Journal of Universal Language
Sejong University Language Research Institue

A Semantic Study of the Translation of Homonymous Terms in Sacred Texts: the Qur’an in focus

Hossein Vahid Dastjerdi1, Bahareh Zamani1
1University of Isfahan

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


Homonymy, as a feature of semantics, presents a challenge for translators. It has actually been argued that homonymous terms might give rise to serious problems in translation, since their occurrence in a sentence can result in a certain amount of ambiguity. On this basis, the present study aims at providing a short overview of the main theoretical issues concerning homonymy, identifying a limited number of homonymous terms in the Qur’an along with their equivalents in five well-known English renderings of this sacred Scripture, and discovering the strategies for the translation of this feature as well as determining the extent of translators’ success in avoiding ambiguity they face in performing the translation task in this respect.

Keywords: homonymy; semantics; ambiguity; primary meaning; sacred texts



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