Arabic definite phrases in Persian, etc.

eskandar

Moderator
English (US)
Why do Arabic definite phrases like الحبل المتين or الحجر الاسود get turned into grammatically incorrect genitives like حبل المتین or حجر الاسود when loaned into Persian (and Turkish and Malay)? That is, why don't these phrases either remain unchanged (why don't we have الحبل المتین in Persian?), or at least become حبلِ متین or حجرِ اسود ?
 
  • eskandar

    Moderator
    English (US)
    A guess is that the Arabic definite article al- was misunderstood as equivalent to the Persian ezaafe, so that a Persian speaker with poor Arabic might assume that Hajaru'l aswad is equivalent to Hajar-i asvad , not recognizing the mistake. But given that these 'mistakes' are ubiquitous, I feel there must be something more to it - surely a poet who knows Arabic well, like Farid al-Din 'Attar, would use the correct form, yet he too (like all the others) uses حجر الاسود and not الحجر الاسود. Does anyone have thoughts on this?
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    There are Arabic precedents for the use of “muḍāf + genitive adjective” in the meaning “noun + attributive adjective”, for example the Qur’anic dāru l-ʼāxirati [16:30] in the sense of ad-dāru l-ʼāxiratu.
     

    Ihsiin

    Senior Member
    English
    In colloquial Arabic it is also common to drop the article in proper nouns that have the definite article, and in proper nouns that have two words, such as الحجر الأسود, only the first article is dropped. I don't think it's analysed as a genitive construction in this case, but as a self-contained proper noun.
     

    eskandar

    Moderator
    English (US)
    Thank you @fdb and @Ihsiin for these helpful responses. Would you count حياة الدنيا (without definite article on the first word) among constructions of this type?
     
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