All dialects/MSA: There is

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by paieye, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. paieye Senior Member

    England
    English - British
    When I started learning Arabic a few months ago, I was given firmly to understand that there as no expression in Arabic for 'there is' in English or 'il y a' in French. However, the dictionary gives me 'هناك' as meaning precisely that.

    Is this a correct usage ? If so, can the one word take a plural predicate as well as a singular one ?
     
  2. Abu Talha Senior Member

    Urdu
    Hello. This is a good question and I would be interested in a detailed discussion. We discussed it here a little bit and this quote especially was very helpful:
    Regarding the last sentence, "... but this new increase of its use over يوجد is worthy of notice," I'm actually not sure if يوجد was the standard way of expressing "there is" in Classical Arabic or if speakers worked their way around it.

    As I said, I'd love to know more about this myself.
     
  3. barkoosh Senior Member

    Beirut
    Arabic
    I really feel amazed when I see non-Arabs learning our difficult language. But what amazes me more is seeing that some are being taught things that even native Arabic speakers don't know, use, or even bother to know and use.

    If I were a non-English speaker and I wanted to learn English, what English school/teacher would teach me Middle English or even Shakespearean English? Would my first lessons be: he giveth… thy father… thou art… with this ring I thee wed? Definitely not. Why wouldn’t it be the same thing in Arabic? Even if I wanted to learn Shakespearean English, I think that the normal way to do it is to start with modern English. You have to ask the living if you want to know about the dead. Likewise, it’s better to start learning a language in its modern form before delving into its past.

    That’s why it’s more correct to say that ‘there is no expression in Old Arabic for 'there is' in English or 'il y a' in French’. That’s because in Arabic, there is a ‘there is’. It’s the word هناك. This is a modern usage of the word, and it always stays the same:
    هناك رجل في البيت
    هناك رجال في البيت
    هناك امرأة في البيت
    هناك نساء في البيت

    It would be nice to see, one day, our non-Arab colleagues ask us their lovely questions, not in modern English or French, but in an Arabic that we all share.
     
  4. Pahlavan New Member

    English, Spanish, Persian, Kurdish
    Spoken varieties of Arabic have different words for "there is". Most notably, Egyptian/Levatine/Gulf/Hejazi fi في, Yemeni bi-(h) بيه, Moroccan kain كاين, and Mesopotamian aku اكو​, among others.

    As others have pointed out, the archaic terms hunāka هناك , hunālika هنالك , ṯamma ثمّة , and yūjad يوجد are features of Classical Arabic (and thus Modern Standard Arabic) and are perhaps only heard in the most formal of contexts. As for your question, all of these terms both spoken and literary are unaffected by the number and gender of the predicate, except for yūjad يوجد which also exists in the feminine singular form tūjad توجد.

    When you started learning Arabic a few months ago, you were probably taught that the present tense of the simple copula (the verb "to be") does not exist in Arabic. In languages such as Arabic, Hebrew, and Russian, the simple copula is vestigial and present only in derivatives. Thus, انا جوعان = I (am) hungry. Here, the 1st person singular form of the verb "to be" is implied. This should however not be confused with the existential "there is/there exists", which is found in Arabic.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2012
  5. Schem

    Schem Senior Member

    Unaizah
    Najdi Arabic
    Great post Pahlavan! Very informative, even for a native speaker. :)

    Just wanted to add to the list Guisseemi Buh بُه. Also, Aku is used in Kuwaiti and a number of smaller Gulf dialects as well.
     
  6. Pahlavan New Member

    English, Spanish, Persian, Kurdish
    Cheers Schem! Thank you for your post :)

    The primary Sunni term used in Kuwait is fi في, but as you have pointed out there are Iraqis in the Gulf region (primarily Shi'as in Kuwait) as well as tribes/groups of Iraqi ancestry that continue to use the term
    aku اكو​ in their speech and this has in turn influenced the local dialects to varying degrees. As in, for example, in Kuwait, the use of the latter term accompanied by other characteristics of Mesopotamian speech can bare certain nuances and have socio-economic implications among certain circles. The two terms, however, do seem to coexist in that dialect as a result of superstrate; they are both in use. And ultimately aku اكو is more characteristic of Iraqi and Kuwaiti speech than it is of say Qatari or Emirati, but the term is indubitably of Mesopotamian origin. I have outlined some key features of Muslim Baghdadi Arabic in the following thread, wherein I provide a source for the projected Babylonian Aramaic origin of the existential particle aku اكو​.

    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2367218


    The other Gulf dialects primarily use the terms fi في or hast هست to mean "there is/exists", the latter of which is a Persian loanword (cognate of English is, German ist, Latin est, etc., ultimately from Indo-European root *h1es-), or a combination of the two. Among the dialects of Bahrain, these two terms are dominant, but aku اكو does have some incidence primarily in its negative form, maaku ماكو.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
  7. paieye Senior Member

    England
    English - British
    Thank you all for these really most interesting contributions.

    As regards "It would be nice to see, one day, our non-Arab colleagues ask us their lovely questions, not in modern English or French, but in an Arabic that we all share," you must just give me a little more time...
     
  8. barkoosh Senior Member

    Beirut
    Arabic
    We can wait :)
     
  9. Abu Talha Senior Member

    Urdu
    That's a good point, Barkoosh. I think one of the reasons MSA and Classical/Post-classical Arabic are often taught together is because they are so very similar. And it's my personal opinion (nothing more), that it should be fine to study them both together (if one has both of them as his goals) as long as one is careful to note the differences in meaning and usage when such differences arise. Otherwise, a whole lifetime may be spent studying one without getting a chance to move on to the other.

    Excellent contributions regarding the existential particle in the various dialects. Very informative!
     
  10. Schem

    Schem Senior Member

    Unaizah
    Najdi Arabic

    Great post. :)

    I used to think Aku was characteristic of hadhari/sedentary Kuwaiti while the use of fi or feeh was restricted to Bedouin forms of Kuwaiti. As I was reading, however, I was reminded how Aku is almost exclusively used by my friends of tribal Iraqi origin while fi/feeh was used by those from families tracing their origins to Najd or El Hassa. Kuwait is a very interesting case, linguistically speaking, in that it's a true melting pot of prominent regions of Arabia with considerable Persian and Indo-Iranian influence.

    If I'm not mistaken, Aku (and its negative form) is used in a number of Bahrani dialects in El-Gatiif and surrounding areas which is what I was referring to in my post. I also never knew ast/hast was used in Gulf Arabic! Quite interesting. Would you mind telling me which dialects use it, primarily?
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
  11. Pahlavan New Member

    English, Spanish, Persian, Kurdish
    Thanks Schem, your observation is accurate, you are not mistaken. Bahrain and Qatar are likewise "melting-pots" of different Arabic dialects and foreign influences due to the fairly recent creation of these countries and the resultant influx of different peoples for economic, social, and political reasons. There are, for example, descendants of East Africans, Indians, Iraqis, and Persians that identify firmly as distinct ethnic groups in Bahrain. A number of Bahrani dialects do employ the Mesopotamian word aku اكو perhaps more than others, but there is an observed tendency on the island to use fi/feeh في\فيه in its place, and as I mentioned, a linguistic study that I read found that the term aku اكو has more incidence in Bahrani in its negative form, maaku ماكو. (I can find this and send it to you if you're interested!). But ultimately as you have pointed out the term does exist in some Gulf dialects as a result of contact with Mesopotamian dialects and is universally understood, but it is often secondary or tertiary in incidence depending upon the speaker.

    The issue of the word hast هست is really quite interesting; it was originally introduced by Persians or other Iranian language-speaking groups (a3jaam اعجام) that had immigrated to Bahrain and Qatar at least at the beginning of the 20th century and its usage was probably reinforced by the return of descendants of Sunni Arabs who had been living in southern Iran back to the new Arab states in the Persian Gulf (this group is known as the huwala الهولة in Bahrain), and has since become a notable feature of Qatari and Bahrani dialects. That being said, the term is today becoming more archaic among Generation Y in Bahrain and Qatar, especially given the trend towards homogenization/standardization of Arabic dialects and the declining usage of words of non-Arabic origin (also happening to Iraqi dialects, which used to employ far more Persian and Turkish vocabulary/idioms before the ascendance of the Ba'ath regime). Currently the term hast هست, however, is still employed and understood in those Gulf countries regardless of its future. Note the term also exists in Khuzestani Arabic (a dialect belonging to the Mesopotamian group spoken in southwestern Iran) under the pronunciation of hassit, and it is the single, exclusive existential particle employed by the dialect.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2012
  12. Ibn Nacer Senior Member

    French - France
    Bonsoir,

    Thank you for this interesting thread.

    It seems to me that in some cases no particular word is used to say "there is/are", example :

    على المكتب كتاب - There is
    a book on the desk.
    في البيت رجل - There is a man in the house.

    What do you think ?

    But if the word is definite which means you would use ? Is correct to write :

    على المكتب الكتاب
    في البيت الرجل

    Or

    هناك الرجل في البيت
    هناك الكتاب على المكتب


    With definite nouns that seems strange, the French translation sounds bad but in arabic is it correct?

    Merci.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2012
  13. Paterimon Junior Member

    Nashua, NH
    Arabic
    The simple present tense of the verb to be is always implied
    in the Arabic nominal sentence ( الجملة الاسمية ) which is unknown
    in the Indo-European languages (exception is made for telegraphic style.)

    "There is" is banned because it is redundant and ( هناك ) is really superfluous:
    I would therefore suggest:
    في البيت رجل أو رجال
    في البيت امرأة أو نساء
     
  14. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    All four are wrong.
     
  15. Ibn Nacer Senior Member

    French - France
    Thank you very much.
     
  16. Paterimon Junior Member

    Nashua, NH
    Arabic
    You're most welcome, dear Friend.
    I'm glad you liked the suggestion.
     
  17. tundk New Member

    French
    "Il y a" would be "famma" in Tunisian.
     
  18. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    ثمّة thamma
     
  19. Paterimon Junior Member

    Nashua, NH
    Arabic
    Also ثَمَّ
     
  20. Razin' Junior Member

    Madrid, Spain
    Tunisian
    Actually, it IS "famma" in Tunisian.. While you can still hear people say "thamma" (mostly rural and old) , the standard is definitely "famma".
     
  21. Paterimon Junior Member

    Nashua, NH
    Arabic
    **
    famma is certainly easier to pronounce than thamma.
    The tendency in all dialects is to replace difficult sounds
    by easier one.
    Compare with the regular replacement of the
    Qaaf with a Hamza in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine etc...:
    Thus:
    قال becomes آل
    حقيقة becomes حئيئة and so on.
     
  22. Schem

    Schem Senior Member

    Unaizah
    Najdi Arabic
    That's very subjective. I personally find words containing consecutive glottal stops (حئيئة) a lot difficult to pronounce than words that do not (حقيقة).
     
  23. Paterimon Junior Member

    Nashua, NH
    Arabic
    Thank you, Schem.
    That's interesting.
    It may may be due to the fact that in Guisseem
    you probably pronounce the ق as the g in "get".
    Right?
     
  24. Xence Senior Member

    Algeria (Arabic - French)
    Algerians and Moroccans would use كاين kaayen , and I agree that Tunisians say famma which obviously is an alteration of thamma.


    .
     
  25. Schem

    Schem Senior Member

    Unaizah
    Najdi Arabic
    I was speaking in terms of MSA. :)

    But to answer your question, Qaf قاف represents two sounds in Guisseemi Arabic, three if we count the MSA sound. The first one is, as you've pointed out, the [g] sound in "get", it's most common and heard in the majority of words. The other, less frequent, one is [dz] and it's a sound exclusive to Najdi Arabic (Guisseemi included) as far as I know. It occurs in words where the Qaf is preceded by a maksuur consonant (e.g., dzeleeb قِليب, dzerbeh قِربه, medzbil مِقبل) and corresponds to the [dj] sound occasionally used to represent the Qaf in Kuwaiti and Khaleeji dialects (i.e. djeleeb قِليب, etc).

    The first set of Polish examples in the Wikipedia link I provided are an accurate representation of the sound, if you want to know how it sounds.
     
  26. Paterimon Junior Member

    Nashua, NH
    Arabic
     
  27. Finland Senior Member

    Finland
    finnois
    Hello!

    I have spent only a year in Kuwait, but I remember quite clearly how the ق in many cases becomes like ج in Kuwaiti Arabic. I am sure you have heard in Kuwait for example when people say "Really?" in Arabic "صدق" so it sounds like they're saying "صدج". Or قدام sounding like جدام etc. This is linked to the phenomenon of ج being pronounced like ي, like in "chicken" (دياي in Kuwaiti Arabic).

    HTH
    S
     
  28. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    Riyadh
    Arabic
    The two phenomena are unrelated.
     
  29. Finland Senior Member

    Finland
    finnois
    Hello!

    They may be unrelated (I wouldn't be so sure of that, but don't know enough about consonant shifts in dialects to justify an opinion), but I don't think it's wrong to say they are linked. Pronouncing ق as ج, and ك as تش, and ج as ي are all phenomena that occur in similar situations and vowel surroundings, and in similar sociolinguistic and dialectal settings.

    Greetings,
    S
     
  30. Paterimon Junior Member

    Nashua, NH
    Arabic
    Thank you, Finland, for sharing your experience.
    I did notice the pronunciation of (Jeem) as (Yaa) such as "yabal" for "Jabal".
    But somehow I don't recall the similar pronunciation of the (Qaaf). Curious.
    Does this phenomenon happen in (Suomi) ? LOL
     
  31. Finland Senior Member

    Finland
    finnois
    Hello!

    Absolutely not, as we have neither the sound ق nor ج in our language ;-)
    S
     
  32. Schem

    Schem Senior Member

    Unaizah
    Najdi Arabic
    As I said, this is the less frequent pronunciation of Qaf, that is: it only occurs in cases where the Qaf is preceded by a maksuur consonant. :)


    I meant that it's easier for me to pronounce حقيقة with two consecutive (MSA) qaf's than with two consecutive glottal stops. That was in response to your other post in which you presented the Qaf to Hamza shift in Levantine/Egyptian as a way of simplifying the language.


    Here you go: القصيم. I think it's important to note, however, that the characteristics mentioned are historically typical of almost all Najdi dialects. Unfortunately, they have been taking on a generational form in which the younger population, in many regions of Najd, prefers dropping them in favor of more "mainstream" equivalents. This particular phenomenon did not find ground in Guisseem which is the reason why some today mistakenly consider the characteristics to be Guisseemi in origin.

    This, btw, could also explain why you didn't notice the Qaf to Jeem shift in Kuwait as much. It could be that they're having a similar situation, maybe someone from Kuwait can be of more help here.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2012
  33. Schem

    Schem Senior Member

    Unaizah
    Najdi Arabic

    Exactly. These two in Guisseemi would be ṣedz and dzeddam respectively.
     

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