Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Translation Strategies for Reference Switching (IltifAT) in SURah Al-Baqarah

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Translation Strategies for Reference Switching (IltifAT) in SURah Al-Baqarah

Article excerpt


Reference switching (Iltifat) is a unique style found in the holy Qur'an. It is a rhetorical device in Arabic language. Nonetheless, it is used in an extensive and complex manner in Qur'an. Reference switching is defined as the change of speech from one mode to another. However, reference switching constitutes a problem for translators while transferring reference switches from one language to another, particularly in the Qur'anic discourse. This paper looks at the translation of reference switching in surah al-Baqarah specifically focusing on the translation strategies employed by the translator Yusuf Ali to transfer reference switching that is obvious in the Qur'an to English language. Personal reference switching has been classified into five categories: namely the switch from third to first person pronoun; the switch from first to third person pronoun; the switch from third to second person pronoun; the switch from second to third person pronoun and the switch from first to second person pronoun. Newmark's translation strategies are used as a basis to explore the translation strategies applied by Yusuf Ali. The study reveals that Yusuf Ali opted for five strategies in translating reference switching in surah al-Baqarah. They are literal, expansion, free translation, compensation and a dual strategy of transposition and footnote. However, the study reveals that these translation strategies are inapplicable in conveying the meaning of iltifat. The findings of this study will hopefully pave the way for more investigations into the translatability of reference switching in other surahs of the holy Qur'an. Additionally, the findings of this study will be a step forward toward improving reference switching translation in future interpretations of meanings in the holy Qur'an.

Keywords: the Qur'an, reference switching, Iltifat, translation, strategies

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1. Introduction

Translators of the Qur'an face plenty of challenges, impediments, and obstacles in translating the Holy Qur'an. The first problem with translating the Qur'an is transforming the speech of Allah in Arabic to the speech of human being in another language. In this way, the beauty and miraculous nature of the Qur'an is completely lost. The perfect choice of words, the syntax of the verse, the powerful rhythm of the passages, and the manner of eloquence displayed by the Arabic all are impacted and destroyed. All Qur'an scholars confirm that much is lost when the Qur'an is translated. For instance, Akbar (1978) in Nassimi (2008) observes that no translation can ever take the place of the original Qur'an which is in Arabic language; for it is impossible to reproduce its matchless and enchanting style, highly emotive and fiery language, and forceful rhetoric. For him, it is difficult to transfer into English every shade of meaning that is contained in the Arabic word of the Qur'an.

Furthermore, the Arabic of the Qur'an is a very rich language wherein many of its words have numerous shades of meaning that cannot be easily found in other languages including English. While the classical Arabic of the Qur'an is a living language, more study is required in order to fully appreciate and understand the depth of meanings. Moreover, English and Arabic belong to different language families. The Arabic language originates from the Semitic language family in contrast to the Germanic language family for English. Consequently, it is natural for the two language systems to differ. This could cause problems in translation. Reference switching is considered to be problematic in translation. This stylistic feature poses certain problems for the translator and the receiver of the message (Ahmed, 2004). Hatim and Mason (1997) indicate that in the rhetoric of a number of languages, including Arabic, reference switching involves a sudden and unexpected shift from the use of one form (a particular tense or pronominal reference) to another form within the same set. …

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