Cognate and Paronomastic Curse Retorts in the Qur'an Speech Genres and the Investigation of Qur'anic Language

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Devin J. Stewart



This study focuses on a sub-genre of the genre of curses in Arabic, the cognate or paronomastic curse, one of the many forms of regular cognate paronomasia (ishtiqaq) that have been common in Arabic usage from pre-Islamic Arabic to the modern Arabic dialects. It argues that such curses occur in several passages of the Qur'an and that an understanding of the genre’s usage in general sheds light on its sense and rhetorical effect in those passages. Moreover, the curse qatalahu'llahu (“may God fight him!”), one of the most common qur'anic curses, serves as a retort to forms of the verb qala, yaqulu (“to say”). Overall, this investigation suggests that interpretation of the Qur'an may be advanced by attention to such common Arabic speech genres as well as to biblical language and to high registers of Arabic such as poetry or oratory.



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