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OK... I'm going to resist the urge to further discuss comparative Semetic with Maknas for the time being (believe me, it's hard), and actually post on Arabic derivational morphology.

Maknas has explained most of theory behind this earlier on, so I'll try not to reduplicate his efforts here too much. In Arabic, we speak of وزن الفعل /waznu-l-fiʕli/ or "weight of the verb". There are several different "weights", or 'awzānun' a verb can take, which can be devided into two types - مجرّد /mujarradun/ "naked", or مزيد /mazīdun/ "augmented".

الفعل المجرّد /al-fiʕu-l-mujarradu/ or "the naked verb" is considered the base form from which the others are derived, and can take three forms - faʕala (basic transitive verbs), faʕila (verbs describing temporary states or attributes) and faʕula (verbs describing permanant states or attributes). Actually, Arab grammarians recognize six mujarradun forms, but they have more to do with stem changes across various verb tenses than meaning, so I'll leave out describing the distinctions in more detail.

الأفعال المزيدة /al-afʕāl-l-mazīdatu/ or "the augmented verbs" are a series of prefixes and/or internal stem changes a verb can take in order to "augment" the meaning of a "base" verb. There are 14 mazīdun forms a verb can take, meaning that any verb root can have up to 15 seperate stems. Each of these has a seperate passive form, for a total of 30 potential verb stems from any tri-consonantal root, each of which has its own regularly derived active participle, passive participle and verbal noun.

European grammarians number the forms I-XV, a system I think so brilliant, I'll use it here. Firstly, a list, along with a brief description of each forms meaning:

II - faʕʕala (intensive), III - fāʕala (directed action,reciprocal), IV - 'afʕala (causative), V - tafaʕʕala (reflexive form II), VI - tafāʕala (reflexive form III), VII - infaʕala (passive), VIII - iftaʕala (reflexive form I), IX - ifʕalla (stative of colours/defects), X - istafʕala (reflexive form IV), XI - ifʕālla (intensive form IX), XII - ifʕawʕala (stative), XIII - ifʕawwala (stative), XIV - ifʕanlala (stative), XV - ifʕanlā (stative)

I've listed forms XI-XV for the sake of showing how crazy some of these transformations can get. In truth, the latter 5 forms aren't used much anymore, the most common being XI, which is used more as a variant of form IX for the sake of poetry metre (you'll notice the only difference between the two is vowel length). Of the rest (of the latter 5), I can probably count the number of times I've encountered them on one hand.

Here are some examples of roots (cognate to those provided by Maknas) spread across various awzānun:

k-t-b "writing"

I - kataba "he wrote"
II - kattaba "he forced to write"
III - kātaba "he wrote to, corresponded with"
IV - 'aktaba "he dictated to"
VI - takātabū "they corresponded with one another"
VIII - iktataba "he copied"
X - istaktaba "he dictated"

h-l-k "death, consumption" (originally meant "go")

I - halaka "he passed away"
IV - 'ahlaka "he lay waste to"
VI - tahālaka "he struggled"
X - istahlaka "he consumed"

ħ-s-b "think, consider, calculate"

I - ħasaba "he calculated"
I - ħasiba "he assumed"
I - ħasuba "he became noble"
IV - ħāsaba "he held <object> resposible"
V - taħassaba "he sought knowledge of"
VI - taħāsabū "they settled an affair together"
VIII - iħtasaba "he considered"

ʕ-l-w "be high, raise"

I - ʕalā "he arose"
II - ʕallā "he raised"
III - ʕālā "he went up"
IV - 'aʕlā "he made something high"
V - taʕallā "he climbed"
VI - taʕālā "he was exalted"
VIII - iʕtalā "he raised himself"
X - istaʕtalā "he exalted"

ʕ-l-m "knowledge" -> a guess in terms of a cognate root (/ʔ/ in MH can correspond to /ʔ/, /ʕ/ or /ɣ/ in Arabic)

I - ʕalima "he knew"
II - ʕallama "he taught"
V - taʕallama "he learned"
VI - taʕālama "he pretended to know"

Some random examples to fill in the gaps a bit:

VII - inkasara "it broke"
IX - iħmarra "it became red"
XII - iħdawdaba "it became bent"
XIV - iklanbaba "he tilted his head like a dog" -> "he became perplexed"

The first thing that stands out (at least to me) is that in Arabic, all of these (except for ʕalā) are sound stems, and thus don't go through all the crazy consonant/vowel alterations that their Hebrew cousins do. As a matter of fact, only the semi-vowels (/w/, /y/) and the glottal stop (/ʔ/) are "weak" consonants (the latter more for orthographic reasons than anything else).

Time permitting, I'll devote a post or two to describing each wazn in detail.


Last edited by Wiseblood on Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Last edited by Wiseblood on Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:10 am, edited 2 times in total.

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