Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume.7 Number.1 March 2016                                       Pp. 229  -278


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Contextual vs. Verbal Consistency in the Translations of the Qur’anic Polysemous Verb ata: A corpus-based Study



 Sherine Abd El-Gelil Emara
Faculty of Humanities, Al-Azhar University
Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt


This corpus-based study investigates how translators of the Qur’an have dealt with the verb ata that seems to represent  a case of polysemy. It examines nine English translations of all tokens of the verb ata in the Glorious Qur’an with the aim of determining which of the two policies referred to by Nida and Taber; “Contextual Consistency” and ”Verbal Consistency” translators have adopted. It attempts to investigate whether the translators have been able to recognize when ata in the Qur’an is being used in a primary or a secondary sense or they have fallen into the trap of translating it literally. It also attempts to determine whether the syntactic and semantic behavior of the verb ata has an implication for the translating process. It is mainly a descriptive study where an attempt is made to descriptively – rather than prescriptively – discuss the translation product. A statistical analysis is conducted to identify the English equivalents of ata in the corpus. The selection includes the translations of Rodwell, Palmer, Pickthall, Y. Ali, Arberry, Shakir, Al-Hilali and Khan, Ghali, and Khalifa. Corpus analysis reveals that the polysemous verb ata has not been translated by a single word in the English translations under study. On the contrary, it has a large number of translation equivalents. This difference in translation equivalents could be a sign of the possibility of a difference in the semantics of the original verb. It means that ata in the Qur’an expresses various meanings and that in translating it most of the translators have adopted the policy of contextual consistency.
Key words:ata, corpus analysis, polysemy, translation equivalents, contextual consistency, verbal consistency.

Cite as: Emara, S. A. (2017). Contextual vs. Verbal Consistency in the Translations of the Qur’anic Polysemous Verb ata: A corpus-based Study. Arab World English Journal, 8 (1).


Sherine Abd El-Gelil Emara is an Egyptian lecturer at Al-Azhar University, Faculty of
Humanities, English Language, literature, and simultaneous interpretation. She received her BA,
MA, and PhD from Al-Azhar University. She has a 15- year teaching experience in the field of
English linguistics and translation. She has three published papers. She is a member of The
Association of Arab Translators, and The Arab Society of English Language Studies (Asels).