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Definite/Indefinite Idafah construct

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by uas60, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. uas60 Senior Member

    English; Urdu; Student of Arabic/French
    Hi all

    I always thought that the Mudaaf in Idafa constructs was ALWAYS definite, which explains why it never takes a tanween (I always thought of tanween=indefinite, no tanween=definite - generally speaking). This would also make sense, because anything with a possessive pronoun attached, eg. كتابه, is definite due to the possession and therefore has no tanween - correct? And doesn't the Mudaaf ilayh just replace that pronoun and nothing more?

    To give an example.

    كتابُ الرجلِ (The book of the man)
    كتابُ رجلٍ (The/A book of a man)

    I always thought of it as THE book of a man? If this is not the case, how would you say such a sentence, and how do we explain the lack of tanween and the comparison with the attached pronouns?
     
  2. AndyRoo Senior Member

    London
    English
    Hello there,

    Actually I think كتابُ رجلٍ means "a book of a man". I used to think as you, that it meant "the book of a man", but changed my mind in this (rather lengthy) thread: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2190261
     
  3. Serafín33

    Serafín33 Senior Member

    Vancúver, Canadá
    Español de El Salvador
    Yes, "a book of a man".

    "The book of a man" would be الكتابُ لرجلٍ or similar (الكتابُ لدى رجلٍ...)‎.
     
  4. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    Those mean 'the book is for a man'. Maybe we could say الكتاب الذي لرجل.
     
  5. uas60 Senior Member

    English; Urdu; Student of Arabic/French
    So the fact that the Mudaaf has no tanween is not relevant to its definiteness? I was only slightly confused because saying "kitaabuhu" makes kitaab definite, and I thought it doesn't matter what the "hu" is, kitaab will still be definite.
     
  6. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    Pronouns, like هو/ـه are definite. I don't consider تنوين in these circumstances; all words in the إضافة construct follow the final word's definiteness.
     
  7. Abu Talha

    Abu Talha Senior Member

    Urdu
    I agree with all the above posts, but I'd like to mention that the إضافة is such a convenient construction, that sometimes you're better off translating it saying, e.g., "a man's religion " rather than "a religion of a man" for دِينُ رَجُلٍ. This is obvious for something like دين but I think it is often so for common objects too.
     
  8. uas60 Senior Member

    English; Urdu; Student of Arabic/French
    OK so conclusion: definiteness of the mudaaf is dependent on definiteness of the mudaaf ilayh
     
  9. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Hi guys,

    I'm sorry if I'm confused or confusing anyone, but as far as I know, a muDaaf is always definite, regardless of the مضاف إليه being definite or not.

    So, in a structure like كتاب رجلٍ (a man's book) the word كتاب is معرَّف بالإضافة even though رجل is a نكرة.
     
  10. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    Wouldn't this imply that we can use كتاب رجل as a مبتدأ? We cannot, so I always regarded an إضافة's definiteness as determined by the final word.
     
  11. Idris Senior Member

    Urdu (Pakistan)
    I've noticed that in Arabic, the case in which the mudaaf ilayh is indefinite (as in كتاب رجل) is only found (if at all) in compound words, like غرفة نوم

    "A book of a man" is more commonly translated as كتاب لرجل instead of كتاب رجل
     
  12. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    I don't think an indefinite مضاف إليه is uncommon, Idris; we use it all the time.
     
  13. Idris Senior Member

    Urdu (Pakistan)
    But it is lot less common than in English.

    For example, in "Keep out of reach of children," "children" is indefinite.

    In Arabic, this is seen translated as

    يحفظ بعيدا عن متناول الأطفال

    So why الأطفال is definite? Shouldn't it be متناول أطفال ?
     
  14. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    It's used in contexts different from English, but is common.
     
  15. Ibn Nacer Senior Member

    French - France
    Hello,

    Can you please give examples of an indefinite مضاف إليه?

    I have no doubt that this is common, but examples would be helpful.
    ----

    In french the phrase "a house of a man" sounds bad (whithout context), I think it is possible to translate بيتُ رجلٍ by "the house of a man" but in arabic grammar بيتُ is indefinite.

    This construction with the preposition is common? Please do you have any examples?
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2012
  16. uas60 Senior Member

    English; Urdu; Student of Arabic/French
    But why do you say بيتُ is indefinite?
     
  17. Ibn Nacer Senior Member

    French - France
    C'est une règle en arabe, regarde ici : http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2190261

    L'annexion apporte :

    - Soit une détermination (ta3rîf) ce qui est le cas lorsque le mudhâf ilayhi est défini.
    - Soit une spécification/particularisation (takhsîs) ce qui est le cas lorsque le mudhâf ilayhi est indéfini

    Le mudhâf ne sera défini que si l'annexion apporte une détermination (ta3rîf) mais si l'annexion apporte une spécification/particularisation (takhsîs) alors le mudhâf sera particularisé/spécifié (مُخَصَّص) mais il ne sera pas défini.

    Maintenant effectivement l'expression " بيتُ رجلٍ" est moins vague que "بيتٌ" car elle nous fournie un information supplémentaire, il est question d'une maison appartenant à un homme et non à une femme ou autres. Ici le mudhâf ilayhi apporte une "spécificité" ou "particularité" ainsi donc le mudhâf est dit "particularisé" ou "spécifié" (مُخَصَّص) mais il n'est pas dit défini (معرفة).

    Read this in arabic :

    أ- الإِضافة نسبة بين اسمين ليتعرف أولهما بالثاني إن كان الثاني معرفة، أو يتخصص به إن كان نكرة، مثل: (أَحضرْ كتاب سعيد وقلم حبر) فـ(كتاب) نكرة تعرفت حين أُضيفت إلى سعيد المعرفة، و(قلم) نكرة تخصصت بإضافتها إلى (حبر) النكرة أيضاً.

    Source : http://www.islamguiden.com/arabi/m_a_r_50.htm

    Source : A Grammar of the Arabic Language - Wright, William, William Robertson Smith, and M J de Goeje p198 V2
     
  18. Idris Senior Member

    Urdu (Pakistan)
    بيت is definite in both بيت رجل and بيت الرجل

    The mudaaf is always definite (grammatically, at least).



    There could be many examples for "constructions" with li-, Ibn Nacer. Here are two:

    هذا البيت لرجل رأيته أمس
    This house belongs to a man I saw yesterday.

    نفي الرجل للحقيقة
    The man's denial of the truth.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2012
  19. uas60 Senior Member

    English; Urdu; Student of Arabic/French
    Donc le mudaaf avec un mudaaf ilayh indéfini c'est "mukhaSSaS" - une chose, on peut dire peut etre, entre le défini et l'indéfini, à cause du spécification avec le mudaaf ilayh (meme si indéfini)?
     
  20. uas60 Senior Member

    English; Urdu; Student of Arabic/French
    There is the argument that the mudaaf is not definite with an indefinite mudaaf ilayh, rather it is just "mukhaSSaS", limited by its specificity to the possessor. But still not definite.
     
  21. Ibn Nacer Senior Member

    French - France
    I do not think, on this, see my previous post and this thread Genitive of possession.

    I spoke of instances where both terms are indefinites.

    See this thread too Possession as a nominal predicate, it is interesting

    Oui c'est ça.
     
  22. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    Cherine said that the مضاف is always definite but this surprises me. بيت رجل cannot be a مبتدأ, for example, and I always thought this is because the construction is indefinite. I suspect it might be a rule trying to justify why مضافs take no تنوين, or not unlikely something I mis-analysed, but I advise you check back in a couple of days for a more definitive answer.

    As for examples, find any article, you should find plenty of indefinite إضافةs. The top article today on AlJazeera.net, for instance (though NOT the best for grammar and such, it's the first thing I came across):
    http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/A47D0269-EC48-4799-8944-FD471B13E7B9.htm
    نتيجة انفجار عبوة
    منازل مواطنين
    سقوط جرحى
    حاوية قمامة
    سقوط مسعفين
    سقوط خمسين
    خروج مظاهرات

    By very nature, people talk more in reference to something aforementioned (the), but we often still want to say 'a'. The إضافة doesn't always translate to/from English and French but it's very common, definite and indefinite, long and short. And it's a nice concise way of expressing complex ideas.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2012
  23. uas60 Senior Member

    English; Urdu; Student of Arabic/French
    This is what somebody wrote to me (on Facebook!). The interesting part is where they mention various classical sources. I believe this is an Azhari brother.

    There seems to be consensus among the Arabic grammarians (per al-Ajurrumiyya, Qatrunnada, and Ibn `Aqil's commentary on the Alfiyya) that the mudaaf is ma`rifa only when the mudaaf ilayhi is ma`rifa, not when it is a nakira. So from the two following cases:

    هذا كتاب الرجل من أمريكا
    هذا كتاب رجل من أمريكا

    the word "kitaab" is a ma`rifa in the first case, but a nakira in the second, because the mudaaf ilayhi in the first case is a ma`rifa, whereas it's a nakira in the second case.
     
  24. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    I think Ibn Nacer's quote is very important and helpful here. The muDaaf to an indefinite word is مخصص not مُعرَّف (thank you, Ibn Nacer). This is new to me, and very interesting.
    Also, Iskandarany's point, that such a structure can't be a mubtada2 is a very good point.

    I still don't understand much what a mukhaSSaS is, but at least I learned something new, and I got this part about definite-indefinite clear.

    Thanks for an informative discussion, guys.
     
  25. Idris Senior Member

    Urdu (Pakistan)
    If كتاب in the second case is نكرة then why does it not accept تنوين ??
     
  26. onesnowman New Member

    English
    This exact discussion was had previously. The two threads have now been merged. Please search through old threads before posting new ones.

    -clevermizo
    Moderator

    I'm not sure how the indefinite idafah construction is translated. Here's one from a textbook:

    The book of the man - كتابُ الرجلِ

    The book of a man - كتابٌ رجلٍ

    Using a prepossession:
    A book of a man - كتابٌ من كتبِ الرجلِ

    In another textbook I have seen the indefinite translated as 'a book of a man' like the preposition use above. But it doesn't go into explain how I would say 'the book of man'

    Which is correct?
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012
  27. Tensor78 Senior Member

    U.S. English
    The book of man? Do you mean "the book of a man"? What would the context be exactly?
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012
  28. Tensor78 Senior Member

    U.S. English
    The phrase " the book of a man" is a bit strange. I can't think of a situation really in English where I would say something like that.

    If you want to talk about men's book in general, and you're saying "the book of a man is....." then I guess you would say: kutubu alrajuli.... = men's books..... (In Arabic, the article used with nouns can be used to address those nouns in a general sense, a bit like in Spanish.)

    If, however, you're talking about one certain book that belongs to some man and you want to talk about that book, then you would just say: kitaabu rajulin = a man's book. It means the same thing in this context.

    This is just my two cents, though. I'm still new myself, so you should wait for someone with more experience for the final word.
     
  29. onesnowman New Member

    English
    Sorry for the errors. I don't wish to say 'a book of a man' at all. I meant this:

    The book of the man - كتابُ الرجلِ

    The book of a man - كتابٌ رجلِ

    Using a preposition:
    A book of the man (a book out of the books of the man) - كتابٌ من كتبِ الرجلِ

    In another textbook I have seen the indefinite translated as 'a book of a man' like the preposition use above. But it doesn't go onto explain how I would say 'the book of the man'
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012
  30. Tensor78 Senior Member

    U.S. English
    Your translation and use of nunation are off. Look at my editing in red below.

    Look at what I highlighted in blue above; you already have the answer to your question.
     
  31. Tensor78 Senior Member

    U.S. English
    Generally, the definiteness of the possessor noun determines the definiteness of the entire construction. If the possessor is definite, then the whole idafa is definite. If it is indefinite, then the entire construction is indefinite.

    kitaabu alrajuli = the man's book
    kitaabu rajulin = a man's book

    If you want to mix definiteness, then you use intervening prepositional phrases.
     
  32. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    kitaabu_rrajuli = The book of the man = The man's book

    kitaabu rajul-in - The book of a man = a man's book

    kitaab-un li-rajul-in = a book of a man

    kitaab-un li_rrajuli = a book of the man

    I hope this clarifies the position and covers all the possibilities. I don't know how to type the nunation. That's why I have n't typed the sentences in Arabic.
     
  33. Tensor78 Senior Member

    U.S. English
    You have more experience than me. But, doesn't "kitaabu rajul-in" mean a book of a man? That is, doesn't the definiteness of the possessor transfer over to the possession?
     
  34. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Yes, you are right
    kitaabu rajul-in = a book of a man = a man's book
     
  35. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I don't have any experience, let alone more experience! However, I would still insist that "kitaabu rajul-in" means "The book of a man", i.e a man's book.
     
  36. onesnowman New Member

    English
    Sorry I got confused in writing this thread. I'll clarify it:

    From a textbook:
    The book of the man - كتابُ الرجلِ

    The book of a man - كتابُ رجلٍ

    A book of the man (a book out of the books of the man) - كتابٌ من كتبِ الرجلِ

    A book of a man - not in textbook


    Textbook 2:

    A book of a man - كتابُ رجلٍ

    The book of a man - not in textbook

    A book of the man (a book out of the books of the man) - not in textbook


    So my question is:

    كتابُ رجلٍ - does it mean ''the book of a man" or "a book of a man"
     
  37. Abu Talha

    Abu Talha Senior Member

    Urdu
  38. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Your first textbook is wrong, and I am afraid that our esteemed friend Qoreshpor is wrong as well. Put an adjective to it:

    baytu malikin kabīrun means a big house belonging to an (unspecified) king = a big palace

    baytu l-maliki l-kabīru means the big house belonging to the (specified) king = the big palace.

    PS: Overlap with Abu Talha.
     
  39. Tensor78 Senior Member

    U.S. English
    I and many others would say: a book of a man. However, there are some who disagree. (Look at Qoreshpor's post.)

    In any event, the whole a/the noun #1 of a/the noun #2 translation is awkward. The best way to translate that phrase is: a man's book. The point is that you have a book and it belongs to an indefinite man.

    Further, "the book of a man" isn't really used much in English. Unless, you're talking about men's books in general.
     
  40. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    I, for one, feel that "a book of a man" is ungrammatical. I would say "While walking in the woods today, I came across the body of a dead fox". Once removed from the genitive construction, though, I would say "While walking in the woods, I came across a body".

    Even though the possessor here is indefinite, it is though we are looking at a depiction of that indefinite thing and pointing out the parts of it which are relevant. I know that both options happen, e.g. "At Subway today, the worker showed me the inside of a sandwich/the worker showed me an inside of a sandwich", but in my personal dialect, the last option seems awkward. I think it is because we have both the Germanic genitive (a man's book) and the analytical influence (from French?) with 'of', so we can avoid dealing with the articles altogether.

    In French, do you say "un livre d'un homme" or "le livre d'un homme"?

    In Arabic, it is clear that adjectives of the mudaaf of an indefinite idaafa are indefinite. I think it's hard to argue around this. In Akkadian, there is a form with no case vowel at all used for what would be the mudaaf in Arabic (bit- awil-im = bayt-u rajul-in/baytu r-rajuli, and there are no definite/indefinite distinctions. Perhaps as Arabic was developing its definite/indefinite system with al- and nunation, it had to compromise here to avoid ambiguity while retaining a rigorous case system - but the adjectives, in my mind, settle the argument of whether or not the word is definite.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012
  41. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Thank you for the esteem being conferred upon me but as you can tell from my ignorance, it is not warranted.

    Thank you also for your explanation and I accept the logic behind adding an adjective. It is just that I remember reading in a grammar book that the first noun is always considered as definite, even though it does not have the definite article attached to it. That explanation, it seems, is wrong.

    Looking at the construct below, I would translate it as "The book of this teacher" or "This teacher's book". Would you say this could also mean "A book of this teacher" or does the possessor need to be always indefinite for this interpretation?

    كتاب هذا المدرس
     
  42. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    كتاب هذا المدرّس means either "This teachers book" or "the book of this teacher"

    "A book of this teacher's" would be كتابٌ لهذا المدرس
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  43. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Or you could say kitābun min kutubi hāδā l-mudarrisi.
     
  44. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    ^ I believe my construction is correct and "haadha" (like other demonstratives) is allowed to come between an iDhaafah.
     
  45. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    Qureshpor, you're right, I was in a rush. The only time you can't prepose the demonstrative is when there is no alif-laam, which you clearly have. I'll edit my post.
     
  46. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    That's no problem dkarjala. Your "challenge" made me go and look this up and before I could reply to you, you had already responded!

    My reason for asking the question was linked to whether the first part of the construct should be thought of as definite or indefinite. It was asked as a consequence of a previous discussion (post 32 onwards). So, if "kitaabu" in "kitaabu haadhaa_lmuddaris" is considered indefinite in meaning, then we can say this translates to "a book of this teacher".
     
  47. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    The problem is that it is still a muDaaf in a definite iDaafa, so it must be translated as "the book" of whatever. This is not one of the gray areas from various discussions.

    Let me put it another way - if this doesn't mean THE book of this teacher, what does?

    As you all have discussed, definiteness/indefiniteness is not a black and white affair. Especially when it comes to specifying or referring to mutually known items or parts of a whole. That being said, the only ambiguity, in my mind, lies with indefinite iDaafas, like كتاب مدرّس "a book of a teacher" (to me, this is not something a native speaker would ever choose) or "the book of a teacher". Both are correct. In a definite iDaafa, however, like yours, everything must be definite. I can't think of a counterexample, but would love to see one.
     
  48. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Here is an example of an indefinite subject in a nominal sentence. ( I could n't type shayy-in correctly)

    ...أسد مرة شاخ و ضعف و لم يقدر علي شيئ من الوحوش

    Once upon a time a lion grew old and weak and had no longer any power over the wild beasts..
     
  49. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    It does happen sometimes that a grammatically indefinite word acts as a مبتدأ, however this does not constitute evidence concerning the definiteness of 1) the muDaaf alone, since it is the whole iDaafa which plays a nominal role in the sentence nor does it 2) provide a statistically relevant situation.

    The example you give is a story, and the noun is the protagonist. What follows is, of course, my theory but it is based on my current knowledge. This kind of subject, the subject of a joke or an anecdote, is often subject to unusual syntax. This is a quality that is sometimes called 'salience'. It is almost as if all stories like this begin with an omitted كان هناك. Also, compare how this is handled in some dialects. If you were telling a joke, for example, in quite a few dialects you would use the atypical construction waaHid + noun., واحد صعيدي، واحد بدوي etc. Because the character is new to the listener, it needs to be indefinite - but because of its salience as the main character, it is treated as the topic and put out front - in dialect, by switching the adjective واحد to the front, you are sort of 'protecting' the indefinite noun. drawing attention to it, and using the indefinite idea of 'one' as a sort of article; not definite, but specifying.

    Other grammatically indefinite things can be a مبتدأ , too, such as the superlative construction with iDaafa.

    اكبر رجل، اجمل بنت، الخ

    But these are semantically definite and therefore psychologically easy to use after انّ and even as nominal subjects.

    In any case, it would be better to see an example of an indefinite iDaafa​ as a nominal subject.
     
  50. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    ^ Thank you for your detailed response, it is much appreciated.

    Iskandarani seems to have indicated that in his opinion if a construct such as "kitaabu rajul-in" is definite, then it should be allowed to become the subject (mubtada) of a nominal sentence. One can then extrapolate the implication that for a nominal sentence, one must have a definite subject. I have provided an example of a nominal sentence with an indefinite subject.It is as simple as this.
     

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