‬ Intra-textuality in Translating Some Problematic Qur'anic Verses

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‬ Intra-textuality in Translating Some Problematic Qur'anic Verses
    Arab World English Journal www.awej.org ISSN: 2229-9327 86  AWEJ  Arab World English Journal INTERNATIONAL PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL ISSN: 2229-9327 برعل  عل ف   ةيكنا   ةغ م   AWEJ Special issue on Translation No. (2) 2013 Pp86-95 Intra-textuality in Translating Some Problematic Q ur’anic Verses Asim Ismail Ilyas Arab Open University Jordan branch Abstract: This paper is an attempt to solve the problems of translating some ambiguous items in the Qur’anic text by using the notion of intr  a-textuality. The term intra-textuality is defined and compared with that of inter-textuality. The intra-textuality technique seems quite useful when a ST problematic item has more than one parallel occurrence in a text. It is used to establish some form of discourse-semantic-pragmatic relation between the problematic lexical item and its other parallel occurrence(s) in the macro text. It is applied to four problematic items in the Qu’ranic text, for which not only different translators have produced dif  ferent rendering for the same item , but even one and the same translator has produced inconsistent renderings in different editions of his translation work, probably as a result of some change in the translator’s experiential knowledge or ideologies. Based on such a discourse-oriented perspective, interpretation and translation solutions are suggested for the four cases investigated.  Key Words:  translation, intra-textuality, inter-textuality, ambiguity, macro-text.  AWEJ Special issue on Translation No. (2) 2013   Intra-textuality in Translating Ilyas   Arab World English Journal www.awej.org ISSN: 2229-9327 87 Intra-textuality in Translating S ome Problematic Qur’anic Verses   The term "intra-textuality" on the one hand seems to overlap with "co-text", "linguistic context", and “syntagmatic relations", yet it somehow differs from them in that its domain is not restricted to the immediate or direct collocates of an item within a micro text (a sentence or paragraph). On the other hand , "intra-textuality" seems to be somehow related to the term "inter-textuality", which was srcinally coined by Kristeva in the 1960s, and has been widely used in various disciplines (structuralism, post-structuralism, semiotics, feminism, discourse analysis, etc), with the main implication that a text does not have a uniquely independent meaning, but acquires its meaning from its relations with other texts (Allen, 2000). It is important here to draw some distinction between intra-textuality and intertextuality. An intra-textual relation is meant to imply some form of discourse-semantic-pragmatic relations  between certain items in an author’s text or texts, that a re here separated from the domain of intertextuality. Intertextuality would accordingly denote relations between completely independent texts (such as between novels, plays, etc.) produced by different authors. In this paper, intertextuality is used in relation to problematic lexical items that have more than one occurrence in different verses within the different parts of the Qur'anic text (i.e. micro texts in relation to the macro text). One obvious limitation to this approach, however, is when an ambiguous item has only one occurrence in the text. Translation is not merely an information-processing activity of decoding and encoding, but rather a discourse activity that relates to both interdependent activities of interpreting (of the ST) and producing (of the TT). Hence, ambiguous instances that are encountered in sacred texts lend themselves to various exegesis and interpretations on the part of commentators and translators. In fact, translators (and even the same translator who publishes more than one translation of a text) sometimes produce inconsistent translations for the same ST. This well-known situation is sometimes explicit in the many different translations produced by different translators for one and the same textual material. The reason b ehind such diverse TL products of the same ST is the difference(s) in translators’ interpretations that are influenced by their previous intertextual experiences, ideologies and values. The variation in the diverse TL products that are produced by the same translator is indicative of a change in the translator’s experiential knowledge or member resources (Fairclough, pp 20-21). In what follows, four problematic lexical instances from the translations of the holy Qur'an into English will be discussed in order to highlight the importance of intra-textuality in overcoming such ambiguous cases and providing more accurate and consistent renderings. 1. Qur'an, Chatpter 81, Verse 6 : (( را   اذاو ))  AWEJ Special issue on Translation No. (2) 2013   Intra-textuality in Translating Ilyas   Arab World English Journal www.awej.org ISSN: 2229-9327 88 has been given different meanings by different commentators of the  wordThe Holy Qur’an:  a. burnt (As-Suyyuuti; Makhloof; & Rajih)  b. flooded (At-Tabari) c. both senses mentioned : flooded or heated (Al-Baidawi)   d. both senses mixed into one (Ar-Razi). Translators too have disagreement: Sale, Rodwell, Bell, and Arberry opt for the meaning of "boiling": Sale (1734) : when the seas shall boil   Rodwell (1861) : when the seas shall boil   Bell (1934) : When the seas shall be made to boil up.   Arberry (1955) : When the seas shall be set boiling.   Two other translators Kassab, and al-Hayek opt for a meaning related to burning: Kassab (1994) : when the seas are inflamed. Al-Hayek (1996) : When the seas are turned into Blazing Fire. But Palmer and Pickthall render it into "surge up" or "rise" respectively: Palmer (1880): when the seas shall surge up Pickthall (1930): When the seas rise. As for Muhammad Ali's rendering of this word, he produces two inconsistent translations in different editions (besides mistranslating the Arabic word which designates "seas" into "cities"). رب   Muhammad Ali (1918-ed.): when the cities are set on fire.   Muhammad Ali (1928-ed. & 1951ed.): when the cities are made to swell.   King Fahd Holy Qur'an Printing Complex too presents inconsistent renderings in two editions. In the 1989 edition, both boiling and swelling are mixed, but in the 1996 edition two senses (a  blazing fire and overflowing) are successively mentioned as possible interpretations: King Fahd Holy Qur'an Printing Complex (1989): When the oceans Boil over with a swell. King Fahd Holy Qur'an Printing Complex (1996) : When the seas become a blazing Fire or overflow.  AWEJ Special issue on Translation No. (2) 2013   Intra-textuality in Translating Ilyas   Arab World English Journal www.awej.org ISSN: 2229-9327 89 One can easily notice the differences among commentators and translators regarding the interpretation and translation of the lexeme ت The King Fahd Printing Complex too has produced two inconsistent renderings of the same word under discussion in their two editions of 1989 and 1996. The inconsistency in the two editions of M.Ali (who also inaccurately renders رب  , i.e. ‘seas’ into "cities") is quite clear. Intra-textuality is a potential solution through which such ambiguous expressions can be resolved by handling the whole Qur’anic text as one macro -textual discourse unit. Such a macro-textual handling acquires more importance when translating ambiguous cases in a text that is distant in time, since a translator plays both roles of interpreter of the ST, and reproducer of the TT. The ambiguity of the lexical item "sujjirat" in Chapter 81, Verse 6 can be resolved through intra-textuality when considering another occurrence of the same verb (in the passive form) in Qur'anic Chapter 40, Verse 72 which describes infidels who are doomed to be burnt in fire : نو   را   يف   مث (i.e. then in fire they shall be burnt). It becomes more logical to say that the denotation of the verb under discussion is at least more related to the sense of burning than to the other suggested meanings (“boiling", or "swelling"). One may accordingly support the translations of Kassab, and Al-Hayek, as more appropriate and consistent with the signification of the Qur'anic term "sujjirat” in the case under discussion.   2. Qur'an, Chapter 11, Verse 40 : (( أ   ج   اذا   ىحا   رفو ) )  The commentators have suggested some different meanings for this expression in their interpretation of it: 1. the oven boiled/or :gushed forth with water ( Rajih ; As-Suyyuuti ) 2. water gushed forth (Makhloof) 3. continuous heavy rain (Ibn Kathir) 4. A number of different senses including the above and others (Ar-Razi ; Al- Qurtubi) Translators too have followed pace in their different renderings of it. Rod well who uses ‘earth’ but also mentions ‘oven’, seems to follow the first interpretation. Palmer, Bell, and Arberry produce rather a literal rendering of the text:  AWEJ Special issue on Translation No. (2) 2013   Intra-textuality in Translating Ilyas   Arab World English Journal www.awej.org ISSN: 2229-9327 90 Rodwell: the earth's surface boiled up [or oven, reservoir] Palmer: the oven boiled [also a reservoir] Bell: the oven boiled Arberry: the oven boiled   Sale, Pickthall and Kassab relate the sense of "oven" to water gushing or boiling: Sale: the oven overflowed [or the earth's low land…]   Pickthall: the oven gushed forth water    Kassab: the oven boiled over with water    M.Ali, the two King Fahd Holy Qur'an editions, and Hayek seem to restrict the reference of the expression under discussion to water implying the great deluge:   Muhammad Ali: water came forth from the valley. King Fahd Holy Qur'an Printing Complex (1996): the oven gushed forth (water like fountains from the earth). King Fahd Holy Qur’an Printing Complex (1989):  the fountains of the earth gushed forth Hayek : the fountains from the earth gushed forth This image of the deluge of Noah and his companions who are ordered by Allah to build a ship for safety is explicitly repeated in the Qur’an, Chapter 69, and Vers e 11: ةرا   يف   مكح   ا   ىغط      ٳ It refers to the same context preceding the deluge, and seeking refuge in the ship as levels of water rose: “lammaa tagha 'l maa'u ". Hence, one may confidently say that the indeterminate meaning of the figurative expression را   رف in Chapter 11, Verse 40 is related to the flood as explicit in Chapter 69, Verse 11, which should therefore be translated accordingly at a superordinate semantico-pragmatic level (instead of the other renderings) into something like : "when the levels of water rose and overflew". Such a rendering seems to be more logical and appropriate than the ambiguous and vague renderings of: “the oven boiled", or "the earth’s surface boiled up.   3. Qur’an, Chapter 2, Verse 177 : (( ا   ىآولح   ىع ))  is explained as : ح The referent in   1. for love of God 2. despite one’s love of wealth 3. out of one's sincere desire to bestow .
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