Qur’anic Metaphors and Their English and Persian Translations: Dead or Alive?

Document Type : Research Paper


1 University of South Australia

2 University of Isfahan


The present study aims at discussing whether metaphors in the Qur’an, revealed more than 1400 years ago, are dead, moribund or live and how these three types of metaphors have been translated in three English and three Persian translations of the Qur’an. The results reveal that among 70 metaphors examined, while only about 32.85% are live metaphors, about 67.14% are moribund, but none of the cases are completely dead. Furthermore, based on Newmark’s (1988a) classification of procedures for translation of metaphors, there is no image in 15.21% of the procedures used in the English and Persian translations of live metaphors while there are images in 84.78% of them. On the other hand, 43.26% of the procedures used in translations of moribund metaphors transfer the images whereas 56.73% of them omit the images, although these metaphors are not dead. Yet the point is that when the majority of Qur’anic metaphors, that are moribund, had been considered by translators as dead metaphors and their images had been omitted, the translations fail to represent one of the important aspects of the original text’s literary style that is its metaphorical and literary language.


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