Verbs of saying in the qurʾān: The case of qāla

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The objective of this paper is to highlight the functions and meanings of the verb of saying qāla in the Qurʾānic text. To define the properties of this verb, four interrelated aspects are investigated: the context, the pragmatics, the semantics and the syntax of qāla. Theory, methodology and theoretical insights from the literature dealing with verbs corresponding to qāla in other languages which view these instances as speech acts are discussed and applied. The article is divided into two sections. In section 1 the notion of “speech act” is defined according to Searle (1969, 1999) and Austin (1962). Section 2 is divided into three sub-sections according to the verb form of qāla (past and imperative), type of discourse (reported dialogues and non-dialogues) and the syntactic environment (qāla followed by an imperative or direct speech). The most common contextual frame for qāla can be characterized as a conversation or a verbal exchange involving two participants (the addressor and addressee). This affects the function and meaning of the verb qāla since in an interaction between two or more participants the reference to the entity transmitting the message is marked by qāla. Furthermore, the content of the message which is introduced by qāla and is usually formulated as an asyndetic clause (i.e., one that lacks a conjunction) or as a verb in the imperative form, is stressed by qāla. Finally, in interactions people can ask, assert, contradict, argue or command. All these actions are embodied by the verb qāla, which performs two illocutionary (i.e., communicative effect) assertive and directive speech acts.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere03
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 CSIC.


  • Assertive
  • Direct Speech
  • Directive
  • Illocutionary force
  • Speech act
  • The verb qāla
  • Word-exchange. Resumen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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