February 12, 2020 0

Arabic Grammar: 26. Diptotes/Mamnuu3 min al-Sarf

Arabic Grammar: 26. Diptotes/Mamnuu3 min al-Sarf


masaa’ al-kheir! Right now I want to talk with you about a special category of nouns that takes special modified case endings in formal Arabic: what we refer to in Arabic as ممنوع من الصرف. Sometimes we call these ‘diptotes’ in English. If you’ve studied Latin or Greek and that term means something to you, wonderful. If not just go ahead and think of it in Arabic as ممنوع من الصرف. In this video I’m assuming that you have a decent grasp of how case endings work regularly in formal Arabic, and if not, we have other videos that we could go back and watch if you feel you’re in need of a refresher. There are several diverse categories of nouns that fall into this Set that is ممنوع من الصرف. One of those categories is several, many really, plural patterns broken plural patterns, جمع التكسير. For example, مفاعل, that plural for place names, فواعل فعلاء– there are others, this is not an exhaustive list by any means, but that’s just a taste. You can go look up a complete list. They’re available in many places online. Another is أفعَل التفضيل that superlative adjective that we can construct from a lot of other adjectives. So you’re talking about something that’s biggest or best or strangest, أكبر أحسن أغرب, that’s going to fall into this category. A third major category is names, proper nouns, we might say. All feminine names fall into this category: كريمة سميرة، لطيفة, etc. ِِAll place names, with a couple of exceptions: anything that starts with an الـ, like الأردن, or anything that ends with the feminine plural ending ـات, like الإمارات, the Emirates, those are not going to fall into this category, and many masculine names, except for those that are also regular adjectives: names like حكيم, which means ‘wise,’ but it’s also a man’s name or فريد, which is a man’s name that means ‘unique,’ those are not going to fall into this category. But names like ابراهيم آدم، نوح that aren’t adjectives and that are often from other languages originally: those are going to be in this pattern. Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Gee, this is a very random, disparate collection of nouns that are suddenly falling into this exceptional category,” and you may have a point. However, the important thing to remember is that as an advanced learner of Arabic, it’s unlikely, unless you’re composing your own poetry in classical Arabic meters, or unless you’re preparing a speech or a sermon that’s going to be read aloud in a very formal context, it’s unlikely that you’re going to need to apply these rules, every day, in your own personal production of Arabic, for communicative purposes. But the important thing as advanced learners is that when we encounter a fully vocalized text with these exceptions, is that we don’t allow it to trip up our understanding. And as you’ll see, the exception, such as it is, is very, very slight. It’s the sort of thing that your eye might cross over without even noticing. When any of these nouns in any of these categories is definite, with ‘alif-laam,’ for example or with a subject pronoun, or when it’s part of a definite إضافة, it functions exactly as you might expect in terms of case endings. There are no changes that we need to worry about. When it’s indefinite, a couple of small changes occur. First of all, an indefinite noun in any one of these categories is never going to take تنوين, right? that ‘-un” or “-an” or “-in” ending that we come to expect on an indefinite noun in a fully vocalized text. It’s only going to take a ‘Dhamma’ or a ‘fatha.’ And the other thing is that when it’s مرفوع, the subject of a nominal sentence, or the subject of a verb, it will take a ‘Dhamma,’ but if it’s منصوب or مجرور, it’s going to take a ‘fatha.’ That ‘aa’ sound. It will never take a ‘kasra.’ Again, very subtle distinctions, but we need to be able to recognize them when we spot them, in the wild. So let’s take a look at a couple of examples here. If we wanted to say “we work in a lot of areas,” or “a lot of regions.” نعمل في مناطق كثيرة In a normal text, we wouldn’t even see the vocalizations to worry about them. But مناطق is a broken plural that falls into this category, it’s in the مفاعل pattern. So I need to start thinking, if I’m going to read this text aloud with all of its case endings. Hmm. I have a في here, which means it’s مجرور, so I might be tempted to Give it that ‘-in’ ending, that would be normal, but because it’s in a special category, ممنوع من الصرف, I’m just going to give it to one ‘fatha.’ And then the adjective, كثيرة, takes normal اعراب. So I’m going to say مناطقَ كثيرةٍ Another example: ولد في مصر. “He was born in Egypt.” Now, That’s a place-name: مصر. And it doesn’t have ‘alif-laam,’ and it doesn’t have a feminine ending ‘-aat.’ So again, I have this preposition, this حرف جرّ, في But I’m going to need to add a ‘fatha’ there, instead of kasra tanwiin, in order to comply with this rule, with this exception. Another example: كانت أختي طويلة لكنّي أصبحت أطول منها. Here, we have أطول, and it’s the object, the خبر of the verb أصبح, so ordinarily, since it doesn’t have an ‘alif-laam,’ I might be tempted to give it تنوين, but because it falls in this category, I’m just going to add one ‘fatha.’ أطولَ منها. Finally–remember, again, that if any of these nouns and these categories are definite, they take normal case endings, normal إعراب. So in this sentence, for example: جلسوا مع زملائهم في المقاعد الكبيرة زملاء also falls into this plural pattern, but because it’s definite with that pronoun suffix, it’s going to take its regular case ending so we have the preposition مع so I’m just going to add the ‘kasra’ here. مع زملائِهم في المقاعد “in the chairs,” مقاعدIt’s just like مناطق falls into one of these broken plural categories, but because it’s definite, I can go ahead and apply normal case endings. في المقاعدِ الكبيرةِ Once again, As learners of Arabic, at this stage, our primary goal is to recognize this exception going on when we see it, and to not let it throw us for a loop. But if you ever have the opportunity to work on speechifying in a formal context, this is a great way of demonstrating your proficiency in the language and adding a little bit of rhetorical elegance to your speech.

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