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Sound Symbolism

(5,824 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
1. Definition of sound symbolism In the introduction to their standard work on sound symbolism, Hinton a.o. (1994b) distinguish four types of sound symbolism, which they define as “the direct linkage between sound and meaning” (1994b:1): i.Corporeal sound symbolism: “the use of certain sounds or intonation patterns to express the internal state of the speaker, emotional or physical” (Hinton a.o. 1994b:2); ii.Imitative sound symbolism: “the use of onomatopoeic words and phrases representing environmental sounds” (Hinton a.o. 1994b:3), e.g. sounds of animal…
Date: 2018-04-01

Serial Verbs

(2,589 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
The term ‘serial verbs’ is used in the literature to indicate a verbal syntagm consisting of two (or more) finite verbs without a formal coordinating marker but with the same argument structure, one of which is semantically demoted, often grammaticalized, and lexically restricted (Sebba 1987:39). Constructions with serial verbs are familiar from a wide group of languages, ranging from Mandarin Chinese to West African languages like Yoruba. Examples are given in (1) – (3). (1) (Mandarin Chinese) ta lai shang ban he come go.up shift ‘He comes to work’ (Dai 1990:327) (2) ( Sranan) a waka go na…
Date: 2018-04-01

Ṣifa

(2,159 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
The term ṣifa lit. ‘feature, attribute, property’, from the root w-ṣ-f ‘to describe’, belongs to the earliest stock of Arabic grammatical terminology. In later grammar, its meaning became more or less fixed for a category of words corresponding to the adjective and the attribute in the Greco-Latin tradition, but originally it was used for a variety of meanings. The term ṣifa is one of a functional pair ṣifa/mawṣūf, which is analogous in meaning to the terminological pairs musnad/musnad ʾilayhi (ʾisnād) and muxbar bihi/muxbar ʿanhu (xabar), as al-Fārābī (d. 339/950; ʾAlfāḏ̣ 57) expla…
Date: 2018-04-01

Mafʿūl fīhi

(2,962 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
In the canonical theory of the Arabic grammarians, the term mafʿūl fīhi indicates the adverbial adjunct of time and place as one of the complements of the verb. Adjuncts usually have an accusative ending, both in Classical and in Modern Standard Arabic, e.g. ṣumtu ramaḍāna ‘I fasted during Ramadan’, sirtu farsaxayni ‘I walked two parasangs’, sa-ʾad̄habu g̣adan ‘I'm going away tomorrow’, qumtu xalfa-ka ‘I stood up behind you’. In the case of place adverbials, a prepositional phrase is preferred when the location is specified, e.g. ṣallaytu fī masjidi n-nabiyyi ‘I prayed in the Proph…
Date: 2018-04-01

Ḍād

(1,254 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
Ḍād is the name of the 15th letter of the Arabic alphabet, denoting nowadays a voiced velarized (emphatic) dental stop /ḍ/ IPA [d̴]. The sound denoted by this letter must have had a special status in Classical Arabic since the language is sometimes called luġat aḍ-ḍād, which probably indicates that the grammarians believed this particular sound was unique to Arabic (Ibn Jinnī, Sirr I, 214.14: wa-ʿlam ʾanna ḍ-ḍād li-l-ʿArab xāṣṣa). Sībawayhi ( Kitāb II, 405.8–9) describes its place of articulation as being “between the first part of the side of the tongue and the adjacent molars” ( min bayna…
Date: 2018-04-01

Taqdīr

(2,834 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
The usual meaning of taqdīr is ‘predestination, ordaining, decreeing’, semantically connected with qadr in the sense of ‘(God's) decree, fate’. The word taqdīr may also be connected with another sense of qadr, ‘measure, quantity’, in which case it means ‘measuring; estimation of value, assignment of a value to something’. In this sense it is used, for instance, for assigning the portion of war booty to which each participant in a campaign is entitled (Kofler 1933:384). This latter sense is probably the one that is behind the technical use of the term, for instance in legal theory, where taq…
Date: 2018-04-01

ʾIsnād

(2,241 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
The term ʾisnād and words derived from it indicate in Arabic grammar the connection between a noun and its predicate, or the act of assigning a predicate to a subject (Levin 1981:157). The central point in the analysis of the sentence in Arabic grammar is the distinction between nominal ( ʾismiyya) and verbal ( fiʿliyya) sentences, each with their own constituents. The nominal sentence is built on a topic/comment structure, with the topic ( mubtadaʾ; ibtidāʾ) and the comment ( xabar) as basic constituents, whereas the verbal sentence consists of a verb ( fiʿl; this term is synonymous wi…
Date: 2018-04-01

ʾIlġāʾ

(674 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
The term ʾilġāʾ lit. ‘nullification, annulment’ is used in Arabic grammar to denote the opposite of ʿamal ‘government’. It is applied to sentences in which the expected government relations have been canceled. The term is related to laġw (synonyms ḥašw and zāʾid), which is used for redundant elements in the sentence (on the meaning of laġw, see Talmon 2003:222–223). ʾIlġāʾ was analyzed by Carter (1973:156), who translates it as ‘neutralization’ and defines it as a process “by which elements are deprived of their operative effect”. He refers to Sībawayhi ( Kitāb I, 243.6), who explain…
Date: 2018-04-01

Ḥaraka

(3,304 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
In Arabic linguistic terminology, the term ḥaraka lit. ‘movement’ indicates a vowel or, more precisely, the phonemes that are known in the Western tradition as ‘short vowels’. It contrasts with the term ḥarf ‘consonant’. Sībawayhi distinguishes three vowels, /a/, /u/, and /i/, called fatḥa, ḍamma, and kasra, respectively (cf. Al-Nassir 1993:28–35). The vowels are not phonemic entities in themselves; their sole function is to make the pronunciation of the consonants possible, a statement attributed by Sībawayhi (d. 177/793?) to his teacher a…
Date: 2018-04-01

ʿIlla

(1,754 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
The term ʿilla lit. ‘cause; illness’ is used for two central notions in technical linguistic terminology. On the one hand, it means ‘(linguistic) cause’, and in this sense it is connected with such terms as iʿtilāl ‘argumentation’, maʿlūl ‘caused’. On the other hand, it is used to indicate the effect of the ‘weak consonants’; in this sense it is connected with such terms as muʿtall ‘weak’, iʿtilāl ‘weakness’. The connection between the two central senses in which ʿilla is used is not immediately clear. According to Lane (1863–1893:V, 2124), ʿilla is “an accident that befalls an object and ca…
Date: 2018-04-01

ʾInna wa-ʾaxawātuhā

(2,809 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
Among the particles in Arabic grammar there is one group that has a special status because of the way it affects syntactic relations in the sentence. This group includes the particles ʾinna, ka-ʾanna, lākinna, layta, and laʿalla, collectively called ʾinna wa-axawātuhāʾinna and its sisters’. Most later grammarians count ʾanna and its derivatives, such as li-ʾanna, among the ʾaxawāt ʾinna, but according to ʾAbū Ḥayyān ( Manhaj 72.1), these were excluded by Sībawayhi because ʾanna is an accidental form ( ʿaraḍ) of ʾinna (for a detailed analysis of the difference between ʾinna and ʾanna, …
Date: 2018-04-01

Interrogative Pronoun

(1,401 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
The interrogative pronouns in Classical Arabic are man ‘who?’ and ‘what?’, which are indeclinable (Wright 1964:I, 274–275; II, 311–315; Fleisch 1979:74–78); the interrogative adjective is ʾayyun ‘which?’, which has a feminine form ʾayyatun and is declined (Wright 1964:I, 275–276; II, 315–317; Fleisch 1979:78–81). In combination with prepositions, is often shortened ( bima, lima, etc.); before verbs, it is usually strengthened by ḏā: mā ḏā ṣanaʿta ‘what have you done?’. According to Rabin (1951:189), the pronoun man was inflected in the pre-Islamic dialect of the Ḥi…
Date: 2018-04-01

Poetic Koine

(2,018 words)

Author(s): Kees Versteegh
The term ‘poetic koine’ (also ‘poetico-Qurʾānic koine’) refers to a supratribal variety of Arabic which, according to some scholars, was the variety of Arabic used in pre-Islamic poetry. The linguistic situation in the pre-Islamic period is a controversial topic (history of Arabic). Opinions about this situation may be divided into two main theories. According to one theory, which was also that of the Arabic grammarians, the language of the Arab tribes in the pre-Islamic period was basically hom…
Date: 2018-04-01