Lexical Analysis of Arabic Near-Synonyms in the Holy Qur'an: A Case Study ofسنةsanah and عام‘aam

Linda S Al-Abbas, Rajai Khanji


Translation is a process that enables communication between different cultures and breaks barriers between languages. Synonymy is equivalence of sense (Griffiths, 2006). It refers to words that mean the same or show semantic resemblance to one another. Words in synonymous pairs can replace each other in sentences with no change of the literal meaning, and therefore, the substitutability test is used to determine whether or not words are synonyms. Translators face many problems in conveying the intended semantic message and finding the exact lexical equivalents in the target language, in addition to the cultural aspects that they need to overcome in the source language. The present study is an attempt to explore the strategies used by different Qur'an translators in rendering an Arabic synonymous pair, namely سنةsanah and عام ‘aam (year) into English, and to find out which translations could be more proper than others. The findings proved that some Qur'anic terms are untranslatable, and choosing an accurate equivalent in the target language is not possible because of the differences in the lexical items available in each language. This study concludes that the Holy Qur'an has distinctive aspects that cannot be delivered in other languages and it impresses the readers with the deep and expressive terms that were used for certain purposes. 

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v11i5.15241

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