Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by paieye, Jul 1, 2013.
Is the similarity of these 2 words coincidental, or are they somehow related ?
It's possible they're related historically, but they have different root letters - عام looks to be related to عامَ, which means 'float' (although the semantic connection between these two is also difficult to work out).
Coincidence. Since عام and عامّ come from different roots (عوم and عمّ respectively), there is no more connection between them than there is in English between "boy" and "buoy".
I suspected something of the kind, thank you.
Not so fast. 2 things:
1) It's true that these words aren't root-identical in Arabic such as it is; however, do you think it is a coincidence, for example, that the roots م د د and م د ي both carry the sense of 'extension'? E.g. مَدىً/مُدّة
Similarly, these pairs of words, and many others, can often be traced back to an original 2-letter root which has been supplemented by adding either a final semivowel root, a medial semivowel root or doubling the last root letter. This makes these roots 'fit in' to the 3-radical system formally.
2) The root ع و م carries an original meaning of 'float', 'move about in water', 'go around' (in the sky) and it is from this latter meaning that a word for a wrap of the turban (عامة with a single م) was derived. The word for turban, on the other hand, comes from the root ع م م: عِمامة and it is the main meaning of this root to "encompass" < "encircle", probably from some older meaning of 'go around'. Similarly, the word عام comes, according to older sources, from a sense of 'encompassing' both summer and winter or even from the Sun's 'going around' in the sky (tracing a complete analemma, etc.), I think the turban and the basic meanings of each root show pretty clearly that there is a connection, even if it happened before the language had evolved to anything we would call Arabic.
Very interesting, thank you.
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