Semantics for Translation Students


by Ali Almanna (Author)
Monographs XVI, 226 Pages


This book is an introduction to semantics for students and researchers who are new to the field, especially those interested in Arabic–English translation and Arabic–English contrastive studies. The book first presents key concepts in semantics, pragmatics, semiotics, syntax and morphology and gradually introduces readers to the central questions of semantics. These issues are then analysed and discussed in conjunction with the act of translating between Arabic and English. Seeking a balance between theoretical developments and empirical investigation, the book thus provides both a systematic overview of semantics and an application in the field of English and Arabic contrastive semantics, hence offering a resource for students and teachers of Arabic–English translation.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • The key features of the book
  • Acknowledgements
  • Note on Transliteration
  • Vowels
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Chapter 1 : Definitions
  • Key terms
  • 1.1 Linguistics and linguists
  • 1.1.1 Linguistics
  • 1.1.2 Linguist
  • 1.2 Formal linguistics
  • 1.2.1 Phonetics
  • 1.2.2 Phonology
  • 1.2.3 Morphology
  • 1.2.4 Syntax
  • 1.2.5 Semantics
  • 1.3 Sociolinguistics
  • 1.3.1 Language variation
  • 1.3.2 Language and social interaction
  • 1.4 Psycholinguistics
  • 1.4.1 Language acquisition
  • 1.4.2 Verbal processing
  • 1.5 Applied linguistics
  • Further reading
  • Questions
  • Chapter 2 : Approaches to Word Meaning
  • Key terms
  • 2.1 Semantic fields
  • 2.2 Formal approaches
  • 2.2.1 Componential analysis
  • 2.2.2 Meaning postulates
  • 2.3 Frame semantics
  • 2.3.1 Frames
  • 2.3.2 Scripts
  • 2.3.3 Prototype
  • Further reading
  • Questions
  • Exercises
  • Chapter 3 : Morphology
  • Key terms
  • 3.1 Grammar
  • 3.2 Morphology
  • 3.3 Causativity and transitivity
  • 3.3.1 Causativity
  • 3.3.2 Transitivity
  • Further reading
  • Questions
  • Exercises
  • Chapter 4 : Affixation
  • Key terms
  • 4.1 Affixation
  • 4.2 Changes associated with affixation
  • 4.3 Suffixes and prefixes in English
  • 4.4 Polysemous prefixes and suffixes
  • 4.5 Homonymous prefixes and suffixes
  • 4.6 Chameleon prefixes
  • 4.7 Translating English suffixes and prefixes
  • Further reading
  • Questions
  • Exercises
  • Chapter 5 : Tense and Aspect
  • Key terms
  • 5.1 Tenses versus aspects
  • 5.1.1 Simple aspect
  • 5.1.2 Progressive aspect
  • 5.1.3 Perfect aspect versus perfect progressive aspect
  • 5.2 Translating tenses and aspects
  • Further reading
  • Questions
  • Exercises
  • Chapter 6 : Modality
  • Key terms
  • 6.1 Modality
  • 6.2 Types of modality
  • 6.2.1 Deontic modality
  • 6.2.2 Epistemic modality
  • 6.3 Translating modality
  • 6.4 Modality: Different functions
  • 6.4.1 Obligation and necessity
  • 6.4.2 Lack of necessity and prohibition
  • 6.4.3 Advisability, opinion, and expectation
  • 6.4.4 Lost opportunities
  • 6.4.5 Possibility/likelihood
  • 6.4.6 Ability, lack of ability, and (not) giving permission
  • 6.4.7 Futurity
  • 6.4.8 Polite request
  • 6.4.9 Preference
  • Further reading
  • Questions
  • Exercises
  • Chapter 7 : Lexical Semantics
  • Key terms
  • 7.1 Reference versus sense
  • 7.2 Synonymy
  • 7.3 Antonymy
  • 7.4 Polysemy
  • 7.5 Homonymy
  • 7.6 Homophones
  • 7.7 Lexical relations and translation
  • Further reading
  • Questions
  • Exercises
  • Chapter 8 : Semantic Roles
  • Key terms
  • 8.1 Semantic roles
  • 8.2 Types of semantic roles
  • 8.3 Semantic roles and translation
  • Further reading
  • Questions
  • Exercises
  • Chapter 9 : Semantic Principles
  • Key terms
  • 9.1 Semantic principles
  • 9.2 The open choice principle
  • 9.3 The idiom principle
  • 9.4 Idioms versus collocations
  • 9.5 Phrasal verbs
  • 9.5.1 Literal phrasal verbs
  • 9.5.2 Aspectual phrasal verbs
  • 9.5.3 Idiomatic phrasal verbs
  • 9.5.4 Polysemous phrasal verbs
  • Further reading
  • Questions
  • Exercises
  • Chapter 10 : Levels of Meaning
  • Key terms
  • 10.1 Denotation versus connotation
  • 10.2 Connotation: Different overtones
  • 10.2.1 Attitudinal meaning
  • 10.2.2 Associative meaning
  • 10.2.3 Affective meaning
  • 10.2.4 Allusive meaning
  • 10.2.5 Collocative meaning
  • 10.2.6 Reflected meaning
  • 10.2.7 Stylistic meaning
  • 10.3 Semiotics
  • 10.4 Paradigmatic and syntagmatic axes
  • Further reading
  • Questions
  • Exercises
  • Chapter 11 : Pragmatics
  • Key terms
  • 11.1 Pragmatics: Definition
  • 11.2 Speech acts
  • 11.3 Implicature and the cooperative principle
  • Further reading
  • Questions
  • Exercises
  • Chapter 12 : Annotating Semantic Issues
  • 12.1 Introduction
  • 12.2 Translation
  • 12.3 Annotation
  • Exercise 1
  • Exercise 2
  • Exercise 3
  • Exercise 4
  • Exercise 5
  • Exercise 6
  • Exercise 7
  • Exercise 8
  • Exercise 9
  • Exercise 10
  • Exercise 11
  • Exercise 12
  • Exercise 13
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Series index

| vii →


This book provides an engaging and accessible introduction to semantics for students and researchers who are new to the field. It introduces the basics of semantics in a simple fashion. It adopts a step-by-step approach, starting with the basic concepts and gradually moving readers to the central questions in semantics to discuss them in a direct link with the actual act of translating. It strikes a balance between theoretical developments and empirical investigation. In addition to gaining a systemic overview of semantics, readers can learn how to argue for analysis, thus being able to annotate their own translation academically. Specialists in language-related fields, such as linguistics, semantics, pragmatics, semiotics, morphology, syntax, and translation will find this book an essential resource and reference.

Among the significant concepts introduced in this book are denotation, connotation, sense, reference, the open choice principle, the idiom principle, semantic roles, semantic relations, semantic field, componential analysis, meaning postulates, frames, scripts, paradigmatic axis, syntagmatic axis, speech acts, implicature, the cooperative principle, and semiotics.

This academic textbook is an accessible coursebook for students of Arabic-English translation, Arabic-English contrastive studies, and students of linguistics and semantics. The book is primarily designed for those whose mother tongue is either Arabic or English and who have some knowledge of both linguistics and semantics (at a basic level) and translation studies (at a basic level).

Although the topics and analyses used in this book are intrinsically of different levels of complexity (in particular the complexity levels are different within the analysis of examples in Chapters 4–11), the book is designed to be useful for true beginners, including those with very little background in linguistics in general and semantics in particular. The intended readership for this book is BA students of applied linguistics, semantics, Arabic-English contrastive studies, and Arabic-English translation studies. Further, MA and PhD students in translation, applied linguistics, and contrastive ← vii | viii → studies may also benefit from this book. In addition, students with majors in subjects other than applied linguistics or English, such as translation, might be required to take a semantics course. The book features authentic materials taken from different text types, including literary texts, journalistic texts, religious texts, legal texts, and so on.

There are a number of books on the market that explain semantics, such as the following:

However, none of these books have approached the topic from a translation or contrastive point of view. Further, none of them have taken the language pair Arabic-English as its focus.

The key features of the book

| xi →


My sincere appreciation goes to to Juan José Martínez-Sierra of the Universitat de València (Spain), James Dickins of the University of Leeds (UK), Nicolas Froeliger of the Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7, France), and Vivina Almeida Carreira of Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra (Portugal), all of whom read the whole manuscript and provided me with their valuable suggestions and comments.

My special thanks also go to Murtadha Bakir, Fred Pragnell, Naser Al-Bzour, Hashim Lazim, Wafa Abu Hatab, Muntaha Ali, and John Moreton, who offered valuable insights into, and guidance on, the many and varied aspects of the linguistic and analytical challenges of translating Arabic.

In addition, I would like to thank the BA and MA students of Arabic-English translation over the years at the University of Nizwa (The Sultanate of Oman) and the University of Basrah (Iraq), whose translation projects have served as sources for the translation examples used in this book.

Finally, no words could ever express my deepest love and gratitude to my family, who have supported me in this work.

| xiii →

Note on Transliteration

The following Arabic transliteration system has been consistently employed throughout this book. However, in the case of (ـــّــ) shaddah, a consonant is doubled. The names of Arab authors whose works have been published in English are spelled as they appear in the publication without applying this transliteration system. In addition, any Arab names that appear in quotations follow the transliteration system of the reference quoted and not that listed below. Some names, such as Mahfouz and the like, remain as they commonly appear in English and have not been transliterated in order to avoid confusion.

Arabic Transliteration
ب b
ت t
ث th
ج j
ح h
خ kh
د d
ذ dh
ر r
ز z
س s
ش sh
ص s
ض d
ط t
ظ z
غ gh
ف f
ق q ← xiii | xiv →
ك k
ل l
م m
ن n
هـــ/ة h
و w
ي y
ا/ى a


| xv →


| 1 →



Key terms

Applied linguistics

Discourse analysis


XVI, 226
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2017 (May)
semantics pragmatics semiotics translation studies Arabic–English translation
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2016. XVI, 226 pp., 3 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Ali Almanna (Author)

Ali Almanna has a PhD in Translation Studies from the University of Durham and is Associate Professor of Linguistics and Translation at Sohar University, Sultanate of Oman. He is a specialist in translation theory, particularly the theoretical annotation of translation. His recent publications include The Routledge Course in Translation Annotation.


Title: Semantics for Translation Students
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244 pages