Semantic ambiguity
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Author:  Linguistic [ 28 Jun 2009, 18:03 ]
Post subject:  Semantic ambiguity

In this topic, I'd like to address the challenge to translation presented by semantic ambiguity. Semantic ambiguity exists in all human languages and Arabic is no exception. The Quran uses it a lot. Since I believe that every minutia of the Quran is purposeful and wise, I believe that semantic ambiguity in the Quran is intended; all the legitimate meanings that can be understood from a semantically ambiguous word or phrase in the Quran are intended.

For instance: Arabic does not have capital letters, so the pronoun "he" for instance may refer to a person and may refer to God. Case in point is:

How can this verse be properly translated when the pronoun "he" in the sentence,
"Indeed, he is my master, who has made good my residence" إنه ربي أحسن مثواي could be referring to the Egyptian nobleman or to God? The translation we use here to start with has chosen the former. This forces one interpretation and loses the other. The English speaker would not know that the verse may be referring to God.

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