hwhatting wrote:On the uses of the Accusative:
Actually, the only cases that really look exotic from an Indo-European point of view are the uses for the predicate, the one for the emphatic subject, and the use after certain numerals. Except for those, you'd find similar uses of the accusative to what you listed in many IE languages, e.g., Latin:
Well, this wasn't meant to be a list of "strange Arabic accusative constructionsTM"
, so much as a list that people could poke at. I showed these to my wife, who happens to know German and Latin as well. Granted, both are pretty rusty for her, and she's not a native German speaker (for that matter, she's not a native Latin speaker either.
). However, she did say that some of these hurt her brain.
Marcum Lucium interfecisse dicunt.
Lucium interfectum esse dicunt.
Interesting (bear in mind I haven't studied Latin in almost ten years now). Tell me, is this construction valid for any subordinate clause, or does it only apply to, say, "indirect reporting" verbs? What about existential/inchaotive constructions? For example, in Arabic, you can say:
من الممكن أنّ سليماً قتل حسناً
mina-l-mumkin.i 'anna salīm.an qatal.a ħasan.an
from-the-possible.gen that Saleem.acc killed.3ms Hassan.acc
"It's possible that Saleem killed Hassan"
لا شكّ من أنّ سليماً مجنونٌ
lā šakk.a min 'anna salīm.an majnūn.un
no doubt.acc from that Saleem.acc crazy.nom
"There is no doubt that Saleem is crazy" (Obviously because he killed poor Hassan
I'm actually quite surprised neither you nor Maknas found أتى سليمٌ حسناً بكتابين "Saleem brought two books to Hassan" strange as I've had people tell me that "came X Y with Z" confuse them. However, my wife thought it was merely a double accusative verb, as the dual only has nominative and oblique forms. She suggested I give a less ambiguous example:
أتى بكتابٍ سليمٌ حسناً
'atā.0 bi.kitāb.in salīm.un ħasan.an
came.1ms with.book.gen Saleem.nom Hassan.acc
Saleem brought a book to Hassan.
Ich saß zwei Minuten.
Ich habe den ganzen Morgen geschlafen.
As I said, it's been a while since I studied Latin, but even I can remember constructions like noctem totem dormivi
. No, I couldn't remember the Latin word for Morning, sue me.
Maknas wrote:Heh, yes, I've heard that Moroccan Arabic is very divergent compared to the other varieties of Arabic. The only expression I remember from when I was there a few years back that was unique was the use of zhuzh for "two" instead of the standard 'ithnāni (which I'm guessing is cognate to Hebrew זוג zug "pair").
Well, North African Arabic in general seems pretty strange to me (except for Libyan, where I can almost
make out a full sentence every now and then
). My understanding is that Maghrebi Arabic went through a pretty severe sound shift in terms of vowels - something like: /a, i, u/ > /ə/ then /ā, ī, ū/ > /a, i, u/ and finally, /ay, aw/ > /ī, ū/. They also seem affricate their dental stops all over the place. I'm probably simplifying a fair bit, but I think you get the idea.
So far as I know, žūž
does come from CA زوج /zawjun/ "double" or "spouse" (the verb زوّج /zawwaja/ means "he married")
Is that a real word?!
Believe me when I tell you, I couldn't make that one up if I was on acid.
It is a real word, just a really esoteric one.
The nominative ending -u was completely dead by Biblical Hebrew, even, with only a few traces left behind. The only one that comes to mind right off hand is the Biblical name Bethuel (BH בתואל bəthu'el), meaning "house of God", which in normative Biblical Hebrew would be בת-אל beth-'el.
Heh, the retention of /-u/ in the construct is fairly common in colloquial Arabic as well. For the record, "house of God" in Arabic would be, بيت الله /baytu-llāhi/
Not really ( Razz ), but I do sorta get what you mean. Arabic, Amharic, and many other Semitic languages underwent very few phonetic changes from Proto-Semitic, and most of what they did change was unconditional (ie, all X becomes Y). Hebrew had a load of conditional vowel changes that sent the vowels all over the place, due to stress, environment, other nearby vowels...
I'd make the arguement that Amharic has undergone some pretty severe sound changes from PS: *wal(a)dum > ləǧ
"boy". I will agree, however that Amharic word "shapes" seem a little more familiar to me: Ar: kāhinun
, Amh: kahən
vs He: kōhēn
- Ar: kawākibu
, Amh: käwakəbt
vs. He: *kōkābīm
(not too sure on the vowels for this). Transliteration differences aside, the Arabic and Amharic words are pronounced almost identically.
Then again, Amharic's loss of gutterals can reverse this somewhat: He: ħādāš
seems a lot more like Ar: ħadīθun
to me than does Amh: addis
You just explained the Arabic stress system in a single sentence, while my book took an entire page for it, and you did it clearer.
Only a page? I can't count the number of times I've read some boroque three-page explanation of Arabic stress involving counting the syllables backwards or somesuch blah blah. Granted, there are different schools of thought as to how to stress CA, but the method I gave you is by far the most common, and is easier to reconcile with Modern Arabic dialects.
Biblical Hebrew still had geminates, while modern Hebrew does not. However, if you keep this in mind a number of other similarities between Hebrew and Arabic show up. For example, Biblical Hebrew did have the geminate middle consonant in the intensive paradigm: dibber "he said" (modern diber). The first consonant of a word also underwent gemination when the definite articles to added: BH bayith "house", habbayith "the house", the same sort of gemination you see with the Arabic article and the sun letters.
North Arabian languages had haC:-/han-
for the definite article as well. Given the prominence of nasal-assimilation in Hebrew, some people have suggested a Proto-Caano-Arabic definite article, *han-
, with the changes /h/ > /ʔ/ and /n/ > /l/ occuring in Arabic. Actually, Semitic "intensive" forms like *paʕʕala
are supossedly come from Proto-Afro-Asiatic *panʕala
. You can see this today in Beja (not Semitic, but Afro-Asiatic) verbs: *aktib
"I write" > *akantib
"I am writing" (bear in mind, I'm not certain if the vowels are correct). Apparently, Aramaic used to "randomly" alternate between /C:/ and /nC/ in such verb forms as well.
Those forms look quite similar to the Arabic...
Yeah, مفتاح /miftāħun/ and מפתח maftéach are clear cognate forms. I actually screwed up the second one, though; it should be فتّاحة /fattāħatun/ and not فتّاح /fattāħun/.
Do you happen to know of any good resources on Proto-Semitic grammar? Everything I can find is very scattered about. I'm particularly interested in PS verbal formation, since it seems like the different Semitic languages have taken it various different directions.
You know, I don't think I've ever seen a really good PS grammar (most of what I know I've collected in bits and pieces from various sources). There's Lipinski's Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative Grammar
, which has a fair bit of information scattered about. Now it's a comparative outline, so it's not really a thorough reconstruction or anything. Also, I found myself questioning his theories a fair bit. He also seems to have an unhealthy fetish for Berber. Then again, people like Ehret take it to far in the other direction: "Yeah, well, I think I'm just going to ignore Berber in my reconstruction of Proto-Afro-Asiatic, even though next to Semitic and Egyptian, it's the best and longest attested branch of the family". Can you imagine an IE specialist just arbitrarily deciding to ignore Celtic? But I digress...
I do have access to a fairly large Semiticist library; if you want to give me some time, I can do some checking and get back to you. Believe me when I tell you it'll be fun for me too.
The construct in different languages (and PS) also interests me a bit now, after looking into how Arabic forms it. When the head (construct) noun is singular, Hebrew and Arabic are quite similar - masculine nouns are endingless and indefinite, and feminine nouns regain the -t that they had lost elsewhere. When the head noun is plural, though, the two languages go completely different directions:
What you are saying is broadly true of spoken
Arabic. In CA, however, the situtation is more complicated. In CA nouns lose their تنوين /tanwīnun/ "nunation" (assuming it's منصرف /munṣarifun/ "fully declined) in the construct state, but otherwise maintain their case endings:
x مديرٌ /mudīrun
/ "manager" > مديرُ الشركةِ /mudīru
-š-šarikiti/ "The manager of the company"
x في سيَّارةٌ /fī sayyāratin
/ "in a car" > في سيَّارةُ المديرِ /fī sayyārati
-l-mudīri "the manager's car"
The deletion of نَ /na/ (نِ /ni/ in the dual) at the end of masculine external plurals is probably a similar phenomenon. The two most common theories I've seen about this is that the *-n/-*m ending is a trace of an older, fossilized article (some say definite, others say indefinite), or that it was originally a masculine ending that later spread to the feminine for some unknown reason. To make matters more confusing, there are some OSA languages that used -n
for definite nouns and -m
for indefinite ones.
The construct noun being unable to take an article is pretty typical across the family. Aramaic was pretty similar to Arabic and Hebrew (except its article was post-positioned): *šam
"the name" "*šma malkā
"the name of the king" (vowels may be off somewhat). What's really interesting to me is the way Ethiopian languages handle genitives; that is even though they've all pretty much become left-branching, they still retain this "construct noun can't be definite" rule. So you end up with things like: *yä.täbət.i bet
(of.boy.the house) "the boy's house" - the opposite order of Arabic and Hebrew, but similar grammar otherwise. Clearly, this "construct" mechanism is a very integral part of Semitic grammar.
So far as I know, Semitic languages that didn't mark definiteness had different ways of marking the construct: Akkadian just lopped off the case ending: ālum
"city" > āl šarrāqī
"city of thieves", whereas Ge'ez used the accusative: bet
"house" > beta nəguś
Now the retention of the feminine -t in the construct isn't just a Semitic thing, but an Afro-Asiatic one. Egyptian did it (right up until Coptic), and there are traces of it in other branches (Berber springs to mind). Unfortunately, I can't think of any examples.
Did Proto-Semitic form construct plurals by just lengthening the case ending vowel of the singular, then?
Well, there is some evidence from the rest of AA that there was a plural marker -w
which later elided into the long vowels present in ie. Arabic and Akkadian. Some very common nouns actually have a plural element -h-
as well. Either one could explain vowel lengthening. Off hand, I can tell you that Egyptian plurals ended with -w
(m) and -wt
(f), possibly *-awa/-uwa
(bear in mind that our understanding of Ancient Egyptian phonology is highly conjectural and mostly based off of Coptic, spoken several thousand years later). However, Berber nouns usually have a masculine plural ending -īn/-ēn, so the so-called "nunation/mimation" present in Semitic probably dates back to AA in some capacity.