Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 9 : 3 March 2009
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



  • We seek your support to meet the expenses relating to the formatting of articles and books, maintaining and running the journal through hosting, correrspondences, etc.Please write to the Editor in his e-mail address to find out how you can support this journal.
  • Also please use the AMAZON link to buy your books. Even the smallest contribution will go a long way in supporting this journal. Thank you. Thirumalai, Editor.

In Association with




  • E-mail your articles and book-length reports in Microsoft Word to
  • Contributors from South Asia may send their articles to
    B. Mallikarjun,
    Central Institute of Indian Languages,
    Mysore 570006, India
  • Your articles and booklength reports should be written following the MLA, LSA, or IJDL Stylesheet.
  • The Editorial Board has the right to accept, reject, or suggest modifications to the articles submitted for publication, and to make suitable stylistic adjustments. High quality, academic integrity, ethics and morals are expected from the authors and discussants.

Copyright © 2008
M. S. Thirumalai


Translating Irony in the Quranic Texts -
A Contrastive Study of Yousif Ali and Pickthall English Translations

Qays Amir Kadhim, Ph.D.


The main idea of this paper is that the translation of irony from Arabic into English in Quranic texts might create different translational strategies based on the way Arabic and their English translations reflect the linguistic and cultural distance between both languages.

To tackle this problem, the study ventures into a contrastive analysis with reference to a number of linguistic and non-linguistic devices and concepts. It concentrates on the interpretation and the linguistic realization of irony in both languages.

The study takes the view that ironic devices are the foundation of the structural development of the texts in question. To demonstrate this, the speech act and conversational theories shall be used. The interaction between the ironic devices and the text development constitute a framework for the overall rhetorical meaning of the text. Thus, contrastive analysis and comparative stylistics analysis will be implemented.

A thorough contrastive analysis is made of when translating irony from Arabic into English using two versions of translations; the first translation by Yousif Ali and the second by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall. Similarities and differences between both texts are found. In addition, both Yousif Ali and Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall translations have used different translational strategies in translating the ironical structures. Finally, discrepancies were observed in the lexical form and function.

Key words: semantic, syntax, translational strategies, figure of speech


The first problem that arises when studying irony is that of its definition. Nowadays, most critics agree that the old concept of irony as "saying one thing and meaning another" is no longer a comprehensive or accurate description of multifarious and complex techniques that writers use to create irony (Mateo 1995).

On the other hand, irony and, in particular, verbal irony, is not something that can be recognized by a fixed set of linguistic or stylistic features (Mateo 1995). There is norecognizable ironic tone or style. Irony depends on context. Just as there are no words or expressions which are humorous per se but by reason of their semantic or syntactic use in a context and which, as Walter Nash puts it, will have to be defined "extrinsically" by their contextual linkages and semantic relationships (Mateo 1995).

So, irony depends on context since it springs from the relationship of a word expression or action with the whole text or situation (Mateo 1995).

On Irony in Literature

Irony is a model that has been constantly used in literature. However, the study of irony has not matched its prevalence in literature (Chackhachiro, 1997:8). This stems, at least in the western world, from the fact that irony is taken for granted or, as Muecke (1969: ix) put it, "…to be able to be ironical is perhaps part of the definition of our [Western] civilization…" Another factor may well be that irony is such a highly rhetorical and elusive tool that it is difficult to defense in terms of its interpretation let alone style and language (Chackhachiro, 1997:8).

In his attempts to describe the variable features that affect the quality of irony, Muecke (1982: 52-55), as cited in Chackhachiro, 1997:8, recognizes for ironists "…to break with advantage the rules of art" in order to enhance irony.

Muecke suggests four principles for a successful irony based on his observation that "A rhetorical effective, an aesthetically pleasing, or simply a striking irony owes its success, it would seem, largely to one or more of a small number of principles and factors", (Chackhachiro, 1997:8).

These principles are:

1. The principle of economy, which implies the use of a few signals; it is used in parody, advice and encouragement, the rhetorical question and other ironical tactics.

2. The principles of high contrast (Chackhachiro, 1997:8). This takes place when "…there is a disparity between what might be expected and what actually happened" Muecke (1982:53), or when there is antithesis, semotactic anomalies or internal contradiction.

3. The position of the audience, particularly in the theater where " the quality of the irony depends very much on whether the audience already knows the outcome or true state of affairs or learns of these only when the victim learns" Muecke (1982:54).

On Emotions and Irony - Contrast between Western and Arabic Literary Theorists

The topic - this factor or principle - relates to the importance of emotions in generating and enhancing both the observer's feeling toward the victim or the topic of the irony and the reader's awareness and appreciation of the irony on an equal footing among "…the areas in which most emotional capital is invested: religion, love, morality politics and history" (Muecke 1982:55).

Studies devoted to irony in English have all tackled the concept from a literary perspective, e.g., Booth (1974), Handwerk (1985), Finaly (1990), Muecke (1969), Muir (1990) as cited in Chackhachiro, 1997:9.

The Arabic literary theorists, on other hand, have not given the same comprehension account to irony as their English counterparts, especially in modern times. Instead, there are many Arab writers who wrote on literary criticism theory of ancients such as al-Jahiz, Ibn al-Muqaffa and Ibn Khaldun, as well as reprints of those literary writers' and linguists' actual writings (Chackhachiro, 1997:9). This lack of modern studies on the topic of irony does not take anything away from the richness and importance of ancient Arab writers, especially Al-Jahiz, (Chackhachiro, 1997:9).

Data Analysis

The data analysis is based on eight verses from the Quran and their English versions by Yousif Ali and Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Intervention in Autism Spectrum Disorders A SLP'S GUIDE | Teaching of English Literature and Empowerment of Indian Students | Translating Irony in the Quranic Texts – A Contrastive Study of Yousif Ali and Pickthall English Translations | “Why” And “How” of Literature in Language Classroom | An Evaluation of the Communicative Approach and Audio-Lingual Method in Teaching Grammar in a Private High School in Turkey | Command or Curse? Women’s Position - A Look at Genesis 3 : 16 in the Light of Abuse | Learning Sanskrit: A Personal Experience | Plural in Tamil and Telugu - A Comparison | Incorporating Translated Malay Short Stories into Teaching English Language Skills | Getting Exposure to Input in Multimedia Language Laboratory - A Pleasurable Learning Experience | Representation of a Minority Community in a Malaysian Tamil Daily | The Internal Landscape and the Existential Agony of Women in Anjana Appachana’s Novel LISTENING NOW, A Doctoral Dissertation | HOME PAGE of March 2009 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Qays Amir Kadhim, Ph.D.
University of Utara Malaysia

  • Send your articles
    as an attachment
    to your e-mail to
  • Please ensure that your name, academic degrees, institutional affiliation and institutional address, and your e-mail address are all given in the first page of your article. Also include a declaration that your article or work submitted for publication in LANGUAGE IN INDIA is an original work by you and that you have duly acknolwedged the work or works of others you either cited or used in writing your articles, etc. Remember that by maintaining academic integrity we not only do the right thing but also help the growth, development and recognition of Indian scholarship.