Inflectional Deviation of Gender in the Qur’an

Bakri Al-Azzam, Majed Al-Quran


Inflection, part of morphology, has its own rules that govern the combinations of morphemes in words and the relationships between parts of speech within a text. Yet, inflection including that of gender can vary across different linguistic systems. Arabic and English notably contrast in gender-based relations. More specifically and within Arabic itself, the Qur’an displays striking cases of gender disagreement between grammatical categories within a text. Such deviating forms, as using a masculine verb with a feminine subject, a masculine subject with a feminine predicate or a masculine adjective to modify a feminine noun, are very unlikely to appear in other Arabic text genres. These are utilized in the divine text as rhetorical devices to create certain effects or achieve a linguistic power on the audience, in addition to other functions. This special use of gender deviation and the functions it purports to perform in the source text are likely to be lost in translation. Of course, this is attributed to the fact that the target language system neither accommodates the same inflectional rules governing gender relations in Arabic, on the one hand, nor can it provide equal deviating or gender-based disagreements, on the other.


Gender; Deviation; Linguistic; Qur’an

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