1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

كان-sentences

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by Josh_, Nov 6, 2005.

  1. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    That's why I added "with regards to nominal sentences (sentences without verbs)." Only in nominal sentences (جمل إسمية) is the subject مبتدأ and the predicate خبر. If you add kaana it becomes a verbal sentence (جملة فعلية). The subject in a verbal sentence is الفاعل and I believe the predicate is المسند .

    Thread split from here.
     
  2. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Urbana-Champaign, IL
    Am. English, Pal. Arabic (See profile)
    Hm...strictly speaking, I don't think that a كان-sentence is a جملة فعلية, because it would still not have a فاعل - the previous مبتدأ and خبر simply come to be known as مبتدأ كان and خبر كان, respectively. I think such a sentence is simply a جملة إسمية with كان. Furthermore, while كان is technically a verb (فعل ماضي ناقص in Arabic), which might suggest that it would make the sentence verbal, such an argument cannot be made for some of the other words that can be added to the beginning of nominal sentences - like لكن, for example.

    Now I'm intrigued, though - I would be interested in knowing the formal classification of كان-sentences. Hopefully others, like Cherine, can weigh in.

    Since this is a new topic, I am splitting this thread.
     
  3. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Totally agree with Elroy : The sentence starting with كان remains a nominative because kana is فعل ناقص .
    I checked a grammar book to be sure and found one exception: It says :
    إذا جاءت "كان" بمعنى جاء، أو حدث، أو وقع، أو حصل فهى فى هذه الحالة تامة، أى تحتاج إلى فاعل فقط، وليس لها اسم ولا خبر فى هذه الحالة مثال: إذا جاء الشتاء فأدفـئونى
    If winter comes warm me.
    Another reason why the sentence of كان can't be called a verbal sentence : we treat كان وأخواتها all the same way, and as some of these "sisters" are not verbs; like ليس for example,we can't consider their sentences as verbal.
    One last reason : the words following كان وأخواتها are not subjet and object فاعل ومفعول به but مبتدأ وخبر which difinetly are parts of nominative sentences and not verbal one.
    Hope i was clear :)
     
  4. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    I just remembered something. Nominal sentences can contain verbs and verbal sentences can be nominal. When a sentence begins with a noun, it is nominal, regardless of whether there is a verb or not, but there is a verbal sentence embedded within it. Likewise, when a sentence starts with a verb (no matter what verb it is) it is a verbal sentence, even if there is a nominal sentence embedded within it.

    Just an aside: As there can be confusion regarding nominal and verbal sentences in English, the term equational sentence was devised to describe a sentence that contains no copula whatsoever.

    Consider:
    كان الطالب مريضا
    and
    الطالب كان مريضا

    The first sentence is a verbal sentence, but there is a nominal sentence within it if you remove كان. The latter sentence is nominal, because it begins with a noun, but there is a verbal sentence within it:

    كان مريضا

    Likewise, a verbal sentence begins with a verb:

    يدرس الرجل اللغة العربية

    But can be turned into a nominal sentence by switching the verb and subject:

    الرجل يدرس اللغة العربية

    This sentence is nominal but a verbal sentence is embedded within it.

    كان is a special type of verb different from other verbs. As such I should not have used الفاعل describe the subject of a sentence with كان. Elroy was right about predicate in a كان sentence becoming جبر كان , but, apparently the subject is called إسم كان . Maybe مبتدأ كان is used also. This probably added to the confusion.

    Just food for thought:
    Also adding to the confusion is the term جملة إسمية . Of course, in Arabic, there is only one term, “جملة ,” but in English, this can be translated as either sentence or clause, depending on the usage in a sentence. Think of the nominal sentence, in this context, as a clause in a two part sentence and maybe that will help. Just to clarify, a clause is the same as a simple sentence (it contains a subject and predicate), the only difference being that a clause is a part of a larger compound sentence (but it can stand on its own as a simple sentence. So a nominal sentence and a nominal clause, in Arabic, are the same thing, the only difference being that the latter is part of a compound sentence. Consider this: other sentences contain nominal sentences, or clauses, imbedded within them. Such as:

    تغيبت عن الفصل أمس لأني كنت مريضا

    I was absent from class yesterday because I was sick.

    A nominal sentence exists after لأني . And المبتداء والجبر would still be used to describe the parts of this nominal clause. But just because there is a nominal sentence within the larger sentence we would not call the whole sentence nominal. Since it is only part of the larger sentence it is called a clause. In the same respect, just because a nominal sentence exists after كان does not make the whole sentence nominal.

    ------------------
    I guess I don’t understand what you mean here, because I thought that the inclusion of كان causes the predicate (خبر كان) to go into accusative (المنصوب). The same with the sisters of kaana.

    ليس is classified as a verb, at least in the grammar books I use, albeit an exceptional and irregular one. It is exceptional as it is only conjugated in the past tense, with a present tense meaning. It is the negative equivalent of كان. As it is just an odd verb, I can see how the lines would be blurred and it may not be considered a verb. But, like كان and the other sisters, which are verbs, ليس causes the predicate to go into the accusative.
     
  5. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Urbana-Champaign, IL
    Am. English, Pal. Arabic (See profile)
    These are precisely the types of problems that result from using English terms to explain Arabic grammar.

    Most of the points you make are valid, but some are not. Let me try to respond to them, using Arabic terminology as much as possible to avoid further confusion.

    The first sentence is not a verbal sentence. Every verbal sentence requires a فاعل. There is no فاعل here, because الطالب is اسم كان (you are right: that is the technical term) and not a فاعل. If you were to consider الطالب a فاعل, there would be no classification for مريضا.

    This is also incorrect. Nominal sentences can indeed have verbal sentences embedded in them, but since a كان-sentence is not a verbal sentence this is not what we have here. We have a كان-sentence (which is a nominal sentence + كان) embedded in another nominal sentence. An example of a nominal sentence with an embedded verbal sentence would be الطالب ذهب الى البيت.


    So if لأني كنت مريضا is not a nominal sentence, is it verbal? Certainly not. Again, we have an example of a nominal sentence preceded by لأن - which does not change the character of the sentence as nominal. Whether it's a clause or sentence is irrelevant - we still need to classify it either as nominal or verbal. I repeat: a فاعل is a requirement of a verbal sentence.


    A nominal sentence does not simply "exist after كان." Rather, we have a nominal sentence into which كان has entered. If you consider كان the verb of a verbal sentence, you need a فاعل - which we do not have. A nominal sentence, when embedded within a sentence, takes on the grammatical function a regular word would normally have. What would be the grammatical function of this "embedded nominal sentence" here? There isn't one, because it's not an embedded nominal sentence; rather, it is the sentence - the main clause, if you will.

    You are right. I believe she meant to say "nominal" instead of "nominative."

    Anything I did not comment on, I agree with.

    I am going to ask my dad (who has a degree in Arabic and has been teaching it for years) about the official classification of كان-sentences; they may be in a category of their own, but I am almost positive they are not verbal sentences.
     
  6. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    I realized I made a big mistake. I was going to write:

    سأتغيب عن الفصلاليوم لأني مريض
    I will be absent from class today because I am sick.

    Now the clause after لأني has no copula, which is what I intended.
     
  7. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Urbana-Champaign, IL
    Am. English, Pal. Arabic (See profile)
    Ah, ok. Either way, though, it's still a nominal sentence + لأن (the ي is part of the clause, by the way).

    I will get back to you as soon as I ask my dad about it. :)
     
  8. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    I am interested in the classification of kaana also. That is cool that your dad has a degree in Arabic and is teaching. I am a budding Arabist and hope to eventually get a doctorate in Arabic and become a professor. I will be going to Middlebury this summer, إن شاء الله .
     
  9. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Urbana-Champaign, IL
    Am. English, Pal. Arabic (See profile)
    How exciting! I wish you the best in your future ambitions. And Middlebury! I absolutely love that place. I was there in the summer of 2004 for German. It is a phenomenal program, worth every penny and second. If you would like to talk in more detail about the program, please feel free to PM me. I am obsessed with it and would love to answer any of your questions. :)
     
  10. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Urbana-Champaign, IL
    Am. English, Pal. Arabic (See profile)
    Having consulted with my father and my cousin (who just got her B.A. in Arabic from Bethlehem University in 2003), I have the answer:

    A sentence beginning with كان, or any of the other verbs that enter a جملة اسمية (such as ليس ,اصبح, and others), is considered a جملة فعلية ناسخة ("quasi-verbal" sentence) because it begins with a verb but is unusual in that it has no فاعل.

    As for a sentence beginning with particles (such as إن ,لكن ,لعل, and others), that is still considered a جملة اسمية because such words are حروف (particles) and do not count (every word in Arabic is either an إسم, a فعل, or a حرف).
     
  11. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    I think some of the confusion arises from the fact that كان وإخواتها are used with nominal sentences in order to indicate the time frame, becoming and remaining. When I asked my professor, who is also the director of the Middlebury Arabic Language School, he said that these are still جمل فعلية but, of course they are different than other verbs, in that they are افعال ناقصة . But regardless, they are still جمل فعلية .

    I’m not sure, but maybe you were confusing translations. You said that جملة فعلية ناسخة translates as ‘quasi-verbal sentences’. At first I couldn’t figure out what you meant, but than it hit me. The word ناسخة comes from the root ن-س-خ which has the meaning of replacing or substituting along with the more common meanings of invalidating, abrogating, etc. The nawaasikh (النواسخ) is a special category of words that cause elements of a clause to go into the accusative. Thus, a word in this category would cause the accusative to replace the nominative, or whatever was there before. The three groups of النواسخ are كان and its sisters, ظنّ and its sisters and إن and its sisters. So I understand why you used the phrase جملة فعلية ناسخة . I believe جملة فعلية ناسخة would be more aptly translated as ‘substituted verbal sentence’ or ‘replaced verbal sentence’ (or even ‘abrogated verbal sentence’), or something like that. ‘Quasi-verbal sentence’ would most likely be translated as شبه جملة فعلية .
     
  12. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Urbana-Champaign, IL
    Am. English, Pal. Arabic (See profile)
    "Quasi-verbal sentence" is no official term. :) I didn't know how to translate ناسخة into English (nor was I interested in coming up with an inevitably unconvincing equivalent) so I just said "quasi" to refer to the unusual nature of these sentences. I placed it in quotes to show that it was a "home-made" term. I would prefer just sticking to the Arabic term, since none of the translations you suggest sound good either, nor are they any more informative.
     
  13. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    I can't agree more. Can't we please just stick to Arabic terms of the Arabic grammar and not try too hard to translate them?:confused: We can do this translations between languages of common source or family, but not between languages so much apart as Arabic and English, for the similaritis that help do such translation is absent here.
    I still don't get it when people use terms like accusative, dative... while speaking of Arabic, because i've never used them. Just as i can't use Arabic terms to understand French or English grammars. We've always learned these grammars with their own terms, and when -in rare occasions- some teachers tried to translate these terms in Arabic i always got lost in there :)

    One more thing: I don't know what difference it can make to know exactly what type of sentence the Kaana sentence is. The more important is to know how it's used, how this verb and its "sisters" effect the sentences constructions....
    Don't you agree ?
     
  14. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    I’m sorry guys, I think you're being overly critical. First off, I wasn't trying to be more informative. I generally agree with you. I was just trying to explain some thoughts I have thereby adding to the discussion. And in case any Arabic Language novice might be looking try to more accurately describe a few terms.

    Secondly, languages are different -- no argument there. There is never an exact translation for anything, even in the simplest of sentences. Even when a sentence is easily translatable there are still cultural differences and personal experience difference. I might bring up the word 'chair', for example, and think of a LazyBoy reclining chair whereas someone alse might think of an object with four legs and a back. But I digress. There are not exact translation, but there are equivalents (I'm talking in general and not necessarily in this thread). I take it you guys are not going to become language teachers. Since you are so against using equivalent terms in other languages I'd be interested in knowing how you would teach a first year language class that has had no background in the language being taught. My personal feeling is that you need to learn the equivalents (no matter how bad they are thought to be), at least in the beginning. After a good command of the language is acquired then the nuances of grammatical terminology can be discerned. It doesn't do any good to tell the beginning student that this is al-mubtada' and that is al-khabar in a gumla ismiyya without any explanation in the native tongue. They will look at you with blank looks on their faces. When someone is learning a new language his/her point of departure is his/her native language. Until a firm foundation is built in the language being learned the student needs referents in his/her native language. Just my personal feelings. Maybe I'll feel differently after I take a language pedagogy class.

    Another thing, with the exception of us three, I do not think many others on this forum are familiar with Arabic grammatical terminology. So, if it is all right with you guys, I will continue to write the Arabic term, for clarity purposes and the (equivalent) English term so others will know what we are talking about and are able to join in if they so please.
     
  15. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    No Josh, I am sorry you took it that way. I didn't mean at all to be the least bit critical. I was just trying to make a point, but seems i was to harsh, or maybe it's Internet that doesn't convey the facial expressions :)
    Please forgive :)

    You're right about this. But i still have my doubts about wasting effort (or making too much effort) for something that can easily be done in a more simple way. Like calling things by their names. (and i'm not criticizing please) ;)
    And i respect your effort to share your thoughts with the rest of us. This is what we're all supposed to do, right ? :)

    I wasn't speaking of translation in general, but of a particular type of translation (to be more precise : the use of foreign language to express things pertaining totally to another language's grammar) because, not only a part of the meaning will be lost, but the message itself doesn't have to be translated in the first place (that's my personal opinion, but i fully understand and respect your point of view).

    I think i'd use the same manner my teachers used with us at school to teach us French and English : French and English words :) (maybe things are easier for children than for adults, but that the way i've learned these languages) They did use some basic words; such as ism, fi3l, damiir... for name, verb, pronoun... you know, the basic things. But then they went on with only foreign terms.
    So I think the same can be done with Arabic. What do you think ?

    If this is your intention, i agree. I just hope this won't make us get "lost in translation" :) like we've been when trying to find the proper term to speak of "ism kaana" and its grammatical classification... and the rest of the very technical terms. ok ? :)
     
  16. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Urbana-Champaign, IL
    Am. English, Pal. Arabic (See profile)
    Josh, I wasn't being critical. I was just expressing frustration at the fact that the possibilities you suggested were not that much better than the one I had come up with.

    First of all, language pedagogy is, in fact, a career I am considering. But that's irrelevant.

    The points you make are valid, but I was addressing a different audience. I was addressing you, not someone who has no background in Arabic. My statement was meant to be a conclusion of a discussion, as in "At the end of the day, having discussed it with you - Josh Adkins, a top-notch, incredible student of Arabic with aspirations of teaching it - I think we should just stick to the Arabic word." Of course, that's always my preference - but not for beginners. Unfortunately, there are advanced learners who continue to use the English terms. That, I feel, is counterproductive and inefficient. Furthermove, sometimes an English translation is satisfactory. "Verb," for example, can be safely assumed to correspond to فعل most of the time. I think it's a judgment call, and in this case I determined that the English translations were not satisfactory - bearing in mind, again, that I was talking to you.

    That's fine. That's exactly what I do as well. In fact, that's what I had done earlier in the thread with "quasi-verbal."
     
  17. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    All right. No probem. I didn't mean to be over dramatic:eek:. I wasn't all that upset:)

    Definietly. In the beginning they should be used as stepping stones. Once a decent mastery has been gained, terms in the respective language should be used.

    I agree. That is one of the reasons why I did not buy Clive Holes' "Modern Arabic:Structures, Functions, and Varieties." I like grammar books that include the Arabic grammar terminology. It definietly is a must if one wants to study Arabic at an Arabic University in the Middle East.


    As far as my post on Dec. 8th I was kind of just thinking out loud. I had never heard of جملة فعلية ناسخة let alone its Englisg equivalent, if there is one. This is one of the things I find facsinating about learning a foreign language, and Arabic in particular. I just find it fascinating how the Arabic language, and other Semitic languages as well, work. I am fascinated by the root system. I mean, the root n-s-kh ن-س-خ has the general meaning of replacing and substituting. When one of the nawaasikh category words is introducing in a sentence it, in essence, replaces the fuctions with the المنصوب . Learning foreign languages has helped me gain a richer understanding of English, and English terms which I did not fully understand before. Of course I cannot think of any off hand right now.
     
  18. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Urbana-Champaign, IL
    Am. English, Pal. Arabic (See profile)
    Actually, the first thing that comes to my mind when I see that root is "to copy." :)
     
  19. Ibn Nacer Senior Member

    French - France
    Hello,

    Why the verb "كان وأخواتها" are called الأفعال الناقصة ? (why ناقصة ?).

    Merci.
     
  20. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    Because they do not require a فاعل as a complete verb does, therefore they are ناقصة (deficient or lesser verbs).

    I think of them as "semi-verbs", as they act partially like a verb, but not fully.
     
  21. Abu Bishr Senior Member

    Afrikaans, South Africa
    Hi everybody

    Why is كان called ناقصة ?

    They are called الناقصة (by the classical Arabic grammarians) because they are incomplete without their mansub i.e. the خبر كان . In other words, the absence of a the خبر كان renders the sentence incomplete. Compare:

    جلس زيدٌ and كتب زيدٌ (for example) with كان زيدٌ ـــــــــ where a mansub is not required for جلس and كتب but it is required for كان . This is also the case with all the sisters of كان .

    Another reason is that كان (together with its sisters) lacks hadath (action) and is therefore deficient in this regard, whereas all other verbs signify hadath in addition to tense.

    However, there are two types of كان : (a) ناقصة (which is the one discussed above) and (b) تامَّة (complete) which is when كان has the meaning of "to be/exist" e.g. كان الامتحانُ (the examination was i.e. it happened and is finished now. This is the كان used in, for example:

    كُنْ فَيَكُوْن and ما شاء الله كان وما لم يشأ لم يكن .

    The English equivalent is the use of the verb "to be" in the following:

    "Whatever will be will be"
    "I think therefore I am"

    The difference between the two types of كان is illustrated by the following two examples:

    كان الامتحانُ (the examination was i.e. it happened and is finished now)

    كان الامتحان صعباً (the examination was difficult)

    Why is كان called ناسخة ?

    It is called ناسخة (abrogating i.e. cancelling something out by replacing it) because classical Arabic grammarians held that the original mubtada' (subject) - prior to the entry of كان - was marfu' due to the abstract governor (عامل) of al-ibtida' which - after the entry of كان - is replaced by كان as the new governor not only of the mubtada' but also of the khabar. This is why the mubtada' and khabar are called by the new names of ism kana and khabar kana because of the new status conferred on them by كان . Al-ibtida' is an abstract governor and refers to the absence of any verbally expressed governor acting upon the mubtada'. Look at any mubtada' and you'll see that it is not governed by anything verbally expressed that precedes it. The fact that the governor slot before the mubtada' is empty of anything that is verbally expressed - this very fact is itself the governor. Governors are normally words, but can be abstract ideas too (like al-ibtida') if there is absolutely nothing that can account for a word being marfu', mansub, majrur, or majzum.

    So it is this abstract governor of al-ibtida' that gets replaced by the concrete and verbally expressed governor of kana i.e. kana cancels out al-ibtida' and replaces it as the new governor not only for the mubtada' but also for the khabar.

    I hope that answers the question somewhat.
     
  22. Ibn Nacer Senior Member

    French - France
    Thank you very much (Abu Rashid and Abu Bishr).
     

Share This Page