Marija Zlatnar Moe (University of Ljubljana) & Christian Moe: Negotiating a Slovene Qur’an with immigrant tradition

Recent studies have questioned both the retranslation hypothesis of increasing source-orientedness and the definition of retranslation itself as pertaining to the same target language. Taking migration into consideration both complicates the picture and suggests directions for research. The Qur’an being a canonical text central to an immigrant religion in Europe, previous translations into the languages of non-Arab Muslim minorities may become salient to (re)translation of the Qur’an into European languages, since such translations inform the expectations of a potential target readership. Translation policy may thus be shaped by the centre-periphery relations of both the translation system and the religious system, leading to ambiguity over targets and raising sensitive questions of identity and ownership. Here we explore these dynamics by examining how a recent Slovene retranslation of the Qur’an was negotiated between three languages and critically received by two intended readerships.

The number of published Qur’ans in Slovene went from zero to three full translations, plus one selection, in the space of a decade (2003–2014). In the scope of Slovene as the target language, only the later of these translations were retranslations. Slovenian Muslim readers, however, would read them all in the broader context of previous translations into closely related languages of the former Yugoslavia (Serbo-Croat, Bosnian). We explore questions of translation policy and reception: why so many translations were launched simultaneously, how they were domesticated for what target audience, and why none of them has gained the status of an authorized version. In particular, we discuss why the first full, direct translation from Arabic (2014) both failed to gain official Muslim endorsement as planned, and raised controversy among the broader literary public by flaunting a Slovene norm.

About the speakers

Marija Zlatnar Moe is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana (Slovenia). She works at the Department of translation where she teaches general translation courses from English into Slovene at the BA level, and literary translation and translation for arts and humanities at the MA level. Her research is focused mainly on literary translation with a focus on translation between peripheral/minor languages, drama retranslation, the ideological issues of translation, translation of sacred texts and translation didactics. Her recent publications include “The Fifth Slovene Hamlet: Return to Tradition?” (2017), “How literature is translated between minor languages” (2017, co-authored) and Center and Periphery: Power Relations in the World of Translation (2019, co-authored).

Christian Moe is a Ljubljana-based professional translator and an independent researcher in the history of religion (Slovenia). His research has focused on contemporary Islam, particularly in the former Yugoslavia, and he participated in a working group supporting the latest Slovene Qur’an translation. His publications include annual reports on Slovenia for Brill’s Yearbook of Muslims in Europe and the edited volumes Images of the Religious Other (2008) and New Directions in Islamic Thought (2009, as co-editor).


  • Moe, Christian. 2019. “Slovenia.” In: Yearbook of Muslims in Europe, vol. 10, ed. Oliver Scharbrodt, Samim Akgönül, Ahmet Alibašić, Jørgen S. Nielsen and Egdūnas Račius, 608–619. Leiden: Brill.
  • Moe, Christian (ed.). 2008. Images of the Religious Other: Discourse and Distance in the Western Balkans. Novi Sad: CEIR.
  • Vogt, Kari, Lena Larsen, and Christian Moe (eds.). 2009. New Directions in Islamic Thought: Exploring Reform and Muslim Tradition. London: I.B. Tauris.
  • Zlatnar Moe, Marija. 2017. “The Fifth Slovene Hamlet: Return to Tradition?” Multicultural Shakespeare 16 (1): 127–143.
  • Zlatnar Moe, Marija, Đurđa Strsoglavec, and Tanja Žigon. 2017. “How literature is translated between minor languages”. MTm – A Translation Journal 9: 168–191.
  • Zlatnar Moe, Marija, Tanja Žigon, and Tamara Mikolič Južnič, 2019. Center and Periphery: Power relations in the world of translation. Ljubljana: Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete.