AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 5, Number 2. May   2021                                Pp. 2-17

Lexical Asymmetry as a Translation Problem Arising in the Holy Quran

English Department, Faculty of Languages and Translation, King Khalid University, Abha,
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Eyhab Abdulrazak Bader Eddin

English Department, Faculty of Languages and Translation, King Khalid University, Abha,
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


Coupled with copious evidence and cogent illustrations, this article charts an important development in the field of translating the Holy Quran. It breaks new ground in a new type of problems inherent in the translation of the Quran. It is designed to catch translators’ alert senses to look beyond the traditional approach to translation, i.e. looking for the superficial equivalent. It critically discusses the long-standing proclivity for the deeply-held belief in the existence of absolute synonyms in the Quran. Although the examples given are not very exhaustive due to space constraints, the author’s unbridled reason pushes him to how far semantic propinquity exists in the Quran, developing a plethora of new checklists which will definitely act as a springboard to lay groundwork to any translator. The paper draws a conclusion that the seemingly verb and noun synonyms in the Quran are not so, resulting in a lexical asymmetry in translation. This paper zooms in on a new type of sense relationships, which involve a pair of words with similar meaning, but are made up of the same root morphologically. The paper takes three very popular and mesmerizing translations of the Quran as a point of reference. This paper shatters the fervent belief that one word can be a full equivalent to seemingly synonymous words in the Quran. This is a strong call on translators to start looking at new issues in the translation of the Quran from different standpoints, an arresting fact we need to grasp.

Cite as:

Al-Tamari, E. A., & Bader Eddin, E. A. (2021). Lexical Asymmetry as a Translation Problem Arising in the Holy Quran.
Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary


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Dr. Emad Ahmed Al-Tamari is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the Faculty of Languages and Translation at King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia. He earned his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Kansas, USA. His major is Syntax. Other areas of interest include syntax-semantics interface and second language acquisition. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0121-2166


Eyhab A. Bader Eddin, BA, MA, PhD, CL, MCIL, MITI is an Assistant Professor of Translation at King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia. He has an extensive teaching experience in such countries as Syria, Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Dr Bader Eddin has been teaching exclusively on the MA programme for the recent 4 years. With a PhD titled ‘Semantic Problems in A. J. Arberry’s Translation of the Suspended Odes (Mu’allaqat), Dr Bader Eddin is passionately interested in Classical Arabic and how it can be functionally translated into English. He has published extensively in the fields of linguistics and translation in such refereed journals as Translation Journal, the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, etc. Dr Bader Eddin’s research interests include, but are not limited to, theory of translation, translation competence, literary translation, stylistics, translation training, systemic linguistics, discourse analysis and the salient features of the Gracious Quran in translation. https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0096-6334