Eyhab A.Bader Eddin, Yehudit Dror

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article aims to disentangle an al-tafsīriyya through the dual perspective of linguistics and translation. According to traditional grammarians of Arabic, an al-tafsīriyya has the sense of the particle ay “that is” and can introduce a direct quote, an elucidation or an explanation. Modern scholars agree that an al-tafsīriyya is similar to a colon in the Western punctuation system. However, as Ibn Hishām observed, an al-tafsīriyya does not elucidate what precedes it, so that translating an al-tafsīriyya as a colon indicating direct speech is inaccurate. Here, we suggest another function of an al-tafsīriyya, which can be preceded by two different groups of verbs in the past tense: verbs of saying and verbs with no indication of saying, both of which are followed by an imperative form. In this view, an al-tafsīriyya functions as a neutralized particle that introduces a verbal complement, which can be regarded as quasi-direct speech and not the direct object. We show that a ‘nonfinite to-clause’ (e.g., “We revealed to the Disciples to believe in meˮ) is the best way to translate an al-tafsīriyya, because both the complementation of the verb and the feature of quasi-indirect speech are embedded in a non-finite to-clause.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-91
Number of pages29
JournalJerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam
Issue number53
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. All rights reserved.


  • an al-tafsīriyya
  • direct speech
  • neutralized particle
  • non-finite to-clause

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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