The Linguistic Issues of Form and function and their Effect on Translating Conditional Structures in the Qur’an

Article Date Accepted: !dateAccepted; | Article Date Published : 26 January 2019 | Page No.: 26 to 33


According to Ryding (2005), "conditional propositions are ones in which hypothetical conditions are specified in order for something else to take place." He adds "there are two clauses, one that specifies the condition…" and "one that specifies the consequences or result of those conditions" (p.671).  On the other hand, "the equivalent terms in Arabic are شرط /ʃartˤ/ (for the condition clause) and جواب /jawaab/ (for the consequence clause)"(p.671).  The writer divides conditions into "reasonably realizable" (if you study hard, you will pass) and "simply expressions of impossible or “contrary to fact” conditions"(p.671) (If he were rich, he would buy your car).  In brief, conditional sentences in both English and Arabic can be grouped into two categories, namely, real conditionals and unreal ones.  Real conditionals are indicated by a speaker who believes positively about the achievement of the condition, while the speaker of the unreal ones believes negatively about this achievement.

  Moreover, the use of different conditional particles appoints the type of the condition in Arabic, but it is identified by the cluster of verb forms in English.  In English, the conditional sentence may precede or follow the main sentence, but it generally precedes the main sentence in Arabic. The tense of the verbs used in English conditional sentences differ in most cases from their Arabic counterparts.

Furthermore, the most common type of conditionals in English involves ‘if’ and ‘unless’ but there are three common conditional particles and about ten conditional nouns in Arabic.  Ryding (2005) states that, "Arabic uses different particles to express possible conditions and impossible conditions"(p.671). The English conditional article ' if ' has three equivalents in Arabic: /?in/, /?iðaa/ and /law/.  The verbs of the two English conditional clauses in each of the four cases are in a sort of harmony in tense, but in Arabic such tense agreement is not a must.  Hence, we conclude that there is a general tense harmony between the English conditional clauses, but in Arabic, this is not commonly the case.  This dissonance leads to some extent of confusion while translating the source language(SL) into the target language(TL) in general and from the Quran ( as SL) into English (as TL) in particular.

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Issue: Vol 5 No 01 (2019)
Page No.: 26 to 33
Section: Articles

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