Arabic verbal forms
NOTE: Please excuse the poor quality of Arabic typography. It is not trivial in the open source world.
By verbal forms I mean syntactic variations on the 3-letter roots that generate both new verbs and new nouns. These variations are used by convention among Arabic speakers.
Such forms qualify the root verb, its primary actors (the subject and the object), and how they relate to the web of facts. In Arabic, "verb" translates as فـﹺـعل literally the "deed" or "action". The relationships between the actors and the facts (places, things, states) are altered in each verbal form. In other words, each form can be thought of as a semantic transformation on the original root.
It is interesting to note a few facts about these forms:
- Although most forms are used across the Arab world, some of them are only found in local dialects.
- Semantic transformations are independent of the root itself. For example, foreign words can be also transformed in the same manner as Arabic roots. Assuming the recipient understands the foreign word in question, he will understand the intended meaning of the speaker. This shows a very powerful meaning generating mechanism.
|#||Form||Literal meaning||Generic semantic structure|
|1||فـﹶـعـﹶـلﹶ||Did||Subject carries out action.|
|6||تـﹶـفـاعـﹶـلﹶ||Reacted with||Action is carried out by more than one subject, together. Usually implies the impossibility of each subject to accomplish the deed on its own. Also implies that the action is performed on the subject(s).|
|7||إنـفـﹶـعـﹶـلﹶ||Reacted||Subject carries out action on itself.|
Noun formsMost noun forms are derived from the verb forms above. Here is just a sample that I will organize eventually.
|Form||Literal meaning||Generic semantic transformation|
NOTE: I'm not including the feminine, dual and plural forms. These are semantically clear.