Assessing the quality of the translation of sex-related euphemisms in the holy Qur’an: A pragmatic study

Abdul Gabbar Al-Sharafi, Said Abu Khader

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Very broadly, euphemisms are sweet-sounding, or at least inoffensive, alternatives for expressions that speakers or writers prefer not to use in executing a particular communicative intention on a given occasion” (Burridge 2012, 66). Based on this definition and adopting a pragmatic framework for the interpretation and translation of euphemism, this paper goes on to assess the quality of four English translations of four selected sex-related euphemisms in the Qur’an. Ross, RABIIT (Royal AAL AL-BAYT Institute Translation), Ghali and Bakhtiar have been selected from a period that extends to over 350 years. The paper uses Juliane House’s functional-pragmatic model of translation evaluation (1981, 2001, and 2015) to assess the quality of these four translations. The four translations are selected to examine the impact of four main variables on the quality of the translation of such euphemistic expressions; namely, historicity, gender, native language and institutionalism. The analysis of the data shows that the translations tend to generally preserve the euphemistic nature of the ST and convey it in an equally indirect and polite manner. The paper shows that there is a general tendency to translate these euphemistic expressions using an overt strategy, perhaps as an attempt to provide the target readers with access to source text euphemizing mechanisms and to preserve the indirectness and the politeness of the source text, the Qur’an.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-192
Number of pages26
JournalJordan Journal of Modern Languages and Literatures
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • Contrastive textology
  • Euphemism
  • Pragmatics
  • Qur’anic studies
  • Translation
  • Translation quality assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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