undoubtedly leads
to forming misconceptions and loss of informativity about Allah as it contradic
ts with His essence; "magnify" is usually used with objects. Thus, the researche
r suggests translating the lexical item" " [litukabbiru] into "glorify" in
stead of "magnify"
In this respect, Larson (1984: 180) maintains that "terms which deal with the re
ligious aspect of a culture are usually the most difficult, both in analysis of
the source vocabulary and in finding the best receptor language equivalents". Th
e reason behind this is that these words are intangible and many of the practice
s are so automatic that the speakers of the target language are not that conscio
us of the various aspects of meaning involved. It goes without saying that the w
rong choice of lexical items during the task of translation spoils the emotive t
one or effect of the SL text. Therefore, the translator has to pay utmost attent
ion to correctly choosing the appropriate lexical item that can preserve the emo
tive effect embodied in the SL words.
4.4 Islamic Specific-Concepts.
Arabic language expressions, as mentioned earlier in chapter one, are highly inf
luenced by Islam due to the fact that it is the language of divine communication
. One more thing is that Islam adds new concepts to Arabic like (Sala:, zaka:h,
Had3ulbayt, ?ald3iha:d, ?alhadiy, among others.) (Al-Kubaisi, 1998: 1). These co
ncepts have no across-the-board one-to-one correspondence between the SL text an
d the TL text as the two languages, Arabic and English, operate different lingui
stic and non-linguistic systems. It goes without saying that the influence Isla
m has on Arabic language can not be ignored in the process of translation.
Errors classified under this subcategory are 24, adding up to 12.5% of the total
number of errors. They occupy the fourth place in Table 1. Following are some e
xamples to illustrate how Islamic-specific concepts are translated and to shed l
ight on some translation strategies or procedures to be used in an attempt to, h
opefully, come up with a better translation.
.1 ....
waSSiyamu liman lam yajidul
hady
and fasting for who did not find(male)
sacrificial animal
And fasting for those who can't afford to pay for the animals….
In this example, the Islamic term " " [?alhady] is mistakenly transl
ated into animals. Here, the lexical item " " [?alhady] refers to one of the
Islamic traditions when Muslims sacrifice or offer certain kinds of animals lik
e sheep, camels or cows in special occasions, especially at the time of "
" [9i:dul ?ÐHa:] or while performing the Islamic pillar of " " [?alHad3].
Translating the Islamic term " " [?alhady] into animals gives rise to a host
of problems due to the existence of a referential gap, which may impede the des
ired communication as this term does not exist in the Western culture. The trans
lation of this referential gap is thought to give rise to some comprehension pro
blems. This situation leads to a breakdown in communication, loss of informativi
ty and forming misconceptions. This is because the TL rendition makes no mention
of the kind of animals to be sacrificed or offered in this special occasion; ne
ither does it give the TL reader the chance to comprehend such a concept or reco
llect its shades of meanings.
This is actually one example to what we call "referential gap in translation". R
eferential gaps are blank spaces in the field of reference. In other words, a re
ferential gap holds when a certain concept or object exists in the SL or the SL
culture but is completely or partially missing in the TL or the TL culture (Al-M
asri, 1998: 23). Obviously, when such a concept appears in communication, it doe
s not ring a bell in the mind of the TL receptor as it enjoys no referent in his
/her thought-worlds. Consequently, the receptor is likely to be at a loss. Thus,
translating the lexical item " " [?alhady] into animals does not guarantee
a sufficient degree of transferring the communicative load of the SL concept.
rendering " " [?alhady] into animals seems to be inappropriate for it result
s in vagueness of SL message and gives rise to misconceptions; it may arouse amb
iguous questions in the mind of the readers to the extent that leads them to won
der about the relationship between fasting and animals in this context. The reas
on behind the occurrence of such a lexical error may be ascribed to the translat
or's lack of precise knowledge of the SL as well as the TL concepts and cultures
in addition to his/her insufficient acquaintance with religious concepts. This
clash would never happen if the translator opted for the strategy of definition
that shows the reader what is exactly meant by the Islamic term " " [?alhady
]. To define an element of the SL culture is to "exploit what members of the TL
already know to make them know more" (Ivir, 1991: 52), i.e., the translat
or resorts to paraphrasing the SL cultural elements making use of the TL cultura
l elements that display the greatest similarity of extralinguistic reality. In s
uch a case, the meaning of the term becomes very clear and the target reader wou
ld not think of another connotative meaning than what is intended by the denotat
ive meaning of the term. The researcher suggests the following alternative trans
lation, which is based upon a combination of the strategies of definition and tr
ansliteration, for the Islamic-specific concept " " [?alhady]: ?alhady: (a
nimals brought for sacrifice or immolation. Such animals include camels, cows, s
heep, lambs and goats; these animals are offered for the sake of Allah by the pi
lgrims).
Another example of Islamic-specific concepts is " " [?ald3izyah] In
2- .... .
Wa tu9addul d3izyatu waHidan min
ahammi
and considered(fem) poll tax one from the
most important
maĎa:hirit tasa:muHid di:niyyi
fil ?isla:m
manifests forgiveness religious
in Islam
…..poll tax is considered as one of the most important aspects of religious to
lerance in Islam.
In this example, the translator opted for translating the Islamic-specific conc
ept " " [?ald3izyah] into poll tax. It is clear that the Arabic word "
" [?ald3izyah] has an English counterpart which is poll tax. However, to render
it that way would lead to an incomplete meaning and to misunderstanding on the
part of the target reader since the word poll tax has no Islamic implications an
d does not seem to create to the target reader what the word " " [?ald3izya
h] does in Arabic and Islamic community.
The lexical item poll tax could be linguistically a convenient counterpart to th
e Arabic item, but not extralinguistically. The implications of " " [?ald3i
zyah] in Arabic are related to Islamic culture and the word can never be rendere
d into English without some additional explanatory remarks that aim at elucidati
ng the intrinsic meaning of the concept. Thus, the word " " [?ald3izyah], w
hether in a context or in isolation, should be rendered after examining its mean
ing in Arabic which is poll tax levied on the followers of other divine religion
s, Christianity and Judaism, who live in Islamic lands. Accordingly, the transla
tor has to convey all these features of the concept " " [?ald3izyah] accord
ing to the Islamic point of view. In other words, the word " " [?ald3izyah]
should be rendered in a way that serves its religious implications. Therefore,
the researcher suggests the following translation for the Islamic-specific conce
pt " " [?ald3izyah] :
?ald3izyah (Poll tax levied on the people of the Book, i.e. Christians and Jews,
who live in Islamic lands.
The above suggested translation seems to be adequately appropriate. However, the
above strategy seems to be applicable only when in the first mention. When it c
omes to rendering it in a text where it is repeated several times, it is not pre
ferable to repeat this long translation. Once that item is defined that way in a
text, it becomes familiar to the target reader, and then the very transliterate
d Arabic term should be used in the subsequent mentions.
The last example of Islamic-specific concepts creating a problem when
translated to be discussed here are " " [Zakaatul-Al- Fitr] and/or "
" [Sadakaatul-Fitr] as illustrated in the following examples:
4.
, ,
.
kama: šara9a lakum zaka:tal fiTri šukr
an lilla:hi
and legislated(male) for you alm-giving thanking
for Allah
9ala: ni9matit tawfi:qi liSSiya:mi
wal qiya:mi
On grace success for fasting a
nd night praying
wa Tuhratan liSSa:?imi minal laāwi
warrafθ, wa
and purification for the fasting from obscenity and
sins and
Tu9matan lilmasa:ki:n, wa taHri:kan
limaša:9iril
feeding for poors and evoking
feelings
?uxuwwati wal ?ulfati baynal
muslimi:n.
brotherhood and intimacy between
Muslims

Allah also prescribed alms-giving for you as a sign of gratitude to Him for faci
litating fasting and night prayers for you, to purify you from any obscenity you
may have uttered and as a feeding for the poor and the needy in order to promot
e the brotherhood and unity among the Muslims.
5.
. .......
...
wa ad ka:na 9umar bin
9abdel 9azi:z
and was 9umar son
9abdel 9azi:z
raHimahul la:h yaktubu fi:
niha:yati šahri
blessed Allah write(male) in
end month
ramaĐa:n ?ilal ?amSa:ri ya?muruh
um bixatmi
ramaĐa:n to territories asking
them finish
šahri ramaĐa:n bilistiāfa:ri
wa
month ramaĐa:n asking for forgiveness
and Sadaqatil fiTri fa?addu: raHimakumul
la:hu zaka:tal fiTr
alms-giving do bless(male) you Allah
alms-giving
Omar Bin Abdelaziz, Allah may rests his soul in peace, was writing at the end of
Ramadan to the territories ordering them to finish Ramadan by asking Allah's fo
rgiveness and giving alms. Therefore, perform alms-giving, Allah bless you……
In the above two examples, the Islamic-specific concepts "
" [Zaka:tal fiTr] and/or " " [Sadaqatil fiTri] are mistakenly translate
d as alms-giving, which is not their appropriate counterpart. It is worth mentio
ning here that the word "alms" is available in English; it refers to "money, clo
thes, food, etc given to poor people". (Oxford Advanced Learners' Dictionary, 19
95: 32). However, both " " [Zaka:tal fiTr] and/or " " [Sadaq
atil fiTri] refer to a referential gap in the Western culture due to the non ex
istence of an equivalent referent of any of them. Therefore, it seems that the w
ord "alms" can not stand alone as an equivalent to the Islamic-specific concepts
" " [Zaka:tal fiTr] and/or " " [Sadaqatil fiTri] which have
to do particularly with Ramadan, a month known and celebrated only by Muslims. I
n other words, the word "alms" does not convey the real sense or due merit of "
" [Zaka:tal fiTr] and/or " " [Sadaqatil fiTri], hence the inc
ongruency of using it. This being the case, the use of descriptive translation s
eems to be inescapable, be it within or without context. Here, it seems worth po
inting out the distinction between " " [zaka:] and " " [šadaqa]. It is eit
her the lexical item " " [šadaqa] or " " [zaka:] alone, but not "
" [Zaka:tal fiTr] and/or " " [Sadaqatil fiTri], that could be rende
red into English as "alms". In fact, it is the word " " [šadaqa]. that best f
its here since it refers to the voluntary process of paying alms; however, "
" [zaka:] refers to the obligatory process of paying alms, hence not being a goo
d equivalent to alms. Despite the critical difference between the two terms in A
rabic, we can notice the existence of two synonymous terms in Arabic, "
" [Zaka:tal fiTr] and " " [Sadaqatil fiTri], which are deemed to be
synonymous in Arabic partly because they refer to same idea. Therefore, the rese
archer suggests translating the Islamic-specific concepts "Zaka:tal fiTr" and/o
r "Sadaqatil fiTri"descriptively as "Ramadan due alms".
To conclude, when translating Islamic-specific concepts into English, the proble
ms lie in finding the exact meanings in the target language. They also lie in th
e fact that each language has its own religious terminology. The category of rel
igious terminology in each language constitutes a self-contained religious area
in which a religious term in one language may have a meaning that is different f
rom the meaning of the same term in another language. The lack of congruency bet
ween the two religious expressions adds to the problems encountering translators
. Therefore, it seems very significant to state that when translating religious
texts or items from Arabic into English, translators should better seek ideation
al equivalence wherever possible since it is the optimal procedure that proves u
seful in cases where many other procedures seem inapplicable (Al-Qubaisi, 1998:
6). It is worth mentioning here that inaccurate translation of Islamic-specific
concepts wastes the religious connotations of these concepts which, in turn, aff
ects the emotive tone embodied in them.
4.5. Transliteration
Transliteration is a strategy to which the translator resorts when (s)he
comes across items to which there are no TL counterparts, as in the case of pro
per nouns and loan forms. It is a process whereby the transl(iter)ator represent
s the sounds of the SL word using the TL writing system (Catford, 1965: 66). Thi
s process can not be carried out randomly since there is a set of rules governin
g it. However, it can happen that the translator, mistakenly, transliterates wor
ds whose meanings are necessary for delivering the overall message of a certain
text. In this case, message distortion and meaning loss are likely to occur.
Transliterations found in the 17 Islamic sermons add up to 17 cases repr
esenting 8.85% of the total number of lexical errors. The examples found are of
Islamic-specific concepts and cultural specific concepts. Following are some ill
ustrative examples:
1-
.......
yad3ibu ?an yaHriSul Ha:d3 9al
al ?itya:ni
must that be aware pilgrim
On doing bi?arka:nil Had3i, wa
hiyal ?iHra:mu
pillars pilgrimage and they entering the st
ate of pilgrimage wal wuqu:fu bi9arafa
wa Tawa:fil
and standing at arafah and
circumambulation
?ifa:Đa…
coming down
It is obligatory for the pilgrim to perform the pillars of Hajj which are Ihra
am, staying at Arafah and Tawaaf Al-Ifaadhah……
.
It is worthy to mention that the errors found under this category are Islamic-sp
ecific concepts but they are classified by the researcher under the category of
transliteration as they are transliterated in the translated sermons. In this ex
ample, the translator opted for the strategy of transliteration in transferring
two Islamic-specific concepts: " " [?al?iHra:m] and " " [Tawa:
fil ?ifa:Đa] without resorting to any other strategy that explains them in a way
that makes them understandable for the target receptor. Doing so, the target re
ceptor is expected to face difficulty understanding such concepts when translite
rated especially if it is born in mind that " " [?al?iHra:m] and "
" [Tawa:fil ?ifa:Đa] are Islamic-specific concepts and are referred to as re
ferential gaps since they do not exist in the target culture. When such concept
s are transliterated, it is inevitable that members of the target culture will n
ot get the chance neither to recognize nor to comprehend them. In other words, t
ransliteration seems to lead to meaning loss and communication breakdown on the
part of TL receptors. The problem then is binary since an Arab translator has to
convey the Islamic concept into English in addition to filling a referential ga
p. Therefore, definition or explanatory remarks are encouraged to be employed ha
nd-in-hand with transliteration in such a case; the suggested solution is that t
hose terms be first transliterated within the text and annexed by a definition.
It is worth mentioning here that using definition to already transliterated term
s indicates the translator's awareness overt recognition of the strangeness of t
he cultural elements in question as transmitted to the intended receivers. Gener
ally speaking, surmounting cultural difficulty, facilitating the translation and
elucidating the concept to the target reader are what seem to support resorting
to the present strategy though it appears longer than the original text. Nida (
1982) states that good translations tend to be somewhat longer than the original
text because the flow of information seems to be approximately the same in all
languages and the information which is implicit in the original must be made exp
licit if the content is to be understandable.
This is, in fact, one example that may impede communication during the task of
translation due to the fact that these concepts will not be absorbed within the
target reader(s) world-thought. In other words, the overall meaning of these con
cepts is lost because of transliteration. The reason behind transliteration in t
his case is probably the translator's ignorance that Islamic-specific concepts a
nd/or referential gaps are better translated than transliterated in order to sho
w their special connotations or semantic loads. The researcher suggests the foll
owing translation for " " [?al?iHra:m] and " " [Tawa:fil ?ifa:
Đa] respectively:
?al?iHra:m (The state of the pilgrim in which (s)he performs Had3 and/or 9umrah,
and during which (s)he is prohibited from certain acts that are lawful otherwis
e).
Tawa:fil ?ifa:Đa (a circumambulation, performed by the pilgrims after they come
from Mina on the 10th day of DulHid3d3ah, the month of Had3; it is an obligatory
pillar of Had3).
Again, this translation seems to be more adequate and more congruent since it em
ploys the use of two related strategies, transliteration in conjunction with def
inition. However, this strategy seems to be applicable when in the first mention
. When it comes to rendering these concepts in a text where they are repeated se
veral times, it is not preferable to repeat these renditions. Once these items a
re defined that way in a text, they become familiar to the target reader, and th
en the very transliterated Arabic term should be used in the subsequent mentions
. To put it differently, definition is only necessary when the term is translite
rated and introduced to the target reader for the first time; the transliteratio
n alone will suffice in the subsequent mentions of the concept.

Another example where transliteration is mistakenly resorted to is the following


:
2- ... : ((
))
fi: qawlihi ta9a:la: (qul ?innama: Harrama
rabbiyal
in saying the greatest say just forbid(ma
le) my lord
fawa:Hiša ma: Ďahara minha wa ma: baTan
a wal
sins what appeared from them and what disappeare
d and
?iθma wal baāya biāayril
Haq wa
sin and hostility without
right and
?an tušriku: billa:hi
ma:lam yunzil
to to become polytheist in Allah if no
t reveal
bihi: sulTa:na wa?an taqu:lu: 9alal
la:hi ma:
in it evidence and to say on
Allah what
la: ta9lamu:n).
not know
Allah says: ((Say Allah forbids Alfawahish, those made in public and in private,
forbids Abaghi, and to worship with Allah others or to say upon Allah without k
nowledge)).
The problem in this example lies in the fact that the two terms, "
" [?alfawa:Hiš] and " "[?albaāya], are transferred to the target receptor
by way of transliteration, a strategy that does not guarantee a sufficient unde
rstanding on the part of the target receptor. Transliteration in this case cause
s message distortion and meaning loss since the meaning is not completely transf
erred to the TL receptors. Furthermore, transliteration in this example seems to
be unjustifiable especially if it is born in mind that neither of the two terms
is an Islamic-specific concept or forms a referential gap; both " " [?al
fawa:Hiš] and " "[?albaāya] exist in English. Therefore, translating them d
oes not seem impossible or even difficult. It seems that the translator opted fo
r transliteration in this case due to his/her ignorance that such concepts are b
etter translated when they have specific, denotative meanings. Moreover, the rea
son behind the occurrence of such an error might be attributed to the translator
's low command of English; it seems that the translator opted for transliteratin
g rather than translating " " [?alfawa:Hiš] and " "[?albaāya], as (s)
he does not know their English lexical equivalents. The two terms should better
be translated rather than transliterated as they have specific, denotative meani
ngs in English. Therefore, the researcher suggests the following translation for
" " [?alfawa:Hiš] and " "[?albaāya] respectively: ugly behavior and
hostility.

4.6. Shared Concepts


Errors classified under this subcategory are 13, adding up to 6.77% of the total
number of errors. They occupy the sixth place in Table 1. Following are some ex
amples to illustrate what is meant by shared concepts.
In what follows, the researcher discusses the translation of three conce
pts shared among Muslims and non-Muslims: the concept of " " [?alla:h] transl
ated into God, the concept of " " [?aSSala:] translated into prayer and t
he concept of " " [?alHad3] translated into pilgrimage.
-1 ........
..
wa lawla: ?annal la:ha ?arsalar rusula w
a ?anzalal
and If not that Allah sent(male) messengers and revea
led (male)
kutuba laka:na banu: ?adama ?aÐallu minal
?an9a:m
books became sons Adam worse fro
m animals
Had God not sent the messengers and revealed the books, mankind would have been
worse than animals……..
In this example, the translator inadequately opted for translating the lexical i
tem " " [?alla:h] into God. It goes without saying that the concept of God is
shared by both Muslims and non-Muslims. Every group of people uses a term or se
veral terms to label their God and every God of a religious community has a prop
er name. For example, Shiva is the God of destruction and reproduction in Buddhi
sm and Yahweh is the God of Jews. Allah is the proper name of the God of Muslims
. It is a name used to refer to the creator; it has never been used to refer to
anything else. Yet some translators mistakenly render it into English as God. Re
ndering the word " " [?alla:h] into English as God might be confusing because
God in Christianity is an ambiguous term used to refer to the Godhead, Christ a
nd Holy Spirit (Nida, 1969: 25). Such an error undoubtedly leads to message dist
ortion which, in turn, leads to confusion, and therefore, to misunderstanding on
the part of non-Muslim readers. The translator's ignorance of the connotative m
eaning of the SL lexical item might be the reason behind the occurrence of such
an error.
It seems that the word " " [?ila:h] in Arabic is the adequate equivalent to Go
d in English as it refers to an object of worship. " " [?ila:h] is used by the
Arabs to stand for every object they worshipped. The sun, for example, is calle
d Godess because they worshipped her (Al-said, 1989: 14). This means that " "
[?alla:h] is different from " " [?ila:h] in the sense that the latter can be
used to refer to an object of worship regardless of the reality of such an objec
t. Contrary to the lexical item " " [?alla:h], " " [?ila:h] can be conjugat
ed; it has masculine and feminine forms as well as dual and plural forms. Theref
ore, the word " " [?alla:h] should better be retained in its Arabic form i.e.
transliterated, when it is to be translated in such a case due to the fact that
there is no congruent word in English that gives the actual connotative meaning
of " " [?alla:h]. The researcher suggests transliterating the lexical item "
" [?alla:h] rather than translating it into God.
There are other shared concepts like " " [?aSSala:] and " " [?alHad3] wh
ich are translated into prayer and pilgrimage respectively.
2- .....
.......
Šara9al la:hu ta9a:lal 9iba:da:til mutanawwe9ati
kaSSala:ti
Legislated(male) Allah Almighty worships various
like prayer
wal Had3d3i li?iSlaHin nafsel
bašariyyah…
and pilgrimage to reform soul
human being
Allah ordained various acts of worship like prayer and pilgrimage, to reform man
's soul……
This example contains two acts of worship, prayer and pilgrimage, which are seen
as shared concepts among both Muslims and non-Muslims who both perform such act
s of worship. In this example, the translator inaccurately opted for translating
the lexical item " " [?aSSala:] into prayer although it is not its exact c
ounterpart. " " [?aSSala:] in Islam differs greatly from prayer in Christia
nity. In other words, though " " [?aSSala:] and prayer are linguistically e
quivalent, they are extralinguistically different as each of them has special co
nnotations distinguishing it from the another. " " [?aSSala:] is one of th
e basic pillars of Islam which Muslims perform five times daily as an act of wor
ship only to Allah whereas prayer is "a solemn request or expression of thanks t
o God or to an object of worship (Oxford Advanced Learners' Dictionary, 1995: 90
6). It is obvious that the two terms are linguistically equal as they both refer
to an act of worship, but they are extralinguistically unequal as each of them
has its own rituals and way of performing. In fact, Translating " " [?aSSal
a:] into prayer gives rise to some comprehension problems and causes a sort of c
onfusion on the part of non-Muslim readers as they might consider Muslims' act o
f worship, i.e. " " [?aSSala:], the same as the one non-Muslims perform, i.
e. prayer. Consequently, This translation may form misconceptions about Islam o
n one hand and loss of informativity on the other hand as it does not accurately
inform the target readers about such an act of worship which is exclusively pe
rformed by Muslims. The reason behind the occurrence of such an error might be a
ttributable to the translator's ignorance of such shared concepts as well as of
the connotation of each term. This means that the word " " [?aSSala:] is d
ifficult to be rendered into English without some additional explanatory remarks
aiming at informing the target readers about such an act of worship. Thus, the
word " " [?aSSala:], whether in a context or in isolation, should better be
rendered after examining its meaning both denotatively and connotatively. Accor
dingly, translators are encouraged to opt for the strategy of definition that sh
ows the target readers what is exactly meant by the word " " [?aSSala:] at
least when it is first introduced to them. Therefore, the researcher suggests t
he Following alternative translation for the lexical item " " [?aSSala:]; t
his translation is a combination of the strategies of transliteration and defini
tion: ?aSSala: (one of the five fundamental pillars of Islam which is performed
only by Muslims as an act of worship to Allah; it is performed five times a day
at specific times with specific rituals and under specific conditions).
Similarly, " " [?alHad3] is inappropriately translated into pilgrimage which
is not its accurate equivalent. " " [?alHad3] in Islam is different from pilg
rimage in Christianity. It can be clearly said that the translator did not use t
he same word in its transliterated form; he, instead, used the English approxima
te counterpart, pilgrimage, as an established target language expression. The tw
o terms, " " [?alHad3] and pilgrimage, are linguistically equivalent but not
extralinguistically. " " [?alHad3] is one of the five basic pillars of Islam
which Muslims perform once in life at a fixed time of the month of
" " [DulHid3d3ah] when they are physically and financi
ally able to do so, whereas pilgrimage is "a journey made by a pilgrim to visit
a place with which one has a personal association or for which one has a persona
l respectful interest" (Oxford Advanced Learners' Dictionary, 1995: 874). Accord
ingly, a visit, for example, to Shakespeare's birthplace can be seen as a pilgri
mage according to the western point of view. The two concepts " " [?alHad3]
and pilgrimage are linguistically equal as they both indicate a journey outside
one's home; however, they are extralinguistically unequal for they differ in tha
t each has its own distinctive rituals and practices and that " " [?alHad3] i
s performed by Muslims at a fixed time of the year whereas pilgrimage is perform
ed by non-Muslims at any time of the year. This entails that " " [?alHad3] ca
n not be accurately rendered into English as pilgrimage. Translating " " [?al
Had3] into pilgrimage gives rise to some comprehension problems and causes a sor
t of confusion on the part of non-Muslim readers as they might consider Muslims'
act of worship, i.e. " " [?alHad3], is the same as the one non-Muslims perfo
rm, i.e. pilgrimage. This translation undoubtedly leads to forming misconception
s about Islam, on one hand, and loss of informativity, on the other hand, as it
does not accurately inform the target readers about such an act of worship whic
h is exclusively Islamic. The reason behind the occurrence of such an error aga
in might be attributed to the translator's ignorance of such shared concepts as
well as their peculiarities in each religion. This implies that the word " "
[?alHad3] can never be rendered into English without some additional explanatory
remarks that aim at informing the target readers about such an act of worship.
For example, the word " " [?alHad3] can be rendered after examining its poten
tial reference as one of the five fundamental pillars of Islam which is performe
d once in life at a fixed time of the month of " " [DulHid3d3ah]. In othe
r words, translators are encouraged to opt for the strategy of definition, along
side transliteration in order to show the readers what is exactly meant by the
word " " [?alHad3] at least when it is first introduced to them. Therefore, t
he researcher suggests translating the word " " [?alHad3] by a means of combi
ning two translational strategies: transliteration and definition as follows:
?alHad3 (one of the five fundamental pillars of Islam which is performed by Mus
lims at Mecca once in life at a fixed time of the month of DulHid3d3ah under spe
cific conditions with specific rituals in the case of physical and financial abi
lity).
In the previous two examples, the researcher suggests resorting to borrowing (tr
ansliteration) which is importing the SL expression and fussing it into the TL c
ontext. Such a strategy can work when the TL possesses the extralinguistic reali
ty in question; if not, it has to be accompanied by another strategy such as def
inition. When the gap is partial, as in the case of " " [?alHad3] and "
" [?aSSala], borrowing can be effective and one can be sure that the new terms w
ill be absorbed in an endless contexts. Regarding the terms discussed in the pre
vious example, borrowing can be successfully used in transmitting the terms "
" [?alHad3] and " " [?aSSala] as they enjoy partial existence within the e
xtralinguistic reality in the TL culture on the one hand, and are linguistically
easy to integrate in the TL, on the other. Borrowing can also be used in combin
ation with definition to ensure optimal transmission of the terms in question; i
n order to achieve a greater communicative function and present a clearer concep
t of such terms to the target readers, the translator should better explain them
highlighting some elucidating remarks about what the words " " [?alHad3] and
" " [?aSala] refer to and how they in Islam differ from those in other rel
igions such as Christianity. In other words, translator should better blend two
strategies together as one independent compact strategy in such cases. Such a ma
neuver by the translator is laudable though (s)he uses more words in the transla
tion than those used in the original to elucidate the meaning and prevent any ex
pected ambiguity or misunderstanding on the part of the target reader. According
ly, the target reader is expected, to a large extent, to have a good idea and a
clear concept of such concepts. It should be born in mind that the inaccurate tr
anslation of such religious concepts spoils the emotive tone or effect of the SL
text. Therefore, the translator has to pay utmost attention to correctly choosi
ng the appropriate translational strategy that can preserve the emotive effect e
mbodied in the SL words.

4.7. Translation of Metaphor.


Metaphor is "a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting on
e kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or an
alogy between them" (britannica.com).
The translation of metaphor requires the translator to have knowledge about the
domain of the metaphorical expression and about the domain of the topic of the e
xpression. Without such knowledge, it is not possible to establish an analogy be
tween the two domains and work out some interpretation that is contextually cohe
rent (ibid). Inaccurate translation of metaphor inevitably leads to communicatio
n breakdown which, in turn, leads to loss of informativity and perhaps to misund
erstanding and even forming misconceptions.
Errors classified under this subcategory are 9, adding up to 4.68 % of the total
number of errors. They occupy the seventh place in Table 1. Following are some
illustrative examples. The first example to be discussed under this category is
.1 , ,
......
?ayyuhal muslimu:n, tamassaku: biHablil la:hi
wa law
you Muslims hold with rope Allah
and if
?aflatahun na:s, wa firru: ?ilal la:hi m
in fitani
left people and escape to Allah fro
m temptations
haDaz zama:n….
this time
Brothers in Islam, hold fast unto the rope of Allah, even if people leave it and
escape to Allah from temptation of this age……
In this example, the translator inadequately opted for translating the metaphori
cal use of the phrase " " [biHablil la:hi] into the rope of Allah. It i
s clear that the translator opted for translating the lexical item " " [Habl]
literally paying no attention to its metaphorical usage in this context or to th
e connotations this usage has. The use of rope in this case is confusing because
of the different meanings it might convey. Oxford Advanced Learners' Dictionary
(1995: 1021) indicates that rope matches the Arabic word " " [Habl] in the li
teral sense; yet, it might not be used metaphorically in the same way " " [Hab
l] is used in Arabic. " " [Habl] here is metaphorically used to connote all th
e ways and means by which a person can adhere to Allah's orders; " " [Habl] mi
ght be the Quran, for example. Moreover, " " [Habl] can mean bond covenant. In
other words, " " [Habl] is metaphorically used here to mean comply to Allah's
orders and His bond, that is His message. The reason behind the occurrence of s
uch an error might be attributed to the translator's unawareness of the metaphor
ic usage of " " [Habl] besides the connotations of this usage. Moreover, it ca
n be ascribed to the translator's assumption that literal translation in such ca
ses is laborious. The researcher suggests translating the connotation of the met
aphorical usage instead of translating the lexical item " " [Habl] itself as t
he bond of Allah or message of Allah.
Another example that can be discussed under the current category is ""
[Sibāatul la:hi] in
2- ( :138)
Sibāatul la:hi wa man aHsanu minal
la:hi Sibāa
dye Allah and who better than
Allah dye
(Al Baqara: 138)
the cow 138
We take on Allah's own dye and who has a better dye than Allah's.
In this example, the translator opted for translating the phrase
"" [Sibāatul la:hi] into Allah's own dye although it is not the appropriate c
ounterpart in this context. (S)He translated it literally paying no attention to
the context in which it is used or to the connotation of its usage. The transla
tion given here is not only inaccurate but also misleading as the translator doe
s not indicate that dye stands metaphorically for religion; this translation doe
s not convey that " " [Sibāah] is meant to be the religion, i.e. Islam Allah
asked people to adopt. Going back to the context, we find that the phrase
"" [Sibāatul la:hi] is metaphorically used to mean our religion i.e. Islam r
ather than what is detonated by the word dye i.e. "a substance used to change th
e color of things" (Oxford Advanced Learners' Dictionary, 1995: 362). Moreover,
this translation indicates that Allah has color. In fact, the lexical item dye i
s used to refer to the way in which things' colors are changed; it has never bee
n used to correlate with Allah. This usage undoubtedly leads to forming misconce
ptions and loss of informativity about Allah as it contradicts with His essence.
This error might be attributted to the translator's unawareness of the connotat
ive meaning of the phrase "" [Sibāatul la:hi] when metaphorically used
on one hand. On the other hand, it can be attributed to the translator's unaware
ness of the entire domain of context which indicates that the topic in question
is religion. Therefore, the researcher suggests the following alternative transl
ation which takes into account the connotation of the metaphorical usage of the
lexical item " " [Sibāah] as well as the shades of meanings the context provi
des:
Allah's religion which is none better than.
The last example to be discussed under this category is
3- , .......
laqad šammaraš šahru 9an
sa:q, wa
had bared (male) month from
shin and
?a:Dana biwada:9in
wanTila:q…..
Approached (male) with farewell
and departure
The month has bared its shin preparing to leave.……..
In this example, the translator inadequately opted for translating the metaphori
cal use of the phrase " " [šammaraš šahru 9an sa:q] into the mon
th has bared its shin. The translator translated this phrase literally paying no
attention to its metaphorical usage in this context or to the connotations this
usage has. Literal translation in this case seems to be a failure because of th
e different meanings it might convey. To put it differently, the translation giv
en here is not only inaccurate but also misleading as the translator does not in
dicate that this phrase stands metaphorically for approaching the end, leaving o
r departure. Though baring one's shin is the literal equivalent to " "
[šammara 9an sa:q], it is not used in English in the same way it is used in Arab
ic. In Arabic, it can be used metaphorically to describe the behavior of a man w
ho is preparing himself to leave; he pulls up his clothes preparing himself to p
erform an act so that his shin is laid bare. This means that this phrase is meta
phorically used to indicate preparing to departure. The reason behind the occurr
ence of such an error might be attributed to the translator's unawareness of the
metaphorical usage of this phrase besides the connotations of this usage. Moreo
ver, it can be attributed to the translator's assumption that literal translatio
n in such cases is correct. The researcher suggests translating the connotation
of the metaphorical usage of the whole phrase instead of translating the lexical
items of the phrase themselves as: The month is now about leaving.
It should be clear that the presence of such dilemmas is due to the nature of th
e SL text. Religious discourse often bears a number of cultural as well as lingu
istic voids that challenge bridging. Religious language deals with supernatural
events that lack finite or solid bases, i.e. they lack the so-called extralingu
istic reality, which is a prerequisite for solid comprehension (Ivir, 1991: 53).
This orientation argues that religious language is subject to bear a number of
different interpretations. Religious language also reflects transcendental exper
iences for which ordinary language seems to be so inadequate (Nida, 1986: 21). N
ida (ibid) refers to the abundant figures of speech employed in religious discou
rse, which display extensive use of poetic forms that are highly loaded with myt
hic and parabolic language.
From the afore mentioned examples, we can conclude that metaphor is not only use
d in Islamic discourse to color its language but also to mark the meaning and sh
arpen it. Literal translation of metaphor in Islamic discourse might distort its
meanings because the connotations of the Arabic words and the English words are
different. Moreover, literal translation inevitably leads to spoiling the emoti
ve and rhetorical effect of metaphorical usages. Words might match in the litera
l sense but they generally differ when used metaphorically. This reveals that it
is difficult for the translator to render all the metaphorical meanings into En
glish. However, it is the connotations of the words that must be concentrated up
on. If the translator is to translate the metaphorical usages of the Arabic item
s, (s)he has to consider the meanings of the lexical items, their structure and
rhetorical effects. These should be considered as an integrated whole; they shou
ld not be considered separately. Moreover, (s)he has to remember that there migh
t be a literal equivalent to an Arabic word, phrase or sentence, but this does n
ot necessarily mean that the meaning in English is the same as that of that of A
rabic if used metaphorically.
Chapter Five
Conclusions and Recommendations
This chapter aims at presenting some conclusions with which the researcher has c
ome up. It also aims at introducing a set of recommendations for further researc
h in the Arabic-into-English translation of Islamic sermons. Moreover, recommend
ations for translators of Islamic sermons and students of translation are within
the focus of this chapter.
5.1. Summary and Conclusions
Upon close examination of the data collected for this research, the rese
archer has come up with the following conclusions:
(a) Translated Islamic sermons proved to be overwhelmed with lexical, among
other, errors.
(b) Lexical errors proved to be more frequent than other kinds of errors su
ch as syntactic and stylistic ones.
(c) Lexical errors include the use of repetitive expressions, omission, wrong
choice of lexical items, Islamic-specific concepts, transliteration, shared con
cepts and translation of metaphor. translating repetitive expressions is the mos
t frequent error, while the translation of metaphor is the least frequent one.
(d) The use of repetitive expressions is dealt with under three main subcategor
ies: the repetition of lexical items, lexical couplets and roots. The researcher
has attributed the occurrence of errors related to the translation of lexical r
epetition to the translator's ignorance of the emotive, emphatic and aesthetic f
unctions of lexical repetitive expressions; the researcher has attributed the oc
currence of errors in the translation of lexical couplets to the translator's ig
norance of the importance of accurately translating them, to the translator's un
awareness of their aesthetic, persuasive and rhetorical effects as well as to hi
s/her belief that translating two synonymous items is a matter of redundancy; th
e researcher has attributed the occurrence of errors in the translation of lexic
al items containing repetition of roots such as cognate accusatives to the trans
lator's unawareness of the fact that there is no comparable formal correspondenc
e of cognate accusatives in English as well as to the translator's ignorance tha
t the resulting structure of so translation is odd and unfamiliar for English sp
eakers.
(e) Omission can be attributed to the translators' careless reading of the SL
sentences. Another reason behind omission might be the translators' insufficien
t exposure to Islamic terms.
(f) Wrong choice of lexical items can be ascribed to the translators' unawarenes
s of the connotative meaning of some lexical items. It can also be attributed to
the translators' ignorance of the actual meaning of the SL lexical item.
(g) Islamic-specific concepts should not be translated; instead, the Arabic f
orm should be retained in English and the meaning should be paraphrased either b
y a definition or descriptive translation. Partial equivalents of such concepts
do not serve the purpose of translation. Errors related to translating Islamic-s
pecific concepts are ascribed to the translator's lack of precise knowledge of t
he SL as well as the TL concepts and cultures in addition to his/her insufficien
t acquaintance with religious concepts.
(h) The reason behind transliteration is probably the translator's ignorance th
at Islamic-specific concepts and/or referential gaps are better translated than
transliterated in order to show their special connotations or semantic loads. Mo
reover, it may also be ascribed to the translator's low command of English as (s
)he may not know their English lexical equivalents.
(i) Concepts shared with other religions and cultures are another source of
difficulty while translating Islamic sermons. Such concepts should better be fir
st transliterated and then their general meaning should better be given by way o
f definition. The translator's ignorance of shared concepts as well as the conno
tation of each term can be the reason behind the occurrence of the errors relate
d to them.
(j) Metaphor is widely used in religious discourse in general and in Islamic s
ermons in particular for certain effects. Literal translation of such metaphors
might distort the meaning because the connotations of the Arabic words and the E
nglish words are usually different. Words might match in the literal sense, but
they generally differ when used metaphorically. The reasons behind the occurrenc
e of errors related to the translation of metaphor are attributed to the transla
tor's unawareness of the metaphorical usage besides the connotations of this usa
ge. Moreover, it can be ascribed to the translator's assumption that literal tra
nslation of metaphorical usage is laborious.
(k) Transliteration and omission might be looked at as translation techniques
. In the present study, however, they are regarded as errors since opting for th
em when translating Islamic sermons causes message distortion and leads sometime
s to unnatural sentences.

(l) the connotations of the words must be taken into account while translati
ng Islamic sermons. If the translator is to translate Islamic sermons accurately
, (s)he has to consider the connotative meaning of the lexical items, the struct
ures and the rhetorical effects of the language of sermons. These should be con
sidered as an integrated whole; they should not be considered separately.
(m) Any wrong or inaccurate translation of the above-mentioned categories sp
oils the emotive tone and effect that the SL text has.

5.2. Recommendations
In light of the previous conclusions and the discussion in the previous
chapter, the following recommendations can be suggested:
(a) Since this study dealt with only one kind of errors, lexical errors, it
is recommended that further research be conducted on other kinds of errors such
as syntactic and stylistic ones.
(b) It is recommended that more sermons be included to verify and further va
lidate the results of this study.
(c) Translators of Islamic sermons are recommended to have adequate command
of both English and Arabic and to be fully aware of the implications and connota
tions of religious terminologies in both languages.
(d) Translators are also recommended to take their job more seriously in ord
er to avoid inaccuracy and unfaithfulness in their practice.
(e) Translators of Islamic sermons should have some knowledge of other relig
ions; this helps them translate some religious concepts more accurately and avoi
d the confusion between concepts in other cultures or religions.
(f) Translating Islamic sermons should be taken with great care on both the
semantic and communicative levels.
(g) Due to the lack of sufficient religious and cultural background on the p
art of the TL audience, translators are recommended to secure sufficient textual
and contextual clues that help to make up for the background knowledge.

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Internet References
www.angelfire.com/ca/hasakr/sakr1
www.BahrainTribune.com
www.britannica.com
www.isna.net/services/library
www.isna.net/services/library/khutbahs
www.todaytranslations.com
www.uea.ac.uk
www.Wikipedia.com

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