اسم فاعل for non-transitive verbs (MSA)

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by jcorbett09, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. jcorbett09 New Member

    English - American
    السلام عليكم

    In my study of Arabic I was taught to think that اسم فاعل can be thought of as the "doer" and اسم مفعول can be thought of as the "thing being done." This way of thinking about it seems to work well for transitive verbs like كتب which yields كاتب meaning "writer" and مكتوب meaning "written" or "written thing."

    However, I am at a bit of a loss on how to distinguish between appropriate use of اسم فاعل and اسم مفعول for non-transitive verbs where there doesn't seem to be an obvious relationship between "doer" and "thing being done." For example, for the verb تقدّم or "to advance," one forms the اسم فاعل of "مُتَقَدِّم" to say "advanced." Similarly, "ممكِن" is a اسم فاعل . Yet the words "advanced" and "possible" do not have the same sort of "active" meaning that fits the understanding of the "doer," and I do not know why you would not use اسم مفعول to form the meanings of "advanced" and "possible," other than the fact that you just don't.

    I am sorry if my question is unclear. I guess I am looking for a better way to understand how to distinguish between اسم فاعل and اسم مفعول other than simply memorizing them on a verb-by-verb basis.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Kinan

    Kinan Senior Member

    Syria
    Arabic
    Because these words aren't اسم فاعل in the first place.
    If there was اسم فاعل for these words they would be:
    مقدّم and ممكّن with شدة و كسرة on ك.
     
  3. lukebeadgcf

    lukebeadgcf Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA
    American English
    Very good question. When taking the اسم فاعل from an intransitive verb, you will often get a word referring to a state of being instead of a doer of an action. Active participles from Verbal Forms V, VII, VIII often carry this meaning since these verbs are predominantly intransitive. So take تقدّم (to advance, progress). You get متقدِّم (advanced). Consider قدّم (to put something forward, make advance). If you take the passive participle of قدّم, you have مقدَّم (advanced, put forward). APs of form V often have the same or very similar meaning to PPs of form two. You often see the latter two words used interchangeably when describing the خبر متقدِّم/مقدَّم (fronted predicate) in Arabic.

    Anyway, you can see why the definition of APs as "the doers," and the PPs and "the beings done to," can be very misleading. Understanding APs and PPs requires a study of each verbal form and the significations its respective participles individually, and this is a rewarding exercise, since many patterns can be observed.

    You brought up the word ممكِن, which is a active participle of the transitive verb أمكن, which as Wehr defines it, means, "to make possible." This obviously doesn't make sense, since the word should mean something like "enabling." I did some digging, and I found the following in Wright vol. i pg. 36:

    So my theory is that ممكِن, with its meaning of "possible," derived from an older or less common signification of the verb. I am would be greatly interested to hear what others have to say about the latter. Also, I apologize to the moderators about the potential multi-topicness of this thread.

    I hope that was helpful. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2011
  4. lukebeadgcf

    lukebeadgcf Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA
    American English
    I believe you're mistaken Kinan, متقدِّم is indeed the اسم فاعل of تقدّم.
     
  5. Kinan

    Kinan Senior Member

    Syria
    Arabic
    متقدم means "advanced", we are talking about اسم فاعل which doesn't exist in either language. There is no such thing as "advancer" and in Arabic there is no such thing as اسم فاعل of تقدم.
     
  6. lukebeadgcf

    lukebeadgcf Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA
    American English
    I am 100% certain that متقدِّم is considered by the overwhelming majority of Arabic Grammarians to be the اسم فاعل of the verb تقدّم. Please refer to my previous post for an explanation of why an اسم فاعل doesn't always seem to denote a "doer." Otherwise, please provide some basis for your claim that متقدِّم is not an AP.
     
  7. Kinan

    Kinan Senior Member

    Syria
    Arabic
    I don't have proof or source and I am not sure of it, but I am simply stating it doesn't feel natural to consider it اسم فاعل
     
  8. lukebeadgcf

    lukebeadgcf Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA
    American English
    اسم فاعل is a grammatical term literally meaning, "the doer noun." The problem is that APs like متقدِّم ومتواضِع ومبتهِج ومنزعِج don't always seem to denote "doers," and that is because the verbs from which they stem ARE NOT TRANSITIVE (i.e. they don't take an object). So how do you "do" an intransitive verb? Let's use an example: ابتهج (to be delighted). This verb cannot take an object and it is intransitive. If we derive the AP, we get مبتهِج (happy, delighted). The answer is, in order to "do" the action of a verb like ابتهج, you must "exist" in that state. Consequently, many of the APs from verbal forms تفعّل وتفاعل وانفعل وافتعل وافعلّ and often even فاعل and استفعل denote QUALITIES OR STATES OF BEING and not doers of an action. The same thing frequently happens with الأفعال المجردة, which take the form of اسم فاعل more conspicuously. Consider:

    عاش to live
    عائش alive

    رضي to be satisfied
    راضٍ satisfied

    كمن to lie, be hidden in
    كامن latent

    The reason that these APs do not denote doers of an action is very simply because the verbs from which they are derived from don't (or typically don't) take objects; rather, they denote states of being.

    I hope that makes sense.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2011
  9. Ustaath Senior Member

    Arabian Peninsula
    Arabic - levantine
    مكن من الامر : تأكد منه وثبت فيه
    from the family of cognates related to كان
    and from it comes : ماكن = steadfast
    and also from يمكن we get ممكن
    which is interesting as it follows the rule for the formation of أسم فاعل that applies to to the other verb forms ( ie not form I )
     
  10. jcorbett09 New Member

    English - American
    Thank you very much for your help; remembering the fact that certain اوزان are almost by definition intransitive is helpful.

    This was very helpful in particular, thank you.
     
  11. clevermizo Moderator

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    I like the explanations above but I think you can make it a lot simpler for yourself. Think of it less in terms of what the exact equivalent in English is. "-ed" doesn't always means مفعول به and "-ing" or "-er" doesn't always means فاعل. The translations are context dependent.

    Instead, think of it wholly in Arabic: اسم فاعل answers the question من أو ما يفعل كذا وكذا. So when you think of the verb تقدّم and you ask ما هو الذي تقدّم (what has progressed? what has become more advanced)? The answer to this question is المتقدّم. The thing المتقدّم is the thing that has تقدّم or that صار مقدَّمًا. It turns out that the best translation in English is "advanced" or "progressive" or something like that depending on context, but there won't be one-to-one correlation between the English and Arabic forms.

    The idiomatic usages of اسم فاعل can take many forms (sometimes acting as verbs, sometimes as nouns, sometimes as adjectives, etc.) and can also vary in terms of temporal and aspectual connotations. You should search the forum for existing threads about this topic as there have been several, both about colloquial and standard usages. But I think if you always think to yourself ما يفعل أو فعل كذا وكذا you'll arrive at a better understanding of why such and such word is the فاعل in this or that sentence.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2011
  12. lukebeadgcf

    lukebeadgcf Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA
    American English
    This doesn't seem right to me. The root of كان and it's cognates is ك و ن and the root of ماكن and ممكن and so forth is م ك ن. Morphologically, the word ممكن is an AP of أمكن, which is the form IV verb; that I am sure of.
     
  13. Ustaath Senior Member

    Arabian Peninsula
    Arabic - levantine
    I guess your right, I used the wrong technical term, I shouldn't have said cognate, and form IV also makes absolute sense :)
     
  14. Mahaodeh Senior Member

    Arabic and English
    Exactly, just think about it this way: كاتب can be used to mean writer, but it also can be used to mean clerk. The form of اسم فاعل or اسم مفعول can also be nouns.

    In the sentence: المتقدِّمون بطلبات الالتحاق بالجامعة it's اسم فاعل for sure.
     
  15. Ibn Nacer Senior Member

    French - France
    I think it depends on whether the verb is transitive or intransitive.

    This reminds me this thread : أنا مشمئز.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2011
  16. clevermizo Moderator

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    At the end of the day, English participles have more to do with aspect and tense, and Arabic participles have more to do with the syntactic relationship the participle has to its verb.

    For example, جالس could be translated either as sitting or seated depending on context. The English participles have to do with either a continuous state (sitting) or the result of a past action (having sat down), both of which imply the same thing, as someone who's seated is also sitting (until they stand up). جالس just means من جلس.


    This major difference between the way the participles work in either language is why the translation is always context dependent (like all translations of anything anyway :D ). This is also why we always ask users to follow our rules and provide context when requesting meanings and translations. :)
     
  17. Ibn Nacer Senior Member

    French - France
    Yes I agree with you -ing or -ed depending on context.

    But I wanted to talk about -er or -ed, I think it depends on whether the verb is transitive or intransitive. What do you think?

    Sorry for my bad English.

    En français le ismu-l-fâ3il (participe actif, nom d'agent) est parfois traduit par un mot finissant par -eur ou par un participe présent. Mais ceci n'est pas valable lorsque le verbe est intransitive car dans ce cas le ismu-l-fâ3il sera souvent traduit par un participe passé ou un adjectif.

    Je ne parle pas ici du cas où le ismu-l-fâ3il est utilisé comme un verbe.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2011
  18. clevermizo Moderator

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    I don't know if that's always true, but it does make sense a little. The thing is we can speak in English about "goers, comers, sitters, standers, etc." and those are all intransitive. So again, I think the translation always depends on context.
     
  19. Ibn Nacer Senior Member

    French - France
    Intransitive in english or in arabic ?

    In fact it is not transitive or intransitive, is whether the verb is an action verb or a verb of state.

    En français on dit : verbe d'état ou verbe d'action.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2011

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