Analysis of Person Shift in Arabic – Amharic Translation of the Holy Qur’an

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Mohammed Miftah Zeinu
Dessalegn Hagos Asfawwesen
Endris Mohammed Yesufe


Person shift is a unique rhetorical device in Arabic language and used   in the Holy Qur’an in many instances. It is the change of the speech from one mode to another. Translating person shifts is a problem for translators while transferring from one language to another. The main objective of this paper is to identify and describe person shifts in the translation of the Holy Qur’an from Arabic into Amharic. The paper is a descriptive study with content analysis design. The data were chosen purposively from the Qur’anic verses containing the variation of person shifts in Arabic and their translations in Amharic.With regard to theoretical framework, Catford’s Linguistic Theory of Translation is used. The study reveals that five categories of person shifts –the shift from third person to first, from the first to second person, from third to second person, from second to third person and from the first to second person- are observed in the translation of the Holy Qur’an from Arabic into Amharic. These shifts are translated into Amharic literally which produced in incomprehensible target text due to disagreements between the pronouns and their antecedents in the target text. The findings of this study suggest that solutions should be sought in the translation of the verses that contain person shifts from Arabic into Amharic to make the target text understandable. To produce comprehensible target text, we recommend to make all the pronouns in the TT agree with their antecedents.


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Research Article (English)