All dialects: فُعَّيْل from original فعَّال

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wriight

Senior Member
English (US) / Arabic (Lebanon)
Some Levantine words that "should" have a pattern like فعَّال (i.e. CVCCāC, where the first vowel/7araka can be anything) are instead found with the pattern فُعَّيل CuCCayC. The diphthong is commonly pronounced ē, of course, so I've taken to spelling it with just a y to account for either possible pronunciation. That gives the spelling CuCCyC here. Some examples:
  • Rubber or a rubber band: muḡḡyṭ, muḡḡyṭa مُغَّيط، مُغَّيطة. Presumably originally maḡḡāṭ مَغَّاط. North Levantine.
  • A certain acidic plant: 7ummyḍ, 7ummyḍa حُمَّيض، حُمَّيضة. Originally 7ummāḍ حُمَّاض.
  • Cactus or its fruit: ṣubbyr, ṣubbyra صُبَّير، صُبَّيرة. Originally ṣubbār صُبَّار. North Levantine.
  • Riddle: 7uzzyra حُزَّيرة. Presumably originally 7azzāra حَزَّارة (which doesn't exist in Modern Standard Arabic afaik, only حَزُّورة). South Levantine. (Edit: it's also possible that حُزَّيرة is directly from حَزُّورة.)
  • Whistle: ṣuffyra صُفَّيرة. Originally ṣaffāra صَفَّارة.
  • Snail, slug: buzzyqa بُزَّيقة. Originally bazzāqa بَزَّاقة. North Levantine: bizzy2a.
  • A circle, or sometimes specifically a roundabout/rondpoint/traffic-circle: duwwyra دُوَّيرة. Originally dawwāra دَوَّارة.

These can be tricky to identify, because the monophthongized pronunciation ē is easy to mistake for an imala'd alif, i.e. you might think that صُبَّير is just a really imala'd pronunciation of صُبَّار. However, even without the diphthongs in the Lebanese-and-urban-Syrian pronunciation to help remove all doubt, a huge hint is that these are not environments in which ē would normally occur: with the exception of بزيقة, all of these words have final consonants that would normally prevent a preceding alif from undergoing imala — meaning the only explanation for the pronunciation ē is that it's actually originally a diphthong ــَـيْـــ. Similarly, in another thread, I expressed confusion over the Syrian term lizzēʔa given in Mark Cowell's reference grammar:
Cowell gives the examples "ləzzēʔa" (not sure why ē rather than ā, huh)
1585639164655.png

What I'd assumed at the time was that this was an anomalously imala'd alif and therefore that the word was *lizzāqa لِزَّاقة, exhibiting the shift from CaCCāC فَعَّال to CiCCāC فِعَّال that's also common to hear in Lebanon today. However, given the topic of this post, it's now clear that the word is actually lizzyʔa لِزَّيقة and that the kasra/schwa originates in a damma (from *luzzyqa لُزَّيقة) rather than a fat7a, meaning that this word fits right into the list above.

Cowell also gives two additional examples, although he doesn't discuss the underlying phenomenon at all, instead lumping the pattern CuCCyC under "miscellaneous".
1585639467930.png


So, three questions:
  1. Does this فُعَّيل form occur outside of the Levant? If so, and if there are numerous examples of it, can it always be traced back to something on the pattern of فعَّال?
  2. What are some possible reasons that فُعَّيل could have even arisen from فعَّال? Some kind of diminutive, maybe?
  3. Most importantly: how come not all فعَّال nouns became فُعَّيل?
For #3, I had the idea that it has to do with the final consonant: all of my original examples of فُعَّيل end in a consonant that either is emphatic or patterns as if it is (namely in that it would block imala ā>ē). If this is the reason for فُعَّيل, then it'd probably stand at odds with the "diminutive of some sort" explanation, because I'm not sure it'd make sense for a regular diminutive to only be allowed in certain phonotactic environments — and indeed, Cowell's fittys and duwwyxa seem to stand as counter-evidence because they end in normal, non-emphatic consonants.
However, a case could still be made for duwwyxa if we broaden the definition from "ends in an emphatic-y consonant" to "ends in a guttural", and what makes fittys weird is that I don't think it could've originated in فتَّاس because no such word seems to exist. Maybe it's a red herring, in other words. But I think more examples are needed to make sure.
 
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  • lukebeadgcf

    Senior Member
    English – US
    Great question!

    I think Cowell meant فتيش and not فتيس. And فتاش does seem to exist. Both are attested in Barthélemy ("Syr. moy. m. s." stands for "Syrie moyenne même sens"):

    1585695820656.png
     

    wriight

    Senior Member
    English (US) / Arabic (Lebanon)
    Nice! A friend who knows Syrian confirmed the ش to me as well. Your finding of فتَّاش is good, because I suppose it's proof that the whole "final emphatic" thing is probably just a coincidence, but it unfortunately returns us to square 0 as far as question #3 is concerned: why only certain words seem to have cemented this shift to فُعَّيل CuCCyC. (No one calls their bathroom a 7ummym حُمَّيم or their fridge a burryd بُرَّيد, for example.) If it's a diminutive, then I don't see anything particularly diminutive about adhesive tape or explosives...

    In any case, it turns out that fittyš (singular fittyše) is commonplace in Lebanon as well, I just didn't know it because I'm used to the root f-r-q-3 for fireworks... but that itself apparently gives us another match:
    • Firework(s): furqy3, furqy3a فُرقَيع، فُرقَيعة. Originally... farqā3 فَرقاع? North Levantine: fir2y3.
    This one's interesting, too, because it shows us that these can be derived from quadriliteral roots and not just geminated triliteral roots. I'm still curious to know if there are more examples either within or outside of the Levant, though.
     
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    Hemza

    Senior Member
    French, Mor/Hijz Arabic (heritage)
    • Firework(s): furqy3, furqy3a فُرقَيع، فُرقَيعة. Originally... farqā3 فَرقاع? North Levantine: fir2y3.
    I'm unfortunately not (yet) skilled enough to reply to your original question but I've been surprised to find the roots فرقع used in Lebanon (and Syria/Palestine/Jordan too I guess?). I thought its use was conscripted to the Maghreb and Egypt. In Morocco (at least) the verb means to explode and it's pronounced farga3a.
     
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