Foregrounding and Backgrounding in the Holy Qur'ān and its English translations


  • Salar Manafi Anari
  • Maryam Ramezanpour Sobhani


Unique linguistic and rhetorical features of the Holy Qur'ān have created many obstacles for translators. In the Qur'ān, form and content are closely interrelated, and word order has both semantic and rhetorical roles in verses. Concerning this, foregrounding and backgrounding in the Qur'ān realize some functions, and the present study was motivated by three research questions in this regard. The first question is whether the Qur'ān translators, in confronting foregrounding and backgrounding in the verses, produce marked or unmarked translations; and the other two questions are whether there is any difference between the translators in dealing with such verses regarding their native languages. In this regard, the Surah Al-An'ām and three English translations done by Arberry, Abdel Haleem, and Saffarzadeh were selected to be studied by considering the Hallidayan approach in determining markedness in English. The findings of the research illustrate that in less than one third of the cases, the translators have used marked structures. Abdel Haleem has the least number of marked translations. So the results show that it is not always the case that Qur'ān translators render such marked phrases by marked structures in English, and also it seems that the translators' native languages do not cause preference in this regard.

Author Biographies

Salar Manafi Anari

Professor, English Translation Studies Department, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran

Maryam Ramezanpour Sobhani

M.A. Graduate of English Translation Studies, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran



How to Cite

Manafi Anari, S., & Ramezanpour Sobhani, M. (2017). Foregrounding and Backgrounding in the Holy Qur’ān and its English translations. Translation Studies Quarterly, 14(56). Retrieved from



Scientific Research Paper

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