Lexico-Semantic Issues on Translating Homonymy and Polysemy: A Comparative Study based on the Noble Qur'an

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Eassa Ali Mohammed Ali


This study focuses on the rendition of Qur’ānic homonyms and polysems in three famous English translations. The research aims at scrutinizing the three translations and comparing them to the source text for determining which of the selected translations is more faithful and eventually to answer this question To what extent does each of the translations succeed in avoiding meaning loss and showing awareness in translating Qur’ānic homonyms and polysems?” The criticism relies on the three renowned Arabic exegeses; Ibn Kathir, Al-Tabari and Al-Qurtubi. Therefore, to answer the aforementioned question, fourteen examples have been selected for the study. The study started analyzing the three translations by using Qualitative Comparative Analysis Method. The findings obtained from the data analysis indicate that: First, homonymy and polysemy are one of the core problems in translation as they have multiple meanings that differ from one context into another. Second, the translators show awareness of homonymy and polysemy so that they maintain the source message in most of the cases. However, they, especially Yusuf Ali, miss the homonymic and polysemic senses, in some cases, due to the literal translation shown through their consideration of only the primary meanings. Third, the three translations vary in the accuracy degree due to the choice of English words. Fourth, mistranslating the selected items affects the total meaning of the Qur’ānic verse in some cases. Briefly, Hilali & Khan’s and Saheeh Internayional’s come first in faithfulness and then Yusuf Ali’s.


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Research Article (English)