The Functions of 'or' and 'aw': Implications for Translation

Sherine Abd El-Gelil Emara


The aim of the present study is to identify and compare the salient functions that the English conjunction or and the Arabic conjunctionأو'aw' 1 may perform. It also attempts to pinpoint the implications of this comparison for the translating process. In addition, it investigates the meanings of 'aw' in the Glorious Qur'an and the ways it is rendered in four English translations of the Qur'an with the aim of shedding light on some of the difficulties and translation problems encountered in this regard. It was shown that both or and 'aw' have multiple functions. In addition, it is found that or (nor in negative structures) is not the only possible English translation equivalent of 'aw'. There are potential various non-synonymous translation equivalents of 'aw' in English. These include or, and, but, unless/except/but not when, until, and either…or. They represent the different meanings that 'aw' has, namely alternative, uncertainty, deliberate ambiguity, division, absolute addition, exception, continuance of an action to a specified time, and nexus 2 question. 

Full Text:



Copyright (c)

International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

Copyright © Macrothink Institute ISSN 1948-5425

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.