Academic journal article International Journal of Linguistics

Contrastive Lexical Semantics of Biblical Soul and Qur'anic Ruh: An Application of Intertextuality

Academic journal article International Journal of Linguistics

Contrastive Lexical Semantics of Biblical Soul and Qur'anic Ruh: An Application of Intertextuality

Article excerpt


The purpose of this paper is to see how two lexical entries (i.e., Biblical soul, and Qur'anic ruh) are defined in religious discourses, namely, the Holy Book of Quran and the Holy Bible, from which data necessary for this study were collected. Several verses were cited throughout this paper mainly from two corpora: 1) the Qur'anic Arabic Corpus and 2) King James Bible Online. As for machinery, the researcher carried a three-level analysis. In the first level, the detonational and connotational meanings of these lemmas (dictionary entries) in major English and Arabic dictionaries were provided. English dictionaries were Oxford English Dictionary and the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Arabic dictionaries were lisaan al...arah (Lit: the Tongue of The Arabs) and al muheet (Lit: The Ocean). In the second level of analysis, the meanings of these words were sought in the interpretations of major Muslim and Christian scholars. The final level of analysis was an attempt to provide detailed definitions of the words in study from within the Quran and the Bible through invoking what these words mean. The results of this study indicated that each of the studied words has differently distinctive meanings in terms of scope, dimensions, and implications. Accordingly, the study recommends (1) adopting such meanings when interpreting religious discourses (2) accepting intertextuality as an invaluable approach to understanding the meaning of words in the Holy Book of Quran and the Holy Bible.

Keywords: Intertextuality, Word meaning, The holy quran, The holy bible, Biblical Soul, Qur'anic Ruh, Word studies, Religious discourse

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1. Introduction

Several attempts (Lyons, 1995; Saeed, 1997; Frawley, 1992; Flurford, Heasely & Smith, 2007, inter alia) have been made to define the scope of the academic realm of semantics. Most of these, if not all, attempts are in consensus that semantics is the study of meaning communicated in or through language. Kreidler (1998) draws a line between semantics and linguistic semantics. The former refers to "the systematic study of meaning", while the latter is concerned with "the study of how languages organize and express meanings" (p. 3). Noticeably however, all these definitions share one thing in common; that is, the word 'meaningSuch opens the door to one question that remains partially unsolved by semanticists or even lexical semanticists: what is meaning? And more exclusively given the specific scope of this paper investigating words rather than phrases or sentences, how do we arrive at the meaning of words? Or alternatively, how do we determine the intended meaning of words?

Word meaning, needless to say, is one of the central aspects to understanding the fundamental essence of any language. This understanding (i.e., meaning) may be attained through combining several linguistic features including - among others - phonological, syntactic, pragmatic, semantics, etc. Throughout the history of semantics, several definitions were attempted. Bloomfield (1933: 139) comments as follows:

We have defined the meaning of a linguistic form as the situation in which the speaker utters it and the response, which it calls forth in the hearer. ... In order to give a scientifically accurate definition of meaning for every form of a language, we should have to have a scientifically accurate knowledge of everything in the speakers' world. The actual extent of human knowledge is very small compared to this.

German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1953 & 2001) defines meaning as follows: "For a large class of cases - though not for all - in which we employ the word meaning it can be explained thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the language" (PI, 43). Read (1955) states that "the word meaning serves to characterize the systematic relevancies that are involved in language ..." (p. 37). For Akmajian, A. …

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